Neutral Milk Hotel
Neutral Milk Hotel
Neutral Milk Hotel performing in 2014
|Origin||Ruston, Louisiana / Athens, Georgia, United States|
|Years active||1989–1998, 2013–2015|
|Labels||Elephant 6, Merge, Domino Recording Company, Fire Records (UK)|
|Associated acts||Major Organ and the Adding Machine, The Olivia Tremor Control, The Gerbils, Nana Grizol, The Music Tapes, A Hawk and a Hacksaw, Chocolate U.S.A., Apples in Stereo|
Neutral Milk Hotel was an American indie rock band formed in Ruston, Louisiana by singer, guitarist, and songwriter Jeff Mangum in the late 1980s. The band is noted for its experimental sound, abstract lyrics, and eclectic instrumentation.
The first release under the Neutral Milk Hotel moniker was the 1994 EP Everything Is, a short collection of tracks featuring Mangum. On the band's full-length debut album On Avery Island, which followed shortly thereafter, Mangum was joined by childhood friend and Apples in Stereo frontman Robert Schneider, who contributed production and instrumentation. Upon the album's release, the full band was formed and extensive touring began.
Neutral Milk Hotel released In the Aeroplane Over the Sea in 1998, which became their best-known and most critically acclaimed album. Although the album did not meet commercial success at the time of release, it has gone on to sell over 300,000 copies and received critical acclaim from several publications, including Pitchfork Media, Magnet Magazine, AllMusic, and The Pazz & Jop poll. Despite growing popularity, the group disbanded in 1999 after Mangum became disenchanted with touring and the music press, later having a nervous breakdown.
On April 29, 2013, the band announced a reunion tour for the fall of 2013 with the lineup that played on In the Aeroplane Over the Sea via their record label's website. After that, they continued to play concerts sporadically until going on indefinite hiatus in mid-2015.
This section does not cite any sources. (October 2012) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Prior to recording for friends under the Neutral Milk Hotel moniker, Mangum recorded a few cassettes under the name Milk; the most well-known of these tapes was called Pygmie Barn in E Minor. These are the earliest known recordings that Mangum initiated and executed himself. There were only an estimated dozen or so copies ever made of this tape, none of which has been made public. It was revealed c. 2006 on the Elephant 6 online forums that another tape under said name, entitled Beauty, was released, along with several recordings under the name Ruby Bulbs (also a song dating from that era, perhaps the only Milk song to be played by Neutral Milk Hotel).
Neutral Milk Hotel began simply as a recording project for Mangum, in the late 1980s. He produced several demo cassettes, among them 1991's Invent Yourself a Shortcake, 1992's Beauty (not to be confused with the earlier cassette), and 1993's Hype City Soundtrack, along with two more from this period, seemingly unnamed. Although easily found on the Internet, these demos capture the project at a very embryonic stage: songs are played in between various sound collages and tape experiments, one of which consists only of a six-minute conversation between Mangum and Hart. Another track, "Digestion Machine", features a varied collage of voices answering the question asked by Mangum, "What does the digestion machine mean to you?". The more accessible "Synthetic Flying Machine", also titled "Up and Over", later became "The King of Carrot Flowers Pt. 3" on In the Aeroplane Over the Sea.
During this period, Mangum was wandering the country, staying with friends, and in a state of perpetual unemployment. It was in these circumstances that the band's first formal releases took shape. Strictly speaking, however, the 'band' usually consisted of Mangum and whoever else was present at the time. This is obvious on Neutral Milk Hotel's first release, a 7" record entitled Everything Is, recorded when Mangum was spending time in Seattle, Washington, released on Cher Doll Records in 1993.
On Avery Island
A full album, On Avery Island, followed, this time recorded in Denver, Colorado on a four-track reel-to-reel tape machine, where Mangum was backed by the album's producer Robert Schneider of The Apples in Stereo, Rick Benjamin of The Perry Weissman 3, and Lisa Janssen of Secret Square. It was released by Merge Records in 1996.
After the release of Avery Island, Neutral Milk Hotel became a fully-fledged band, as Julian Koster, Scott Spillane, and Jeremy Barnes joined Mangum, the band now being based in New York City. Soon after this, they moved to Athens, Georgia, where many of Mangum's friends had begun to settle, and the Elephant 6 had begun to take root. After this, the band went back to Denver, to record a proper follow up to On Avery Island.
In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
The band's second album, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, released in 1998 and also produced by Robert Schneider, is notable as a critically acclaimed and widely popular album. It is largely inspired by the story of Holocaust victim Anne Frank. During live performances, including the one released under the title Live at Jittery Joe's, Mangum has described some of the songs of this album as based on urgent, recurring dreams he had of a Jewish family during World War II. The album was highly praised by critics for its wildly inventive instrumentation and Mangum's provocative and impassioned lyrics. Although it was met with scant response from the general public when it was released, the recording has continued to gain momentum in indie music circles, selling over 300,000 copies, according to Merge Records. However, the record (along with the year of constant touring that succeeded it) took its toll on Mangum. The band abruptly went on hiatus, turning down all requests for shows, including a support slot for R.E.M.
Before Neutral Milk Hotel began their indefinite hiatus, Mangum played live at a house show on December 5, 1998 in Athens on Chris Bilheimer's birthday. The bill was shared with Elf Power, and the audience was made up almost completely of friends and bandmates. Playing solo and acoustic, Mangum opened the set with what was to be the only post-Aeroplane composition to be performed in public, "Little Birds," a song about a boy whose body becomes filled with miniature birds that protect him from his murderous father. Mangum finished the rest of the evening with most of the Aeroplane songs, encouraging the audience to sing along in substitute for the horn parts. For the last several songs, Scott Spillane took his trumpet into an adjacent room and played his parts through the wall. A recording of the show circulated on the internet, but it has never been officially released, most likely due to the poor quality of the recording.
Mangum played another show on December 31, 1998, at which he performed the songs "Oh Sister," "Engine," and "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea," joined by Koster and Spillane.
Ferris Wheel on Fire
Ferris Wheel on Fire is the second EP released by Neutral Milk Hotel. Although the songs contained were written between 1992 and 1995 and recorded in the 2000s, its release was suspended until December 12, 2011 as part of the box set. The final of eight tracks, "My Dreamgirl Don't Exist," was recorded anonymously live at Aquarius Records. The other songs were recorded at Elephant Six recording studios.
During the hiatus, some of the members have been occasionally active with one another in other projects. Mangum contributed vocals to the song "I Have Been Floated" on The Olivia Tremor Control's 2nd album, Black Foliage: Animation Music Volume One. When asked in an interview if he intends to write another album, Mangum said, "I don't know. It would be nice, but sometimes I kind of doubt it." There were plans to release a rarities album on Orange Twin Records; its cancellation was subsequently announced in 2005 on Orange Twin's website, which stated that Mangum decided against the project.
There has, however, been some activity since Aeroplane. First, Orange Twin re-released Everything Is, complete with extra bonus tracks, as well as Live at Jittery Joe's, a live recording by filmmaker Lance Bangs of a show Mangum played in a coffee house in Athens, Georgia in 1997. The Major Organ and the Adding Machine album, a rather secretive project released by Orange Twin in 2001 and consisting mainly of experimental musical collage, features Mangum, along with Julian Koster, Of Montreal's Kevin Barnes, Elf Power's Andrew Reiger, and the Olivia Tremor Control and Circulatory System's Will Cullen Hart and Eric Harris. There was also the release of Orange Twin Field Works: Volume I, Mangum's field recording of a Bulgarian folk festival, also on Orange Twin in 2001. He also played drums on the first Circulatory System album.
Since the breakup of Neutral Milk Hotel, Mangum has appeared live very infrequently, including once at the Kings Arms pub in Auckland, New Zealand, at the request of the Tall Dwarfs' Chris Knox. The band was billed as the World of Wild Beards Incorporated, although when he explained this bizarre name during the course of the show, Mangum gave a small speech about an obscure, seemingly fictional company of the early 20th century named "Walking Wall of Beards Incorporated". The show consisted of performances by Mangum, Laura Carter, and Chris Knox. Mangum played 13 songs, about half of them from Aeroplane, and covered Phil Spector's "I Love How You Love Me" and John Lennon's "Mother", with Chris Knox joining him on the latter. A recording of the show exists, but it has never been officially released.
Mangum played drums and sang on Circulatory System's self-titled album, and joined them on their first tour in 2001. He also appeared on Circulatory System's following two albums, Signal Morning and Mosaics Within Mosaics. Mangum has also made occasional appearances with Elf Power and The Instruments, and came onstage at the first of the Olivia Tremor Control's New York shows on their 2005 reunion tours, to sing briefly.
In 2005, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea was re-released by Domino Records in the UK, in a sleeve featuring praise from, among others, Franz Ferdinand and Arcade Fire, bands influenced by Neutral Milk Hotel. Mangum has also done a few small art projects—following a charity auction on eBay of an acoustic guitar decorated by Mangum himself, more guitars hand-decorated by Mangum were sold via Orange Twin Records for $900 apiece. Also, a number of his original drawings, this time costing only $10 each, were sold via Neutral Milk Hotel's website.
In 2006, a message was posted on the Elephant 6 message board, purportedly from Mangum, suggesting that he would record and tour again, though it was unclear if it would be under the Neutral Milk Hotel moniker. It soon caused an enormous stir within the indie community, and news of the message appeared in Rolling Stone, Pitchfork Media, and Billboard. However, it was eventually discredited by Robert Schneider, of The Apples in Stereo, a close friend of Mangum's. The perpetrator of the hoax is still unknown.
In 2007 The Apples in stereo released New Magnetic Wonder, a sprawling double album featuring Mangum playing drums on two songs. Mangum is also listed in the album credits as playing "cow object" (on the song "Energy" according to Schneider), contributing percussion, handclaps, and backing vocals, and is reported to have been present for a number of recording sessions for the album in production and engineering roles.
In October 2008, Mangum made appearances during the Elephant 6 Holiday Surprise Tour. He played "Engine" (The "Holland, 1945" B-side) with Julian Koster at the Pittsburgh, Columbus, Chicago, Bloomington, and Lexington concerts.
Return to live performances
On May 6, 2010, Mangum played a 5-song acoustic set at the Le Poisson Rouge in Manhattan at a benefit concert for his friend Chris Knox who was undergoing health issues at the time. Despite a message from the concert managers that the show was a one time benefit for Knox and not the restart of Mangum's musical career, the show sparked rumors that Mangum would begin recording and touring again. On December 4, 2010, Mangum played a surprise 10-song set of Neutral Milk Hotel songs in a Bushwick, Brooklyn loft building known as The Schoolhouse to a crowd of only 100 invited guests.
In the January 2011 edition of Q magazine, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea was included in the top 250 albums of the past 25 years. Mangum announced a number of performances for the fall of 2011. These include curating an All Tomorrow's Parties music festival in New Jersey. On August 26, 2011, Mangum launched the website walkingwallofwords.com, where he is self-releasing a box set of Neutral Milk Hotel albums and unreleased tracks, as well as one-of-a-kind drawings and a radio show he curated. On October 4, 2011, Mangum made an appearance at Zuccotti Park and played several songs to the protesters participating in Occupy Wall Street.
On January 9, 2012, Goldenvoice revealed that Mangum would appear on the Saturday bill for the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. On January 10, 2012 Mangum's official tour site revealed additional West Coast dates leading up to and through the Coachella festival.
Mangum headlined and curated the ATP event at Butlins Holiday Park, Minehead between March 9–11 of 2012, with other bands from the Elephant 6 collective announced to support including Apples In Stereo, The Olivia Tremor Control, and The Music Tapes as well as other artists chosen by Jeff including Joanna Newsom, Half Japanese, and The Magnetic Fields. Past members of Neutral Milk Hotel were in attendance performing in their individual projects.
On November 12, 2012, it was revealed on Pitchfork that Mangum would tour in January and February 2013, starting off January 9 in Buffalo, New York, and ending February 16 in North Adams, Massachusetts. Supporting acts include Tall Firs, Briars of North America, and the Music Tapes. In November 2013, the band toured Australia and New Zealand, ending the tour with two shows in Auckland supported by long time friend Chris Knox.
On April 29, 2013, the band announced a fall reunion tour with their original In the Aeroplane Over the Sea lineup via their record label's website. On this tour, the band was joined by multi-instrumentalist Jeremy Thal. The band toured throughout 2013 and 2014, and then after a period of a few months, another tour had been announced by the band with the following message: "Dear friends we love you but it's time to say goodbye for the never ending now to announce that spring 2015 will be our last tour for the foreseeable future and so we extend our deepest gratitude to all the beautiful people who came to see us over the last year....." Their final tour went from the Spring of 2015 into the summer.
Neutral Milk Hotel's sound has influenced numerous acts, including Kesha, Bright Eyes, Melanie Martinez, mewithoutYou, Beirut, Pwr Bttm, and The Decemberists. Their songs have been covered by a number of artists, including Matt Pond PA, Eisley ("In the Aeroplane Over the Sea"), The Mountain Goats, The Dresden Dolls ("Two-Headed Boy"), Kevin Devine ("Holland, 1945", "Two-Headed Boy Pt. Two"), The Flowers of Hell ("Avery Island" / "April 1st") and Phoebe Bridgers ("Two-Headed Boy Pt. 2").
- Jeff Mangum – guitars, lead vocals, keyboards, bass guitar (studio only), drums (early) (1989–1998, 2013–2015)
- Jeremy Barnes – drums, piano, organ (1996–1998, 2013–2015)
- Scott Spillane – trumpet, flugelhorn, trombone, euphonium, guitar, horn arrangements (1996–1998, 2013–2015)
- Julian Koster – bass guitar, accordion, musical saw, bowed banjo, keyboards, organ (1996–1998, 2013–2015)
- Jeremy Thal – Uilleann pipes, flugelhorn, trombone, trumpet, bass (2013–2015)
- Ankeny, Jason. "Neutral Milk Hotel". AllMusic. Archived from the original on July 17, 2012. Retrieved July 15, 2012.
- Richardson, Mark (September 26, 2005). "Neutral Milk Hotel: In the Aeroplane Over the Sea". Pitchfork Media. Archived from the original on June 29, 2011. Retrieved May 31, 2011.
- "Neutral Milk Hotel releases". NeutralMilkHotel.org. Archived from the original on July 9, 2012. Retrieved July 15, 2012.
- Taylor, Clark (February 26, 2008). "The Salinger of Indie Rock: What happened to Jeff Mangum?". Slate. Archived from the original on July 15, 2012. Retrieved July 15, 2012.
- Ankeny, Jason. "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea". AllMusic. Archived from the original on June 6, 2012. Retrieved May 31, 2011.
- "The 1998 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll". RobertChristgau.com. March 2, 1999. Archived from the original on February 28, 2015. Retrieved May 31, 2011.
- McMullen, Phil (September 1996). "Neutral Milk Hotel". NeutralMilkHotel.net. Archived from the original on May 17, 2012. Retrieved July 15, 2012.
- Minsker, Evan; Phillips, Amy (April 29, 2013). "Neutral Milk Hotel Reunite for Tour". Pitchfork Media. Archived from the original on April 29, 2013. Retrieved April 29, 2013.
- "E6 Catalog – Milk". Elephant6.com. Archived from the original on July 20, 2008. Retrieved July 15, 2012.
- Clark, Taylor. "The Salinger of Indie Rock: What Happened to Jeff Mangum". Slate.com. Slate Magazine. Archived from the original on November 9, 2015. Retrieved July 21, 2014.
- Cooper, Kim (2005). In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. New York: Continuum International. ISBN 0-8264-1690-X.
- Griffis, Kevin (September 4, 2003). "Have you seen Jeff Mangum?". Creative Loafing. Archived from the original on February 14, 2010. Retrieved July 15, 2012.
- Cooper (2005), In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, pp. 94–95
- "The 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time: 100-1 – NME". nme.com. October 25, 2013. Archived from the original on November 9, 2015. Retrieved May 9, 2018.
- "Pitchfork's Highest Rated Albums of All Time". Archived from the original on July 28, 2016. Retrieved August 8, 2016.
- Fierman, Marci (February 1, 2002). "Interview: Neutral Milk Hotel". Pitchfork Media. Archived from the original on November 8, 2015. Retrieved July 15, 2012.
- "Jeff Mangum's World of Wild Beards". Optical Atlas. Archived from the original on February 4, 2010.
- "World of Wild Beards Incorporated". Rate Your Music. Retrieved July 15, 2012.
- "Circulatory System: Circulatory System Album Review | Pitchfork". pitchfork.com. Archived from the original on April 15, 2016. Retrieved April 25, 2016.
- Amy, Phillips (June 28, 2006). "Update: Jeff Mangum Returns?". Pitchfork Media. Archived from the original on January 13, 2009. Retrieved July 15, 2012.
- Thompson, Paul (September 3, 2008). "Elephant 6 Crew to Embark on "Holiday Surprise Tour"". Pitchfork Media. Archived from the original on December 19, 2008. Retrieved October 13, 2008.
- Richardson, Mark. "'Engine' (Live in Pittsburgh; updated with video live in Columbus)". Archived from the original on October 23, 2008. Retrieved July 30, 2013.
- Winistorfer, Andrew (October 20, 2008). "Jeff Mangum: Engine (Live in Columbus) (Video)". PrefixMag.com. Archived from the original on June 29, 2011. Retrieved July 15, 2012.
- Leichtung, Ric (December 5, 2010). "Jeff Mangum Live at The Schoolhouse". International Tapes. Archived from the original on August 11, 2012. Retrieved July 15, 2012.
- "Q Magazine 250 Best Albums of Q's Lifetime". RockListMusic.co.uk. February 2001. Archived from the original on June 29, 2011. Retrieved February 24, 2011.
- Breihan, Tom (February 16, 2011). "Jeff Mangum Curates ATP, Adds Solo Shows". Pitchfork Media. Archived from the original on June 29, 2011. Retrieved July 15, 2012.
- Fitzmaurice, Larry; Phillips, Amy (August 26, 2011). "Neutral Milk Hotel to Release Box Set". Pitchfork Media. Archived from the original on August 28, 2011. Retrieved August 26, 2011.
- Confusion (October 5, 2011). "Live Stream (Updated with Video): Jeff Mangum Playing Live at Occupy Wall Street". Pigeons & Planes. Archived from the original on April 3, 2012. Retrieved July 15, 2012.
- CrimsonBaker (October 6, 2011). "Jeff Mangum live at Occupy Wall Street – Liberty Park, NYC (Neutral Milk Hotel)". YouTube. Archived from the original on July 16, 2012. Retrieved July 15, 2012.
- Breihan, Tom (January 10, 2012). "Jeff Mangum Adds West Coast Tour Dates". Stereogum. Sterogum. Archived from the original on January 10, 2012. Retrieved January 10, 2012.
- "Jeff Mangum (Neutral Milk Hotel) to Curate ATP UK This December – On Sale Friday!! – All Tomorrow's Parties". Atpfestival.com. February 16, 2011. Archived from the original on September 6, 2011. Retrieved September 11, 2011.
- "Jeff Mangum Announces 2013 Tour Dates | News". Pitchfork. November 12, 2012. Archived from the original on February 2, 2013. Retrieved January 31, 2013.
- Palathingal, George (November 14, 2013). "Review Neutral Milk Hotel: All hail the return of indie-rock's prodigal son". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved January 13, 2019.
- "Two Little Birds: Jeff Mangum, Chris Knox and how broken nerves get better". The Lumière Reader. December 16, 2013. Retrieved January 13, 2019.
- "Two Little Birds: Jeff Mangum, Chris Knox and how broken nerves get better". The Lumière Reader. December 16, 2013. Retrieved January 13, 2019.
- Jarnow, Jesse. "Neutral Milk Hotel's First Show in 15 Years Was Ragged, Glorious". www.spin.com. Spin Magazine. Archived from the original on April 6, 2015. Retrieved June 5, 2014.
- "Tour". www.walkingwallofwords.com. Archived from the original on March 10, 2015. Retrieved March 9, 2015.
- "Boston Calling Announces September 2014 Lineup – Sound of Boston – Boston Music Blog". soundofboston.com. April 23, 2014. Archived from the original on April 25, 2014. Retrieved May 9, 2018.
- Sears, Ken (April 20, 2015). "Live Shows: Neutral Milk Hotel, Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel, Providence, RI 4/19/15". If It's Too Loud. Retrieved August 30, 2019.
- Garland, Emma (January 8, 2017). "Kesha's MySpace Profile from 2008 is Better Than DJ Khaled's Snapchat". Noisey. Vice Media. Retrieved June 15, 2017.
- Bevan, David. "Conor Oberst Has Cheered Up". www.spin.com. Archived from the original on June 3, 2014. Retrieved June 23, 2014.
- Connolly, Chris. "'Voicing' her thoughts". LI Herald Baldwin. Archived from the original on August 7, 2016. Retrieved July 23, 2016.
- "Beirut (band)", Wikipedia, February 28, 2019, retrieved March 20, 2019
- Lindner, Emilee (May 3, 2017). "PWR BTTM Is America's Next Great Rock Band". Vice. Retrieved September 10, 2019.
- Williams, Tom (January 14, 2009). "The Untold Influence Of Neutral Milk Hotel". Radio Exile. Archived from the original on November 4, 2012. Retrieved September 9, 2012.
- Spear, Chelsea (May 30, 2009). "Top Five Post Neutral Milk Hotel Bands". Popshifter. Archived from the original on June 11, 2012. Retrieved September 9, 2012.
- Lee, Christina (September 9, 2009). "Oh Comely Five Neutral Milk Hotel Covers Worth Hearing". Paste. Archived from the original on July 6, 2013. Retrieved September 9, 2012.
- Adams, Gregory (September 7, 2012). "Flowers Of Hell Reveal Odes Details". Exclaim!. Retrieved September 9, 2012.
- Cooper, Kim (2005). In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. 33⅓. New York: Continuum International Publishing Group. ISBN 0-8264-1690-X.
- DeRogatis, Jim (2003). Turn On Your Mind: Four Decades of Great Psychedelic Rock. Milwaukee: Hal Leonard Corporation. ISBN 0-634-05548-8.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Neutral Milk Hotel|
Media related to Neutral Milk Hotel at Wikimedia Commons