Friday, August 3, 2012

It never even crossed my mind | An interview with Nate Manny of The Murder City Devils.

Photo credit: Franki Chan

There are some band's that lyrics and music are so poignant at a time in your life that they never ever leave you. Murder City Devils is one of those bands for me. I listen to this band with the same enthusiasm now as I did the first time I heard I them. Spencer's lyrics pinned an inner fury unlike many other bands at the time. Their live performances were equally as legendary as the music itself. The chaos, the booze, the party, the heartache.. it was all a part of the spirit that was and still fuels the band today. I think we all have had our fair share of drinking and putting on some Murder City records to drown the sorrows. And in an almost iconic sense the Murder City Devils were the embodiment of all the anguish and chaos of  heartbreak and well put simply "life break". I recently spoke to guitarist Nate Manny about all things MCR. Below is what transpired. 

16 years on from MCD's birth how has the setting changed? Does the band's energy and ethos still run as true as it ever did?

In many ways things are the same as they ever where. We've all gotten older of course, and our priorities are different now than they were then, but in many ways the spirit that started the band and fueled us at the start is pretty much the same. We had set out to have fun, and to play music that had heart. Now that's all it has to be, because our lives aren't wrapped up in it any more, so it's easier for it to be that pure spirit.

Is there any one song that you find strange to play now, so many years later?

There are a few. Everyone in the band has different songs that they don't really want to play any more, and the set that we play now represents the collection that we think still hold up. Some are still fun to play though, even if we have outgrown them because they so perfectly capture the time that they were written.

In the 16 years that have past do you think the band has surpassed it's issues? I mean, here's a band that was renowned for it's intraband squabbles and even fistfights at one point.. Do you think now in retrospect you guys have learnt how to deal with each other and the boundaries of each other's personalities?

Definitely. At this point, the only reason to do this is if it's fun for everybody. We're not interested in causing problems for each other, so in order for this to work, we all go into it with the full intention of getting along and having a good time. As soon as it isn't fun anymore, it's over.


How have the dynamics of the band changed in a live environment - today VS then?

In a lot of ways its exactly the same ... There are certain things about this band that will always be the same, our attitude about what makes a good show is one of them. There's still an element of chaos underneath everything, of things being on the brink of unhinging, but it's the momentum of the whole that keeps things together.

Last year you released some new songs. How was working on new material together and what was that experience like?

It was great actually. We had spent a week together the year prior working on some new material, and those were two of the songs that came out of it. The writing process was very collaborative and easy. We had a lot of ideas and it was refreshing to work on some new material.

After the breakup in 2001, did you ever think you would get back together?

No, it never even crossed my mind.

How have you found the response from the fans and your peers to the "reunion"?

The initial response was equally overwhelming, and surprising ... I had no idea what it would be like, and seeing the turn-out and enthusiasm was incredible. I'll never forget the first show that we played when we came back together. As soon as we started playing there was a huge surge of energy, and the whole crowd pushed forward. It was an outdoor festival show and the whole stage moved back underneath us. I've never felt anything like it. Seeing fans that come to the shows that had never seen us before has been cool too, to see that the band has a life of its own beyond our efforts. I still don't think I really comprehend that, but I'm always amazed to see it.

What's your personal favourite MCD song you enjoy playing and why?

I have three. Murder City Riot - Because it rips and feels like a train wreck when we play it. Midnight Service In The Mutter Museum - Because I think it's the best song that we wrote, and our new song Every Day I Rise - Because I think it's a great evolution of the band, and it's exciting to have new material that feels right to play.

What kind of deals with the devil do we need to make to get MCD to tour down under?

If by Devil you mean us, it would probably be easier than you think. Our biggest obstacle is time. We've got a lot of complicated schedules to coordinate, but it would be great to get down there. We always wanted to get to Australia and Japan but never made it. 

I read recently that Leslie was touring with Matt Skiba and I've seen a lot of press surrounding Spencer's art and his other bands. What have you been up to outside of MCD?

I've been working as a Graphic Designer since the end of the band. I've had my own design company, 51 Eggs, for a few years now and have had the occasional art or photography show. I've got two kids as well, so being a dad is my big thing. I'm also completely obsessed with Road Cycling.

What can you say about the future of The Murder City Devils?

There's no telling, it's a day to day thing. Our priority of fun over ambition makes it hard to make any real plans.