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Manchester Orchestra on Their Year of Collaboration and Branching Out: “Why Shouldn’t Your Scope of Art Get Wider?”

In 2021, the Atlanta rockers released an album and a remix project, and dug into the DC Comics universe. What's next?

manchester orchestra interview 2021
Manchester Orchestra, photo by Shervin Lainez
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    Our 2021 Annual Report continues with a wrap-up interview with Manchester Orchestra. As the year winds down, stay tuned for more awards, lists, and articles about the best music, film, and TV of 2021. You can find it all in one place here.


    Manchester Orchestra write about the cycle of life and death, the pain in pleasure and the pleasure of pain. So it’s on brand, if nothing else, that vocalist Andy Hull’s Thanksgiving was spoiled by illness.

    “I got food poisoning the day after,” he tells Consequence. “A bunch of other people got sick too. It ruined the leftovers, so it was like a double punch in the stomach.”

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    It was a rare down moment in a year of triumphs. The Atlanta four-piece kicked things off with The Million Masks of God, one of the best albums of 2021. It found Manchester Orchestra wrestling with faith, death, and the sometimes futile quest to find meaning in life — a process spurred on by the passing of guitarist Robert McDowell‘s father in 2019.

    “I think it was a way to work through some grief,” Hull says. Did he learn anything in the process? “Maybe the opposite. It taught me that I knew less than I thought I did before. It was a very healthy thing to do, to work through it. To write what you’re going through has always been a really important, helpful psychological process for me. I’m not sure if I came away with any grand conclusions on the universe.”

    The group followed it with The Million Masks of God: The Remixes, which Hull calls “a fun way to look into the brains of other artists that I respect.” Lucius, Dirty Projectors, Local Natives, and Alfa Mist put twists on Manchester Orchestra songs, revealing some surprises throughout the process.

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    “The Lucius remix that they did really floored us,” Hull says. “I really love it when a remix takes a song and takes the vocal melody and places the music in a different key. It sort of turns the whole thing on its head. They found a really clever way of doing that, where I was like, ‘Man, I never would’ve thought to do that,’ and it was cool that they did.”

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