Normally around this time of year, we would usually see a lot of touring activity from Philadelphia punk heartthrobs, The Menzingers. However, after headlining a few intimate Jersey-based gigs earlier in the year at The Boneyard in Atlantic City, and at Crossroads in Garwood, the band took a short break from touring to wrap up the writing and recording process for their forthcoming album, After The Party, a highly anticipated follow-up to 2014’s, Rented World. According to vocalist and guitarist Greg Barnett, this was the first time that they’ve spent a blocked timeframe in the studio together crafting an album, rather than write and record in-between busy touring schedules. As an end result, Barnett conveys that After The Party is by far the band’s proudest work to date.
Eager to get back on the road with an itch to unveil some new tracks to their devoted fanbase, The Menzingers are currently touring with Bayside as opening support alongside Connecticut-based emo torchbearers Sorority Noise. About a few weeks before The Menzingers made their return to the road, I had the chance to catch up with Barnett once again to discuss their upcoming tour and the band’s outstanding personal relationship with Bayside, along with preparing for the release of their forthcoming studio effort, After The Party.
Pretty soon, you’ll be starting your tour with Bayside and Sorority Noise for the month of August. What are you looking forward to the most about getting back on the road again?
I can’t wait, honestly. So, this year has kind of been a strange one for us. We’ve always been a band where we tour at least half of the year, and this was the first time that we didn’t do that. Mainly because we just spent all of this time writing and recording a record. In the past, we’ve always had to write and record in-between tours, but we were fortunate enough to be able to set up a large block of time to do that. That being said, it was awesome to be able to be home and just write music every day and record, but I’m having such an insane itch to travel and play shows again. I was just actually looking at the schedule today, and said, “Man, I can’t wait to get back out, do this again.”
I had an enlightening conversation with Bayside frontman Anthony Raneri who told me, not only was he a longtime fan of The Menzingers, but you’ve also been playing with each other for quite sometime. Would you care to share with me your relationship with both him and Bayside, and how it feels to finally share the stage with them on a full-support tour?
That’s the really cool part! We grew up in Scranton and used to play shows in Wilkes-Barre, and Bayside had a lot of history of playing shows in the early days at a venue called Café Metropolis. I think Anthony was just playing solo and our band was just starting out, and we opened for them and we just kind of hit it off there, you know? He was a fan—we got along, and we just kind of kept in touch. I remember we were on one of our first… we were on tour and they were opening for Alkaline Trio. We had an off day and they invited us out to the show, and we got to hang out and we got a hotel room with them.
They were one of the first bigger bands that ever kind of reached out of hand and have been cool to us (laughs), which really, really means a lot. We’ve been friends with them now for years, and it’s crazy how we’ve never done a full-length tour with them. We’ve only played festival shows and things like that together. It’s really cool to have a friendship like we do with them, and be able to go out for five weeks or so and have a great time.
The last time I saw The Menzingers live was when you played a sold-out gig at The Boneyard in Atlantic City earlier in the year. I remember at the time, you mentioned on stage that the band plans to release their fifth studio record, After The Party, pretty soon. Are there any details that you would be able to share about the new record at this time?
Sure. I can’t give away a release date yet, but when we played The Boneyard, that was almost at the very end of our writing session. We kind of just took the whole winter off from November to December, and January and February to March to write the record. We had some ideas beforehand, but we really had to lay the groundwork down. But we decided to play those shows as a way to get out and have some fun, and clear our minds and meet some friends at some cool, small Jersey shows. It was awesome. Sometimes you kind of just need that rejuvenation to go back and write. I always think back on those shows in Jersey as that little extra push towards the end of writing.
In March, we were really putting the finishing touches on everything. We wrote a handful of songs and most of the groundwork was done by that point. So yeah, we went into the studio in April and recorded for five and a half weeks. It’s been a very long process. We never spent this much time on a record, and it feels really cool to do that for once. You can really tell, and we’re just really anxious to get it out there and everything.
I’ll never forget when Rented World first came out and remembered how much anticipation there was surrounding its release from the very beginning. How do you think this record truly defines where the band stands both musically and personally?
Yeah. I mean, for us, a lot of bands will kind of say lofty things of their work that they just finished doing, but without trying to sound too pompous and like an asshole (laughs), I really do believe that it sums us up perfectly. I think every other record we’ve hinted up as, there have been times of that, but our personalities have maybe never come out true with an album as much as this new one has. It has everything that I love about our band, and that’s what gets me excited to play our songs.
We kind of went into it and we really wanted to make a fun record, and it’s tough for us because we always write emotional and dark kind of songs. But we kind of wanted to make an album where you throw it on a jukebox in a bar and be fucking punk the whole night, or just play the album at a whole show and have the crowd just be so pumped on it all. So, that was kind of a big focus of it, while keeping the integrity of the way that we write songs with the storytelling aspect and just sharing our lives through it all. I think that we kind of really achieved that this time around, so I’m really proud of it.
In a live video that I came across recently, you mentioned that one of your new tracks, “Bad Catholics,” will not be on the new record, but will featured on a forthcoming split as well. Would you say that this could provide fans with a little sneak peek of what’s to come before After The Party’s official release?
Actually, there’s a funny story with that. It was one of those songs that we’ve had as a band for a while. We recorded it, and in our minds we were like, “Yeah, we’ll put it out on a split and everything.” Then all of a sudden, everybody just started falling in love with the song. I’m not going to say definitely (laughs), but it might make its way into the record. I think I spoke too [soon] saying that, but yeah, I don’t know, man. We might have to reconsider our ideas.
That was just a song that I really wanted to play that one in Scranton just because people that grew up in Scranton would really latch on to the lyrical themes of the song, and I just thought that it would be really awesome to premiere the song first in Scranton. That’s why we chose to play it there. I don’t know, it just seems like people are really stoked on the song. So, maybe it might have another chance (laughs).
Moving on back to the tour, will there be an opportunity for the fans to hear some new material throughout your shows with Bayside?
Yeah, absolutely. That’s what we are really excited about it—just to try out some new stuff. I think at some point, there will be a song out there in the universe, and it will be cool to hear people sing-along to a new song. That’s always one of the most exciting things. There’s that to look forward to, and I am just excited to try some stuff out and see how it goes over I guess (laughs). This album is just so personal to all of us, and we put so much work and effort into it. It’s so tough to not able to share it with everybody, you know? That’s all that we want to do. So, it’s going to be exciting to start playing those songs live and to be able to share them.
Definitely. I am looking forward to finally hearing some new Menzingers material down the road. On one final note, when your tour is all said and done, what’s the rest of the year looking like for the band?
So basically, we’re going to be doing this tour with Bayside, and then we are going to be home for a week. Then, we go to Europe for three weeks with The Bouncing Souls, and we do some headlining shows in the UK with our buddy, Roger Harvey. After that, that’s when everything is going to be kicking into gear, so there’s going to be a lot of exciting things going on with our band. Everything is just going to start happening, and that’s really exciting. Like, 2017 is going to be a pretty big touring year for us.
The Menzingers are currently on the road with Bayside and Sorority Noise, where they will be playing at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia on Aug. 18, PlayStation Theater in Manhattan on Aug. 19, and the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville on Aug. 20. The Menzingers have plans to release their forthcoming studio effort, After The Party. Further details on this upcoming release are to be announced. For more information, go to themenzingers.com.