In the past year, Man Made have supported the likes of Superfood and Honeyblood, performed at Reading & Leeds festival, headed out on an 18-date UK headline tour, played the NME ‘New Breed’ tour and won the favour of many supporters in doing so. Continuing their sonic onslaught of 90s guitars and viscously catchy ear-worm like choruses, Man Made released new single ‘You Never Know How It Feels’ which sets to soundtrack the summer months.
I caught up with frontman and singer, Nile Marr to discuss image, early gig memories, house parties and much more.
In the last couple of years, there seems to have been a resurgence growing for 90s alternative rock. What do you think it is about that era and that sound, why we just can’t seem to let it go and how it’s just as relevant now as it was back then?
I’m not sure it’s necessarily something that’s been limited to the last few years. I think especially for English people there’s a lot to get nostalgic over and it’s easy to get a rosy tinted view of the whole period. It’s so culturally alien to the current British experience. When you’re faced with an ever more sterilised and corporate reality, what came out of alternative America in the 90’s is just so exciting and with hindsight it appears to be so fully formed. I think alternative English culture has always looked to America as this gold mine of inspiration, and rightfully so, but it goes both ways. My musical hero’s all seem to come out of what birthed the 90’s American scene, bands like fugazi, and built to spill. But just take one look at Guy Picciotto and it’s really obvious he’s super into the good bits of English culture.
Nile’s gold, glittery jacket seems to have captured everyone’s attention. How important do you feel a bands image and the way that they present themselves to the world is?
I think ‘the look’ it’s just an extension of the bands art, and it’s really powerful. But it shouldn’t be something contrived or premeditated. People can see right through that shit, just like if a band are on stage and are just going through the motions, it’s really obvious when something is fake. All the best bands have an almost cartoon like quality with how they look. With everything you put out there as a band, it’s all art and you make it and say it because you believe in it. You’ve got to stand by your art.
So we’ve heard some great singles from Man Made so far, but what’s the release plan going forward – EP, album?
Our record store EP sold out, so I think right now our plan is to get that back out there while we’re touring. There’ll be more singles then the full record end of the year. We’ve got a lot of songs, so there’s a lot that can be released.
Musicians are often influenced by their surroundings, has growing up in Manchester had a big impact on you as a band?
The weather can’t be underestimated as an influence on art and the type of music people make. I come from a very wet part of the world, so the culture is very indoor. It’s not California, We can’t go out and skate every day, it’s Manchester and it’s wet, so you want to be indoors. And I think that makes us as artists productive. We write and practice all the time because, what else would we be doing? I feel like it makes sense that the music we make comes from Manchester.
You have a very busy summer filled with gigs and festivals. Do you live for playing live – is that the most enjoyable part of being a musician?
Making records and touring are two totally different disciplines. In recording, you’re like any other artist trying to create something tangible and that mindset is shared. But live you’re a performer first and there’s value to that. I personally think records should just be there to back up what a band does live, not the other way around. And we like to keep it that way. We’ve no interest in playing on a stage to an audience that we simply see as heads and bodies. We like sharing an experience for a moment together. And we really like when us and the audience are on the same page like that. It all makes for a more organic and memorable experience, not just for someone in watching us but for us too.
What was the first gig that you personally went to yourself as a punter? Do you think your first live gig experience had any influence on who you are today – did it spur you on to start your own band?
I can’t really remember my first gig, it was probably one of my dads when I was pretty young. During the sponge years when you’re young but getting savvy, we moved to Portland Oregon, and as a kid I was suddenly exposed to all these bands that didn’t sound like anything I’d ever heard in England. I grew up around Modest Mouse, and everything I learned from that period has stuck with me. I always knew I’d be in a band, but I learned so much about what kind of person I wanted to be, how I was going to live and what kind of music I was going to make. At that age it all sticks with you.
The legendary Gil Norton took on the mixing duties for your latest single ‘You Never Know How it Feels’. How did that all come about?
Gil is a good dude, everyone in the band obviously loved what he did with the Pixies, so getting to work with him was cool. I can’t exactly remember how it came about. Gil’s a guy who stays pretty plugged in to what’s going on. He’s a real music fan.
I’d imagine you’ve seen some pretty unforgettable crowds in your time as a band, is there one gig or one crowd in particular that has really stood out to you?
Our house party shows are always interesting, we don’t know the people we’re gonna be around or what’s going to happen. We never do and that keeps it exciting. But we set up to play in this kitchen, and everyone at the party had taken MDMA at the same time. We were sparkly and covered in glitter and mid way through the set everyone just started having the best time ever. That was a trip.
We’re experiencing a great time for Manchester’s music scene right now, are there any local bands that have caught your eye recently that you’d like to big up now?
I’m not sure I’d agree with you, from what we’ve seen Manchester has been in a real dip. That’s no fault of the bands, the talent is still out there I’m sure, but I think we really lost a sense of community. A lot of promotors and venues got lazy, the city just traded off a name and the infrastructure was already there so they didn’t have to strive to do something that wasn’t for quick personal gain. It really hurt the scene and art community as a whole. But we’re starting to see it come back a little. We’ve been involved with some really great artists who’re trying to get things going again. This kid Jacob Phillips is making some really great work right now. That’s pretty exciting to be around.
The last year has been good for Man Made with countless ‘pinch me’ moments happening. Have you felt a change happening and more people picking up on what you do?
I’d like to think so. We’ve definitely seen it more at shows, people are singing along with the songs we’ve put out there. And that’s always a trip. We get such a lot of support from everyone online who can’t see us perform, which is really cool, so we’re trying to repay them by getting ourselves out there more. If there are people who want to see and hear us, we want to be doing everything we can to bring it to them.
Festival season is in full swing now, and you’re always playing at them these days. But before Man Made were you festival-goers?
Yeah, we’ve all done the rounds. The other guys more so than me. I’ve been on the road with bands so long I’ve mostly done festivals from the other side. Our bass player Callum digs working at Glastonbury, he was pretty pissed when we booked our homecoming party show on the same weekend.
What’s the dream for the band – where do you hope Man Made will take you down the line?
We just want to be on the road as much as we can. I just hope it’ll take us more miles in more places.