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"Never before have I seen a band that reminded me of Mr.Bungle, Dead Can Dance, No Means No, Crass, Tom Waits, Kate Bush, Nightmare Before Christmas, Jane's Addiction and Siouxie and the Banshees all in ONE NIGHT!"

By Jonathan Perry, Globe Correspondent | September 28, 2006

In lesser hands, giving ones band an all-caps moniker might be considered empty hubris, but Bostons HUMANWINE makes musical statements just as brazen and bold. The cracked cabaret stylings and elaborately weird performances staged by co-founders Holly Brewer and Mat McNiss have garnered the band three Boston Music Award nominations (outstanding new act, outstanding lead female vocalist, outstanding local punk band) and a slew of gushing publicity. HUMANWINE also took best new act honors in the WFNX/Boston Phoenix Best Music Poll this year. - The Boston Globe

The local ballot reflects a stable, vital scene


HUMANWINE are the most visible descendants of the Dresden Dolls, most recently opening the Dolls’ Orpheum show with Amanda Palmer and Brian Viglione both making cameos during their set. On the surface, the two bands have a lot in common — visual, theatrical, cabaret-tinged — but HUMANWINE are really doing something quite different, more haunting and eclectic with less of a rock base. The small and striking singer Holly Brewer looks like a star waiting to happen, particularly after the chilling version of “St. James Infirmary” I saw her do at Shaun Wortis and Suzi Lee’s Mardi Gras show this year.
- The Phoenix - 5/26/2006

By Sarah Rodman, Globe Staff | October 6, 2006

Unless you're a vampire or Hannibal Lecter, the name HUMANWINE doesn't sound very appetizing. But thousands of fans around Boston and across the country are starting to embrace the music and mythology of this local duo, which prefers its moniker printed ``all caps, no gaps."

Holly Brewer and M@ (pronounced Matt) McNiss have risen through the local ranks pretty quickly since their arrival from New Hampshire in June 2005. Only last week, the duo won the Boston Music Award for best new local act.

``We met a lot of people when we first moved here and instantly made great friends and musical comrades," says guitarist and songwriter McNiss, 32.

``There's a family of freaks that really formed thick blood fast," adds 27-year-old singer-pianist-songwriter Brewer, referring to similarly offbeat groups like the Dresden Dolls -- for whom HUMANWINE opened a series of shows this spring -- and Reverend Glasseye. ``For a year we never booked one of our own shows. We only played with other bands that asked us to play with them."

Thanks to those alliances and their unconventional visual and musical style, Brewer and McNiss have introduced a legion of people to a world they call ``The Quilt of Vinland." The ``Quilt" comprises songs, newsletters, and graphic artworks created by the pair and available through their website. (The songs are also downloadable via traditional outlets like iTunes and their ``e-label" Cordless Recordings.) Each piece illustrates a patch on that quilt, weaving an elaborate story of a fantasy world with music that encompasses everything from woozy oom-pa-pa trumpet waltzes to acoustic folk to caffeinated punk guitar riffs.

The dramatis personae of ``Vinland" include the tyrannical, polymorphous ``Not-Me." This bulbous-nosed, earless creature lords over the ``cog populace" of an industrial city. The ``Not-Me" enslaves said populace to a life of factory work by feeding them the ``Not-Me Pill of Lies" -- now with 20 percent more ``freedumb" -- as they sleep. There's also the ``Abrogated Munificence," a revolutionary group trying to convince the cogs to stop taking the drugs, the warmongering Hordes who invade and occupy smaller towns, and the underground race of Enjoyeurs, who, unwittingly, intoxicate themselves on the blood of murdered cogs. In other words, Vinland is a place where a corrupt political party rules its subjects through fear and spin. Instead of a fairy tale, it's a nightmare fable. Got that?

If not, that's fine with McNiss and Brewer, who are happy if people just enjoy the songs. Although some fans have taken to coming to shows dressed up as cog zombies, all are welcome to Vinland, whether they know they're visiting or not.
``Absolutely," says Brewer, ``it's there if people are looking for meaning. If they listened to the words they'd probably think [a particular song] is obviously about a relationship with two people and how old relationships affect new relationships. You could say that has nothing to do with Vinland because that happens here all the time, but everything that happens here all the time happens there all the time."

In fact, similarities between Vinland and the world we live in are purely intentional. ``It parallels it," says Brewer.
Adam Glasseye, who will take HUMANWINE out as an opening act and perform with the band during a two-week tour of the Midwest and South next month, says he understands about ``80 percent" of the Vinland story.

``Everything else I fake," he says with a laugh. ``I think a lot of it is a morality tale of modern politics, so in the end there is a mirror image it's creating to the real world."

One person intensely interested in the story is Jac Holzman, the legendary record man who founded both Elektra and Nonesuch Records and discovered talents as varied as the Doors and Judy Collins. Holzman created the band's unique ``e-label" Cordless Recordings, an affiliate of the Warner Music Group. Normally bands on Cordless release three-song ``clusters" that are available via download only. After two clusters, Holzman has committed to making a full album with the band. They start recording in January.

``The thing that attracted me to HUMANWINE was that they didn't look at anything from quite the same angle as normal people," says Holzman. ``By that I mean their take has always been angular and interesting. One of the things that an A&R person always asks is, `Is this something I haven't heard before?' And they were certainly something I haven't heard before."

Which brings us back to the sticky question of how to describe the music the duo makes, often with assistance from members of their local musical family. A quote on their website calls it ``vaudeville-anarcho punk." ``I think it's very operatic, sing-songy punk," musical comrade Glasseye says. Holzman calls it ``a little Weimar Republic but it has an edge that is someplace far out into the future." Brewer dubs it ``so - The Boston Globe


2006 EP Rivolta Silenziosa (Cordless Recordings)
Rivolta Silenziosa
Script Language
Big Brother

2007 Fighting Naked (Cordless Recordings Digital Release)
1.UnEntitled States Of Hysteria
2. Big Brother
3.Fighting Naked
4.Wake Up
5.Dim Allentown Cove (Part I)
8. Worthless Ode
9.Script Language
10.Rivolta Silenziosa
11.When In Rome

Set for Ground Release in April 2008 (Nervous Relatives Records)

HUMANWINE is planning to go back into the studio for another CD this March.



HUMANWINE appears in all capital letters and as one word under all circumstances.

“The band’s near-vaudevillian musical presence combines with the anger and wit of classic punk bands, resulting in a musical experience that stimulates both halves of the brain.”
– Performer Magazine

``The thing that attracted me to HUMANWINE was that they didn't look at anything from quite the same angle as normal people, by that I mean their take has always been angular and interesting. One of the things that an A&R person always asks is, `Is this something I haven't heard before?' And they were certainly something I haven't heard before."
- Jac Holzman

M@ McNiss and Holly Brewer are the writers, composers and visionaries behind the Boston based band HUMANWINE, they conduct a grab bag of talented musicians from within their circle of comrades.
M@ McNiss and Holly Brewer ran within the same pack of musicians based out of an ancient farmhouse in Hudson NH. They had lived in the same places and played with the same people since 1996 but never actually collaborated with each other until the two had reunited at “The Farmhouse” on M@‘s Birthday, January 4th, 2002. Holly Brewer had just moved back from 3 years in California and M@ McNiss had moved back from 3 years in Vermont. The first song was called ”Estat” an allegory about Class War set to a waltz. Within three months of working together they had written almost 10 songs. Over the next three years the two traveled, played music on the street and in small clubs around New England and conjured strange pirate recordings sketching out what was to become HUMANWINE. Outgrowing the few venues in New Hampshire they decided to move to Boston in June 2005 to collect other players to help illustrate the songs that were pouring out of them. Within a year of being in Boston, HUMANWINE won Best New Act in the FNX/Boston Phoenix Best Music Poll 2006 and Best New Local Act in the 19th ANNUAL BOSTON MUSIC AWARDS 2006. Singer Holly Brewer is nominated for Best Female Vocalist in the upcoming Boston Music Awards of 2007.

HUMANWINE uses the imagery of bones, dirt, blood and rust to lead the listener through the tales narrated by Brewer and McNiss guiding the listener on a journey into insanity with a look at it from all sides, gushing dissent and shedding more light on their creation, a mythical place called 'Vinland'. Vinland comes to life at HUMANWINE shows. Audiences come dressed up like many of the characters, acting out the songs and, smearing themselves with coal from "The Burning Cities" as well as Ogre-ing along with a collective "AAA OOO" during HUMANWINE's politically charged and cartoon-like songs.

HUMANWINE’S debut CD entitled Fighting Naked was digitally released via Cordless Recordings in April 2007 and will be Officially released in April of 2008 by Nervous Relatives Records. The Album won a nod from WBZTV's A-List of 2007 Winning for BEST LOCAL ALBUM.