PropertyOfZack had the chance to sit down with Andy Hull form Manchester Orchestra just last week for an incredible interview. Andy and I discussed their recent touring, leaving Columbia Records, possibly releasing a new album under a different band name, the next Bad Books record, Right Away, Great Captain!, a collab with The Dear Hunter, and so much more. Read up, it’s one of our best interviews ever!
Manchester Orchestra is past the half-way mark of its fall headlining tour with The Dear Hunter and White Denim. How have the shows been?
Really cool. This is the first tour we’ve had in a while that has had very little radio on it. We’re not promoting a single or anything, so these shows have been kind of DIY in terms of who’s coming to see us play. There aren’t any random dudes coming because they heard our song on the radio and heard we were playing. It’s pretty concentrated and the crowds are really cool and intense.
POZ: And the turnout has been good regardless of no radio support?
Andy: For sure. I think The Dear Hunter and us have some duel fans, but it’s not like the Cage The Elephant tour.
This is the band’s third and final big US tour of the year. And before this run, you guys were of course out on the 2011 Honda Civic Tour with blink-182 and My Chemical Romance. What was it like playing to crowds those size every night?
I don’t know. It’s not the most fun you have on tour, playing to 10,000 people who don’t give a shit. The people were really kind on the tour though. It’s one of those things you do as a band. We got super tight because we weren’t shooting the shit with fans. It wasn’t our core audience obviously. If we can get in front of that many people and turn some people onto it then we can’t ask for anything else.
Fans were beyond stoked to see Manchester on such a large bill, but also concerned about how others would react. Do you the tour was worth it?
I think so. I don’t understand when fans say that. I understand why fans wouldn’t go to the show, but I don’t know why they wouldn’t want more people to dig it.
POZ: Would you be open to something like that again?
Andy: I don’t know, if it fit. It was the pop-punk 13 year old in me. I couldn’t turn down doing two weeks with blink-182. It would’ve been sacrilege. It was a good experience.
Everything this here has been in support of Simple Math. Are you happy with the reception to the album seven months later?
I think it’s a growing album, so I’m not sure if I’ve even wrapped my head around it. I kind of change my views consistently on it. I’m really proud of it and I’m interested to see what happens between this gap and the next Manchester record.
Mean Everything To Nothing did have a little success on radio. Has it been stressful trying to reach that again? Or was it not something you were necessarily expecting?
No, I didn’t feel any of that. I didn’t feel I had to write another single. Mean Everything To Nothing was definitely more immediate. This record is slow-burning. That comes with time.
Have fans been continuing to get into the album in the live setting as the months go on?
Absolutely. The difference between this tour and the Cage tour is that they’ve had time to sit with it now. It’s really grown and it’s cool.
What’s the set list predominately like on this tour?
We’re playing several songs from each record. It’s tough with three records. Now we have so many Manchester songs between what’s leaked and b-sides. It’s hard to play everything.
There was a lot of talk about a possible b-side album earlier in the year filled with songs that didn’t quite fit on the album sonically. Is that still being discussed?
I think we’re going to go home and chill out. Not musically, because we’re going to make another Bad Books record in January. I think we want to go away and rethink what we want to do and how we want to come back. We don’t want to be another one of those bands. We’ve done a good job of releasing records that have challenged our past records, but this is the turning point of “Do we become a band of greatness and longevity, or do we burn out and fade away.”
Is this tour the end of the Simple Math cycle?
Other then European shows and stuff, this is the end of the cycle.
So the next few months are going to be a transitioning period?
I would say the next year will be a big time of thought for Manchester. There’s a really good chance that we’re going to make another record really soon and we’re going to release it on our own.
POZ: You’re off of Columbia?
Andy: We are no longer with Columbia. We released our final record through them. It would just be through Favorite Gentlemen and maybe some other imprint. I don’t think it’ll be under the name Manchester though. I want to try to do something like Sgt. Peppers. Not musically, but those dudes made those records under the pretense of a different band. They became this other band and it allowed their creative ability to go wherever they wanted because they weren’t under the pressure of making another Beatles album. We want to try to create another band within us to release something without any predisposed thoughts of what it’s going to be. Manchester is turning into a heavy direction musically, so I don’t know what it’ll be like.
Are you feeling constrained at all? Considering that you’re thinking of going in a new direction.
It’s not a result of wanting to break out of anything. We’re not trying to get away of anything. We’re super proud of everything we released. I think it’s more that we want to find our strengths and we want to really record them perfectly. For us, we feel like if the next thing we do isn’t really, really, really carefully done…We want to spend a lot of time writing. Simple Math was written in like a week. We were there and spent very little time practicing before we went into the studio. It was very much like a concept piece of “Here we go, lets make this thing.” We really want to dive in and really create something that is a really big monster. That might happen under another band name.
So there could actually be an album next year with all five of you under a name that is not Manchester Orchestra?
Very, very possible. We’ve spent a lot of time talking about it.
POZ: Do you think it could be a bonus for fans to freak out over?
Andy: I don’t know, hopefully. I hope so. I think the thing for us is that we’re doing it for us and we’re not worrying about some A&R dude or some guy at a label worrying about anything. Columbia never told us to change anything, but there was always that feeling of someone looking over your shoulder. That could end up being a record that goes into the b-sides pile.
If you were to put out a record under a new name, would Manchester be over?
No, I don’t think the end of Manchester is here. We’re all super into making records together. I think what we want to do is that we want to make Manchester a better band. We’ve played thousands of shows now. It’s getting crazy. We’ve explored that part of getting better and we need to explore outside of playing live shows. Our band has always been built on immediacy, and I think we’re going to take a step back from that for a second and carefully think about what we’re going to do next. I guarantee that no one is ready to throw in the towel.
Now that you are off of Columbia, will you be releasing stuff more frequently?
I would say that’ll be very true. We’re going to release a whole lot more music in a whole lot less time. There are no restrictions. With this Right Away, Great Captain! record I’m in the same boat. I finished it, I’m 11 songs, but I want to spend the next year recording more and making a more grand album. I think for us especially, I might expect a Manchester EP or some sort or a record under a different name for next year.
POZ: When do you think that’d happen?
Andy: We’ll start writing once we’re done with Bad Books and once I’m done with Great Captain!. I would think once we finish it we’ll put it out.
I spoke to Kevin Devine not too long ago and he said you might just write this album together next time. Is that still the case?
Yeah. It wasn’t really a band last time when we did the record, and it is now. We played these shows and we have this dynamic chemistry. So I think getting in a room with him and the rest of the dudes will be super cool. Manchester just bought this house that we’re turning into a full on studio and headquarters. It’ll become the home base for everything we do. It’ll be a studio/merch warehouse/and all this cool shit that we can run our tiny enterprise out of. I think that’ll give us a good chance to live somewhere too. It’s a half-mile from my house and a mile away from Roberts. It’s perfect. We’ll be able to tighten up.
Is Bad Books definitely coming out next year?
That’s a definite priority. We’ll probably do some weird hip-hop mixtape if we do something on our own, and I’ll explain that. I mean just a total out of nowhere like, “Manchester recorded this under a different name. Go here to buy it or download it if you want it.” Bad Books will have a proper release though.
And will we still be seeing another Bad Books tour?
Yeah, we’ve definitely talked about it both overseas and in the US with Manchester, Kevin, and Bad Books. That dude is just one of the best people in the world and we get along with him so well.
With Right Away, Great Captain!, fans have obviously been waiting for that for a while. Is that being delayed now?
I don’t know. I don’t think so, but there’s a good possibility that I might try to do something. I want to spend a little bit more time with it. There’s no, “We’ll get them this time” with this release. It’s final.
POZ: In the future, will you pick another moniker for solo material?
Andy: I don’t know. I’ve thought of it.
POZ: Does the name need to end with this story?
Andy: I think it does. I think that there’s something about it. Maybe I’ll just call the next one RAGC and Right Away, Great Captain! can be those records. There’s something about this three-part story that is really romantic to me. The way that it ends is just so super cool and different from the other ones. It’s far more raw and just me and a guitar. We did 11 songs in three days and it’s bare bones. For people who dig me and a close mic, this is that. I think they happen to be really great full songs. I think the second record depended a lot on production quality and really pretty music. This is far more about the story line and a dude and his guitar.
Have you ever been concerned about writing and releasing too much music? A lot of bands can do three albums in three years and then teeter out.
There’s a long tightrope that we try to walk with that. We want to continue to release music but we don’t want to burn people out. I think it’s important for Manchester to take more than a year and a half to release a record. We need to figure out what we want to do and to present something that people are waiting for. The thing I learned about this Right Away record is that the last one came out in 2008 and the next one will be out in 2012 and people are still stoked on it. I took my time on this too, so hopefully people won’t hate it. At least I know that I didn’t force anything. I think it’d be forced if Manchester did something right now.
Will Manchester be taking a break from touring too?
Definitely. We’re going to take a breath. We’ve been going non-stop for six years and there hasn’t been one break.
POZ: Is it nice to have that option now?
Andy: Fuck yeah. Just to have that option to do nothing. We’re never quite doing nothing because of Bad Books and other stuff, but it’s not make or break for Manchester if we do or do not tour in the spring of next year. We’ve worked six years for the chance to have an option to hang with our families and to be normal adults.
Are you working on any other projects?
I think we’re going to do a full Dear Hunter collaboration like on that Red EP. Casey and I have spent a lot of time talking about doing a full record under a different band name. We have all these collaborators, but it’s becoming this collective group of people you trust and you want to make records with. It’s a weird industry because you spend so much time on stuff and then by the time people are asking questions about it, you finished it a year and a half ago. With Simple Math, we wanted to talk about it a year ago and I would’ve told you every single thing. The more and more time that goes by, there’s this weird delay in everything. I think that’s what’s cool about people being into these new songs because there’s no “I’ve Got Friends” chorus. You find people who you want to work with in this limited amount of time on earth and you work with the.
You worked on the new O’Brother record. Are you into producing more?
Hell yeah I did. Robert and I worked our asses off on that thing. That record took seven months. Sapone took it to a next level too. If we’re like Lil’ Wayne, then we’re going to jail and they’re like Drake and they’re going to take over for a minute and work it. I think they’re going to gain a bunch of fans in many areas. They can open for Cage, Thrice, Circa, and I think that’s very cool.
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