Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Menin Interview

1.For those that have never heard of you before, can you tell us a little bit about the band?

Menin is a four-piece doom/stoner band from Portland, Oregon who writes songs based on science fiction novels.  We've got two drummers, guitar, and bass.  I'm Chris, the guitarist and vocalist.  I also write the material and I recorded the EP.

2.You have an ep coming out in September, how would you describe the musical sound that is presented on the recording?

HEAVY!  I've been raising the level of my recording skills for a few years now, and Lord of Pain is definitely the most ambitious I've gotten in engineering/producing.  When a band has two drummers, it's a safe bet to assume that there will be a heavy rhythmic element to the music.  All four of us are drummers and multi-instrumentalists, so there are times where we're playing guitar and bass as percussion instruments more than anything else.

3.Your lyrics cover a lot of science fiction themes, can you tell us a little bit more about your interest in this topic and also some of the authors or films that have had an influence on your somg writing?

The Lord of Pain EP has songs about Dan Simmons's Hyperion Cantos, Roger Zelazny's Amber series, and an instrumental track inspired by Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.  The most important book I've ever read is Dune, it really changed my life.  I still think about Dune pretty much every day.

4.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Menin'?

The shortest answer is that menin is the Ancient Greek word for "wrath".  It goes deeper than that, though.  Menin is the first word spoken in the Iliad: "Menin aeide, thea, Peleiadeo Achileos" or roughly "Sing, goddess, of the wrath of Achilles".  There is a science fiction connection too:  the name is a deep reference to the main character in the book Ilium by Dan Simmons.

5.What are some of the best shows that the band has played so far and also how would you describe your stage performance?

Our stage performance is pretty relentless.  We don't pause between songs for very long, generally long enough to retune our guitars and get back to it.  Having two drummers brings out a unique heaviness, especially when combined with the rhythmic guitar and bass work.  Sometimes it's hard to distinguish individual instruments and everything is just a throbbing mass of sound.

One of the best shows we've played was a complete departure from what we normally do.  We played a release party for our friend Jason Richter's novel L.I.F.E. in the 23rd Century.  The event took place in a small bookstore, so we rewrote our material and adapted it for acoustic instruments.  It was a real challenge to rework such heavy material and try to convey the same power while keeping everything quiet.

6.Do you have any touring or show plans once the ep is released?

We want to tour so much!  We don't have anything booked yet, but we're working in earnest on something big in 2018.  It can be difficult as a new band to make a tour work without disrupting our home lives too much.  Everybody has jobs, partners, pets, and family.  That just means we have to work a little harder to plan a tour, but everybody is on board to put in that work.

7.The ep is going to be released on 'Doom Stew Records', can you tell us a little bit more about this label?

Jordan Perkins-Lewis just started the label this year.  What a gem of a human being that man is!  He plays drums in Brume and is making smart moves to expand his influence.  I've been impressed at the level of professionalism he's keeping while also being totally honest and straightforward.  This is the most relaxed and efficient label experience I've ever had.  A big part of that is probably due to the fact that Jordan is a huge fan of metal.  He's always out at shows in the Bay Area.  He's at Psycho Las Vegas right now and I don't think he's even sleeping, judging from how many photos I'm seeing posted of band after band.  It's good to work with somebody who loves the music they put out.

8.On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your music by fans of stoner and doom metal?

When Jordan put out the first press release on Doom Stew's website I started noticing more website hits and Bandcamp plays from overseas.  I really appreciate music fandom in Europe, especially for metal.  Metal fans are broadly really cool people who are fun to be around, and in Europe the audiences seem to stay true to that while also showing a high level of appreciation for the music itself.

9.Where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?

We've been discussing the process for recording a full-length album.  If we get everything we want, we'll find ourselves in an isolated cabin in Montana for a week in the middle of winter with nothing but our gear and microphones.  I think we could really make something profound in that environment.

10.What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?

I think the seed for Menin was planted in my brain when I saw Yob for the first time in Portland.  They had the whole room doing a slow headbang at, like, 45bpm together.  It looked like a scene from Mecca or something, everybody bowing in reverie.  That feeling sticks with me, and I think we spend a lot of time trying to find the meditative transcendence in slow heavy music.

These days, I'm mostly listening to heavy music from Oregon, Washington, and California.  Something about the west coast seems to produce the best of the best.  This is the part of the world that gave us Melvins, Sleep, Neurosis, and Sunn O))) to name a few.  I really dig the Portland band Glasghote, they're like Burning Witch in 2017.  We played a show with them in Portland and my head nearly exploded.  They're talking about getting serious about recording soon, and I'm trying to get involved on the studio engineering/production side of that.

11.What are some of your non musical interests?

Living in Oregon is wonderful, because there's so much wilderness around.  From Portland you can drive 30-40 minutes in any direction and find yourself halfway up a mountain with empty trails to wander.  As unnatural and science-fiction-based as our music is, I'd like to think we get some inspiration from the immensity of nature.  Geological events in Oregon like the Missoula Flood are some of the most cataclysmic natural occurrences in history.  If you think about it, that's super fuckin metal!

12.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?

One of the reasons why I read so much science fiction is to conceive of the future as something exciting and limitless in its possibilities.  Granted, some of my favorite books paint a very bleak picture of the future, like Octavia Butler's Earthseed books or Paolo Bacigalupi's The Windup Girl, but even within those dark worlds there is still a portrayal of the power of goodness in humanity.  I think that's important to hold onto with the world as volatile as it is currently.

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