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Male Bonding’s Kevin Hendrick discusses next album

Last week, Male Bonding appeared in Gardner with Best Coast. Max Calenberg sat down with Kevin Hendrick, bassist and vocalist, to talk about their newest album, the recording process, and the excellent press they’ve recieved lately.

Male Bonding
- Danny Penny

I’m just curious about you guys’ name. In the U.S. over the past five years, there’s been this sort of joke about bromances and the whole culture of non-homosexual man-love. Where does your name stem from and is it a joke on that?
Not specifically, it was slightly tongue in cheek but we were kind of spending a lot of time together. It’s kind of a truth, there was some bonding going on but it was also kind of tongue in cheek and it was kind of silly but we were not into that whole bromance comedy. It just seemed like a good idea at the time.

I actually like the name a lot. It’s pretty funny and if you are going to be a successful band, you’re going to have to have some male companionship if you have all male members.
[Band names that] start out stupid may become something else anyway. You know, you’ll end up defining yourself, hopefully with the music.

You guys are recording a new album in February, and you said it is mostly written. I read in another interview that you guys said that it is going to be more guitar-centric. And also, on your current album, it’s pretty lo-fi and your vocals are buried deep down. Were you going to maybe bring those up a little higher to the surface as well in the next album?
Okay, yeah. Possibly, if we feel more comfortable with that. I think this one, definitely, there will be more effort on the production but it does not necessarily mean that the vocals will be higher in the mix but I think when we talked about it before, we talked about it being more guitar-centric, it’s mainly because we may actually have a chance at doing an overdub which has never been done before or have a little more time in the studio. A little bit more concentration on sound so we can hopefully go to town sonically on this record. That’s what we’re really excited about doing and yeah, maybe the vocals will come up a bit. In the past, we’ve just thrown a ton of reverb, big wet reverb all over our vocals, partly because we can’t sing. And also because we actually like that effect but when we get into Chicago, we’re already looking at going into music shops to try out different vocals effects that aren’t necessarily reverb. We definitely want to change it up.

Maybe some auto-tune?
Yeah, I think we need that sh*t. We did a radio session in Minneapolis yesterday, it went out live, and for whatever reason, we weren’t singing too well and then we didn’t get a copy of it. Someone tweeted us that the show was amazing compared to the session. We’re still trying to learn how to sing. We’re probably going to try and do some harmony and sh*t.

You guys definitely have some really good vocal melodies on your record. It’s still a part of some of your songs but I was thinking in more of a traditional sense.
I don’t mind. I’m kind of drawn to music that doesn’t follow a conventional structure.

Did you record this album before you were signed to Subpop and had the funds to go into the studio?
No, we’ve done a bunch of singles and tape releases. Some of the songs on the album were already done before we signed to Subpop but we got a deal with Subpop and we got a record together and we went into the studio. It was very quick. I think that’s why we’ve got a bit more of a chance, we’re kind of ahead of it a bit. Ahead of an album whereas the first time it’s like BAM.

So you said you guys all live in a house together. Does that house have a name?
No, it’s just a number.

Do you guys ever play shows there or is it not big enough to do that?
No, it’s too nice. We keep that sh*t out of our house. We rehearsed in there once. It’s cool, we don’t get bothered. It started off as a party house but we’re kind of not into that. All American bands stayed at our house but we’ve had to stop that because bad things happened.

Are you planning on doing any collabs for your next album?
We haven’t got anything planned. These sorts of things are usually last minute, they’re not meticulously planned.

I know you said Rivers is the one you really wanted to work with. Is there anyone else?
Bekah at Subpop really wants us to find a way to cover and find a way of collaborating with Bone Thugs & Harmony. Which we’re really interested in but I don’t know how that works.

What releases did you really like this year?
Secretly, massively into, and I’m not speaking for the band here, Joanna Newsom. Yeah, I really got into her recently and it’s like three albums in one. It’s ridiculous. I listened to that on a really long flight. I’m obsessed by it. There’s a band called Endless Summer that released an EP I really like. And then there’s a UK band called The Lazers, they are about to release an album, but I really like everything they’ve done.

You released your album in May. Did you expect the rest of your year to go like this?
The response we’ve had from the record, I generally didn’t think that would happen. Since it came out, we’ve actually not been playing shows, we’ve been writing the next record. So it’s all come together really quickly. It’s great.

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