With the triumphant return of Man & The Echo with their parody single ‘A Capable Man’ we decided to get in touch with Gaz of the band to learn more about the man behind the lyrics; here’s how it went…
Hi Gaz, how are you? Congratulations on the success of your latest single ‘A Capable Man’ which has half sung/half spoken lyrics; would you mind if we asked you some questions about your claimed skills you mention to help us get to know you a little?
I am well and thank you. No I don’t mind at all, please proceed.
‘I have successfully challenged parking fines with my persuasive rhetoric’
If our readers were to get a parking fine how would suggest they best persuade a parking attendant to refrain from fining them? And if you have a story to tell about the lyric please do tell…?
The song is not about me, it’s from the point of view of a character I made up. The sort of person who would brag about their credit score or their loyalty points. So I’m afraid I’m not sure of the best course of action which is a shame because I frequently get parking fines.
‘If a man with a van needs backing out you better know that I’m on it’
In Man & The Echo who is the best driver and why? What’s the most important thing to know about driving a van compared with a car? Again, if you have any Man & The Echo driving stories we wanna hear them…?
Fush (Bass) has been driving the longest and most frequently drives the van, although I have recently started to do it a bit as well. I would say he’s the best but draw attention to my own parallel parking skills, which you could say are beyond compare.
‘I voted leave’
We’re not planning to massively political in this interview, but I think we can all agree Brexit is not going to plan; when did you write this lyric and if you were aware of how difficult things would become with Brexit would this have changed your thoughts about including it?
So I actually voted remain, A Capable Man is not about me, it’s about a character who would have, in my mind, voted leave. So as I think that voting leave is a ridiculous position, and I’m using this song to ridicule the sort of people who adopt that position, yes I’m very happy to have included it.
‘I am a capable man’
Aside from your musical skills tell us your best talent or skill? Do any other the other members have any cool hidden talents?
Unfortunately, and worryingly, I can’t think of anything else I’m good at to the extent I’d consider it a talent. Chris, our keyboardist can drive trains, I don’t know anyone else who can do that. The other two are in the same boat as me, it’s this or nowt.
‘With what I save through various loyalty schemes we have 2 city breaks a year’
If you had a blank plane ticket right now, where would you go and why?
Probably Santa Fe, New Mexico. I went there last year with my wife and it was really relaxing and chilled and I wish I’d been able to spend more time there.
‘I am a tolerant man’
Who’s the most tolerant band member? And what are some of the worst habits of you or your band mates?
I think describing oneself as tolerant is a really bad habit that middle class white, straight people have and that’s why I put it in this song. Tolerant of what, black people? Why what are they doing to you? Tolerant of gay people? Tolerant of working class people? Why? What is there to tolerate? Their existence?
I think as a nation we’re pretty tolerant because after tolerating 8 years of austerity, privatising the health service, rises in living costs, increases in tuition fees, divide and rule politics, we haven’t stormed Westminster with torches, so good for us.
‘I had a brief blip a few years ago… A slight bout of depression’
Mental health is a big buzz phrase right now, should you be feeling low what things do you do to cheer yourself up? What would you recommend to fans?
Thankfully, I only feel low due to circumstantial things, like when someone dies or when I see Boris Johnson on television, or because an outfit I have chosen to wear turns out to be unflattering, so I know that it will always pass.
I would suggest that fans purchase our merchandise as a temporary tonic, before seeking professional help or perhaps reading up on some cognitive behaviour therapies or meditations that can be performed at home in private if that is how they would prefer to approach things. I should add that as I musician, I am only partially qualified to be doling out mental health advice.
The fantastic ‘A Capable Man’ from which we’ve taken lyrics and turned them into questions is backed by equally strong ‘White Culture’ which lists some pretty horrendous criminals in its lyrics; what would you like us to know about that track?
I had the idea of just listing a load of pedophiles and murderers and calling the song White Culture because I thought it would piss all the right people off, and to demonstrate the difference between how we associate certain crimes with race, dependant on who has committed them.
This summer you will be releasing you new album ‘Men of the Moment’, is the ‘A Capable Man’ single the start of a theme for the album and what can you tell us about the album right?
Yeah the album is kind of like a musical without a story, so lots of the songs are from the point of view of these different characters, like the capable man. I think it gives the album a nice poetry and allowed me to write in a few different ways.
I think it resulted in this quite unsettling atmosphere provided by what feels like a conflicted and contradictory narrative. I think it’s a good way of challenging views that are not your own: inhabiting them in order to ridicule them.
Musically we were trying to hold back a little, to leave some space where in the past we’d have chucked every idea we had at something. To let the stories in the songs have room to breathe. We wanted the record to be built around really solid bass and drums and let the other instruments be decorative rather than all four of us trying to drive the whole thing at once.
Albums often lead to tours, is this the case with Man & The Echo? When will we see you and where; what can you tell us about touring and festival dates for this year?
There’s a few festivals booked which I’m looking forward to and we’ll be announcing an autumn headline tour when the album comes out. All our gigs are listed on manandtheecho.net/live