Interview With: Honus Honus of Man Man

Frontman Honus Honus (née Ryan Kattel), of the ridiculously awesome Philadelphia-based Man Man, was rad enough to chat with me for a while last evening about the band, the new record and the tour. Having more than one interview to do last night, he was a bit behind schedule and we started a bit later than we were supposed to. To set up the beginning of what you’ll read, Ryan called me back and apologized for the lateness because of all the interviews, but I had to switch phones, so this is my second [actually fifth, ha!] call to him. He was quite funny and had some great things to say, so check it out:

Ryan/Honus Honus: Hello.
Jessica/PopWreckoning: Hey, it’s Jess.
RHH: Hi, how are you?
JPW: I’m well, thanks. How you doing?
RHH: I’m OK. I’m sorry if that sounded lame, [pretentious voice] “I have all these interviews.” [normal voice] Yeah, it wasn’t meant to be at all.
JPW: [pretentious voice] God, Ryan, you’re sooo pretentious, I can’t even stand it. [normal voice] No, that’s cool; I figured you were running behind. What’s the rest of the band doing while you’re doing all these interviews today?
RHH: Thanking their lucky stars they don’t have to do any of these [laughs].
JPW: [laughs] That’s a bummer. You’ll get ‘em back, right?
RHH: Yeah. I’ll get ‘em back.
JPW: So what got you into music and deciding to form Man Man?
RHH: Bad life decisions.
JPW: Yeah?
RHH: Yeah, totally. Drawing pictures in the margins when I should have been paying attention.
JPW: That’s more fun, though.
RHH: Yeah, I know.
JPW: Well, it’s worked out ‘cause Man Man rocks pretty hard. So I think it was a good choice.
RHH: I mean, you know, it’s great [laughs].
JPW: Recently you had a song on a commercial for Nike and three of them for Showtime’s “Weeds.” How’d those deals come about?
RHH: Oh you know, I was hangin’ out with LeBron James. Yo, man! He was like, “I should hook this up for you.” That’s not exactly how he said it, but I don’t wanna talk in slang or anything. The next thing I knew, I had a new Escalade, my shit was in Nike commercials, “Weeds” episodes. [pauses] No, I dunno. I think basically the Nike thing, they couldn’t afford who they really wanted, so they got us.
JPW: [laughs] Aw.
RHH: And with the “Weeds” thing, my understanding, and maybe, hopefully, someday someone will correct me, but my understanding was that we played a show in LA last February and there were some people from the TV show there. I guess they might be fans of the music, I’m not sure, but they were in the audience. And then all I knew was a couple months later, “Weeds” contacted us like, “Hey! Do you wanna have some songs in this thing? And wanna try to cover the theme song?”
JPW: That’s cool. Yeah, I liked your cover of the theme song. It was good.
RHH: I did, too. Thanks.
JPW: Had you ever seen the show before?
RHH: Uh, well once that offer came through [pauses] You know what, it’s like with both the Nike and the “Weeds,” we didn’t know if they were gonna actually use our music. It’s one of those things where it’s like, “Sign here,” and we don’t know if it’s actually gonna happen. The people decide at the last second if they don’t wanna do it or you know, “That song sucks.”
JPW: “You don’t wanna use that!”
RHH: Oh, but so I watched the show and I liked it.
JPW: Yeah, it’s pretty funny.
RHH: It’s funny, it’s sad. [pauses] Kevin Nealon.
JPW: [laughs] Yeah, Kevin Nealon’s awesome.
RHH: The kid [Shane Botwin] looked like me when I was a little kid, so that was really creepy.
JPW: Really?
RHH: Yeah.
JPW: Ha, nice. The new record, “Rabbit Habits,” which I’ve listened to a few times, and it’s pretty bad ass: what went into writing and recording that?
RHH: It was Hell on Earth. You know, just ‘cause we were without a label when we were recording it. So it was self-financed and we weren’t gonna sit around and wait for a label to sign us. So we just kind of rolled up our sleeves and, you know, paid for it ourselves. And it was difficult, you know? We didn’t have a lot of money so we’d just go on tour to finance it. We’d record for a couple weeks and then go on tour for a couple months and then so on and so forth. And it took a long time. I mean, all in all, it was probably two months total, but spread out over about nine months.
JPW: So when did you guys get signed to Anti? Or when did they decide to release it?
RHH: Uh, November? Maybe October. Yeah. [pause] Thank God. Thank God!
JPW: Thank you Anti Records.
RHH: Thank you Anti Records!
JPW: The CD release show is in Philly, your hometown which is actually where I’m from, too, so I’m gonna be there. Do you guys have anything special planned for it?
RHH: Hopefully we can just make it through the set.
JPW:How’d you get The Dirty Projectors to open? Because they have a show later that night at the Church, which I’m also supposed to be going to. [laughs]
RHH: No, no, no. We just combined the shows. Because I really like The Dirty Projectors a lot and we really wanted to do an album release party. And I didn’t wanna play the same night with them, do you know what I’m saying? Like, I just figured, ‘why don’t we combine our shows?’
JPW: Oh, well that’s good to know ‘cause now I don’t have to run between two different places.
RHH: Yeah, and I love The Dirty Projectors anyway, so it worked out.
JPW: Is No Kids still playing that night, too?
RHH: I dunno. Maybe you have your information right, maybe I have my information wrong? I didn’t know that they were playing two shows.
JPW: They were supposed to be playing a show at the Church, but maybe not? Maybe not, anymore.
RHH: Yeah, they got into the Starlight.
JPW: So you guys are on tour pretty much through June. Do you have any plans after that or is it just gonna be more touring?
RHH: We’re gonna tour more. It’s kind of forever tour. We’ve just been trying to gear up emotionally. We spend a lot of time locked up in little boxes, getting used to having no personal space and wearing the same clothes all the time, which we do anyway, but whatever.
JPW: Well good luck on the tour and stuff. I guess, finally, just to get on with your other calls since you’re so behind: what stuff are you listening to? You just said you like The Dirty Projectors, but what else have you been listening to recently?
RHH: Oh man, I guess that’s a good question. Um, [laughs] as opposed to a bad one.
JPW: [laughs] All the other ones were terrible, I’m sorry.
RHH: As far as new stuff? I really got into one song on that Magnetic Fields record. Ha, one song. I guess that doesn’t really… We’ve just been recording some new stuff, or trying to. I mean I don’t really listen to that much music these days. I know that’s not really the answer…
JPW: That’s a fine answer.
RHH: Is it?
JPW: Yeah, I mean, you’ve been recording. You’ve been listening to your own stuff, trying to create it.
RHH: But, you know, the last thing new that I really listened to was, I guess, the Yeasayer record. I like it; it’s good. And they’ll be on tour with us in April, so…

JPW: So you’ll get to listen to it every night.
RHH: Correct-o-mundo.
JPW: Excellent. What a life you lead. That’s awesome.
RHH: Oh yeah?
JPW: Yeah, it’s pretty badass.
RHH: Is it, except there’s obviously compromises. You don’t really have a personal life. And you’re essentially a professional mover; you move you gear into a place and out of a place every night. But, you know, it’s great because we’re lucky that we can move our gear from place to place for kids who will show up and watch us play.
JPW: Yeah, I think people have been really responsive to your stuff. I know back when you first started, people thought it was like a joke, but I think now they understand.
RHH: I hope so. I mean, we’re trying to create our own language here.
JPW: It’s great, I love it. [pause] I’m really glad that you took the time to call me back and go on with the interview even though you’ve been going crazy all night.
RHH: No, no. It’s not even that. I just totally spaced – we’re getting ready for tour we’re rehearsing for tour. We’re trying to put together new sets and it’s hard because our old sets worked really well. Now we’re just trying to get outside of our comfort zone a little bit and retire songs and bring songs out of retirement and play old songs we’ve never played before. So it’s just [pause] that kind stuff is stressful. It’s not interesting to hear someone talk about.
JPW: Are they still gonna be straight through sets without any talking in between?
RHH: That’s the idea. Yeah. I mean, hell, I hate hearing myself talk, so why should anyone else hear me talk?
JPW: I guess that’s fair enough. But people like to hear musicians talk, it’s interesting. We find it interesting even if you think it’s boring.
RHH: Well we have real lives, so there’s…if there’s glamour involved in these lives, please show me where it is. [laughs]
JPW: [laughs] Aw, um, I’ll get back to you on that.
RHH: I’m glad you enjoyed the record.
JPW: Thank you again, and I look forward to the CD release show.
RHH: Peeeeeace.

He was wonderful. Man Man heads out on tour tomorrow.

North American Tour Dates:
March 4th – Otto Bar/Baltimore Md.
March 5th – Greene Street Club/Greenesboro, Nc.
March 6th – Village Tavern/Mt. Pleasant, US
March 7th – Grey Eagle/Asheville, US
March 8th40 Watt Club/Athens, Ga.
March 9th – Cafe /St Augustine, Fl.
March 10th Cafe 11/St Augustine, Fl.
March 11thSluggos/Pensacola, Fl.
March 12thSpanish Moon/Baton Rouge, Ga.
March 17th – Jackpot Saloon/Lawrence, Ks.
March 19th – John Waldron Arts Center/Bloomington, In.
March 20th – Headliners/Louisville, Ky.
March 21st – Blind Pig/Ann Arbor, Mi.
March 22nd – Mr. Smalls Theatre/Pittsburgh, Pa.
April 8th – Starlight Ballroom/Philadelphia, Pa. (CD Release show!)
April 10th – Bowery Ballroom/New York, Ny.
April 12th – Paradise Rock Club/Boston, Ma.
April 13th – Le National/Montreal, Qc.
April 14th – Lee’s Palace/Toronto, On.
April 15th – Wexner Center for the Arts/Columbus, Oh.
April 16th – Logan Square Auditorium/Chicago, Il.
April 17th – High Noon Salon/Madison, Wi.
April 18th – Varsity Theater/Minneapolis, Mn.
April 19th – Slowdown/Omaha, Ne.
April 20th – Bluebird Theater/Denver, Co.
April 21st – In The Venue/Salt Lake City, Ut.
April 23rd – Great American Music Hall/San Francisco, Ca.
April 24th – SoHo Restaurant and Music/Santa Barbara, Ca.
April 26th – Cochella/Indio, Ca.
April 27th – Brickhouse/Phoenix, Az.
April 29th – The Loft at the Palladium/Dallas, Tx.
April 30th – Emo’s (outside)/Austin, Tx.

European Tour Dates:
09 May – Camber Sands Holiday Centre /Sussex, UK
09 May – ATP Festival/Camber, UK
11 May – Whelans/Dublin, IE
13 May – Cargo/London, UK
14 May – Phoenix/Manchester, UK
15 May – Start The Bus/Bristol, UK
17 May – La Nuit De Botanique/Brussels, BE
18 May – Rotown/Rotterdam, NL
19 May – Voxhall/Aarhus, DK
20 May – Loppen/Kopenhagen, DK
21 May – Henriksberg/ Kopenhagen, SE
22 May – Garage/Oslo, NO
23 May – Debaser/Stockholm, SE
24 May – KB/Malmo, SE
25 May – Knaack/Berlin, DE
26 May – FZW/Dortmund, DE
27 May – PMK/Innsbruck, AT
28 May – La Casa/Milano, IT
30 May – Primavera Festival/Barcelona, ES
31 May – Le Ciel/Grenoble, FR
1 June – La Cave Musique/Macon, FR
2 June – Noveau Casino/Paris, FR
3 June – Paradiso/Amsterdam, NL
4 June – Doornroosje/Nijmegen, NL
5 June – Vera/Groningen, NL
7 June – La Terre Trema Festival/Cherbourg, FR

Thanks again, Ryan! See you on April 8th.
For more Man Man, follow this links below:

Man Man: website | myspace
Anti Records: website | myspace

[where: Philadelphia, PA]

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