The bears LOVE them some Man on Man, its no secret. The queer rock band made up of real-life boyfriends Roddy Bottum (Faith No More, Imperial Teen, Crickets) and Joey Holman (Holman) started making music during the COVID lockdowns as a way to pass the time, but it has since become so much more. Their self-titled debut Man on Man was released by Polyvinyl Records in 2021 to positive reviews and a great reception from rock fans, many of which just happened to be bears.
The band’s success was further bolstered by impactful music videos and gorgeous visuals which really served to highlight the message of the band and their music which combats homophobia, ageism and fatphobia through art. After extensively touring the US, Europe and the UK, the boys are returning with a brand-new album and tour to follow.
I sat down with the talented and handsome duo to get all the details. The following is a transcription of my conversation with them where we discuss the new album, their mutual admiration for the bear community and how it is to work and create together as a couple.
John: Hi Roddy and Joey!! Both the BWM readers and I are thrilled to have you back!! Your first album, Man on Man, was a tribute to your love, your relationship and your experiences during the pandemic. So far with tracks like “Showgirls”, “Take It From Me” and “Hush”, Provincetown seems to have a different, more expansive theme and tone. Tell us about that.
Roddy: The first record Man on Man was sort of an accident. We were just writing songs together; we weren’t aiming for any sort of outcome. We weren’t ‘making a record’. It’s really a documentation of getting to know each other both in our relationship and musically. I’d say the difference this time around is that there’s a specificity involved that’s more about our confidence as musicians. We’ve honed in on the sound that we do best together and we aggressively focused in on it.
We talked a lot about ourselves the first go round, so this record is more societally focused for sure. This time around I think we are dealing with a lot more generational issues, queer culture issues, community issues. Those are all things that are really important to us.
John: The lyrics for “Take from Me” seem to express a frustration about how queer culture has been co-opted in a way by the mainstream. Can you speak to that a bit?
Roddy: In that song we’re talking in particular about the way in which our queer culture has been co-opted by big business, especially during times like Pride month when everything is rainbow-washed. In so many different forms, queer culture has been appropriated by the rest of the world, which is cool; but for me, as an older gay man, there’s a sentimentality about where we were or where I was as a younger person finding my way in queer culture and finding my voice without it being a popular place to be.
John: I relate to that so so much. I think a lot of older gay men do but no one wants to admit it. Now, I want to discuss the visuals! In addition to the amazing music you guys put out, the videos are always equally intriguing and so is the photography that goes along with your records. Tell me a bit about the concept behind the video for “Showgirls”.
Joey: “Showgirls” was really a play on the tropey macho dude at the rock show that always seemed to own the space. They were always aggressive, but in a performative way. They were always very seamy but in a very synthetic, straight boy way. Roddy ‘s idea was to play on that theme with a bunch of tough looking dudes watching us perform; but then halfway through the song, we become loud and proud and gay, and then what does the audience do with that?? Well, they start making out, celebrating and being gay with us of course! (Laughs)
There’s a bigger message there, obviously, like with what we do as a band. Like if we didn’t sing about what we’re singing about or present the visuals that we have, chances are there’d be a lot of straight guys not threatened by the idea of our band. But we know very well, because we’ve read the comments, that some people hate us because of our queerness or because of our body types or because of our lyrics; and that’s an interesting place to be in when you’re playing shows in front of people and doing what you love.
John: Well, I love that you two are unapologetically GAY in all that you do.
It’s just so great to see people that resemble what I look like being sexual and just unabashedly queer. It’s definitely appreciated. That’s why the bear community loves you two so much and that’s why had you on the cover last March. It’s great that you guys give us representation and that you fearlessly celebrate diverse body types in your videos and our unique sexuality as bears. Speaking of which, how did you two find your way into the bear community? And what does it mean to you to be two of the most visible bears in show business?
Roddy: I’ve always been attracted to bear culture and hairiness. Just to get down to the specifics, hairy is really sexy to me as is the macho element of bear culture. It’s not always clear whether or not the rock element of what we do transcends and speaks to bear culture, but I know there’s a faction of bear culture that’s into rock music and into what we do, what we present.
John: This isn’t just me being nice, but I hear it amongst the bears all the time! They’re definitely picking up what you’re putting down musically and visually.
Roddy: That’s really great to hear. That’s what we love to hear. I think where we came from initially when we started making music, it was a reaction to the existing queer representation in modern music.
Joey: There weren’t too many rock acts finding success in the queer space. But I’ve always found that the bears are the ones who are the most adventurous in their tastes. They’re the most relaxed, I would say. And I think that when you look at who comes to our shows, it’s always hot dudes who happen to be bears. They know the words, they’re buying the merch, they’re listening to our music. That to me is the most gratifying of part of what we do because it’s like, yeah, we love bears and we wanna fuck bigger dudes, we’re into that for sure. But to be able to be attached to that community in a way that feels respectful is amazing too.
John: That’s a really good answer. I know our readers will appreciate you saying that. Now, onto your creative process, is it a brainstorming session? Does one person do the music and the other the lyrics?
Roddy: We pretty much do everything together. It is a crazy thing to navigate. We talked about it on our first record. It’s a weird thing to figure out how as a couple you create something because it’s a whole new form of communication and compromise. It’s a little bit intense, honestly, but I think we work best when we are in full collaboration mode. We both “wear the pants” on all sides of things with lyrics, instruments, and music. Joey plays guitar, so he covers that. Keyboards I pretty much cover. And lyrics, we both cover. Everything is a collaboration. It’s sometimes difficult to get through, but as a result it ends up being pretty special, and pretty specific to us as a couple.
John: That’s lovely. I read that you two met by Joey reaching out and asking Roddy about a technique used on an Imperial Team song which was real smooth if you ask me (laughs), but what was it about each other that made you click and what keeps the spark alive?
Joey: The main thing that makes me continue to want to be with Roddy…. I’ve never really been loved in a way that feels this deep from anybody else before. I’ve been in relationships and I’ve been in love but I feel like our relationship….and let me say this right because he’s holding a knife (all laugh)…just kidding….our relationship started from this element of support.
We got together a few months before I lost my mom and then COVID happened six months later, and Roddy lost his mom. So, a lot of the foundation of our relationship has truly just been about support, and I’ve never really approached a relationship in that way before, thinking about the other person’s well-being all the time and making sure that they’re good and making sure that they’re taken care of. And I really feel that love from Roddy in a way that I never have before and I think that informs what we do creatively, because I think we both want each other to feel good about what we’re doing and comfortable with what we’re doing. But we’re also not afraid to push each other, like in our regular relationship. It’s like the place that we’re able to meet in the middle is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever been a part of, not just in a band but in a relationship too.
Roddy: We also have a physical attraction to each other, which is key. Like all gay guys that start out in a relationship, that’s right at the front of the trajectory – how well you fuck. We have that, but also a sense of humor is super important and that’s a big part of what we do together. We’re really funny to and with each other.
John: Is it tough being romantically involved and working so closely together? How do you push through?
Roddy: It’s really hard sometimes. Making songs, doing the videos, creating all of these looks for different imagery and all of the artwork – there’s so many decisions. It’s so intense. And then living together and working on a relationship too. It’s a lot to ask of our relationship to do what we do. I’m not really sure how we do it!
Joey: I think it’s hard to maintain our individual identities as Joey and Roddy separately from what we do and it’s also hard to untangle our relationship from the band. But I think that where there were stresses from the last record, we got through them, and now it feels very natural to us. And so those things are easy. And there’s new things on this new record that are just brand new to us, so we’re going to not know how to navigate it. But I think as we grow as a band and as a as a couple, it’s really just about us discussing what our boundaries are and really finding a structure with what we do.
John: Well, you guys make it look effortless and that is really sage advice. So, after the album comes out what’s next?
Roddy: Touring! We’re doing this big show in NYC for my birthday on July 1st, then a show during P-Town Bear Week on July 9th, and then we tour for the foreseeable future after that, for six months, I think. We’re doing two legs of touring in America, and then Europe and the UK. That’s really all we have planned but it’s great to know what’s ahead of us. There’ll be a lot of volatility and variety in the next six months, but at the same time it’s scheduled, and we know what to expect.
John: I know what you mean. There’s a comfort in knowing what’s coming up next but six months is a long time to be on the road.
Joey: Yeah, but we like being on the road.
Roddy: It’s really fun to go out there and meet our people.
John: That must be fulfilling.
Roddy: It’s really, really special.
John: Well guys, I wish you all the best of luck with Provincetown and the forthcoming tour. I know your fans are anxious to greet you! Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me.
Stream or purchase Provincetown HERE.
Get your tickets to see Man on Man HERE.
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