Around this time last year, the eccentric and passionate Philadelphia-based punk outlet The Menzingers just released their fourth studio album, Rented World—a highly anticipated follow-up to 2012’s beloved On The Impossible Past. While On The Impossible Past nostalgically resonated with many devoted fans on a personal standpoint—especially with anathematic hits like “Good Things,” “The Obituaries” and “Casey”—Rented World truly proved itself as a grippingly bare and honest follow-up effort that reflected a deep personal shift in the band’s musicianship.
After receiving an overwhelming borage of positive feedback from this new record, The Menzingers’ fanbase immediately expanded outside the level of playing in small punk clubs and reached toward higher states. The excitement that surrounded the band definitely caught on to the attention of many once they embarked on a full North American tour alongside Lemuria, Pup and Cayetana, in celebration of Rented World’s release.
While the band was on tour in support of the new record, I had the opportunity to chat with Menzingers guitarist and vocalist Greg Barnett about the immediate response of Rented World and how it musically and personally stood out in comparison to On The Impossible Past. Fast forward one year later, I recently caught up with Barnett right before they hit the road once again in support with Taking Back Sunday and Letlive ironically enough; talk about déjà vu.
Along with discussing their relationship with Taking Back Sunday as well as sharing some past stories on tour, Barnett also touched base on what the band has been up to lately and some of the future plans they have in works for the remainder of the year.
So it’s been almost a year since we last spoke actually. How have things been going for the band since the Rented World Tour?
Well, I guess a lot really. We kind of… what did we end up doing at the end of the year? We went to Europe—we did our most “successful” European tour. After that, we kind of took some time off and have been home for a bit. We were writing here-and-there, but nothing too serious. I don’t know, we are excited to get back out and get back into the groove of things because we kind of slowed down during the winter. And you know, touring in the winter is kind of the worst, so…
We always do it too, but this year we were like, “No, let’s stay home.” So, we’ve been home for three months, so we’re finally ready to get back out.
Now, it looks like you’ll be back on the road with Taking Back Sunday once again. What’s that going to be like?
Well, I’m really, really excited for it. One, we haven’t done a supporting tour in a long time, so it’s just fun to play shows that are that big. You know, it’s a lot different than what we normally do, so it’s really cool to play in really nice venues, use great sound systems and everything. And, you know, we’re pretty close with the Taking Back Sunday guys at this point. We played a bunch of shows with them, so I’m really excited to tour with them and kind of, you know… get into some trouble, be able to hang and have fun, man. We haven’t been out in a while, so I’m excited about it.
I remember seeing you open for Taking Back Sunday on the Tell All Your Friends Tour and there were practically 10 people in the crowd, myself included, who knew who you guys were and what you were about. Fast-forward to this past December’s Holiday Show at Starland and you received an overwhelmingly exciting response from the crowd this time around. Would you say that maybe you’ve won over their fanbase after playing with them so many times in the past?
Umm… yeah… I don’t know, I guess that’s like, I don’t think I would be able to say that necessarily, but I think we definitely kind of… I don’t know, we definitely haven’t won them over, but we’re working at it. And, a lot of their fans haven’t, or wouldn’t, listen to a band like us, you know? We’re introduced to a lot of new people, but I mean, it would be cocky to say that we won them over or anything like that.
One cool date coming on your tour with Taking Back Sunday and Letlive—you’re going to be playing this year’s Atlantic City Beer and Music Festival. Will this be your first time playing at a beer festival, or anything close to it?
We actually played that Beer Festival that company has thrown, has done a couple of them—and we played one in Scranton, Pennsylvania, in our hometown. And it was great, it was a lot fun, and I am kind of really excited to play in Atlantic City because me and our sound guy… kind of love to gamble (laughs). We saw that we are playing Vegas on the tour with them, and now we are playing Atlantic City—and we’re going to try to get a nice hotel and kind of just post up and get into some trouble (laughs).
Tell me what were some of your favorite memories with Taking Back Sunday both on and off the stage throughout your time on tour with them in the past.
I don’t know, there’s a lot actually. Like, we did a week tour with them where we got to hang out toward the end of their Tell All Your Friends Tour. I remember one night—I think we were in Providence, Rhode Island—where we all kind of just went out to the bars until the very early hours. And I just remember [guitarist and vocalist] Tom May like, “fireman’s” carrying [Taking Back Sunday vocalist] Adam Lazzara around all night (laughs). Like, Tom smashed beer bottles in the middle of the street and we had to like, sweep them up and help up traffic and everything. Yeah, there are some good times and I am kind of excited that we get to do it for much longer.
I am sure there will be a lot more debauchery taking place since you’re going to be hitting up bigger cities on this tour.
Now, you just put out a new music video for “Where Your Heartache Exists.” What was the inspiration behind wanting to release a music video for this song?
We just kind of wanted to pick another song to make a music video for, and that was just… I don’t know, it kind of seems like it’s become a fan favorite off of our last record [Rented World]. People are excited about it, we really like playing it and we really like the sound, so it kind of just fit in. We really wanted to make a low-key, like, chill music video that fits the vibe really well.
Were there any stylistic directions or elements that you approached differently in the production of this video compared to past videos you’ve released?
Yeah, we kind of just went into it being like, we just wanted to do like a super-chill music video. We kind of wanted to do something just like, “Let’s hang out. Wait, what do you guys want to do for a video?”… “I just want to shoot fireworks.”
We were like, “All right, well, how are we going to make this music video?” Like, I don’t know, “What if we just go down to this pier and shoot off fireworks and play the song?” “Yeah, that’s perfect.”
Like, I don’t know… sometimes, I think it’s really easy to overlook the music video and make it a lot more than what it should be, but it’s awesome. I think the video came out really cool because we had so much fun making it, and it was just chill and laid back. It fit the song well and I think it fits the vibe, really.
Like you’ve said before, you started writing a little bit. Did the release of Rented World sort of spark a lot of new inspiration to write new material right away?
I’d say we’re the kind of band that always writes all of the time. You always have in the back of your head that you’re always trying to write toward something, but especially at this point, it’s kind of still early. I don’t know, we just have fun—like, we have a practice space that’s pretty close to us, and it’s kind of become our hangout spot.
So, I don’t know, we get together and jam on songs. Like, it doesn’t have to be anything, it’s just fun, so that’s kind of the way we approach songwriting. We’re like, “Let’s just hang out and play some music, and if something cool comes out of it, cool. If not, then whatever, man.” It’s just a low-key, easy chill vibe about it. We’re not too uptight about writing songs, but I think in a good way, we don’t really get too worried about it.
Now, we’re getting pretty close to the one-year anniversary of your fourth studio album. How much has the general response of the record dramatically compared to when you first put out the record?
I know, I know; it’s coming up really soon. Yeah, it’s been a wild ride. I think this whole thing has taken me more than anywhere I’ve ever thought, so it’s not even this one record at this point, it’s just everything. Like, you know, every year is like our new, “What the hell is going on?” kind of deal. Just changing up it’s… I don’t know, every day you wake up and get an email and you’re like, “I can’t believe that this is my life and I get to do this.” So, it’s really cool.
What else does the rest of the year have in store for The Menzingers?
We basically have a lot of touring this year. A lot of stuff in the works that I can’t announce just yet, but pretty much we’re going to be on the road the entire time. And then, in the months that we have off, we’re going to start writing for a new record. But like I said earlier, like, we are kind of in no immediate rush, and we want to only write songs when it’s fun and it feels right to do it. So, we’re going to write songs and see what happens. Then, maybe we’ll have a record by the end of the year, or maybe we won’t. Not kind of putting really anything on it.
The Menzingers will be playing at the Best Buy Theater in Manhattan on March 18 and March 19, the Atlantic City Beer and Music Festival in Atlantic City on March 20 and the Electric Factory in Philadelphia on March 21 and March 22. Rented World is out now on Epitaph Records. For more information, go to themenzingers.com.