Interview by Geoff Feakes
~ Part Two ~
Continued from Part One
~ The Book ~
DPRP: The album is of course ĎNot As Good As The Bookí and there is a version available with a book.
DPRP: Was that Andyís idea?
Guy: Thatís Andyís idea. Thatís another thing he likes doing. Andyís a man of multiple talents. Not only can he paint; two coats in one afternoon (laughs) but he can turn his hand to anything. Heís always liked writing stories. He likes the Douglas Adams, Iain Banks style of amusing science fiction stories and he loves progressive rock. Heíd been dabbling with this story about progressive rock and how one guy blows the world up by playing ĎRelayerí. I wonít tell you how it ends. Itís very strange but he was writing this thing and he thought why donít we put it with an album? Again, trying to think outside the box. What can we do to make this package more exciting, more interesting? Lateral thinking rather than just another Tangent album. So he had this wonderful music, a double album and he decided to put this 100 page novella with it. He found this artist in France (Antoine Ettori) who does all that French cartoon art. He got him to do this wonderful artwork littered throughout the book with that French comic strip look.
David: Itís that departure in style like your album.
Guy: Yes, we definitely invested time in doing something different. I think Andyís very keen to get a review which says these Tangent albums are wonderful but isnít it a shame that Roine Stolt left. The Tangent has to be its own self governing thing. Roine left two albums ago and Andyís taken over and heís always written the stuff anyway and The Tangent needs to be his. Thatís his lifeís work, thatís his career. The Tangent is what he does and he hopes to be able to write some stories as well. Heís bringing all these artistic things together to try and get the word out that thereís something more to The Tangent than just a Canterbury pastiche and playing some nice tunes. So heís a very important artist I think.
I donít know what heís going to do next maybe heíll take a rest. Heís not as hurried as I am; he thinks well Iíve done enough. ĎA Place In The Queueí is about two years old now but he hasnít really been rushing to do another one even though some of the songs on here he started writing at the same time as ĎA Place In The Queueí. He just put them to one side and said thereís no rush, Iíll get through them when I do. Now this has come out and I think heís happy with it, itís a good piece of work. This is going to be a more difficult album for people to get into but I think itís worth the investment this time. Itís definitely going to be a goody.
DPRP: Like the best of music I guess it has to have that investment by the listener.
~ Going Off On One ~
DPRP: Certainly thatís very true of your music. Just sticking with The Tangent theme at the moment, last year of course there was the ĎGoing Off On Oneí DVD. What was that experience like for you?
Guy: You know they say the camera adds 10lbs? I must have had ten cameras on me (laughs). I couldnít actually play because people from Greenpeace kept coming on to try and push me off the stage ďGet back in the sea you fat beggarĒ (laughs). It was an interesting experience because the whole thing came together very quickly. I had to come down from the north to the south to rehearse. I got two days rehearsal with them. They hadnít rehearsed at all so we all came together saying do we know these songs? Weíre just about to go off and do a couple of dates and record a DVD. So we had two days but it wasnít two solid days we had a few hours a day. We all spent time copiously writing all the songs down, chord changes and notes. Play it off that and hope it all comes together and it did I think. We did the Rotherham one first when the Classic Rock Society asked us to play. I had to do the solo set as well because a band had dropped out at the last minute so I offered my services. I did my set then went on and did The Tangent set which went down really well, very encouraging.
Then we all had to go back to the hotel and then we had to drive all the way to Southend. Why on earth we did it in Southend I donít know but we went all the way down to start again, set up and get everything in. Then we had to get all the cameras in and all the recording equipment and make sure everything was in place and then go and do a blinder of a gig to try and record it. As it turned out on the actual night we had a couple of electrical problems and the computer went down in the middle of ĎIn Earnestí. We had to stop, reset everything, go back 10 bars before and start again. You donít know that on the album because itís been stitched together from the two performances but we had things like that happening. It was very cramped on stage. There were seven of us on that stage and the lights were on and we were literally standing over each others shoulders. Andy couldnít bring his ribbon controller strip on because there wasnít enough room but we had a great time and in the end it was fun. Manning as a band doesnít get the chance to play to audiences of that size, yet (laughs) so it was a novelty to actually play to more than ten people and I thought it was great.
I was having a great time because I was actually on the stage with them for the first time. Theyíd obviously been to America, theyíd done Rosfest without me and theyíd been on a European tour without me. For the first time I managed to beg and squeeze myself onto the stage from the side and I managed to get to do a bit. I think what I added was worth putting in I donít think it was distracting. When you look at the DVD and listen to the sound of it the acoustic guitar, the extra voice, the bits of percussion just add a little bit of icing to the cake. It was just a great thing to do and the fact weíve actually got a recording of it on DVD is a big plus for me because I can look back on it and say havenít I lost a lot of weight (laughs).
David: Thereís a weight fixation going on here.
Guy: Soon as I saw that thing I went on a diet and I have lost a lot of weight. Iím still big but if you think Iím big nowÖ..
David: He brought me in to make him look slim because Iím huge. But then again Iím huge because his wifeís cooking is so bloody good.
Guy: Why do you think Iím so big?
David: I arrived for ĎAnserís Treeí malnourished. So I come here for Julieís cooking.
Guy: Quite right to.
David: The musicís incidental.
Guy: Thatís what Iíve felt for sometime (laughs).
~ Not As Good As The Book ~
DPRP: Staying with the DVD it was interesting when you talked about your input into The Tangent because for anyone that has their doubts, seeing you singing and playing acoustic guitar itís obvious just how much you do contribute to the band.
Guy: Yeah, I think itís a funny thing with The Tangent I donít think people realise just how much work I do put into it. Thatís apart from the fact that for every note you hear there might be two left off because I put in a lot more than you actually get to hear. I do help out with as lot of things, on the new one especially. When you come to hear that and you listen to some of the vocal arrangements, the choirs and the multiple vocals I had a lot of input into that. I virtually took over some of the vocal arrangements for Andy and I provided most of the backing vocals. We had three singers on this album, sorry thereís four I nearly forgot Julie. Thereís Andy doing the main vocals and backing vocals, thereís the new fella Mr Jakko M Jakszyk on guitar and vocals. Heís got a very nice voice, quite American AOR. Heís got this thing we canít do. We have quintessentially eccentric English voices, he provides a normal voice. Heís Hasse Froberg of The Flower Kings to Andyís Roine Stolt. Then thereís me filling in all the other bits and on this album we actually got Julie singing. On one of the songs she actually sings quite an important part in ĎFour Egos One War.í Sheís in there and she does a cracking job of singing this part with Andy like a duet, girl and boy and I just sort of fill in around the outside bolstering up.
I was trying to get in as many instruments as I could, thinking what havenít I got on the album yet? Iíve got everything on. Iíve got bouzouki on, I got the meditation bell on, I got the harps on it, Iíve got the electric bouzouki on it, classical guitar, 12 string Iíve even got some slide guitar. With The Tangent youíve got to get your name on it and youíve got to get the biggest column for your instruments as possible. Poor old Jonas (Reingold), it just says bass, sorry mate (laughs). So I do put a tremendous amount of input into a Tangent album and I have done for sometime. But itís not always obvious because acoustic instruments really arenít the featured thing of The Tangent theyíre the incidental icing on the cake. But on this album I think youíll find thereís a lot more acoustic based stuff. Some of the songs are based around the acoustic guitar and thereís a lot more acoustic playing to anchor it. So Iím hoping that people actually start to realise exactly how much work IĎm putting in. But the proofs in the pudding, you either like the album or you donít. It doesnít matter how many bars I play or how many are left off or which songs I play on. If the albumís great Iím on there somewhere and Iím part of The Tangent. I might not be the most important part of The Tangent and I might not be the least important part but Iím in there and Iím part of the band. Andyís the most important, after that everyone else just queues up in pecking order.
David: Thatís like Manning but thatís as it should be. Thereís a symmetry to that because the ego isnít there.
Guy: We all try to help. We all pitch in and try ideas and we all want it to be the best. We have this control that says itís got to be good, try and make it better or different from the last. You just pitch your ideas in and you say Andy, what do you think? Heíll say yes or no or I tried it and I didnít like it. Fine, you tried it and you didnít like it thatís good enough for me. Heís not one of those guys that says forget it, I do the writing round here buddy, Iíll let you know when I need you to squeak. I hope itís the same with my stuff and basically itís the same sort of relationship. I know what Iím doing but I try to get everyone engaged into doing it if I can. Thatís how we work and thatís why I think itís successful because itís a composite of musical direction and wonderful performances. Itís seamlessly melded into one project.
David: Itís strange a non-connected process of orchestral things where you only meet the band at the end of the recording. Thatís how it worked for me wasnít it? Because Guyís done all the work anyway, everybody else comes in individually. Then Guy and Julie throw this lovely dinner and we all get together and itís like a thank you for the work and you listen to the first proper mix of the album. The first time I did that was ĎAnserís Treeí and that was the first time Iíd met the band. Then we rehearsed for ĎBilstoní so that was the first time I actually stood in the same room playing, itís really quite a strange experience. The only person that was a constant for me was Guy.
Guy: Well it would have been odd if I hadnít been there. Iím sure you would have managed (laughs). Iím going to do that to you. Iím going to book us in to Bilston, Iím going to rehearse with you for three weeks, then youíre going to turn up and Iím going to ring and say your on in for minutes and Iím not coming!
David: Iíll just dye my hair black and mimic you. Weíre similar proportions and theyĎll say is it Guy? It looks like Guy but itís not quite like GuyÖ
Guy: And Guy plays better guitar than him!
David: Yeah but strangely I canít play acoustic, itís weird that. Of course Guy says he canít play electric but he can play electric. Thereís a certain way of playing those instruments. Iíve seen him use all these instruments itís quite a thing to behold (He points to a dozen or so electric and acoustic guitars hanging on the studio wall around us).
~ Julie King ~
DPRP: You both mentioned Julie who apart from being a wonderful cook...
Guy: Which she is.
DPRP: ...And in addition to her vocal input on The Tangent album, she was also involved vocally on ĎBilston Houseí and is a member of your live band.
Guy: Yeah, sheís an important part of my life and an important part of the music. The music is part of me and makes me what I am. She appreciates that, sheís very patient with me to be perfectly honest. Most wives would have gone completely berserk if their husbandís had insisted on locking themselves in a small room at the side of the house for large parts of the evening for a year. But she understands it has to be done. I like her to be here because a) its fun and b) she looks after us with sandwiches and weíre well feedÖ
David: Sheís an important part of all of our lives now. Whether Guy likes it or not we love her to bits and sheís unique. My wifeís supportive and sheís got young children to look after and itís hard work for her. When I devote time to this it puts pressure on our home and sheís not accustomed to it. Iím amazed at the level of tolerance Guy gets from Julie because when she walks in and heís in mid session heíll say what the bloody hell do you want, be gone (laughs).
Guy: We do have a good laugh and she feels the pressure because I get terribly ratty when weíre about to go out live and I donít hear it clicking. Thereís dread and the colour starts to drain from my face and youíre up there in front of twenty people and weíre not going to be able to play a note. I do get ratty because I care about it. If I didnít care it would be sod it, weíve done enough lets go down the pub and have a pint.
David: She kept some of my guitar parts for ĎBilstoní. When we sat down and had the play through there are certain parts you play on and you pretend to be all dispassionate. Youíre divorced from the process and youíre sat there thinking shit if heís cut any parts out Iíll be heart broken. There were certain things that had changed and thatís different then, you think yeah it does actually work. Then Julie said you see that bit, you have me to thank for that Dave because Andy and Guy were going to get rid of it (laughs). So you see she can do no wrong, sheís in my world is Julie and sheís staying in it. You can have my guitars and my ampsÖ
Guy: Yeah, sheís important and the calming influence in the band, she looks after us. She does an important job she sings, she plays the keyboards and adds tambourine and percussion and bits and pieces. Without her it just wouldnít be the same so the stuff she does is important. Itís not like Wings sheís actually important (laughs)ÖÖ
David: And sheís a vegetarian (laughs).
~ Changing Labels ~
DPRP: (Laughing) I was going to ask a really important question but itís completely gone. Your current record label is F2 Music but you started out with Cyclops...
Guy: Yes Iíve done the rounds (laughs).
DPRP: Yes youíve done the rounds and you went to ProgRock Records. Would you like to talk about those changes?
Guy: Well Cyclops changed because Malcolm Parker wanted to, not downside the roster, but didnít have a lot of investment capitol to put out a lot of records. I had ĎA Matter Of Life And Deathí which I thought was quite a good album and he said well Iíd like to put it out but could we wait a year. I said well to be perfectly honest Malcolm the only reason people know who I am is because I release an album every year, if I didnít theyíd forget. Itís not like Pink Floyd, take ten years off, come back and everyone jumps around. I thought I needed to maintain continuity so I said would you mind if I looked for somewhere else? He said no, thatís absolutely fine. It was very amicable, there was no split. I got in touch with various record labels and I finally tracked down ProgRock and Shawn Gordon out in San Diego. He liked what he heard and said this is the deal he gives his artists, would I find that acceptable? I said yes, so we struck a partnership that lasted for three albums including ĎOne Small Stepí and ĎAnserís Treeí.
When I started ĎBilstoní it was a funny project really because the original idea was it was going to be collaboration between myself and parts of my band here and White Willow. We were going to do a joint thing. Jacob (Holm-Lupo) and I talked about it at Summers End and I said why donít we do something together? I started sending him all the demos for ĎBilstoní saying what do you think about that and weíll use the band here and your band. But time wasnít on our side and he had other things to do. It sort of petered out but I had all these demos for ĎBilstoní knocking about. So when we came to do that album the problems I was having with ProgRock were they are a great label but they just seemed so far away. I could speak to Shawn anytime I liked but it had to be via MSN. They were getting albums out there and they seemed to be selling them but I didnít know if they were getting out there and sitting on shelves or were they actually being sold. I thought well to be perfectly honest it would be better for me in the UK to have a UK record label and somebody I could chat to when I feel like it. When Iím having a problem ring them up and say what about this Dave (Robinson) or can we do a tour or can you help me get a gig with Solstice? You know Magenta, how about getting me in on the old support slot with them, or whatever it was.
Dave and I had met on a couple of occasions, we met down at Bilston at Summers End and we got on very well. So I gave him a call and said what do you think and he said let me hear the demos. So he heard the demos and said yeah it sounds great letís do it. So I thought a record label thatís just down the road however big it is or what it is itís something to embrace. Heís got a good idea about how to do things. Heís got the problems of being a small organisation I think but the better the organisation gets and the better the artists he gets on the label the better the label will get. ProgRock started small and suddenly become this big thing, so did InsideOut. They all had to start somewhere and F2 is a good label and it looks after its artists. Theyíve got ĎBilstoní and its getting great reviews and people are picking up on it. I hope itís a success for him because some point in the future Iím going to be banging on the door saying I want to do another one and weíre talking about this DVD. There may be a DVD shoot if we do some live dates this year. Thatíll be budgeted by F2 and myself and its important I keep that partnership up and itís good.
So Iíve got nothing but good things to say about David really, heís a nice guy and he tries to ring me. I like to talk to people I donít like MSN really and I donít like emails so he kindly agreed and said look why donít I give you a ring once a week and see how your getting on so heís done that pretty much. Heís not done that this week because heís been tied up but he gives me a ring and says howís it going, whatís happening? We have a chat and a laugh and thatís it. So yeah, itís a good relationship and Iím hoping we continue for a little longer until I stop making albums or he gives up the label or whatever. Itís not a bad relationship and we talked about live dates and heís looking at that and heís looking at European possibilities for us and things. So I can relax and leave that to him while I get on trying to sort the other problems out like getting a band together for example.
DPRP: And Loughborough (home of F2) is a lot closer than San Diego.
Guy: An awful lot yeah. And we meet up. When Magenta comes to play the CRS in April no doubt heíll be there and Iíll go down and meet and say hello. We bump into each other so itís good.
~ Playing Live ~
DPRP: Iíll be there as well so no doubt weíll catch up then. You touched upon some plans there for the future including playing live and a possible DVD. When you had your last interview with the DPRP in December 2001Ö
Guy: Oh yes, it only seems like yesterday!
DPRP: A question you were asked at the time was where do you see yourself in five years time. Iím not going to stretch it that far but as weíre into a new year, what are your plans for 2008 Guy?
Guy: 2008 would be good to do some live dates. Weíve been threatening to do them. We enjoyed Summers End but fun though it was, it was a lot of effort for one night really. What Iíd like to do is get us to a state where weíve got some stable musicians that make up a band and were able to play dates as and when they come and we think there worth playing. Weíre not going to go on tour and play every pub in the Yorkshire area or go round the country playing for a £5 door take. We will play gigs as they come up where I think there worth playing or where weíve got a chance of playing to an audience or where weíve got some other motive in mind like recording it. But to do that we need a stable line-up of people who like the stuff and thatís a problem.
When The Tangent comes together itís an inordinate amount of effort and money because as well as us thereís the Swedish guys who are professional musicians and they want paying as professional musicians. They have to be brought across from Sweden and they have to be paid to play. What you get out of it is a brilliant result but itís all on a very business like basis. Iím hoping we can get together because we like the stuff, I havenít got that budget. I canít say I think Iíll have Bill Bruford on this tour and who else? Yeah weíll have John Wetton playing the bass, heís good and weíll have Rick Wakeman because heís not doing anything at the moment as he has a bit of a cold but he can play the keyboards. No itís not like that, we have to try and find a band that can actually cope with the material in whatever shape it is because we blend and change the material with the people weíve got. If weíve got no drummer it becomes a sort of folky acoustic line-up, if weíve got full drums and a lot of electric guitars or powerful bass and drums it becomes a rock band. If itís got saxophone and flute and a bit of acoustic it becomes a jazz band so depending upon who weíve got that will dictate the style we go out with.
But Iíd like to play some more dates and see if we can actually play to an audience this time. Even after nine albums nobody knows who the hell I am, itís ridiculous really. Its stupid, but they donít and thatís just a fact of life. When albums come out and people are shelling out their cash theyíve got The Flower Kings, theyíve got Spockís Beard, Dream Theater and Ritual at the top of the list. By word of mouth if they ever have some spare cash, down the bottom is a pile of artists of which Iím one. Thatís fine, the only way weíre going to shake that illusion, where if you happen to have some spare time listen to this, is by playing some dates. So we need to get a band together it needs to be damn good and we need to be able to pick a good cross section of the music. I donít think we can be over ambitious because without taking three keyboard players out weíre not going to be able to perform the album as it is. So weíre going to have to strip it down and weíre going to have to make it a tight, funky, punchy affair and weíre just going to go out there and play some dates.
Thatís the idea, if we can get a band together long enough to stay together then that would be great. Iíll start to line up some dates and weíll see where it takes us this year. If there is no studio album this year it might be all devoted to try and get the live thing off the ground and a live album made. I donít know, Iím not writing anything in particular at the moment anyway. Iím just writing a loud of crap at the moment so it doesnít really matter. The idea is to try and devote sometime to getting us out before Iím too old and we get to the point where we look back and say wouldnít it have been nice to have done some gigs from our zimmer frames and wheelchairs. Iíd like to play some gigs while Iím still able to stand.
DPRP: How old are you Guy?
Guy: How old do I look? Have a guess (laughs).
DPRP: Itís too late for guessing, you tell me.
Guy: Fifty one.
DPRP: Thatís a good age.
Guy: Iím wearing well. I mean I feel great, I feel sprightly other than being a bit overweight. I feel OK but I know that by the time you get to 55-60 how many gigs are you going to be able to play? My voice is going to start to go because you get the old-band croak coming out and thatís going to happen (laughs). So I want to get some gigs. I like to play in front of an audience but the trouble is when we go out we play in front of ten people. We turn up, do our bit and thereís nobody there. Nobody knows who you are. Itís one of those things youíve got to be big to get the audience in and how do you get to be big? Luck or whatever, so we can go out and play but thereís no guarantee of getting anyone to come and see us thatís the problem. Thatís why I canít afford to book The Met in Bury or a big venue in London and go and put a gig on because nobody will come. All I can do is try and book a couple of joint dates maybe with another band to boost the profile up and show we can play a bit and then hopefully people will come and see us. We should be playing the CRS (Classic Rock Society) this year. Weíve been promised a headline gig by Martin (Hudson) so weíre going to take him up on that. Thereís an off chance although it hasnít been confirmed but when I spoke to Steve at a CRS event he said we might be on the list to do Summers End again with a full line-up this time.
David: That would be good.
Guy: We canít say if thatís true because I donít yet know if itís going to come off. But he did say we are being considered for Summers End again and have the live band do a full show this time instead of the acoustic set. So hopefully this year weíre going to play some shows and that would be nice wouldnít it?
David: Thatís what keeps me going. Thereís nothing better than treading the boards and playing to an audience. Bilston was actually bigger than tenÖ..
Guy: Yeah Bilston was good.
David: We were in that last quadrant of the second day where they were building up to The Flower Kings. Itís funny when youíve been to these concerts where the final band has got the backline exactly where it wants and the sound check. The middle band has got some of the backline and their own gear and halfway towards the front thereís us. Weíre right on the edge of the stageÖÖ
Guy: Pushed off the stage!
David: Youíve got no sound check and no chance of doing anything and youíre rushed on stage and I was absolutely filling my pants. What are we doing first? I couldnít see a set list, my pedal board packed up and then Guy belted into the first tune. It hadnít packed up at all Iíd inadvertently turned off the key pedal that ran the board. So when I recovered that Guy was already about ten bars in. There was someone in the audience having a bit of a smile so I got that going and within about five seconds we weíre in the zone. I couldnít believe how fast that forty five minutes went past I was absolutely having a whale of a time. For all its imperfections and things missing like the drums, which would have been great to have although we had some percussion, it was fantastic.
I think thatís what makes Guyís music worthwhile. Itís not the thought that somebody in a darken room is listening to a copy of ĎBilston Houseí or ĎAnserís Treeí or theyíre living through an old edition of ĎCascadeí which is bloody fantastic, my personnel favourite album. Itís the fact that people are going to stand and listen to you and appreciate what youíve done. Thatís the recognition Guy really needs, pulling an audience, clapping their hands and saying that was absolutely bloody great. Andy (Tillison) was at that gig and Andy doesnít throw compliments around heís quite cuttingly honest with his views. Iíve played with him in a band (A New Opera) so I know what heís like. He couldnít have been more complimentary or warmer about what happened there.
Guy: Yeah he thought we were good.
David: He said it and he meant it. Actually I didnít care whether he meant it or not it was a fantastic compliment. We need more of that with the full impact of Guy Manning with proper electric instruments. Not everything because you canít cram all this (pointing to the instruments around the studio) on stage and heís only got two arms but we can do a good job. Weíve already started to explore it.
Guy: Yeah weíve started on the set list.
David: The setís absolutely fantastic itís got to be gigged. Itíll be a lot of fun.
~ Live Recording ~
DPRP: Did you record any of your shows?
Guy: No, we only did Summerís End and we were so rushed on that even if we wanted to we wouldnít have been able to press the tape recorder button. They threw us on stage while the audience was coming in and said get on with it basically.
David: Maybe thereís a bootleg somewhere.
Guy: No I donít think there is. Thereís some old stuff knocking around from pre Dave days but the quality of it is not very good. We put a recording mike in a room to see what it sounds like, nothing set up properly. If weíre going to do it this year and do it properly weíre talking about cameras and lines out the desk into multi track equipment. So we can do it properly, do it justice, a bit like ĎGoing Off On Oneí.
DPRP: I can remember in particular an excellent live version of ĎStrange Placeí on ĎCyclops Sampler 5í in 2003.
Guy: That came from that gig I was just telling you about with the mike in the room. That was the one track I was really able to salvage and beef up and master it. I added a couple of things over the top of it (laughs) to make it sound right because you couldnít hear the vocals so a had to re-dub some of those but in essence it was a pretty live recording. As a band weíre pretty good when weíre good weíre good, we just donít get a chance to do it very often and thatís the problem of not having a regular band. When youíre an 18 year old you have the same line-up and everyone runs to the rehearsal room to get on with it. Now your saying well Iíve got a drummer and he lives in Coventry and heíll be able to come up for two rehearsals and this sort of stuff. I want everyone to be living in the same streets so I can say why donít we have a rehearsal on Saturday afternoon but its not possible anymore unfortunately.
David: And itís a shame. When I played with Andy in A New Opera that was OK and Andy would say youíre a tight guitar player which is his way of saying your not very adventurous but you do what youíre told and you do it in the right places. I think all of us are better, warmer and looser musicians now. I think one of the benefits of age is you donít give a stuff about certain issues. You care about the music but your not concerned about being spotted or there could be an A & R guy in the audience or that girlís watching me I hope sheís impressed.
Guy: The girls are always watching you Dave (laughs).
David: Yeah, like in disbelief, how can it live? But you can actually get up on a stage now where youíre not intimidated at all. One of the great benefits of approaching 50, technically heís gone over the hillÖÖ
Guy: Just approaching the hill at 80 miles an hour (laughs).
David: When we have a gig Iím going to have a proper rock star Persian rug or carpet and Iím going to have a lamp table and a glass of water (laughs).
Guy: Who said rockís dead (laughs).
David: Iím going to have leathers like the Black Crowes.
Guy: Yeah right!
David: When you come to the gigs Geoff youíre going to see it happen. Iíve told him weíre gigging Guy, youíd better get your finger out!
Guy: Have I told you yet what the band are going to wear?
David: Oh no, pinafores (laughs).
Guy: Dave and Steve Dundon in a pantomime horse. Thatís what theyíre coming on as (laughs).
David: With a guitar plug coming out the side.
Guy: Iíll toss a coin to see whoís going to be the front and whoís in the back end (laughs).
David: Look, if it means playing your stuff live Iíll dress up in a bloody tutu!
Guy: Right, youíve just said that on tape and Iím going to keep that. Iím going to use that as evidence later when Iíve bought your tutu.
David: Thatís one of the benefits of old age you can come out the closet a lot more readily.
Guy: You canít fit in a closet.
David: Or in a tutu if it comes to that.
Guy: If we get a big enough tutu thatíll be alright.
David: You heard it, itís going to happen Geoff. Weíre going to gig and weíre going to have a lot of fun as well!
DPRP: Speaking of stage props if you do it ELP style youíll have three large trucks to carry all the gear with a letter on the roof of each spelling out the bandís name (laughs). But thereís seven letters in Manning so youíre going to need seven trucks.
Guy: Weíre going to go for G.U.Y. for this one or three Minis and a trailer (laughs).
David: Whatís the abbreviation of Manning, its Ming isnít it? Weíll call ourselves Ming or the Mingers.
Guy: Manning and the Mingers!
~ Multi-Instrumentalist ~
DPRP: In 2003 I saw you support Focus for the CRS and as youíre a multi-instrumentalist it was interesting seeing you on stage playing mostly acoustic guitar. Are the instruments that you play on the albums precious to you and is it hard to give those parts to someone else?
Guy: No itís not precious really, I mean nine times out of ten they can probably play it better than me (laughs) and thatís the whole point. I play acoustic guitar I suppose because thatís my instrument. If I had to take one instrument to a dessert island it would be the acoustic. I can play other things, not brilliantly but adequately and I get the job done. So itís nice to take the pressure off and have people who can actually concentrate on that instrument and do it justice if you like. I mean when we started out on the early tours when we did ĎThe Cureí and stuff like that there was two keyboard setups. There is now, but it was more dominating then. Now Julieís got one keyboard which she does bits and pieces on and thereís going to be another keyboard player with a full set. In those days there was two rigs one for the keyboard player and one Laura used to play bits on. I used to go over and do things like ĎTightropeí from ĎThe Ragged Curtainí all on keyboards, no acoustic guitar.
So I ended up playing more instruments but for this line-up and the songs weíve picked the acoustic guitar is a nice instrument to strum and to sing. My main job is to sing and get the song across. The fact that I can play other instruments is nice for me to have and know, but itís not essential in a live setup. I have to demonstrate that. Maybe Iíll end up by playing some keyboards when we go out live this time and I might play some mandolin which I havenít done. But primarily the acoustic instrument and the singing is my main responsibility and making sure everyone else is doing what they have to do. No itís not precious, they can play better than me anyway, they can blow me off the stage so it doesnít matter (laughs).
~ Guy to Manning ~
DPRP: Speaking of things precious you started off as Guy Manning and then you dropped the Guy part to simply Manning. Can you say why that was?
Guy: When Iíd released ĎTall Storiesí as Guy Manning all the reviews came in saying singer/songwriter Guy Manning, he writes the songs, he sings the songs. And I thought to myself yeah but these are big pieces, Iím doing all the guitars all the keyboards and drum parts and everything and Iím being reduced to a strummingÖ you know. Iím not just a singer/songwriter in the same way that Roger Waters when he releases an album heís not just a singer/songwriter. I wanted to get rid of the tag. Itís a perception thing if your going to be called Guy Manning people will think youíre a solo artist. In fact thatís something that drives me berserk now. Every time they talk about The Tangent they say Guy Manning has released nine solo albums. What does it mean, solo albums from what? Solo albums are usually the albums people do on their own when their out of a band so it doesnít make any sense to me. There not solo albums, there my albums. Iím not in The Tangent and go off and do an album every now and again on my own, itís the other way round.
I got sick of it really and somebody said if youíre in a band why donít you just think of a band name and go out as a band. You do exactly the same thing but call yourself, you know ĎBritanniaí or ĎTriumph Threeí or ĎRetroí or something. I thought well, Iíll just drop the Guy bit. Manning is the project name so that was it. Itís not the greatest name in retrospect if I made the decision again Iíd probably try and think up a proper band name like Magenta or whoever. Magenta in essence might have been Rob Reedís band when it started and he got people in to play but heís lucky they stayed with him and it became Magenta. It was self fulfilling it became its own band which was great. Maybe I should have thought of a proper name and not Manning because people still donít take me seriously and think itís me and a few other people doing what I do. But I dropped it because I was taken far more seriously as a band than I was as a solo artist even though the albums are exactly the same. Itís just silly, itís a perception thing. Itís just odd.
~ Guests ~
DPRP: Interestedly enough you talked about the musicians on your albums some of those you list as actually band members and some as guests. How does somebody become a band member as opposed to a guest?
Guy: Basically a guest is somebody whoís in another band and plays on the album. So Andyís a guest because he plays in The Tangent and Steveís a guest because he plays in Molly Bloom. All the other people arenít in bands so theyíre band members because this is what they do. They havenít got a primary band and come and help me out. Dave, until he gets his own band is a band member so is Laura. Sheís got her own band but itís not in the same sort of genre so I could say guest Laura Fowles from the Laura Fowles Quintet her own band. I could do, but I havenít done that yet. Ian Fairbairn the fiddle player he used to play with Lindisfarne and Jack The Lad and all those people but he doesnít play with them anymore so I canít say guest from Lindisfarne or whatever. So anybody whose in a band which they take more seriously than mine theyíre guests and anybody who plays with me because they like playing and we do it regularly is in the band thatís how I make the distinction.
DPRP: And I suppose it stops the write-ups from saying that person has left that band and theyíve joined Manning.
Guy: Yeah exactly. Not that anybody would think that Andy had left The Tangent to join me but yeah itís acknowledging their own bands. Once they come through these doors I donít think right, youíre working for me now sonny. These are people who have given up time from theyíre own projects to help me and it should be acknowledged that their projects exist. This is where you can find them and if you want to research Molly Bloom or you want to research The Tangent then this is where you should go. Itís a respect thing.
DPRP: I suppose on the new Tangent album youíll be billed as a guest from Manning (laughs).
Guy: No, it doesnít work like that actually (laughs). Funny enough, thatís where the theory falls down because actually Iím a full time member of The Tangent. Or Iím called a full time member but how can you be a full time member when people live in Sweden. We never get together so there isnít a full time band but the people who make The Tangent albums are made up of a core group of musicians and other people and it fluctuates. But weíre not guests because we all do it on our own in the same way that Jonas isnít credited as Jonas Reingold guest from The Flower Kings and Jakko isnít a guest from the 21st Century Schizoid Band or whatever heís doing at the moment. Were not guests weíre seen as being The Tangent because of the very nature of what it is which is a band made up of people from other bands. It doesnít have guests because itís acknowledged everyone is doing other things. Theo (Travis) has got his own outfit everyone in the band is doing something. So it doesnít quite work like that although I could suggest it to Andy and become a guest!
~ La Voce Del Vento ~
DPRP: Speaking of other bands you and Andy have worked on two Colossus Spaghetti Epic projects under the name La Voce Del Vento which I believe translates as ĎThe Voice Of The Windí.
Guy: The Voice Of The Wind yes, I thought of that. Iím proud of that. The brief from Colossus was you can be on this album and we want you to do a piece twenty five minutes long and itís got to sound like 70ís Italian progressive rock. So I thought of an Italian name for us.
DPRP: So did you run home and drag out your old PFM albums?
Guy: Naturally, and my Banco albums (laughs). But to be honest we did play that way but a lot of it is old Hammond, Moog and Mellotron based and thatís what we do anyway. We wrote a piece around this western theme and we put a few little Leone bits in just to make it twang a little bit and the solo trumpet (mimes Ennio Morricone style trumpet) and all that stuff in it. We put a lot of wind and other noises like the rustling of tumbleweed and the rest of it was just what we normally do to be perfectly honest. We had a lot of fun doing it. The first one we had a lot of fun, the second one coincided with Andyís problems in France and it wasnít a happy time for him so it was a bit rushed towards the end. I think the second one could have sounded a bit better but we ended up by rushing it to get it out the way because we were meeting deadlines for Colossus.
DPRP: That came out just last year.
Guy: Yeah. We havenít been asked to do another one (laughs). Twoís enough!
DPRP: I guess thatís because theyíre running out of Sergio Leone films. It was interesting when I first read about your involvement as for me you were treading on sensitive ground because theyíre two of my favourite films. Ennio Morricone responsible for the original music is also one of my favourite composers so I was really interested to see how you approached it.
Guy: We were never going to rip anybody off but there obviously had to be some sort of Spanish bits in there because thatís the way it was. I did a lot of the orchestration for the second one like the part about the battlefield and the lone trumpet and the orchestra. I guess I thought it was a nice idea to do that and Andy came in and did his typical ELP bits and I did my singer/songwriter bits and we just stuck it together like we do with everything else. It could have been a Tangent album if we spent more time on it and got more people on it. We just used our instruments so it wasnít a problem to say it has to sound like PFM or Banco it just had to sound authentically 70ís and have a bit of Spanish in it to make it western and we got away with it. I think the pieces arenít bad. There not the best thing weíve ever written but theyíre not bad. And theyíre probably not the worse.
David: Are you legends in Italy then (laughs).
Guy: No, weíre not even legends in our own lunchtime!
DPRP: I think they work. The last one you did which was ĎThe Badí from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly is based on an evil killer but I thought the music was quite sunny and upbeat and the lyrics very sympathetic to the character.
Guy: I tried to make it so that he might be bad but what made him that way? Rather than just being a swine because he is heís a swine I basically wanted to say for all the badness, remember heís on his own all the time he hasnít got anywhere to go. Heís got no family, heís a lone guy and at the end the fact that he gets killed to him is probably a good thing and it probably ending his torment. So I approached it from that angle rather than go (sings) Iím a swine, Iím gonna gun you down. I tried to look at it from a different angle because thatís what I do. I try and get a different perspective on the character.
DPRP: I think you put a lot of depth into the character that isnít there in the film but that bleakness suited the style of the film.
Guy: Itís a fantastic film but you just couldnít write a song about someone gunning people down could you? It just wouldnít have made it a decent lyric (sings) Iím gonna shoot you in the head, shoot you in the leg. You couldnít so I had to make it different and thatís what we try to do and I think it was OK. Andy got fed up with it by the end (laughs). He said I canít do this anymore. We do all this, six months of work and what do we get? Three copies of the album and thatís it, is it worth it (laughs).
DPRP: So no future plans for La Voce Del Vento?
Guy: We did say we were going to do a La Voce album when weíve got time on our hands. Weíll come together and take that as the boundary for a project and just the two of us will sit down and hammer out some pieces together and try and write it. No Tangent, everything we do weíll do together and do an album as La Voce Del Vento. But thatís for another time heís too damn busy these days to contemplate it. Never mind, The Voice Of The Wind has blown away.
DPRP: Itís a great title and I like the Italian variation on your names in the CD booklet. Who thought of those?
Guy: Guy De MíAnningi and Andreas Tillisoni (laughs). Andy thought of those, he insisted on putting those in. I take no responsibility for the Italian names.
On that note, and conscious of the lateness of the hour, we brought the interview to a close. Before David and I made our way into the fresh night air however Guy picked up his acoustic guitar and provided an impromptu performance that included tantalising snatches of several rock and prog classics. When Guy switched to keyboards David took over revealing that contrary to his earlier comments heís actually a very good acoustic player. An elegant duet that touched on The Last Psalm from Guyís first album made a fitting conclusion to the evening.
Since the interview it has been announced that Manning, along with Strangefish and Black Bonzo, will be playing a special concert for the Classic Rock Society in Rotherham, UK on Saturday 21st June 2008. Itís been planned as a tribute to Rob Leighton of Radio Caroline fame who tragically passed away in January of this year. Tickets are available from the CRS website and all profits will go to the charity NACC (National Association for Colitis and Crohn's Disease) nominated by Robís widow Sharon. Iíll be there, so if you make it along please come up and say hello.
Guy Manning Official Website
The Tangent Official Website
The Tangent MySpace Page
DPRP Review of Manning's Songs From The Bilston House
DPRP Review of Manning's Anser's Tree
DPRP Review of Manning's One Small Step
DPRP Review of Manning's A Matter Of Life And Death
DPRP Review of Manning's A View From My Window
DPRP Review of Manning's Ragged Curtain
DPRP Review of Manning's Cascade
DPRP Review of Manning's The Cure
DPRP Review of Manning's Tall Stories For Small Children
DPRP Review of The Tangent's Not As Good As The Book
DPRP Review of The Tangent's Going Off On One
DPRP Review of The Tangent's A Place In The Queue