Ready to Reach New Heights
An Interview with Greg Barnett of The Menzingers
Words by Brett Bodner
Photo by Nick Karp
Greg Barnett of The Menzingers has been enjoying barbeques, rest and relaxation before he heads out on the 31-city summer headlining tour to support of their new album, Rented World. The Menzingers – guitarist/vocalist Barnett, guitarist/vocalist Tom May, bassist Eric Keen, and drummer Nick Wilson – made a name for themselves in the punk scene following the success of their previous album, On The Impossible Past. Fans gravitated to the album, which contained stand-out songs like “Gates,” “Burn After Writing,” “Nice Things,” and “The Obituraries.”
Rented World is the band’s fourth studio album. Barnett said the band felt some pressure to make the follow up album to On The Impossible Past, but at the same time they didn’t really let it affect them. “There’s more of a personal pressure, where you wanted to do something that you personally knew was worth doing. We went in with every song knowing that we spent a lot of time writing the record and every song we felt had to be important and have its place which was our goal with the record,” Barnett said.
While On the Impossible Past had catchy hooks, Rented World had some similar sounds and themes, which can be heard on “In Remission,” “Rodent,” and “The Talk.” However, the band also tried some new things on the album too, like with the 90’s alternative sounding “Transient Love” and the bare bones closer “When You Died.”
“We wanted to try some new things because we didn’t want write the same record over again. “Transient Love” is the perfect example of a song that’s a pretty far departure from the things in the past, but it’s still our band and it still sounds like us,” Barnett said.
Personal lyrics filled with heart have come to define the band’s songs. Deep lyrics like “I know where your heartache exists/it’s when you are alone and when you’re around me” and “Where do people go when they die?/How do you keep them alive?” can be heard all throughout Rented World.
“I’ve never been any good at writing fiction before, I’ve tried but I’m kind of terrible at it. The experiences that go on in our lives have always been the biggest influence as far as lyrics go,” he said.
Rented World was recorded in Philadelphia at Miner Street Studio, which was the first time the band recorded close to home and at the studio. There the band worked with Jon Low who is known for his work with artists like Sharon Van Etten, The National, and Kurt Vile.
“It’s just an absolutely beautiful studio with a bunch of cool vintage gear everywhere with big tape decks and stuff like that. We just kind of hung out and drank a lot of coffee and it was a fun time,” Barnett said.
Recently, The Menzingers released a music video for the opening track of Rented World, “I Don’t Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore,” which features Friday the 13th‘s Jason turning over a new leaf by working in a deli and trying to pick up women on Ok Cupid.
“Whitey McConnaughy is the one who directed the video and we wanted to work with him for a long time,” Barnett said. “He sent over the idea when we were in Australia and he was like ‘hey guys this is the idea’ and we were like ‘this is genius and it has to get done’.”
Barnett said the band is really excited to get on the road and do the tour, which is one of the biggest headlining tours the band has done.
“We’ve never done a tour in this kind of capacity. Most of the venues are bigger than rooms that we typically play in so it’s kind of exciting and nerve-racking to do that and make that kind of jump, but it’s going to be great. The whole goal is turn big places and make them as intimate as possible,” Barnett said.
After the upcoming tour, Barnett said they’ll be playing a couple of festivals and then will head over to Europe in October for a three week headlining tour.
“We also have some other stuff planned as well but we can’t announce it yet. We’re always busy and we stay busy and we will be touring a lot,” he said.
The Menzingers’ Rented World summer tour kicks off on May 29 in Providence, with a local stop at New York’s Webster Hall on May 30th. Supporting the band will be Lemuria, Pup, and Cayetana. Get your tickets here!
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