Over the next 11 weeks I’ll dig deep into the 2014 Coachella Music Festival lineup, featuring one band per day. The purpose of this piece is to assist in difficult decisions that inevitably you’ll need to make, as well as, serve as a fun countdown to Coachella Week. Note: All bands appear in a completely random order… Enjoy, and let the countdown continue!
Day 47 = Neutral Milk Hotel
Performing = Sunday
Neutral Milk Hotel is an indie rock project founded by The Man, The Myth, The Legend, Mr. Jeff Mangum. The project’s roots can be traced back to 1989, right around the time Jeff was a member of the band Cranberry Life Cycle. Originally, the Louisiana native wrote and recorded while crashing on friends’ couches while traveling across the country, operating under the moniker Milk.
Mangum’s early work was done on cassette tape, very few were produced and nada one was made public. Later, he produced a few demo cassettes that included: Invent Yourself in 1991, Beauty in 1992, and Hope City Soundtrack in 1993. These recordings are more readily available, simply use the search engine of your choice to ascertain more details. The first official recording made for release was the extended play Everything Is, released in 1995 under the Neutral Milk Hotel moniker. Around that same time Mangum left the band The Olivia Tremor Control, an experimental rock band he founded with his hometown buds.
In 1996 Mangum recruited his friend John Schneider (The Apples In Stereo) to assist with producing his full-length debut, On Avery Island. After the album’s release, someone must have clued Mangum in on the fact he might need a band, therefore he brought Julian Koster, Scott Spillane and Jeremy Barnes on board.
Now based in Athens, Georgia, the four proceeded to produce the critically acclaimed sophomore and final (maybe) NMH album, In The Aeroplane Over The Sea in 1998. This extremely popular album is considered and indie classic by people that are paid good money to determine what’s a classic and what’s not. The group’s time as a four-piece came to an abrupt end in 1999, when the band decided to take an indefinite hiatus. The quartet cited the making of Aeroplane, along with constant touring, as the reasons for what took such a toll on Mangum. The band eventually said no more shows, including an invitation to open for R.E.M. on the their 1999 Up tour.
Throughout the years there were always constant rumors (especially on the Coachella message board) of a NMH reunion. Mr. Mangum would make an occasional appearance and perform a NMH song or two. However, in 2010 Jeff started to become more active, and in 2011 he relaunched the Neutral Milk Hotel website. In 2012 Mangum was included on the Coachella Music Festival poster, he toured around his festival appearance, performing a solo set of all Neutral Milk Hotel tunes. I missed Mangum that year, I was at the Squeeze show. Why you ask? Squeeze was higher on my list.
On April 29, 2013 Neutral Milk Hotel announced a reunion tour that would begin in the fall of the same year. The self-proclaimed fuzz-folk band played their first show in nearly fifteen years on October 11 in
Baltimore, Maryland. Since then they have played almost every possible location in the world except the West Coast of the United States. That all changes next month when they hit the main stage at the Coachella Festival right before The Arcade Fires.
Back in the day, their live sets were described as “musical chaos,” band members swapping instruments like they’re hot potatoes, changing from marching band ensemble to noise-punk quartet at the drop of a flugelhorn. Sounds like fun!
Over the years Neutral Milk Hotel has influenced many of the mainstream indie acts of today such as: The Decemberists, Beirut, Franz Ferdinand, Bon Iver, and the aforementioned Arcade Fire. For those keeping track… there were nine Mangum’s, ten if you count that one.
Visit the Neutral Milk Hotel website here:
“In The Aeroplane Over The Sea”