Later, Homme-bre

Queens of the Stone Age bassist Michael Shuman’s new group is no flash in the pan.

by Sally Hedberg

What: Mini Mansions with Zombie Season and Night Moves

When: 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 10

Where: 400 Bar, 400 Cedar Ave. S.

Cost: $6


While the musical contributions of Velvet Revolver and other superfluous side projects may have been cringe-worthy, once in a while âÄî or always if youâÄôre Jack White âÄî the outside endeavor pans out.

Such is the case with Mini Mansions, a new project coming from Queens of the Stone Age bassist Michael Shuman.

For Shuman, Mini Mansions is not just a musical afterthought to commercial success.

âÄúStarting [Mini Mansions], I didnâÄôt really consider it a side project,âÄù Shuman said. âÄúThatâÄôs one thing thatâÄôs going to come with the territory, but itâÄôs definitely not a side project for me. ItâÄôs a second project, a second band.âÄù

Restless to rock while on a break from Queens of the Stone Age, Shuman stumbled into collaboration with two musician buddies, Zach Dawes and Tyler Parkford.

âÄúI donâÄôt have a day job and I had nothing else going on,âÄù Shuman said. âÄúI need to be working on something all of the time, and this was just something special and different than I had ever done.âÄù

Shuman isnâÄôtkidding. Those familiar with Queens of the Stone Age are used to seeing him thrash about the stage next to Josh Homme, causing mayhem with his bass. However, in Mini Mansions, heâÄôs abandoned his traditional instrument to tackle new musical frontier.

 âÄúI started playing drums the day we started the band,âÄù Shuman said. âÄúIâÄôve never done it before and itâÄôs a whole different experience, but IâÄôm getting better.âÄù

This is obvious because, musically speaking, the band has already developed a consistent sound, one that combines Beatles-era pop with darker undertones. The vocals, reminiscent of a spookier Brian Wilson, are paired with catchy, abrasive guitar arrangements, a contrast that somehow turns over extremely well. This is precisely what Shuman is shooting for.

âÄúI want everything to revolve around well-crafted pop songs, spinned-off Mansion style and somewhat ominous,âÄù Shuman said.

So far, the trio has toured with their debut LP, âÄúMini Mansions,âÄù across North America and Australia, but theyâÄôre itching to make it to Europe in the near future.

When it comes to the touring, Mini Mansions confront it in a completely different way than Queens of the Stone Age.

âÄúItâÄôs back to do-it-yourself van touring and taking care of everything yourself,âÄù Shuman said. âÄúItâÄôs doing everything thatâÄôs already taken care of for Queens. ItâÄôs two totally different experiences, both equally great.âÄù

With a new Queens of the Stone Age album on the horizon, itâÄôs hard to say how much of a time commitment will be allotted to Mini MansionâÄôs material. Shuman remains unworried about it but firm in keeping the projects distanced from one another.

âÄúIâÄôve already started doing both and IâÄôm kind of getting swamped,âÄù Shuman said. âÄúBut I donâÄôt want Mini Mansions to ever open up for Queens. I think that theyâÄôre two separate things and I want to keep them separate.âÄù

With a solid debut LP and a promising future, Mini Mansions have the raw ingredients to prove that theyâÄôre not just another side project.