Manchester Orchestra's Andy Hull: "I Planned on Being in This Band Forever When I Started It"
Andrew Thomas Lee
Four years, three albums, and a good thousand shows later, Georgia's most roarsome quintet, Manchester Orchestra, returns to our neck of the hoods after last playing Revolution Live in 2010. But whereas it once performed back-to-back opening slots at that venue, supporting the likes of Silversun Pickups, this time, the band is heading out under the swampy stars that shine on Cruzan Amphitheatre. The occasion? The second-annual Coral Skies Music Festival, a one-state, two-date collision of crafted beer, trucked food, outsider art, and the very best indie rock has to offer today.
In addition to Manchester Orchestra, this year's edition of Coral Skies features Cage the Elephant, Julian Casablancas + the Voidz, Tokyo Police Club, and the Hold Steady. But it is M.O. that concerns us here, specifically its frontman, Andy Hull, who's given voice (and credence) to the Southern-plied rock gang since its inception.
Born and bred in Atlanta (excepting a seven-year stint in Ontario), Hull formed Manchester Orchestra as a solo endeavor that would include a revolving door of co-conspirators. The concept was titled (as Hull told New Times) after the town whose sound he found most dreary. That would be Manchester, U.K., natch, home of morose outfit the Smiths, among others. After turning Northern England's joyful desperation into inspiration, Hull wrote and recorded his first full-length, recruited teenaged bandmate Chris Freeman, and set about the task of taking over the world one stage at a time.
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A decade on and the bright idea has become a bona fide blast of heated white light that has illuminated every crack, crevice, and cavern in the whole wild world. It's no secret that Manchester Orchestra's global shine is due to Hull and company's deeply set need to rock as loudly as possible, wherever and whenever permitted. That the glow shows no sign of lessening, either in strength or impact, is nothing more than a fact.
With this year's release of both Hope and Cope, you might say that fact has compounded. Cope came first, and with it an even louder example of Manchester Orchestra at its loudest. Then came a stripping down of said sound to nothing but essence, and with that the resultant Hope. To Hull, the roar is as meaningful on track one as it is on 11, and it'll knock the breath out of anyone, at any volume.
Manchester Orchestra's Coral Skies staging comes at the end of an extended touring of the latter album and before a more intimate cross-country jaunt supporting the former. That means we'll get to see and hear a little bit of this, a little bit of that.
Hull answered a few of New Times' questions in advance of Manchester Orchestra's Cruzan stand.
New Times: Congratulations on M.O.'s making it a decade! Did you envision such longevity way back when?
Andy Hull: Yeah, I did. I certainly didn't expect the amount of success we have achieved, but I planned on being in this band forever when I started it.
What would you say the secret is to the band's longstanding?
It's been about making a ten-year plan, not a two-year plan. Most bands that start have a two-year plan. That's why they usually last around two years.
Citing Faulkner's Nobel acceptance speech, do you consider it more a case of endure or prevail?
A mix of both. There are hurdles in life, and my life has been mostly comprised of being in this band, so they sort of go hand in hand.
What are your thoughts on Faulkner anyway?
I stopped reading him after the third Harry Potter book. Too wordy.
Any other inspiring Southern word-slingers you care to cite?
I've always loved R.L. Stein.
When last we spoke, you said Chaim Potok's Lev Asher is the literary character you most identify with; does that still hold?
Now I feel more like the main character [Flint Lockwood] in [Judi and Ron Barrett's] Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.
Has any other character jumped out of a book and taken hold of you since then?
I really enjoyed Jesus' Son by Denis Johnson. Wonderful read.
Also at the time you were reading Bill Simmons' The Book of Basketball... How'd that turn out?
Well, he keeps adding additions to it, so it's basically impossible to finish. I'm a nerd for all things sports history.
What's on your read-stand right now?
An iPad with Parks and Recreation on it.
And blasting through your headphones?
Pusha T's My Name Is My Name.
How'd he come upon your radar?
I love hip-hop, and this is one of the [best] hip-hop albums I have heard in years. I have been listening to it for over a year now.
Speaking of blasting, how long is M.O. touring in support of Cope?
I would imagine the next six to 12 months. We are going to take some time off and breathe, hang out with my baby next year.
At the risk of sounding like a dunce, why's the tour titled Hope?
We released an alternate version of Cope called Hope, and on this tour, we are playing the Hope versions.
Any other four-letter words you might suggest we abide by/drive by?
Dine, move, love.
Coral Skies Music Festival. With Manchester Orchestra, City and Colour, Cage the Elephant, Julian Casablancas + the Voidz, and others. 11 a.m. Sunday, October 26, at Cruzan Amphitheatre, 601-7 Sansbury's Way, West Palm Beach. Tickets cost $45 to $55 plus fees. Call 561-795-8883, or visit coralskiesfest.com.
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