Man Alive: Roddy Bottum and Joey Holman, collectively the magnificently queer rock duo MAN ON MAN, want to ruffle feathers and get a reaction. These proud gay men are on the same page when it comes to their own romantic relationship and their musical venture – they’re here to provoke and to hell with anyone that doesn’t like it.

Bottum is, of course, best known for playing keyboards with the always glorious Faith No More. Alongside Mike Patton and the rest of that dazzlingly eclectic band, Bottum was able to confuse and dumbfound the people who wanted more versions of the same early singles, again and again. No FNM album was like the last, and not everyone liked that. Bottum’s alt-pop troupe Imperial Teen likely confused people further. But by god, what a band that was and is.

Enter MAN ON MAN! Bottum and Holman formed the project out of necessity – a need to be creative during the COVID lockdown.

“We had no idea we were making a band when we first started making the record,” says Holman. “We were just passing the time, and we were just writing music together. It was Roddy’s idea. We were driving from New York to L.A. and we had musical instruments. We knew we had to be stuck inside for a while, and we were just like, ‘Yeah, let’s make music.’ We didn’t have any concept of the future at all. It was just, ‘Let’s pass the time and let’s just survive and have some sort of a creative outlet.’ So we were very surprised and felt very lucky to be able to be here three years later at this point, and still doing it.”

The self-titled debut full-lengther appeared in 2021 kinda out of the blue – a heartfelt, poetic but eminently danceable slab of work, and evidence that the pair were fortunate to be locked in with each other.

“It was double-sided,” says Bottum. “Fortunate in one way, that we’re boyfriends and we love each other, but also this thing opened up where, ‘oh we can create together.’ That is very rare. Also. we’re in an age right now where making a record in a house where you’re quarantining is totally viable. So yeah, it all worked out in a crazy COVID kind of way for us.”

For new album Provincetown, the two men were not involuntary locked down together, so how did that affect the sound?

“I think between the record launch and the record that will be released now, we’ve been able to play all over America, all over the UK and Europe, and we’ve been able to meet so many people that have come to our shows,” says Holman. “We’ve just played live so many times and we know what we like musically. We know what style is more fun to play live. On our first record, we love it but we had a lot of songs that were very downtempo – it was a very introspective record. Because it was a very confusing time. We’ve played enough shows to know what the MAN ON MAN sound is, and so when we approached making this record, there were really no rules but there was a very natural direction that our band took us. The real thing that informed it was playing shows and knowing the style of music that we want to play.”

Bottum says that one of the themes that kept organically raising its head during writing and recording is that of cross-generational referencing – younger queer people being interested in older queer culture, and vice versa. “The transference of knowledge in both regards is super important,” he says.

The album is dropping right in the middle of Pride Month, which Holman says is an accident but it’s a happy accident all the same.

“In every sense, it’s the best way you can celebrate Pride, by sharing your art with people,” Holman says. “We’re very over these clever gay comedian figures who are trivializing the importance of Pride. It seems very niche right now to talk about Pride as this very irrelevant thing. I feel very lucky to be talking about our music in the middle of Pride, because it focuses us to the reality that we’re not living in a world where everybody has the luxury of having the safety and comfort of a community. So to be able to talk about our music in this month, in a way that we’re wrestling and understanding our world or queerness, it feels natural and good.”

This year’s Pride does feel like it’s particularly weighty, with state after state passing draconian laws, clearly aimed at restricting the rights of LGBTQ+ people. That said, the feeling of paranoia is nothing new for queer people.

“Just because there are laws created doesn’t introduce a new form or paranoia, but it certainly adds weight to the existing paranoia,” Holman says. “Even in liberal cities like L.A. or New York, it’s cute to pretend that we’re all good and safe, but we’re not. People are still targeted in these bigger cities. To present that part of yourself to the world is dangerous. It wasn’t safe for me as a teenager to be gay. It just wasn’t. It wasn’t safe for Roddy either, and we grew up in very different places. Roddy grew up in L.A., and I grew up in the middle of nowhere in Georgia. And still, it’s not safe for kids in Georgia to come out when they’re 14 years old or however old they are. It’s a lot heavier right now, because people are emboldened to speak very clearly. Mike Pence on the CNN town hall doubled down on these disgusting views of trans people. Man, he’s so blatant about it. There’s no shame. It made us both mad and disgusted.”

That’s why conversations like this one, and why bands like MAN ON MAN, are so important. We all learn and grow when we can all be open. Thankfully, Provincetown is as open as you can get.

Man Alive: MAN ON MAN’s album Provincetown is out now.






















































































































































































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