I think we recorded it in April 2016, and it came out February 2017. The biggest problem with After The Party is the way it reiterates previous thematic elements of The Menzingers‘ music, with half the lyrical craft of the past few albums.
the menzingers tour 2020 – NEPA Holiday Show Featuring The Menzingers, Dark Thoughts, Ramona, And James Barrett
The last time we heard from The Menzingers , they were fretting over getting older. Elsewhere on Hello Exile, The Menzingers turn their incisive songwriting to matters of love and romance, exploring the glories and failures of human connection. A wistful piece of jangle-pop, Anna” paints a portrait of lovesick longing, complete with dreamy recollections of wine-drunk kitchen dancing. And on Strangers Forever,” the band shifts gears for a searing tribute to parting ways, backing their spiky guitars with brilliantly barbed lyrics (e.g., Maybe it’s for the better if we both stay strangers forever”).
That’s some solid company. But none of those beer-soaked heartbreak bands does anything like The Menzingers. “On the Impossible Past” proved how good these guys are. Every subsequent album, every single, every show has shown how little they ever needed to prove.
After the Party’s sophisticated yet emotionally raw songwriting also owes much to The Menzingers’ broadening their palette of influences in recent years. May, for instance, mined inspiration from the off-kilter song structure of Regina Spektor. Listening to her made me realize that you can go in with an idea and build the song around that, without it really having to go anywhere in particular,” he notes. Barnett, on the other hand, found himself swayed by their bus driver’s constant spinning of Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell on a summer 2015 tour of Europe. You can say what you want about Meat Loaf, but his ability to craft catchy melodies is absolutely insane, where there’s ten of the strongest melodies ever written all just in one song,” says Barnett.
The Menzingers: Absolutely. I don’t think in this kind of climate, you can not go full in with it. I think we’d be doing a disservice to the song and how we all feel if we didn’t fully go in and make a statement. That was one of the most difficult parts of writing that songs. I wrote like 20 verses-I can’t even count. We wrote them over and over again, because it’s hard to say everything you want to say in three and a half minutes. It’s really tricky. I wanted to stay on theme of who I am as a person. I didn’t want it to come off as pretentious. I wanted it to feel how I typically write songs. It was a challenge to hone in the lyrics to a way that I felt comfortable with and happy with and said as much as I wanted to say. At the end, I was really happy.
The Menzingers are known for making leaps. Not just into the audiences crowding the edges of the stage, but in their music, too. But on their new album After the Party their dynamic, introspective punk has been replaced by an aged cry for nostalgia, rebellion, and bands that sound a lot like The Clash.
The heavy Telecaster influence is a new one for both guitarists. Back home in Scranton, a couple of hours outside Philadelphia, Barnett wrote his first songs on a white Strat before picking up a Les Paul around the time The Menzingers were working on album four, 2014’s riff-happy Rented World, while May has also changed things up in recent years.
In the making of After the Party, The Menzingers also returned to longtime influences like The Clash, who were key to carving out their sound in the band’s early days. Formed in 2006, The Menzingers made their debut with 2007’s A Lesson in the Abuse of Information Technology and relocated to Philly in 2008. Over the years, the band steadily built up a devoted fanbase and—in 2012—saw their highly acclaimed Epitaph debut On The Impossible Past voted Album of the Year by Absolute Punk and Punk News. In 2014 they put out their fourth album Rented World, praised as driving-around-with-the-windows-down music, ready for maximum blasting” by Pop Matters and one of the best pop punk albums” of the year by Blurt.
The Menzingers released a split 7″ EP with The Bouncing Souls in November 2013. Both bands released a new original song on the split, along with a cover of one of the other band’s songs. The Menzingers covered “Kate is Great” from The Bouncing Souls , and The Bouncing Souls covered “Burn After Writing” from On the Impossible Past.
The Menzingers consists of bass guitarist Eric Keen, drummer Joe Godino and guitarists and vocalists Greg Barnett and Tom May. On the Impossible Past went on to be voted “Album Of The Year” 2012 for both and It was also voted “Album Of The Year” by RockZone magazine in Spain.
Hello Exile loses a little bit of the punk edge that could be heard on Rented World and On The Impossible Past and replaces it with a more midwestern rock influenced sound, but that definitely isn’t a bad thing. The album doesn’t lose the band’s energy and sing-along worthy choruses that made fans fall in love with them to begin with. The first two songs on the album, America (You’re Freaking Me Out)” and Anna” are sure to be fan favorites at live shows, but even the deep cuts like High School Friend” and London Drugs” will have you singing along within the first few listens. These songs, much like The Menzingers’ previous work, are memorable and catchy as hell.
There’s been no rest for Culture Abuse since the release of their 2018 triumph ‘Bay Dream’ – and that approach continues as the band closes out 2019 on a North American tour alongside The Menzingers and Tigers Jaw. In anticipation of kickoff, Culture Abuse have released a music video chock full of footage from their summer headline tour for their crowd-pleasing singalong single, ‘Calm E’. Filmed on Super 8 by Aaron McQueen (bassist of Dare, who supported the summer headline tour), the video makes it even harder to wait for Culture Abuse to be back on the road later next week.
The Menzingers quickly incepted on the back of a supportive local scene and a debut album displaying what was described as some of the best melodies this style’s heard in ages” By 2008, May and Barnett had moved to Philadelphia to pursue higher education , and by 2010, the band were fully based in the City of Brotherly Love.
The Menzingers have never been an ambitious band. There’s an inherent simplicity to their work, which has always felt by design. Even when the band was putting together its knottiest songs—found predominantly on its first two releases—it’s always been in the business of anthems.
The band have announced a new fall headlining tour in support of Hello Exile and will begin their month-long North American headlining tour next week. You can check out both sets of upcoming dates below the album details.
If After The Party felt like growing up, then Hello Exile is finally accepting it, and that’s definitely not a bad thing. Musically, the album is the band’s most mature and diverse release yet, and lyrically, it’s filled with some of their most personal and emotional songs they’ve ever written. Combine the two, and Hello Exile is absolutely in the running to become The Menzingers’ best album yet. Although, I’m sure they’ll just go to top it again with the next one.
The band’s best was when it offered bassist-singer Abby V. on vocals. She had an uninhibited style – a sometimes-snarling, often Joan Jett-sounding female element that was fresh and interesting.
By emphasizing the acoustic rhythm guitar and steady percussion that accompanies the entire record, though, most of the album’s compelling songwriting gets lost in the final mix. May and Barnett are already not the best at annunciating; this sound mixing doesn’t do them any favors.
Punk rock , more so than any other genre, comes with a built-in age limit. There’s only so long you can play weeknights at basement venues for a share of the door and travel expenses; only so many years your back can withstand so many nights on strangers’ sofas. Those that don’t age out, sell out: their youthful excesses repackaged to shill hatchbacks and low-fat spread. Thank god, then, for The Menzingers: a four-piece born in the Scranton, Pennsylvania punk scene who opted to channel their 30s into roots-rock with a latent edge, capturing the free-fall into adulthood proper with a certain deft magic.
Happy coincidence aside, everything The Menzingers does is intentional. The language, the music and the imagery of the album all enhance the stories Barnett and May sing about and build a connection to their words. The cover of the record is a photograph titled White Shoes, taken by Joe Maloney in 1980 at Asbury Park, New Jersey. In an interview with The New Yorker, the photographer said of the image and its location, it was a distinctly working-class, non-affluent, semi-urban, slightly run-down beach town, with a music culture and a vibrant street life.” Committing the cardinal sin of judging an album by its cover, it serves as a fitting metaphor for the band and their music: gritty, kinetic and sincere.
Their second opus Chamberlain Waits and its extensive touring cycle garnered more attention from the wider American punk scene, but it was the Epitaph-released On The Impossible Past that truly put The Menzingers on the industry’s map. Praised as the band’s masterpiece, OTIP’s raw and vulnerable angst was a complete critical success and became an instant classic for many.
But this strange, sad, noisy, perfect band stuck with me the whole time. They soundtracked the start of the relationship that became my marriage. They played the basement music that I listened for the two or four years during which I tried to make a career in journalism work. This band even followed me when I traded the honor of ink and newsprint for the well-paid horror of PR and marketing.
I wrote Farewell Youth” for some other friends who were dealing with a death that was really close to them and seeing how much they struggled with it. I wanted to write something for them. For High School Friend,” that was a difficult one to write too. I lost some friends, some bandmates from my first band. It’s a difficult thing to think about. I do have some really close friends from growing up in that time and having late night conversations with them really helps. I grew up in a really small town and moved to Philadelphia. I’ve been living here now for eleven years or something. It just feels like the person I wrote the song about is in the same exact situation as me, and sometimes, it feels like we’re the only ones that truly know each other, because we’ve gone through all these experiences of growing up this way. I feel like that’s probably a pretty similar idea for a lot of people. I wanted to write a song about that in particular.
Songs that hit a little harder emotionally are peppered throughout the album as well, like the title track, Hello Exile,” the blunt, I Can’t Stop Drinking” and the incredibly powerful closer, Farewell Youth.” Easily one of the strongest songs on the album, Farewell Youth” feels like the cumulation of the themes addressed on Hello Exile and reminisces about growing up too fast as a punk kid in a small midwest town and eventually, growing apart from the people that meant the most to you. It’s beautifully heartbreaking and sure to touch people who have been in the same boat.
As they did while making 2017’s After The Party, the band decamped to producer Will Yip’s Studio 4 in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania for an extended period of time. Across six weeks, they finessed a collection that spans anthemic road songs, Full Moon Fever-style acoustic layers and the pogo-ready punk they cut their teeth on.
In a 75-minute set that packed in 20 songs with virtually no down time, The Menzingers packed the best of The Clash’s melody-driven punk with an added life perspective to deliver a great show that was a rare rock-vibe show at the venue.
The Menzingers: Exactly. It was insane to sit on it that long. That was a big learning experience for us, where we knew we didn’t want to do that. Music is changing so quickly with regards to streaming that we felt it was in our best interest, and in our interest as songwriters, to constantly be releasing singles between full-on LPs. This time, we had The Freaks” and Toy Soldiers.” We weren’t writing for the album just yet, but we had those songs, and we said, Y’know what? These are great songs, but I know that we’ll be able to write more at least to the same caliber. So, let’s release them as singles in between, and make that a thing so we’re constantly releasing music.
It’s a thought Barnett wouldn’t have had the foresight to consider on the band’s early records, which were largely marked by the mistakes of adolescence. But now he’s contemplating how to mature gracefully and, as he’s been discovering, so are his fans.
We spent our 20s living in a rowdy kind of way, and now we’re at a point where it seems like everyone in our lives is moving in different directions,” says May of the inspiration behind After the Party. Adds Barnett: We’re turning 30 now, and there’s this idea that that’s when real life comes on. In a way this album is us saying, ‘We don’t have to grow up or get boring—we can keep on having a good time doing what we love.’” Bad Catholics” follows the release of After the Party’s lead single Lookers,” which premiered on Noisey in August.
The Menzingers’ eagerly awaited fifth full-length After the Party is available now. The album arrives as the follow-up to the Philadelphia-based band’s widely acclaimed Rented World.
Opening band Ramona, a Philadelphia-based trio, was far closer to The Ramones style of punk – speedy songs, prominent drums and good-sounding, melodic songs in a nine-tune, 20-minute set.
In fact, the concert had so much momentum that it was 13 songs and 45 minutes in before May asked the crowd the perfunctory Everybody doing OK” – although judging by the frenzy nearest the stage, it might have been an honest question about their well-being.
2012’s On The Impossible Past brought a more polished pop-punk sound to the band’s material, while showing huge leaps forward in terms of songwriting ability, literary references and album structure. It remains one of the best pop-punk albums of the decade. Their follow-up, Rented World, maintained the status quo for a generally solid release. Now, their fifth record After The Party attempts a change in direction, but produces diminishing returns.
A pop music review on Thursday about the album After the Party” by the Menzingers misidentified the member of the band who wrote and sang lead on the track Thick as Thieves.” He is Tom May, not Greg Barnett.
The Scranton, Pa., band has always sounded a bit like a hardcore Gaslight Anthem. In the same vein as pop-punk stalwarts Taking Back Sunday and Blink-182, The Menzingers have two vocalists who share the mic and songwriting duties. Greg Barnett and Tom May’s vocal tendencies are indistinguishable in their worst moments, and cohesive at their finest. Barnett’s fierce grit often makes him the more compelling of the two, and he is considered by the cultish fanbase to be the band’s frontman.
But songs from the group’s other four albums sometimes carried the same trademarks. The good Toy Soldiers,” with both its social and militaristic references, was very Clash. The also-good Nice Things” barreled forward, and In Remission,” with its lyrics of conflict, was very punk rock.
Where are we gonna go now that our twenties are over?” The Menzingers set out to answer that question on their 2017 epic, After the Party. Now, almost as if to say, here,” The Menzingers have returned with a much more serious follow up Hello Exile. Throughout the new album, the Philly quartet tackle environmental crisis, alcohol abuse, and loss.
In a post thanking friends, family and fans for birthday wishes (Happy Birthday, Greg!), singer and guitarist Greg Barnett revealed that the follow-up to 2017’s incredible After The Party had been completed this past Friday, though he didn’t specify any sort of release date.
Reflecting on the muscular, spick-and-span presentation of After The Party, the decision was made to leave a few more rough edges in place on Hello Exile. It’s a call that brings added warmth to songs like Anna, the lead single and a lament for an absent lover, while delivering the requisite propulsion for May’s Strawberry Mansion, a furious screed about the need for action on climate change.