Imagine going from the minor leagues to waking up with your face on the front of a Wheaties box. Male Bonding can relate, as they’ve witnessed a transformation from obscurity to overnight success in their record contract with Sub Pop. Yes, the same Sub Pop that signed Nirvana and Soundgarden, and that now controls the likes of Fleet Foxes, The Postal Service, and Iron and Wine.
Male Bonding has been DIY since day one. First playing in 2008 at house parties in London, they quickly realized their potential and started the record label Paradise Vendors Inc., where Male Bonding and friends could release music as well as provide publicity for themselves. A few releases later, Male Bonding put out Nothing Hurts, their first full-length. Male Bonding plays by one rule: play fast. At only half an hour, Nothing Hurts eats you up and spits you out in the most satisfying of ways, and Sub Pop took notice. They bought the album, and signed Male Bonding within months. Now touring the world with Vivian Girls and No Age, Male Bonding is growing in both their fan base and their sound.
CoS had a chance to catch up with singer and bass player Kevin Hendricks before the first show of their American tour, which will feature a Consequence of Sound sponsored appearance at a “Lo-Fi Friday” party during SXSW.
Welcome to America. What are your first impressions, and what was it like visiting Sub Pop in Seattle?
Seattle was amazing. It was really good to be in the offices there, and meeting the label reinforced our ideas of how cool it is. We flew into New York yesterday and now were playing our first show in Boston. Were itching to play- we need to work, we just need to justify our existence.
This tour is going to be huge- from Boston to LA to Europe- who are you most excited to play with during the next couple of months?
We’re playing with so many cool bands, and we’re already good friends with Vivian girls, but we’ve never played with them in America. Sharing a van should be exciting. I’m excited to play with Soft Pack and with Dum Dum Girls. We’re really lucky to be playing with the people were touring with. Of course we’re playing the thing in Mexico which will be mindblowing.
Whats this festival in Mexico? I’ve heard various rumors about it.
All we know is that it’s in Monterey at a drive in movie theatre, and should be amazing.
With coming to America, what have you seen as the biggest difference between the US and the UK?
All your doors pull, all ours push. Its really weird, and it’s hard loading equipment (laughs) all the doors in England push! Its a struggle to deal with.
What about musically?
For us, we get a chance to breathe out. England’s great, but it’s a tiny place. It becomes a bit of a scramble. Here you can drive town to town and see different scenes that are all connected.
Congratulations on your new record deal. How did you get noticed by Sub Pop?
We have our own label, Paradise Vendors, where we put ourselves and our friends out. We put out a 7-inch with some friends and Sub Pop bought it, talked to us, and then signed us. It really is mindblowing. Just being there last weekend, our drummer robin felt like we won a competition to visit Sub Pop– and then we realized this is our record label. There’s some exciting things going on at the label, and we are very willing to work.
Now that you have a contract, is your sound different from before?
In our heads we’re writing pop music, but it’s really basic as the way we write is all together. We value each instrument- guitar, bass, drums ,and bad vocals. (laughs) We mix it up and create our own sound. Its simple.
If you had to have a listener take a look at one album, which one most captivates your sound and message?
We did a split with our friends Pens, which was our first release. I would start there, as it captures the spirit of what our band is about. Some kind of connecting spirit among us in the UK.
I’ve noticed that your merchandise and albums are covered with the logo “Ride the Dreamcatcher”. Where does this fascination come from?
Were just really into that- when we found out about Sub Pop, we started listening to this old band called Green River. They had a shirt that said ride the fucking six-pack. So we thought- let’s make it ride the dreamcatcher. We thought we’d offend Sub Pop, but it actually sealed the deal. I even wanted to make a ride the dreamcatcher Frisbee, but I was outvoted by the band.