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Tuesday, 1 March 2011
The Man Band
Man are an institution in their native Wales in fact their fame spreads all over the world with a great many pockets proving to be strongholds for the band.
These days the band, who celebrate their forty third anniversary in 2011, is led by Martin Ace and despite weathering the loss of various members over the years including Deke Leonard and the sad death of founder member Mickey Jones the band look set to carry on forever.
The interview below was conducted when Mickey's son George Jones was a member of the band and the man Band were preparing to record what would become Diamonds and Coal. George has subsequently left the band and leads his own band.
A Family Of Man:
Interview with George Jones April 2006
There are many bands over the years who have claimed legendary status but none more worthy that Welsh band Man. The band formed in the late sixties and save for a period between 1976 and 1983 have continued to record albums and play an amazing amount of live gigs. The Man sound is very much the West Coast sound as popularised by sixties bands such as Quicksilver Messenger Service with whom the band have been compared favourably. In fact John Cippolina from Quicksilver Messenger Service briefly joined the band and was featured on the album Maximum Darkness.
More recently the band has changed the line up, something that happens regularly if you know the history of the band. Deke Leonard has once again left the band to forge a solo career once more and Mickey Jones has had to stand down due to health issues There is new blood within the band however and the latest recruits are closer to home than you might think Josh Ace and George Jones are the sons of Martin Ace and Mickey Jones respectively/ Jon Kirkman spoke to George Jones about the prospect of making his recording debut with the band and also how he saw the band moving on.. Back into the future.
Jon Kirkman Have you got a title for the album yet?
George Jones The proposed title for the album is Diamonds and Coal.
JK This will be your first studio album with them won’t it?
GJ It will, it will be my first studio album with them, it has been four years in the making. I have been looking forward to this coming weekend for a long time as we start to record the album.
JK You have been with the band now for four years; I can’t believe it has been that long. How is your dad by the way?
GJ He’s ok, at the moment he is receiving radiotherapy and is in one of the hospitals in Swansea. It tires him out but we are just taking it day by day.
JK Well I hope he is feeling better very soon. Looking at a new album and indeed your first it must be pretty daunting. How much input do you hope to have into this album?
GJ I think the input has been very evenly spread, unfortunately losing Deke we lost a huge songwriter. It could have been a devastating impact on the band but we lost him, dad came back and we did try to write a few new songs but he got ill again. I have never been the greatest songwriter but he is the man of the moment my father.
JK I think your dad was a very steadying influence on the band actually. He was always felt if not always seen.
GJ Yeah, and probably the greatest improvisational guitar player bar none. I don’t think there was anyone to touch him. He would play things and you think that he must have rehearsed it but there is no way he did. He took things out of the air.
JK I saw the Man band loads of times in the seventies and was always impressed.
GJ As far as I am concerned in the early eighties my dad lost a bit of his creative edge. Once the band started getting a little bit more progressive it came back. Call Down The Moon was a big turning point for my dad as a player.
JK This will be the first album since Endangered Species. What is the current line up?
GJ The line up is Bob Richards on drums, Martin Ace vocals, Josh Ace guitar and vocals, Gareth Farrington on keyboards and myself on guitar.
JK With both yourself and Josh on board the Man Band is kind of becoming like a family business isn’t it?
GJ I think it was a much better idea to get Josh; we could have carried on with another guitar player but that is when I think that the twin guitar playing is quite pivotal to the Man sound. Ironically the band’s two biggest selling albums didn’t have the twin guitar thing going.
JK Which are they?
GJ Be Good to Yourself was quite big but Back Into the Future was the band’s biggest charting album and Deke wasn’t on that. We had to look at it like this – ok we have lost a big songwriter like Deke but we gained Josh who is a very good songwriter. He is 17 years old and I think recently he has written more songs than in the time he or I have been playing. He is a very prolific songwriter.
JK The Man Band has always seemed to be a very stoic band if you like – through thick and thin. There have been some troubles in terms of line ups over the years. There was a point in the seventies when it became a little bit tenuous didn’t it but the band still came through.
GJ I think the band was on the edge of breaking into the premier league of bands and every time they got close they broke up!
JK Having said that, here we are in 2006 and I am talking to the son of one of the founder members and the band is still continuing so that bodes well for the future I think.
GJ It does bode well for the future and I think things are looking much healthier then they have for a long time. It is not just me saying that but people like Clive John and Deke and Will Youatt They have come up to me and said how healthy they think the band is at the moment and how great they think that is that it has been passed down to the son. It is the only band that you can say has a future like we have and who can keep going like that. We are obviously not as big as Yes and bands like that perhaps
JK But you probably play more live gigs than Yes these days.
GJ Probably yeah!
JK I hate to ask this question but I must – you are not thinking of retiring Martin yet are you?
GJ No, not yet but as soon as he is too stupid and too old we will!(Laughs) No seriously Martin is a sixty something with a twenty one year old trying to break out. There is no holding the guy back.
JK He has got one of the driest wits I have ever met. I am really happy you are about to start the album. When do you think we can expect to see it?
GJ You can expect to see it in late August. Basically what we are going to do is to get as many backing tracks done as possible and get Bob to do that. Then we will start working on all the other bits with the guitars and stuff. We like to do that separately you know.
JK I presume then the thing to do will be to tour the back out of it, which is a Mann tradition isn’t it?
GJ Not forgetting, although it is a little while away, but the fortieth anniversary of the band is approaching us. I have been looking to getting us on in Glastonbury in 2008 and the Freedom Rock Festival. I think it is about time the band played Glastonbury again especially considering this fortieth anniversary. That is really bizarre considering Josh is 17 and I am 24 and we’re celebrating going for forty years!
JK That is great. You have the benefit of the collective experience of the band and yet you two guys are really the way forward. It is a nice mix. Have you got any rough titles for tracks yet?
GJ We have got a few rough titles – one that I sing called Man of Misery and a title track for the album called Diamonds and Coal which is one that Josh wrote. Man of Misery is a step into the very early Man, the sixties stuff and Josh has come up with some very far out stuff. It is really weird and they have their own twist but still have that Man sound.
© Jon Kirkman 2005 and 2011
Buy Diamonds And Coal and other Man CDs and DVDs directly from the Gonzo Website