Man & The Echo are here to inject rebellion back into rock and roll: with validated remarks on unhappy political control, a celebration of free-sprit, cracking guitar rhythms and elevating sound. Hooting & Howling speak to the wordsmith and front man Gareth Roberts, of the Warrington hailing band. From signing with 1965 Records and the bands latest double AA side single release ‘All Right’/’Honey Sucker’, to culture, class and music with a message, Robert’s discuss’ the motive behind his often politically-strung lyrics.

How did Man & The Echo come together and become involved with legendary A&R man James Endeacott and his label 1965 records?

Basically our manager got to know James, I’m not quite sure how, but I think he kind of pestered him about us a few times. And we were rehearsing in a local church at night, and we didn’t really have any gigs booked or anything.

Our manger was telling us not to play gigs yet, that there was no point too soon. What we had done with other bands was tour and tour the arse out of it all the time. So we were trying to sort of, pick our lunge a little bit.

So at the time we weren’t even playing anywhere. But James Endeacott got the train up from London and just came to watch us rehearse a few times in this church. And then we’d go out and get pissed with him like. And then about the third or fourth time James brought Matt his business partner along. And they sort of said ‘yeah yeah let’s do it, let’s sign a deal, let’s make some records!’ So that was it really, it was just a few meetings in a church.

What attracts Man & The Echo to the 60s rock and roll sound? How do you feel you bring forward this heritage and shake of rhythm and blues into 2015?

 I think it’s more other people describing us as a 60s rock and roll band, I wouldn’t really describe us that way. I think there is quite a lot of different influences and different bits to it.

If anything, I’d say we were more… I mean, there’s elements of 60s stuff, there’s elements of 70s glam… We have quite a wide sheer of influences really.

My ambition whenever we start writing a song is to just make it sound different to whatever else I’m listening to. So I can be listening to something quite poppy or listening to something jazzy, and I’ll think; right, I’ll do something different with that! I like to do something that you just wouldn’t expect from a contemporary band really.

But I don’t think we’re a retro band. We are not one of these pretending it’s 1963. We’re quite modern in the way we work in the studio, we use a lot of synth and we use a lot of old tech as well. But we are really not a retro band. We just try to be eclectic and interesting.

With your lyrics you appear to apply a slice of modern commentary to classic song-writing, even sometimes sneering at British politics. ‘Honeysucker’ sees you mock “some Tory toff being silly on the telly”.What is about the state of the British government and political climate that you feel is worth exploring in your lyrical content?

 I mean… Everything. The thing with ‘Honeysucker’ was I really hate that type of music that has that ‘nothings gonna bring me down’ kind-of message. I hate that whole ‘life so good’ apart from all this fucking shite.

I mean in terms of, what do I have against the government? Well for a start there’s the welfare cuts, which are going to send the most vulnerable people in Britain to the third world, slowly but surely. I say slowly but surely, but it’s not, it’s quickly actually.

There’s the fact we still idolize The Royal Family… Who don’t do fucking anything. And who are the biggest benefits cheats of all, you know?

There’s so much to piss you off. That’s only two examples. Like there’s the fact we don’t collect our taxes, from huge corporations. And then when we try to solve the deficit problem, rather than collect those taxes, we cut money from working families. I mean there’s so much to be angry about, particularly if you are working class.

I’m not someone who gets on a soapbox every time I write a song; I always try to write a song with a new perspective each time. But it’s engrained in class – where I see things from.

So for example the second single ‘All Right’ is regarding the culture differences between the middle classes and the working classes, and almost making it feel scarier, than it actually is. You know like saying the middle class are so weird I might be scared of them? That’s more of a funny light-hearted thing, but yeah ‘Honeysucker’ is a bit of an attack.

Despite the serious nature of some of your words, Man & The Echo are careful to keep an uplifting melody. Do you feel a positive attitude is important in the light of political darkness?

 Yeah, someone described us to me as ‘Trojan Horse music’. That was an analogy I quite liked. So you’ve got a poppy-hook and then something quite serious being said underneath it.

And sometimes with other songs we’ve been working on, (as we are doing our album sessions at the moment) it can be quite the opposite. It can be a somber melody, but it can be funny what is being said, you know? I quite like there to be some juxtaposition between the two, just for the sake of interest really.

All Right’ describes your afternoon in a countryside village, finding a rural village pub to be unwelcome. What was so disturbing about this community that it inspired you to pen a song?

Well the idea for it, (it’s not something that literally happened, obviously), came from me and other members of the band having done the odd covers gig in the past to make ends meet.

And it would always just be you and an acoustic guitar in a village pub. Where we are based in Warrington, there’s not much of that, but going south towards Cheshire, there are all these little villages. And there would always be stuffed foxes and strange stuff in these pubs to give you a bit of a shiver. There would be stuffed owls and taxidermy everywhere.

And I suppose I am a little resentful as well, of living a kind-of idealistic biscuit box village lifestyle, idiots sat there reading the Daily Mail moaning about immigration.

Do you think it’s important for artists to express political agenda through music? Do you think it’s something musicians should do more?

I don’t think it’s something that everyone needs to do. It’s just something I do because it’s what’s on my mind. I think all the love songs have probably been written.

I think there are lots of political writers, in different ways. There’s Kate Tempest and Sleaford Mods and other artists like that. They all have their own individual way of approaching political commentary. And it’s not just politics; they are actually saying something that is reflective of real life. I mean it doesn’t even have to be political in the sense of having a political agenda, it’s just music that reflects real life.

Have Man & The Echo been happy at the responses to their recently released AA Side single ‘All Right/Honeysucker’? ‘All Right’ even made ‘Shock of the New’ over on XFM, how did it feel to be selected by the radio-station?

 Yeah the airplay has been really good, with Shock Of The New on XFM and record of the week on Absolute Radio. And Steve Lamacq (6 Music) has been playing it as well. And we got to play on Radio Four, which was really great.

I think the idea behind these first two singles has been to kind of test the water. I think ‘All Right,’ in terms of how much it’s been given radio-play, has done better than we thought. So we are hurriedly getting the next two ready now.

You played a launch night at Manchester’s Night & Day Café recently, how was the gig? Did Man & The Echo enjoy the set?

Yeah, it was great. That was the third time we’ve played The Night & Day now. And the sound was great, as always. And a lot of people turned out, it was probably the best-attended gig we’ve done. I hope everyone enjoyed it, as it seemed to go pretty well.

You seem to have had a fairly vast live set-list. Can we expect to see some more of these tracks released soon?

 Yeah, we’ll soon be releasing our next single. And we’ve recorded it ourselves but we’ll be mixing it down in London with a B-side. And that will be a quick online release and video. The next single is called ‘Vile As You Want’.

You are supporting Feverist at London’s Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen on September 24th. How much are you looking forward to a set in the capital?

Yeah, I mean it’s not our first time. We’ve done as many gigs in London as we’ve done in Manchester. We’ve played The Social and The Old Blue Last before and they’ve been great.

But yeah, we’re looking forward to it. I always look forward to playing London, because the thing is if you play Manchester – near home you’ve got to drive home after it. But if you play London, you get to go out and have a pint afterwards. So I’m looking forward to making a night of it.

‘All Right’/ ‘Honeysucker’ is out now as an AA-side 7” single on 1965 Records

Man & The Echo play London’s Hoxton Bar & Kitchen September 24th

 

About The Author

Emily Schofield

First Year Music Journalism Student. Particularly focuses on indie and alternative music. Has a keen eye on new and unsigned bands which need a push and promotion. Born in Bolton just outside of Manchester, she is a follower of the Manchester music scene and its history. She also constantly has her eye on up and coming artists gigging in and around London. Twitter: @TheMoverTweets