Over the last half-decade, the Men have emerged as one of New York City’s best rock bands. Despite churning out galvanizing records each of the last five years, the Brooklyn quartet has refused to limit itself to any narrowly defined genre, with its discography ranging from the abrasive noise-punk of 2011’s Leave Home to the melodic alt-country of 2013’s New Moon.
The Men’s latest album, Tomorrow’s Hits, is another rock and roll collage, full of Asbury Park soul (“Another Night”), blues-punk explosion (“Pearly Gates”), and bouncy piano-pop (“Sleepless”). Rolling Stone recently spoke with singer/guitarist Nick Chiericozzi about the albums that had the biggest influence on their new music.
The Bachs, Out of the Bachs
“One of the records that we really were listening to a lot was called Out of the Bachs by the Bachs. They were from Chicago in the late Sixties, and they had two singers, which was really cool. One is kind of a sleazy, sixties garage-rock type singer, and then the other guy is more like Paul McCartney, writing songs that sound a lot like ‘Yesterday.’ It’s a really odd sounding record; it’s not clean and pristine. With their two singers, there’s a lot of harmonizing with very tonally different sounds, and I see that with our band. We try to take those different voices and hopefully make it sound halfway decent.”
The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Electric Ladyland
“We are always trying to make something that sounds like Electric Ladyland. Every time we’ve put out each of our last few records, [The Men singer-guitarist] Mark [Perro] and I have thrown on Ladyland after finishing the album to compare. That record was an inspiration just for pure sound. We really wanted to get a cleaner drum tone on Tomorrow’s Hits, and listening to Electric Ladyland, especially the drums, really helped. Learning from that rhythm section sound on Ladyland was pretty crucial for us on our most recent record.”
Slim Harpo, The Excello Singles Anthology
“For the song ‘Pearly Gates’ on our new album, I was just trying to write a song like ‘Shake Your Hips’ by Slim Harpo. I love that song, it’s just a boogie. I wanted to write something that takes that idea of ‘Shake Your Hips,’ with its dark, improvisational lyrics, and then just blows it up. We added the horns on ‘Pearly Gates’ and took it to a whole different place. It’s funny how that really changed so much, from the simple idea of ‘Shake Your Hips,’ with just one guitar, into this big monster of a song.”
Iggy and the Stooges, I’m Sick of You EP
“We definitely listened to I’m Sick of You a lot. A lot of the tracks were outtakes from Raw Power, and everything that Iggy was doing around that period is really untouchable. I love how dirty it is, it’s that quality that we threw into ‘Pearly Gates’ and ‘Going Down.’ We took a lot from the idea that you can make something pretty but also really grimy. Iggy is the master of that. I’m Sick of You sounds really cheap, in a good way.”
Curtis Mayfield, Curtis
“I was listening to Curtis the summer before we recorded Tomorrow’s Hits. Curtis Mayfield is a great singer, and he really has a knack for melody. He also has a really unique, thin-sounding guitar, which is new territory for me. ‘Miss Black America’ is a really impressive song. I always like when artists don’t shove politics down your throat or try to wave a flag. Mayfield is just commenting on what’s going on around him. The horn section on Curtis is also funky as hell. A lot of the horn playing on Tomorrow’s Hits came from classic soul records from people like Curtis Mayfield and James Brown.”