Friday, August 22, 2008

Music you MUST listen to: Menomena

If you've been reading this blog for any amount of time, you probably know of my passion for music. I have a list of about 5 bands that I follow adamantly on message boards around the internet, and Menomena is one of them. Formed in Portland, Oregon in 2000 by Brent Knopf, Justin Harris, and Danny Seim, Menomena has released two full-length albums, one instrumental-only album, and four EPs (two of them splits). All three members of the band sing on different tracks, and every member plays at least two instruments (sometimes at once). Their last album, Friend and Foe, was released in 2006, and received strongly positive reviews. The popular music blog Pitchfork had this to say about it:

Once you've listened through a couple of times, it's stunning how many clever and exciting moments stick with you-- music this full of ideas, sections and material can come across as overstuffed, but this feels just right almost everywhere.

It has quickly become one of my favorite albums of all time, solidifying Menomena as one of my absolute favorite bands.
After shitting my pants with fanboy glee, I interviewed drummer and percussionist Danny Seim about the band, touring, and their friend Craig Thompson.

Explain Menomena’s sound in ten words or less.
Three grown men arguing, fighting, disagreeing, and occasionally writing music.

What exactly does the band name Menomena mean?
Everything to everyone.

What are your biggest musical influences?
Talking Heads, Sly and the Family Stone, Roxy Music, Led Zeppelin, Weird Al.

What are your biggest non-musical influences?
June Jordan, Kurt Vonnegut.

Veteran graphic novel artist Craig Thompson did the Grammy nominated album artwork for "Friend and Foe" and the "Wet and Rusting EP." He also drew murals in the background of your live shows. Will he be coming back for the next album and/or tour?
Craig took a lot of time off from working on his new book in order to do those projects for us. His legions of much-deserved groupies would hunt us down and kill us in our sleep if we asked him to dedicate more of his time to our future projects. Art world, you can have your Mr. Thompson back.

What are your top three favorite Menomena songs to perform live, new or old?
I like to play any song where I'm not singing. I stress out too much.

What is the most dedicated thing you’ve ever seen a fan do for your band?
Justin's mom not only went through the excruciating pains of labor to give us our saxophonist/bassist, she also comes to every concert we play in Portland and Seattle.

Despite being American, you guys seem to tour Europe quite a bit. Are Europeans big fans?
They're not yet as big as Americans, but they're getting bigger with every new McDonald's we open up over there.

Will you be touring the U.S. anytime soon?
As soon as we finish this new record.

When can we expect your next full-length record?
Right before our next U.S. tour!

Menomena's Myspace is located here, and their website is here.
Formerly on en-tur-tain-munt:

1 comment:

Menomenation said...

I have met the band twice after shows and I'm in awe by just their very presence in the room; particularly Danny Seim. I can't explain this logically other than the fact that these musicians are so amazing. You also have to hear Danny Seim's side project Lackthereof (including the extensive back catalog on last.fm) Apparently the Menomena's new album is taking longer than expected... likely mid 2009 and also Brent Knopf appears to be working on this own side project.

Danny Seim also writes occasionally for various media and the following article is REQUIRED READING for any fan; it goes a long way to explaining to motivations behind Menomena and Lackthereof in particular:

http://www.portlandmercury.com/pullout/the-left-behind/Content?oid=735216