Congratulations on the fantastic new ‘Trial And Triumph’! For the readers that never heard of The Manic Shine before, who are you?
Thank you dude, glad you like it! We are four bearded fellows from London and the Scottish Borders who, try to, play music that we'd listen to. That ballsy heavy alternative rock! Oz sings and plays guitar, Orren pretty much does the same, Hutch pretends to play bass and Tamir hits things really hard until they cry drum sounds out of fear. We've been going since 2012 but when we first started with a different line up (and used to play Bluegrass and country rock!) it was with a different drummer and keyboardist. That was a strange period as Oz used to wear a cowboy hat and everything, but we don't speak of such dark times.
With ‘Trial And Triumph’ you decided that you wanted to do some crowdfunding. As crowdfunding
gets more and more popular, also in the music business, lots of bands are promoting material on the
likes of Kickstarter and PledgeMusic. You chose to team up with the latter of the two to offer special
deals. What expenses do, or did, you hope that the crowdfunding campaign could cover?
Luckily it wasn't the first time we had crowded our album cycle, so in a way we knew exactly what we were getting ourselves into. The 'Trial & Triumph' campaign has allowed us to cover 90% of the expenses for the band this year (which is amazing!), including all recording, production and more. We think it's a fantastic way for bands to get to know who their real fans are and probably the best way bands at our level can fund their new musical adventures without a label. PledgeMusic were a stellar group of folk to work with, not least because the infrastructure for the pledge and campaign is brilliant, but also because their help goes beyond simply managing the campaign. Mike Hemsley at PM is a total dude, legend and all round good guy to have on your side, so we'd highly recommend the crowd-funding route to everyone. And we're not alone in its support as we know many labels have opted to do pre-order campaigns like ours to take advantage of their great service.
There’s some sort of fame needed to have a successful crowdfunding campaign. People need to know that you are there and that you are doing this to fund something cool. When did you think you were ready to plunge yourself into the world of crowdfunding?
I guess that's true. Perhaps not so much fame but “presence”? Bottom line is, if you're not out there gigging and showing people what you do and what they could be getting involved in, then no one will know and have reason to support you. We toured this record twice this year to get fans involved, and we'll tour it again next year in the spring. The most important thing is give fans a reason to keep coming back for a stellar live show, brilliant songs, great stagecraft etc. and perhaps even more importantly, go out and meet people at shows and connect. Then you really find out who you're real fans are. When you find them you need to cherish that relationship because it's what keeps bands alive. In an age where money is so thin on the ground, that's one of the only ways we can keep doing what we do - staying connected person to person. I think music lovers are beginning to understand this too - if you want your favorite band to stick around, get involved!
Talking about special deals! Off course there are the signed t-shirts, drum sticks, home concerts, all kinds of music lessons, but what’s up with the cooking lessons? Who came up with that idea and why did you ever think of this idea as a good one?
Haha! it's proved quite a popular choice actually! Our drummer Tamir is an avid chef and food enthusiast. There is no telling what he'll create next, but you can be sure he's a dab hand in the kitchen. Crowd funding is a great opportunity to create access to parts of the band people wouldn't know was there, it's another way of making a personal connection with people that live your music. And if they can fill their bellies along the way: BI-WINNING!
Personally I always hate it when a good album is on the short side. In some genres albums seem to get shorter and shorter. Could you explain why ‘Trial And Triumph’ only holds nine tracks, of which one, ‘Binary’ is a bonus track?
I know what you mean. You kind of want to feel "full" after a good album. Our goal on this record was simple: all killer, no filler. Even if that meant cutting on quantity. It was a difficult but deliberate choice. We wrote over 40 songs before recording, which, for us, is a lot. Then we sat down with our producer Lee Batiuk and went through the material and decided if we came away with 9 songs that were all "belters" then that was better than 12 songs with 3 that weren't. This was a real lesson in self-restraint, as normally we'd get to be a bit more self-indulgent and stick stuff on the album because we felt like it. We didn't allow ourselves this option this time round. We were determined to streamline the sound and songs and make the biggest possible impact we could. Because we had to. There was more at stake this time round, we had to prove we had a reason to be here, to stake a claim.
Most albums hold elements of other bands. Influences that individual band members and the bands themselves think amazing. When I listened to the record I felt there were some little elements of tracks that reminded me of more modern bands and some of the classics. Who would you name your biggest influences?
Well you'd be absolutely right there. We pool together a large resource of influences between the four of us, spanning jazz, classic rock, blues, rock, metal, progressive rock, you name it! But whatever influences we decide to take forward into a song, we feed through a filter of shared inspiration from bands like Tool, A Perfect Circle, Rage Against The Machine, System Of A Down, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple. These are the sorts of bands that we take a lot of sonic identity from and often refer back to as a base point to launch new sounds from. The funny thing is, we're all big fans of the instruments we play and as a result also listen to a lot of instrumental artists solely based on their playing; case in point is Robben Ford whom I'm (Oz) a big fan of. He's hugely influenced my playing as a guitarist, as much as Jimmy Page has as a song writer and James Maynard Keenan has as a vocalist and lyricist.
You have been doing quite a lot of shows on the British isle now. How important is it for a band like yours that small clubs and bars around the neighborhood keep programming young and upcoming bands? And what would have happened with The Manic Shine if you wouldn’t have had the chance to tour small clubs?
Well, not a lot! We were largely ignored by the bigger venues when we first started, so all we had were the small clubs and bars. If they’d stop going, I have no idea where new music will be put through its paces and new bands will cut their teeth. What people sometimes don't realize is that new bands don't get developed in some factory or shed somewhere, and then pop up out of the ground when they're ready to sell their debut album by the millions on Island Records... It's an illusion. Any band that reaches that stage didn't form last month, they've been slogging at it for years, having probably had a dirty history of grimey clubs, name changes, throwing up in shithole toilets and getting paid peanuts to lug 50K worth of equipment up and down the country. It's not a pretty life, but all great things begin somewhere and start small. It's precisely this toilet circuit that needs support from music fans and lovers first but also the government and legislation. I will offer this caveat though; it takes two to tango and if your band is thinking of going out on the road or gigging at your nearest club, have you asked yourself the question: have we practiced enough? Are the songs the best they can be? Is our sound great? Do we all sing in tune? Music fans need to be rewarded for their efforts and money, so we have to give them the best possible show we can muster.
If you may dream big, you go on touring Britain, at some point the European mainland, maybe even America. Where do you hope that The Manic Shine will take you? And how many people do you, eventually, want to hear you singing your name?
To answer both of those questions, the whole world. The sky is the limit. If you'll have us, we're coming for ya!
You thoroughly tour the English countryside and the British side of the channel. Are there plans to tour the European mainland and if you would, is there a chance the Dutch fans can see you in The Netherlands?
There absolutely is. We are planning to come over and do a proper European tour in 2016, if it all works out. It's about time we got to see what all the fuss is about! Keep an eye out on our Facebook page and socials, all the new dates will go on there first.
Well, that's about it for this time. If I forgot some important feature of what's going on within the band, please feel free to add it here.
Though our Pledge Campaign has just closed, our new album 'Trial and Triumph' is still available for pre-order on iTunes and all good stores, with its release on the thirteenth of November, so get involved! Enjoy and hopefully we’ll see you on the road soon!