Men, Women, and Children
Silent Uproar: The band was originally named Torpedo, right? Why the name change?
Todd: We were originally called Easy Tiger actually, and had some trademark issues because there is a band called that in Chicago who had the name and had it copyrighted. So then we changed it to Torpedo and the same thing happened. Then we settled on Men, Women, and Children which is better than all the other names I think, so it worked out.
SU: How did you all meet to form the band?
Todd: I kind of knew everyone. Five out of the six people are from New York, and I knew Nick and knew he played keyboard so I called him up and we started making songs.
SU: You mentioned when we were walking across the street that you have been working on the album the last two years.
TJ: Yeah, more or less.
SU: Well I think the public has none about you for a much shorter period of time.
Todd: Definitely, it wasn’t really known if this was going to be a real thing or a serious thing at least the first six months or so. We just figured we would make some songs and put them on the internet and just see what happens. I had some other stuff going on, or I thought I had other stuff going on. It just kind of blossomed.
SU: Who set the direction for the band? When you have 6 people, usually there are one or two that kind of define how things are going to be.
Todd: It is definitely a collective. The 6th member is our friend Jay, and he wasn’t really part of the writing process at all. We brought him in because there was so much stuff going on and so much vocals and extra guitar parts that we brought him in after the record was recorded. So we actually brought him in about two months ago. As far as the five of us, the four us right the songs and then give it to TJ…
TJ: I put words and melodies on top of it…
Todd: It’s definitely an interesting mesh.
SU: Do you all have pretty different tastes musically?
Todd: I would say everyone has the same and different.
SU: On September 4th you made a post saying you were in the studio having Gareth Jones work on the record, yet a month later I get an advance in the mail. Had you already recorded everything at that point and it was just a mixing session or what?
Todd: He was mixing it. Yeah, we mastered a week and a half ago, and we had more notes we sent in this morning. I think it is going to come out in late January of early February.
SU: How does it feel touring on it now since no one has really heard the music yet?
Todd: It’s great to get out so early and get a tour like this so in advance. It could be a lot harder, but it is hard because no one knows who we are. We did some shows ourselves and just with our friends’ bands before this and it is great to be out so in advance.
SU: A lot of bands are putting out Eps and then releasing a full-length a month or two later, why didn’t you go that route?
Todd: We thought about it, but it isn’t so in advance really. Most bands form, play some shows, do a tour, and build themselves up. The way this band formed was different than that, we recorded the record then started playing some shows.
TJ: Yeah, our first shows were right before we worked on the record.
SU: Do you think that influenced the sound at all? The album has a very studio sound to it, as opposed to a really live sound.
TJ: A lot of the stuff is from the demos we did. There are also a lot of dirty things on it even though overall…
Todd: It’s weird because the way we wrote the songs was extremely spontaneous, but extremely though out. We wrote the songs and the demos are almost the same thing as the record. We wrote the songs in a room with just us, guitars, bass, vocals, drums and we recorded them the next day or that night on ProTools. So we just threw them down and it was thought out, but just done. Then, all the keyboards and beats and all that is what was really thought out.
TJ: If you are listening for the elements then like tonight how we played, that is the live element. These other things are things that we wanted to add, the strings, the horns, those are the things we used to make the album we wanted. The show you saw is not how we want to come across, the other things on top of it is what brings a life to the band, there are so many other elements to it.
SU: How did you hook up with Warner/Reprise?
Todd: It was kind of Glassjaw that did it. It is where we were before and it kind of came together that they liked it and although Glassjaw was suppose to just be on a hiatus at first, it turned into not playing at all. This band was suppose to be something random that we put on the internet, and then I started working more with it because Glassjaw wasn’t doing anything. I sent it to the label, they were interested and we recorded more stuff. Then it just came together.
SU: Does it feel risky at all going with a major label…
Todd: So early? Yeah, it does, it definitely does. But it was kind of no choice also because they liked it and I still owed them a record to put it bluntly.
TJ: But we do LOVE THEM. Put that in capitals.
Todd: Yeah, I am not saying anything. We are happy and it’s good.
TJ: We are still going to work just as hard if we were on Nothing Records.
SU: There was a rumor at one time that you were hooking up with Saddle Creek for the release. Was that being discussed at some point?
Todd: No, not at all. That came up because Mike Mogis produced much of the record, and he is the Saddle Creek part owner and records all of those bands. So that is where the rumor came from and it got twisted.
SU: Did the label hook up the Gang of Four tour or did the band hear about you somehow?
Todd: No, we submitted a package and we were accepted.
TJ: It has been amazing. Its like A. they are an amazing band, and B. they have been so supportive of us, it’s just great. We had an accident yesterday and all our stuff got stolen out of our van and those dudes are there for us and we just met them a week ago.
SU: How have the shows been going? Do the crowds seem receptive?
Todd: Yeah, for the most part. It’s hard because we are so new. Especially when things keep going wrong like getting robbed. It’s hard to just put it out of your head.
TJ: I can’t say what exactly the target audience for our band is now because especially on this tour, there have been a lot of somewhat older people coming to see Gang of Four. Tonight I was walking through the crowd and a lot of older people were buying t-shirts and signing the mailing list. Then there are a lot of younger people too. I don’t want to be stuck where only one type of person is going to like our band.
Todd: That’s why we are called Men, Women, and Children. It’s universal; those are the only people that exist.
SU: Why is your mailing list named the Eagle Sharks?
Todd: We named it after Dave Allen from Gang of Four, he is the Eagle Shark.
SU: Todd, what was your reason for leaving Glassjaw?
Todd: Yoko made me quit. (laughs) Glassjaw didn’t do anything for so long and it just self-destructed. Right now it’s not even not just me, it’s not me, different bass player, and different drummer. So I just started doing my own thing when we weren’t doing anything and playing music that I listen to these days.
SU: It seems kind of funny that you and Daryl both went off and made basically want amounts to a dance records. Did the idea of you two working together on this kind of music ever come up?
TJ: I’ll be honest with you, if they didn’t come out of the same band then I don’t think you would compare the two bands at all.
Todd: Well we did come out of the same band and because we came from a band like Glassjaw, it is going to stand out. I didn’t even know what Daryl’s band sounded like when I started doing this. So it’s weird how this happened.
TJ: Todd came with a concept of what the band was suppose to be. And if I had watched a video of the show we played, then I think all of us would be like wow, we did what we wanted to do. It is crazy to achieve the goal. No matter what anyone things about it, we did exactly what we wanted to do. I had no idea what Daryl was doing and I heard when the record came out and its cool, you know. Daryl is doing his own thing and Todd is doing his own thing.
SU: I saw you have a MySpace page and have been using it to post new tracks. What do you make of the MySpace phenomenon?
TJ: Want me to say it?
Todd: What would you say? It’s gay?
TJ: We have a lot of gay people that follow our band and it is kind of the key to success with us so we don’t’ want to piss anyone off.
Todd: Not gay like homosexual, but gay like not good.
TJ: At first I was very bummed out about MySpace, but it really helps bands.
Todd: I don’t have my own MySpace page, but for the band it is amazing. I think it helps a lot. You can talk to the fans way easier with comments and mails and you can send news and it just helps to reach out to people.
TJ: Let me just say, our MySpace page is www.myspace.com/menwomenchildren with no ‘and’ because it is too long. We want everyone to know that.
SU: Is the band taking an active hand in the album art?
Todd: We have been talking about it, but we have no idea.
TJ: It is going to be awesome all right.
SU: Do you feel that album art is becoming more or less important in the age of iTunes and MP3s?
Todd: I think it is way more important. Anything you can do to get people to actually purchase the music you can download for free.
SU: What are your goals with the band? Is this a band you hope to continue for 20 years, or is it just another project or experience that will run its course after a couple albums?
Todd: In twenty years we will be dead.
TJ: I think we are just going to take it and see where it goes. This is the only thing we have we want to do right now. I can’t say we won’t want to do it after a certain amount of time, whether or not we call kill each other is a different question.
Todd: Yeah, it is so early in the game that we are just excited about what’s happening and maybe we will be a band until we are 90 like the Rolling Stones, or maybe we will break up next week. I don’t know, we are THAT volatile.