Manchester Orchestra

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Manchester Orchestra

Atlanta rockers Manchester Orchestra are bringing hope to our shores when they touch down next month – quite literally. “When we got back from our last tour we spent six weeks re-recording a version of our latest release Cope. Hope is a more stripped-down sounding album,” explained lead guitarist Robert McDowell. “We all love playing these songs different ways, and you’ll hear both versions when we play the Australian shows.”
The friendly five-piece, named for their love of the English city’s rich musical heritage (think Joy Division, The Smiths, The Stone Roses, Oasis – the list goes on), also profess to love our cities, too. They’ve made the long-haul flight many times – as recently as last year – and Robert was more than happy to add weight to their claim. “I absolutely love everything about your country and everyone in the band does too,” he gushed. “We’re all beyond excited; it was a no-brainer when the offer came up to come back. No matter what, we wanted to make it work.”
We’re glad they did, but it’s not like they haven’t been busy. Robert gladly filled me in on the recent DIY project. “We needed a little break after our third album [Simple Math, 2011]. We’d lost our studio, so we decided to completely gut a house near where we lived and build our own studio.”
Manchester Orchestra is an indie band in the true sense of the word. “We’re a very self-sufficient band. We ship all our merch ourselves and organise meetings with our label. We needed a place for all things Manchester Orchestra. It took about eight months to build and I gotta tell you, having a project like that was very exciting for me personally – getting to draw out plans, build it and see it come to life. It was a dream come true!
“I always tell people that if I wasn’t a musician I’d want to be a carpenter. I’ve come to terms that I can’t be a professional skateboarder. Just don’t have it in me,” Robert acknowledged with a smile. “And of course, smashing the place up helped me get a lot of aggression out!” he laughed.
Don’t be fooled by their soft-spoken American politeness: Manchester Orchestra are a bunch of jokers with finely-honed senses of humour. They’ve been welcomed guests on almost every comedy/variety show in the US, including Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel and David Letterman (four times!) because of their ability to have a laugh at their own expense.
“To be honest, and I think most musicians would agree, the only way you can get through touring is by making your friends, bandmates and crew laugh. We all have similar senses of humour and we all enjoy the same kind of comedy. So any chance we have to pretend to be funny in front of people we jump at!”
If you don’t believe him, tune in to their webisodes Magic Moments with Manchester Orchestra at “Because of the music we play, people tend to believe that we’re very serious, uptight, angsty or angry … That couldn’t be further from the truth.”
Join in the fun when the laugh-riot rockers take the stage on their whirlwind east coast tour in November.
When&Where: The Corner – November 13 & 14
By Natalie Rogers, Photo by Andrew Thomas