Philly punk heroes the Menzingers got a nasty surprise in Manchester, England, last month. Their van was completely jacked, every touring musician’s worst nightmare. The take: $2,000 in U.S. cash, €5,000 in euros, an iPad, three iPods, three passports, two pairs of Ray-Bans, guitarist/vocalist Greg Barnett’s tour journals dating back a year and a half, a digital camera and prescription drugs.
Thankfully, the thieves didn’t haul off with any of the band’s gear. So there’s that. But, GOTDAMN. No fun.
“Discovering it was absurd,” says Tom May, the band’s other guitarist/vocalist, recovering from a hangover in Pensacola, Fla. while on tour. (“They don’t call it the Redneck Rivera for nothing,” he jokes, referring to the wild birthday party the night before.) “We had just played the best show of the tour, and made our way over to a sci-fi-themed bar for an after-party of sorts. We have a lot of amazing friends in Manchester and they were all out. We were dancing and carrying on and having a great time when Greg busted in and told me we were robbed. We ran outside and then borrowed flashlights from the police to search the back alleys of Manchester in the hopes that they took what they needed and tossed the bags. It was fucking grounding.”
It was a lowlight in a still relatively young career that’s been packed with some pretty amazing highs. The band came kicking and screaming out of Scranton in 2006, and in the six years since they’ve toured with Titans of Rock like Anti-Flag and Against Me! and have put out some highly regarded records for some highly regarded labels—A Lesson in the Abuse of Information Technology (Go-Kart Records), Chamberlain Waits (Red Scare Records).
Their latest, On the Impossible Past, is on legendary punk label Epitaph, whose founder Brett Gurewitz had this to say upon signing them: “These guys play the kind of pure punk rock that I grew up with. They are seriously talented songwriters and I’m happy to welcome them to the Epitaph family. I think the band is a great fit here.” That’s high praise from someone who, as guitarist of Bad Religion, knows a little something about which he speaks.
“None of our other releases have ever garnered such a response,” says May of Impossible. “People really seem to love it, and you can really see a bigger response from the newer jams live.”
The band calls the City of Brotherly Love home now, and when not on tour, you can catch them downing a beer or 15 at their favorite bar, Grumpy’s Tavern in South Philly, where they often, according to May, “Get weird.”
“Living in Philly has been incredible for us,” he says. “People from across the country and the world talk about the scene we are part of here like it is some kind of Mecca. The shows are amazing, the bands are incredible, and everyone is a friend. Living and working in the city these past few years has totally influenced us. Everything from the concrete oven summers, the freezing winters, the guarded and less than personable attitudes, the food, the bars, and even SEPTA have all influenced us for the better and worse. I love it.”
Philly loves them back. Their show at the Barbary this Friday is sold out—but they’re also playing a special acoustic performance directly afterward at Gunner’s Run!—and it’s going to get insane. No prescription drugs required.
The Menzingers perform an acoustic after-party on Fri., June 29, 7:30pm. Free. Gunner’s Run, 1001 N. Second St. 215.923.4600. gunnersrun.com
PW's Music Issue 2014