Bartek, Tom and Andrew of
1. Manifest - a right collection of musical minstrels - tell us about the musical journeys thus far and what is the main driving force and ethos of the current band?
Bartek: For me personally, as well as for all of us, Manifest is a new chapter on the musical journey. My previous bands include: Dzieci Stanu Wojennego, JEZUSMARIA, I Strefa Ochrony Sanitarnej and Rebel Conspiracy. I've actually realised that I've been in bands on and off since 1995. :)
Manifest consists of Tom Cunningham on drums, Andrew White on bass and vocals and me on guitar and vocals. We say in a jokey way that we are a super group as all members have been or currently are, as in Tom's case, in other Manchester outfits: The Crux, Flat Back Four, A Victory at Sea and Rebel Conspiracy.
I really enjoy playing with Andy and Tom as they are both fantastic musicians and this makes the process of writing songs very smooth and easy and allows you to do whatever you want as you're not restrained by lack of technical abilities.
The main driving force and ethos of the band? To play hardcore music with a message, which doesn't stay indifferent to what's around us.
Andrew: The journey has been through Indie, Close Harmony, Classic Rock, Pop Punk to Hardcore Punk. In an interesting twist, our drummer Tom was in a band that was signed to the record label that I co ran with my first band 12 years ago. What goes around...
We live in regurgitated eighties, only our miners are shop workers. Our Maggie is David. Our Falklands will be The Falklands. Our British Steel is the NHS. Our Poll Tax is the withdrawal of Council Tax Benefit, while millionaires have their tax rates cut. Our Yuppies are vapid socialites, famous for being famous, peddling poisonous pipe dreams. The legacy of knock-down priced council houses has left us with a generation, slaves to landlords with little hope of getting out. No bank will lend to us, we have nothing to give back. Everyone looking for that quick fix.
We’ve been turned against ourselves, encouraged to hate our fellow man. We’re being divided and their next step is to conquer. We are part of the fightback, the solution and the revolution.
Tom: I grew up listening to all sorts of music and loving drums so I taught myself how to play and started a punk band with some friends and stolen musical instruments from our schools music dept, I then started Flatback Four and played drums with them for a good few years which is how I got to know Bartek and Andy and now we're making noise together. I think we're trying to mash all different genres of hardcore together with politics.
Bartek: My influences come from a broad range of bands, which could be classified as punk, hardcore and metal. This list is not exhaustive but bands I really like or who have influenced me over the years and more recently include: Dezerter, Smar SW, Karcer, Wlochaty, Post Regiment, TZN Xenna, Moskwa, Tilt, Schizma, Apatia, Conflict, The Exploited, DRI, D.O.A., Dead Kennedy’s, Black Flag, Madball, Sick of it All, Biohazard, Downset, Terror, Knuckledust, Agnostic Front, Pantera, Metallica, Megadeth, Dissafect, Discharge, Dirt, Comeback Kid, the list goes on...
Andrew: Influence is fluid. I find influence every day in news, opinion, conjecture and modern history. I find Human Beings endlessly interesting and history repeating itself one of the most fascinating areas of the human condition. The fact we don’t seem to want to learn the lessons of the past.
I count some of my heroes, in no particular order as Richey Edwards, Jarvis Cocker, David Mitchell, Mick Foley, Ian Hislop, Jello Biafra, Fat Mike, Nigel Blackwell, Douglas Adams, John Cleese, Stan Marsh, Graham Linehan, Brian Molko, Winston Smith, Neil Hannon, Ayrton Senna, Hank Hill, Billy Bragg, Bill Hicks,
Albums I never tire of include Different Class, Smash, Dookie, The Holy Bible, Wolves in Wolves Clothing, Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables, Placebo, Let it Bleed, Today’s Empires - Tomorrows Ashes, Blur, Everything Must Go, Toxicity, Whatever and Ever - Amen, Bookends, The Neon Handshake, Rage Against the Machine, The Blue Album,
Also, there’s real ale and good whiskey. They are a constant aide to inspiration.
Bartek: Yeah, you have touched on something very important. I met a few great bands and very nice people when I was in Rebel Conspiracy and when we played our first gig with Manifest, it was organised by my good mate Evil Bazz from The Crash Mats and we were honoured to play with Eye Licker (another great bunch of lads, who play hardcore punk). Other good friends turned up to the gig including Adam Pancake and Katie from No Decorum. The atmosphere was amazing, the friendliness level as high as you can imagine and we were very well received. This was a really moving experience and proved that a real community spirit exists on the punk/hardcore scene. Since that gig we played together with all the mentioned bands and we have become very close and supportive towards each other. What is really cool about it is that each band has their own, unique style and nobody tries to copy each other and we all stay true to our own sound, which makes it an interesting variety. You've got No Decorum, who play Oi/ska, The Crash Mats, who go for punk with ska elements and Eye Licker play 'dirty' hardcore punk. Also, each band puts on a really good show when playing live. There is an idea of us all going on tour together so... let's see what comes out of it.
There are quite a few promoters and labels/collectives in and around Manchester worth mentioning: Slit Promotions, Wingnut Promotions, STP Records, Ting and Ting, Pumpkin Records, TNS Records, Horn and Hoof, Spit and Sawdust.
Andrew: In the past, there were issues with the Punk Scene, and the wider music scene in Manchester. Punk had a couple of record labels and a few fanzines and websites sticking with their own bands, but nothing really tied together. The Rock scene which had been around, mixing with the punk scene had also died out. This being Manchester, there was a plethora of poor indie bands coveting idleness beyond their wildest dreams, playing gigs without thinking about writing songs. This is the era of pay to play and threes-a-crowd. All the decent venues had being taken up by parasites like V-Man (who I once had a full stand up argument with about him and his ilk killing the Manchester Music Scene for basically no profit). Some venues wanted you to sign waivers saying you wouldn’t play in Manchester in the weeks before and after. It was a bad time to be in a band in Manchester.
Now, the labels talk to each other, bands have rediscovered the idea of quality. More venues with in house sound are in operation. Each label or scene seems to have a base and a growing fan base. Horn and Hoof, Wingnut, Slit and TNS are all putting on quality shows in quality venues and the idea of Manchester as a strong Punk base is becoming a real possibility.
Rising from this positivity are a series of good bands. No Decorum are sounding awesome at gigs and Joey has bucketloads of charisma. Great front man. Scumface are unique and entertaining. The Crash Mats start a party. Eyelicker eviscerate eardrums at a hundred paces. There’s a good selection of people around at the moment and that bodes well for the scene.
Bartek: I have never been to bed with a fish but if I had a choice, it would be an Octopus. Why? Because it's the prettiest and has eight arms to tickle me in many different places at the same time.
Andrew: A cod? The bike of the sea? No thanks. A stickleback? Sounds too much like Nickleback to me. I actually think I’d have to mix the Octopus and the Eels. Specifically, I could utilise the eels as fairly flesh like dildos and attach them to each of the octopus’s tentacles. That way, an eight way orgy could evolve. Sounds like fun. No squares! If the eels are electric though? I don’t know how much fun an electrified dildo would be although, if you sewed two eels together and bent them at right ankles, you could make a cross, and using the four right angles, you could blaspheme in a truly shocking manner.
Bartek: Things exist as long as people want them to exist so yes, the answer to your question would be: 'yes, punk does exist and will exist as long as there are people, who believe in it and who put an effort into maintaining it.' I think the problem lays in the fact that punk means different things to different people. On saying that, you will find that although it's a free movement without leaders or a written 'manifesto', many people, who are in it think in a very similar way. And this goes internationally as well beyond borders and cultural differences.
For me personally punk is a part of my life and my identity.
Andrew: Punk is an attitude and punk as an attitude existed well before what we know as the musical style Punk evolved. Punk music however, does encapsulate the attitude well. When the Pistols appeared in 1976 they were vitally needed. Rock had gone so far up its arse, songs were mini opuses and it was getting to the point where you needed a degree in classical theory to make any sense of it. That’s before you get to the snobbish attitude that accompanied musicians and fans alike. The establishment was just that and it wasn’t going anywhere. Punk was the kick in the balls. Punk showed people that you didn’t need to study mandolin, lute and medieval theory to make a great song and you didn’t need major backing to make a major point. It was basically us against them, and us was getting stronger.
Punk is not only still relevant, it’s more relevant now that it has been since the early 80’s.
Tom: I think Punk does exist but not in it's standard form. I personally feel it's a lot more than just three chords, Mohawks, leather and bad attitude. I think any band that's putting out there own records booking their own tours and shows and really pushing a D.I.Y ethos has a right to suggest there's some elements of 'Punk' to them, even if the genre of music they play is deemed to be pop/hip hop/ indie.
Bartek: It is part of human behaviour to name and classify things to differentiate them from one another but also to create a sense of belonging. If we have something unique, which is different from anything else, why not give it a name? At the end of the day it is ours and we need to nurture it. At the same time I am not a fan of creating divisions and I am pro unity. What I mean by that is that I would like to see people from various 'sub genres' within the scene come together. This will make us a lot stronger. To me personally it is about not forgetting about the roots of our music and learning about its history. This in turn will ensure continuity. Music as any other form of art will always keep evolving and that's ok but you need to remember where your origins are.
Andrew: I don’t think labels in music really hinder anything. They’re just umbrella terms. If bands didn’t make them, people would. Humans do that. We have a need to belong. Plus, does it really matter what you’re labelled? The Manic Street Preachers were a rock band, then they released The Holy Bible and a plethora of music journalists had to put away the clichéd “bloated cheesy rock” copy they’d already pre written and go about it in a whole new direction. What are Therapy? Are they a Metal band? Rock band? Pop Punk band? Industrial band? Their music fits all of these labels. Classic Rock bands go well with Punk bands. Indie and Electronic is a good gig mix. Hell on a Wingnut show, you’re liable to have Hardcore Punk, Pop Punk, Rockabilly, Space Rock, Metalcore and folk and everyone has an awesome time. In music, it’s simply a means to an end.
In life however, it’s a very different matter.
Tom: I think labels can be both a help and a hindrance depending on how they're run. If they're run in the interest of their bands then they can be extremely helpful, really pushing them and giving them a solid base to build on like 'Horn and Hoof', 'Make That A Take' ,'TNS' and 'Lockjaw' but if they're just run to use bands to make money like a cash cow they're shit.
Bartek: I wouldn't want to be classified in any clichés in terms of the political views. We don't want to keep repeating the same slogans over and over again but certainly we use the band as a vehicle to carry a message or to express our views about the world around us. This has always been a crucial part of punk music and something that lyrically would make it different from many other genres. To sum up my political views in one sentence, I am against social injustice in its many forms.
Andrew: Manifest are fiercely political with a mouthpiece and an opinion. Lyrics address The Left, The Right and The Middle, Celebrity, Avarice, Apathy, Arms, Information, Saturation, crisis, lessons from history, Unity and Solidarity. We will tell you what’s wrong and it’s up to us as a society to fix it.
Causes include supporting
There is no reason a person should need to sleep on a street. Rent prices are out of control and buying a house is to most, a dream akin to an attempted landing on Mars using a catapult and an oversized Hamster ball which when fired, misses the planet altogether and instead, crashes into Major Tom’s spaceship destroying it completely.
Workfare is the name for forcing people on jobseekers to work for nothing for six weeks. If they refuse, their benefits get stopped.
Not in itself a terrible idea. In fact, when it was created, it was only for charities, who couldn’t afford to pay people anyway, and small employers with less than ten members of staff.
Six weeks of free labour? Actually, not free labour, we effectively paid for it. In a six month period last year, Tesco were given £260,000+ of free labour. That’s 1400 positions of which only 300 actually got a job. There’s no wonder there’s no jobs paying anything. Why bother when you can get another person in who will be forced to work? It’s not like Tesco can’t afford it. Christ, they’re taking over the world. They sell almost everything. They are an industrial behemoth happily crushing smaller competition taking advantage of the Hyper-Capitalism they worship, and we’re paying for their staff? Bollocks.
I currently boycott Tesco, HMV, Argos, Superdrug, Burger King and Holland and Barrett. These are all companies with national exposure who run wide-ranging media campaigns. They can afford to pay their staff.
The NHS is being destroyed people. It’s salami tactics. Slice by slice. Join the fight and protect your right to healthcare. The first duty of a Government is to protect its people. This is often spoken in reference to the military. It should refer to healthcare.
Proper Memorial to the Peterloo Massacre
In 1819, there was a huge peaceful protest about voting representation in the houses of parliament. The Local Government didn’t like this and sent a huge militia in addition to an army to “disperse the crowd and arrest the speakers”. This dispersal was done by charging into the crowd with sabres drawn. 15 people ended up dead and around 600 were injured. It currently has a small red plaque on the site of the stage.
This is an event that should be taught in schools and deserves a proper memorial and day. It was a calculated, callous attack by heavily armed soldiers on peaceful demonstrators who had committed the crime of wanting fair representation in Parliament. The incident and its aftermath should serve as a reminder of what a Government is capable of doing if you give it too much control.
Tom: Leftwing non conformist atheist
Bartek: Well... I prefer to be on the giving rather than receiving end so I'd skip this adventure.
I don’t think I’d use one on account of the fact that I struggle to balance at the best of times.
Bartek: We have a very ambitious plan to record an album by ourselves (completely DIY production) and we want to start the process as soon as we are ready. Our gig calendar is filling up nicely, which is a good thing. How do we expect to stand out? It is an extremely difficult task as you rightly pointed out. I guess we go for a heavy and quite brutal sound, which not many bands on the local scene have at the moment and this is something that I see as making us stand out. We also use samples during gigs and every one of those is related to a song we play.
Andrew: It’s all going quickly, which is good. We all know how to be in bands, in fact, between us we have 45 or so years of experience. The album is almost written, it’s 75% rehearsed so it’s all go for the first gig back on 17 March at the Wingnut All-Dayer at The Star and Garter. After four gigs in a month, it’s down to deciding how to record the album, recording it and going from there. I want to play around the country in venues I’ve never played before.
Bartek: My musical ambition at present is to record an album with Manifest and to take the band as far as we can. The whole process of creating music is just fantastic and something I absolutely love doing. It is hard to point out one single best element of it as each one of them is equally as important.
Regrets? I regret not recording an album yet despite years in bands and in excess of 100 recordable songs. That’s getting replicated soon. In life? I regret buying Left of the Middle by Natalie Imbruglia on the strength of the song Torn. I also regret that the first single I bought with my own money (49p on 7” Vinyl from Woolworths if you’re interested) was Wonderful World by Worlds Apart. They were your generic early 90’s boy band. God knows what I was thinking. I’ve still got it actually. I listened to it a few months ago. It’s terrible.
I also regret taking so long to work out where best to channel my anger to make it as positive as possible.
Tom: My musical ambitions are to just play as many shows as possible in as many countries as possible while meeting new friends along the way, I don't have any regrets in life or music as I like to live positive
Bartek: Sure, we'll play anywhere. :) I couldn't donate my fingers as it would stop me from playing guitar but maybe for butt cheeks. :)
Andrew: Well, I’d let Fruit Flies in, where there are Fruit Flies, there is fermenting fruit and where there is fermenting fruit, there’s Cider being made. I’m less of a Cider aficionado now (much bigger Real Ale drinker and veteran judge of three national winter ales festivals) but do still enjoy a good sweet Perry. Therefore, Fruit Flies are in. Their use in genetics and biology studies means the humble Fruit Fly deserves a lot of credit. We understand so much more because of them so if you can add them to the benefit, I’d play it in an instant. If you can make the inner tube float through the Atlantic on wave after wave, it’d be cool :)
Bartek: We stand for hardcore punk on the Manchester scene. We are true to what we do and there is no messing around. If you like heavy hardcore sound and a mosh pit, come to our shows and like us on Facebook and check our website for regular updates. Peace.
Tom: We're about loud, aggressive, heavy grooves mixed with speed and politics!Punk will never die, but you will!