“I’m very nervous, excited and grateful,” says Andy Hull of being on tour again. “I am all of these things, but I can’t describe exactly how I feel because I’ve never felt it before.”
Since last March, independent rockers Manchester Orchestra have booked and canceled nearly half a dozen tours due to the lasting effect of COVID-19 on the live music industry. More than a year and a half away from the world on hiatus, the Atlanta-based outfit is finally back on the road.
“There was a time when we had no idea what anything would look like,” Hull said of the early stages of the pandemic. “Luckily we had the record to ponder and work on, but there were certainly some scary thoughts like, ‘If the career goes all the way, what does that look like? “”
As theaters around the world were closing indefinitely, Manchester Orchestra was putting the finishing touches on their sixth studio album. Instead of worrying about things out of their control, the group crouched down, absorbed themselves in the studio, and kept the faith.
“There’s so much clarity in hindsight,” Hull says. “I wish I had known during that time that things were going pretty well, that there would be a hiatus but there would be a version of normal again.”
Rightly so, the latest version of Manchester Orchestra is all about finding light in the dark. The millions of masks of God – a track taken from a line from a GK Chesterton poem – began as a concept album about a man’s encounter with the Angel of Death before unfortunately becoming grounded in reality when guitarist Robert’s father McDowell died of cancer. Still, Hull finds it an encouraging and encouraging listening.
“If it were up to me, I would like people to feel comforted and hopeful,” he says of the new album’s themes, which explore the afterlife. “I think what I’m most proud of is that it kind of conveys a message of resilience and hope.”
Despite his heavy motives, Hull says The millions of masks of God was a particularly enjoyable record to make because the band had already proven that they could radically change their sounds with 2017 A black mile on the surface.
“I think part of it was understanding a little bit more of who we are this time around,” Hulls said of the recording process. “One thousand black [To The Surface] It was definitely a growing pain – in a really good way – but it was difficult. We were trying to redefine what we wanted to be and figure out why it was worth it. ”
Given the positive reception given to their last outing, Manchester Orchestra felt free to try new things and confident their work would be appreciated, which reminded the band members how lucky they were to be able to do what they do for a living.
“We’re really lucky to be able to do this as a job and spend as much time as we have on music, so we should probably try to enjoy it,” Hull says with a laugh.
It’s been a long time since Manchester Orchestra has been able to perform to a live audience, and Hull is struggling to articulate what it means to be back on the road. But as in many of his lyrics, he refers to faith when explaining his feelings.
“We all had to believe that live music was a really special and powerful thing, and humans have been making a version of it forever,” Hull said. “So we knew it would come back to some extent, and I think that’s proof that people really wanted it to happen.”
Manchester Orchestra, Foxing and Slothrust are scheduled to perform at 6:30 p.m. (doors open) on October 6 at White Oak Music Hall, 2915 N Main St. For more information, visit https://www.whiteoakmusichall.com, $ 28.