So I've known you for about 5 years, but for some, this upcoming EP and album will be their first introduction to Manuok. Give us a brief history of the band.
Officially, Manuok was born when I took some bedroom-ridden, lo-fi tape and computer recordings, packaged them in in old 5 ¼ inch floppy disks, and sold them to local stores. However, it really got started in 2004 when my band Via Satellite was on break . Our label at the time asked, “Do you got anything else? I’ll put it out as long as you promise to tour.” Tour we did. Luckily, our first tour was with the Album Leaf, which really helped us get started. Over the years many tours followed in the U.S. and in Europe. Albums came and went. Wars were started and never ended.
Though I mostly write, record, and engineer my albums by myself, I’ve had a wonderful band over years with many friends. This is especially true in Jeff Grasmick, Erik Berg, Geoff Hill, and Andrew Trecha who bring everything to life and make it all worthwhile.
I learned recently by talking to you about this upcoming batch of songs, that your lyrics are often political in nature; specifically anti-war. Tell us briefly about your politics and what prompted this approach.
It’s true that my lyrics are often anti-war, anti-religion, and anti-consumerism. But having known fantastic people who are soldiers, police officers, and pastors (all while owning Apple products) hopefully gives my lyrics multiple dimensions. As for prompting the approach, I never plan to write in themes; it’s just what comes out. As for specifically anti-war... in many ways, I’m a product of war. My grandfather (who you can hear talking throughout my albums) met his wife on leave in Albuquerque. I was born just outside a naval base in Scotland where my father worked for a defense corporation. Maybe it’s not so strange, my father and grandfather are anti-war too.
I find your personal family background fascinating, born in Scotland but also from Mexican descent. Untangle these knots for us.
My odds for victory at the World Cup are terrific. My mother’s background is German, Russian, and Ukrainian (give or take an invasion). My father’s background is Mexican and Spanish. I was born in Montrose, Scotland. My wife’s parents are from Argentina. Lastly, because I’ve spent a lot of time in Italy (a touring base for three separate bands), I’ve developed a particular fondness for it. So when the World Cup happens, I root for the United States, Mexico, Spain, Germany, Russia, Ukraine, UK, Argentina, and Italy. Go sports team!
I'm going to ask you to brag for a bit. As a veteran of the independent music scene, you seem to have played with a lot of well known bands and musicians. Give us a brief forensic analysis of this.
Analysis? I got lucky and I’m passable on a lot of instruments. San Diego is a small town that has shown me tremendous support. I started touring in bands around 2000. I ate shit on the road for years and years and met a lot of people. Eventually I was asked to tour in other bands. The more bands you tour with, the more people you meet and the more you get asked to go on tour (only so many people can arrange their lives enough to be able to tour, right?). On and on. Anyway, I’ve recorded with, and/or played with lots of bands, but here’s a few noteables: The Black Heart Procession, The Album Leaf, Tristeza, Devics (Sara Lov, Dustin O’Halloran), Mr. Tube, Trost (DE), Grimoon (IT), Ilya, Via Satellite, and By Sunlight.
You're known in some circles as a pun addict. What the fuck is wrong with you?
It’s true. I’ve been addict to a lot of people.
Lastly, tell us about something that inspired you recently, whether it's a book or a band or a building or a sunrise--whatever.
Seems a little bit bandwagon, but David Flipping Bowie. He made art up to the last minute. Pain or no.