MEN, the Brooklyn art-performance team led by Le Tigre's JD Samson, is heading out this fall with CSS, supporting four EPs — all released without the help of a label or manager.
"The industry just feels like it’s in this place where anything can happen," Samson says, as the registers of an Ohio Value World bleat through her cell phone's receiver, "We just thought, well here’s an idea. Let’s put out these EPs as we do them and see what happens. It’s kind of an experiment. We’re no stranger to being DIY, so I think it’s been easy for us to make that transition."
The first EP in the series, Next, came out last month, and features a trio of dance-punk songs on the economy, apathy, protest, and undying hope tucked underneath an image of a busted-up penny, poor Abe's profile artfully scarred. The second EP will be produced by Alex Suarez of Cobra Starship, followed by XXXChange. You can listen to producer Jonathan Kreinik (!!!, the Make-Up, Trans Am) remixing Next centerpiece "Make Him Pay" below.
In the time since Men's 2011 debut, Samson wrote an indie-scene conversation-starter for Huffington Post titled, "I Love My Job, But It Made Me Poorer." The article, detailing frustrations with her career as a musician and the industry itself, was recommended by 17,674 people on Facebook. That article's themes of regret and reinvention find a home, quite literally, on Next. The lyrics "Never afford a house / Never retire" flip-flop between grievance and mantra in the EP's eponymous banger. The following song, "Make Him Pay," about the Occupy movement, fits snugly within with the band's protest canon, and the EP's final track, "I Don't Care Anymore," was written as a "weird, emotional response to what it felt like to put out something really vulnerable [the Huff Post column]," Samson says, "but it was also a conversation with myself." Two vocal tracks, one Auto-Tuned and one not, talk about apathy in an attempt to "demystify the idea that hipsters don't give a shit about anything — at the same time that I’m critical of that I can be that," Samson says.
In addition to Men, Samson has been keeping busy with a number of Le Tigre projects. The electro-punk trio, which formed in the late '90s and also includes MEN collaborator Johanna Fateman and Kathleen Hanna, has been hiatus for half a decade, but regrouped briefly to write and produce "My Girls," a track off Christina Aguilera's 2010 album Bionic. That collab, combined with the 2011 release of Who Took the Bomp tour DVD, and this year's Le Tigre Live! EP, has sparked rumors of a "reunion." Samson says that all of their separate projects leave little room for the one that brought them together, however: "Kathleen has [a new] Julie Ruin [album] coming out, and Johanna has a salon [Seagull, in New York] and a baby — I guess she's kind of not a baby anymore; she's a child — but we all talk and support each other and love each other. We never want to say no to that forever, and that's why we've always said we're on hiatus."