Wednesday, 23 April 2014 16:47

Manchester Orchestra Touring in Grand Rapids for Latest Album Cope

Written by  Robby Hartley
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Manchester Orchestra Manchester Orchestra PHOTO: Andrew Thomas Lee

Manchester Orchestra wsg. Balance and Composure, Kevin Devine and the Goddamn Band
The Intersection, Grand Rapids
May 16, 6 p.m.
$17.50 advance, $21 day of show, (616) 451-8232

Manchester Orchestra had its latest album, Cope, all ready to release. Except the band was missing one thing: a record label.

After 2012’s Simple Math, MO was on a popularity incline and eventually, without a record label. Before settling on Loma Vista Records, MO needed a break to focus on the next album. 

We took time to get out of our own heads and make sure we made a product that we were proud of,” said Chris Freeman, keyboardist and percussionist.

The result, narrowly picking at MO’s rock side compared to the spectrum of Simple Math, was written and produced by MO without a record label, made possible by the band’s new studio.

If we wanted to have a partnership, we wanted to have something that we could bring to the table,” Freeman said. “So we finished the record and then they worked with us to be the front-runners so that we could be partners and not have a looming label over the top of our backs.”

While the band’s independent approach was a challenge, Freeman is not quick to dismiss a label’s relevance in the writing process.

It is nice sometimes to have somebody on the other end being like, ‘What do you got? What music is happening right now?’ There was nobody looking over our shoulder, so throughout the entire process, we were having to uplift ourselves and encourage each other to know that we were doing the right thing.”

The album also challenged MO as the first released out of its new studio, built within the band’s recently purchased home in the Atlanta suburbs and through which it runs its merchandise store. Several of the band members lived in the home-now-studio for about seven years, so by avoiding the pressures of studio fees and decompressing in familiar space, the band imbued a natural feel in Cope for a fraction of the cost of a traditional studio album.

MO’s bold and natural approach is demonstrated on the album’s cover art with nothing more than the word “COPE” in all capitals, clearly indicating the sole requirement of those listening to a live set of the new music.

“It just felt right. It felt like this record was definitely in-your-face and bold, so why not make the album cover the same way?”

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