Man Man at Jack Rabbits – Feb ll

by Faith Bennett
Philadelphia musical outfit Man Man has filled in a unique space in the world of experimental music for almost ten years now. The group led by multi-instrumentalist Honus Honus has proved difficult for many writers to define, resulting in several off descriptions of their music which reminded Honus to clarify “I am not a viking, nor do I know what viking music sounds like.” In addition to clearing that up, he was able to answer a few more questions for EU, shedding more light on the band’s surprising successes.

Honus Honus went by Ryan Kattner in school where he studied and hoped to become a script writer before the unexpected take off of Man Man. Honus says that Man Man was his first band so he never would have foreseen it lasting for so long or gaining so much popularity.”It may not sound genuine five records in, ten years in, but I never thought I would be in a band. Man Man is my first band.” He calls himself “kind of a failed writer,” but Honus’s tendency not write three minute stories and three minute songs rather than features is at least beneficial when it come to their music videos which he co-writes. Man Man’s most recent video “Piranhas” (which he came up with the story for) starts with dialogue and never shows the band much like their prior video for “Rabbit Habits” which was co-written by Honus and comedian Charlyne Yi who also starred in the video alongside Saturday Night Live’s Fred Armissen.

Honus never thought he would like touring either but at this point he says “I would tour constantly if I could, but the rest of my band has lives. I haven’t had a permanent address in eight years.” He grew up a self proclaimed “Military brat,” which he thinks may have pre-programmed him for a life of touring. “You miss going home to a bed and everything but then once you don’t have that bed anymore then you miss the road.” Part of the pay off of touring is that, for Honus, the most rewarding part of being in the band is performing the songs live for an audience.

While he says that it used to be easier to trace the lineage of their fan-base, Man Man has attained a substantial amount of new fans in the last few years perhaps with Life Fantastic or by the band playing so often. “It’s funny because when we play songs from out first album or even now from our second record, what we get from our shows is that people don’t know those songs.” He says they still enjoy playing the older work though. “We like to provide more ebb and flow to our sets.It’d be nice to explore more of out down-tempo songs.But we like playing the cocaine jams so it is a constant battle trying to find middle ground.” Life Fantastic took itself a little more seriously (and was a bit more somber) than Rabbit Habits or Six Demon Bag but their forth coming release will be unlike even that. “It’s a natural progression. We’re getting a little better at songwriting.”

I have seen Man Man twice already and can attest to Man Man’s remarkable showmanship. Despite being a very interesting and talented band recorded, Man Man has often been written about as a great band to see live. Honus Honus along with bandmates Pow Pow, T. Moth, Jefferson, and Chang Wang have been known to run around onstage and switch instruments mid song often wearing face paint, always providing a spectacle and wearing all white.