Man Man to tour like a mad man

By By Trevor Hale

By Trevor Hale

Man Man vocalist Ryan Kattner has the secret for those about to spend the majority of their summer touring.

“You ever seen ‘Cool Hand Luke’?” asked Kattner. “That scene where they put Paul Newman in the hot box? Well, that’s what we do to prepare for tour. It gets us ready for those long summer days riding in the van.”

Those long summer days aren’t too far off, but Kattner would rather not think about them until he absolutely has to. His band, Man Man, is about to set out for a three-month jaunt across the U.S. and Europe in support of its newest record, Rabbit Habits. Before he goes, though, he’d rather just enjoy the last afternoon on his couch in Philadelphia. Unfortunately for him, there’s a college newspaper writer on the other end of his phone with business to discuss.

“Yeah, it’s a long time. Thanks for reminding me about that,” Kattner said with more than a little sarcasm.

“In all reality, we’re probably going to be touring pretty heavily for about the next two years or so,” he said. “There’ll be little breaks here and there, but for the most part we’ll be out on the road.”

Kattner knows the importance of touring and the live show a band needs to bring with it, which is one of the reasons Man Man has become so popular among the Urban Outfitted hipsters of the past few years. The band’s sound is hard to pin down, but “junkyard doo-wop” or “manic gypsy-rock” both kind of get the point across. The band has become known for a kinetic live show that encompasses almost everything except the kitchen sink. Hell, the band might even have one of those lying around.

Man Man has been the opening act for big names such as Modest Mouse and Arcade Fire, and that’s where the band’s reputation began to grow. Having honed its live show to near perfection, the members of Man Man rotate instruments at will depending on what mood happens to strike, and the band never stops playing between songs. It’s the type of show that feels very organic, but Kattner claims otherwise.

“We’re very rehearsed, but it’s kind of a balanced chaos,” he said. “We don’t want anyone thinking that they’re getting a watered-down version of what we’re capable of, so we give it all we’ve got every night.”

Man Man’s fan base has grown considerably just by word of mouth, thanks, in large part, to the show the band puts on. And maybe a few other things too, Kattner said.

“We also give out free Kool-Aid at all our shows. I think that’s why people keep coming back,” he said.

After two successful albums with Ace-Fu Records, Man Man parted ways and signed with ANTI, a division of punk label Epitaph Records, which is home to a wide-ranging roster of talent that includes artists such as Tom Waits, Buju Banton and Merle Haggard. The diverse lineup was what impressed Man Man the most.

“We had the choice of being on a bigger label full of straight-forward rock bands or a smaller label full of idiosyncratic songwriters,” Kattner said. “I think we made the right choice.”

With ANTI, Man Man was able to put out the record it envisioned from the beginning, without anyone breathing down the band’s neck to make sure a radio-friendly single was included. This freedom allowed the band to sit back, relax and take the time it needed. On April 8, all Man Man’s hard work finally paid off when Rabbit Habits was officially released. Although, judging by all the people singing along at the band’s Philadelphia hometown release show, the album had made its way to the internet already.

“I’m sure a bunch of people had it a few weeks before it came out, but you really can’t stress about that kind of thing anymore,” Kattner said. “Every kid that downloads the album or gets a burned copy from a friend is one more person that’s into us, and that’s all that really matters.”

Kattner said the experience with ANTI has been everything he hoped it would be, and he’s looking forward to a long relationship with the label.

“They’re all around good people,” Kattner said. “It’s just a dream to be able to work with people that will let you make the kind of music you want to make. I just hope we don’t let them down.”

Man Man will play at Salt Lake City’s In The Venue on Monday, April 21.

[email protected]