This is the time of year when un signed indie musicians typically descend on Austin to take their chances in the annual South By Southwest running of the bands in hopes of scoring a deal.
Not Philadephia's Man Man.
Since the maniacally bashing and unison-shrieking pummel corps have just finished recording a new album and are no longer connected with the Ace Fu label (which released last year's fantastically fucked Six Demon Bags), you'd think a SXSW showcase where woozy label reps might see and sign them to a lucrative contract would be the way to go.
At least that's the conventional thinking, but, then, Man Man - who usually perform their sweaty shows in war paint, sporting matching white stagewear accessorized with head and wrist bands, like some crazed Viking tennis team - have their own way of doing things.
"At SXSW, you don't get paid shit," explains percussionist/keyboardist Chris "Pow Pow" Powell from his Philly home. "When all your expenses are taken into account, it's almost a pay-to-play situation. To fund our new Man Man recording, we had to go on tour and make some money. That's our reason for not playing the festival."
It's not that Man Man are against the concept of working with a label. They've had a number of discussions with various representatives of various-sized operations. Yet, despite Man Man's creative and compelling sound and unique look, along with their well-earned rep for explosive performances, no one has been willing to put up any money for a Man Man album.
So they recorded themselves with engineer Griffin Rodriguez (who appears as the robotic Blue Hawaii in Pow Pow's synth-happy side project, Icy Demons, opening the show) at his Shape Shoppe studio in Chicago.
"No one wanted to commit. The most common response from the labels was 'Hey, you guys should go ahead and record it and then let us hear it.' So we've been seriously considering just releasing the album ourselves. It seems like that would be the smart thing to do right now, especially considering the way the whole industry is changing.
"I feel really confident that we can release an album successfully; it's really just a matter of finding a good distributor. We're doing well in the U.S. and selling out venues that hold 300 to 400 people everywhere we play, and that's a good sign."
At the moment, the pieces of the new recording haven't yet been assembled, although the way Pow Pow is talking, the yet-to-be-named album should be a significant progression from what we've heard from Man Man in the past.
"We just got back from Chicago a little over a week ago, where we recorded 20 songs live in the studio. Over the last few days we took a break and didn't listen to any of it, and now we're at the stage where we're getting an idea of how all the songs will come together.
"There are many bands who like to put out records that sound exactly like they do when performing, but we've got tons of ideas that we just don't have enough people to realize, so we did a whole bunch of overdubs with strings, horns and a lot of other cool shit."
Heroic day jobs
Just as Superman had a day job as mild-mannered Daily Planet reporter Clark Kent, the superhero members of Man Man also have straight-world alter egos, as revealed by percussionist Pow Pow.
Honus Honus (aka Ryan Kattner) Former coffee shop employee, now organizes basement cock-fighting matches in south Philly.
Pow Pow (aka Chris Powell) Supervises senior citizen mud wrestling bouts in north Philly.
Cougar (aka Alex Borg) Fur trapper.
Sergei Sogay (aka Chris Sharr) X-ray technician.
Chang Wang (aka Billy Dufala) Professional surfer.
Additional Interview Audio Clips
Pow Pow reveals that Man Man may be considering a change to their all-white stagewear
Pow Pow explains why his Icy Demons sideproject involving Man Man bandmate Cougar keeps such a low profile