The Men: Boys to Men

Boys to Men

Nick Chiericozzi: "With three songwriters in the group, we have a wider variety of ideas to pull from"
Photo: Kevin Faulkner

Long haul pays off for Brooklyn rockers The Men

Brooklyn’s supercharged scuzz-rock quartet The Men seemingly came crashing out of nowhere last summer with Leave Home, a spine-tingling album of gargantuan guitar riffs. Nine months later, they’ve now followed it up with Open Your Heart, showcasing the more melodic side of their split personalities with an even broader palette of sonic inspirations. Yet as it turns out, the band’s original incarnation came several years back as a duo.

"We started in the summer of 2008 and became a three-piece about six months after that," says Mark Perro, who started on the kit before moving to guitar. "We did that for about a year and a half before [current drummer] Rich joined and have been a four-piece ever since. It’s all been pretty natural, and I feel like everyone needs to be here in order to make the sound bigger. We never really had intentions of being a two-piece, and grew out of that pretty quickly."

This pair of albums is far from the band’s inaugural howls into the void as well – they’re just the first most people have heard. In an age of artists being cast into the limelight on the strength of a single song, it’s refreshing to hear about a group paying their dues, not to mention having the time to perfect their craft. For The Men, this includes years of shows, two previously self-released LPs, one 7-inch and a number of cassettes. Before signing on with New York’s tastemaking label Sacred Bones, they even undertook the hands-on grunt work of their DIY forefathers.

"For the first tape that Nick and I did as a two-piece, we hand-dubbed them at home," explains Perro. "We just bought a bunch of cassettes at thrift stores and recorded over whatever was on there, then wrote on the covers with marker. There were only 30 copies, and we basically gave them out to our friends. We put out our first two records ourselves as well, so we have a long history of doing that stuff."

Much has been made of the band’s combination of genres – from shoegaze haze to black metal snarl, instrumental surf and krautrock’s infinite drift. On their new album, The Men even try out lighters-raised acoustic ballads and a mutated strain of southern rock. Yet thanks to an overriding aesthetic sprung from the triumphant riffs of Dinosaur Jr., Hüsker Dü and other 80s/90s worshippers at the altar of the amp, it’s all held together by an unabashed celebration of rocking out.

"With three songwriters in the group, we have a wider variety of ideas to pull from," says singer-guitarist Nick Chiericozzi. "Sometimes one little piece is all it takes to make a song special. If I write something, maybe Mark will come up with that little pinch of salt to make it really cool. Usually someone comes up with an idea at home, often on acoustic guitar. Then we bring it to practice, and by the end of it everyone’s fingerprints are on there. Most of the time, our songs are written in 15 minutes."

"Anybody who has an idea for a song is welcome to present it," echoes Perro. "We don’t have anyone controlling that situation, and it’s open to whoever has an idea at the moment. We just have to make sure to know what to go with or what to get rid of and forget about. It works out really well that way, and everyone’s excited and interested in it rather than feeling removed."

Following a solid string of globe-spanning tours, the band is hitting the road hard yet again with their current U.S. blast finishing off in Montreal. Then it’s back to Europe for festival season this spring and summer. For this hard-working wrecking crew, it’s all about putting in the time.

"Mark has a pretty plush family van, so that’s pretty cool," says Chiericozzi. "Over in Europe, we got this guy Jonas from Belgium to drive us around for the whole trip, and that was pretty comfortable too. We were over there for 40 days last time, so that felt pretty long, but we’re trying to push it as hard as we can."

The Men
w/ Nude Beach, Solids
At Il Motore
March 24

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