Prog stalwarts such as the Flower
Kings, IQ and Porcupine Tree need no encouragement only
acknowledgement , as they have a sizable fan base and imposing
sales, yet they are still mostly prog enthusiasts who have day jobs
and create this music out of love.
Guy Manning is one of those
incredibly talented and prolific musicians who need both
acknowledgement and encouragement , having delivered 10 albums in 10
years that are easily some of the finer jewels in the recent prog
pantheon. While his contributions with The Tangent are very noticed,
his solo output contains some amazing music that is original,
invigorating, adventurous and exciting and would appeal to a vast
panorama of fans of plain old good music. I have had interesting
communications with Guy, a dedicated, passionate, intensely proud
and gifted composer and multi-instrumentalist. Both toroddfuglesteg
and myself (tszirmay)
have joined in a conspiracy to” shine a little light” on
this fascinating artist that fully deserves a “STAR” status within
the Progressive World. Guy responded immediately and with amazing
grace, sign of a true believer! Please enjoy his sampler available
on his site for a free download at http://www.guymanning.com/
Questions by PA member tszirmay
1-Fans are curious to know if you are a
professional musician or do you have a day job like so many current
No I DO have a day job. I
work in IT, so finding the time needed for all the musical
activities is quite hard some times. But I love it.. so I do it!
2-You have been very prolific,
releasing 10 albums in 10 years!
Yes, 10 of my own albums,
plus the Tangent albums, plus 2 project suites for COLOSSUS
Very busy, but that is as I like it
3-You are also a multi-instrumentalist
.How do you compose your albums?
Everything starts with an
A) This can be from a lyrical phrase or a story line I think of
B) Can be a chord sequence that sparks it off (on guitar or
C) Can be a rhythmic
pattern / beat
I doodle with ideas and store them off on my PC hard drive, then I
come back alter and review them to see if I still like it. If I do,
then I develop it a bit further until I understand where I am going.
So, it is very much a journey of discovery
4-Which was your first instrument and
which one do you enjoy playing the most or that gives you the
coldest sweat beads?
I started on piano
(lessons) when I was 8 but did not like it; then, I found a beaten
up old Spanish guitar in my parents wardrobe and started bashing out
Alice Cooper, Lindisfarne, Wishbone Ash songs on it...it all started
there. I then went back to the piano again!
I guess my instrument of choice (comfort) is my Acoustic Guitar but
I DO love to play keys too
The hardest to play is my mandolin because it is so small I have fat
fingers or maybe my Bouzouki because it is a round back and keeps
slipping off my lap when I sit down!
5-Many reviewers have commented on your
voice being very close to legends like Al Stewart, Dave Cousins or
Ian Anderson. Are they correct in assuming that these are musicians
that have inspired you? Who were you childhood musical role-models?
Oh yes, these guys are the
But your voice is your voice and is what you've been given../I don't
think Jon Anderson could sing like Barry White!!!
I do agree that my tonal
range is like that of Ian Anderson/Dave Cousins though
My role models (when I
first got into music) were (Vocally) Ian Anderson, Jon Anderson, Peter Gabriel, Greg Lake, Roy Harper, John Martyn, Al Stewart
(Musically) I guess that JethroTull were my goal posts
6-I have detected a Roxy Music/Eno/Manzanera
tinge in your compositions, am I wrong?
No, I can hear that in
certain songs (Another Lazy Sunday, Stronger certainly come to
mind). I do like those musicians and have most of their albums!
7-Your lyrics are always quite
picturesque, how do you write? Music first and lyrics after or
vice-versa? And how important are the messages within?
Depends (See point 3) .
I do consider myself to be a wordsmith
and I take great care over my lyrics.
I like to get them clear but poetic and always try and express an
emotion or tell a story
The lyrics are vitally important to my songs. The Words & Music must
go together (as does the artwork alot of the time too)
I am afraid that I so have not have a lot of time for people who do
not bother to read or understand my lyrics
8-You have always thankfully included
the saxophone in your palette of sound, some fine blowing on each
recording. Are you a fan?
Yes! I was lucky enough to
meet a great player (Laura Fowles)
But the saxophone is an instrument I think that you should try and
NOT over use. It should be a feature, the icing on the cake!
9-You have a loyal fan base that keeps
you going and yet your association with The Tangent seems to be the
most visible. Why do you think that is so?
My fans are VERY loyal,
but still relatively few. Not sure why that is. It is certainly
very,very disappointing as I think alot of peole would really like
some of my music if they got to hear it
The Tangent is obviously more prominant because of its famous
line-ups. Having David Jackson and The Flower Kings in the band does
you know harm...these players are well known!
All my albums get top
reviews on pretty much every review site annually and yet they seem
to come out, get a slight ripple of buzz and then get ignored
again...why is that?
As a smaller artist, I am constantly in competition with the bigger
acts like IQ, Flower KIngs, Spock's Beard etc. and your Porcupine
I don't compete with any of them on a sales level at all, but there
ARE a lot of albums out there and fewer listeners each year (so we
need to get younger people really fired up about this genre and
10-My secret wish is to have Jonas
Reingold and Zoltan Csörsz of the Flower Kings as your rhythm team.
Any chance of that happening? Jonas is a monster bassist!
They are fabulous
They are very busy on
their other main projects
They need to be paid! My
albums are done on a shoestring budget by talented amateurs!
11-Your favorite prog albums and bands.
A long list of artists
(and not all are prog):
Jethro Tull, Genesis, ELP, Yes, King Crimson, Hatfield & The North,
Al Stewart, Roy Harper, Joni Mitchell, John Martyn, CSNY, Caravan,
Zappa, RTF. Mahavishnu Orchestra, Jeff Buckley, Weather Report,
Renaissance ...and on and on ...
Top 10 albums (For ME
alone and in no particular order...)
A Passion Play (Tull)
Past, Present & Future (Al
Rotters Club (Hatfields)
Court & Spark (Joni)
Grace (Jeff Buckley)
Scheherezade & Other
Close to the edge (Yes)
Larks tongues in Aspic
12-Your favorite current
I'll probably remember a lot more after
I send this to you!
13-Your dearest Manning album and why?
I love them all!
I still have not made a perfect one (IMO) and so it is a lot easier
to discuss favorite pieces than favorite albums!
Each MANNING album is
different to others in the back catalogue after all
No studio album this year
I think (I wanted a rest / pause at 10).
More LIVE Work. We want to
play abroad (Come on ROSFEST!!!!)
I hope to do a live album / DVD as the next release
Recording for the next TANGENT album is underway as well
Questions by PA member toroddfuglesteg
1-You released the first album under
the moniker GUY MANNING. I take it from both the music and your bio
that was more off a solo album than a MANNING album?
Well not really!
All MANNING albums are done the same
way and always have been. What this was about was that I released my
debut album "Tall Stories…" under the GUY MANNING name and got a lot
of reviews all stating that I was just a singer / songwriter. That
particular branding is not always good IMO unless you are Al Stewart
or Paul Simon…so for the next album (The Cure) I just used MANNING..
This album was taken alot more seriously by the reviewers because it
was by a BAND!!
Funny thing reviewers and perception.. Sometimes they get the
2- How is it to be signed on a small record label and much of the
production of the albums do you take care of yourself? Studio,
mastering etc etc.
I take care of everything except the
manufacture and distribution of the CDs. All recording, production
and artwork production etc is handled by myself.
I think the label selection is important.
CYCLOPS had enough faith in me to release the first 5 but then had
not the budget to continue
ProgRock took the next three albums on and did a great job of
boosting my profile, but ultimately I found it difficult being so
far away from them (based in California) and looked for UK based
Festival (F2) took up the challenge and have been supportive of me
The only downside is that small labels have very limited financial
resources to help the smaller artist
We are now at the stage where a financial injection into promotion,
support tours etc. would take us to the next level, but I feel the
resources are probably not there
3- Your choice of artwork is excellent and worthy some comments from
you. Please give us a rundown of each of the artworks.
The artwork IS very important to me.
Just like a brilliantly lit / dressed empty stage sets the scene for
the performance ahead, so the artwork supports the music and lyrics
(or should IMO)
Note: CYCLOPS preferred a Black and White booklet to keep the
printing costs down and that is why the early albums only have
colour outer pages (not artistic choice!)
Tall Stories For Small Children - Artwork created by my children
(then quite young) to put across the narrative tales and give it
that naïve look I wanted. Each Story was to come from this big Story
book. So that is the look I wanted
The Cure - Other worldy, being out of physical contact. This was
created using Bryce and other images. Plus, I needed a schematic for
a Total Sensory Deprivation tank (to support the storyline in this
concept album) and got in touch with a company that makes them in
USA. They provided lots of
Cascade - I loved this picture that I found in a book. It reminded
me of my new live band of troubadours!
The Ragged Curtain - Whilst in Greece I found the cover
painting handing on a wall. I wrote the song "Weaver of Dreams"
based on the picture and then asked if I could use the work as my
cover, The artist was unfortuately dead but the owner gave me
permission to use it
The View From My Window - I wanted to show visually the same scene,
but viewed from a Western and Eastern perspective. I still think it
is a striking cover.
The Eye image appears through the book
A Matter of Life & Death (The Journal Of Abel Mann)
This was the first of the 3 Ed Unitsky artworks
This was a narrative concept album and so I wanted to tell the story
in the pictures. Ed & I worked hard on coming up with the best ideas
and the pervading dark images / omens. I think he did a brilliant
job. Symbols from the album lyrics are all brought onto front cover.
(A bit like on Foxtrot)
One Small Step… - deals primarily with the Man and Space. The
artwork from Ed shows a man dressed in a
Bermuda holiday shirt with a suitcase and small dog
looking out into the distant universe. These images perfectly summed
up my argumentative POV - we want to conquer space, take
trips/holidays into the Galaxy are we ready yet to do so? Is the
human race fit to go out there? Should we not get our act together
Anser's Tree - was again a very special design. I asked Ed to create
that Empty stage back drop I talked about earlier, for each of the
stories. Each song on the album is about one character from the same
Family tree. So, each page in the book represents the stage on which
their story is played out
When I moved from PRR to F2. I wanted a more modern look to the
artwork for the next album cover and also felt that the 3 Ed covers
were very special and as such, should be ring fenced.
Songs From the Bilston House - used a similar 'collection' idea to
Anser's Tree. This time however, each song was set in a different
room in one house.
My daughter Rosie (Now grown up and a graphic designer) took on the
task of recreating the atmosphere in this derelict old house and
suitably convey that to support each song.
Number Ten - I asked several artists to look into doing this as I
had a specific idea for the cover, but they did not work out. Phil
Wilkes & I set about creating the artwork to match my concepts. The
mysterious 'Mandala' symbol appears on nearly every page to bring
some continuity to the whole album look,. But etched into walls,
trees, etc to keep it interesting and intriguing. The iconic front
cover is of 10, Downing Street, suitably embellished with the
mandala and a couple of my folkier instruments added in for good
4- You have issued a very tasty free download compilation CD on your
homepage. Please tell us more about this album and each track.
The FREE album has a track from every
album on it and a bonus unreleased track. I even provided the
artwork for you to make a proper CD out of it, should you wish!
Each track provide is 'probably' the most appropriate to try and
represent its parent album, but this is always a difficult choice as
the track you might want to give away is actually 30 minutes long
and so not a good idea!
I do not want anybody to buy one of my albums and then hate it…so I
offer this as a chance to hear my music and make your own minds up -
try b4 u buy!
So there are NO excuses if you do not like my singing voice and yet
have not taken a trial copy first!
Thank you Guy, your courteous and prompt insights were most welcome.