From Dead Weather to Them Crooked Vultures, it's pretty well understood that all Queens of the Stone Age side projects have to try really hard to sound like Led Zeppelin.
So what's the story with Michael Shuman and his new band Mini Mansions? Did he just not get the memo?
"I got it, but I just like the Beatles better, I guess," says Shuman, who joined the Queens as its bassist back in 2007. "So that's cool, I'll just leave that to the guitar players in the band."
In Mini Mansions, his pop-rock trio with fellow L.A. denizens Zach Dawes and Tyler Parkford, Shuman takes on lead vocal, guitar and songwriting duties. He also plays a minimalist standup drum kit consisting of a snare, tom, hi-hat and cymbal.
The group's sound is leaner and more melodic than Queens of the Stone Age, which will at least stave off those comparisons. But their harmonies are bound to evoke Beatles comparisons, whether Shuman likes it or not.
"Yeah, I brought it up because I assumed you'd bring it up," he says with a resigned laugh. "The Beatles are one of my favorite bands of all time, but I really don't think we sound like them. I think it's way darker than anything they ever did, except for Magical Mystery Tour."
Less magical, though, was the mysterious reaction Shuman's group got last October when they stepped onstage at Boston's House of Blues to open for Them Crooked Vultures, bandmate Josh Homme's supergroup with Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones and Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl.
"It was our first time playing with the Vultures — we ended up doing a lot more dates with them — but we come out, hadn't played a note, and someone hits me in the chest with a half-full beer can. I laugh about it, because it's so ignorant to do that to someone when you haven't even heard them. If we sucked and they hated the first song, cool, then go ahead and do whatever you want."
While dodging projectiles may be new, Shuman's well-acquainted with the joys of life on the road. He started touring at the age of 16, and his former punk band Wires on Fire toured extensively before he joined Queens of the Stone Age. So even at the advanced age of 24, he says going back on the road in a van and playing small clubs still feels normal.
In addition to its self-released EP, Mini Mansions released a single earlier this week featuring a cover of "Heart of Glass," which has already become a crowd favorite: "I just thought it would be really creepy to take a dance song that a woman sang and slow it way the fuck down. Just turning the slow-motion knob down — or turning it up, actually."
In August, Shuman rejoins his Queens bandmates for some festival dates, after which they begin writing their next record.
So how did Shuman hook up with the group in the first place?
"I was a huge Queens fan, and some friends of friends recommended me," he says. "It's a lot easier to get into that band than you'd think."
OK, but would that mean having to move out to L.A.?
"Probably not," says Shuman. "It's that easy."