This article is from Issue 54: Nov/Dec 2011

Manchester Orchestra

Frontman Andy Hull talks simple math, complicated stories and uncomfortable honesty.

Many artists claim to be hyper-authentic and honest. It’s why Bright Eyes has a career, why rap has gotten in touch with its feelings and why emo happened in the first place. But few match the sheer (and sometimes uncomfortable) honesty of Manchester Orchestra frontman Andy Hull. Perhaps that’s because authenticity in his music isn’t just a gimmick—it’s a necessity. “You have to write what you write,” Hull explains. “For me, it was never an issue of whether or not to write it—it’s an issue of whether or not to release it. There are definitely songs I haven’t released because they’d be really hurtful. I write as a form of therapy. You don’t want everybody reading everything in your journal.

“I’m one who likes to talk about how I’m feeling all the time. Music is just another way for me to keep talking,” he laughs. “I’m definitely not introverted.”

Since Manchester Orchestra’s 2006 debut, I’m Like a Virgin Losing a Child, Hull has concerned himself with a Flannery O’Connor-meets-My Morning Jacket style of rock, twisting together hyper-confessional lyrical streams with good-ol’ fashioned Southern grit, and towering, cathartic guitars. With the recent release of the band’s newest album, Simple Math, Hull’s tendency to almost overshare is more visible than ever. He found himself exploring themes of struggle and redemption plucked from the pages of his life. “I think I’ve always been writing autobiographically,” he admits. “I just didn’t have very many experiences. So with the experiences I have, and the more experiences that come, I feel more able to talk about it from my point of view and having a foot to stand on. I’ve always wanted to write, and always have been writing, if not an entire song, then sections that are autobiographical.”

Much of that autobiography has to do with Hull’s marriage. Married at 20, Hull and his wife experienced all the usual trials and tribulations of a young married couple, of finding themselves and each other—but they were amplified by Manchester Orchestra’s rising profile and increased touring. While Hull—now 24—politely declines to discuss specifics, much of that painful time of growth is documented in song. “I wish I loved you like I used to,” he cathartically yells in the blues stomper “Pale Black Eye,” his voice breaking.

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