Q&A with Manray
Gene Woolfolk-Left Guitar/Vox
Jordan Olivera-Right Guitar/Vox
We have all been playing together since about April of last year, although my brothers and myself (Ryan) have been playing music with each other for 10+ years and Gene has been making the rounds for years in bands like Spy For Hire, Continue And Save and The Winter Sounds. We all hit the ground running since our inception less than a year ago and have been touring the Southeast extensively in addition to a 2 week tour up the East Coast to New York in September of last year. In December, we completed our first EP entitled, “I Think I Heard Something…” which is available for purchase exclusively at our live shows but can be streamed on our Facebook fan page. We are currently writing for our first full length album and are planning a March tour through North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida with good friends The Bronzed Chorus and Antarctic. Most of the places that we have traveled to have been really receptive of the music we are making so we have no desire to slow down anytime soon!
TBI (Sean): So, for those who aren’t aware of the band, tell us a bit about you all? What do you play? Where is the band from and how long have you been together?
Manray: Well we are Manray. We live in Athens, GA. We have been together for a little less than a year now and we make the most advanced form of Rock and Roll to date . . . kind of. Our music is always weird to describe. It is rooted in a lot of the progressive music of years gone by, like Yes, King Crimson and Pink Floyd . . . kind of. But we also have a really straight forward side that appreciates good parts, hooks, and structure, unlike a lot of the “math-rock” bands we are often grouped in with . . . kind of.
TBI: We’re always excited to work with bands from Georgia. What do you think about the independent and underground music scene in Georgia and where do you see improvements that need to be made?
Manray: The most exciting music happening in America right now is all independent and underground compared to the old standards of success measured in, “millions of units sold.” And of all of these really interesting bands in various genres and sub-genres of independently produced music I think we in Manray see incredible, unrealized potential in Georgia, but more generally in the South. There are so many hard working bands that are recording and touring without the support of radio promoting their music! This is mind-blowing when you think about how radio stations are going bust left and right because they all play the same crappy songs, but none of them are willing to take a chance on anything new because people might not listen . . . people are already tuning out. Sure college radio will play indie artists, but listeners have to suffer through fumbling, well-intentioned but amateur dj’s and strange programming like the inevitable hour of Mongolian throat singing or Black Metal. Either way you are going to lose people in the middle. Radio could be a huge asset in the fight bring engaging and thoughtful music back to people everywhere. It is already beamed into just about every car on the road right? The infrastructure is in place, but few are taking advantage of it.
TBI: Athens is a town with a striving music scene and has been so since the early 1970’s. What sets Athens apart from the other cities that you all have been to and played in?
Manray: Athens is a perfect shit storm of many factors that combine to make this town a safe harbor for music. My personal take on it is not as romantic as some people, but here is goes. First, I think that our centralized downtown district plays a vital role in putting a lot of people all in one place. Beyond that, music is really woven into the local culture and people here are willing to go to shows and spend their money supporting bands here, we buy records and t-shirts because most of us know how tight things are as a musician. Most of us are musicians! I think that right now Athens has never been more exciting for musicians. There are so many great local bands working with remarkable local studios who are backed by really supportive local labels. What we have here is hard to boil down to a few factors.
TBI: Manray has been to Macon before, correct? Didn’t you all do a show for Macon Noise with a few local bands at either The Golden Bough or Grant’s Lounge? What can you tell me about your experience here and what stood out to you about the city and the people you met?
Manray: Yes! It was an awesome time and the reason why we have been blowing Clark up for a month to try and get us back. We played at Grant’s Lounge with Re-peater, the Fugazi cover band. We even brought our ringer, guitar phenom Bryan Aiken of Lazer/Wulf and ‘Powers fame because we weren’t sure if my brother Jordan was going to make the show. Long story short, Jordan made it and we just played with all 3 guitar players on 1 rehearsal. The crowd energy was unreal!
TBI: How would you describe your ideal Manray show?
Manray: It depends on who you ask. I think that Gene likes them loud, tight, and sweaty. Hehe. I like energy! I want people to get excited, but then I think that is true of all of us. Nobody wants to go to a show where everyone stares at their shoes with their hands in their pockets. We are not that kind of band. We want people to be stoked on what we are doing because we are pretty stoked on it too.
TBI: What was 2010 like for the band and what are you looking forward to this coming year?
Manray: We are a relatively new band. We formed in April of 2010 and have been on the move ever since. In less than a year we have self-released an EP. We have toured as much as possible in the South and all the way up the east coast to New York. We have written a number of new tunes set to go on our first full-length album which we hope to record this year. We are planning a tour in March with close friends and Hello Sir Records staples The Bronzed Chorus and Antarctic. We have even booked shows in April with Athens giants Cinemechanica and Maserati. 2010 was busy but I look forward to many more lost hours of sleep in 2011.
TBI: Athens is full of amazing bands that need to be heard. What local acts are you listening to or would suggest that we check out?
Manray: Bambara, who we are bringing to town with us, would be a good place to start. We were all fans of Cinemechanica before we met up with them and started playing shows so I would highly recommend their album, “The Martial Arts.” Aside from that, Gene just ran sound for a show with Gift Horse and the recently disbanded Deaf Judges which was a great time. We Vs. The Shark and Pegasuses XL may not be playing shows anymore but those are some Athens bands that I would not want to miss out on and you can find former members collaborating with other interesting projects these days so the list goes on. Gene recommends Savagist, Pride Parade, and Reptar.