Mini Mansions bring house down
Queens of Stone Age and Last Shadow Puppets rockers hit town
GIVEN that the Mini Mansions trio play in some of the world’s biggest rock bands, it might come as a surprise that they will be gracing the stage at one of Glasgow’s smallest venues.
Formed in LA nearly a decade ago, the group is made up of Michael “Mikey” Shuman and Zach Dawes, bassists for Queens of the Stone Age and Last Shadow Puppets, respectively, and Tyler Parkford, who has been touring with Arctic Monkeys since he recorded keys on their latest album, Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino.
The band are set to release their third studio album in July, their ‘poppiest’ sounding alum yet.
Guy Walks Into A Bar was made to be more focused lyrically and structurally than previous records, lead singer Michael Shuman explains.
“We kind of bounced around and tried to make weird songs and we realised we can make weird songs, but we can also make very simple songs that hopefully hit you in the gut. That’s what we tried to do on this; the good thing is we didn’t have to try.
“There was real life material that was handed to us and ultimately for a songwriter that’s the best thing that can be gifted, like a death, a relationship, a break-up, that’s the stuff that once you’re handed it, the lyrics flow out of you.
“And I think personally I was fortunate enough to go through something that was extremely difficult, but it turned out to be the easiest record I had to write.”
Despite the change in direction, tracks on album still subscribe to the rock ‘n’ roll sound that the band are known for.
Standout song Bad Things was not originally supposed to be for Mini Mansions.
Michael explains: “The weird thing about this record is that I remember every place that I was in when I wrote the song and this one I was in Savannah, Georgia, by myself and in an apartment.
“It wasn’t for Mini Mansions – but I just wrote this thing and those lyrics and the chorus just came out.
“It’s probably the most different song for Mini Mansions that we’ve ever written. But also it was very inspired by DEVO and a lot of the younger generation, probably a lot of the kids that we’re playing to, have no idea who DEVO is. They’re a great example of one of the weirdest bands ever, that had one of the biggest hits of all time with ‘Whip It’.
“I wasn’t thinking about that but looking back on it, I was like ‘oh, this is the kind of s*** that Mini Mansions is built off of. I guess we consider ourselves a little off kilter, because we haven’t really broken through. I think people don’t understand us yet. You can write a song that hopefully can reach a lot of people and mean a lot to other people.”
Queens of the Stone Age remains the biggest priority for the singer.
For the tour, Shuman’s fellow Queens of the Stone Age bandmate and friend Jon Theodore, will be joining Mini Mansions.
“I’ve been in Queens now for 13 years and I’ve been in Mini Mansions for 10 years. So Queens has always been my priority, my focus, but I give everything to anything I do.
“I mean, people think whatever they want and there’s no way I can stop what people will think about me, my relationship with the band or whatever, but it’s a very collaborative band.
“So, I’m fortunate enough to have joined a band that has a leader like Josh Homme that would be like ‘be yourself; do whatever you want to do.’
“That being said, I mean, Josh started the band when he was a teenager, or early 20s and the same goes for me with Mini Mansions.
“So as much as I would never leave Queens, you want that feeling of ‘I started this from nothing’ and I’ve
done this thing. And actually Queens is an amazing example of a band that’s taken 20 years to get to where we are now, and that’s what I’m trying to do with Mini Mansions, but it doesn’t take away everything that I give to Queens.
“I just think it’s a great example of how to lead and how to work a band.”
For their third record, Michael decided to the step away from the drumkit and free himself up to front the band – which is why Jon will be joining the tour.
He adds “For the first eight years of Mini Mansions, I was the drummer. I’m not a drummer, but I learned how to do that for this band and it was great and I think it was something very different about our live show, with me playing a cocktail kit and standing up and singing and that was great, but on this record I really wanted to play guitar and I wanted to free myself up, so I asked Jon to play drums on the record.
“So he played the drums on the whole record and it was just obvious. Right now he has nothing going on, so I was like ‘do you want to play drums?’.
“I mean that’s what he does. It’s basically just like a vacation for us to just hang out together and we get to play music together, which is amazing. We’re still not jaded enough to not enjoy that. And he knows all the songs already. It’s going to feel very natural.”
Having formed in America, Mini Mansions have carved out their biggest fanbase in the UK and opted for their upcoming tour as a way of saying thanks.
“We’re an American band but we’ve struggled in America and the UK has been nothing but wonderful to us.
“So we wanted to kind of repay the favour and I don’t know if people care about us in some of these smaller towns, but I think it’s going to be fun for us to go to these much smaller towns and bigger towns and hopefully bring a smile to these people’s faces, cause it’s not every day that bands roll through there.
“I’ve had so many nights in Glasgow, it’s hard to focus on one. I’ve played there with Queens many times. We did Barrowlands opening up for Royal Blood, I believe and we did our own show last time at King Tut’s. I’m hoping that it’s going to be full this time.”
Mini Mansions will play King Tut’s on May 6.
Mikey Shuman, Zach Dawes, and Tyler Parkford have been performing as theMini Mansions for more than a decade and are set to release their third album