Manchester Orchestra

By paul

Andy chatted to Manchester Orchestra’s Chris Freeman after their set at Reading ’09.

PT; Hello, a quick introduction of who you are and what you do in Manchester Orchestra.

Chris: I’m Chris; I play keyboards, secondary drums and background vocals.

PT: How was the set for you?

Chris: The stage sound was a little bit weird, we had a bit of a rough start, but it was fun. We were surprised how many people were there. We were absolutely blown away.

PT: Have you guys got much experience playing festivals like this?

Chris: Sure, not in the UK but we’ve done the American circuit for a while – Lollapalooza, all the major festivals.

PT: Do you get affected by nerves at all on a show this size?

Chris: No, not really we’re not a nervous band. We all like playing, we like music and we all grew up very much in a performance atmosphere. Andy’s dad was a pastor so he was always in the limelight, I did like Michael Jackson tributes when I was twelve, so I think we’re all pretty used to it by now!

PT: Now you guys have been compared to everyone from Weezer to Brand New to Nirvana. How would you describe the Manchester Orchestra sound for someone who’s never heard you before?

Chris: For the most part I have a lot of issues with this! My mum’s in the business world and her associates will always ask, ‘what the band sounds like?’ and I always just say it’s kind of loud, fast, sometimes dark, sometimes not so dark.

PT: This September sees you release your second full length, ‘Mean Everything To Nothing’. It’s an incredibly ambitious record. Tell me about how it came together.

Chris: The writing process is really simple and easy. Andy brings in a song and we just mess with it as much as we can – we’d play it for an hour and go, ‘alright that was badass’, and then move on to the next thing. It’s funny because we wrote the whole record in a week. The recording process was much more difficult because Joe Chiccarelli, the producer, he’s a real 11am to 11pm guy. Work, work, work, work, work. We’re not that kind of band – he pushed us in a lot of ways to get good sounds and great performances. It was difficult, but it was definitely fun! I pulled my arm playing wall ball for the first day, so I was fucked for the first hour or so of every day, it hurt a lot!

PT: The first six tracks on the album all merge into one and it’s split into two distinct sections. What’s the idea behind this? What made you decide to arrange the album in such a way?

Chris: That was all very consciously done. The first half depicts being on the road and the stress and hecticness of that. The second half, right when ‘Hot One’ comes in – that’s the only break on the album. After that it’s more about being at home, the weirdness of coming home after being on tour for so long and the ideas of getting back in touch with your friends and loved ones. Half the guys in the band are married so it’s always weird coming home.

PT: Do you get homesick when you’re out on the road?

Chris: Yeah. My parents live in Ohio and I live in Atlanta so it’s difficult to feel homesick as I don’t really have anybody ‘at home’, but we try to always make sure we’re in contact with those people that we love. We call our girlfriends, wives or whatever once every two days to get out of our own little touring bubble!

PT: You made a pretty groundbreaking video series to accompany the album. Talk me through how that came about and what it was like to create?

Chris: That was Brad, our manager’s idea. The guys who did it shot a video for our last record, and we decided that we wanted to have somebody take our record, and have a vision of it, like a visual interpretation. We pretty much let them do what they wanted. They’d send us rough edits and we’d say yes or no and that was it. It was what they felt visually when they heard our record. It’s a cool kind of art form I think as opposed to doing something like remixing the album.

PT: You’re back over here in October with Biffy Clyro. Are you big fans of those guys?

Chris: You know we did a tour with them in the US, and they were second of four on the bill, and we were main support to Say Anything, and we were just totally blown away by them. We didn’t know they were massive over here! In the States, nobody really knows who they are – they were riding in a tour bus and we were in a van and we just couldn’t understand how they were affording it! They’re really sweet guys though and great music, so looking forward to it. We’re stoked!

PT: Do you get much chance to see other bands when you’re playing a festival like this?

Chris: Festivals are difficult to see other bands, you know? It’s kind of like a high school reunion in a lot of ways, because we all hang out but it’s difficult to see everyone play because it’s all so crazy. I think we’re going to hang out with Kings Of Leon a little bit, we’re good friends with those guys, and hopefully go see Soulsavers too, really want to see them!

Try these three interviews

Interview: Greywind [Reading 2016]

Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]