The Mantles Talk Songwriting, Flying Nun, & Famous Neighbors

The Mantles, a quartet out of San Francisco, have given us one seemingly effortless garage-pop nugget after another in their sophomore LP, Long Enough to Leave, which officially drops June 19. But sounding this laid-back takes hard work—and sometimes, a little encouragement from the music icon next door. Below, we ask the band about their roots and where they’re headed, and stream the jangly album closer, “Shadow of Your Step.”

Tell me about a favorite place to practice or jam as a band. For obvious reasons, it’s hard not to picture y’all in a garage.
Virginia: The original incarnation of the band did practice in my garage in the Bayview district of SF. One of the dudes from the Village People lived next door at the time and came out to tell us to "keep up the good work." Honestly doesn’t get much better than that.

In my opinion, Long Enough To Leave is essential listening for Flying Nun acolytes. Which of those bands really click for you?
Matt: Love tons of those bands, but the records I still go back to the most are The Verlaines’ 10 O’Clock in the Afternoon EP and The Doublehappys’ "Needles and Plastic" single.
Virginia: I’ll second the Verlaines, and I have a particular soft spot in my heart for The Bats. We get to play with them for our San Francisco record release show and I am beyond excited.
Michael: I honestly didn’t know about the Flying Nun bands until Matt and Virginia introduced me. I’m really into the Clean now.

What’s the single biggest difference between the new album and your self-titled debut?
Matt: Well, the lineup changed between then and now so that’s going to make it inherently different. Also a few of us were probably still getting our instruments down back then, so maybe it’s a little more assured. It’s definitely more melodic, and we didn’t really bother with trying to ‘rock’ all that much. 

Did any songs fall together almost effortlessly? Was any an ongoing struggle?
Michael: Virginia and I took a guitar to the park and wrote "Raspberry Thighs" and "Long Enough to Leave" in one afternoon, only to awkwardly stop when people hiked by on the trail we were sitting next to. The one that was definitely a struggle was "More That I Pay," which only came together when we were recording it at Kelley Stoltz’ studio.
Virginia: Michael’s impromptu piano part at the end of that song finally brought the whole thing together.

Lastly, which city really rocks hardest, and why?
Matt: Well, our definition of hard-rocking is probably not what you might think. Usually, if we see a bunch of old dudes with grey hair and old band t-shirts, it’s probably going to be a good show. And wherever beer is cheapest and most abundant.

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