Manvils hammer it home



WHEN MANVILS FRONTMAN Mike Manville and lead guitarist Mark Parry show up for an interview at the Georgia Straight, only one of them looks ready to rock. The woolly brown sweater Manville’s chosen for the occasion doesn’t seem stage-worthy, but-resplendent in a pinstriped blazer set off by a scarf and a Mods button straight outta Brighton-Parry has the U.K. pub-rocker look down pat. Toss him a top hat and he’d look like he stepped off the London Quireboys’ tour bus, circa 1984.

Parry moved here from Wales in early 2004 and spent nine months searching for a band that could benefit from his rough ‘n’ tumble guitar style. While studying Web design and multimedia at UBC, he tried out for a few groups, but the auditions led nowhere. Then he received a fateful call from Rogers Video regarding a DVD order.

“I got this message on my phone one day sayin’, ‘Oh, your Stars Wars trilogy has just arrived.’ So I go in and this guy [Manville] says: ‘You look like you might be into some good music, where are you from’ When I told him I was from Wales he goes ‘Super Furry Animals!’, so I was real impressed that he’d actually heard of a band from Wales.”

With Winnipeg-bred bassist Greg Fuhr and drummer Andy “Chilliwack” Mac already lined up, Parry was the last element in the rock machine Manville was priming for world domination. And the quartet gelled from the get-go. “The first time the band ever played we just started on a blues riff,” recalls Manville, “and it turned into a 35-minute song. When we were done I was like, ‘So, are you guys in?’ and two weeks later we played our first show.”

Like Parry, Manville is a relative newcomer to Vancouver. He moved here from Hogtown in 2000 and embarked on a solo career. “I did tours and gigs from here to Nashville,” he explains of his pre-Manvils period, “and it was what needed to be done to bring what has happened now to fruition. The five years of singing on your own basically teaches you how to control your voice, and how to keep your mental stamina up.”

Manville’s staying power, along with his manic on-stage persona, has helped make his group a contender on the local indie-rock scene. That promise is embodied by the Manvils’ debut CD, Buried Love, which will be showcased at a Honey Lounge release party on Saturday (April 15). Recorded in two separate sessions by producers Jay Solyom and Terry Murray, the 10-track CD is an in-your-face boogie-blues blast with an old-school bent.

“We’ve been compared to the Stones and the Yardbirds,” notes Parry, “but personally I don’t think we sound like any of those bands. I grew up listening to the Jam, the Kinks, the Small Faces, and when I listen to the record and I can hear bits and bobs of my influences in there-as much as I can hear bits and bobs of everybody else’s influences.”

Adds Manville: “For myself it was like from Tom Petty back to Johnny Cash, and even older Americana stuff. So it’s like this blend of complete British psych-rock mixed with old American country. But, you know, it’s got a helluva lot less country in it.”

Whatever its roots, the Manvils’ raucous sound has won raves from alternative media sources like The Nerve, which earned the music mag a shout-out in Buried Love‘s liner notes. “As a new band, you need someone in the scene telling you that they like what you’re doing,” cites Manville. “The Nerve wrote us up shortly after we had played our third or fourth show, and we couldn’t believe the applause that they were giving us.”

The quartet has also been encouraged by some high-profile opening gigs, like when they warmed up for Stereophonics at the Commodore last year. As inspiring as that supporting slot was, though, it could have led to the demise of the fruitful Manville-Parry partnership. A week after the show Parry received a call from Stereophonics’ manager, saying the Welsh trio was looking for another guitarist to help out on its world tour.

“The bastards tried to steal Mark!” blurts out Manville, although Parry wasn’t swayed by the offer. “Walkin’ into an established band like that you’re just gonna end up bein’ a session musician,” he says, “and you’re not gonna be able to put your own flavour into it. With this band, I really believe that we’ve got something, that we can go places. The Manvils are number one.”

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