I recently listened to Tomorrow’s Hits by The Men and was blown away. It married everything I like in my music, the classic Americana rock sound of Bruce Springsteen, The Band, Crazy Horse to punk bands like The Clash, The Stooges and The Replacements to modern bands like Deer Tick and Titus Andronicus. It was all carried out with a sound of their own and an energy and verve that is sadly absent in a lot of bands now. I was lucky enough to get some questions to the bands, which were answered by vocalist/guitarist Nick Chiericozzi recently. For my review of the album, go here.
Q. Your sound has become more ‘refined’ over the course of your four albums. Is this due to your musical influences changing, or because, financially you have been able to record in better studios? For instance, was the first album rougher round the edges more out of necessity than desire?
A. I’ve never been a part of something musically or otherwise that hasn’t been rough around the edges. I’m not an ace player or in the business of perfection, therefore being refined is quite impossible. The line on Tomorrow’s Hits is that we worked in a professional studio and came out with a clear and refined album. We actually went in thinking that we were making something small and dirty because of the way in which we prepared for the sessions. All the songs were rehearsed in a bedroom on piano or acoustic guitar with simple drumming and with no vocal microphones. So during playback and even now, you can imagine our surprise at something that grew and changed so much. My first lyric on the first song of the first EP was, “There are three pussies above me and I can’t reach out to touch them.” My first line on the new one: “My mom gave me this guitar, 1974 it’s true, there’s nothing I’d rather do.” There’s a quite difference there, but I felt both passed some sort of critical examination. So, that’s an example of the kind of change we’ve gone through. I think the sound we were going for on the first recording was to be as loud and crazy as we could. I used a 100w JMP Marshall guitar amplifier then and last year I had a one 12″ Fender Princeton amp. You follow the tone in your head and work with your band and see where it leads. It lead us there and now we’re somewhere else entirely.
Q. I can hear a range of influences on Tomorrow’s Hits, ranging from Springsteen to The Band, Tom Petty and beyond. Are these guys influential to your style? What other bands have influenced your sound?
A. I’m relatively new to Bruce Springsteen’s music aside from the Nebraska album. I’m not sure what I’ve taken in from him musically, however I like his energy during the live show and how hard he’s worked for longer than I’ve been alive. Work is underrated and not a term often associated with musicians. The ability to work, to really work and to do it with friends to create something larger than yourself is what I’m after. My Dad was right! Damn. You gotta work. A few of my influences on guitar are Ron Asheton, James Williamson, Johnny Thunders, Greg Sage, Hendrix, Lou Reed, Hubert Sumlin, Scotty Moore, John Fahey…
Q. Tomorrow’s Hits is a great album title. Does this mean you are confident this could be the breakthrough album? It has been getting some really good review.
A. Thank you and it’s great that the reviews are positive. Picking winners in music is something I’ve never been good at. As Oscar Wilde said, “When the critics disagree the artist is in accord with himself.” So let’s get some negative reviews going!
Q. Some of these songs are so much fun, full of energy. Dark Waltz and Pearly Gates are two of the highlights. Were these songs as much fun to play as they sound? I mean Pearly Gates sounds like a good old jam session!
A. Thanks again. Pearly Gates came together as a jam with improvised lyrics and a beat that didn’t stop. When we were at band practice I felt the energy of that tune in particular because it grooved very well and had dynamic in volume. It was a relief when it came time to play that song because I didn’t have to remember anyone’s chord changes. The types of songs where feeling starts and thinking stops are the most fun to play.
Q. You can still hear hints of your old sound in various songs on Tomorrow’s Hits and New Moon. Is that a sound you plan to revisit, or have you moved on?
A. I think and I hope that we’ll always forget. I think the only time it’s appropriate to make another album is when you’re playing for yourselves and your memory is whitewashed and your band is building off the energy in the room at that precise moment. Anytime I “try”, as in ignoring what is happening in the present, I usually fall flat on my face.
Q. I see you have shows in America all through the summer. Do you have any plans to tour Europe at some stage?
A. We’re playing in Denmark on the 4th of July at the Roskilde Festival.
Q. What bands excite you nowadays?
A. Gun Outfit and Nude Beach are exciting bands. We did a U.S. tour last month and both bands played a handful of shows with us, so that was a lot of fun.
Q. Lastly, this being a movies AND music site. What are your favourite movies?
A. The day of the first Men show, I took off of work and Mark and I went to see The Searchers, the old John Ford/John Wayne movie and that has become one of my favorites.
Thanks – I enjoyed answering the questions.