WANARB caught Brooklynites MEN live at Madame JoJo’s, Soho last week and did a super exclusive interview with JD Samson of the band

Consisting of members of the already legendary act Le Tigre, the three piece sure had White Heat’s crowd fired up. Sporting a ‘SEMENYA‘ T-Shirt – JD Samson was “super duper psyched to play again in the UK” encouraging the audience to sing along, and the circus came when day-of-show Candy Bar recruits waved oversized cardboard cut-out hands with the mottos ‘Fuck Your Friends’ and ‘Silence = Death’ – the hyped crowd swung between moments of jubilation and rage. The band absolutely killed it >>>

Men – Credit Card Babie$

Le Tigre made a big impact in certain circles in the UK. Would you say MEN are advancing down the path Le Tigre created?

I think that Le Tigre opened a lot of doors for many musicians and performers in the queer/feminist/art scene and i think that to some extent my involvement in that project has helped MEN to reach a lot of people that may not have heard of us without that connection. I feel forever indebted to my collaborations with Le Tigre and where they have brought me in this world, and I think that we are walking hand in hand with Le Tigre and building on what was already created by that band.

Why did you choose the name MEN?

One day as Johanna (founding Le Tigre member and MEN contributer – WANARB) and i sat in an airport in the midwest she explained her new philosophy of life to me. “What would a man do?”. The idea was that as women we are constantly apologizing when we don’t need to, taking less pay than men, being treated like we don’t know anything (mostly in the music industry) and not feeling confident with our art. It was a way for us to say ‘Fuck you, i’m going to turn it all around’. We are MEN. So that’s how the name began, but now it seems to mean much more. ‘What is a man? What is a woman? We can all be men. We can all be women. Its a word and it really speaks to the gender fluidity that we all hope to help promote to the the dichotomous world that we live in.

You seem to have entered an interesting area in terms of fusing guitars with electronic beats – what makes you stand out musically from other cool bands out there doing that?

Ginger’s guitar really ‘stands out’ as its a flying V shape guitar donated by Melissa Logan from Chicks on Speed, the colours and stickers seem to be forever changing.  Musically though I think we are not shy to use the guitars in a range of styles – from back-beat reggae chords and punk, to heavy metal shredding.

The lyrics to the tracks I have heard are quite thought provoking, how does this work alongside the beats you have created?

Our band writes songs about real things that we are thinking about. Things that we are living, that we are ALL living as a people. We write about how expensive it is to get pregnant when you are gay/lesbian. We write about our wartime economies, we write about how expensive it is to pay rent and that love somehow ends up in the middle of that when you pay half price if you choose to live with your partner. We write about reality and why not dance to that? We write for a community, and who better to dance with? We write for our people, for building and for love. whether its about something that may be depressing or not, its still a way to join together in realness and hold on tight.

Live, you are playing with a drum sequencer / kaos pad of sorts – do you plan on recruiting a live drummer further down the line?

We have discussed it since day one actually. I think at this point I am really attached to making the beats more of a club thing and adding the guitars as a whole new music genre. I’m interested in adding drummers to the electronic beats for sure. A dream of mine is to have one percussionist playing live hand drums, as well as a live kit player adding to the club beats in a similar way to the presets. I really do love the ‘shredding in the club’ style we have created and i think it would be cool to keep that going and adding to it when we can.

Where do you see your songs being played? Do you see it fitting into the same kind of clubscene in the UK as in US?

Clubs, clubs, clubs, well Stereogamous just finished this incredible remix for Credit Card Babies – soon to be released into the world. I think that song will get played at every kind of gay party out there. It’s insane. Gay clubs, straight clubs, I think our music fits in lots of places, places where people dance and get wild.

There are lots of videos on YouTube of your performace at Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco in September last year. What was it like to play at a leather and fetish street fair?!

Folsom was a really amazing time for us. As you play on the stage there you can see all the way down the fair, thousands of people in leather, with smiles. It was a place where we felt really at home as a band. Lots of queers and lots of people who are proud of who they are. The energy that day was full of jubilance and freedom and that is exactly what we feel like we want to promote to the world.

I’ve heard rumours that MEN are set to work with WANARB favourites Hot Chip – is this true?

Wow! That would be awesome! I wish that was true! I love the band and they are also amazing people. Hopefully one day we can work together on a track. We would also love to work with Missy Elliot!

The live shows include live painting and performance. How integral is this to MEN?

We are artists and we will never let you forget that. Every performance we do adds some kind of multidimensional or multimedia art and performance to the show. Our band began as a collaborative performance project and we will continue to keep it that way forever. We don’t want to just noodle on our instruments, we want to create energy between the band and the audience and we want to make it a space that is new, experimental, and full of art!

Do you think performance in music is more important than ever given the economic position of the music industry – in particular?

Yes I agree that you need to really spice up the performance and not just play the music from the record nowadays. It is important to really ‘put on a show’ if you want people to come and spend the money to see you live. Although performance has always been really important to me. I have never played a show in my regular clothes for example. costumes costumes costumes. Stage props stage props stage props. Oh and don’t forget about dancing and antics!

Follow MEN on Myspace as they are likely to be playing UK shows this Summer and will be releasing their debut LP this Autumn >>>


*Artwork by Celeste Dupuy-Spencer



3 Responses to “WE ARE MEN”

  1. What a wicked, quirky stomper. It’s the kind of tune that I could imagine there being some great remixes too – are there any?

  2. Matttttttttttttt Says:

    We’ve been playing Make It Reverse on the radio show for a while. They are really great- totally deserving of inheriting the Le Tigre mantle…

  3. I haven’t come across any remixes yet, but i’ll post the Stereogamous one once is is released – I’ve heard very good things about it. He remixed We Have Band recently …

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