It's Not My Favorite by Messy Humans | INTERVIEW
Author: Sean Manuel

This installment of BlowUpRadio's weekly interviews is bound to be unapologetically messy. That is because our artist spotlight is Messy Humans! Their September 2022 album entitled It's Not My Favorite is their follow-up to 2021's Neat and displays the punk rock group's songwriting maturation with allusions to other genres rendering a work that is refreshing in its obnoxious punk glory. If you count yourself a fan of artists like Blink-182 and The Menzingers, It's Not My Favorite is the album for you. Let's dig into the Messy Humans:

Hi there, Messy Humans! Though I do not like to use cliches, It's Not My Favorite is a great example of variety being the spice of life. The songs on this album pull from a diverse array of influences such as Celtic sea shanties, rockabilly, doo-wop, and WWE (yes, readers... read on for details!). Whereas Neat stays firmly rooted in punk rock, It's Not My Favorite documents exploration of new textures to add to the soundscape. Am I correct in my assessment? Who contributed each song? What artists inspired your inclusion of external genre textures?

Matt: I think we always had a lot more influences than straight forward punk. What brought it out on our second release was what we learned from recording our first one and newfound resources. Mainly, we didn't have a real plan going into the studio for our first time, so instead of planning an album, we planned on going in, taking our time and doing a song or two a day. The engineer said that will cost way more than if you recorded all the drums in one day for more songs, so recording turned into a practice and we were calling songs to put on the album that were ready and we felt we could get in a take or two.

Our second time in the studio "It's Not my Favorite" more resources were made available to us by a generous funding of OEM records and we were able and encouraged to record all our songs, so both albums we have out are a hodge podge of songs written through the entire tenure. Friends, What Friends? and Happy were written before I was in the band.

As far as contributions to each song typically Glenn or I will present a song that is pretty fleshed out and bring it to the band for collaboration. When we're in writing mode I do my best to try and hear or pull out what everyone else thinks and any ideas they have. Some of the songs stayed close to it's original demos and others have strayed to new places we didn't think possible.

The Minutemen had an ethos that "Punk rock is whatever we made it to be" and that's where I draw the inspiration to make punk rock that isn't what people think it is or can be.

Jack: to expand on what Matt is saying; Most often the songs musically are presented through Matt or Glenn's bandcamp pages; and I layer and phrase vocals on top of it. Some lyrics are just ramblings I have saved in my notes capturing a feeling or focus I have at a specific time to no music that I modify or add to make work and others are written after I have heard the Music (burned the music in my memory bank) that conjures up a personal feeling/story. In the cases of you deserve better, This bautiful world, Sidewalk Slam, F**k it and hell yeah those songs had lyrics written by Matt and/or Glenn already connected to them.

Each song had their own kind of Nuanced process.

Vocally I try to stay within a comfortable range that allows me to feel confident in my delivery. Hard consonants allow me to ground vocals.

Although I personally have some musical heroes of mine, Jason Devore, Tom Kalnoky, Laura Jane Grace, Chuck Ragan... I try not to emulate anyone... specifically when we write. I listen to nothing but the scratch tracks I am sent by the band and/or recordings of practice and go through the process of working them out at rehearsal.

Your assement in comparing Neat and Its not my favorite is also something I share. The resources Matt is referencing is part of it but also playing together over time allowed us to venture into not some not so comfortable places vocally for me.

"Drink Your Life Away" opens It's Not My Favorite as an innocent 6/8 Celtic D major shanty. It suddenly jolts in its quick transition over a B minor riff to a high-octane punk cautionary tale about a dishonest character preying on others, questioning when karma will find them, and drinking to escape it all. There is a lyrical contrast in the choruses. One chorus's lyrics are, "Aren't you tired you're missing you for peace of mind," while the other's is, "Aren't you tired of being you for peace of mind." Is this character tired (first) of moonlighting as another person and (second) unwilling to return to their true self? Is drinking their only solace?

JACK: This song lyrically was autobiographical for me, reflecting a time in my life I am not so proud of. The first chorus using the word "missing" is intentional as it is the early stage of recognizing the regret of the life I was living, missing a more fun version of myself. The 2nd chorus "being" is the full transformation and recognition that theres a problem... and just tired of the life that has been created due to the over indulgence.

When writing any of the lyrics I try to avoid the word "I" and "Me"; although not entirely succesful the hope is that anyone can visualize or personalize the words they are reading/hearing.

At the time, drinking was the only way I knew how to have fun.

The next track entitled "Achilles Heel" strikes like a "cavity is to the nerve." A societal commentary, the lyric "Is it the violence involved in our crime that's blinded by hate that's real? Call it the constant ingrained in our congress. It's just our Achilles heel," provokes this question. Are you calling attention to a societal desensitization to violence? Or, is the focus of the lyric on "blinded by hate" as it pertains to the ability of the media and various public figures to motivate us to hate one another? What is our Achilles Heel?

JACK: This was a song Matt had sent us the Music to beforehand. This time of my life was spent a lot of the time on the train with a newspaper I picked up for my commute to the city for work.

I loved the new direction he was taking us in and felt the song needed to have a captivating emotional edge and important meaning to it.

Anyway, the vast majority of the media content/coverage was extremely slanted, emotionally confusing and the journalists themselves were awfully snarky in their delivery in regards to some tough times on some not so fortunate people.

The lyrics of Achillies Heel is a general reference through Media outlets as a whole, not specifically left wing or right wing, just the lack of a soul for whats actually right, and true.

Our Achillies Heel is the power the Media has to influence actions to pit one against another.

I generally believe the independent person is helpful and loving in their nature, when it becomes a "people" driven by someone else's agenda it creates issues.

Was the marching tempo intro to "Achilles Heel" a reference to the marching lyric "One foot in front of the other are proper steps to take?"

MATT: The lyrics came after the music, I wrote the intro because:

A, I wanted to give it a stark contrast from the rest of the song and give it the feeling that something is looming ahead and you aren't sure of what it is. Good luck predicting the chorus based off the intro

B: In a live setting it's very important to give breaks for your singer to catch their breath.

JACK: Yes, the tempo is how I came up with the lyric.

"Das Booterfinger" is a track with an admittedly curious title. With lyrical cues from, "culture erosion, sliding by design," and, "burn their bodies, along with their victim's souls," to ,"frozen foods, call home a battleground," I draw an image of the events of the Holocaust and World War II. Does this song happen to take any inspiration from the 1981 German war film Das Boot?

MATT: That is a far better of a story than the truth. When we were first toying with the song, our drummer Boot kept letting the sticks fly. I called him Butterfingers, then Booterfinger, then we should call this song Das Booterfinger... .boom. Sorry to reveal the less exciting truth.

JACK: The lyrics to this song were written while I was watching my stepkids fight like animals... The words just happen to fit the Music.

Another case of an interesting title immediately follows "Das Booterfinger" with "MBP." Like the previous song title, this one motivated me to conduct deeper research on Acronym Finder. Given "MBP" discusses social media's detrimental effects on social discourse, I arrived at what I consider to be a true beacon of modern social discourse: South Park. Does the title, in any way, reference the "Man Bear Pig" former vice president Al Gore warns of in South Park? Please let me know if I am off-base and clue us into the title/narrative's motivation.

MATT: There's a better story behind this one than Das Booterfinger before practice I saw a meme online that's it's funny that homophobes will one day be buried with a butt plug to prevent anal leakage after death, so M.B.P is Mortuary Butt Plug. Whether it's 100% or not I'm not sure but it gave us a good title that no one could guess and now the cat's outta the bag.

A change of pace occurs in "This Beautiful World" as hope for attaining self-love comes to the forefront. Was the choice to begin the song in a minor tonality deliberately made to musically convey the "rotten" outlook described in the lyrical content?

MATT: I wrote this one and behind it is a song to my first born. I tend to overthink things in a negative way but recognize that when my first born sees me they're not gonna have all this context to know that my thoughts are so negative.All he's going to and should see for a long time is a Beautiful World, but I can't yet see cause from childhood to now the world kind puts you through the ringer.

All that being said, yes the minor key was to help fit the mood, and that's why the end goes Major cause I'd like to feel the beautiful world again.

In what may be a developing calling card on Messy Humans releases, "Hell Yeah" continues pulling from the professional wrestling subculture first done on Neat's "Sidewalk Slam." The song is a light-hearted narrative centered around one of wrestling legend "Stone Cold" Steve Austin's catchphrases ("Hell Yeah"). The F#m-based intro riff can be mistaken for an entrance theme while launching into the verses based on an A major-B major chord progression. The song ends with a "stunning" tribute riff that will make anyone go "Hell Yeah!" When did the idea for this song spawn? Which came first, music or lyrics?

GLENN: Hell yeah was written with the intent of describing the struggling musician. Playing a show to an empty room... eating fast food... finding like-minded bandmates. However, the final verse about stone cold steve austin was written pretty much as a joke. The title "hell yeah" had already been established, and since that is also stone cold's catch phrase I just wrote a silly verse and we decided to keep it because, why not!

Tell us about what we can expect from Messy Humans in 2023!

JACK: We are working on booking gigs and writing. We are hopeful, by end of year, to have some new music available.

Where can listeners go to connect and interact with Messy Humans?

Facebook and Instagram. Please look us up, like our page, shoot us a message any feedback is welcome!

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

MATT: Thanks for checking out the band and liking our music, we're excited about the songs stewing in the cooker and can't wait to record them and hopefully play them out for you.

Artist Bio
Messy Humans is Central Jersey Coast Punk Band established in 2019.
Jack Dugan on Vocals
Matt Pucci on Vocals and Guitar
Glenn Brennan on Bass and backing Vocals
Stephen "Boot" Hudecek on Drums and Backing Vocals

About the Author: Sean Manuel is a Senior enrolled in New Jersey City University's Honors Program. A Music Business major, Sean specializes in the piano and bass guitar. Outside of academia, Sean performs in and manages the Bayonne indie-pop group BreakTime: a four-piece writing modern pop tunes with generous vintage allusions to artists such as The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. Are you interested in their music? Follow BreakTime @breaktimelivenj and stream their releases on all platforms.

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