Smile Politely

Man on Man’s inspiring journey from secrecy to authenticity

This is a photo-realistic image of two people standing in front of a dark gray background. The person on the left is wearing a yellow raincoat and holding a white mug, while the person on the right is wearing a white t-shirt and a plaid jacket. Both people are standing close together.
A.F. Cortés

For Joey and Roddy, the members of the indie rock duo Man on Man, making music is all about authenticity, connection, and fearless expression. Creating a fusion of indie rock, electronica, and pop, the two musicians have found a unique sound that resonates deeply with their listeners, particularly within the LGBTQ+ community. For those just discovering Man on Man, they promise an authentic connection that resonates beyond the speakers. Their music, infused with honesty and emotion, offers a powerful, genuine experience. Joey’s and Roddy’s impact extends beyond their songs, touching on universal themes that are pertinent to our times. Whether you’re part of the LGBTQ+ community or simply a lover of emotions and honesty in art, their work offers something profound and moving.

They began by sharing their creative process, describing how the world’s darkness during the pandemic and the tragic loss of their mothers led them to explore the vulnerable and honest portrayal of their experiences. While many of us were simply trying to cope, Joey and Roddy were channeling their pain into something beautiful and authentic. As their relationship blossomed, they wrote love songs to each other, infusing their music with sincerity and a touch of hyperbole. 

Joey’s and Roddy’s approach to collaboration is a delicate dance, one that balances their personal relationship with their artistic vision. “We compartmentalize our personal relationship when we write,” Joey shared. “We’ve gotten good at finding the middle ground. I know when I write a guitar part that Roddy will be able to find a keyboard part that will work with it.” Their ability to mesh their distinct tastes and styles leads to a dynamic and captivating sound, born from friction and intense discussions about their music. Both have some musical influences, but the true intention is to pull from within, creating something genuine and authentic that resonates with both of them.

They find influences from simple sounds like Kraftwerk or Daft Punk, meeting in the middle by anything that feels genuine to both. “Any place that feels authentic for the both of us,” Joey points out. Their hit singles like “Daddy” and “Stohner” show this authenticity, with their provocative lyrics and self-made videos earning respect and acceptance from the gay community. Roddy, reflecting on their songs, noted that the “intent was just the two of us, but it was clear that it was bigger.”

This is a photo-realistic image of two people wearing baseball caps and collared shirts. The person on the left has an orange shirt and the person on the right has a green shirt. The background is a plain gray color.
A.F. Cortés

But it’s not just about the music; it’s about identity. Joey and Roddy aren’t just openly gay musicians; they’re artists who let their identities show up naturally. Whether talking about love or sex, their music, and discussions are straight talk, no innuendos. They’ve also shared their contrasting backgrounds, like Joey’s upbringing, growing up poor in a small town in Georgia with Roddy’s more privileged life in L.A., including his influential time with Faith No More. The journeys and experiences coming out to the world were a significant contrast as well.

Roddy’s personal journey to authenticity was marked by a fearless decision to come out as gay while on tour with heavy-hitting bands like Guns and Roses and Metallica. His determination to reveal himself honestly was embraced within his musical world. In stark contrast, Joey’s experience in the music scene was a delicate dance of concealment. Playing in a Christian rock band, Joey faced a situation where coming out would have meant losing not just his career, but his friend group and church community as well. The juxtaposition of Roddy’s liberation and Joey’s constrained silence illustrates the complex landscape of acceptance and judgment that queer musicians may navigate, even within the seemingly liberal world of rock music. The duality of their experiences adds layers to their collaboration and informs the honesty and authenticity that define Man on Man’s music.

Their honesty and courage in expressing themselves are also reflected in how they engage with their identity. Roddy spoke openly about his journey, saying, “After I came out, I pledged to sing from my own personal perspective. Now I’m being revealing and honest. Man on Man is a way to be true to myself.” Joey, too, has found a way to be true to himself, despite a past playing in a Christian rock band where coming out would have risked everything.

It’s their honesty and vulnerability that has made such a significant impact on their queer fans. Open discussions about love, sex, and identity have helped bridge the gap between the artists and their audience. “Take it From Me” is another gem in Man on Man’s musical catalog, and its meaning has evolved with time. The song initially emerged as a statement about how queer culture was being appropriated, but its interpretation shifted as they performed it live. It began to represent the sensation of identity being utilized either as something to rally behind or to oppose. As the band shared the song with audiences, it took on a whole new significance, resonating with listeners in unexpected ways. This fluidity of meaning underscores the layered complexity of Man on Man’s work, illustrating how their songs can adapt to changing cultural contexts and still maintain a powerful connection with their fans. In their words, it’s a song that feels like it’s being used, reflecting the experience of many in the LGBTQ+ community.

This is a photo of two people standing side by side in front of a black background. The person on the left is wearing a red t-shirt with the word “LOVER” written in white letters, while the person on the right is wearing a blue t-shirt with the same word written in white letters. Both people are also wearing baseball caps.
A.F. Cortés

Playing with Dinosaur Jr. brought a unique experience for Joey and Roddy, one that merged different musical vibes and audiences. As Joey shared, their performance alongside a band that exuded a “white hetero male vibe” presented its own set of challenges but also opportunities for growth and acceptance. Even though the environment could have been “tricky,” Joey and Roddy found that they were “embraced and accepted.” This collaboration with Dinosaur Jr. added a layer of complexity to their journey, showing that Man on Man’s authenticity could transcend barriers and resonate with diverse crowds. The experience served as a testament to their ability to connect with different audiences, reaffirming their belief that “a lot of straight people are looking for opportunities to get on board.” It’s clear that the collaboration was more than just a musical pairing; it was a bridge between communities, demonstrating the universal appeal of genuine, heartfelt music.

The blend of challenges and triumphs, personal connection, and fearless expression defines Man on Man’s musical journey. With their raw energy and unique sound, Joey and Roddy are a testament to the power of authenticity and the universal appeal of music that speaks from the heart. Whether you’re part of the queer community or simply a lover of innovative, heartfelt music, Man on Man’s story is an inspiring reminder that being true to oneself can lead to success, connection, and understanding.

The duo’s plans for the future are equally inspiring. When asked about upcoming projects, Joey was animated, revealing, “We’re touring in a couple of weeks in Canada, going to the UK and Europe in October through December, then Australia and South America. Possibly an EP next year.” It’s clear that Joey’s and Roddy’s energy and passion for their music are taking them to new places, reaching new fans, and continuing to evolve their unique sound. Their story isn’t just a musical journey; it’s a testament to the power of authenticity, love, and the courage to be oneself.

Check out their new album, Provincetown, on Spotify, and be sure to catch them live at this year’s PYGMALION

Man on Man
Rose Bowl Tavern (PYGMALION)
F, September 22nd, 6 p.m.
$10 – $130

Music Editor

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