A Guide to Manchester with Man Made in Manchester, England
From slow indie to grungy rock, the songs on Man Made’s debut album (“TV Broke My Brain”) hop around in the spectrum of alternative rock. This 2016 album is tinged with nostalgic ’90s melodies yet the trio from Manchester seems to keep things fresh for the modern age. They call themselves a “guitar band” which makes sense when you know that the lead singer and guitarist, Nile Marr is the son of former The Smiths guitarist, Johnny Marr. In this interview, Nile talks to us about the unique perspective of seeing the world from a tour bus and how they go above and beyond to make sure kids of all ages can enjoy their live shows.
What is the best thing about Manchester? It’s not London! It’s still got so much that makes it a truly international modern city but without the imposing size and pace of the capital. It’s still a northern town and I think that really helps it feel more accessible, plus when you’ve got a city whose currency is music that can only be a good thing. You don’t have to be hip to know who The Buzzcocks are.
What is the worst? You’re so far removed from nature. It really suffered from being the first industrial city. Our skyline is muddled and grey, any possibility of a green or natural space has been taken up by concrete. I live in the city centre and for all it’s fantastic benefits it’s about a 30 to 40 minute walk to find the nearest tree of any discernible size. In the winter, that wears on you. The sky is grey along with all your surroundings and I think as a person who needs trees around it can get quite oppressive.
What is a perfect day in Manchester? We’re a city that was built on clothes so no matter what your style is, everyone’s got a “look”. It’s one of my favorite things about the city and when the sun is out the place turns into a fashion show. The clothes everyone’s waited all year to show off finally come out. We’re a good people watching town.
What’s your favorite way to interact with fans, before, during and after the show? We try and play as many all-ages shows as we can. I don’t think it’s right that someone’s decision to drink should stop someone else from getting to see art. So if we have a show that’s 18+ we usually work out with the venue that kids can come and wait with us backstage, it’s why we don’t have alcohol around so everyone can see what we do.
What has surprised you the most about touring? We travel up and down the country and we get to see a lot of towns and city centres. What’s been surprising to see over the past few years is how widespread this new style of architecture is. We see the same buildings in every town we get to in the U.K. It’s a shame really, that some city centres are losing their uniqueness to corporate architects with one idea.
What’s the hardest thing about being in a band? The long drives. We’re on a small island so we’ve got it pretty easy, that being said there are occasionally some killer ones that stick out. On this most recent tour we woke up in Bristol, drove to play a show in Norwich then drove to Manchester all in the same day. It’s all manageable but when you’re on the motorway, the scenery is the same and the boredom gets you good.
What’s the best thing about being in a band? You’re getting to travel all over the country with your friends, seeing towns you normally wouldn’t get to see. We’ve got friends all over the U.K. and it feels like you never go more than a month without getting to see them. You get to do what you love night after night. That makes it worth it.
“#vanlife” via @manmadeband
What does the band like to do for fun while on the road? We aren’t a band that likes to just stick the Sat Nav on and get to the destination. We like looking for detours and finding stuff you wouldn’t necessarily see from the motorway. We try and find waterfalls or forests to stop and see on the way. Any time spent around nature really refreshes your head after hours in the van. We have this ongoing tally of breaking into Stonehenge. I’ve got no problem with paying donations or having a paid entry museum so you can maintain the site, but we REFUSE to pay to see a national heritage site that belongs to everyone. So every time we’re near we’ll make an attempt. It used to be a lot easier to get to see it but the security has gotten pretty hardcore and heavy-handed so it’s getting tougher. Why allow someone to learn for free when you can get money out of it?…Cameron’s Britain.
If you could tour with any band or artist from any time in history, who would it be? It’d be Fugazi, no question. Night after night we’d get to see the best guitar band there’s ever been. And they were the true kings of DIY. It’d be a trip.
What is the most useful career advice you’ve received? I’m gonna paraphrase here and probably butcher an amazing quote but it’s something like “Music is full of bands who did it themselves…Until they didn’t.” We don’t want to be a band that doesn’t.
Do you have any pre-show rituals? Not really, we’re pretty casual before going on stage, that’s what happens when you’ve been on the road for so long. The show isn’t casual but the pre-show is.
How do you get oriented in a new city? Our friend, who acts as our tour manager, is from the Lake District. He’s also one of those people that’s part man, part map. I think he actually looks at Google Earth beforehand to orientate himself with relation to the sun and hills. So we usually just follow him. The weirdo.
Which bands/artists are you listening to these days? We play a lot of guitar bands in the van. Mostly it’s our American favourites – Fugazi, Modest Mouse, Built To Spill. But we’re still digging on the Kagoule record.