Ben Greenberg, right, engineered two records for The Men before joining the band.
Most people who replace a member in a band have trouble adapting. There are intra-band dynamics to navigate, a catalog of songs to learn and new personalities to gel with.
For Ben Greenberg, who became the full-time bassist for Brooklyn rock quartet The Men last Christmas, the transition couldn’t be going smoother. It helped that Greenberg was already friends with The Men and had engineered the group’s previous two records.
“It’s been a total breeze,” Greenberg says of replacing bassist Chris Hansell. “There’s a lot of love here right now. We’re all kind of in a similar point of maturation as far as what we want to create musically.”
Greenberg, who played in the bands Pygmy Shrews and Zs before joining The Men, ran the studio Python Patrol in the basement of a Catholic school in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood until last August. He recorded 90 albums there over a 2½-year span, including The Men’s 2011 album, “Leave Home,” and their latest, “Open Your Heart,” released in March.
“They’ve always had a clear idea of what they wanted things to sound like,” Greenberg says. “But I think I did, too. I think I had a bit to do with how those records sounded.”
The band mixes the noisiness of My Bloody Valentine or Sonic Youth with the melodic punch of the Foo Fighters. In other words: The Men are loud. As Greenberg says, describing a recent live show in San Francisco, “The guitars were screaming through the vocal mic and it was really abrasive and loud, but that’s the point. We’re a really loud band.”
As a member, Greenberg is taking an even larger role in The Men’s sound. This spring, the band rented a house in upstate New York and cut 19 songs for a new record, which should be out next spring. Each member — guitarist Nick Chiericozzi, guitarist Mark Perro, drummer Rich Samis and Greenberg — brought five songs and switched up vocal duties, and even instruments, throughout. Greenberg says the tracks are dirty and raw, and not as distorted as prior efforts, but they still fit in with The Men’s aesthetic.
“I’m trying to perfect this hyperreality recording thing where you use as few mics as you can and you get an incredibly open, natural sound,” Greenberg says. “It doesn’t sound like [Bob Dylan’s] ‘Highway 61 Revisited,’ but I want it to sound like ‘Highway 61 Revisited.’”
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