The Menzingers' Greg Barnett On His Really Serious Internet Beef
Connor Descheemaker The Menzingers return to Phoenix this Monday, June 23 at Pub Rock Live in Scottsdale
The Menzingers are breaking out. Long known as an essential member of the "orgcore" punk scene based around the website Punknews.org and the annual Gainesville, Florida music festival The Fest, with a Billboard-charting new album Rented World, it is clear the band has transcended the scene.
This Monday, the band returns to Phoenix at Pub Rock Live with fellow Fest stalwarts Lemuria, PUP, and Cayetana. We chatted with guitarist and co-vocalist Greg Barnett last week to learn about the band's tour thus far and increased success, personal lyrics, and unexpected influences.
Up on the Sun: First, how has this tour gone so far? I know that you guys are playing bigger venues than you've played previously in your career, especially as a headliner.
Greg Barnett:The tour has been going amazing, it's actually pretty surreal. I never could have imagined that our band would get to this level. It's really cool. All the shows have been great. The highlights of course, are Philly and New York, which we've been playing for years. Both feel like hometown [shows] for us. All of our family came out and friends. No complaints, really.
Where I first heard about you guys was through a site like Punknews.org, and through that punk community. Right now you guys are one of the top bands out of that scene. How do you see yourselves fitting into that community still, and extending its reach?
It's cool to be associated with all those bands. Those are the bands that we all [in the band] listen to. Against Me! and [The] Lawrence Arms put out two records this year that I really like, and I hope we fit in with that, and it seems like we fit in. But as a band we've never really pigeonholed ourselves to any one specific thing, so if those people don't really like us anymore, then so be it [laughs]. But it's nice to be a part of something like that.
One thing that I notice a lot in your music, and one thing that a lot of reviewers point out, is that you use "I" a lot in the lyrics. But you use that to communicate a lot of universal topics. I see it as a "personal-becomes-political." In the song "Come Here Often," for instance. Is that something that's very intentional, using your personal experience to address a bigger political issue?
Absolutely! Whether it be political or social or anything like that. Those are the songs that I always connected to the most, songs that take the human experience and then [use that to discuss] a bigger subject. Growing up, those were the songs that I was super influenced by. As a listener, you can have more of a connection if you can put yourself in that [specific] experience. If you just talk about a blanket issue and you don't really put some kind of personal experience into it, it just sounds really distant. It's really hard to connect [with that]. I've always like songs where you learned about something through the singer's perspective, or lack of perspective. That's one thing we've always tried to do with the band.