DFW Music News

Manchester Orchestra Bassist Jonathan Corley: "I'm A Fan of Andy [Hull], Spiritually."

With the release of this year's Simple Math album, Atlanta's Manchester Orchestra is now three albums deep into their careers -- and the guys don't plan on slowing down anytime soon.

After a quick hop, skip and jump across the pond for a tour, the band's now making their way to Dallas to perform at the Palladium Ballroom on Sunday, October 23.

In anticipation of that performance, we caught up with bassist and filmmaker Jonathan Corley, who promised us he wouldn't be too jet-lagged for his show this weekend and spoke with us about what it's like to convey frontman and songwriter Andy Hull's inner thoughts, what it takes for the band to manage their own record label and why they haven't sold out and never will.

What's it like for you to play the songs that mean so much to frontman and principal songwriter Andy Hull, personally? How does the band tap into understanding his meaning is behind the lyrics?
Well, sure, I guess most recently, the release of Simple Math, I was kind of blown away at just how personal some of his lyrics were and how close to home they were. And, I don't know, it's a really impressive album and I'm a fan of Andy, spiritually. Most of his songs hit so close, and it means a lot to all of us. And also they're deeply personal and it's always interesting to watch completely different people connect to the individual lyrics in different ways. You know, you talk to a bunch of different people and they'll take the same line in a completely different fashion.

Is that something the band discusses together or does each member have their own take on it?
We definitely talk about it as a group and talk to Andy about why he wrote it. Again, I come back to its always interesting to me how much a sentence can become vague and mean completely different things to listeners.

You've said elsewhere that your own record label, Favorite Gentlemen, is like a community. Has the business aspect of owning a label ever clashed with keeping a peaceful community?
I mean, that's definitely tough. We've had competition between helping friends and getting along off the ground. I guess we announced recently that we're doing something in Atlanta -- it's called The Stuffing and it's the day before Thanksgiving. It's hosting every band on our label and a couple friends are coming down to play. Favorite Gentlemen has been really been a great way to kind of move forward and offer a helping hand to a lot of bands, mostly in Atlanta. A lot of bands are really close-knit and we've gotten to be apart of a lot of great records that we respect. A couple years ago our drummer Jeremiah stepped down from running the label, and I've been blown away at the kind of work that he put into that.

Well, everyone seems to have their own side projects. How does this work, coordinating with each other? Is there ever any fear that someone's side project could permanently take them away from the band?
That would be exciting if someone just kind of exploded and got big! But I know Manchester is everyone's main focus at the moment. At this point, if anyone else has had shows that come up, or has booked a record, it's around the Manchester schedule and they truly really keep it to once a year.

How would you describe everyone's growth together since you started?
Yeah, it's certainly been interesting. I mean, we're around each of us a hell of a lot. I didn't think any of us thought we could be. I think it's taken us to a lot of places we've never really expected to go, and I'm excited to see what we've got to continue doing. We have this headlining tour coming up with The Dear Hunter and White Denim, I'm excited about that. But it's kind of a cool thing to watch the evolution of the band from where we started. Looking back, we each had individual records that we've grown from both personally and musically so.

Do you think the burn-out rate for bands that record songs that truly mean something to them is quicker than those who just shit out pop hits? Or do you think they last longer because of it?
I would hope that they last longer! I mean, looking back at bands that I'm a fan of -- bands that truly mattered to me, bands that care about what they do rather than just trying to kind of simply appeal to whatever is mainstream and commercial at the time -- as long as the band is always trying to create something new and something real and absolutely care about it and is as passionate as we are, and it's about what they create, then they're fine. I think that it's very important part of the process. If you don't truly respect what you're doing, then why are you doing it?

Manchester Orchestra perform with The Dear Hunter and White Denim on Sunday, October 23, at the Palladium Ballroom