ARTISTdirect Q&A MANCHESTER ORCHESTRA
Tue, 31 May 2011 09:12:01
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Even on a day off while on the road, the members of Manchester Orchestra are working. Bassist Jonathan Corley had just finished up some late lunch at a Brazilian steakhouse in North Carolina while enjoying a rare day off while on tour, but he still carved out time in his scheduled to chat with ARTISTdirect.com News Editor Amy Sciarretto about Simple Math, the indie rock band's grand roller coaster of a new album which soars to high highs and swoops to complicated, emotional lows as its explores the concept of a 23-year-old man questioning life as he knows it, as well as their upcoming stint on Lollapalooza. Corley also talked about his native Atlanta, the NBA playoffs and performing on Late Night With David Letterman for the third time.
While Manchester Orchestra were born of the indie rock scene, they band is steadily ballooning to be so much more, populating the vast space between The Beatles and Foo Fighters, siphoning a little bit of influence from those bookends and everything in between.
How stoked are you about doing this summer's Lollapalooza?
We are doing it again and this will be our fourth time doing it. It is by far one of my favorite festivals in the country. That and Austin City Limits. Both are in the middle of big cities, and the shows are during the day, so you can still go out at night, whereas Bonnaroo and Coachella are centrally based and people and bands camp out and don't leave.
Did you used to attend Lollapalooza during its first generation, when it was traveling?
When it was travelling, I didn't. I went out to shows, but I never caught that tour. Actually, the first year I went was 2006 and that's when we first played it!
You recently performed on Late Night With David Letterman for the third time - do you get nervous doing late night TV or is it old hat for Manchester Orchestra at this point?
This time was our best performance to date on late night. We were looking forward to this one, because we were doing the song 'Virgin' off the new record and we worked with the Brooklyn Youth Choir, something we had never done it in the past. We had rehearsed that day, and the kids were excited and easy to work with and the horn section in the Late Night band played as well. It came together well, and we went into it with no idea what to anticipate. I found a video that someone posted online and watched it three times and I am impressed with how it was mixed, cut and shot!
Talk a little about this album, Simple Math, which is conceptual while based on real life experiences!
As a songwriter, [lead singer] Andy [Hull] is one of the most prolific songwriters I've ever come across. I was blown away at how personal the imagery and lyrics were on the record. It hits close to home and can be interpreted 1000 different ways by 1000 different people.
Do you have any non-musical talents or hobbies?
I am incredibly interested in video work and have done or posted over 100 video podcasts for the band. I will always continue to pursue video work. I am also a huge baseball fan, and have been, ever since I was a kid growing up. When we had a show in Columbus Ohio, I got a chance to throw out the first pitch at a Triple A game, for the Columbus Clippers.
Ah, so that explains why you were so impressed with the video you found online! Speaking of sports, did you ever play baseball?
I grew up and playing middle infield and pitched for a while, but it was nothing serious. That came full circle, from an early age, and I thought that was what I wanted to do but I picked music instead.
Do you follow MLB?
The [Atlanta] Braves and the [San Diego] Padres some, but our entire band follows NBA basketball religiously. Even on this tour, we are going to playoff games when we are in the city. I went and saw the [Atlanta] Hawks beat the [Orlando] Magic at home. Everyone is excited about the playoffs. I think it'll be the [Chicago] Bulls versus the [Dallas] Mavericks. [Editor's note: It's going to be the Miami Heat versus the Mavericks, so Corley was close with his prediction!]
What's the one thing you want fans to know about Simple Math?
We spent more time on it than anything in the past. We spent a couple weeks tracking in Nashville and then we had to bring it back to Atlanta and literally sit with the songs for months. We worked on layering and finding the best sounds to put together. We're all really happy with the way it turned out. We were able to spend more time than anything we've put out previously.
Why were you able to spend more time with this album?
We all sat down and focused for months, and our tour schedule worked out with the timing and personal lives allowed it too!
What is your favorite thing about the Atl or Georgia?
I just moved into the city, so I am enjoying the living in old Fourth Ward. After the Olympics, a Georgia Tech student proposed the Belt Line Project, connecting bike paths and building new parks, which are connected by walking and bike paths that run through heart of city. In 2018, it will be done. Also, Criminal Records has been great to us. It's a small indie record shop and the staff is awesome. They put on shows there. Before we had any distribution, it was the only place you could purchase our first record internationally. They would even ship it at cost to Australia or to the UK or Germany.