Graham Reid | | 4 min read
There was always something generous, gentle and smart about Auckland singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, not-so-closet Wings fan and co-founder of the charming Lil' Chief Record label.
Elsewhere first encountered him in 2003 when he was almost embarrassed to be asked about the exceptional music on the two albums by the Tokey Tones released simultaneously (Mannion and others in that band).
That Lil' Chief label brought us those still wonderful companion records, then albums by the Brunettes, solo outings by Brunette Jonathan Bree, the Ruby Suns, Princess Chelsea's work and much more.
They were often discreet albums which never created much of a surge of sales but delighted or amused those who heard them.
However Mannion himself sometimes seemed more the agency for that music to happen, and then a few years ago disappeared off to Spain where he currently lives his partner Julie Karpodines.
But Scott Mannion is back, literally and on record. He plays at the forthcoming Auckland City Limits festival (see below) and has a new album on the way entitled Loving Echoes, recorded in a medieval town of Chelva near Valencia.
First outing from that album is the single Your Kind of Love (see the clip below) with Catalan singer Clara Vinals.
So it is welcome back to Scott Mannion and time for a few questions . . .
The first piece of music which really affected you was . . .
The earliest songs that I still have a sense of really sticking with me are The Tide is High and The Lion Sleeps Tonight, which are probably also my earliest memories. The first song that I remember hitting me on a deeper level though, and sending me on a path away from grunge, is God Only Knows. It was summer, I was hanging out with some friends and there was music playing from a car stereo when it came on. I was completely transfixed and so moved by it. I had grown up hearing all of the Beach Boys earlier surfing songs etc but somehow had never heard this song. I thought it was the most perfect song I had ever heard.
Your first (possibly embarrassing) role models in music were . . .
This is somewhat down to the influence of elders cousins and a friend who were really into them, but... U2. Quickly superseded by Nirvana.
Lennon or Jagger, Ramones or Nirvana, Madonna or Gaga, Jacko or Jay-Z?
Lennon, Nirvana, Madonna, Jacko
If music was denied you, your other career choice would be . . .
Probably something food related. Food is one of the things I miss most about New Zealand and I see all these great things that they don’t have in Spain or the UK that would probably do well if someone would just bring it already.
The three songs (yours, or by others) you would love everyone to hear are . . .
Off the top of my head downtempo downers that always move me:
Daniel Johnston - Some Things Last A Long Time
Judee Sill - The Donor
Dennis Wilson - Thoughts of You
Any interesting, valuable or just plain strange musical memorabilia at home...
I’m not sure if this counts exactly as music memorabilia, but one of favourite things is a scrap of paper from my last visit to NZ in 2015 on which Chris Knox gave songs I was working on a mark out of 5.
The best book on music or musicians you have read is . . .
On musicians, Positively George Street by Matthew Bannister is one of my favourites. On music, Recording The Beatles by Kevin Ryan and Brian Kehew is my musical bible.
If you could get on stage with anyone it would be?
I suck at “jamming” and would be terrified of ruining anybody else’s show with my somewhat limited skills, but if I had a lot of time to practice then maybe Neil Young. If I could get up and ruin somebody’s show then One Direction or something like that.
The three films you'd insist anybody watch because they might understand you better are . . .
The last 5 years have been like a combination of The Wedding Singer, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and The Money Pit.
Otherwise my friend Chelsea recently had me take some personality test which says I am INFP-T, a type shared by Amélie Poulain, Frodo Baggins and Charlie Brown. That sounds about right.
The last CD or vinyl album you bought was . . . (And your most recent downloads include...)
Arco Mediterrano by Alberto Montero on LP (a super great artist from Valencia). I don’t really have any recent downloads, but I am pretty trigger happy with Spotify “saves” so have a lot of those - the most recent of which are I Need Your Love by Golden Harvest, Green Apple by Amanaz and Promise by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark.
One song, royalties for life, never have to work again. The song by anyone, yourself included, which wouldn't embarrass you in that case would be . . .
I’m pretty happy with my next single, You Are the Substance That I Can’t Live Without, but John Lennon’s Imagine would be a better choice.
The poster, album cover or piece of art you could live with on your bedroom forever would be . . .
The Exile by my partner Julie Karpodines. It’s currently in the USA but I selfishly want it not to sell so we can bring it to Spain.
You are allowed just one tattoo, and it is of . . .
I have been trying to answer this question for years and still not come up with anything good enough.
David Bowie sang, “Five years, that's all we've got . . .” You would spend them where and doing what?
Between New Zealand and Greece, making music and being in love.
And finally, in the nature of press conferences in Japan, “Can you tell me please why this is your best album ever?”
Where the Tokey Tones albums were the product of pure fantasy, Loving Echoes is the product of life. Some really shit stuff and some really amazing stuff that I was compelled to write about. The resulting music could have been awful being so personal, but I think it is some of the best I have ever written. I can appreciate those old albums more now than I ever did at the time, but I have done a whole lot of growing up in the meantime.