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Arts and Entertainment

Meet Kevin Richard - Lead Guitarist for Mannequin Men

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Mannequin Men I Photo: John Sturdy

Mannequin Men I Photo: John Sturdy

"If it's a million degrees and the world is on fire, where do we have a show? The desert," Kevin Richard, lead guitarist for the Mannequin Men, laughs from his van heading up Highway 5, "That's how we roll. If there was an epic snowstorm right now we'd be playing Quebec." Humor is what makes these Chicago garage rockers so much fun to watch. Their sound is meat and potatoes garage rock influenced heavily by the Stooges and the Replacements, but underneath the snotty vocals you can hear genuine discontent spiked with a dash of raunchy humor. Like the Black Lips, these guys write about a generation of kids who finished school to enter world to a world which has no employment for them. They write for those who are worn out and frustrated by working dead end jobs with no sign of things turning around. The Mannequin Men harness this rage and turn it into fuel for their songs with some sprinklings of sexual frustration just for kicks. After killing it at last years FYF Fest, the Mannequin Men will be back LA tomorrow for a gig at the Echo. Kevin Richards was kind enough to talk with us on Sunday about their latest album Lose Your Illusion, Too, the trials and tribulations of working at a record store, and why you should never date a massage therapist. Here is some of what was said.

Mannequin Men - Massage

What made you pick up an instrument?
I think it was either Michael Jackson or KISS. My dad had a guitar in the house and I would play with it. I used to try and act like I was in KISS. I think everybody went through that phase. But my wardrobe was very limited, so I usually ended up looking like a jackass.

How did you guys get together?

I was living with a girlfriend and it went really badly, so I crashed with my friend, who's now the drummer of Mannequin Men. We just started playing together while I was over there, and friends would come over and play too. Eventually the Mannequin Men came out of that group.

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Is your band a democracy or a dictatorship?
It's one hundred percent a democracy. I think it's really important for bands to have one universal voice where everyone has their say. Not that whole singer/songwriter bullshit where there's just one guy calling all the shots and the other dudes are just there for the girls or the drugs. You should never be in a band for that. You should be in a band only if you're doing it for each other. The second you start playing music for those shitty reasons it'll come around and bite you in the ass. It's like the story of the monkey paw. You know, where you you wish for something like a million dollars, and you get it, but it's because your best friend died car accident.

How did your single "Massage" come about?
I wrote that one. I used to date this girl who was a massage therapist, who claimed that she was all relaxed and centered and all "I'm a fucking hippie and shit," but in fact she was super intense, negative and uptight. That song is vaguely about her.


Mannequin Men I Photo: Jack Sturdy
Did she at least teach you how to give good massages?
No, that was the worst part. You can't ask them for massages and shit because it's their job. I asked her for one once, and it was really awful. Never date people like that.

I'll keep that in mind. Why is your record titled "Lose Your Illusion, Too"? What illusions did you lose in making this record?
The titles is really about how it sucks to be an adult. Well, not sucks, but a lot of things that used to be fun aren't any more. Also I'm disillusioned with the Internet,

It sucks out all of your ambition to do anything interesting. You decide on bullshit that easy to deal with it because you can just click on it. It took all of the fun out of listening to music. Now, you listen to music because you're supposed to or because a bunch of people you never met said it's a good idea. Oh man, I don't want to sound like a total dumb ass. This is for a blog right?


(laughs) Shit. Well, I mean what the fuck do I know? I just miss the days where you found out about music from magazines or the guy down the sheet or in a record store. With the internet all this music is being suggested by people I've never met before. I don't know. Personally, I think it's weird to be so flooded with opinion.

Fair enough. Who are the lovely naked ladies on the cover of your album?
One of them is a fan of ours named Heather, the guy with his junk tucked between his legs is Brian, who's a friend of ours, and the girls on the ends are actually the same girl photoshopped.

Who is she?
We found that girl off of Craigslist.

You're kidding.

No, no, we placed an ad on Craigslist for a girl to appear on our album naked, but you didn't have to show your face. I think it weirded a lot of people out. But it was at a real studio and was totally professional. It wasn't like we did an ad that said, "Come over to my house and bring some baby oil," and shit. It was cool. They were all really nice people. They just walked around naked, looking at the photos and hanging out. It was pretty surreal but fun. The cover is supposed to be a little creepy and not sexy at all. We were going for awkward and weird, and I think we pulled it off.

I think so too. How did you get involved with Flameshovel Records?
They're from Chicago, so I guess they went to our shows a lot. We weren't really looking for a record label. We were just having a lot of fun and not really perusing this as a career. They just came up to us after a show and said that they'd pay us to record an album. It was awesome. They were the first people who were excited about our music who weren't complete degenerates.

You have a song called "(Who is) Alice Golden?" Is she a real person?

Yeah, she is! I'd never met her before, but one day I was in the grocery store and someone paged her to the pharmacy, and I thought "What a cool name!" So I hung around the pharamacy section trying to catch a glimpse of her, but I never found her. But then when we released the album she found us!

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Woah, really?
Yes! It was incredible. Apparently her friend told her about the song, and so she found us on MySpace. She sent me an email about how much she loved the song. I asked her if she ever went that grocery store in Chicago, and she said she used to work there. It was like "Holy fucking shit that's you!" It was so cool. She's like this total square and has kids, but she likes our music. I love it. We're going to send her an album.


Mannequin Men I Photo: Sarah Schneider

So I heard you guys are making a mixtape every week and sharing it online. Where did the idea come from?
It was our publicist's idea. It turned out to be a really crummy idea. It's kind of hard to maintain. The first one that I made took a really long time and it wasn't nearly as fun as I thought it would be.

So are you going to stick with it?

Oh yeah, we must push ourselves. Although we might change it to a monthly thing or a bi-yearly thing. (laughs) The next one might just be Alice Cooper's Love It to Death with a little note that says, "Here is Love It to Death, and oh boy is it good. There you go. Enjoy."

I think that sounds reasonable. What was the worst show you ever played?

It was at Silvie's Lounge in Chicago. We took a bunch of truckers' speed by accident before the show. Okay, not really by accident. We were just really tired and so we thought we would take a whole bunch of caffeine pills. Oh God, we were the worst band in the history of time that night. I broke my guitar by accident and there was terrible feedback during the whole thing. All of us were so crazy we couldn't talk, let alone sing. Oh God, it was death. I felt like an ice trucker in my head just trying to keep the whole thing on the rails.

Did the crowd notice?

Yeah, the crowd noticed! We were shit. Here's what was really fucked up. So after the gig this enormous, tattooed, Slayer guy came up to me, and I really thought he was going to beat the shit out of me because we were so bad. But he started talking about how were were a totally gnarly noise band. I had to argue with the guy and be like "No, my guitar broke." But he persisted with "You're fucking awesome!" It's really weird arguing with a guy about how much you suck.

Mannequin Men - (Who Is) Alice Golden?

What is the weirdest thing you ever saw in the audience?

We were playing the Metro one time and we weren't used to that space. So I kicked the drums over by accident, and so our drummer tried to hit me over the head with his drumstick. He missed my head by an inch, and it sailed into the crowd and cut this kid's face.

Holy crap. Was he bleeding?

Oh yeah. It was embarrassing. We apologized and gave him a free CD, but he's now got this permanent gash in his head.

Do you have any favorite local bands?

Stranger Waves are fucking awesome. Although it's embarrassing because they're only nineteen and they smoke everyone. What was the worst job you ever had?
I used to work at this record store next to the Metro. I will never be able to work at a record store ever again. Going to work was like having your hair lit on fire every day.

Because the most annoying people on earth will come in every day. There would be these guys coming in getting boners in the back and peeing in their pants. It was so gross. They would just show up shit their pants, eat sandwiches and never buy anything. I was like "Do you have to do this here? Go to the bus station." Ethan still works there. I don't know how.

That sounds awful. Okay last question: would you rather by a werewolf or a vampire?

Because werewolves can dunk.

Vampires can dunk?

I've never seen one dunk, but I have seen a werewolf dunk, courtesy of Michael J. Fox. sad Besides if you're a werewolf you look fucking kick ass. I like that whole transformation process.

But what about the whole waking up naked covered in blood thing?

(laughs) That happens anyway.

What when was the last time you woke up naked and bloody?

What day is it today? Sunday? Um, that happened on Thursday. I don't remember a thing.

Interesting. Well thank you for talking with us, Kevin.
Thank you!

Be sure and catch Mannequin Men with Davila 666, Mika Miko, and Le Face at the Echo Tuesday night. Doors are at 8:30pm. Tickets are $10.