Having taken a well-deserved break from Manchester Orchestra following a relentless touring cycle in support of the band’s last release (2011’s Simple Math), the band have divided up their spare time between Bad Books (an indie-rock super group with Kevin Devine) and building an in-house studio where they wrote and recorded their latest album, Cope, which is due for release 31st March.
Frontman Andy Hull was kind enough to take some time out of a busy Valentines Day to speak to us about the writing process for Cope, as well as upcoming collaborations with Frightened Rabbit and The Front Bottoms before heading to see Robocop with his wife.
After experimenting with so much additional instrumentation on Simple Math, what made you want to go back to a more guitar-driven sound with this record?
I wanted something that was a reaction to Simple Math. I think everything you do is a sort of reaction, so, to me, it didn’t make any sense to me to try and do something grand with a string section. Instead, I wanted to do something grand with the very basic elements of rock instrumentation, and wanted something very immediate and very to the point but with layers. We tried to make something that was complex but simple.
I’ve noticed a lot of themes surrounding Cope, what sort of mentality did you have writing this record?
I want to know what themes you’ve heard, that’s cool.
Codependency was one of them for sure!
Cool, I love it!
The lyrics for me were far more self-help than self-loathing, they were more about trying to get through the bullshit and kind of continue on, and I think that’s something in life that everybody does in different ways. You cope in different ways and sometimes, there are good ways and bad ways. I felt like, when I was trying to come up with a title for the record, I’d asked people what they thought of the word ‘cope’ and every single person I asked would have a different meaning. I liked that idea in the lyrics, that people could interpret them in different ways from each other, whereas Simple Math was a very wordy album and it was telling a story, there was just a lot of lyrics and a lot of information.
Last year, you released a collaboration with Scott Hutchinson from Frightened Rabbit, Scott has said he’d love to do more. Would you consider doing a Bad Books-esque record with him?
Yeah, we just send back ideas and stuff. Right when we were talking, they were about to go out on their big campaign for their last record and we were just writing ours. So, I imagine when the smoke settles on both of our records and we both have some free time, we’ll probably be able to do it. But it’s funny man, it was just one of those strange things, we both liked each others music and never met and it ended up as something I’m really proud of.
A split single with The Front Bottoms has been hinted at, is that still something you’re still looking at putting out?
Yeah, we definitely have an idea to do a lot of split 7″ with a lot of different bands. Like the Frightened Rabbit one, we did one with Grouplove and Thrice. We want to continue to do that with outside of the box bands, not that The Front Bottoms are outside of the box but we’re not exactly the same genre. We basically just have to figure out what it is, we thought about doing it for our tour together, but we didn’t want to put out something that was not excellent, so we’re going to spend a lot more time on it.
Following the release of the final Right Away, Great Captain! record, do you consider the project put to rest entirely?
Good question. No, in a weird way.
But yes, I believe that story is over but I’ve been struck with this inspiration of where to go that I wasn’t looking for, which is always how ideas for topics of lyrics, the story and album titles come about. There’s this really cool word and place that I’d never heard of before, I’ve done all this research on it and it’s blown my mind so there’s certainly a spin off.
Would you release this under the same moniker?
Yeah, it would just have a lot to do with the afterlife and some sort of mysticism and stuff. It would be about the same base of characters, but sort of from another realm of reality.
That sounds incredible, I’m really looking forward to hearing it!
Well I’ve got half a song written so I’ll let you know when I get more done. It’s more to do with finding the idea and having something to base it off of. With the first three, I had this grand story, so I’m trying to chisel up a way of what that story is going to be.
It was scrapped to begin with but would you ever consider a physical release of Nobody Sings Anymore?
Yeah absolutely, we almost did it last year but we just had so much stuff going on with Bad Books and we were just starting to write Cope. We have all the stuff ready to do it, it’s going to be on a really cool vinyl, we’re going to do a really big release though eventually. We’ll definitely officially put it out, why not?
Nice! It is the tenth anniversary next year.
Is it really?!
That’s true, wow. I’ve never thought about that!
And then we’re only two years from the I’m Like A Virgin anniversary.
Yeah, I knew that was coming up. I guess because Nobody Sings Anymore didn’t really get released, I never really thought about its anniversary. I just think it’s funny, thanks for reminding me about that, maybe we’ll do it next year then!