Andy Hull and his bandmates in the epically moody Manchester Orchestra have just wrapped up their fourth album, and if Holy City music lovers are lucky, they might get a taste of what the singer and his crew have crafted. And if you’re already a Manchester Orchestra fan, there’s reason to be excited. Hull says the new LP — the first since 2011’s Simple Math — is the best thing the Atlanta-based band has ever done.
The two big touchstones for this album’s sound is early Weezer and Queens of the Stone Age. The band began writing July 4 of last year and finished last December, but then Manchester Orchestra brought in a new member — bassist Andy Prince — and Hull and company wrote 14 more songs. They’ll pick through nearly 30 keeper tracks for the new collection.
“We kind of hit this vein. It was crazy. I’ve never been part of anything like it before where we were writing so productively and efficiently and inspired. We came out and really set a mission statement for how we wanted the record to be and that was just a super aggressive, to-the-point rock record that has great melodies and more of an immediate sound,” Hull says. “It’s a huge sounding record, but the tools we used to create that hugeness is more based on electric guitars and drums than an orchestra or some weird instrument on it. It’s a big raw rock record.”
The album was recorded in the band’s new studio which allowed them to work at their own pace without running up big bills. Songs were written, critiqued, broken down, and rebuilt in day-long sessions. With the new disc, Hull is shooting for a more immediate live sound instead of the layer-heavy production of past Manchester Orchestra records. By and large, Hull was inspired by the surprise success of his side project, Bad Books.
“I spent three-and-a-half months making sure every single thing on Simple Math was articulated. We spent nine days on Bad Books II,” says Hull. “It was totally helpful to me in doing this next Manchester record, because I realized that some of the stuff we were able to get from Bad Books was this immediacy — not over-thinking but not under-thinking either. It’s been a huge blessing honestly to actually make money and get to hang out with your friends.”
The band’s decision to record everything in its studio naturally turned into a self-produced affair, which also had the effect of pushing the 26-year-old Hull to take the reigns like the music veteran he has become.
“I really drove the ship this time and really made sure all the way to parking it at the dock. With other records in my youth, I would fall off at about 75 percent. I’d get my stuff done and go let everybody else figure it out,” he says. “Not having a strong producer voice in the studio forced me to at times be really difficult and hard on myself, but it’s ended up the favorite thing we’ve done.”
As for the as-yet-to-be-titled LP, Hull says it’s scheduled to be released in the first quarter of next year. They’ll get some of their recording costs back, get some marketing money behind it, and split the revenues. “It isn’t a big money deal,” he says.