Debut albums created in bedrooms is practically a given for any band’s biography. Having the name Ken Thomas (M83, Sigur Ros) attached to said album is not. Man Without Country are creating disarmingly eerie and melancholy shoe gazing electronica. With Huw Stephens one of their many early backers, Man Without Country are a hotly tipped band by most for 2011. Not seen the live show yet? Now’s your chance; they’re headlining our first Spindle
Who are you, where are you from, and what is your musical sound?
Tomas: We are Tomas Greenhalf from Mynyddygarreg.
Ryan: …and Ryan James from Bridgend.
Tomas: Our sound is a mixture of atmospheric, dark orchestrated passages, screeching guitars, live percussion and haunting vocals, contrasted by pristine, clinical processed synthesised sounds.
The name Man Without Country has been described by you as representing the feeling of not belonging. Tell us, do you feel a sense of belonging now?
Ryan: It is a difficult question to answer, but I suppose we’re more confident that the music has a belonging now. As individuals we’re not entirely sure. The name doesn’t necessarily have to represent our personal lives.
You guys met at university – what were you studying?
Tomas: Yes, we met during our second lecture studying Popular Music. We began by sending audio snippets and discussing musical ideas online. It didn’t take long for us to realise that we’d found something exciting.
You started out in Tom’s bedroom and began as an online collaboration. Tell us how you got your break.
Ryan: We spent a long time experimenting with our sound. After several months, four tracks emerged from our home-studio efforts. One track which gained a lot of attention initially was an early recording of ‘Closet Addicts Anonymous’. We uploaded the track to various online sources and this was soon spotted by the BBC.
To begin with we had numerous plays from Bethan Elfyn and Adam Walton in Wales, followed by a live session for Lauren Laverne on 6Music and plays by Huw Stephens on Radio1. We have since signed a publishing deal with Warner/Chappell music publishing. However, we still feel it is early days in the development of MWC.
What are your musical influences? Do you have many Welsh musical influences?
Tomas: We have acquired ideas and developed our sound by listening to a diverse range of music. Anything from minimal electronica such as Four Tet, Burial, and The Field to ambient music like Brian Eno, Sigur Ros and M83 as well as bands such as Cocteau Twins and Blonde Redhead.
Ryan: Growing up in Wales has probably influenced our music. Coming from rural, isolated villages and being surrounded by narrow-mindedness is likely to have affected us as individuals and the way we write music.
If you could name three musical influences for Foe, who or what would they be?
Tomas: We have many influences but if we had to narrow it down to three I guess they would be Brian Eno, Death Cab for Cutie and the exceptional production of Deadmau5.
You recently went to LA to do a musical showcase – how did that go?
Ryan: We had an amazing time and made some great connections. Our performance was at S.I.R studios and was well received by an unusual audience of music industry types. Due to the fast pace of our visit the whole experience was slightly surreal. We hope we can return there in the near future.
You played for Moby’s album launch party in May, that’s amazing! You’ve previously described him as one of your musical influences – did he give you any interesting advice?
Tomas: It was a great show and a privilege to play. Due to his busy schedule there wasn’t much time to talk during his visit to the UK, but we were fortunate enough to be invited to his home whilst we were in LA. We talked about our experiences of working with Ken Thomas, and shared views on recording and production. He was also very honest about his experiences in the music industry, which was an eye opener for us.
You’re currently touring the UK. What and where are your favourite venues to play?
Ryan: The touring side of things has only recently began. But so far we have really enjoyed Thekla in Bristol, Proud Galleries in London and Rescue Rooms in Nottingham.
Tomas: We have also had some great experiences at Clwb Ifor Bach in Cardiff, our local venue of choice. We will be launching our debut EP ‘King Complex’ there on August 17th.