Interview: Male Bonding's Kevin Hendrick
Best Coast and Male Bonding are opening the Gargoyle's semester tonight. The show starts at 9 p.m. We've already interviewed Best Coast's Bethany Cosentino. But Male Bonding deserves some attention as well: The UK trio released its (excellent) Sub Pop debut, Nothing Hurts, earlier this year. The songs split the difference between punk and shoegaze, what with their jagged riffs, reverb-laden vocals, pretty melodies and plenty of noise. Male Bonding bassist/vocalist Kevin Hendrick took time out to answer some questions about the UK's DIY scene, American radio and Hurts.
Annie Zaleski: The more I listen to the record, the more I hear hints of shoegaze bands like Swervedriver and Ride - especially the latter band in the vocal delivery/harmonies and guitar textures. (Plus, I read in an interview that Robin likes Ride and My Bloody Valentine.) How big of an influence are these bands on you guys? Ride in particular never seems to get much critical due over here, in terms of being an influential band. But they're one of my all-time faves.
Kevin Hendrick: Ride Nowhere is one of my favourite albums of all time.The music you mention is definitley things we listen to a lot, I was, musically, kind of brought up on it. I don't see ourselves in that genre but I guess it must seep in to our own music. It surprises me that people mention it but it's a really nice surprise.
Still, I also hear influences from the Buzzcocks and McLusky (and as a corollary, Future of the Left). Where did you record the album? How long did it take you?
Buzzcocks are a big influence. Perfect English pop punk. Right amount of camp and edge and just pure melody. I only know one song by Mclusky from agaes ago. I only know Future of the Left by name. We recorded our album in New York. It wasn't a very pleasant experience. We're very happy with the result, but getting there was horrible. Recording a took a week.
Why was getting there horrible? And why was it not-very-pleasant?
It's just we were so used to doing everything ourselves and handing out your own idea, vision, to someone else just proved a little tricky. Sometimes that process is probably the best thing ever. It was just a little tough. All good though -- when you cut yourself, the scars always look way cooler.
What's the DIY punk scene like right now in the U.K.? How have you found it compares to what's going on in the U.S.?
I'm not too sure what D.I.Y. punk is in the UK. There's so much happening there, so many different levels. I guess some blur in to each other. There's still a real hardcore scene, I think, and more recently there's this horrible faux-designer-hardcore shit that pops up in crap venues. I don't know, all I know is there's a lot of bands, really cool bands, people in bands, artists all doing interesting stuff, all running varying labels helping each other out. There's our friend Conan who runs the Italian Beach Babes label and plays in Graffiti Island and Mazes. Jack from Mazes runs the suffering jukebox label. Matt Flag run Suplex cassettes and plays in Fair Ohs. There's a label called Twin Girl that is run by Freya who plays in La La Vasquez. There's this label called Club Milk that puts on shows and release out there stuff. We run our label Paradise Vendors. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Just what springs to my jetlag mind right now. Glad you asked?
What's the worst gig Male Bonding has ever played? (Examples: In terms of crowd or equipment disaster or sheer absurdity.)
That was definitely this horrible gig we did for a magazine in the desert. It was free tequila. They paid us an awful lot. We realised a motto recently "the more you pay us the worse we play." Anyway, this event was pretty vile and I upset everyone I knew by getting really wasted a slagging off Richard Kern (I stand by that, he's crap) because all his soft porn crap was on a million tv screens all over this venue. Anyway, people were throwing things at me and I couldn't sing or play. I'm not proud.
How did you guys originally decide you wanted to start a band?
We worked together, we moved in together, our romance led the way.
You've toured with Vivian Girls, so touring with Best Coast isn't as odd a pairing as some might think. Still: It seems like they're courting a very mainstream-pop audience and has drawn an audience that might be a bit taken aback by you guys. How do you anticipate Best Coast's crowd reacting to you guys?
Must admit I hadn't really thought about the audience. We just think Best Coast are cool and we're really looking forward to just doing what we do. If that takes people aback, that's cool too.
What music do you guys like to play in the van?
When in America, the Smiths. But we love American FM radio. It's the best. You don't know how lucky you are to have Skynyrd, Eagles and Fleetwood Mac on tap.
You guys are on Sub Pop. Favorite Sub Pop release of all time - and why?
If I'm not allowed to Say the Shins and I'm not allowed to say Band of Horses and it's maybe too trite to say BLEACH then obviously it's that one by Male Bonding because that was a dream that came true.