Manchester Orchestra's Chris Freeman on Losing Band Members and Appearing on Letterman Four Times
Andrew Thomas Lee Manchester Orchestra
Atlanta's Manchester Orchestra play indie music with an epic feel. Over the course of a decade, this nimble five-piece led by the enigmatic Andy Hull have released four albums of quality alternative rock. The band's most recent effort, Cope, may well be the band's best effort yet.
Speaking from his home the day before starting the tour that includes a stop at the House of Blues on Wednesday, keyboardist Chris Freeman spoke with DC9 about producing Cope themselves and how Manchester Orchestra drew inspiration (and a band name) from the city in England.
Why self-produce the new album?
It just seemed like the right idea. We built this studio and we kind of wanted to save a little money. We saved a lot of money by using our own studio.
Didn't you build that studio in a house you once rented?
Yes, sir. We all lived there at one point. We were able to turn it into a functioning studio.
The band is about to have its 10-year anniversary, correct?
Yes, we have been at it a while. Those years seemed to have flown by. We've already had a lot of great memories.
Even though you are from Atlanta, does the band's name mean that some mistakenly think the band is from England?
Every now and then, we will hear that from people. But for the most part, anybody who listens to us will know that we are from the South. Now that people know our story, we don't get that question as much, but we used to get it all of the time.
Did you name the band because there were so many good bands from Manchester?
Yes, we fell in love with that city. During the early high school years, when the first heartbreak and those other emotional issues were going on, we leaned towards bands like The Smiths. Those bands were why we decided to form a band. We fell in love with Manchester. We've been there multiple times and we are very proud to be named after that city.
Athens has always been considered a great music scene in Georgia. How does Atlanta compare?
We've always had a big hip-hop scene going on here. We have that. We have some bands, but there is not a big sense of community here. We are kind of secluded in the quieter suburbs of Atlanta. I'm not entirely sure what's going on with the Atlanta music scene. There seems to be a good amount of bands coming out of there.
Do you have a good following there or do you find bigger crowds outside of Atlanta?
Hometown shows are always big; that's for sure. We get a good hometown crowds, but we've had great shows all over America.
The band lost a couple of members, one very recently. How much did their departure affect the band?
It is always hard to see a person go. We've had a lot of losses in our band. We've always understood when somebody has to go. We look forward to them having other opportunities.
The video for "Simple Math" is very interesting.
That was an interesting one, because none of us have had much experience acting. We got to have a lot of fun because the director and others were very passionate about the project. It was a very fun thing to do, putting on costumes and bouncing around in a car.
The band has appeared on the David Letterman show four times. Will you appear again before he retires?
I think that fourth time was it. Maybe Colbert will give us a shot. I think we had a good relationship with Dave. He has always enjoyed it every time we've been on. I guess that's why he kept asking us to come back. And if he asked again, we'd go.
Is [singer] Andy Hull an intense guy to work with?
[Laughs] I think he can come off that way, but he is a normal human being just like the rest of us. We are all pretty chill. We have been friends a long time. We all come across as being pretty heavy, but we are all pretty chill.
How has the band's sound evolved in that time?
It is a completely different band now than when we first started. We changed members and we just started getting heavier and heavier. We grew as songwriters and musicians. We just sort of began to hone our craft very well. The sound evolves on each album.
Is the new record the one that is going to find a major audience?
This band has always been about a steady climb career-wise. We never wanted to be a flash in the pan. We are content being where we all right now. We are happy with where we are at. We want, in the future, new fans coming out to hear our band. We are happy that people like the music we are making. We are looking forward to getting in the studio again as soon as we can and tour as much as we can. We are looking forward to coming to Dallas because we have always had a great time there. We have good friends there. We've connected with a lot of people there.