It’s often the little things that mean the most. For Mike V., frontman for New Jersey standouts The Everymen, after years of hits and misses on the way up the rock ladder, he finally realized that his latest band was the one. How? Well, it’s one of those little things you wouldn’t normally think about.
“The one thing I always noticed is that if the crowd was into it, that’s great,” he said. “If people are dancing, that’s great. But when the bartender and / or the sound guy compliment you after your set, I think you’re on to something because those people are the most cynical sons of bitches around. (Laughs) That made me think maybe we’re on to something.”
They are. With one record (New Jersey Hardcore) already on the shelves, and the next one, Givin’ Up On Free Jazz coming on May 20, they’re ready to take this from a part-time endeavor to a full-time one as they aim for world domination (my words, not Mike’s).
“Everybody’s down,” said Mike. “When I throw out these crazy ideas, everybody’s psyched and they love playing. It’s more of an old school mindset because I think the value that’s been placed on being a good musician has completely gone away. And a lot of that is the fault of indie rock. A lot of those bands, that was the thing about first generation indie rock – half of them were terrible musicians but they still made great records. I think we still put a lot of importance on good playing. I don’t care what you look like, I don’t care if you annoy the s**t out of me – not that anyone in the band does – as long as you can play. And these guys love playing and they’ll go to the ends of the Earth just to play their tunes every night.”
And if the two-song taste of their new album on their Bandcamp site is any indication, the crowd outside of Jersey is about to get on board with a group that can clearly play, but that also doesn’t let their chops get in the way of a good tune. For proof, listen to A Girl Named Lou Pt. 2, a tune that has all the hallmarks of a Jersey classic – harmonies, energy, saxophone – but then tosses in a segment toward the end that has been rightfully described as Iron Maiden-esque. Should it work? Absolutely not. Does it. Oh yeah. And that’s the beauty of the band.
“Anything that we write comes from us, so it’s inherently an Everymen song,” said Mike. “I don’t ever want to subscribe to the notion that ‘oh, that doesn’t sound very much like the Everymen.’ We do have a certain overarching feeling, and I think it’s just rock and roll. But you’ll hear when the record comes out that the album closes with me on a piano and it’s a piano bar kind of tune. When you put a record out and when we make records, who wants to listen to the same song 11 times? So we definitely try and mix up, but it’s not as conscious as you would think. The way I describe it to people is that if you sit in the van with us and take a ride to the show for a couple hours, there’s no limit to the s**t you’ll hear. One minute you’ll be listening to Thin Lizzy, the next minute you’ll be listening to Sun Ra or Fu Manchu or old French movie film scores. But that’s just us, and as long as it works within the song, I’m never gonna say, ‘oh, we can’t do that because that doesn’t sound like us.’ Of course it sounds like us – it’s us playing.”
That’s not to say it’s as effortless as the group makes it sound. Givin’ Up on Free Jazz follows up their 2012 debut, and the work to get to this point wasn’t an easy one.
“It’s been a very, very long process,” he said. “This record has been done since October, but everything I’ve ever done – with this band and with most other bands where I’m kind of driving the ship - I was very, very fast. But this time I wanted to take my time. It took us a long time to make the record, and we really spread all of our sessions out. We finished the record in October, and we shopped it around for a while to a bunch of different labels, and we found the best fit (with Ernest Jenning Record Co). That was still a while ago, maybe December or something, and then we decided to push it off until May because we’re transitioning in the band to doing this on a more full-time basis. So everybody had to get their life stuff in order, and it’s been a long time coming.”
That’s not to mention Hurricane Sandy, which had an effect on practically all Jersey residents, especially those who lived down at the shore.
“It hit as close to home as it could,” said Mike. “We’re a Jersey band, but me specifically, I grew up on the Jersey shore, and basically half my town was wiped off the map. It’s a very blue collar town, a lot of fishermen and clammers, and a lot of people make their living by the sea and their boats and docks were destroyed. I was somewhat removed from it because I haven’t really lived down there in a long time, but I feel like you’re inextricably tied to where you grew up, and no matter where I live and where I go, I’ll always be from Tuckerton, New Jersey. So it was something that was in the back of my mind. Between that, and at the time, my mother had just passed away – she died right before we put the first record out – so making this record was a very heavy time in my life, but I come from a blue collar town and it’s kind of in my DNA that when s**t’s f**ked up, you just keep working. That’s my therapy. I don’t want to talk about it, or reminisce about it – I just want to get back at it. F**k it, let’s make a record.”
That they did, and now it’s time for the rest of the world to jump on the bandwagon.
“It’s slowly been a process of building it up,” he said. “I didn’t ever want to do it before we were ready to do it. Now we’re ready. We’re at the top of our game. The whole last four years has been us inching to the edge of the diving board; now we’ve just got to pop off.”
The Everymen play the Cake Shop in New York City on Friday, April 4. For more info, click here