Neutral Milk Hotel


August 13, 2022

Neutral Milk Hotel was an American indie rock group that emerged from a solo project by Jeff Mangum. After the first studio album On Avery Island from 1996, the group was reinforced by Julian Koster, Jeremy Barnes and Scott Spillane. In addition, producer Robert Schneider made a substantial contribution to the sound of Neutral Milk Hotel. The group forms the basis of The Elephant 6 Recording Company, a musical collective from Athens (Georgia). Neutral Milk Hotel's music has been described as a mixture of folk, psychedelia and punk, using a wide variety of instruments and Mangum singing passionately surreal, intimate lyrics. The group is best known for its second and final studio album, 1998's In the aeroplane over the sea, which received critical acclaim over the years and became an unexpected commercial success. Not long after the album's release, Mangum disbanded the group. due to personal inconveniences, and withdrew from public life. During his absence, In the aeroplane over the sea grew in popularity and the group achieved cult status. After a 15-year hiatus, a reunion was announced in 2013 and the group embarked on several worldwide tours. In the summer of 2015 Neutral Milk Hotel gave its last performance for the foreseeable future.


Early years

In the rural Louisiana town of Ruston, young Jeff Mangum and his friends, including Robert Schneider, developed a taste for psychedelic and experimental rock music. In Ruston a small but lively alternative scene emerged, which was later supplemented in Denver with members of Apples in Stereo. Under the name The Elephant 6 Recording Company, the friends started a musical collective, from which many indie groups arose over the years. In addition to his contribution to various projects, Mangum started a solo project called Milk. When it turned out that a group with this name already existed, he renamed the project Neutral Milk Hotel. Under this name he recorded a number of experimental cassettes (including Beauty, Invent yourself a shortcake and Hype city soundtrack), which he exchanged with his friends. In 1993 Mangum recorded his first EP, called Everything is, and in New Orleans he gave that year his first performance, to an almost empty hall.

On Avery Island

In 1995, Mangum traveled to Denver, Colorado to record his debut album, On Avery Island. His childhood friend Robert Schneider served as producer, organist and bassist, writing the wind arrangements. Seeing it as his mission to stay as true to Mangum's vision as possible, Schneider recorded the album on a lo-fi four-track recorder. On Avery Island was released on March 26, 1996 by Merge Records and sold approximately 5,000 copies at the time. The few reviews that the album received were positive. At the insistence of Merge Records, Mangum went looking for permanent group members for a promotional tour. The first musician Mangum recruited was Julian Koster from New York, a close acquaintance of Elephant 6. Koster recommended as drummer Jeremy Barnes, whom he had once met after a performance in Albuquerque and who had indicated that he was unhappy with his student life in Chicago. . Mangum and Koster traveled to Chicago for a rehearsal with Barnes, who left college on Koster's advice to focus on Neutral Milk Hotel. Scott Spillane, a longtime acquaintance of Mangum from Ruston, was working as a pizza chef in Austin when Mangum visited him and persuaded him to join the Neutral Milk Hotel as a blazer. The four musicians settled at Koster's grandmother's house in New York, where they fanatically prepared for the tour and made new songs. On April 28, 1996, they gave their first performance in New York and on July 1, the nationwide tour began in San Francisco. In addition, Mangum also acted