Features Manchester Orchestra: ‘Tour’s Usually Just A Lot Of Hanging Out’
‘Simple Math’, Bad Books & killing time on tour
Manchester Orchestra return this month with their third record: Simple Math. A starkly intimate and brutally honest affair, this new ten-track concept album sees the band deconstruct their story so far. The band were in London and Manchester last month for an quick warm up tour before their huge May US trek with Kentucky’s Cage The Elephant. We gave keyboardist Chris Freeman a call to chat 'Simple Math', Bad Books and the best ways to kill time on tour.
How’s the tour going so far? What’s life on the road like for Manchester Orchestra?
The shows have been going really well, we’ve been playing with Tim (Very), our new drummer and he’s been killing it so it’s been really good. Tour’s usually just a lot of hanging out – there’s a lot of time to kill. It’s kind of a ‘hurry up and wait’ mentality so we wake up in the afternoon, sound-check and then we sit around for like five hours and then we play (laughs) and that’s pretty much tour life.
How do you spend your free time on tour?
There are plenty of video games and TV shows you can get into to kill a couple of hours a day. I’ve been playing this game on my phone, we all have, Infinity Blade, it’s like a fighting for the iPhone. That and I’ve been watching a lot of Dexter, I’m onto season four right now so I’m trying to knock that out on tour,
You must have had these new songs under your belt for a while, are you excited to let fans hear them?
Yeah, we can’t wait for the record to come out; we’ve been sitting for so long waiting for people to hear it. We play it for everybody who comes to the house because we’ve had this record since September, so yeah we’re very excited for people to hear it, can’t wait for it to come out in the US and the UK. Ready to hear some feedback, you know.
Did you ever worry about the album leaking? Happens a lot these days…
Oh yeah. It sucks because we have to wait so long for the record to come out that we’re always worried that the album’s going to leak. We had a couple of scares where we were all thinking the album’s leaked and looking on torrent sites. It is a worry especially because there was the watermarked copy which doesn’t sound as good as the actual record so we were worried that the watermark would leak and people would hear the crappy version.
You’ve kept the same production team throughout all your records – is this important to the band?
For sure, I mean working with Dan (Hannon, producer) again was very comfortable, he’s part of our family and it made sense to work with people who would make this process as comfortable as possible. Losing Jeremiah (Edmond, former drummer) was a big…not a blow, but when you remove somebody from an equation you kind of have to get closer, so we all kind of grew closer together and having Dan there was like another person we could hold on to while doing a record we really believed in.
'Simple Math' is a concept album; people might be reading into the lyrics a little more than usual. Do you worry fans might interpret them the wrong way?
I don’t think so, at least not for this record. I think they’re so detailed that people won’t really know what Andy’s talking about in some scenarios but I feel like the themes and what comes out in a lot of the songs is pretty universal and I don’t know if it can be misconstrued or anything. I think it’s pretty straight forward in a lot of what ends up coming out in songs like 'Simple Math' and 'April Fool'.
You had a lot of tracks to choose from for this album…
Yeah, we recorded our entire writing process. We had so many demos it was kind of difficult to weed out the ones that we thought really wouldn’t go with this record. We wanted it to be a short record so it was a difficult process because we loved so many of the songs that we had demoed; hopefully we can release those at some point in our careers
'Simple Math' has a really nice pacing to it; did you put a lot of thought into the organisation of the tracks?
For sure. Andy’s huge on the sequencing and he usually does that before we even get into the studio. Once he found the opening song and the end I think the middle just kind of made sense. The record definitely gets better as it goes along; it was very intentional. I think the song sequencing is really awesome on this record, it definitely has some good book ends and it builds a lot and takes you through some weird journey
You formed Bad Books last year with Kevin Devine, can we expect more collaborations with Kevin in the future? Any UK shows?
Oh for sure, we love Kevin. We love hanging out with him, we love making records with him so yeah we’ve talked about doing another Bad Books album in the near future, that would be really fun. We’d love to take Bad Books everywhere we possibly can. Kevin tours over the UK pretty heavily and so do we, so it would be sick if we could have a Bad Books tour over there. We describe Bad Books as like this moving train chugging forward and I think UK fans would really enjoy that, it’s kind of like a fun wild show
And where do Manchester Orchestra go after 'Simple Math'?
I dunno, we’ll probably just keep going. Maybe we’ll take a little break after this tour or after the next and just kind of recuperate a little bit. We’re realising now that we probably went into the studio too fast. We came out with a great record but it’s just that none of us took any time off after touring the last record, we kind of went straight into the studio, so maybe we’ll take some time off and keep chugging along.
'Simple Math' is available now.
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