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Manners Guitarist Talks Hardcore, ‘Dexter’ and Being an ‘Iron Chef’

Derek Morse

Connecticut quintet Manners, comprised of five childhood friends, dropped Apparitions and Escapism via MorseCode Recordings earlier this summer. The 12″ vinyl and CD includes a re-recorded version of the Escapism EP from 2010, as well as 2011′s Apparitions EP, complete with a pair of new songs. The re-record of Escapism took place in an old country farmhouse in Connecticut, too! That’s what makes Manners so real and so raw.

Manners are ushering in the new wave of melodic and emotionally resonant hardcore, along with bands like La Dispute and Touche Amore, so we knew we had to nail them down for a chat. Guitarist Ian Bates gave us the rundown on all things Manners, who describes themselves as a “five-piece alternative hardcore band.”

With two EPs and three years of history, they may be new, but they are climbing and turning heads! And guess what? Bates can play the banjo and accordion, too! Maybe those atypical instruments will show up in a Manners song down the road in the most subtle of ways. He also revealed how the serial killer drama Dexter factors into one of their songs and why he is so informed about flowers.

Pick one Manners song and share an intimate writing or recording story; that is, something we could only know because you told us!

In our song “Apparitions,” when we were recording a section in the middle with just drums and feedback, I suggested to [vocalist] Chris [Hague] to whisper quietly and I would reverse it to add a bit of creepy ambiance and fill up the space. What I didn’t tell him was what to talk about. When I hit record, Chris started ranting about the TV show Dexter which he was obsessed with at the time. As dumb as it sounded forwards, reversed talking always sounds cool so we kept it. So if you can find a way to play the song backwards, you can hear all of Chris’s opinions about a fictional maniac.

Listen to ‘Widowmaker’

Lyically, Manners lay the cards face up on the table, talking about Chris’ anxiety and feelings about mortality. Is that hard to do, to be so open?

The lyrics are a bit of catharsis for Chris, and in a way for myself as well. I deal with a lot of the same anxiety issues that Chris does, and I find that playing our songs live is one of the best venues for dealing with them. The people that have connected with our lyrics getting together in a room to sing along is one of the best reassurances, not even as a band, but as people dealing with the issues in the songs, that there are people who understand and despite how bad it can seem we are in it together. Not to mention I have talked to many people who have told me the songs and lyrics have helped them through times in their lives similar to what we talk about and it helped them through, which will always mean more to me than record sales or sounding tough.

Do you have any non-music hobbies or skills or talents?

Most of my day is music related, though not necessarily Manners all the time. I can play accordion and banjo, which people would probably find odd. If I’m not making some kind of music, I like buying a bunch of weird ingredients from the grocery store and play Iron Chef by myself in the kitchen. Also, I know way too much about plants because my father is a landscape designer and my mother is a florist, and I worked at a garden nursery for a few years. So if you want to know anything about trees shrubs or perennials I could talk your ear off.

MorseCode Recordings

Pick up Manners’ new 12″ EP over at MorseCode Recordings.

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