Men I Trust Run Their Own Show

As the music industry continues to evolve, self-managing is becoming more and more accessible for modern bands. For Quebec's Men I Trust, the little details have turned their band into a full-time job, making their band's success all the more satisfying. The band's recent live EP, 4 Ever Live finds them bringing crisp live renditions of their latest singles out without sacrificing audio fidelity. We caught up with Men I Trust's Dragos Chiriac ahead of their January 27 show at Minotaure in Gatineau to talk about their unique live sound and how they've managed to run their band on their own for so long.

Ottawa Life: Live albums have become even rarer over the years, so what inspired you to put out 4 Ever Live, and was it a partially a way to compile your recent material?

Dragos Chiriac: It wasn't originally about compiling music because we'd recently put these videos on our YouTube page recently of these live sessions. We recorded them all ourselves at a cabin, and people left so many comments asking when it was coming out as audio. Since people appreciated it we decided to put it out as an album on our Bandcamp along with some songs we didn't put out videos for. We called it 4 Ever Live because we will likely add songs as we go. For the coming year we'll do other live songs on it, and it's pay what you want. Another reason we did this was that we'd waited so long to tour heavily, so this year we're going overseas and wanted to have something to create interest with booking agents. We wanted to tour more seriously so we wanted to let people know what we were up to.

The sound on this EP is so sublime, how did you avoid the lo-fi sound that comes out on so many live records?

It's all about the way we record the music, because usually the more minimal it is, the better it is. We're all playing in the same room, and very softly. Our drummer played so softly that his hi-hat was barely open. None of the sound bled into the other microphones, which is good because we need to have Emma's mic gain up. When Jess plays the bass, he's not always amplified either, so the soft playing gives us more room acoustically. We also avoided making the mixes as loud as our studio mixes, because it can pick up all the muddy frequencies in any instrument and it gives it a really great sound.

Speaking of this, does this mean your possible third album won't feature any of your recent singles or was this more experimenting with alternate takes?

Right now we have lots of drafts, good songs that are ready now to be finished. We have two songs that are pretty much done, and we're planning to record in February and April. So around then we'll be done with our third album and it will come out probably around August if things go really well. Before that we'll release singles from it to build some momentum for that and our tour.

How do you feel your classical piano education shaped your computer-based writing now, and how did you gravitate to that?

There are so many things that I get interested in, like video and photography, and then classical, jazz and electronic music. I ended up liking electronic by accident, I had a computer science class in sixth grade where we had a basic looping software. I like computers, building websites, using different OS's and playing video games, taking it all apart. There are classical-like songs on our records, the first record had "Introit" which is a super-classical requiem, and the second record had "Offertorio." You can hear it in the chord progressions of our newer songs too.

What's been the biggest shift with the band since Emma joined the band back in 2014?

When Emma came, we got our own style and we had a better idea of what we wanted to do in the future. The first two albums are very explorative in many ways, I like a lot of the songs but many of them are UFO's within the coherence of our sound. With Emma we really found our sound, and we're also better playing live now because it's really hard to organize rehearsals with all those different singers. People will come on for two songs at a time so it's hard to do sets in a consistent way. I was always rewriting the live sets, and having to think about how everything would change. Now we can practice more, and have a set we can work around. 

Have you found it hard managing your careers so tightly without publicists or labels, and do you ever find it gets in the way of your music?

At this stage it's still pretty manageable, I work full-time at this and it does take a lot of time, early morning to end of day with emails, managing and music. Some time in the future with what we're doing it may get difficult. The shipment with Bandcamp for music and shirts, it's a lot of time. We haven't looked at working with a label yet. We do have a booking agent for our live shows which is extremely helpful. At the start we wanted a label because we didn't know how to do anything, but because of all our singers at the start we weren't really marketable. There weren't labels around so we had to learn how to do it on our own. We've gotten pretty efficient at it and the label offers have been great.