Interview: The Mantells + new single ‘Payday Playboys’

Manchester 3-piece indie rockers The Mantells have been together for just over 18 months and have been very busy.  Last year’s single ‘Men In Suits’ was well received by music bloggers and gig goers alike. Now back with the ‘Payday Playboys’ Ep, Nina Fritsch caught up with singer Tom Barrow to talk about the importance of lyrics, Elbow appreciation and the many faces of David Bowie.

As a band from Manchester, when you’re playing elsewhere, do you think that it works for or against you that you’re a “Manchester band”? 

I think people all over the world know Manchester has a very strong musical history so I’d like to think people would expect good things from the new bands here. As for the way they might expect us to sound, I’m not so sure, a lot of people might think of Oasis when they think of what’s come to be expected as the ‘typical’ Manchester sound. I don’t really think that’s right, if you compare bands like Oasis, Elbow, The Smiths and even Simply Red, there’s quite a diverse sound that’s always came from Manchester, so who knows what will come from new bands from this place really…

 What are your main influences?
I wouldn’t say I have a bunch of particularly important influences. I try and take influence from everything I listen to, but if I had to choose the most important influence I would have to say Mike Skinner of The Streets. In my opinion, he’s written some of the best lyrics I’ve ever heard, and when I first started writing, I was listening to a lot of The Streets, and it really hammered home how important great lyrics are- they can connect you so much more to a track rather than just listening – if you connect emotionally with a track then you’ve hit the jackpot and I think Mike Skinner achieves that with every single track on every Streets album.
How important to you are lyrics?  Or do you place more importance on melody? 
I always think lyrics to be the most important thing. I found when I was growing up, my favourite songs were always ones that had either a good story or a good meaning. I mean, you could have the best melody in the world, but if your singing words that don’t mean anything it’s hard to invest yourself properly into a song.
What do you do in your downtime? 
Downtime is usually spent either in rehearsal or in the pub. I wish I could tell you I live a very exciting life outside of the band but I literally eat drink sleep and play music. Although I do love a trip round a good zoo 😉
What is the worst gig you’ve ever played?
Oohh that’s a hard one! We’ve been quite lucky really as we’ve probably had only 2 terrible gigs, there was one when we first started and we turned up and did a show to just the sound man for the first few tunes. Thankfully the room started to fill and it turned out there was just a big queue at the bar, but we were terrified we’d do a whole show and no one would see it.
The Mantells have a impressive twitter following – who are your favourite people to follow on twitter?
I’d say my favourite people to follow on Twitter are other new bands and people who like our music. I like seeing what other bands the people who like our tunes are listening to. Sometimes it’s funny because you might get someone who is listening to other new bands like Blossoms and Tapestry and that makes sense, but then you get some of our listeners who are seemingly massive Michael Buble or Olly Murs fans! It just shows that the music is for absolutely anyone.
How did ‘Payday Playboys’ come about? 
Well, I’d originally intended to write the song as a track that was about materialistic people and how they rely on what other people think of them to make themselves feel important. The original chorus I’d written was lyrically quite simple and something I thought would just emphasise the idea of the song, but then Lewis came to rehearsal one day and he was like “I’ve written a chorus I think we could work a new tune from” but I thought it’d fit perfectly for the tune that is now called ‘Payday Playboys’, the idea behind the chorus gelled so well with the rest of the song that I thought it was absolutely perfect, and the other lads agreed, so we scrapped my chorus and used his  and there you have it, Payday Playboys was born.
 What bands/artists are you listening to at the moment?
At the moment I’m really getting into Temples, I think they’re great, I love the cool effects they have on their tracks. I also think my love for Elbow is growing massively. I’ve always liked them but I went to see them play live a few times and from that I really started to appreciate the songwriting behind their tracks. Stereophonics is another one, their new track ‘c’est la vie’ is absolutely mega. I like the simplicity of it, it’s quite a straight forward guitar riff just repeated, but the drums bring different dynamics to each section of the song and I think it’s just a brilliant way to deliver a track with some great lyrics to top it off.
What would be your dream collaboration?  
My dream collaboration would be to work with David Bowie, I love the many different ‘faces’ he has, the different styles of music that he can play and the fact he does a brilliant job of them all. I think working with him would be great.
You can check out the video to ‘Payday Playboys’ below.
The Mantells are on twitter *here*
Nina Fritsch is on twitter *here*.

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