There’s some really great in-depth discussion of musical inspirations and tastes with some great names. But also some really dodgy choices, too. We’ll let you decide which is which.
We’re from the very east coast of the country, near Norwich. We spend our time based there and in London.
How did you meet?
We all met in high school, except Shaun and Lugs who met in primary school!
How long have you been playing as a band?
The four of us have been playing together since 2013! Before we reinvented our style at the start of 2018, we used to have a very talented frontman who did screaming vocals but we amicably parted ways and our bass player Joe took the role of lead vocals alongside playing the bass. Joe and Shaun have been playing together in bands since 2009!
Before you get sick of being asked… where does the band name come from?
We used to be called We’ll Take Manhattan which was taken from a newspaper headline that Joe once saw. But when we became a four piece it seemed fitting to shorten it to Manhattan.
What are your influences?
Although there are certain bands we all agree on as a band such as Biffy Clyro, The Beatles, Don Broco, Pink Floyd, The 1975 etc. We all draw our influences from different places.
Joe is drawn more to the vocal aspects of music and this is directly reflected in the catchy vocal melodies and hooks he writes and can be heard in full force on the new EP. Some of his favourite bands are: John Mayer, Lana Del Ray, The Dear Hunter, Biffy Clyro & Paramore.
Shaun is much more influenced by older music than the rest of us. His favourite bands and artists are usually blues/rock based and very guitar driven. Shaun also writes a lot of the material for the band and this influence is very apparent on the new EP we are currently recording. However Shaun does still listen to some more modern bands now and then. Some of his favourite bands are: Led Zeppelin, Stevie Ray Vaughan, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Guns N’ Roses, Aerosmith, Basement, Plini & John Mayer.
Lugs likes more heavier styles of music than the rest of us. Although he is still a big fan of older music too. Being the drummer, Lugs is is drawn to the groove, rhythm and heartbeat of the song more than the rest of us. This makes him a very hard hitting, hard-to-miss drummer but with an undeniable groove and vibe. Some of his favourite bands are: Enter Shikari, Deftones, Nothing But Thiefs, Parkway Drive & The 1975.
Will is very much a mixture all of us in the band when it comes to his music tastes. He is a big fan of modern heavy music but is also partial to the older styles of music. His guitar playing very much reflects the heavier styles but you can hear his love for old music in the way he arranges and composes songs. Some of his favourite bands are: Slipknot, While She Sleeps, Paramore, Bon Jovi, Muse & The Eagles.
Describe your music. What makes you unique?
We like to think that our sound is a good mix of old and new sounds. We have the clarity and punch of modern music incorporated with the groove, soul and warmth of old music. We feel Manhattan is made unique by our freedom to play any style we see fit. It’s very common for bands to put themselves in a box by overly worrying if it fits their genre.
While it is definitely important to play to your strengths and to know your audience, it’s also equally important to push the boundaries and try create something new. We find ourselves getting bored if every song in the setlist is just a straight rock song, and we know the audience will mirror that feeling. We take pride in how different each track we make sounds from the last one. We are very much hoping that this becomes apparent on the EP we are currently recording.
Do you have any particular lyrical themes?
Not that we can see, or at least, none more than the typical archetypes! Joe tries to make his lyrics as human as possible. We have songs about overcoming the loss of loved ones, to questioning one’s own place in the world, to the excitement of pastures new. Everything and anything inspires our lyrics. Joe’s lyrics are quite metaphorical and up for interpretation, he has a very poetic style of writing.
Whereas, Shaun’s lyrics are straight to the point, which comes from his love of the blues. There is no beating around the bush, he writes lyrics like he is saying them to you in a conversation.
What’s your live show like? How many shows have you played?
We keep things exciting, and make the most of the room we have on stage. We also interact with our audience as much as we can, we’re not a silent band by any means and are often complemented on our raw live energy.
What’s the wildest thing you’ve seen or done at a live show?
We once played a venue in Wales where our drummer had to play on a raised platform that was for a bingo caller. Other than that our guitarists usually end up over the barrier dancing with the crowd. Wireless packs are a god send.
What kit do you use / guitars do you play / etc.?
Shaun loves his Fender Stratocasters with D’addario NYXL strings, he rarely plays anything else. At he moment he is using Blackstar amps. He also loves his Electro Harmonix pedals, especially their fuzzes!
Joe plays his trusty Fender Jazz Bass through a Ampeg bass amp. (The simple life of a bass player!)
Will uses an Ibanez SZ320 as his primary guitar, but he a Telecaster man at heart and has a Noir Redline Telecaster amongst various other guitars in his arsenal. His amp is a Orange Rockerverb 2 and he uses a selection of different pedals from Digitech to Dunlop.
Lugs uses a Gretsch drum kit with Zildjian and Meinl Cymbals. As for drum heads, he’ll change from Remo to Evans frequently as he’s indecisive!
What, if anything, are you plugging/promoting at the moment?
Our latest single “Every Other Colour” which we released on the 19th of February this year and our upcoming independently released EP! “Every Other Colour” can be found on all major music platforms!
What are your plans for 2019?
We are in the process of recording the rest of our upcoming E.P Long Chapters & Short Stories. We also will be uploading content to our social media platforms regularly such as song play-throughs, studio clips, band news updates etc.
If you were second on a three-band bill, which band would you love to be supporting and which band would you choose to open for you? A chance to plug someone you’ve toured with, or a mate’s band we’ve not heard of before!
What a brilliant but difficult question! I think we would absolutely love to open for Don Broco! We have seen them live multiple times before and they always put on such an amazing stage show. Plus they would be a laugh backstage!
There is a band from our area called T.O.R who are making waves in the scene at the moment. We would love for them to open for us! If you haven’t heard them then make sure you go check there new single “Not Worth It” on Spotify and Youtube!
Header image by Lizz Kingshott