Interview: Mannapool

Mannapool, a four piece out of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, is a band that bends and blurs genres into something uniquely its own. Each member brings their own creative spirit to the group, producing an organic, fluid vibe in every song.

Mannapool is: Korey Deluca – Lead Guitar, Vocals Michael Dempster – Bass, Vocals Josh Ingram – Keys, Vocals Daniel Kreutzweiser – Drums

As they’re from my old hometown, it was just like having a chat with some old friends. We caught up a bit, talked about artists we’re currently into, and then dove into their upcoming debut, the band’s writing process, and  thoughts on music competitions.

Mannapool logo “We would all love to continue making music and I’m sure we would all love to see different parts of the world doing that”

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You’re one of those bands that don’t really fit into any certain genre. How would you guys define your sound?

Josh: We don’t. [laughs] Mike gave us a “prog rock” label which is the closest iteration of a musical genre that we can kind of plug into. But I think that a lot of our music has undertones of jazz and blues and maybe even a little funk, a little electronica. I guess we say what every band says, right, about not fitting a mold. But I think that’s true about us, I really do.

Mike: And progressive fits in a way because in the rock spectrum when you look at all the other bands that have been given that label like Rush, the Mars Volta, there’s quite a few, they’re all like night and day from each other. So it’s kind of a perfect spot to sit us.

So, the band formed in 2012, is that right?

J: Yeah, that’s right. We formed in 2012. We lost a drummer unfortunately, Dan kind of hooked back up, but we had kind of a six-month hiatus there. We played a handful of shows in the upper U.P. [Michigan’s Upper Peninsula] and Northern Ontario, a little bit of Southern Ontario, and then we got to work writing an album. We don’t play covers, really. We’re not a cover band. And that’s kind of like the mentality or the biology in Northern Ontario bars a lot. They’re just kind of looking for tribute bands and things like that. Which is great, it’s good to go the bar, have a few drinks with your friends and listen to some songs that you remember from high school and stuff like that, right? But that’s not our mandate, it’s not written inside ourselves. We have four really passionate musicians who like to create. To a point where Korey doesn’t even like to listen to a lot of music; he likes to create. I mean, his wife tells us all the time that he was in the basement for like three hours at a time playing guitar. So with that kind of a strong personality, with those four strong personalities, you want to create something. You want to build something that has some sort of connective tissue to your mind, your heart, your soul, and you want to make something. So that’s kind of where Mannapool is. We’re just making our own original content. We’re enjoying playing.

How did you guys start playing together, were you all friends beforehand ?

J: It was Korey, man. You know how you were saying like Sault Ste Marie is just one big family, you know this person, you know that person, you know that person, and then you know that person. And Korey just really wanted to make some original content and so he was looking for people to play with. And I like to think he called the best of the best out of the town, but maybe he just called the people that he could grab and were available and like “oh yeah I’m interested in that.” But he called us and was like, “Listen, I’ve got a jam space, and I want to create something.” He called in a bunch of guys and we were the four that stuck. So that was really cool. The lineup changed a little bit in the first couple months when people were trying and we were kind of jamming out some stuff like that. And these are the four that it was really like, meat to bone, you know. It just kind of worked.

M: I think the first time the four of us were together, like when we got Dan together, our first time together jamming we created “Words of Wisdom” in like, an hour. It just flowed out of us. And we’re like, “Yeah, this is a good combo. Let’s stick with this.”

J: Yeah, truth. We work pretty well together too. We try to get away together every six months or so, whether it’s to cool down or work out something new. At this point we’re still working other jobs and stuff like that but we’ve dedicated a lot of time to the studio and a lot of time to jams. “Mayday” is our first single that’s coming out, we’re working on a music video that’s going to drop June-ish, I think is the timeline. It’s in post-production. We went away for a weekend and we came back and that song was fully formed and done. I mean, it’s all we did that weekend. But it was done. We worked really well together. Dan will throw in a drum line that’s not necessarily the drum line that somebody had in mind, or someone will throw in a lyric that kind of wasn’t originally planned. It’s really a joint effort when it comes to writing songs.

That was actually going to be my next question: if someone handles most of the lyrics, or if someone comes in the idea of a structure of a song already?

J: If I had to say, like gun-to-temple, I would very easily say that Mike and Korey are our crux in regard to melody. Very often either one or the other will come with a concept, maybe a line or something, and I would say very regularly they take it from I don’t know, an infant to a walking toddler. Then Me and Dan put some flourishes onto it. But I would say that they get kind of the crux of the song together before we as a band got to it. Is that fair, guys? I don’t really want to speak for all of us. M: That’s fair.

J: Or in other words, Korey and Mike do all the hard work and me and Dan come in and make it look really good.

[laughter]

Dan: That one was way better. I like the second one!

That’s awesome.

J: Danny and I have a special relationship in the band, the other two just… D: Yeah! Yup, that’s it. K: We do as a band have a special magic, though. It just comes together. We try to think back and, well, Mike remembers everything, but I think the rest of us, it’s like “How did we even come up with this song?” There’s no recollection in our memory of how it actually was birthed. That’s for me, anyways.

J: Yeah, a lot of time it’s like a three-four hour jam, and the next time we get together it’s just kind of there.

K: Yeah. For the amount of time that we actually spend writing, like with all our songs, it comes really quick, and we can’t wait to do this every day, eight hours a day writing, ‘cause it’s going to be just… an apocalypse of music.

I like the sound of that!

[laughter]

J: Is that the album title? No…

M: (dramatically) “The Apocalypse of Music!”

J: We’re kind of starved for that right now, actually. We’ve been working on this album for so long, that these guys are constantly.. we’ll be getting ready for a show or something, and these guys are like “Listen to this riff!” or we make it into a musical interlude, and we’re like “We’ll use that for a song later.” And I’m like “Guys, we’ve got to stay on point,” and they’re like “Look at this amazing idea,” and I say “Okay, we’ll record it for a demo real quick and do more with it later” but I think we’re all kind of starved to get back into the writing process because we’ve been working on this album for so long.

So how long, six or eight months you guys were just focusing on recording, then – throughout the winter?

M: Yeah, I would say so. For a majority of the winter we were kind of huddled in, and it worked out for the better because you don’t really want to be hauling all your gear around in the middle of winter anyways. It was nice to have everything in one spot, and we’d all come in. I mean a little bit of writing would happen here and there, we just kind of took breaks to kind of give our minds some air.

K: Every Monday night we meet, or try to on a regular basis. So during the writing and recording it was basically every Monday night. When we wanted to push, maybe we’d add an extra night in there, but basically once a week.

J: We had a couple weekends, and a couple all-nighters interspersed in there. But the Monday night was like the minimum. You know, in all fairness there was a lot of writing before the recording process. The songs were written and played live before we took them to the recording studio.

I know you’re still working on the title and things, but do you have a release date set for this record?

J: Definitely this spring.

M: I would say before the summer.  

Okay. How did that go with recording, are you one of those bands that comes in with 30 songs or something and then have to narrow it down to your favourites, or some you already knew you wanted on the album?

J: Definitely not thirty, but definitely not the eight that are on the album.

D: I would say we had like thirty ideas, thirty possibilities.

M: I think we narrowed it down to twelve. D: We did, yeah, then we were kind of pushing okay, let’s put 10, 11 tunes on the album. Then we all kind of agreed, you know we’ve got eight solid songs that are just really good. Why put an extra two or three that we’re kind of “meh” about. So I mean in terms of ideas, I’d say we always have ideas for the music that we’re making.

J: I would agree with Dan. There’s also something to be said about songs that belong together. There was one song that Mike brought to the table, and I was pushing it like nobody’s business but these three guys were like “Listen, it doesn’t belong with these eight” but I was like “I love it so much”, but they said “It doesn’t belong with these eight, the kind of journey that we’ve put together.” And the more I’ve looked at it, as much as it kind of hurts because I really like the song, I understand what those guys are saying. It doesn’t belong with the journey so it got cut out. I don’t know if we’ll see it anywhere else ever.

Maybe it’ll pop up in a live show here and there?

J: I would love that. They may fight me tooth and nail on it, but I love that song.

D: In regards to doing it live, I would fight against it

Everyone: oooooohhh

D: It definitely did not belong on the album.

Let’s talk about the year ahead of you guys. We talked a bit about the debut album, but also right now there’s the CBC Searchlight competition going on, and you guys have entered “Mayday” in that competition.

K: Yeah, I saw the Searchlight come online and I submitted it. We don’t put all our eggs in that basket, though. ‘Cause I find that, it’s good exposure, somewhat, but I find that – nothing against CBC – but sometimes they’re looking for something specific. I don’t know.. the judges have the end vote, it’s not the voters. And if they have a little bit of an agenda… Like the Hockey Night In Canada challenge that we entered into a year so ago, and the song that won was an older country guy singing a Country song, which .. I don’t know. Personally, I don’t think it fit the HNIC theme. So it’s hard to say what judges are looking for in those kind of contests.

J: Let me tell you this, Darcy. We just finished a Battle of the Bands that was put on in Sault Ste. Marie and, I like it, it’s an open avenue to get a lot of people engaged in the local music scene. There was a lot of local non-cover bands, like you saw some original work which was really impressive and interesting, but the thing about competitions is, and it’s kind of how I feel when it comes to arts and humanities and entertainment, it’s such a hard thing to judge. Like if you put a Picasso painting next to a Renaissance painting and you have to judge those two things. How do you say which one’s better and which one isn’t? It’s just taste at that point. It’s two different genres of music, it’s two different genres of painting, how can you judge those two things equally side by side? It’s different if maybe it’s an all rap battle, or all rock battle or something like that but it makes it really difficult when you’re blurring genres and trying to compare. Like Dallas Green has City and Color and he has Alexisonfire, those are two different genres of music. Somebody’s going to say they prefer one over the other. Does that mean that Dallas Green is better in A band than B band?

Yeah, makes sense.

K: But if we win, we’ll take it.

J: Sure, yeah, why not.

K:[Laughs]

Also, I saw that you guys are playing Big Ticket Festival this year, is that right? How did that come about?

J: We played two years ago down there, and they approached us to come back down to play the indie stage, and see what we had, which is nice because we played in a competition two years ago. Which is great, but the more Mannapool plays live, I think the more we’re realizing competitions are just not in our blood. I don’t like competing against people and trying to figure out who’s better than somebody else. We’ve won some, we’ve lost some, and I don’t know. It doesn’t taste well either way. I just want to have a couple drinks and play some music with some other local talent and stuff like that. But yeah, they asked us to come back down and we thought it was a great opportunity and we expect the album will be out by then so we’ll be able to push the debut while we’re down there. And we don’t go down to the upper U.P. very often, we’re kind of charged to go to Southern Ontario a little more often than we are Michigan. So when the invite came out, it’s only a couple hours away, and there’s a lot of other good acts down there so we figured let’s pack up and take care of that date for sure.

Sounds great. If there was a dream artist that Mannapool could share the stage with, who would that be?

M: I’m going first. I would absolutely love to play with Mutemath. Those guys are just phenomenal musicians and it would just be an absolute pleasure just to, you know, be with them and just jam and share the stage with those guys. Those guys are out of this world.

D: Oh yeah. Totally agree with that.

M: Dan agrees.

D: I agree!

M: Rhythm section forever!

K: Yeah I don’t disagree with that either.

Where do you want to see this band go? Do you want to play locally and just build that following, or what?

M: I’m going to try to cover this, which everyone can agree. We would all love to continue making music and I’m sure we would all love to see different parts of the world doing that.

J: I think that’s fair. I think we would like to be able to dedicate 40 hours a week to music, which we’re not quite there yet.

K: And I would say within three to four years we’ll be accepting a Juno.

Three to four years, I’m going to put it in print, so I’m going to hold you to that prediction, Korey! I honestly don’t think that’s out of reach for you guys.

J: He’s our heart, He’s our passion of the band for sure.

Mannapool live

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Keep up with Mannapool on Facebook, Twitter, or at Mannapoolband.com

Check out some of their music HERE

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