With a recent reshuffle of their band name, MT have become Many Things. It may not be far from where they started but this new energy prompts a much bolder, effervescent pop shine to their new material, particularly with new track ‘Chains’, a powerful synth pop ballad.
This band are very special in that they have this vibrancy to everything they do, and their music especially carries a positive, empowering message. Though, I think the band say it best, “you can’t beat darkness with more darkness” so instead fight it with fearless honesty, blistering pop melodies and defiant confidence. Many Things are set to release new EP ‘What We Are’ on 22nd August.
As we wait in anticipation for the release day to come, I caught up with frontman and singer, Michael Tomlinson, to discuss touring with Panic! at the Disco, dedicating cover songs to fans and the frontmen that have inspired him as a performer, plus much more.
Charlotte, Bitter Sweet Symphonies: As there might be some people reading this that are new to your band, to break the ice I thought it would be great to know a little random fact about each member of the band, to introduce yourselves…
Michael, MT: “Hey! I’m Michael.
A fact about me is I’m obsessed with cooking Vietnamese food.
FTB [Frederik Tyson-Brown] is a virtuoso on the banjo ukelele.
Macks’ favourite band is Aerosmith.
Gabi is clairvoyant and can make amazing cakes.”
What’s the one song that sums up what you do the best, that people should listen to, if they are new to your music?
“I would say all of the songs kind of sum us up, that’s the beauty of calling yourself ‘Many Things’ I guess. Listen to something upbeat like ‘Alpha Romeo’, intense like ‘Chains’ or something ethereal like ‘Paranoid People Meet Me In The Middle’. It’s still the same spirit through all of our music.”
I was lucky to catch your set from when you supported Panic! at the Disco just recently and all I say is your performance was like a tornado of passion and energy tied with a furiously infectious pop ribbon, it was very impressive to watch. It’s clear that you give yourself fully to your performance, what’s running through your mind when your stage?
“I can’t speak for the other guys but for me it’s mostly ‘Don’t fall over’ and ‘can I jump from here to over there without seriously injuring myself?’. I think FTB [Frederik] also gets a bit sore with me forgetting to pass him the vocoder mic.
The serious answer is we play without any backing tracking and the arrangements are far from straight forward: we’re basically a four piece doing the job of an 8 piece with backing singers. Our goal is always to strike the balance between nailing the technical aspects and the raw energy of live performance. Basically the two thoughts going through our minds onstage would be “FUCK!!!!” when we extend ourselves to play a tricky part and “Yeah!” when we see that translate in the crowd.
So I guess the answer is… fuck yeah.”
Michael is one of the fiercest frontmen I’ve seen perform live, it’s very inspiring to watch someone give their heart and soul to their music. There are many great stage icons, who do you look up to in terms of their stage prowess?
“Well first of all thank you very much, that’s a really massive compliment especially considering you saw us at a show with Panic!
We were all blown away by Brendon (Urie) especially when he was doing those backflips! What a show!
When I was growing up I really admired The Strokes (and still do). I went on to get into Lou Reed, Bowie and all the rest. I say this to illustrate that typically I’ve always loved bands fronted by kinda serious and cool tempered performers but clearly that’s not a style I adopted myself! I think the genesis of this is the punk gigs I used to go to as a kid. We all shaved our heads and went to Warped Tour. It was amazing. I think that stayed in there. Our shows basically operate on the same basis as that very first show I went to: everyone was there to have a great time and they weren’t ashamed to show it. For us there’s no point in pretending otherwise: you get back what you put in.”
The shows with Panic! at the Disco were your biggest to date, you were playing to huge crowds every night that must have been a dream come true. What did you learn from that experience?
“We’d just come from doing a tour of tiny rooms around the country to find us back in the same towns, the very next week, playing stages like the Hammersmith Apollo!
Playing in a small club compared to a big venue like that is a big adjustment but I think we stepped up to the plate.
A massive thanks has to go to the Panic! team for making us feel so welcome, and to Tomas Moreno (the man, the myth, the legend) who you’ll usually find behind the desk at our shows. An even bigger thanks has to go to the fans for being so open, accepting and enthusiastic. Every night we had no doubt that we were doing a show for people who just loved music and wanted to get involved. It was ace. I learned a lot from watching Brendan (Urie), especially regarding the energy that he puts out and the quality of his voice. It was an extremely inspiring experience.
Regarding the dream come true thing, I say yes we definitely feel very blessed: with every step forward we take as a band we’re very conscious that for every person that picks up a guitar, only a very small percentage get to go on to do the things we’ve been lucky enough to do. We don’t forget that. We’ve got a lot of respect for these opportunities, they are an honour and a privilege for which we are all grateful. We just keep on working hard so in the hope that we keep getting these chances to share our music with people.”
Recently you’ve been allowing fans to request songs for you to sing as a dedication to them, that’s a really nice idea. What’s been your favourite request to date and is there a song that you’re hoping that will come up?
“My favourite request was from a girl called Tetei from Mexico who requested I sing a song in Spanish. She’s been supporting us for a very long time and I was very happy to do something for her, plus it was a fantastic challenge! My friend later told me my accent was rubbish, I told her she didn’t need to tell me that!
In fact the requests are an ongoing thing, it’s just that we’re trying to find the time to do them! We’re currently finishing off the production and recording of the EP ourselves but as soon as that’s in the can we’ll be back on it, as well as working on the record of course!”
Many Things was formed from the culmination of each member hailing from different continents, do you feel that the origins of the band have any influence on your sound at all?
“I’m afraid to say that’s not precisely true, I’m from Australia but all the other guys are from England.
I would say though that we might as well be from the four corners of the globe musically ; )
FTB [Frederik] loves music from WW2 and 70’s psyche (to begin with). Recently he showed us the Jewish music of Hungary. It’s really something, he’s got such an encyclopaedic knowledge of music. Check out his other musical incarnations, especially Hunck.
Macks as I mentioned before, Macks’ favourite band is Aerosmith. His second favourite musician is Fred Ventura. If you’ve heard his solo stuff you’ll completely understands how this translates. It’s wild, weird, heartfelt and beautiful. I have never met another person who has such a singular musical taste and it’s something I really admire about him.
Gabi’s favourite song is Sweet Caroline (something she has in common with Tim DeLaughter of the Polyphonic Spree). She may drop some ‘guilty pleasures’, especially during her DJ sets but don’t be fooled: she’s the most accomplished musician in the band and has a fantastic sense for the magic in a song.
It’s really easy to sum up other people’s musical taste but very hard to sum up your own. I grew up on punk, got into hip hop, then indie, then everything. Big influential records on my life have been Dr Dre: 2001, NOFX: Punk in Drublic, The Strokes’ first 3 records, Radiohead: Kid A, Bruce Springsteen: Greatest Hits, Bowie: Ziggy Stardust, Hunky Dory, Low, Lou Reed: Transformer, New York, The Band: Music from Big Pink, LCD Soundsystem: All of it. Currently I’m into Tame Impala, Todd Terje, and Action Bronson.”
I’m always fascinated by song lyrics and phrases, your band are particularly good at writing the perfect lyric. So I wanted to ask, what’s your favourite lyric that you’ve written?
“I don’t want to choose. The lyrics are coming very naturally and it doesn’t really feel like there’s just one that sums everything up. I would say that ‘Paranoid People Meet Me In The Middle’ is up there though. I feel like that’s our theme song.”
What can we expect in terms of material from Many Things this year?
“We are about to put out our first EP ‘What We Are’. It will be up on iTunes on the 22nd of August. It’s SO exciting because it’s the first time we’re putting out a collection of songs and we’ve been releasing each track as soon as it’s mixed. It’s literally music at the point of application and it really feels like the more we work on it, the more we evolve and grow as a band.
Massive thanks must go to our friend and extremely talented producer/engineer/mixer/musician Jeremy Radway who’s been mixing the record FOR FREE in his spare time. It’s really inspiring to have such an incredible guy working with you just for love. We recorded a lot of the EP out in Berlin with Simon Berckelman aka. Berkfinger of ‘Philadelphia Grand Jury’ and ‘Feelings’. He’s got an incredible studio called Golden Retriever and really gave a lot of love and time to the project as well. I should mention that Jeremy’s own record is coming out in October on State 51. Check it out!
After that we’re going to get straight on to making a record. There’s talk of a February release so you’ll definitely be hearing a lot more from us this year.”
Quick Fire Round:
Best piece of advice you’ve been given –
Don’t want what you think will make you happy, want happiness itself. If all you want is to be happy and you don’t really mind how then you’ll be alright.
A guilty pleasure of yours that’s in your record collection –
There’s no such thing!
Songs that make you smile –
Inspector Norse by Todd Terje
Songs that make you cry –
There’s always a moment when you hear the song back and it’s the same as how it went in your head.
Sometimes I get a little teary at these moments.
Favourite tour memory –
Swimming at Brighton Beach the day after we finished the Poly Spree Tour.
First thing you do after you’ve come off stage –
Hug people. Smell bad.
A big thanks to Michael from Many Things for answering our questions, and for more info on Many Things, check out the following links below: