MAN ON MAN is a project started by boyfriends, Roddy Bottum and Joey Holman. It’s a collection of songs written and recorded in quarantine in Oxnard, California where the couple drove to from their home base of NYC at the onset of the virus. The songs deal with love, separation, fear, and isolation in the face of COVID-19.
MAN ON MAN is bold and sexual by nature — romantic and optimistic. Their sophomore LP, Provincetown, is out June 16, 2023 via Polyvinyl.
Three Great Things is Talkhouse’s series in which artists tell us about three things they absolutely love. To celebrate their new record Provincetown, the queer punk duo MAN ON MAN — aka, boyfriends Joey Holman and Roddy Bottum (Faith No More) — share a few of their favorite things about the titular Cape Cod town. Provincetown is out tomorrow on Polyvinyl.
— Annie Fell, Editor-in-chief, Talkhouse Music
For our three things, we have a theme, and the theme is Provincetown, where we kind of spend a lot of time and where we recorded the new record.
It’s a special place for us. We’ve talked a lot in our art about the ways in which the queer community has been pushed out to extremities — physically and geographically, we’re pushed to areas kind of out of the way, in a weird sort of colonizing kind of way. What’s special to us about Provincetown is, it has that vibe — it’s way at the tippy-tip of Cape Cod, and it’s a collection of queer people and outsiders who have all been pushed to that extreme geographic tip. By the time you get there, it feels like magical things happen, because you are so separated from the rest of the world.
— Roddy Bottum
1. Lizzi Bougatsos
Roddy Bottum: Lizzi is someone we met in Provincetown. The relationships that are established when you’re there, and such a far distance away, are really special and have become a big part of our lives. We met Lizzi last summer when we were there, kind of making our record loosely and just hanging out. We made friends with Chloë Sevigny and her husband, and they had a dinner party; we were there and Lizzi showed up, and we started hanging out with her. Then she came over to our house for coffee, and she ended up staying for, like, five days.
Joey Holman: I feel like there are so many special things about her just from a historical perspective — obviously she’s an artist, she plays music. I feel like going into meeting her, I didn’t really know her that well, but her personality is so warm and charming, and she’s just so incredibly gracious.
I’ve had weird hip issues for the last couple of years, and I have this energy massage therapist who does sound therapy and reiki. We were talking about the left side of my body, and he was like, “You know, the left side of your body energetically is how you relay and receive feminine energy.” I got thinking about how my closer relationships with women, and also my own idea of what feminine is, is wonky. I don’t really have a clear understanding of that. I just lost my mom in 2019, and there have been a lot of big questions that have been happening. When I met Lizzi, I was on the floor stretching in the living room, and just so casually, she gets on the floor next to me, curls up, and gets in my face — and I’ve known her for, like, two days — and she just starts talking to me about life and what’s up. It dawned on me so immediately that, This is the energy that I’m missing. Just this really sweet, intimate, thoughtful energy. To me, that’s what makes Lizzi, Lizzi. She just exudes this thoughtfulness and this caring heart that I think is missing from the world in general. And that’s reflected through her art — there’s so much about her that has this perfect blend of chaos and sweetness, and she marries those two things in a way that I’ve never seen before in my life. There’s a purity she exudes that is so magnetic.
Roddy: Also in her art, the way that she very honestly deals with her past and the damage that’s happened in her life — she had a crazy fire mishap in a show she did at one point, and that’s what her show at Tramps was about. The way she addresses things that have gone on in her life is really special to us. Also, her singing is so awesome. Her voice is really a miracle in Gang Gang Dance.
Joey: It’s funny — the room that Lizzi stayed in at our place was the room where we were tracking our record, so we kind of put it on hold, and in a way, that absolutely affected our record. I think it allowed us to refocus our energy a little bit, and have a nice pause from the subjective world of being creative. It was nice to come back to earth for a second. In that way, it was a blessing to have her there.
2. The Breakwater
Roddy: The Breakwater is this section sort of at the tip of Provincetown that connects part of the isthmus to another part of the isthmus — it’s this long stretch of huge boulders. We go there every high tide when we’re in Provincetown. We meet our friends, and we all go out onto the boulders and go swimming together. It’s become this communal meeting point for us. It’s almost spiritual. It kind of goes to a weird realm because of the tide, and the connection to the water and what Provincetown is. It’s a very charged geographic place for us in a very charged geographic setting.
Joey: When we were making our record, the days could get kind of long and would all feel the same, and other than meals, when high tide happened was a nice break in the day. We’d know we were gonna go swimming every day, so it provided a nice break from making music. It was a distraction that I think was really necessary. And just being in the water — Roddy grew up in LA and I grew up in Georgia, but I think water for both of us is a really important element. I think it refreshes and rejuvenates everybody, but I Roddy and I both really value being on the water and swimming. The way that provided an outlet for us every day to be in our element, literally, was really great and necessary for the making of the record.
Joey: There’s a weekly event every Monday at the Crown & Anchor night called Showgirls. It’s been going on for several years, and it’s kind of the go-to show if you’re in town. A lot of people go to Provincetown to party or whatever, but if you’re going to Provincetown and not going to shows, you’re kind of missing the point.
There are so many performers who come there every week; some of them have residencies, some of them are just there for a few days. Monday night Showgirls is a chance for all of the visiting and local talent to perform one number — it’s a variety show, so in one night, you get to see the lineup of the entire week of all the girls doing different things in different places. It’s just a magical event. Ryan Landry is the guy who started it, and he’s very Provincetown. He’s really fucking funny. He hosts the show, and he’ll interrupt if things aren’t going well for the performers and kick them off the stage. But sometimes he has special guests — Parker Posey did it a few times last summer, CHRISTEENE did it, Dina Martina did it.
Roddy: We’ve been friends with Ryan for a while, and he’s done this for a lot of years. The first time I ever went was maybe eight years ago. I knew about CHRISTEENE — she’s a real great friend of ours, and a performer in New York — and I saw her for the first time at Showgirls. So I have this connection with the night. Then this past summer, we became good friends with J. Mascis, who plays on our record. I’ve been friends with him for a long time, but Joey and I became close with him and his family over the summer, because he’s another character who’s gravitated there. He’s kind of beloved in Provincetown, and Ryan brought him into the mix and had him perform at Showgirls. He performed “Rockin’ in the Free World” by Neil Young and asked me and Joey to play guitar with him for the performance. It was a really special night, in a really chaotic and crazy time that I’ll never forget.
But that night is really special. It’s a mash up of local talent, queer talent, straight people, and it’s unbearably long and sometimes pretty tedious, but it’s always just insanity. It kind of sums up Provincetown in a really unique way.
Joey: If we hadn’t played that show with J., I don’t know if we would have been confident enough to ask him to play on our record. It was a nice little musical week where we were practicing these songs, and then we were like, “… wanna play on our record?” He was like, ”Yeah!” And he just came over. Showgirls brought us together.
We also have a song on our record called “Showgirls.” That song was started because — well, Roddy’s best friend from LA was visiting, and we go multiple times a summer, but this was one week where I decided to stay back home. I had this drum beat in my head all summer long, so I wanted to stay home and write the song. Roddy went with his best friend, I stayed behind and started demo-ing. I had my headphones on for, like, two or three hours — and the whole time, the girlfriend of Roddy’s best friend was downstairs in our house, stuck in the bathtub.
Roddy: She couldn’t get out of the bathtub, and it was sort of a situation. She was calling out for help, but he couldn’t hear because he had his headphones on.
Joey: She was OK. She finally got out and told me that she almost called the fire department. But she was OK — so it was a win-win.
As told to Annie Fell