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June 2, 2015Feature

Michael Shuman is a busy man. The vocalist and drummer of Mini Mansions, bass player of Queens of the Stone Age, former member of the bands Wires on Fire and Jubilee and ‘boy at Bar Mitzvah’ in the film The Wedding Singer, it was a surprise that he even had time to chat, but luckily he did

Have you got a favourite track from the new album?

Favourite track… hmm I don’t really. I mean, I would hope that most artists that make a record love everything they do. The only one that really stands out for me and kinda sets it apart from the other things we’ve ever done musically would be ‘Mirror Mountain’ and I think it’s because we wrote it collectively and in a room together. It was meant to be a song that you play live and now that we play it live it’s definitely a stand out one. Whenever we play that song and we’re supporting another band you know that’s the one song that grabs everybody and gets everyone’s attention.

Why the five year gap between the albums releases, was it because you were busy with Queens of the Stone Age?

Correct. We recorded like eight songs and we wanted to put it out as an EP a couple of years ago but it just wasn’t the right time and we wanted to wait until I was done with ‘…Like Clockwork’ to really put out something so we could tour on it.

How has the Mini Mansions sound developed between the first album and The Great Pretenders?

It was kind of a blessing that we had that much time. It gave us a couple of years to kind of redefine ourselves and rewrite. We wanted to write songs that would be fun to play live and less melancholy and I think the first record is fun too but darker musically. This record is move lively and it’s better for touring on.

You have two big names appear on this album, how did you find working with Alex Turner and Brian Wilson?

With Alex it was pretty casual, we’re friends. We see each other all the time and hang out all the time and he’ll come and pop his head up at one of our shows and sing his part for ‘Vertigo’ and that’s fun. It can be an ongoing thing where he’s just part of the gang but with Brian that felt like a once in a life time ‘he’s on our record’ kind of thing. That was unbelievable and it will probably never happen again. We’re really fortunate to have him on our record forever and have that piece of music forever and that’s really cool.

It must be hard to juggle Mini Mansions and QOTSA. Do you ever find yourself getting overwhelmed?

There’s been times when it’s been extremely tough but both bands are understanding about me wanting to do both things so it works out and you just don’t do anything else. You just do those two things. Some people like to go to cooking classes and take dancing lessons and shit but I just kind of eliminate that and focus on those two things.

Do your musical influences differ depending on what band you’re working with at the time?

No, I mean I just write to write. I write all kinds of stuff. I have hundreds of songs that are undone that span over all kinds of different genres. You just write and then if the song is great and you feel it really has something then you work on that and usually you can tell which songs might fit better for each band.

Do you find you carried a lot of your fans over from QOTSA or have you paved your own fan base with Mini Mansions?

There’s a few Queens stragglers that are great fans but honestly I was just talking about this yesterday and I don’t think a lot of Queens fans know that Mini Mansions exists or that I am a part of it and I think that’s very interesting because we try not to use the Queens name to get people’s attention.

"He’ll come and pop his head up at one of our shows and sing his part for Vertigo and that’s fun"

Mini Mansions are playing The Workman’s Club this August and you have previously played the 02, one of the biggest venues in the country, with Queens.

That was fun, huh!

Do you prefer the smaller stage to the stadium?

Haha.. I like both equally. That show (the 02, Dublin) in particular was extremely fun. I remember that it was a big one for us. I mean, the Dublin crowds are always amazing and in particular that show was one to remember but there’s also nothing like getting in a small sweaty room and being really close to the fans and not having a barricade and a bunch of dumb security guards separating each other so I’m looking forward to The Workman’s Club as well.

What’s next for you and Mini Mansions?

After we tour this album we’re already going to make more music.

So we won’t have to wait as long for the next one?

No! It’s about going back to the studio and writing and we’re already doing that now and also I’m thinking about whatever the next Queens record will be too… There’s a lot to be done!

The Great Pretenders, the second studio album from the Los Angeles outfit, was released on March 23rd 2015. This followed their self-titled debut release Mini Mansions in 2010.

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