With a trip to York coming soon on their tour, we knew it was time to catch up with the Manchester 3-piece band Man Made. We got the lowdown on what’s it like growing up in a music-orientated household (frontman Nile’s father was part of the Smiths), memorable gigs and their biggest influences.
by Jane Howkins
You’re playing York on your upcoming tour, do you like playing up in this area, and if so, why?
We’re a northern band so we’ve always felt at home playing shows in the North. I feel like there’s some degree of shared experience between everyone up here, regardless of which ‘northern powerhouse’ town you’re from. I lived in Yorkshire for two years too, you guys have a good thing going over there.
What would you say has been your favourite or most memorable gig?
We play a lot of charity shows, we’ve worked closely with a charity called Student Action For Refugees for a number of years now and every one of their Refugee Rhythms parties have been a blast. Probably the best one was at Yellow Arch in Sheffield. We packed out the place and it was decorated all nice with a temporary stage built at one end with obviously no crowd barrier, everyone was dancing and up for a good time. It’s one of our favourite things about playing benefit concerts, everyone there is trying to make the world a better place and wanting to feel like they’re making a difference. It makes for a really great night, there’s always a good energy to the room.
You’ve played Reading and Leeds in the past, how does that compare to playing a normal gig?
Well I don’t think at a normal gig you find yourself grossing out Papa Roach with how much free salad you’re trying to cram into your mouth at once before you get kicked out of catering.
Do you have any plans to play any festivals this summer?
We’ll hopefully have a pretty full summer again, last year it felt like every week we had a festival show somewhere. It’s always fun, it’s a different dynamic to regular shows. You’ve gotta just shut up and bust out the highlight reel.
You probably get asked this a lot (apologies!) but frontman Nile’s father is Johnny Marr, formally of The Smiths. Do you feel much pressure to live up to that?
Having bohemian parents meant from an early age I learned how to engage with music and art, music was not a passive medium and in that sense I’ve had a head start. Putting a record on was something to be listened to and discussed, I’ve never known anything different. Of course there’s pressure to be good, but I think you’d get that with anyone who goes into the same field as their parents. If one of your parents is an electrician, you’d expect the kid to know how to change a light bulb. Growing up around musicians meant I got to see first hand what it takes to be good. I grew up around adults who were all artists and I think that was the most important thing for me. I saw exactly what it meant to be an artist and the amount of work and dedication involved. I learned how to be a lifer.
Are you influenced by Johnny Marr and his musical work, and Nile, would you say having a musical father has made you want to pursue music as a career?
I was a big fan of Modest Mouse before my dad joined the band, they’ve always been a huge influence on me. All of a sudden they were part of the family and we’d moved to Portland, Oregon. That period of my life when my dad was in Modest Mouse definitely shaped who I am, I learned a lot watching those guys and was exposed to guitar bands like Fugazi and that whole scene as a young teenager, the years where you’re really figuring out who you are as a person and as an artist. Without Modest Mouse and the PNW I’d certainly be a very different guitar player.
Manchester is well known for producing a wealth of talent, what do you think of the scene at the moment?
Manchester really suffered culturally after the 90’s hangover. I think it’s only just starting to come out of it. We had the infrastructure and the venues, but for a long time there were some pretty suspect promoters that really sucked the life out of the scene with things like ‘pay to play’. It’s strange, as a city who’s currency is music there really wasn’t much going on for a long time. Things are definitely changing though, we do a lot of art shows we organise ourselves where we get the community of artists we’re around to curate and exhibit their work while we have bands playing. Right now, it feels like it’s an exciting time to be in Manchester with venues like the Night And Day at the centre of it all. Once people stop assuming that just because you’re a Manchester band you have to sound and act like everything that’s come before you we can all progress and grow as an artistic European culture.
Who/what would you say you are most influenced by?
Growing up around American bands like Modest Mouse was the real eye opener. At a young age I was suddenly thrown into the world of American punk rock and was heavily influenced by bands like Fugazi and Built to Spill. They were doing things with guitars that I’d never heard before, it was all so exciting. It’s also where I learned about the American punk rock work ethic, the ‘Get In The Van’ ethos – it’s at the forefront of how Man Made operate.
Are there any other bands/artists you recommend our readers check out?
A great Portland band we have on in the van a lot are Mimicking Birds, I think ‘Dead Weight’ is their latest single. It’s rad, plus there are loads of really good demos of theirs floating around the internet that never made it onto their first album so there’s plenty to get into.
Your first full length album is going to be released soon, entitled TV Broke My Brain. What can you tell us about it?
We have an album coming out on April 15th called TV Broke My Brain that I’ve been working on for eight years. It’s a collection of songs that have evolved over years of playing them live, we recorded it in the summer of last year and we’re all super keen for it to be out and exist. Can you imagine what it’s like working on something for that long?
Why do you think people should come and see you perform, and what can people expect from one of your shows?
We’re a live band, for us that’s how the songs are supposed to be heard. I’m always going to encourage people to see live music, by going out and buying a ticket to a show you’re making a conscious choice to be a patron of the arts, and it’s so important to keep that going. Our sets are high intensity. You’ve paid to see a band so we feel like we’re obliged to give you your monies worth. Our songs are short too so we pack a lot in and it never lets up. You’ll have to come out and see us to really find out. I suppose I should have said something like, ‘there are doves and at some point I set my pants on fire’, I don’t know about you but if I read that I’d have to check out that band. Alas.
Any last words for the fans?
I guess we’ll just see you all at our shows.
Man Made is playing at The Duchess on Monday 14 March, 7.30 pm