Canada's the Mandelbaums defines themselves "the world’s greatest Seinfeld-themed punk band". Ramones-core meets self-loathing, man hands, and big salads... how does this work?
Now that Badman Records released two of their albums on CD, we asked a few question to frontman-songwriter Dylan!
(Luca) Hi Dylan, let's start by introducing your band, The Mandelbaums, and tell us about the idea of starting a band inspired by the Seinfeld TV show.
(Dylan) The band is Ritchie (guitar), Justin (drums), Greggy (bass) and myself on vocals and guitar. The idea to become The World’s Greatest Seinfeld-Themed Punk Band™ started as a joke back in 2006 when my old band put out the Two Face EP on It’s Alive Records. Years later I used the Mandelbaums name to make some music under, but didn’t fully commit to writing strictly Seinfeld storylines until about 2015.
(Andrea) Though some Italians love it (The Manges are big fans), Seinfeld was never really successful in Italy in the 90s. Mostly because of poorly done dubbing and an unfavourable schedule... or maybe the humour just didn't click here. So, in your opinion, why is Seinfeld the best tv show of all time?
(D) I think it’s because it’s one of the few shows that you can watch over and over again and still find funny. The situational humour still hold up after all these years and for better or worse, the fashion’s back in vogue.
(A) Where is the link between Seinfeld and punk rock? Seinfeld references make perfect sense in punk but you couldn't do the same with, let's say, Friends.
(D) The link probably lies somewhere in the fact that it’s a show about nothing. Even the almighty HEAD references Seinfeld with their album No Hugging, No Learning. As for Friends, you probably could, but it wouldn’t be very good! I don’t trust anyone who likes that show.
(L) My friend Mattia from Proton Packs has two questions for you: Do you consider yourselves sponge-worthy? Is this gonna be the summer of George?
(D) Hey Mattia, we’re definitely sponge-worthy! Our good friend Bob Sakamano’s got a line on some counterfeit sponges so there’s no need to worry about running out. As much as we’d like it to be the summer of George, with all that’s going on, it just doesn’t seem right. That being said, we have big plans for next summer!
(A) Did you cover George’s answering machine song from The Greatest American Hero?
(D) That’s a great idea to turn that into a song - why didn’t I think of that! Funnily enough our drummer just changed his voicemail to his daughter, Layla, singing it! I had no idea where that melody came from or that it referenced that show (thanks Andrea) - just when you think you know it all! If we ever make it over to Italy we'll play it for you!
(A) Talk about your new record The Timeless Art Of seduction. How do you write songs about a TV show?
(D) It’s an interesting way of writing for me. More often than not it starts with a saying or a catchphrase from the show and then I’ll look up the episode and base the song around that. I try and use the script verbatim when I can, and sing it from the character’s point of view. It’s kind of like a puzzle - the words are all there for you, you just have to put them in the right places and maybe add or change a few words to make them rhyme. In recent years I’ve gone through long periods of writer’s block but with Mandelbaums, and having the words at my disposal, it’s less of an issue.
(L) What's the story behind the record cover?
(D) I’m glad you asked! It seems to be a very polarizing, if not puzzling image for most people. Long story short, the original artwork was of George Costanza doing the pose like he does in the show. I submitted it, and the powers that be immediately flagged it for copyright infringement. I had been wanting to use the title and cover for years so the rest of the band convinced me to strip down and bare it all for the sake of art… the timeless art.
(L) We know many awesome Canadian bands (Teenage Head, Hanson Brothers, Danko Jones, Vapids, Isotopes, School Damage, Chixdiggit! etc. etc.). Would you point us to some new great bands to check out?
(D) A few that come to mind are Sore Points and Nervous Talk from Vancouver, BC; Ancient Shapes from Welland, ON; and Real Sickies from Edmonton, AB. I’m sure there are a bunch I’m missing but these bands have been on heavy rotation in the Mandelbaum camp over the last little while.
(L) In the past years you toured Europe and Italy playing with the Isotopes. What are your memories of the old continent?
(D) The ‘Topes toured Europe in 2016 and 2017 (also featuring Ritchie Mandelbaum on guitar) and it was amazing. Even when it wasn’t, like the time when a Neo Nazi showed up and ruined the show in Mannheim, it was still better than any North American tour. We had Mikey from Dee Cracks on drums so we were in good hands. Italy treated us very well thanks to bands like The Manges, Ratbones, and The Riccobellis taking us under their wing. We’re honoured to be a part of the Badman Records/Striped Music lineup and hope to make it over to the old continent next year!
Thank you so much!