Manchester Orchestra

“I think it was really trying to find the purpose and reasoning for why we were making the record…and that got difficult.”

Since their inception in 2004, indie-rock outfit Manchester Orchestra have gone from strength to strength, and after 13 years of making music they continue to grow with each release. Their latest album, A Black Mile To The Surface – released earlier this year – is a shining example of their continual evolution.  

Frontman Andy Hull attributes this to both natural progression and the band’s determination to never repeat themselves. “If we ever considered releasing something that we didn’t, at least, consider amazing, I don’t think there’s a purpose in doing it anymore,” says Hull. “It’d be like a director making a movie he doesn’t really want to make or an author writing a book they didn’t really want to write, and you can always tell when that happens. I’m really proud of everything we’ve done so I don’t have any interest in having a mentality while making the records that’s not aiming for something great or better than what we’ve done before.”

A Black Mile To The Surface is Manchester Orchestra’s first release in three years and served as a frustrating yet ultimately rewarding challenge for the band as they strove to push themselves creatively. “I think it was really trying to find the purpose and reasoning for why we were making the record and then ultimately wanting to make sure we weren’t ever retracing steps that we’d done before and that got difficult, just to stay committed to trying to find a different sound that we hadn’t found.”

Despite his successful music career, Hull is a family man at heart, speaking from his home after brushing his daughter’s teeth and putting her to bed. It was this element of his life which served as a muse for A Black Mile To The Surface.

“I think family and the circle of life would be the thing that was probably the biggest inspiration [for the record],” he says. “Sort of realising through having my own child and the weight that that added to my life…just how generations affect each other and impact each other – that was a really big inspiration to me.

“I’ve never really subscribed to the rock star lifestyle, even when I didn’t have a family. It was really more about the work and staying focused to try to make really cool records that are inspiring to us, but certainly there are moments where it’s not a normal life to live and the schedules are weird but I’m just trying my best to embrace it and merge all of it together.”

Another change in perception came through Hull and Manchester Orchestra guitarist Robert McDowell’s work on the film Swiss Army Man last year, in which the pair undertook the task of creating a solely acapella soundtrack to accompany the film.

“That was even more annoying than making our album,” he laughs. “It was 13 months of banging our heads against the wall, but I’m really proud of what we came up with. It was basically just trying to write full band, emotional music without using any instruments other than my voice, so it was sort of maddening but ultimately it taught us more than we’ll ever know and it certainly influenced how the Manchester record played out.”

Manchester Orchestra are set to tour Australia in February next year, something they’re very excited for. Hull confesses the band have a special place in their hearts for their Australian fans.

“We really started going there in 2007, 2008 and 2009, it just felt like your country took us in and cared about what we were doing, which was really surprising to us, so we try and make it a point to get back there because we have a really great fan base there,” he says. “We’ve never been to Perth, so I’m excited to meet some of our fans who have been yelling at me for ten years on the internet about getting there.”

Manchester Orchestra will perform at 170 Russell on Friday February 2. A Black Mile To The Surface is out now via Caroline.