After four years with the dynamic rockers Manchester Orchestra—and a few before that paying dues on the indie scene—he’s finally gotten the chance to take full ownership of the drums on a widely anticipated album. And, boy, does he own it.
The seeds of Manchester Orchestra were sown over ten years ago by lead vocalist and songwriter Andy Hull. But the addition of Tim Very to the band’s lineup in 2010 during the writing of the 2011 album Simple Math brought a fresh voice and increased energy to the already boiling mixture of honest, emotional vocals and pummeling instrumental textures the group had become known for. Along with recent visits to the United Kingdom, appearances on most of the late-night network TV shows, and the inclusion of the song “April Fool” on the soundtrack of the NHL 12 video game, the band has steadily gained a devoted fan base through extensive domestic touring and releases on established indie labels like Canvasback, Favorite Gentlemen, and Loma Vista.
Manchester’s fourth album, Cope, released this past April, marked the band’s highest chart debut to date, no doubt making Very’s involvement all the more satisfying. “Cope was the first chance for me to own an entire Manchester record,” says Tim, who shared drumming duties with Len Clark and Benjamin Homola on Simple Math, after the departure of drummer Jeremiah Edmond. “They were completely trusting and confident. Now that we’ve figured out how we want our songs to sound, it’s a lot nicer, because we’re not in that phase where everybody’s still trying to figure out their sound and style and trying to add something and feel valuable. There are all these dynamics you have to figure out when you’re a young band. We knew what we wanted to make for this record. We knew we wanted high energy and heavy, tight riffs. We knew we just had to get to work and start banging them out in the kitchen.
“I was able to supply a lot of energy, along with Andy Prince, our new bass player,” Very continues. “They let the rhythm section go for it on this record. It was really rewarding to be able to do that kind of fast-paced, pounding drumming with a lot of big fills. You can’t ask to play in a band that’s more gratifying for a drummer than Manchester. I’m just bashing my drums to death! It’s been really exciting. We just did Letterman a couple of days ago, and we did the title track from Cope, which is a complete slam-fest. It was nice to come out swinging.”
Recorded entirely at the band’s recently constructed studio in suburban Atlanta, Cope is the result of the members digging in their heels and focusing on what they wanted to create. “We do everything out of our studio,” Very says. “We do our own merch, and we ship out packages from there. The place is really our lifeblood. We brought in our producer, Dan Hannon, and our main guy, Brad Fisher, who tracked most of the record with us. We just did it every day at the house. It was a really nice way to make a record without being under the pressure of the clock. That’s another really rewarding thing about Cope—the amount of DIY that was involved in making it.”
Very sees his role in Manchester Orchestra as being an active participant in the songwriting process, not simply a supplier of the beat. “Most of my experience comes from real-world playing in bands,” he explains, “just writing and playing shows. You learn how to do the songs a service instead of just trying to get noticed or trying to get your kicks in. If you want to have any kind of worth, it’s about finding a way to be valuable to the song and the sound of the group you’re playing with. I really want to impact the feel of the songs with what I’m bringing; I want to add something to the song and give it some life. I can make the bridge hit harder, or I can add something here or there to give it more feel. It takes years to start to figure out how to do that as a drummer, but eventually it clicks.”
Another thing that can take years to sink in for young players is understanding that success in music isn’t all about playing skills. “When Andy Hull asked me to come play,” Very recalls, “he certainly wasn’t like, ‘Can you read drum music?’ He wanted to know if I was someone he felt comfortable with. Kids come up to us after shows sometimes, and they want you to drop some nugget of wisdom on them that’s going to get them fast-tracked to where you are. They see what you’re doing, and they want to do that. They don’t realize what they’re asking. It’s a long road to get there. You’re not going to go into a room, play the right drum solo, and then all of a sudden your musical life is just sorted out. That’s how I used to think about it when I was young too. I actually met Andy when I was playing in this band from Pensacola, Florida, called Arkitekt. He was just starting up Manchester, and he and I stayed in contact through the years as they were growing.”
Today Very has four years under his belt with Manchester, and he’s clearly happy with the way things are progressing for him and the band. “We’re leaving for the U.K. today for five shows, then we come home for a couple of days before heading out on a headlining tour,” he says. “We’re bringing a really awesome band with us
called Balance and Composure, and Kevin Devine, who sings with us in Bad Books, is opening the tour with his band. There are a lot of connections between the three groups, so it’s going to be an exciting package to be out with. I love it—waking up every day and seeing thirty guys I really like.”
TOOLS OF THE TRADE
Very plays C&C drums and Zildjian cymbals.