Interview: Male Tears discuss their new lineup, their look, and new album

Paradísco arrives on July 12.

Male Tears

When synthpop was just blossoming in the late ’70s and early ’80s, many of the most influential acts at the time were more than just music. They embodied a look, a vibe, even a movement. I’m thinking about icons like Steve Strange and Boy George, who were at the heart of the New Romantic period that sprung from London’s Blitz club.

These days, the sort of synthpop sound and aesthetic born of the New Romantic period has largely moved underground, embraced by the goth/darkwave scene. One band above all carrying this torch is California’s Male Tears. They combine their sound with a unique look and vibe that embraces elements of the past, but still feels distinctly their own.

On July 12, Male Tears will release their fourth album, Paradísco. I reached out to frontman James Edward to find out more about their new lineup, their look, and the new album. Here’s what he told me.

Male Tears has become a quartet since your last album, Krypt. How are you feeling about the new lineup, and how has it impacted the band’s dynamic and sound?

With the new members of my band, I’ve found a new circle of friends that gave me the space to be vulnerable and honest with my goals as an artist. This directly influenced the writing of the new record, embracing my roots in an honest way that the lineup helped me achieve in terms of mood, composition, and aesthetics.

The three singles we’ve heard so far are favoring Italo disco and New Romantic sounds, but still feel very Male Tears. Is that what we can expect from the rest of the album?

Oh, yes. The deep cuts represent both the freestyle sound as well as some slower ballads that present me in the most confessional way possible.

When Krypt was released, you had an amazing chat with I Die:You Die about the album’s influences. You cited such a diverse set of artists—Ministry, Gaga, Prince, Kim Petras. What artists influenced you the most making Paradísco?

Truth be told, I wasn’t listening to much music that debuted after 1989. Some bands that I and the rest of Male Tears were really into during the recording of the record include Talk Talk, Naked Eyes, Dead or Alive, Human League, OMD, Propaganda, and Yazoo.

Is there a particular message or feeling you hope listeners take away from Paradísco?

The record as a whole and every song is directly addressing the failure to compromise with others; the unwillingness from others to see another’s point of view.

Your visual aesthetic is a big part of Male Tears. How did this look come about?

I just feel like most bands aren’t illustrating a world or a theme. I want immersion from others so I want to create a specific “world” that represents the sound of the music. Just like how I felt discovering The Cure or Choir Boy for the first time. These kinds of bands created a whole “vibe,” not just music.

You’re about to head out on tour, and later this year you’ll play Absolution Fest, where I finally get to see Male Tears perform. What can we expect from your live shows?

Since the start of this new era of Male Tears, the personality of the band and its dynamic has shifted, especially during our performances. I used to be a lot more wild and unhinged, but the band has helped me shift into a more mannered and focused front man. My singing has gotten a lot better since then!

A few beloved artists in the goth/darkwave scene have recently shared homophobic, transphobic, or other shitty opinions. As a queer artist who is pretty vocal on social media, how do you feel about these sorts of comments?

Those people are posers and participating in the scene disingenuously. They’re kidding themselves if they think they have a place in this arena.

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