Jon Bon Jovi has an irritating habit of describing his multi-million selling, stadium filling comrades as a 'bar band', a nod perhaps to the bands blue collar heritage, or porbably just a shameless attempt to try and paint themselves with a coat of Springsteen-esque credibility.
When, Pensylvania punk quartet, The Menzingers get called a bar band you don't find yourself questioning it. There anthemic and rootsy on classic punk rockis the perfect accompaniment to a Saturday with your friends and several hundred pints. Taking their name from a German word for troubadour, the band formed in early 2006, with the aim of mixing the power of bands like Rancid, with the working class, heartland rock of Tom Petty and the aforementioned Springsteen.
After the release of their second album the band were approached at a show by Brett Gurewitz, guitarist with Bad Religion and head honcho of Epitaph Records, punk's equivalent of a major label. Since then the band have grown a large global following among punk fans and classic rock kids alike, and now they've returned with their Fourth album Rented World, I caught up with guitarist/co-vocalist Greg Bernett to get the full picture.
Daniel Cadwallader: Let's get straight to the point, what have you guys been up to since the release of 'On the Impossible Past' in 2012?
Greg Barnett: Lots and lots of touring. We spent the majority of 2012 and 2013 on the road playing everywhere from Poland to Sydney to Vancouver to Scranton. During the time in-between tours we wrote "Rented World" at a practice space in Port Richmond and recorded it at Miner Street Studios in Fishtown. Both are neighbourhoods in Philadelphia and can sometimes feel like a completely different city compared to our neck of the woods in South Philly. We got the benefits of recording at home without it feeling too claustrophobic. Absolutely an amazing experience.
DC: What can you tell me about your new album 'Rented World' is there a noticeable progression from the last album?
GB: It has 12 songs that we think are pretty fucking cool. Hopefully there's a noticeable progression from the last album. I definitely think so but I guess that's up to you to decide.
DC: Can you tell me a little bit of your song writing process?
GB: The song writing process is always evolving for us. For this record we spent a lot of time just jamming for hours on end at our practice space. We'd get a case of beer and just see where the nights would take us. We've been playing together for years and as songwriters we can usually guess what each other are thinking. These songs came together very naturally.
DC: How did you guys first get together?
GB: The other three guys played in a band prior to this one. When that band dissolved Tom called me up one day and asked if I wanted to jam. The next day we played around with a couple ideas that the three of them were working on in Erics basement. We put together a demo, went on a few crummy (but equally amazing) tours and the next thing you know I'm in Australia doing this interview.
DC: Who would you say your influences have been on the last couple of albums?
GB: We all pull from different artists but speaking for myself I've always pulled from The Mountain Goats, Hot Water Music, Weezer, The Hold Steady, Pedro The Lion, Drive-By Truckers, Nirvana, Springsteen, Lucero... The list goes on.
DC: Your song writing has been described as Springsteen-esque, are you guys fans?
GB: Huge fans! I got to see him in Philly last year at Citizens Bank Park, where the Phillies play. My friend hooked me up with ultra-fancy tickets and it was one of the most fun concerts I've ever been to. They played for like 3 1/2 hours? So punk.
DC: How did it feel when you were approached by Brett Gurewitz to sign to Epitaph?
GB: It was pretty surreal. We grew up on Epitaph Records and we're all huge Bad Religion fans so it was definitely a crazy situation to find ourselves in.
DC: Will you be heading back to Europe this year? What's your favourite place to play outside of the US?
GB: London is always a blast to play. Europe has so many amazing cities its hard to pick. Berlin and Amsterdam are up there for sure.
DC: What's next for the Menzingers?
GB: After this Australia tour we head back to The US to for a couple weeks before taking off for a festival run in Europe. After that we have a full US tour coming up in June. I think its safe to say we'll keep touring steadily after that.
Rented World will be out in the UK on the 21st April