Some bands shed sounds like snakes shed skins. (And we promise that's the lamest music analogy we're going to make today. We apologize) Manchester Orchestra is that kind of sound snake. (Oh, god, we apologize for that, too.) Their newest, Cope, is a hard-driving alt rock record — nothing like the orchestral bend of third record Simple Math — that the band recorded in a house they fitted as a studio themselves. They're in the midst of producing an alternate version of their latest release call Hope. I spoke with keyboardist Chris Freeman about that and more, before the band's Indy date this week.
NUVO: I just read about the alternate version of Cope called Hope. Tell me about that.
Chris Freeman: Well, we just decided we want to do an alternate thing. we’re not fully announcing it yet, we’re just talking about it here and there. We just felt like we could take that record another direction if we wanted to and we have the opportunity to do it. We’d thought it would be really cool and fun to look at that record in a different light. So we just sort of, you know, took our time and went back and re-visited those songs and tried to figure out how we could re-work them in order to make them sort of pretty and maybe a little bit softer for the people who didn’t get the softness on this record.
NUVO:So this isn’t, by any means, an acoustic complete strip down of these tracks?
Freeman: No, it’s a re-imagination of the songs.
NUVO: The info I got about this came from a podcast where Andy said that you guys would be touring through old churches and I immediately thought — does that mean that you get to play some of those gorgeous old church pianos and organs?
Freeman: Well I hope so. [We're] looking at all those different little places that are maybe a little less conventional, you know, performance spaces. It’s been interesting and we’re excited about what rooms we can get into and what that’s going to look like.
NUVO: So it’s your tenth year as a band correct?
NUVO: When you think back on ten years of the band, what comes to mind first?
Freeman: That we were really young when we started. We’ve been doing it for a long time and it still feels pretty good so, I’m happy.
NUVO: I read somewhere that you recorded Cope in a house that you converted yourself into a studio? Tell me about that.
Freeman: We had this house that Andy’s parents had owned and we all lived in periodically over the last ten year. I think it’s everybody’s dream and every band's dream to build your own studio and make a record in a home. I think I remember seeing Red Hot Chili Peppers do that on TV when I was a kid and I was like, that’s so cool. So we had the opportunity to do it and so we took advantage of it. We got dropped by our label, we had some money, so we bought the parts we needed to build the studio. And we were sick of our space we were in at the time so it was opportunity with timing. It just felt like [it had] the right mood to it and it just made us very proud — even more proud — of this record because we were able to build it in a comfortable space and make the record and feel like everything was ours.
NUVO: You have vinyl re-pressings of the last three albums now.
Freeman: Well, we definitely like vinyl and we have the ability to repress those records and we wanted to do something cool. We know color vinyl is always a commodity, and it’s nice to have as a collector's edition thing. We like that the idea of being able to have something new and interesting. Not everybody is going to be able to have something new and interesting ... but those that do are very proud of it and excited to have a white vinyl, or yellow or blue.
NUVO: You had a track on the soundtrack to the Dallas Buyers Club, How was it watching McConaughey and Leto accept Oscars for the movie that your music was in?
Freeman: We heard all the buzz about that movie when it was first coming out, and everybody sort of knew it was an Oscar contender. We see a lot of movies, and we had seen all the movies that were being nominated that year so we kind of had a feeling that Dallas Buyers Club should definitely win or at least Jared Leto because he murdered that role. It was cool, it felt really good. They deserved that because it seemed like everybody on that project was very invested in it, and telling the story the correct way and getting across something that I guess that could be controversial or not really talked about. You know the whole prescription drugs, and AIDS, and the '90s or '80s and all that stuff. It was interesting and I was very proud that our name was associated with such a well-renowned movie and a great story.
NUVO: What do you want to say about this record if there is something that you feel isn’t being talked about?
Freeman: I feel like because it’s a guitar-heavy record, maybe some of the lyrical content is overlooked or not talked about much. There’s some really deeply woven lyrical content in there and I think that should be noticed and thought about when talking about our record. [It] really represents where our band at this time in our lives and what we’re trying to do musically, and I think if you look at it lyrically it is also a big contender for some meaningful and touching sentiments.