In SNACK Tracks we’ll ask some of our favourite artists questions which are linked, often tenuously, to their new album’s track names. Guitarist and singer Chris Bainbridge of Man of Moon is up first. The band release their excellent debut album, Dark Sea, in late September.
What has been your favourite tour and why?
That’s a tricky one because we’ve had so many tours that we’ve really enjoyed, but for different reasons.
The tour with Django Django in 2018 was incredible. That was like our first serious tour where we got to play some big shows in loads of different cities right across Europe and the UK, and we got on really well with the boys in the band. But we were driving this pure shite old van that couldn’t go above 50 mph, so some of the drives were taking fucking ages. We would watch out the window as lorries and Megabuses were zooming past us on the autobahn in Germany, which was quite funny to be honest, but also made the journeys pretty daunting.
Our tour with The Twilight Sad last year was amazing as well as it was our first ever big bus tour. It’s been a dream of mine to tour on one of those buses since I was about 13, so when we got asked, we were both absolutely cheesing. Was really cool to get to watch the boys go out on stage every night and smash it. What a band – such nice guys too. We all had such a laugh.
If I had to pick my favourite tour that we’ve ever done though, it would be when we supported my cousin Dave’s band Boy Azooga across the UK, just after they released their amazing debut in 2018. I think we literally laughed from start to finish. Me and Dave have been super tight since we were wee kids and have always talked about going on tour together someday, so it was really special for it to actually happen.
They were pulling really good crowds too, so we would just go on and play as hard as we could, then jump off, grab a beer and then jump about like mad while they were on. Was seriously fun and I would do it again tomorrow.
Have you become good friends with any bands you’ve played with over the years, and what drew you to them?
One band that sticks out is The Van T’s. I can’t remember the first show we played with them exactly, but I think it was at Stereo in Glasgow, years ago. We all just hit it off really well. They were super supportive of me and Mikey [Man of Moon drummer Michael Reid] and we all just had a proper laugh backstage.
Like me, the guitarist, Chloe, loves loud, crazy sounding pedals so we chatted about that and recommended different pedals for each other to try. Me and Mikey love the fact that they go out on stage every time and just fucking go for it, playing really loud with loads of feedback and energy. Great band to watch live.
Another artist I have become really close with over the years is Ross Clark, who used to play in a band called Three Blind Wolves. He now has a project called Fiskur and their debut album came out last month – it’s an amazing album and I recommend it! Me and Ross actually recently had a funny, drunken night where we discovered that we both absolutely love The Cribs. So we then proceeded to listen to them for about 4 hours straight, belting out all the lyrics…sorry, neighbours.
Are there any positives to take from the current situation regarding the music industry?
One of the positives I’ve noticed in this situation is the fact that artists have been playing more live streamed sets and finding new ways in which to interact with their audience. I think this is great for fans of music who are unable to attend live shows for disability reasons, or if something like anxiety stops them from wanting to go to a crowded busy room with strangers for a gig. These performances allow people to enjoy live music without leaving the house, and I think it’s great that the fans can also interact with artists via the comments section whilst they play.
I played a few live streamed sets during lockdown and really enjoyed it. I was surprised, to be honest, because I thought it was going to be really weird. But it was actually very uplifting watching it back afterwards and seeing what people were saying during the gig. I was super fucking nervous for the first one, but once I got going it was fine. I hope live streaming will continue to be a thing artists do even occasionally, as it also allows music fans from countries that maybe aren’t always included on tour dates to experience the songs too.
WHEN WE WERE YOUNG
What were your key influences when you started the band, and do you still feel the same about these acts?
When we started the band, we bonded heavily over bands such as Russian Circles, Mogwai, She Keeps Bees, TOOL, Radiohead, CAN, Jagwar Ma, and loads more. I think elements of these very different acts are still present at times in our sound, and I love these bands just as much as I did when we started out.
There’s no doubt that our sound has changed over the years, especially since the very early days. When we started out, we were a lot rawer and more sparse. We have gotten a lot louder over the years, adding extra elements to the live sound, but we still enjoy using dynamics and we like to bring the volume right down for parts of the set.
One thing that stands out for me, regarding the bands I’ve mentioned, is that they’re all good at making something sound intense and emotional at times. That is something we definitely try to replicate through our sound and with certain songs.
What’s been your biggest slip-up in the industry so far?
I think, like many bands, we’ve had our fair share of slip-ups. One is definitely be not working hard enough when we first started out. We were 19 and partying a bit too much; it took me a wee while to realise that you have to work really hard to make a band successful. It’s definitely not just about having fun.
Another learning curve would be managing to sift through the bullshitters in the music industry. There’s a lot of really sound, genuine folk in this industry who I have a lot of time for, but there are also people who chat total shite and who I don’t feel are in it for the music.
We’ve had experiences with agents etc. in the past who have acted as though they support the band and want to help, but then come to the show and not even watched us play. At the time it was very disheartening and affected our confidence levels a fair bit, but you kinda learn to care less about those folk. It becomes easier to tell when someone is chatting shite.
RIDE THE WAVES
We’re all surfing the web more these days; any sites or accounts you’ve got into during the lockdown?
If I’m completely honest, nah. Not really. I’m not that big on surfing the web. But I have got into reading a bit more, which is great because I’ve wanted to do that for years – I didn’t read books at all when I was growing up – so that’s been nice.
I also set myself a task at the start of lockdown to become more comfortable with recording on Logic and better at recording at home, so I’ve been working on that a fair bit. And I’m working on album two right now, which I’m really excited about.
What do you want the legacy of Man of Moon to be?
Whoa, that’s a pretty big question, haha! I think I’d like people to remember us for our live shows. I’ve mentioned in other interviews that we try to take the audience on a bit of a journey when they’re listening to us live. We take that into consideration a lot when planning our set. We’ve worked hard over the years to try and make our live show strong, so I’d like for that to be something people think about when they’re talking about us, I guess.
We try to convey a strong sense of ‘start, middle and end’ when playing live, and we’ve gone for a similar idea with this album through dynamics and lyrics.
There are obviously no gigs as we know them right now. But when they come back: where’s your ideal venue to play, and what other bands would you love to have on the bill?
My ideal venue in Glasgow is probably Stereo. We’ve played it a few times now but there’s just something about that venue that I pure love! I like how it’s underground and has a sorta grungy, rough around the edges vibe to it, and I really like the stage. We headlined it last year when we brought out Chemicals; it was absolutely jam- packed and it was one of my favourite shows we’ve ever played. So I have a special place in ma heart for that venue.
Lots of amazing bands about, too, that I would love to play a show with, like Working Men’s Club, Domiciles, SHHE, Lizzie Reid, and my good pals The Kidney Flowers.
If I’m talking about my absolute dream venue to play again, once things are back to normal, it would probably be VEGA in Copenhagen. We played there with Django Django and then again with The Twilight Sad and it is hands down one of the coolest venues I’ve ever been to. It’s an old communist headquarters and it still has the original signs on the walls and floors.
There’s also an amazing band called FEWS that we’ve always been big fans of, and I think we would work well together on a bill. So if I got to pick a venue and a band it would probably be that combination.
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