Manchild - 3rd November 2000

Interview

published: Fri 3rd Nov 2000

I chatted with Brett Parker & Max Odell on the 'net, after Manchild had spent the summer bouncing from one festival to the next, had released their first album, and were still hard at it. They'd played at their album launch party in Cardiff on the Saturday and had then headed south to play at Guildford University on Sunday. I wanted to find out how the festivals were for them, and discuss the album... but first off, how did the weekend go?

The Weekend Launch Party
Although not born and bred there, Manchild have based themselves in Cardiff, where they held the launch party for their first album, Untied States, on Saturday 16 September 2000. When contacted the week before, there was some doubt as to whether they could get to Guildford on the Sunday as the 'fuel crisis' was on.

How did your weekend go?
Max/Brett

Excellently!

Oh come on ... is that all you can remember - still hung over eh?
Max/Brett
We sold out the venue we played at in Cardiff by 10.30 pm & 40 or 50 people had to be turned away. Sorry Manchild fans! But, it was a great gig!
So were they all hardened fans at the gig?
Max/Brett
Oh yeah, the band were thrilled, we had fans coming over from Ireland, Australia & Manchester, as it was something of a hometown gig come launch party.
What about Japan, I hear you're popular there?
Max/Brett
We are building a fanbase all around the world at the moment with our incendiary live shows ;). We have done a fair few TV/radio/press interviews in Japan & we are aching to play over there.
I heard you were going to release the album over there first - did you and how has it gone?
Max/Brett
It comes out this week (18 Sept). You know how record companies work!!! Initial reactions are awesome tho!
What about Guildford, did you get there?
Max/Brett
The decision to play could only be taken at the last possible minute. Our driver & tour manager had to bravely trek around all of Wales filling up £2.50 a time!!!
So you made it - those students would have missed something if you hadn't - did you think they were into it?
Max/Brett
No doubt. We rocked the place. It was a bit weird tho coming from playing to 400 100% Manchild fans the night before & then playing in front of Fresher Students/Manchild Virgins. We left no cherries untaken, to their great pleasure!
Wow. We expect to hear the patter of tiny Manchild feet in Guildford soon :)
Max/Brett
We should stress to our girlfriends that that answer was more metaphorical than anything else.

The Album - UNTIED STATES
Manchilds first album - UNTIED STATES - was released on 18 September 2000 and features tracks with Kelly Jones, Andy Cairns, Sadat X and Motion Man.

I've been listening to the album this weekend. Tell me about it.
Max/Brett
We are 100% satisfied with it. A great testament to 18 months work.
Which are your favourite tracks?
Max/Brett
Each month it changes but, quite sadly, our opinions are the same. 'Somethin' In My System', 'The Backdoor Payoff', 'Rehab' & 'Rockin The Place'. All for different reasons...
I'm the same- yesterday I listened to 'The Clichés Are True' and Somethin In My System' over and over, and this morning I loved 'We Share The Same Kool' and 'New London' - the album is great like that because it does have a lot of different moods.
Max/Brett
Kool, I am glad that you have realised the point of what we were trying to do with the album as a whole. We never like a piece of work that only goes in one narrow direction!
So did you have to compromise at all with the tracks or is it just how YOU wanted it?
Max/Brett
We wanted to bring both light and shade to the album with a great depth that takes you somewhere. The whole album should pick you up from one point and drop you off at another.
That would be useful in any future fuel crisis :)
Max/Brett
Fortunately as we signed to an indie we were allowed to get on with whatever we liked with very few constraints! Something we really appreciated because it allows you to be truly creative!
What happened with track 11? - 1 min - are you planning to expand on this later or was there just not enough room on the vinyl?
Max/Brett
You mean 'Wide Receiver'. That was initially only made as a mood piece to help blend the album, but it has been getting quite alot of praise so perhaps we might extend it and introduce it to our live set.
I understand you've still got a few more tracks in the pipeline?
Max/Brett
Most definitely! Because this album has been so long in the waiting, we are now actually recording album 2, with a view to release by the middle of next year with a single or two preceding it.
Good to hear. Can you tell me about your musical (or otherwise!) influences?
Max/Brett
Certainly. We'll just list a few - for the rest check out the album inner sleeve.
Max
Mine range from Old skool hip hop :Eric B & Rakim, Ultramagnetic MCs, Public Enemy etc & acid house Humanoid, S-Express, Rhythm King records, detroit techno (anything from 1988 actually...a vintage/revolutionary year!).
But my favourite act ever is Mark Hollis/Talk Talk. Their last two albums Spirit of Eden & Laughing Stock I believe are the two best albums that will ever be made. Even though it's almost classical, its ethic was the same as dance music culture & punk.
Brett
Although Max and I share a similar general appreciation of musical styles, I go down the jazz fusion route with artists such as Eddie Henderson, Ronnie Laws. However, I am equally at home with punks such as The Dead Kennedys etc.
Were you not free party types and how old are you anyway?
Max/Brett
Oh yeah, we still are free party types, I think that comes through in the music. Its just we like a lot of stuff. But we were there at the beginning of Rave & even sneaked into a few acid house field parties!!! We are a very youthful looking 25 & 24.

The Festivals
Although Max and Brett are the brains of the outfit, Manchild are a seven piece live band consisting Max Odell and Brett Parker with Colin Cowlan-drummer, Dan Pye-guitar, Jason Farrell-decks, Kwam Chang-onstage momentum, Nathan Evans-MC/vocals and Richard Adlam-drums. Manchild certainly put themselves about this summer playing their high energy sets at most of the big festivals in the UK - Homelands England, Glastonbury, T in the Park, Essential, V2000, Reading and Leeds plus others abroad.

Which of the festivals did you enjoy the most of this years bunch?
Max/Brett
The festivals were a total blast! The best were, in order:
  1: Reading Festival.
  2: Doctor Music Festival, Spain.
  3: Glastonbury.
All for varying reasons, but we don't feel there was a single one we didn't rock to its core!
You were surprise headliners at the Doctor Music Festival in Spain - that must have been special?
Max/Brett
Dr Music was amazing. We replaced Les Rythmes Digitales as headliners on the second stage on Saturday. We headlined in front of 11,000 crazed, totally up for it Spaniards. Sheer Bliss. We went on after Weller & The Bloodhound Gang. Crazy stuff!
What a blast - right place, right time and right band. But you put Reading over that?
Max/Brett
We all enjoyed Reading, it was a gig the whole band have always wanted to play, and to get to play on the Rawk day with Slipknot & RATM was wicked. Actually Slipknot watched us from stage side both days!
I saw you at Essential and V2000 and thought you went down very well at V - it was your second time there wasn't it?
Max/Brett
Certainly. I think it showed. At V99 we thought we were good. At V2000 we knew we were f***ing amazing!!!
The whole band certainly put alot of energy into the live shows, but none works harder than Kwam Chang, credited with onstage momentum, who throws himself around the stage, climbs up and hangs from the rigging and hurls himself into the moosh pit in order to excite the crowd.
Have any of you had any injuries at festivals? - I'm thinking of Kwam - he seemed to limp off stage at Essential at one point. Is he insured? :)
Max/Brett
Ermmm, he injures his shoulders at pretty much every single gig. Its all part of the Manchild Cause. Every one in the band would do ANYTHING for the band. It's a very strong team spirit & we hope that it shows through. Yes we are all insured!!!
Strong band spirit and strong relationship with crowd are very important. As the great Rolf H said you must make eye contact and involve the crowd - good advice don't you agree?
Max/Brett
You really can't fault Rolf's advice here. The man IS a genius, TV presenter, musician, artist extraordinnaire. What he could have given to the rennaisance period, who knows? We certainly don't!
I hear the band likes to play football backstage before a set - do you get other bands involved and are you going to get a team ready for Creamfields next year? - they have a tournament.
Max/Brett
We are both keen footballers, we both used to play for Bucks County & the South of England teams. Who knows what would have happened if we had kept it up. We played with Moloko backstage at V2000 Chelmsford. We would love to put a team in at Creamfields.
I reckon you'd go down a storm at Creamfields - have there been any plans made for next years festivals? - come on, give us the inside info
Max/Brett
Well, we think the general aim is for us to release a new single for February, continue the upwards rise in profile & sales & hopefully play all the festivals again at about a 5/6 pm time. We should be playing them all again though.
We'll be looking out for you.

Brett and Max recorded a DJ mix for Annie Nightingale earlier in the year

Do you get out and watch other bands at festivals? I heard you saw the Chemical Brothers at Glastonbury, also you listed 3 of their tunes on that Annie playlist and your own 'Bring the Tune Down' has a Chems feel - I take it you are fans?
Max/Brett

Possibly! Obviously we go for a totally different vibe live, but they are certainly an influence. Technically, we find them the most stimulating contemporary dance act. Although Timo Mass is catching up quite fast.

'Bring The Tune Down' certainly is a track that was borne from our respect for them. However, the rest of the album (Somethin' In My System, New London etc) are totally distinct from them & influenced by a far more diverse set of influences.

The Chemical Brothers were magnificent at Glastonbury, but we firmly believe when we headline it in 2 years time, we will be far, far better. There is an audience interaction we have that the Chems will never be able to achieve.

Do you mind being compared to other bands and music?
Max/Brett
We understand comparisons with other bands, it's the most natural & easy thing to do.
Has the Annie Nightingale mix been played yet?
Max/Brett
It went out in May, possibly. We've also done mix sets on XFM & one in Scotland recently. Its something we'd like to take on the road while writing.
If we press up acetates of works in progress it will give us the chance to test out material and see how audiences react, before committing them to record. To create the perfect party anthem!!!
Have you heard any mixes of your stuff by other people that you have particularly liked?
Max/Brett
Meat Katie mixes of Rehab were wicked.
Which leads us on to: where do you stand on "free" music on the Internet (MP3's, Napster etc)? - is it a threat?
Max/Brett
The Napster question deserves a long answer but we are running short of time. We agree with it fundamentally in principle. We were flattered when our tracks appeared and we think short term, it's just a great advert for music. In the long run?
I think that's right, no-one knows where it will lead us - lets just enjoy the ride ;) OK last couple of questions...
After a LOOONGGG hard year, I suspect you've got some holidays planned - where? and do you go together?
Max/Brett
We don't holiday together anymore, we used to, but it's good to take a break.
Max
My girlfriend works for First Choice holidays so I'm looking at a cheapie to the Carribean in January.
Brett
New York, New York, so good they named it twice!
Enjoy yourselves and thanks very much for your time. See you next year!
Max/Brett
Thanks tremendously for this, we have really enjoyed it. Both our first ever chatroom experience. We will nick this idea & put it on our website!

Thanks to Max & Brett for their time.


interview by: Skye Hi



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