Interview with Guy Manning by Edwin (November 2006)
Manning may not be a household name (yet), but his albums never
disappoint. His latest release,
Anser’s Tree, is another great record, which will most certainly
please many old-school progressive rock fans. Time to let the man himself
do the talking.
Guy. First of all: my compliments on a great new album. I very much
enjoyed it, and it’ll probably end up in my list of favourite prog rock
releases of the year.
Thanks... that is very nice to hear!
is Guy Manning? Should the name ring a bell for progressive rock fans?
I have been playing music a long time, released my first official album in
1999 and am also a fully paid up member of the TANGENT (a multi national
managed to release an album every year since 1999. Not many artists do so
these days. Something of a workaholic?
just get bored easily and for me the writing/creating of the songs is the
most enjoyable part of the process…. so I like to get back into once I‘ve
had the annual cycle of production, mastering and artwork to go through.
first album was released under the ‘Guy Manning’ name. Later, this was
shortened to MANNING. Has this become a band, or are they still
essentially solo albums?
first album appeared under the name Guy Manning… but what I found was that
everyone kept referring to it as a singer/songwriter album… but to me it
was so much more with me playing the majority of the instruments etc. Is
Roger Waters now a singer/songwriter? So I dropped the Guy bit for the
next album but did exactly the same process and it got more kudos as a
band album (for some strange reason… people’s perception I guess).
known as a ‘storyteller’. Where do you find the inspiration for your
concepts? Are they in any way autobiographical?
know really. They just come to me. I prefer to write in the 3rd
person normally and tell tales, though I have had a number of
autobiographical songs published as well. I find it interesting to tell
tales and draw the listener in (like a good book). It also allows me a
certain amount of leniency in putting my own philosophical spin on things
and getting my viewpoint on lots of topics across easier.
you tell something about the concept behind Anser’s Tree?
The concept is quite loose really. I had a series of songs composed about
historical figures set in their own time zones and wanted a way of binding
them all together. So we came up with the idea that they were all part of
the same family tree. The characters stretch over 500 years from around
1605 in Scotland to the same place in 2089. I also took on board the idea
that the World had succumbed to global warming chaos and the polar caps
had melted... to add an ecological aspect to the “storyline”. In this way
I can make it more dynamic and give background reasoning to the final
Unitsky, you seem to have found a regular artist to provide the artwork
for your albums. Do you think the ‘visualisation’ of your concepts is an
really do and Ed & I work hard to bring my stories to life on the page… my
words on his backgrounds. I think however that Ed often finds this method
a bit prescriptive as he loves to go off on wings of fantasy…. I however
need the whole thing to be in total balance and so can be a bit demanding
in the images we eventually come up with!
to find a short and snappy description for the music you produce, but I
just couldn’t do it – it is so rich and diverse. I just ended up calling
it ‘progressive rock’. How would you describe your music?
songs primarily. Hopefully interesting and thought provoking lyrics set
across melodic and ensemble complex arrangements. There is not great deal
of out and out ‘widdly’ soloing on my albums… the solos are reigned into
the arrangements as a whole.
are elements of folk, jazz and rock… plus some classical references… but
anything goes really in an effort to get the pieces across… and also I try
not to repeat myself so, with each successive release you don’t really
know what sort of style you’ll get next.
you name some of your favourite albums of all time?
Tull – A Passion Play, Thick As A Brick
Genesis – Foxtrot, Selling England…., The Lamb…
Close to the Edge, Tales…,Relayer
Harper – Bullinamingvase, Stormcock
Martyn – Solid Air
Al Stewart – Past, present & future
Hatfield & the North – The Rotters Club
Giant – In A Glass House
Van Der Graff Generator / Peter Hammill – Pawn Hearts, Godbluff, A Black
Renaissance – Scheherezade…
Mahavishnu Orchestra – Inn e Mounting Flame
Return To Forever – Romantic Warrior
Zappa – One Size fits all
Caravan – In the land of grey & pink, For girls…
Thackray – Jake on the box
whole load more………….. :0)
current music do you listen to?
get a lot of time to discover new artists, but ‘faves’ are at the moment
White Willow, The Flower Kings, Phideaux.
can’t be easy being a prog rock musician these days. Can you live off your
music, or do you have a ‘proper’ job as well?
is NOT easy! I cannot make a living of it (wish I could…). I do a day job
where I work consulting on computer solutions.
are you up to at the moment? Are you gathering more brilliant ideas for
future albums yet?
moment, new ideas are being sketched out in my home studio for a possible
collaboration album with another band. At this stage I’ll just doodle away
and save the results…then go back later and see if any have any merit for
being developed further and take it from there. I have an idea for a
concept to hang the ideas from but it is very early days!
for answering these questions and good luck with your new album…
for taking the time to listen to it, review it and take this further!