Stream: Manhattan Murder Mystery “Smoky Mountain”
Manhattan Murder Mystery are an alcohol-powered emotional-nudity machine and their debut LP releases this weekend for L.A. locals only on Hello My Name Is Records. You can get their last 7″ at classy liquor stores and their new LP a month before anyone anywhere else by visiting their release show and release party this weekend. They speak from Zac’s magical garage about their new song “Smoky Mountain.” This interview by Chris Ziegler.
How much Canadian Mist whiskey was used to power this record?
Matthew Teardrop (vocals): That’s a common misconception that it’s powered by Canadian Mist. We were actually doing Edward 40-hands during the recording of this song. I was doing Colt 45 that particular weekend. I like Hurricanes, but you can’t really find those in California.
What do you find to be the most creatively inspiring beverage?
MT: It’s a close run between Kessler and Canadian Mist. Kessler, the price went up so I switched.
What image, book or geographic location provided the first germ of inspiration for this song?
MT: The song started kinda weird. My dad writes songs also—kind of folk-y songs. He always used to sing this song about ‘Rocky Mountain’—I think John Denver? So I was messing around with this song and I tried to do like he did, except ‘Smoky Mountain.’ It just snuck in there.
How did you get to Manhattan Murder Mystery from John Denver?
Katya Arce (bass): We were trying to come up with another song—for a compilation we did.
MT: Tim from the Movies was about to move out of his recording studio, and he asked us to come in and record a couple songs before he moved out. We kinda ran out of material—I did this song just on my Casio keyboard and it sounded a lot different, and he was like, ‘OK, try another one!’ So I was just thinking of that song—I started playing it and the rest is history, I guess? It was all written, but I think the vibe changed a lot. It became a little more … waltz-y? We recorded this in Zac’s garage, and he lives next to—I don’t know if it’s a school or just if a lot of weird kids hang out there. We had a three-day recording binge. And the neighbors were really coming down on us—a lot of people coming over worried this was a permanent thing, this three-day party.
I’m amazed they let you go for three days.
MT: He’s got wonderful neighbors! We’d have our friends over pretty much every night. We’d play all day and then everybody showed up. It was a three-day marathon.
How were the mornings?
MT: God’s honest truth, the mornings were not easy.
How does Manhattan Murder Mystery cure a hungover morning?
KA: We’re working on it!
How much of this song is autobiographical?
MT: It’s mostly 100% autobiography.
So that’s a real phone number in there? Is that legal?
MT: I guess we’ll find out pretty soon! But that is a real phone number! Just a nice young lady. The general vibe of the song—the first verse, I’m going through my whole story of leaving Virginia where I grew up. I felt kinda shitty there. Down in the dumps. So I decided to leave. There was girl troubles and all that—so I was like, ‘I’m ghost.’
Did you actually say that?
MT: Well, I didn’t know the term at the time. But I left. The girl I was leaving because of, that wasn’t even her phone number. She was just kind of mixed up in the whole thing. I left and I thought about things. When I was out here, nobody in Virginia wanted to talk to me much—I could be kind of an asshole, I guess. But just a couple years ago, I could stop by anytime and that wouldn’t be weird at all. Now I can’t. So I was like … ‘It’d be nice if I could just stop by, say hello, watch the TV…’ And the phone number seemed to fit right in there.
What is the brightest part of this song?
MT: The bright side is … what can you do? Acceptance! Travel around some if you want? It’s like—I was talking to this girl a little bit, and I didn’t necessarily wanna get back with her, but just be on good terms. It’s about trying to come up with something good to say to bring it back together.
KA: Wishful thinking?
Is this song more about love or more about death?
MT: This is a love song but not in a marriage kind of vibe. It’s just feeling bad if you treated somebody bad.
Why is this the first song released from your album?
MT: This song was a turning point for me personally—in the direction of the band or in the way I’m even writing songs. I used to try and write poetry, but this is even less straight-up. The last verse, there’s no analogies or anything to figure out. Less beating around the bush. It’s easy when you write it but now that it’s at the point where this shit’s going on tape and everybody’s listening and people are working on it—people at some vinyl plant I don’t even know!—it’s a little weird. I guess I’ll find out what the repercussions are!
What repercussions might those be?
MT: Having everybody up in my business!
How naked do you feel about this song? Like at the beach in speedos? Shirtless in a fancy restaurant? What is your exact level of emotional nudity?
MT: I can break it down to you like this. Last weekend I went on a camping trip to the Salton Sea—Slabtown by Salvation Mountain, and we all went down to the hot springs. I was hanging out with some dudes I rode up in the van with, and we had about a mile walk back to where the tent was. I didn’t know this guy that well, but a mile walk when you’re wasted—we were talking about the girls we were into and where our lives were headed, like a real man-to-man heart-to-heart conversation. ‘It’s great to get to know you.’ ‘Yeah, great to know you to.’ And we gave each other kind of a hug and I realized he was bottomless. That’s kind of how it feels. I’m having a bottomless heart-to-heart talk with a man.
MANHATTAN MURDER MYSTERY RECORD RELEASE DAY ON SAT., MAR. 26, AT ORIGAMI VINYL, 1816 W. SUNSET BLVD., ECHO PARK. 5 PM / FREE / ALL AGES. AND WITH HEALTH CLUB, PEG LEG LOVE, DEADLY WEAPONS AND ORANGE REV AT A HOUSE PARTY. CLICK HERE FOR INFO. MANHATTAN MURDER MSYTERY’S SELF-TITLED LP RELEASES LOCALLY ON SAT., MAR. 26, ON HELLO MY NAME IS RECORDS, AND NATIONALLY ON SAT., APR. 16. VISIT MANHATTAN MURDER MYSTERY AT MYSPACE.COM/MANHATTANMURDERMYSTERY.