Interview by Natalie Kuchik
May 29, 2010

Estrella: Can you please state your name and what you do in the band?
Tom: My name is Tom and I play guitar and sing.
Greg: My name is Greg and I play guitar and sing too.

Estrella: You’re in Chicago for Windy City Soundclash, is this The Menzingers first time playing it?
Greg: Yes.
Tom: Yes.
Estrella: What are you excited about, any bands?
Tom: I’m stoked to see Banner Pilot. I don’t think I have ever seen a whole set.
Greg: Yeah, we always came in late every time. We have played a bunch of festivals with them but we are excited to see a full set.

Estrella: Cheap Girls tour starts tomorrow, what can people expect to hear? Stuff from the new album, old album or both?
Tom: A nice healthy collection of early and later stuff.
Greg: I would say so, it is a good mix of everything.
Estrella: How do you determine what songs off of the newer album Chamberlain Waits you are going to play?
Tom: That is a good question.
Greg: We have been trying to play all of them by mixing up the sets. A lot of bands have one set list, go on tour and only play that. We have been trying to play everything and switch a couple of songs each night to constantly keep them in rotation. Sometimes we will spring for the easy one’s that are not to hard on the voice but we have a good mix. The majority is going to be from the new album, but it is a good mix.

Estrella: The day after your tour with Cheap Girls ends, you jump on tour with Soul Control. Is it easy to transaction between tours?
Tom: Yeah, well what happened was Cheap Girls are going home because they are not going to do the east coast so it worked out we were going to come back. It just kind of worked out with the routing.
Greg: We just finished up another tour where we had three days off, I mean it works.
Tom: We toured a month then stopped for three days, got to stay in PA a little bit then jumped on this tour.
Estrella: What do you usually try and do when you have a couple of days off back home?
Tom: Relax.
Greg: We were just talking about that how we don’t like doing anything. Everyone was going out and going to bars and we just did not want to do anything.
Estrella: Just do nothing?
Greg: (laughs) Yeah, pretty boring.
Estrella: Do you guys try to go out and see things when you are in different cities?
Greg: I guess, kind of.
Estrella: Do you try to get a feel for the city?
Tom: It is kind of hard when we are only there for a day and you have to play a show and then leave.
Greg: If we don’t have a far drive the next day we like to go out and do whatever. Sometimes we will have to drive for three hours at night so we just go to a hotel or someone’s house.

Estrella: When you transition between tours, does The Menzingers cater a set list based on what tour your on?
Tom: Lightly, we will cater our set-list to the type of crowd we are playing too. Our set-list with Cheap Girls will probably be different then our set-list with Soul Control to a degree because there are going to be more hardcore kids there.

Estrella: After those tours are done, you are heading back east to play Insubordination Fest, is it your first time there?
Greg: Second time there, we played last year.
Estrella: Do you know when you are playing yet?
Greg: Yeah, we are playing Saturday at like 8:20 or something. That is going to be awesome, I am really excited for that.
Tom: Insubordination Fest is fun.
Estrella: What bands are you looking forward to seeing?
Greg: I’m excited to see the Smoking Popes.
Tom: Hell yeah.
Greg: American Steel. A lot of good bands playing, Less Than Jake.
Estrella: When playing big festivals, do you try and see as many bands as you can?
Tom: Absolutely. At Harvest of Hope which was in March we played our set, which was an hour out of our entire weekend, then we walked around and watched bands. It was great.
Greg: I definitely want to make a list of all the bands I want to see.
Estrella: I did that when I went to Bonnaroo.
Tom: That’s the best part about playing a festival, you get to see a bunch of bands for free.

Estrella: After that what are your plans? More touring?
Tom: Yeah, we have a tour but it is not confirmed yet so I don’t want to say anything. We have something coming, we are going to do a tour in August.
Estrella: Headlining or supporting?
Greg: Oh yeah, it is going to be support.
Tom: It is kind of up in the air.

Estrella: Talking about your new album Chamberlain Waits, did you go into recording with the songs or do you create songs when you are recording?
Tom: We had the majority written when we went into recording. Certain guitar parts, lyrics and vocals we came up with in the studio. The way songs are written our actual sound got shaped by the studio and we are really stoked with when we came out.

Estrella: The majority of The Menzingers songs are under three minutes long, on Chamberlain Waits only two were over three minutes. Is that something you consciously do?
Tom: I think it’s our generation and all of us default A-D-D and no attention span. It is a punk song, you don’t want to drag them out too long.

Estrella: Why did you name the album Chamberlain Waits?
Tom: There is a big factory in the center of Scranton that used to be called Chamberlain while we were growing up. We used to have a practice space that overlooked it and there was an arms manufacturer, and the idea was what was waiting for you if you didn’t take the college route. Even if you did take the college route, to work, and be a part of this gigantic system you may or may not agree with, in our cast not agree with. The idea is that’s what’s waiting for us, we don’t really agree with it but are not really socked on it.

Estrella: When creating an album do you have songs left over and what do you do with those?
Greg: Yeah, it depends, sometimes we will keep them around. With this album we were rushed, what happened was we are procrastinators with song writing. We had probably four songs by September and after we played the Fest in October we knew we had to write an album for next year. January was when we were going to record it so we were like, ‘Wow, we have to write a lot of songs in two months!’ We just banged them out.
Tom: Usually, we have more songs going into the studio but this time I think we had 12-13 and only put 12 on the record.

Estrella: “I Was Born” is the single off Chamberlain Waits, how was it chosen?
Greg: Uhh… how did we choose that one? I guess Toby from Red Scare, he kind of chose it. (laughs) We kind of picked it too, it fit as the single lyrically, and musically it summed up the entire album. I thought it was a good song to pick, we all did.
Tom: It has elements of all songs on the album does. It sums up the general theme of the album musically and lyrically.

Estrella: You have an acoustic video of “I Was Born”, whose idea was that and do you plan to do more acoustic videos?
Tom: That was Keith’s idea.
Greg: Yeah, the guy was filming it and said, ‘I really want to put out an acoustic video,’ so we went with it. We were leaving for a show in 20 minutes and I had a rough idea of an acoustic version that is different. We learned it in 10 minutes and wrote the chords.
Tom: We just slapped it together. If you look on the ground you can see the ground a piece of paper with all the chords written out so we wouldn’t mess it up.
Estrella: Do you guys ever do acoustic in concert?
Tom: Oh yeah.
Greg: We are going to try and put out an acoustic EP by the end of the year.
Estrella: Is it going to be new songs?
Greg: Yeah pretty much, maybe a re-work or two.
Tom: It is kind of how we write songs, we come up with a basis of chords with an acoustic guitar. We are really influenced by a lot of folk type of music.
Greg: Our friends too (influenced). We will be at a party and we hang out with musicians so everyone is passing around a guitar and you learn from your friends.

Estrella: What is a song you never get sick of hearing?
Tom: “Ventolin” by Aphex Twin
Estrella: Any reason why?
Tom: I don’t know, just listen too it and you will find out.
Greg: Talking about The Smoking Popes, I would say “Megan”. It is a great song, I don’t think I could ever get sick of that song.

Estrella: What is something you have always wanted to do but have not done yet?
Greg: Skydiving.
Tom: Yep, I was going to say that.
Estrella: Do you think that is something you will actually do?
Tom: I think so.
Greg: Absolutely, that is happening.
Tom: Oh go to Europe, I have never seen Europe.
Estrella: You guys have never been?
Tom: Never played there, Greg has been there but I want to go.

Estrella: What is one of your favorite lines in one of your songs?
Greg: How do you answer that without sounding pretentious? You go first.
Tom: Alright fuck it, I would say, “I was born on a light skinned road,” is one of the first lines in one of our songs. People don’t really talk about social demographic and gender role in society. In class, we are all based on race very often and I think we should talk about it more so we realize where we stand.
Estrella: What song?
Tom: It is a song called “Who’s your partner?”
Greg: Wait, what was that one line.
Estrella: Do you know your lyrics?
Greg: Kind of! No, I am trying to remember. I think my favorite is in “Time Tables” it’s, “We argued over which Bad Religion album was better, I thought ‘No Control’ or ‘Suffer’”. It just seems like every other argument I had either with a girl or guy and in this situation it was a girl, has been over music or albums. It is just fun to remember those kinds of things and sing about it.

Estrella: If you could see any band or artist perform any song live what would it be and why?
Tom: Shit, that is a tough one, there is a lot. Alright fuck it, The Clash “Straight to Hell”.
Greg: Yeah.
Estrella: Are you guys big fans of The Clash?
Greg: Absolutely.
Tom: Without a question. Why is because if you listen to their live stuff and recorded stuff it is completely different. The way they re-shape their songs is incredible and so much energy I would really like to see that.
Greg: I would like to hear “The River” by Springsteen. There is a bunch of live videos I saw and it is pretty incredible, I would love to see it.
Estrella: Have you always been a fan of Springsteen?
Greg: Yeah, absolutely. My entire family is die hard Springsteen fans so that is definitely a huge influence.

Estrella: Any final comments?
Tom: Listen to Captain We Are Sinking.
Greg: Don’t do that! That’s my brothers band. Not really.
Estrella: See you guys on tour, come to merch?
Greg: Yeah, come say hi at merch.
Estrella: Do you guys always stick around to say hi to fans?
Tom: Oh yeah, definitely.

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