M A N E deliberately stylized their name to be, well…stylish. “Kind of like it was imprinted,” says frontman Sam Wegman.
The Google-thwarting moniker is also functional, as there’s a “Mane” in both Australia and San Francisco. It’s meant to evoke “the time it takes to grow one’s hair long” (as the band’s Instagram bio reads), a sense of passage and becoming that also feels like it is tied to the pandemic, which has encompassed the band’s public life span.
Begun as more of a bedroom recording project, M A N E played its first show in February 2020 and has been releasing music at a steady pace since then, including last summer’s Leo//Lib//Bull EP (with a killer video for “Mood-Ring” shot at an empty Oaks Amusement Park) and this year’s single “Night Things….”
It’s a band of veteran players: Wegman and drummer Jed Overly, both formerly of Astro Tan, keyboardist-guitarist Justin Chase (Pure Bathing Culture, Tango Alpha Tango), bassist Grace Bugbee (Black Belt Eagle Scout, Y La Bamba, Night Heron), and keyboardist Tony Pullig-Gomez (Mood Beach).
With touring largely at a standstill, M A N E sold their beloved van, Goldfinger, to finance the release of Leo//Lib/Bull. But then Overly and Cameron Spies (of Radiation City and Night Heron) offered to release the EP on Literal Gold Records. Now, M A N E gets itself to gigs in the most Portland way possible: with two Subarus.
Leo//Lib//Bull was mixed by Jake Viator of Los Angeles’ Stones Throw Records, whose L.A. neo-soul aesthetic seemed like a good fit for M A N E’s R&B-influenced and electronics-driven art pop.
Wegman cites Stones Throw artist Jerry Paper as well as King Krule and Porches as kindred spirits. M A N E songs tend to be stream of consciousness and reverse-engineered, with the music taking shape around fragmented vocal melodies, GUI guitars and Roland Juno 106 pads, among other things.
The dreaminess and groove exist in tension with Wegman’s sometimes profane lyrics, which he describes as “conversations with the id.” “Fuck this city, fuck this place,” he sings on the 2020 single “Deconstruction.”
That lyric “could be for anyone anywhere feeling trapped,” Wegman says. “Feeling like you can’t step outside your skin. But yeah, I was totally talking about Portland.”