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Mom, 'Weird Al' influenced band

Musician says being in Menomena is dream come true

Latest album by Menomena, formed in 2000, is "Friend and Foe."
Latest album by Menomena, formed in 2000, is "Friend and Foe."
Alicia J. Rose

When asked where he was, Brent Knopf joked that he was in his Italian villa looking over the Mediterranean Sea.

But then the keyboardist/guitarist/vocalist for the band Menomena got back to reality: "It's actually a rainy day in Portland, Ore. It's gray outside, and the rain is making noises on my roof."

Menomena — which also includes drummer Danny Seim and sax/bassist Justin Harris — formed in 2000, right after Knopf graduated college. "Danny and Justin were in another band that broke up right when I graduated, and we had been friends. So it all worked out, regardless of the voodoo dolls of the other band members I had laying around. No, really, it was the right time and we decided to get together."

Knopf's first musical influence was his mother. "She was a musician. She and my dad taught me well as parents. And they led me to my other real musical influence, 'Weird Al' Yankovic."

His affinity for Yankovic came by default, he said, but it remains strong. "Since my parents were so good at being parents, when I was in elementary school I wasn't allowed to listen to (Tiffany's remake of) 'I Think We're Alone Now.' Instead, I heard 'Weird Al's' version, called 'I Think I'm a Clone Now.' I thought 'Weird Al' was a genius. I still do. My favorite album of his is 'Dare to Be Dumb.' But then, asking me what my favorite 'Weird Al' album is (is) like asking anyone else what their favorite Beatles album is.

"I liked his arrangements and what he did to the songs. I'm going to look him up right now as we talk."

For Knopf, being in Menomena is a dream come true. "Every since I was little I wanted to play music. And this band is incredible. Being able to hang out with Danny and Justin is amazing. They are the two most creative people in the world. I mean, the universe is their Play-Doh."

The downside is that all three band members have their own cycles of communication, and sometimes they are not on the same track. "We are all headstrong and have our own ideas about a song. We've all had our ideas shot down at one point or another."

When making the band's most recent album, "Friend and Foe," they wrote the songs as they went along. "We don't write the songs, practice and then record. We go into my basement and record as we write. And then comes the question about how do we know when an album is done? Well, it feels right.

"Except with 'Friend and Foe' we had an added couple of weeks on that one. We had the album finished and mastered, but then the record label (Barsuk) pushed the release date back. So we went in and tweaked some of the songs and remastered it. So we did it twice."

Knopf's hope is that each album Menomena does is better than the last one. "That's a personal goal of mine. That and finding 'Weird Al' videos on YouTube."

If you go

What: Menomena

Where: Kilby Court, 741 S. 330 West

When: Saturday, 7 p.m.

How much: $12

Phone: 320-9887

Web: www.kilbycourt.com or www.24tix.com


E-mail: scott@desnews.com