We begin in the year 2008 with Josh, Dan and Brian. Three unassuming, well mannered and fun-loving fellows from a town near the sea. Regressed, mutated and collectively known as Fartbarf, they somehow bring us all into the future, captivating audiences with relentless melodies, robotically tight rhythms, and danceable beats by use of a strict limitation of tools at hand; vintage analog synthesizers, vocoders, drum machines, analog modular systems, and live drums.
When Man Man cut their seemingly endless record/tour/write/repeat cycle short to take a well-overdue break, Ryan Kattner AKA Honus Honus AKA Man Man’s main man decided to make something he’d avoided for the past 13 years—a solo album under the apropos name ‘Use Your Delusion.’
Now that a few songs are out, it’s safe to say a lot has changed since Man Man’s last LP, ‘On Oni Pond.’ For one thing, Kattner has lived in Los Angeles since 2013, splitting his time between songwriting and side projects like screenplays, a long-outlined graphic novel, music supervision gigs (Fox’s ‘Exorcist’ reboot, Super Deluxe), a new Mister Heavenly album, a bizarro children’s record called ‘Booger Bubble,’ original scores for plays and TV pilots, a monthly Talkhouse column, even a little acting and directing (his own “Heavy Jesus” and “Will You” videos for the JASH channel Sarah Silverman, Michael Cera, Reggie Watts, and Tim & Eric founded on YouTube). Why not right?
Let’s just say there’s more than a whiff of the city’s fallen angels at play here. Think of ‘Use Your Delusion’ as a love letter to LA’s lost souls, sealed with a pop-savvy sucker punch instead of a kiss. Fuck it. The kiss is there too.
“I wanted the vibe of the album to be upbeat and carefree even if the storytelling ran against the grain,” explains Kattner. “Like most creative people, I’m forever influenced by where I’m at in my life. There’s an unbalanced energy in the air I wanted to feed off here. I love how you can walk a block off Sunset Avenue at night, in the middle of a teeming city, and run right into a couple of coyotes trolling the neighborhood for tiny cats to eat. Sure, LA is known for attractive, traffic obsessed people and unattainable lifestyles but there’s also a lotta weirdos, a lotta darkness, and a real rich, disturbing history in the mix. Dreams being made and unmade every day. And all of it under a canopy of perfect weather and towering palm trees that are about to topple from either the drought or the next big earthquake.
He continues, “It’s not a concept album. You don’t need to drink from the LA River to appreciate the content. I mean, you’d probably die if you drank from the LA River. Or become invisible.”
OR maybe you’ll start to see things through Honus Honus eyes, enough to make sense of the dizzying ‘Use Your Delusion’ universe, from the down-and-out summery dub of “Oh No!” and barbaric death-metal breakdowns of “Red Velvet” to the poison-tipped synthpop of “Santa Monica” and mood-setting melancholy of “Vampires in the Valley.” There’s even some gymnastic guitar solos courtesy of producer/right hand man King Cyrus King (see also: several Adult Swim shows, Super Deluxe, and the power trio Hot Karate). He’s but one crucial piece of a complex puzzle that includes contributions from comedian Jon Daly (slaying the sax), drummer Joe Plummer (Mister Heavenly, Cold War Kids, Modest Mouse), polymath Mary Elizabeth Winstead (last heard alongside Dan the Automator in the avant-pop duo Got a Girl and seen in ‘10 Cloverfield Lane’ and ‘Swiss Army Man’), and singer Shannon Shaw of Shannon and the Clams.
“The parameters were simple,” explains Kattner. “Don’t overcook the cake. Short ‘n sweet, lean hard into the hooks. I also wanted to explore sounds I’d never messed around with before, diving headlong into the cheesiest sounding synths—the type of keyboards and pads most people skip over—and mixing that with outdated drum machines and real drums and then stirring in my songwriting style. Dystopian Pop.”
‘Use Your Delusion’ is more than just a mere one-off record, too. It’ll be supported by a full-on tour, one that lives up to Kattner’s wild-eyed reputation.
“This ain’t some ‘Honus strums a sad ukulele’ thing,” he says. “Sorry if that’s what you want but I’m just too restless a spirit to do that right now. I’ll implode if I don’t get the energy out and with all the great players I have onboard, the ceiling for the wildness factor to bloom is immense. That’s the most exciting part of all of this for me. Discovering our live footing as a new band. It reminds me of what it was like when I first started Man Man back in the day. There will always going to be serious side to the lyrical narrative but ultimately I just want to have the most engaging and fun live show possible. That’s not much to ask, right?”
FACIAL makes the noise that cuts like a chainsaw through the thick buildup of residue in your mind, left behind by years of dealing with the dull banality of life.
They take the dead parts of your brain killed by mundane repetition and blasts it away with a pressure hose, while the low end rattles all the barnacles off your body and pounds you the way you are always afraid to ask for. Sweet melodies interchange with primal screaming as you fluctuate between comfort and discomfort, horror and jubilation, familiarity and utter confusion.
FACIAL aren’t always making sense. In fact, they have been known to not make sense at all. It makes perfect sense considering the difficulty of true communication. This is due to the subjective nature of reality, lack of attention due to mass distraction, and the fact that anything anybody does can be taken out of context and framed to be perceived in any which way you want! These are just a few factors, so imagine trying to boil down a live, complex organism, such as a band, to a concise couple of paragraphs, using words! what a difficult task!
Who wants to read anyways! What could somebody read about a band that would even peak their interest? A cute story? Their musical references and antecedents? Perhaps some affiliation with a more well-known artist? Maybe we are completely bored with words now and they have lost all actual meaning, and only the right combination of emojis will titillate interest anymore?
If FACIAL were to be represented only by emojis, it would probably be: The guy with sunglasses on, Upside-down smiley guy, and The guy with x’s for eyes. bored to death.