Interview with The Menzingers

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Chatting with Tom Way

On May 29 at The Met, you have the opportunity to check out one of the most exciting punk bands out there today — The Menzingers. Hailing from The City Of Brotherly Love, they have a new album out called Rented World and have been electrifying crowds on both sides of the pond. I chatted with co-guitarist and vocalist Tom Way about the band’s current tour, working with Epitaph Records and what it’s like for a punk band in 2014.

Rob Duguay: The Menzingers are currently on tour with Buffalo punks Lemuria, fellow Philadelphia rock act Cayetana and PUP from Toronto. Last time I saw you guys at The Met you opened for Hot Water Music last January and it was a hell of a time. What is it about The Met that makes The Menzingers want to come back?

Tom Way: New England has always been a special place for us. When we first started playing out of state in high school bands, New England was on the edge of our charted territory. You can always count on a good show and a good diner. There’s something inherently comfortable about the area.

We first played The Met a few years back with Anti-Flag and it was such a great time. A very dear friend of mine went to RISD and we ended up having one of the most memorable nights of tour yet. It’s just a great venue in an interesting place.

RD: Last month, The Menzingers came out with their fourth studio album, Rented World, off of the legendary label Epitaph Records. Being your second release off of Epitaph, how is it working with Bad Religion’s Brett Gurewitz and the organization as a whole?

TW: Working with Epitaph is nothing short of fantastic. It is the label I have aspired to be on since I was a kid. Actually signing to the label and coming full circle is a lot like some kid from south Philly throwing around a baseball his whole life and signing to the Phillies. While we were starry eyed at first, we’re now a lot more comfortable with our working relationship with Epitaph. The people who work there are stand up individuals. Brett Gurewitz is Brett Gurewitz. I mean c’mon — how cool is that?

RD: Whenever I interview a punk act, I ask this question: In your opinion, what’s the state of punk in the 21st century? Do you think it’s fallen off from being out of the mainstream or do you think it’s right where it belongs with people having to look for punk albums rather than having it shoved in their faces?

TW: Ahh, to quantify the unquantifiable and label the nameless. What is punk? I have no idea, but I know whole heartedly that the idea of “mainstream” is so much different than what it was that it’s difficult to even call it “mainstream” anymore. People don’t buy records and people are leaving the radio in droves. Warped Tour may not have punk bands on it anymore, and bands that were huge punk bands in the ’90s can oftentimes barely draw anyone to shows. But why shouldn’t it be that way? That was 20 years ago. TWENTY YEARS. Twenty years before those punk bands peaked in the ’90s, punk didn’t even exist.

Has particular pigeonholed styles of aggressive rock & roll fallen off? Sure. However, the ethics of accomplishing things on your own and starting your own bands, and your own venues, and throwing your own shows are as strong as ever. Things are certainly weirder now, and the music itself has changed, but the part of “having to look for punk albums” has gotten even easier than it was when it was more mainstream. The days of the internet are here.

I’m sure that there will always be some shitkicker in a Casualties t-shirt walking around the mall causing trouble. At least I hope so.

RD: After this tour in support of Rented World, what does the rest of 2014 have in store for The Menzingers?

TW: Lots of touring! Heading to Europe in the fall with our dear friends in The Holy Mess and The Smith Street Band. We’re so excited!

It should be one hell of a show with The Menzingers, so I highly suggest you go. Tickets and showtimes available on The Met’s website at themetri.com. I’ll see you there!

The Menzingers’ website: themenzingers.com

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