Joe Mansman & The Midnight Revival Band – Shotguns and Joyrides
Written by Liam Sweeny on November 14, 2018
Man, there is some crazy shit going on in the sticks around Glens Falls. Fast living, shotgun show-and-tells, boozin’ bamboozlers, bar brawls and in the middle of it all, like a backwoods church choir, is Joe Mansman and the Midnight Revival Band. With members Joe and Alex Mansman, Chris Becker, Jesse Ordansky, Shaft and Johnny Smokes, the Midnight Revival Band makes rebel rock that’s both fresh and time-honored, like a new batch of ‘shine using the family recipe in moon-kissed stills. We had a chance to sit down with Joe Mansman.
RRX: Okay, you guys are good. So how about a little unmasking before we begin? Joe, I assume you sing, but what does everybody else do?
JM: My brother Alex Mansman plays guitar, Chris Becker is keys, Jesse Ordansky does drums, and Johnny Smokes is our most recent addition, he plays the dad guitar. Bass.
RRX: I love the feel of your music. I fully plan on adding it to my car’s play list. Being from the Albany area, it’s great to hear country rebel rock that originates from upstate New York. Please, Can you comment on why upstate New York has a country, rural, outlaw voice, and why you all chose to use that voice?
JM: That’s a good question and hard to answer. I guess I can’t say for certain why Upstate NY has it, even if it’s slightly buried. We chose to go that direction a few years ago just because that’s where we were just at in our hearts at the moment. Fuck art man, we tried it and it sucked. I’m 33 years old, I don’t give a crap anymore about writing my swan song. I just want to fucking rock and roll. We’re just over the playing safe thing, Rock and Roll is about sexuality, about swagger, and it’s supposed to be dangerous. And there was a reason moms and dads in the old days grounded their kids for going to see bands. Nobody has thick skin anymore, people everywhere are offended about this and that and some groups are even creating what they call “Safe Scenes”. I’m sorry but if you pay to see a Rock and Roll band you should expect it to be a raucous environment.
RRX: What got me, in doing my research, was the videos you guys have done. In one of them, I believe it was the video for Cut Out My Tongue, there was a lot of partying that went on. Tell me you did your own stunt-drinking. But also, there was a driving scene where you guys were wearing Halloween masks and toting a shotgun in the passenger seat. Did you plan that route out so the cops wouldn’t stop you, or do they even give a shit about that out there?
JM: That was a fun video, man. So the whiskey bottle being poured into our bass player’s mouth was ice tea. However, all those beers were real. We filmed that video next door to our practice space, which had the floor completely covered in empties at that point because we’re pigs, I guess, and we literally took a broom and swept them all next door for the scene. The part with the masks and guns, we just drove through town like that and hoped for the best. There were onlookers walking their dogs and grabbing their morning papers and shit just flabbergasted seeing us roll through. I wonder what they told their families about what they saw that morning.
RRX: Now, being that you guys are based out of Glens Falls (is that right?.) if you could take a moment to “map out” the Glens Falls scene, that would be great. Are there great acts or venues people should make the trip up (or down, or over) for? And being a band with such an outlaw vibe, do you find more exposure comes from rural gigs, or city gigs?
JM: Yeah, we’re from Glens Falls. The scene is tight out here right now, and bands are making moves, dude. Some of my favorites are Between Now and Forever and Paradox Saints among others. But all the band members from everywhere all know each other and we all go to each other’s shows. Some great things we do out here are GEM Fest every July and Gugs season in the winter time. You’ll see all the Glens Falls bands kinda pull together in the summer to make the festival huge. In the winter time, we all hole up from touring and play all the Gugs nights together, because it’s like the great gathering place of music dudes in their twenties and thirties.
Our band has always had a better response in the rural areas, playing those off the cuff dives, barns, and whatnot. We don’t do terribly in the cities; we actually had a great show in NYC. But all of our appearances in Providence, Philly, Boston, and Burlington have been pretty low key compared to our other shows, as expected for a band at our level. But we had a ton of fun at each one of them and met some cool fans, bands, and promoters who we still work with on a regular basis, and we’d play those places again.
RRX: Of course, I ask everybody about influences, and it’s no different with you guys. But I like to twist it. Name two ‘influence’ bands that you all generally agree on. One you get to jam with, one you get to party with. Which band is which, and why?
JM: We have our regular influences, but we pick up new ones on each record, which is why they all sound different. As far as our standard ones we all agree on, we all love AC/DC, Danzig, Bon Jovi, and Aerosmith to name a few. On our last record “Bastard” we were all on a southern rock and hardcore kick where we listened to a lot of Maylene and The Sons of Disaster and Crobot. You can hear that in the whole record with the heavy blues rock riffs and breakdowns. On our new record it’s been a lot of Motley Crue, Warrant, and Skid Row (Sebastian Bach era.) You can hear that influence on with the bigger choruses and soaring guitar solos. If we could pick a band to party with it would probably be Steel Panther, for obvious reasons. Not sure who we’d Jam with though. Maybe Slipknot, cause we could just get fucking loaded and put on masks and bang on some shit, like trash cans or something.
RRX: Okay, time for a war story. It can be from a show, a practice, or a hang out, but at least most of the band had to be there. Pitched battles only please, no border skirmishes. The weirder the better, and names can (should) be changed.
JM: One time this dude was talking to me behind a fence for a show he couldn’t get into, and demanded I grab his friend for him to get him in. I told him to fuck off and he started talking some shit, to which Al promptly responded by flicking his lit cigarette at the guy’s forehead, sparks and all. That ended the shit-talking real quick.
RRX: We’re all a family here, so bring out your kin. Other bands, places, events that you think really bring out the best of the upstate music scene. Want to give shout-outs to friends? Here’s the spot.
JM: Ralph Renna of course is one of the best dudes we know and has always had a heart for the little guys. Brian Michael, a local promoter and singer for Iüdica has always been a fantastic dude when it comes to giving the bands he books 100% of his time and resources. And of course our fans. We’ve got a few diehards that come out to every show and we’re forever grateful for their time and resources too.
See Joe Mansman & the Midnight Revival Band Live this weekend at #GemFest2019