Man Man: “Knuckle Down”[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Man-Man-Knuckle-Down.mp3|titles=Man Man: “Knuckle Down”]
Oddball rock band Man Man has crafted its best album yet in Life Fantastic, a record that showcases the band’s finest songs with its strongest production to date. For the group, it was a significant and symbolic new direction, recording with producer Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes, Monsters of Rock) in Omaha, Nebraska. We got a chance to talk to frontman Ryan Kettner from the road and ask him about the sneaky shape that Life Fantastic took and the experience of working in a “real-deal, bona-fide studio.”
Let’s start with an easy one. What would you say to describe Man Man?
That’s the easy one? (Laughs) Exorcism.
That’s it. Exorcism.
What are you most excited for people to hear on Life Fantastic?
Just to hear the record. I’m real proud of this record. I think it’s our most deceptive record we’ve ever made. I think it’s our best record we’ve made, but I think it’s our most deceptive because the initial impression is, “Whoa, it sounds polished and different.” It’s sneaky because the production’s so good that you can lose sight that there’s a dark, dark center to this tasty treat.
What do you mean by that?
Our new album, it’s a grower. People who like our older stuff, but maybe are turned off by the production, really got to dig in, ’cause like I said, it’s a lot sneakier than any record we’ve done. It gives the impression that it’s tame, but it’s about as tame as sending your dog to obedience school because it bit off somebody’s face. It still might be in that dog to bite off someone else’s face. I wouldn’t keep it in a room with my infant daughter. Which, for the record, I don’t have.
How did working with producer Mike Mogis help shape this album?
Well, the band’s always been a balance of extremes: control and chaos, beautiful and ugly. I feel like Mogis really captured that. There are some songs on the record that are outright beautiful, but then when you realize the content of the song, it’s different. It kind of throws you off. And that’s a good thing.