Exposed meets Mini Mansions
Mikey Schuman, drummer of the LA indie synth-pop aficionados, gives Naomi Mann the lowdown on their new record and Sheffield spa days with the Arctic Monkeys.
What’s the Mini Mansions story?
Zach and I had known each other since we were eleven-years-old and we started a band around the same age; we’ve been friends ever since. We went on to set up other bands as we grew older. Zach then went to college in Santa Cruz, California, and met Tyler. He introduced me to Tyler’s music which was all recorded on tapes and CDRs. He had three full CDRs with about 60 or 70 songs and Zach was like, “You’ve got to listen to this kid, he’s really good!” and I was blown away. I thought there was something so different about his voice, his writing style, and wanted to start a band with him. When I hit 23, I did my first cycle with The Queens, had some time off and then properly started the band with Tyler. That’s how it all began.
You’ve recently released two singles, ‘Hey Lover’ featuring Alison Mosshart and ‘Gummy Bear’, alongside the new Works Every Time EP. Are these good reference points for how the new album will sound?
Yes and no. It’s a spectrum of what the record sounds like, but I think as a band all our records are a little schizophrenic. All of our songs sound different and have a wide spectrum of beats, tunes and mellow tunes. It’s varied but at the same time there’s a single thread throughout the record based upon the title Guy Walks Into A Bar.
How does it all tie in together with the title?
It’s not a concept record but it’s a record that was recorded in real time and in sequential order of how a relationship I went through started and ended. That’s the thing that ties it together. The title is a joke. I thought it was kinda funny, maybe too funny, or just a bit stupid, but then it all really made sense. Basically, the first line – Guy Walks Into A Bar – is the starting point for the record, and it all kicks off from there. I met my ex at the time when I started this record and everything kinda followed from that. I had to change the lyrics as the relationship progressed. So, Guy Walks Into A Bar felt like the right way to start this whole thing off – that’s how most relationships start, isn’t it? You go out to a bar to try and meet people and make connections. It just felt like the right way to do it.
You’ve mentioned in previous interviews that production is a huge part of your creative process and you usually begin with recording and producing things first rather than focusing on how it will work live. Was this the case with this record?
Yes, maybe this one more than any of the others because this was the first time we’d ever recorded live with a real drummer. Our friend John Theodore blessed us with playing on this record. That was the first moment when it was different to anything we’ve ever done because we had a full kit and someone else played it, which allowed me to focus on guitar playing rather than being behind the drum set. Production-wise it takes a long time; I don’t like making a record in a week. Don’t get me wrong, I think it would be fun to do but I think, for us, we need the time to really sit on it and think about whether it’s going in the right direction.
You’re good pals with Arctic Monkeys and you’ll be coming to Sheffield to play Picture House Social this month. Looking forward to the show?
I don’t know a lot about the music scene apart from our boys, The Monkeys, but I’ve been to Sheffield and I’m looking forward to them showing us around – the good restaurants, bars and sights, maybe hit a spa! I don’t know if they’ll be in town or not but hopefully they’ll show us around as I don’t know much about the city. It’s the first show of our UK tour that’s sold out, so it’s going to be really exciting to come to Sheffield! Although we don’t know the city, it will feel like home because we kind of have family there. We appreciate it a lot.
Guy Walks Into A Bar will be released on 26 July.