Roundhouse: Hey Manning, thanks so much for joining us here at the Roundy! What have you been up to since the start of 2020?
Manning: Thanks for having me. Yeah so I kind of had a tour booked for a single that I put out called 'Calling You Sober', obviously with CO-VID that all kind of fell apart and it was a big shock and it was very weird and strange. But yeah, I've just been trying to keep myself busy during the pandemic. I've got an interest for writing as well, so I started doing a bit of music journalism at 'Happy Mag' in Newtown which has been really fun, just like reviewing other local artists and stuff like that.
I'm also finishing up my last semester at UTS and also writing new songs and demoing them as well.
Roundhouse: We know that 2020 has been a really challenging year for artists but it hasn’t stopped you from releasing some amazing tracks. For anyone reading this, make sure you check out ‘Calling you Sober’ and ‘Rolling Souls' on Spotify.
You tee up with Zac Gomes from the Sydney band, The Shang for ‘Calling You Sober’. How did that collaboration come about?
Manning: Yeah I've known Zach for a while, we're both on the Waratah Records label so when we were both starting out I saw him performing live at a venue called The Record Crate in Glebe.
We had a few beers and stuff like that, he's a cool guy. I've been listening to The Shang for a while and 'Calling You Sober' was kind of my attempt at a more rocky song, so I was thinking you know, who's got a bit more of a grungy vibe to them? I was like oh Zach so yeah just hit him up in the studio see if he wanted to do it. He was down and the rest is history.
Roundhouse: We love people getting together over beers, I guess that's what we're sort of about at the Roundhouse. We are also a student uni bar so we're all about live music and people just getting together. Could you shed some light on the inspiration behind ‘Rolling Souls’ and what the creative process was like?
Manning: Yeah sure, that might be one of my favourite songs actually just because it's got a pretty interesting story behind it. Normally I'll write songs when the moment's right and there's feelings in my head but with that song I had a friend that was like, 'So have you written this song about me yet?' and I was like 'Oh no I haven't.
I guess I could maybe try and so I kind of waited until my head was in the right space and what came out was just a lot jazzier than I expected. The lyrics were really cryptic and what I was writing I almost didn't even know what it meant until a few weeks after when I was looking back at it.
If I had to describe uh the lyrics it's kind of about a relationship between someone of a little bit lower class I guess and someone of a higher status. So like 'finding a ticket made out of gold' is the girl and yeah she comes from a different place I guess and you want to be together but you know there's some barriers.
It's just kind of exploring that uncomfortable feeling and their separation.
Roundhouse: I guess quite a few people could actually relate to that song as well. There's sometimes that feeling that there's a gap and you just don't really know how to approach it.
Manning: Yeh, there's no bad blood or anything but it's like there is a difference and it's noticeable.
Roundhouse: We want to know, who has inspired you to get into music and songwriting?
Manning: Oh wow, yeah good question! I mean at the end of the day I guess it was a personal decision it's just the best way for me to get off whatever's on my chest and in my mind it's very therapeutic for me. So, I guess I do it for me at the end of the day.
My parents we always listened to CDs in the car when I was growing up like Pete Murray and Missy Higgins stuff, so obviously they're huge inspirations as well and kind of taught me how to sing just from singing along to their songs.
I guess my songwriting style is very reflective of those artists.
Roundhouse: What was your favourite track on ‘Sleepless’ EP to record?
Manning: I think it's got to be 'We Ain't'. So how we tracked that song was we had an acoustic and an electric guitar both play in the same part and it created like this really nice tone. The lyrics were super honest and reflective, just written in about 10 minutes.
It all came out in just one night, so it felt very natural and when I listen back to it I think those lyrics still resonate the most with me out of all of the Sleepless lyrics.
I think it's my Moms favorite song from the EP, so like shout out to her.
Roundhouse: In early 2019, you supported Tyne-James Organ in Camden. Could you tell us any highlights you had from that show?
Manning: Oh man I remember being super excited, super nervous. I must have only been like 19, so super young and uh yeah had the band together and we were all just raring to go really. So we wanted to have a set list that was pretty rocky and pretty approachable and welcoming.
We just tried to have a lot of fun with it and by the end we had finished with 'Hey Jude' and we just had the whole audience clapping it was it was pretty surreal. Yeah so it was a good time.
Roundhouse: If you could tour with anyone (dead or alive), who would it be?
Manning: I'm a huge sucker for Bob Dylan, so I think with him back in his like 60s era when he was just a loose cannon.
Roundhouse: We love everything you have released to date, ‘Rolling Souls’ has got us super excited for what you have coming up next. Do you have any upcoming projects or releases in store that you can tell us about?
Manning: Yeah, so we're gonna drop one more single before the next ep called 'Sunflower Eyes' and that's going to be coming out 1st of October.
Super excited for that one, I wanted to try a lot of new sounds on this EP and this one's kind of a bit more psychedelic.
Then after that single we are dropping the EP 'Phone Calls and Brick Walls', that's gonna be on the 30th October.
Roundhouse: Where did you record ‘Sunflower Eyes’ and what was the funniest moment you’ve had in that studio?
Manning: We recorded in Narellan and the whole recording process for the EP was really fun. We had this white board in the studio where people were putting jokes up there the whole time.
We had every song listed and just crack through it like a to do list. I tired myself to death with harmonies, there are a lot of long vocal shifts on the mic which is exhausting but fun because you can you can really just get in your head about whether it's actually a good take or not. You play it back and you hear the tiniest thing that's wrong and you're like all right let's do it again. You want it to be perfect before you release it.
Yeah, I've got a old friend of mine called Miles who tours with the Middle Kids at the moment.
He was kind enough to jump into the studio for 'Sunflower Eyes' and he played a bit of Nord keyboard, so if you listen carefully when that's out you'll hear a bit of that over the top and yeah that was something that I didn't expect that we were going to put in the song but it ended up turning out really cool
Roundhouse: Just before we wrap up, we’ve got a couple of quick-fire round questions for you to answer (you can only pick one):
Mac DeMarco or John Mayer?
Manning: I think John may might be more talented but I'm gonna go with Mac Demarco, just his cultural significance right now is huge.
Beer or Whisky?
Manning: Oh beer, it’s just more social.
Tiktok, Yeah Nah or Nah Yeah?
Manning: I see the appeal but I don’t think it’s for me so I’ll go with Yeah Nah
If you had to choose a cocktail to describe your personality, what would it be?
Manning: I guess I've got a pretty boomer taste in music, I love folk stuff in like 60s and 70s so we'll go with an Old-Fashioned.
A Bunnings Snag or Tim Tams?
Manning: Oh a Bunnings snag hands down.
Roundhouse: Thank you so much for taking time to chat with us. We can’t wait to hear more from you!