Andy Prince (Manchester Orchestra): 5 Albums That Changed My Life
With the release of their fifth studio album, A Black Mile to the Surface, Atlanta’s Manchester Orchestra have begun to crystallize their sound with cues taken from each of their albums.
Their debut LP, 2006′s I’m Like a Virgin Losing a Child, stands as a monument to intimate squalor. It’s a call to action, a grasp at maintaining agency in the face of an ambiguous fate. Their 2009 release, Mean Everything to Nothing, hones in on this lyrical and musical style with a heavier emphasis on dueling dynamics. This record exemplified the group’s ability to take a lively melody base and juxtapose it against attacking guitar and percussion.
Their two most recent records, Simple Math and Cope, are blistering nosedives into confessional, vulnerable anecdotes coupled with vigorous vocals. Both records contain an element of darkness necessary for the duality managed throughout A Black Mile to the Surface.
Bassist Andy Prince took the time to speak to TIDAL about five records from his past that have profoundly impacted his approach to his musicianship, as well as the band’s newest record.
Nada Surf, Let Go
I was probably sixteen years old when I heard this record first. I had a friend I skateboarded with and he used to burn CDs all the time. He gave me the album and just wrote ‘Nada Surf’ on it in magic marker. I actually thought that was a pretty bad band name at the time. I didn’t know what to think of it, but it ended up being one of my favorite albums of all time.
It was really happy when it needed to be, but there were songs like ‘Blonde on Blonde’ on it that I think welled up a lot of teenage heartache for me. It’s a heavy album that I can still enjoy. They still have this consistent sound and I don’t think they need to change that. If you put on a Nada Surf song, you know it is Nada Surf. That opening track, ‘Blizzard of ’77,’ was something I never really heard before. Everything about it was incredible, like Matthew Caws’ voice. It’s one of those serious milestone albums for me.
Villagers, Becoming a Jackal
My brother Matt went to a show about seven years ago and saw Villagers open up for someone. He bought the record there, brought it home and said, ‘You have to hear this.’ As soon as the first song ['I Saw the Dead'] came on, I felt scared and no song has ever really made me feel that before. It sounds so serious and real. There is nothing contrived about the album. I was always trying to show it to my musician friends. Sonically, I still think it is perfectly recorded. I wanted to help bring that record to life, cramming it down to my friends’ throats.
My small circle of friends all remember the time that we first heard the album and we all share that. That’s what you want from an album and it’s nice to get excited about someone else’s album. It’s the whole album and it hasn’t happened a lot for me in the past. I think the singer, Conor O’Brien, is really talented when it comes to imagery. Everything he wrote invaded my imagination. Some of the scenes are really pretty and some are straight-up morbid and terrifying. Either way, it was able to create these images and little videos in my head with each song. I see that every time I listen to it.
Radiohead, OK Computer
Of course, this is every musician’s bible. A lot of my friends and fellow musicians worship this album, like I do. It sets the example for the type of albums that we try to make as musicians, or bands. In my opinion, it’s perfect all the way through and track to track. I’m a bass player, so I may be a bit biased toward Colin Greenwood’s parts.
The opening track, ‘Airbag,’ blew me away. Colin’s parts were so different. It was so minimal, smart and jabby. The way he used his effects and the way he waited until halfway through the song to blast it really makes it a huge epic track. I love the way he worked and I try to consider his approach and how it relates to the kind of music I am creating. It certainly affects the way I write my basslines. I unashamedly let his work influence me, so thanks, Colin.
When you are younger, you try to play every type of lick you can to show everyone how wonderful at bass you are, and you aren’t thinking about the song. It taught me how to take a step back and become a lot more minimal before I over-aggressively play.
Twothirtyeight, Regulate the Chemicals
This is a hometown hero band from Pensacola, Florida. They lived there when I was really young. I was listening to this album and another album of theirs called You Should Be Living at the same time. One of my best friends’, Simon’s, brother played on the album and all these young indie bands were raving about them. They knew their sound and they were not trying to be anything else. It’s maybe like Pedro the Lion, if I could compare it. It’s really slow, double-guitar heavy parts that are very melodic paired with very good lyrics.
Chris Staples was the singer and he is still making incredible music. I was eventually able to become friends with him and this was way after the Twothirtyeight days. He had been around forever and I was always kind of nervous to talk to him. I played this house show and he was there. We started talking and I actually played on his record, American Soft. We are buds, but I still fan out on him without him knowing. He is making the best music of his life right now. It’s impressive because it’s still such a long lineage of music.
At the time, everyone was so pumped on this band. We would scream the lyrics with these heavy drums parts and we were such nerds. Obviously, nothing I’d want Chris to know, but I feel he may find out now.
David Bowie, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spider of Mars
I was lucky enough to have parents that loved a lot of good ’60s and ’70s rock and they definitely had an impact on my taste. However, there was this skateboarder named Arto Saari and he had a skate video where he used ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide.’ The song choice was so perfect, it was so emotional. It was relaxed when it started and cascaded into this huge beast of a song. The lyrics were insane and it went with the skate part so well. It was a lot to take in.
I watched that video so many times and was obsessed with knowing every lyric and part of that song. Later, I learned it was the last song on the album and learned it was this insane concept surrounding the creation of Ziggy. I had never seen or heard of anyone creating a persona like that. The song itself is like punk rock in the beginning and you can see where the Ramones got some influence, but it also had these beautiful, lush songs.
About a year ago, I played it at a Bowie tribute show with some friends. We had this horn section along with us and learning these songs with people was incredible. It was this amazing experience to bring it to life. It was a whole new world and made me appreciate the album that much more. I was glad to have been a part of that.
Manchester Orchestra will be out on tour in the United States and internationally from the beginning of September through the end of November, supporting the release of their new record A Black Mile to the Surface (out now on Loma Vista Recordings). Check out their tour dates here.
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