Mel Gibson And The Pants
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Mel Gibson And The Pants


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The best kept secret in music


"A Mannequin American Review"

Mel Gibson and the Pants
A Mannequin American
Totally Gross National Product

With no disrespect meant toward little-known Tejano combo Jehoshaphat and Jodhpurs, Mel Gibson and the Pants is quite possibly the finest band to employ a pseudonymous-front-person-plus-trouser-themed-backing-band moniker since Bob B. Soxx & the Blue Jeans. Soon, however, I suspect that some smooth-talking manager will sit down with this Twin Cities hip-hop noise band and say something like: Fellas (managers always use friendly, informal language when talking with musicians), I think it's time we talk about me taking all your money and forcing you to change the name of your band. Because despite what Christopher Marlowe said about roses being roses even if some wag insists on calling them tube socks, there's a lot in a name. That's why no one called Soupy or Slappy has ever won an Academy Award, and why the actor whose birth certificate reads Marion "I'm Afraid of Horses" Morrison changed his name to John Wayne.

I say all this because one would expect Mel Gibson and the Pants to make goofy music. They don't. In fact, the group's debut A Mannequin American is quite serious, even spooky--horror-movie spooky, with synthesizer and guitar shrieks and cries, minor-key ostinatos, and references to Ed Gein. Even "Antique Lures," which closes the album with a nod to 1980s nostalgia, makes leg warmers and break dancing sound as ominous as mutual assured destruction.


Mannequin is a mix of experimental hip hop and minimalist instrumental rock that at various times recalls Can, El-P, Tortoise, Led Zeppelin, and OutKast. The title cut begins with a reference to OutKast's "Return of the 'G'," as if rapper Harold Sanders wanted to acknowledge right off the Louisville Slugger that he sounds a bit like Dré (a touch like Bubba Sparxxx, too, though Sanders isn't Southern). Other times his drawl gets crunk in the shadows while an electronic funk-rock band jams in the foreground. And while those jams sometimes amble aimlessly like a dotted-line path from The Family Circus, most of the time they're disciplined, dramatic, and heady, not to mention ruggedly handsome like Mel Gibson, and fat like Hammer pants. - City Pages (Minneapolis)

"another A Mannequin American review"

his is looking like my sleeper year-end-top-ten-list pick of 2004. Let me just say it's insane. And it's not for everybody. Mel Gibson and the Pants are from somewhere in the vicinity of Minneapolis, but nobody's sure, and may have the best band name since Grand Funk Railroad. Unlike Grand Funk, however, the Pants have made an album consistent in it's greatness from start to finish.

A Mannequin American is a hodgepodge of everything. That's right. Mostly hip hop, but with a band instead of an MPC or a couple of record players. And it's a rock band of equal parts Zeppelin, Roots, and noise rock. Topped off with a brilliant computer generated IDM production (think Tiki Obmar + Squarepusher), and you've got half a glimpse of the Pants. Plus, there's no trace of Limp Biscuit rap-metal thuggish posturing, because there's no metal and there's no posturing. Just a hell of a great band.

They get the song-title award for "Crosby Steals Nash and Runs".

They do it all. It grooves, it rocks, it makes abstract noise. This is a can't-be-missed album, one that will make everyone you know jealous that they didn't find the Pants first. The kind of album you play real loud with the windows down on your car while you drive nowhere in particular. It's too heady for whistling at girls though, so don't do that. -

"Mel Gibson & The Pants: Seriously Laidback "

By Rob Van Alstyne

Local sextet Mel Gibson & the Pants make the kind of groundbreaking, genre-defying music that is easy to enjoy and hard to explain. Is it hip-hop? Well, there is a rapper who sounds remarkably like Snoop Dogg on speed (his decidedly non-hip-hop handle is Harold Sanders). Is it rock? Well, they do have a live band quick to peel out post-rock riffs and rubbery bass lines. Is it electronic music? The band does appear to rock about as much techie gear as your average Best Buy and knows its way around skittery beats, jittery sequencing tricks and Tron-styled keyboard craziness. Given the post-Thanksgiving timing of my interview with Drew Christopherson (drums) and Ryan Olson (beats/sequences), I couldn’t resist asking them how they explain the sound of the band when munching on turkey legs with their respective families.

“I’m more likely to call it an electronic band with a rapper than I am to call it hip-hop,” says Christopherson. “We set out to make good hip-hop records, but there’s only so close to that sound we can get with the setup we have.”

“To me, I guess it’s all kind of hip-hop,” continues Olson. “There’s enough room in there for all of us to get our different voices out there.”

If one factor defines MG & the Pants’ soon-to-be-unveiled sophomore album, w/ Guitar, it’s that crazed confluence of unexpected voices (both lyrical and musical in nature). There’s Sanders of course, but his speed-drawled hyper-drollery is buoyed by some stunning guest spots from Twin Cities notables representing the two hottest collectives in town as both Doomtree (Cecil Otter, P.O.S.) and Rhymesayers (Eyedea) emcees sound off to the perfectly simpatico space-rock backing of the band. Guest rhymers aren’t the only surprises in store as the band shows its love for the spastic rock end of their equation by soliciting some guest yelps from Travis Bos of Chariots and so-and-so from the Belles of Skin City.

A dizzying sonic collage nearly an hour in length, w/Guitar is a relentless lesson, and Sanders proves himself a master lyricist throughout—just as deft with scathing attacks on commerce (“Life’s more than just consumerism / Whose vision are you fitting? / How you living floor to ceiling? / What’s all this stuff concealing that your life ain’t fulfilling?”) as playful personal contemplation (“The tragedy of growing up is—well, growing up—but still being able to fit into all of your old emotional self”).

Sanders’ rapid-fire, insight-laden rhymes would be enough to mesmerize even within the traditional “two turntables and a microphone world,” but fusing them with the group’s forward thinking instrumentation is a revelation. Settling in a heretofore undiscovered pocket somewhere between Minus the Bear’s post-prog explorations and the Sea and Cake’s chilled out breeziness, MG & the Pants’ sound is intriguing even before Olson subjects it to the extensive sequencing and effects work that turns it on its head and launches it into orbit. From the opening semi-reggae-wooziness of “I’ll Never Be Happy Again” and its straight-out- Nintendo keyboard to the closing cascading guitar lines of chilled out anthem “This Boat is Obviously Sinking,” the listener remains challenged and engaged.

“We recorded with Jaime Hansen again for this record, but this time he really wanted us to record in Steve Albini’s studio in Chicago because of the equipment they have there, so we went there and laid down all the basic tracks live in like two days,” explains Olson of the album’s unique birthing process. “From there we just spent a ton of time back in Minneapolis with Pro Tools and stuff in our practice space. If we could edit it and make something pop in a different way we did it. The whole thing took about a year and you can get lost with what your original focus was. I would rather do it quicker.”

Despite Olson’s wish for quicker results, w/Guitar gains much of its hazy mojo from this blend of punchy live instrumentation and textural effects. Christopherson is a true beast behind the drum kit on aptly titled cuts like “Unleash the Beats” and guitarist Riley Hartnett crunches sinisterly and arpeggiates beautifully with equal aplomb throughout. These live chops form an oddly beautiful symbiotic relationship with Sanders’ computer-tweaked witticisms (frequently double- and triple-tracked or digitally tweaked to approximate harmonies).

With the band members involved in numerous other musical and real-life projects—from running the local record label collective Totally Gross National Product to pursuing doctoral degrees in neuroscience—local music fans should give thanks that the six busy members of MG & the Pants manage to make the time to link up at all. Although the group has received substantial love from 89.3 the Current, the band wishes to put to rest any misperceptions of “local music stardom” people might have about the group.

“When we were on the Current the other day they asked us about our ‘rapid ri - Pulse of the Twin Cities


"W/ Guitar" CD 2005
-selections available at our website

"A Mannequin American" CD 2004

"Meat Tape" 2006
(Rhymesayers Entertainment / Doomtree Records)
"Twin Town High Vol. 6" 2005
(Pulse of the Twin Cities)
"Ladies and Gentlemen Vol. 1" 2004
(Ladies and Gentlemen Magazine)
"Doomtree's False Hopes / Warped Tour" 2004
(Doomtree Records)


Feeling a bit camera shy


   MG and the Pants established themselves in the Minneapolis music scene with the release of their debut album, 2004's "a mannequin american." Since then, they've gathered a wide audience of music fans and artists alike. Their 2005 follow-up,"w/guitar" had them collaborating with some of the areas best rappers and musicians, including P.O.S., Eyedea, Sims, Mike Lewis, Travis Bos of Chariots and many others. MG has played shows everywhere from some kids high school graduation party in Eau Claire, WI, to the Knitting Factory in New York, NY.

   Equal parts underground hip-hop and electronic rock band, Mel Gibson and the Pants are rarely as hilarious as their name might imply. Instead, the band's sound is defined by an unusual combination of aggressive bass lines, cinematic keyboard sequences, and epic guitar riffs, supported by both live and electronic beats. Rapper Harold Sanders Jr. occupies the accessory nearly as often as he does the primary role, weaving rhymes in and out of the thick web woven by his five-piece band.