All we've heard from Maniac, former Matches frontman Shawn Harris' collaboration with Something with Numbers' Jake Grigg, is a bunch of covers. Harris recently answered some questions about the original material to come, how he's handling the collaboration with an ocean between his musical partner, and how they chose Taylor Swift's Video Music Award win and how they put it together for an online win.
Before moving on with your new project, do you believe you achieved everything you creatively wanted to with The Matches?
The Matches achieved more than we ever believed we would, and it was a head spinning education.
How did Maniac come about? Was it before the initial "hiatus" of The Matches, or did it happen as soon as the band's disbandment?
I met Jake Grigg of Maniac about four years ago. We were the last to know that we'd be starting a group together. It was obvious to everyone on tour with Something With Numbers and The Matches at the time. We'd either start making music together, or get thrown in a ward together. There was a moment when I joined Jake on stage with SWN on Bondi Beach in Sydney, and we ended up duct taped together on the roof of the stage. There was a moment with just the two of us up there, feeling like gypsy kings on top of Everest. We wrote our first song on the way to the grocery store after that, and on a whim, I stayed in Australia on Jake's couch for a couple weeks after The Matches tour ended.
Do you think Maniac will catch some Matches' fans off guard, though The Matches' catalog has always been laced with a bit of pop, but it's just that Maniac seems a bit more concentrated?
Note that the covers we're doing on our blog are a lark to entertain ourselves and to keep in touch with fans in an amusing way. We haven't put up any original songs yet. Maniac is the most ballsy music I've ever made. It isn't cymbals and guitar fuzz -- it's melody -- and it seems to me that bands are more afraid of that than anything. Pop is polluted, rock music is dead, punk committed suicide, and indie was stillborn from the start. Maniac will catch EVERYONE off guard.
Do you sometimes think it's a bit crazy that technology allows you to work with Jake Grigg across an ocean? Does it make for an interesting creative collaboration?
The Pacific Ocean is but a puddle. I step across again tomorrow.
Do you feel you and Jake differ a bit in styles and influences, or are you both on the same concrete page?
Maybe like negative and positively charged magnets we differ, sure. We push one another over limits, and that is what our collaboration has been all about. When Jake is in left brain mode, my right switches on, and vice-versa. I can do a baritone Bowie while Jake turns on a June Cash-Carter, but at the same time, we can double each other seamlessly. He has better rhythm, and I write a funkier bass line.
The Taylor Swift cover and video. Whose idea was it to cover that one, and how long did it take you to put together that video? Does the collaboration between you and Jake usually happen over Skype?
The collaboration on the covers happens over our blog for all to see, and through Sendspace. The fun of that is blindly sending files back and forth, and getting them returned with new parts and harmonies. We just eyeball the bpm, and film ourselves playing the parts to sew together in final cut.
Since the original material is under wraps, who decides on the covers at the moment, or is the decision more sporadic than we may think?
Billboard.com decides on the covers. Whatever is #1. It's out of our hands completely.
It's been mentioned that Maniac will see some non-cover material sometime next year. Can you tell us about how much material you have completed, in at least demo stages, and which songs you're most excited to reveal?
24 songs tracked. We're engineering our demos in a room called the Island in Sydney. It's an office boardroom we're borrowing, with sharpie'd lyrics all over the walls. Here are some lyrics to one of my favorites called "Die Rad": I was never one to hold my tongue / no cat's ever got this one / straight from a fucking tiger's lung i sing ....come on! radical we die.
Speaking of demos and unreleased material, it was a kind gesture to release your final album to the public -- handing over the lost pages of the novel to your fans. Was this decided rather quickly due to the "hiatus," or had it been something you guys wanted to do, and the timing was just right?
I had a dream last night, that it was a double album, and we kept putting out material for the next ten years without reforming. Like Tupac or something... We decided to put this out very quickly as a response to the message board pleading with us to give them the unreleased song demos we'd been playing live during the later shows. It was one of the few times we made a spur of the moment decision, and I'm glad we were able to give people what they wanted, and let the songs see some love, because we really did put heart into writing them.
Many fans on the site want to know, over The Matches' history, what song were you most proud of penning, and is this just a side road for you guys, and The Matches' book is not over, just set aside on the shelf to possibly be written more in the future?
The Matches have been writ. We remain friends, but the days of recording and touring together are over. I'm proud of what we achieved, and am happy to leave that untainted for us and the fans. "Salty Eyes" [off Decomposer] will always be my favorite Matches tune. It sums up the whole of my experience touring with those guys. A best of times/ worst of times kind of lament. These days, I have had tears for happiness more than hurt. There are tears for every emotion -- it's wild. I was born when The Matches ended. Maniac is me naked and howling out of the womb. I promise this and more at our live show. See you guys soon.
So bummed that The Matches are really over and not just on hiatus. One of the best bands I've ever gotten the pleasure of knowing and seeing live multiple times. Excited for Maniac and Bird By Bird for sure.
soo .. Maniac will release indie/experimental songs like Salty Eyes and Bird by Bird will stick on pop-punk formula ... which is absolutely fine with me .. thats good for us ... we ll get 2 albums from 2 great musicians instead of one ..! :) and i bet they are more happy about it ..
Like everyone has said already; this is sad and exciting at the same time. I hope he changes his mind later though on the hiatus being a permanent end. I think it was Devoto that said, but I may be wrong, he knew better than say a band like this is done for good because later down the road they may want to reunite just like Sunny Day Real Estate and The Get Up Kids are now doing.