The Last Great Rock Band in Brooklyn: The Men

02/26/2014 4:00 AM |

The Men

When Nick Chiericozzi references a guitar and the year 1974 to open Tomorrow’s Hits, The Men’s newest release for homegrown label Sacred Bones, it’d be easy to mistake the underlying arrangement and Neil Youngish drawl as an actual product of 1974. Except it’s 2014, and I’m sitting in an East Williamsburg coffee shop with him and fellow singer/guitarist Mark Perro, two-fifths of the band. We’re discussing the album’s backstory as the woman at the table opposite ours seems to be engaging in some sort of performance art involving scarves and selfies. So, you know… it’s very much 2014.

The Men have built a career out of ignoring what’s going on in the music scene around them. Their 2012 breakthrough was called Open Your Heart, a sentiment they took seriously, expanding their hardcore-leaning tendencies to include hints of shoegaze, grunge and country. Together with last year’s New Moon, Tomorrow’s Hits sees them travel even further down this path, developing into a composite of Young, Springsteen, Big Star and The Replacements—and one of the best pure rock bands anywhere.

The first line of the new album is, “My Mom gave me this guitar, 19 and ‘74 / And it’s true, there’s nothing I’d rather do.” This feels very Almost Famous of me to ask, but is that autobiographical?

Nick Chiericozzi: No… [Laughs]

Mark Perro: No? I always
assumed it was.

NC: Well, not that guitar. There’s a different one: an acoustic that my mom played right up until I was born. I ended up telling the story of my musical influence from my mom’s side of the family. Bluegrass and roots, from Georgia. It made sense to write a song about her mother—my grandmother—and my step uncle. I don’t know why, but that line just sort of fit
the chords.

What about you, Mark? Was there a musical heritage in your family?

MP: My uncle was a piano player. I remember being in my parents’ house in Queens, and I’d ask him to play. I always thought he was the coolest. He died when I was really young, but my mom also played piano and my grandmother played piano. But they never really took it past “Ave Maria” sheet music and that sort of thing. So it was always there in some sense, but my parents had to force me to take piano lessons. I hated
it, actually.