ANTI- Nick Diamonds never repeats himself. Whether he's focused on indie-rock…
- Posted on Dec 10th 2010 1:30PM by Jonathan Dekel
Getty Images | FilmMagic
Comprised of duel lead singers Honus Honus (Man Man) and Nick Diamonds (Islands / ex-Unicorns), drummer Joe Plummer (Modest Mouse) and, at least for now, comedic heavyweight Michael Cera, the group has been making headlines since they announced their formation and deal with Sub Pop records earlier this month, essentially stealing the spotlight from Passion Pit via their trial-by-fire opening dates for the dance-rocker's winter tour.
Mister Heavenly ambitions may seem lofty at present -- having a bassist who just starred in a $45 million grossing movie ('Scott Pilgrim vs. the World') will have that effect -- but according to co-leader Honus, aka Ryan Kattner, the band's origins were much more humble.
"We thought it would be kind of funny," the mustachioed singer tells Spinner. "I was gonna wear a blond Justin Bieber wig to look like him and he [Diamonds] was to put on a mustache."
Joking aside, the two initially came together to record a single in the style of a new genre that melded the worlds of doo-wop and doomed love songs. They dubbed their new Frankenstein 'doom-wop.'
"Initially 'doom-wop' made sense when we were just going to do a seven-inch, just two songs," Kattner recalls. "I had a song that I thought would fit that style, and we kept on writing. Suddenly, we had enough for two or three seven-inches; now we have a record."
Needing a drummer, mutual friend Plummer was soon recruited and flown in from his native Portland, and the band set about demoing 12 songs in a "random" New York basement.
"The music came together really fast. It's like our two bands in the sense that there has been elements of 'doom-wop' in the Man Man stuff. The only restriction was that we keep it simple and the songs are short," he explains. "Also, it's fun to not sing lead all the time."
Kattner claims that both he and Diamonds have found the experience to be musically cathartic.
"Writing for Mister Heavenly has been a lot of fun because both of our respective bands are pretty complicated in terms of arrangement, so we just wanted to strip it down."
For the Philadelphia-based songwriter, musical simplicity was more than just a convenient ethos, it was a mental necessity. After spending the last two years dealing with a string of personal tragedies and setbacks, Kattner chose to keep the Mister Heavenly writing sessions and recordings light. Instead, those emotions can be found buried in the lyrics of the newest Man Man album, 'Live Fantastic' -- recorded simultaneously as the Mister Heavenly material.
"It's a pretty heavy record, in terms of sentimentality," he says of 'Live Fantastic.' "During the making of the Man Man record was the first time I found myself dealing with good friends dying. So you can let these things consume you, or you can put it out in music."
But he'll deal with that album and its emotional toll later this year. For now, he's focused on Mister Heavenly's tour and album release, quick to point out that, while the future might be ambiguous for now, nothing is set in stone.
"I never thought Man Man would last past one record," he laughs. "But here we are four records later, so there you go."
As for Cera's involvement in said future, his appearance at the band's inaugural Nov. 30 gig in Seattle was a surprise to everyone but the group. Speculation has it that he joined up with the guys for their first tour via his friendship with Diamonds (the actor appeared in the video for 'No You Don't' by Diamond's other band, Islands) though a Sub Pop representative told The Stranger "as of right now he is not an official member, just playing with the guys on this tour."
Still, the quirky movie star has no trouble stepping into the role of rock star. "Hello, Port...Land," the jokester stuttered on the second night of tour, as he pretended to read the city's name off of a cheat sheet fastened to the back of his bass. Later on, he even went so far as to channel fellow Canadians Barenaked Ladies with a hilarious (and unexpected) shout-out to one of their radio hits. After moonlighting as Mister Heavenly's bassist, Cera might give some serious consideration to becoming a card-carrying member.