In Conversation: Manchester Orchestra on Pushing Forward with “The Million Masks of God”

In our video interview, Andy Hull and Robert McDowell discuss honing their sound, making lame ideas cool, and their status as an outlier band.

Some bands can write and record an album in a matter of weeks. Manchester Orchestra is not one of those bands. “We are getting better at doing it and not freaking out while doing it,” Hull responds when asked what it was like making their latest album, The Million Masks of God. The band’s attention to detail and the nuances of their music is at the forefront of their latest collection of songs, which seamlessly flow into each other and incorporate elements of rock and electronic music into a unique amalgam that the band have been perfecting since their debut, I’m Like a Virgin Losing a Child, was released 15 years ago. 

Over the course of this conversation we discussed the perennial outlier status of the band, why sometimes the worst ideas are the best ideas and the genesis of the songs “Bed Head” and “Telepath” (both of which have incredible videos, which you should definitely watch). “The cool thing about music is that anything can be cool, you just have to make it [cool],” McDowell explains when asked about the album’s instrumentation—and from baritone whistles to V-drums, the arrangements on The Million Masks of God  truly transcend genres and reveals itself a little more with each listen. We’re guessing you can’t say the same of your favorite TikTok clip, although if Hull and McDowell provided the soundtrack for it (as they did for the 2016 Daniel Radcliffe film Swiss Army Man) that might be a different story.

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