The Menzingers' Tom May Discusses Touring With His Heroes, Like The Descendents and Bouncing Souls
Punk is just too stubborn to die. Because of the genre's tenacity, some young bands are lucky enough to tour with artists that have been making music for decades. The Menzingers have played shows with The Descendents, and the group is currently on the third leg of a tour with The Bouncing Souls.
"We grew up listening to them. Some of the first shows we went to were their shows, so to have it come full circle like this a couple years later is pretty gratifying," says vocalist and guitarist Tom May.
We recently caught up with Tom May to discuss the band's latest album, On the Impossible Past, his first time meeting The Lawrence Arms' Brendan Kelly, and how the punk community responds to stolen gear.
Up on the Sun: How is the tour going so far?
Tom May: So far, it's going amazing. It's almost like it never stops. We went to Europe with The Bouncing Souls and then to Canada, and we're going to spend the entire summer . . . It's going to be like how it's been the last eight days, it's gonna be a great time.
What's it been like playing shows with The Bouncing Souls?
It's great. We grew up listening to them, some of the first shows we went to were their shows, so to have it come full circle like this a couple years later is pretty gratifying.
Looks like you have a bit of that coming up since you're playing with The Descendents at Riot Fest.
We got to play with them a couple of times last year, and we're playing with them at Riot Fest Brooklyn in a month or two. That's going to be amazing.
On the Impossible Past has been met with lots of positive feedback. Was the final product what you set out to make?
Speaking in absolutes, it's the album we eventually set out to make. We always want to challenge ourselves to get better. It definitely came out the way we wanted it to come out when we were writing it. It came out even better than we thought, we wrote this one all at once, so we came up with a couple of ideas and wrote the album all at the same time. It wasn't really a collection of songs -- it became more of an album.
One thing that really stands out is the vivid songwriting. Are most of the songs based on actual experiences?
A lot of songs are based on actual experiences, experiences you hear, or things that happened to people that we knew, things like that, yeah, they relate back to personal things.
You guys worked with Brendan Kelly on the song "So It Goes," and he had a lot to do with you guys getting signed to Red Scare. What was it like when you first met him?
It was funny for me when I first met him because I didn't recognize him. I had never seen The Lawrence Arms before, but I liked them a lot. He was at our merch table at The Fest and we were all drunk already. He was like, "Uhh, hey do you have any t-shirts?" And we were like, "No, we don't have them, sorry." He was like, "All right, come watch my band later on." "Oh, cool, what's your band?" "The Lawrence Arms," and I was, like, ah, dammit.
It was funny. He came and watched our set that day. My guitar broke, so I didn't even play guitar for the whole set. I didn't have a belt, so I was using a lanyard to hold my pants up, and it was just big chaos and he really enjoyed it, so he introduced us to Toby [Jeg] and that's how we got signed to Red Scare, it was a lot of fun.