Last time I saw Manifold they were onstage at Ivory Blacks doing their best to break the speakers with sheer noise! On behalf of NHC music I caught up with them for a chat.
Since new frontman, John Gunn joined the band, Manifold have released an EP (The Promised Land) as well as a single. Can you tell us a bit about the recording process and the inspiration behind the songs?
John: I couldn’t really comment much about the writing of the songs given that most of them existed prior to my being in the band. The recording process, though – I can say something about that. Basically, we’d been very carefully squirrelling away gig money to put towards things like merch and recordings, so once we’d made enough we went to a place called L.A. Chunky (next door to you guys, as I’m sure you know) which was a really cool place with lots of old instruments and bits and bobs. Quite a contrast to the recording equipment, which was very up-to-date – in many ways, it was the blend of old and new we like. As far as inspiration goes, Start from 1970s hard rock and work your way right through till 1990. The riffs and melodies that came from that period are quite simply phenomenal. That, teamed up with some funny and interesting stories was all the inspiration we needed to get our heads down and write some quality hard rock music.
Ewan: The songs can come from the weirdest of places, different stories from our lives, a bright or dark moment experienced, an inspiring film or even just a cool idea. For example, Full Throttle off the EP was inspired by the film franchise mad max, after getting inspiration from Fury Road on the big screen. And Stop Teasin’ is a song primarily about one of the guys getting blue balled ;)
Darren: It was quite a simple process really. We were sitting on the songs that we planned to record for quite a while as they formed the backbone to our live set. We decided to head into LA Chunky studios in Glasgow's west end for 3 days and the rest as they say is history! Everything seemed to click into place smoothly.
JB: Yeah, it was a good experience and Johnny our producer totally got what we were about and what we were wanting to get across in our EP and I think he nailed it.
What do Manifold members like to do in their spare time (besides playing hard rock and partying)?
John: I’m kind of a dork outside the band. I spend most of my free time playing video games. As for Darren when he’s s not writing guitar hooks he enjoys the great outdoors and you’ll always catch him out walking up mountains and hills. He likes to feed his inner serenity. Ewan is always coming up with insane solos and Chris is usually busy working on and adding to his ever-increasing drum kit. As for JB, in his spare time, when he’s not busy landing some gigs and making contacts you’ll find him trying to raise the dead.
Chris: Chilling, socialising with other bands. Checking out other bands on the scene.
Darren: (Laughs) If only the partying part was true! Besides holding down a full-time job and all of the fun that comes with it, I love to drive. There's something relaxing and reassuring about driving down an open road with nothing but you and your thoughts. Having some amazing scenery to look at is also a big factor. A few beers now and again with some friends is always good as well. Catching up and talking general nonsense is always top of my priorities!
Is there new material in the works?
John: As it happens, yes. We’re jamming out a few new songs and have done one live, Undercover Lover. We’re always keeping ourselves busy with music.
JB: Yup, Undercover Lover as John mentioned, will be our follow up single to Stop Teasin’. We’re always keeping ourselves busy with music and always keeping the creative energy flowing. We have also been back in recording some new tracks with Kieran Robertson from Till death do us part and Geoff Tate’s Operation Mindcrime so look for them soon along with our debut album as we hit the studio in the springtime.
Ewan: There is always new material in the works, even if it’s a fully-fledged song or just some lyric or riff ideas. I feel we always have something new to bring to the table when its needed.
Chris: There is a lot of new material in the works as well as photoshoots and recording the new material. The new stuff we are working on has a different edge to it, there’s still a solid rhythm and groove behind the song; but we have been experimenting a little with timings and such. We are pushing each other more and more in these new songs and hoping our fans will enjoy a slightly different sound from what they usually hear from us.
Darren: There's always stuff in the pipeline. The Manifold machine is always ticking over. We seem to be writing a lot more these days than we ever had which is great. It keeps the set new and vibrant and in turn, it keeps the audience interested and entertained. We hope to get started on a new album very soon so keep your eyes peeled for any updates!
Manifold are a wicked band to see live for any fans of all music heavy and glam! Where and when can we see you play?
Chris: We’re playing Rockmantic festival in Carlisle and we’re playing Little Ceaser which is a little closer to home at the Cathouse on the 4th of March and New Bloods 3 at the Hard Rock Café Glasgow with the Shock City guys on the 16thh of March – so come on down!
Darren: Thank you! You'll be able to catch us at the Rockmantic festival in Carlisle which takes place on Feb 9-10th which we’re really excited about, and as Chris said w#’ve also got 2 Glasgow dates lined up too! There's always new gigs being announced at this time of year so I would suggest keeping your eyes on our Facebook page for the latest updates on the gigging front.
JB: Well after a great 2017 when we got to open for some of our heroes including bands such as L.A.Guns, Chris Holmes (former W.A.S.P guitarist) and Santa Cruz. Our album launch was also amazing, so 2018 has a lot to live up to!! Coming off the back of that we already have some amazing gigs lined up! In February, we travel down to Rockmantic Festival to play the Embers stage on the Friday. It’s gonna be wild there are so many good bands playing this festival from all over the UK. So we are super excited to be a part of it. Then in March we have two gigs in one week on Sunday the 4th we are opening up for the American Hard Rock/Sleaze band ‘Littler Cesar’ at the legendary Glasgow Cathouse and then on that Friday 9th we are playing the Shockcity Annual New Bloods showcase night at the Hard Rock Cafe in Glasgow a night to showcase the new up and coming talent from the Glasgow Hard Rock scene. It’s gonna be a busy one!
Who are your musical influences?
John: I basically rip off Alice Cooper and Bruce Dickinson.
Chris: For me, it’d have to be Cozy Powell, John Bonham, Tommy lee and Rodger Taylor.
Darren: Where do I start!? To keep it short and sweet, I'l name a couple. Status quo have always been a massive influence on myself as a guitarist. Rick Parfitt, in particular, was the guy who influenced me to no end. He was a thunderous rhythm guitarist with a great stage presence and voice. Rick pretty much set the bar on how to be a rock n roll guitarist in my opinion.
AC/DC are absolutely up there on my list also and for good reason! Another band who are absolutely electric to see live. As a guitar duo, I would say that myself and Eddie have been influenced inside out by these guys. Back in our college days, we both used to play SG copies and we both own Gibson SGs today. what else do you want!?
JB: it’s would have to be Duff McKagan and Nikki Sixx for the not only their playing style but also their sheer badass qualities they brought to their respected bands.
You all seem in your element on stage and I love how you give it everything when you play- do you ever get nerves before you go onstage? What advice would you give to other musicians who suffer from pre-gig fear?
John: As you go on, it’s easy to channel your nerves into positive action and really use that to give it your all – it’s not something you can easily control but it just sort of comes together as you play, y’know?
Ewan: Everyone feels a little nervous before a gig, but over time of playing more and more gigs it gets easier, practicing as a band a lot makes you feel more comfortable on stage as well as a pre gig pint or two or three usually sorts you out, Dutch courage.
Chris: Rucka there’s always nerves for me and they don’t usually settle until after the intro of our first song, personally I love the nerves it keeps you on your toes and you know the feeling is gonna be even better when you come off stage and relish the high of just playing. Any advice………..take some deep breaths and push through it use the nerves to enhance your performance.
Darren: Good question! My advice would be to get away from the buzz and all the goings on for about half an hour before you go on stage. Sit, down and play your instrument and relax. It's always worked wonders for me. Going on stage without warming up is a pretty horrible from my experience. By doing this, not only will you feel relaxed and ready to go, but you'll nail all of those solos that were causing the nerves in the first place! Who doesn’t want that!?
JB: I don’t get nervous beforehand usually just making sure everything is in place and we are all good for the show to go ahead. Generally, we all have a drink to take on stage with us. My advice would be to people who get nervous is just relax and realise that you’re doing something you love and people are there to support you and listen to your music.
Was there a certain event in your lives which made you become musicians?
John: It was more a gradual thing for me. It was a combination of getting into music at home and seeing a good many gigs, by both huge bands like Iron Maiden and even local bands at my high school. The local gigs were always a lot of fun.
Chris: I got to miss two classes a week to play drums, so who wouldn’t say yes to that? In all seriousness, I can always remember being about 4years old and Cozy Powells (over the top) album playing through my dad’s record player and loved banging away on my little junior kit with a tea towel around my head as a bandana……I was hooked from then on.
Darren: Sitting in my uncle’s house listening to all those classic Quo records from Piledriver right through to never too late. It totally shaped me as a guitarist. Come to think on it, my uncle and brothers have a lot to answer for in regards to my musical tastes!
JB: Hmmm…not really. Just growing up and listening to rock music and every one of my friends played guitar and drums so I thought if I’d play bass it would give me more of a chance to join local bands and play local shows. Ha!
What are Manifold's plans for the future?
Chris: We’re hoping to line up some more recording, festivals and planning to spread our wings a bit more around the UK.
Darren: The aim really is to just get our name out there and let people know who we are. We absolutely love what we do and there’s nothing better than looking out into a busy venue and watching everyone rock out to the music that you've worked tirelessly hard on writing. We are working particularly hard on trying to secure more festival dates within the up and coming season.
JB: For Manifold things are going from strength to strength we will be recording our Album in the spring and then we are looking at taking the show on the road and play up and down the UK.
Anything else you would like to add about Manifold for this interview?
Darren: Just that we love to see new faces at our gigs. Anyone influenced by classic hard rock acts should absolutely come along and say hello. You never know, you might just like what you hear!
Playlist for the Party at end of the world- Things seem to be going downhill recently with a lot world leaders making up for what they lack in intelligence with sheer aggression. As a band, which song would you choose if it was the last thing you could listen to?
Ewan: This changes every day/ week but at this moment in time it would be Sin City by AC/DC
Chris: Steel panther – Party like tomorrow is the end of the world. I think it would set you right up for the end of the world. Or Rucka – My Resurrection it features two of my favourite artist Brain May and Cozy Powell.
Darren: As a band one song, one reason. Ok, Shout at the devil - Motley Crue Simple really, who doesn’t fancy the idea of crashing through the pearly gates arse first backed up by a monster riff and a message for the big man himself! But, answering for just me, I’d say I'd have to say Rain by status quo. Easily one of my all-time fav Quo songs.
JB: Jetboy ‘Feel the Shake’ The Reason? ‘Nuff said.
You can find Manifold online at these places:
Check out their new EP, The Promised Land on Spotify.
If you can, go see them live! Their next gig is on 9th March at The Hard Rock Café, Glasgow!