JD Samson + MEN

JD Samson | Atlanta GA | 11/02/11

As I hurried up the sidewalk to get out the wind, I could hear the soundcheck through the glass door even from 10 feet away. I dialed the number I had been given and as I looked inside, I saw a thin figure with a shock of shiny brown hair on the stage stop gesturing to some unknown person in the back and lean over the equipment to pick up a phone. “Oh, that’s funny, someone on stage is getting a call right when I’m calling JD’s tour manager … I hope that’s not for her too and I miss our meeting slot.”

“Hello?”
“Hello? I’m looking for MEN’s tour manager – I was told to call so that I could get some shots in before the show?”
Out popped the figure from the pile of speakers and she jumped down and into the front room while hanging up the phone.
“Hi, I’m JD,” she said, beaming, over the din still coming from the other room. Do you want to sit down?”

JD Samson is probably best known, so far as a member of the feminist electropunk bank Le Tigre; she also is the co-founder of Dykes Can Dance (a conceptual dance/performance art group); a member of the New England Roses; a member of Peaches’ backup band; and producer (latest work for an artist other than herself was co-producing Christina Aguilera’s “My Girls” for the album Bionic). But her latest project, now known as JD Samson + MEN, probably takes the majority of her time and encompasses more of her political and personal philosophy than any of the others. But what is that? Wiki describes MEN a “an art/performance collective that focuses on the energy of live performance and the radical potential of dance music. MEN speaks to issues such as trans awareness, wartime economies, sexual compromise, and demanding liberties through lyrical content and an exciting stage show.”

Well that could almost be a Guns ‘n’ Roses show to me. Or a Weimar cabaret. So I asked JD, “Pretend I know nothing about this band. What is MEN … and in five words or less?” After tilting her head to the side for just a second and thinking, she stated with a pause between each word, “MEN is Women Are Men.” “OK … you’re going to have to elaborate on that, in more than five words.”

With a laugh, she said, “MEN is gender-fluid. Women are often made to feel they need to channel men’s socialization and expectations of what women should be. MEN is a statement against that, using movies, spoken word, disco, performance art, dance party, jam band as the medium.”

“Most of the projects you have been involved in are known not just as bands but as ‘performance art’ and what you just said must be where that comes from for MEN. What can someone who goes to see you live expect to happen?”

JD:  “Oh who know? There’s usually something … we are a band of two different things, almost – listening and watching. It’s the visual vs. the aural. It’s best to just experience it.” Said with a grin and a glint in her eye.

Following up on last year’s debut Talk About Body, on February 21 MEN released their new EP Next on their own label, MEN Make Music, and plan to release at least four EPs on the label in 2012 that will be produced by Alex Suarez of Cobra Starship, XXXChange and JD Samson + MEN.

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JD Samson + MEN is JD Samson and Michael O’Neill with contributions by Johanna Fateman and artist Emily Roysdon in writing and producing. Lee Free joins as live drummer and last year Tami Hart was the live base player. as writers, consultants, and producers. Lee Free is the band’s live drummer. Last year, Tami Hart joined the group for a period as the live bass player. They started their Australia/NZ/Asia/Hawaii tour today with a performance in Auckland, NZ, and will finish up on May 18 in Honolulu.

Listen to the EP’s title track and first single, “Next” – free download until February 28 – at Bust Magazine and on Soundcloud.

EP on Amazon and iTunes.

Official Site

JD Samson + MEN on Facebook

JD Samson + MEN on Twitter

On tour:

2/23 – Auckland, NZ @ 4:20
2/24 – Brisbane, AU @ POWERHOUSE World Theatre Festival
2/25 – Perth, AU @ Perth Arts Festival Festival Gardens
2/29 – Hobart, AU @ Brisbane Hotel
3/1 – Melbourne, AU @ Phoenix Public House
3/2 – Sydney, AU @ Red Rattler
3/3 – Sydney, AU @ MardiGrasLand Part 2012
3/4 – Adelaide, AU @ Adelaide Festival
3/7 – Singapore @ Avalon
3/8 – Hong Kong @ Grappas Cellra
3/9 – Shanghai, China @ LIVE
3/10 – Beijing, China @ Yu Gong Yi Shan
3/11 – Hanoi, Vietnam @ Hanoi Rock City
3/27 – New York, NY @ Dropout @ WIP (34 Vandum St)**
4/27 – Boulder, CO @ Communikey Festival
5/10 – Los Angeles, CA @ Echoplex
5/11 – San Francisco, CA @ The Rickshaw Stop
5/12 – San Diego, CA @ Bar Pink
5/17 – Honolulu, HI @ Next Door (Acoustic Appearance)
5/18 – Honolulu, HI @ Soho