Q&A: Man Like Me

 

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Tribal meets rap meets classic pop in Man Like Me’s new album ‘Pillow Talk’, out on March 3rd. The duo have compiled fun and energetic tracks that know no genre and their quirky mixes have already received the seal of approval from Radio 1 DJs Nick Grimshaw and Annie Mac. FAULT speaks to Man Like Me about the method behind the madness and the road to success.

Where did you get your inspiration for this album?

I suppose it’s the same inspiration that we’ve always had which is just trying to make music we like the sound of. For Johnny, who writes all the lyrics, it’s important to sing about something that he’s been through; a tale that is quite specific to his life. He doesn’t write about love if he can help it. It’s more about everyday experiences.

‘Pillow Talk’ has been described as having this kind of carefree, almost childlike energy. Is this something you were going for?

We’ve both been feeling like we’re getting old so we’ll definitely take “childlike”. Making this album has been such a long process. The last song we added to the album we finished literally yesterday but stuff like ‘Lovestruck’ we wrote two years ago so the whole thing has taken quite a while.

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The album is already getting a lot of hype, especially from Radio 1 – it must feel great to have all this support.

 We gave ‘Squeeze’ to Annie Mac and she played it twice back to back on her show. We almost wept with joy! It was the best accolade we’ve had. Just getting a song on radio is so rewarding – that’s exactly where you want it to be.

You’ve also built up a huge fan base touring with Madness. What was that like?

Off the back the first gig we did with them, which was actually the smallest one, was for like 4,000 people, which was straight away the most people we’d ever played for. Then 02 was like 16,000 and other venues were 8 and 10,000, so we were averaging a shitload of people every night. We had to adjust to that without much preparation. It was a learning curve but I think we got used to it and every time you do it it’s, in a way, the best gig you’ve ever done.

It was also amazing watching Madness and all the levels of production that go into their shows: 30 dudes on, say, sound, 10 dudes on video backdrop, 5 dudes on lighting. It was incredible seeing the work that goes into their shows and how all their fans still treat them like gods.

 That could be you guys in a couple of years…

 When we did our last 02 show we thought, this could be last time we play with a crowd that big, but hopefully not. Although, if it stops there in terms of crowd numbers I’d be happy.

 What’s the history behind your duo? How did you guys start out?

We were in classes together in secondary school and we bonded over music. It was all we used to talk about. We shared Walkman earphones and played what we’d recorded over the radio night before. We both wanted to DJ: I was into rap and hiphop and Johnny preferred drum and base and jungle.

We tried our hand at DJing and were both alright. I went to do music tech at university and Johnny didn’t go to university but we ended up getting together after Johnny wrote ‘Oh My Gosh’ in 2005. He wanted to play a gig and neither of us had ever done one before so I decided to help out. We took it from there.

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What has been your best experience so far?

 There have been a few standout moments. We played in LA and that was pretty amazing, Once we had a big argument on stage. We were setting up in a really crowded club where there was basically no stage space and Johnny accidently unplugged the MPC sampler. We were both jetlagged and I got so pissed off at him and we kind of squared off against each other. I remember turning around to find 300 people who were just staring at us and laughing.

The IKEA thing [appearance in an IKEA advert] was weird. Every time it gets quiet something big like that happens. It was the same with Annie Mac playing our song.

Any exciting upcoming plans?

 Touring the album across the UK. We’ve got the single launch in Brixton on March 6th and then we set off around the country.

The plan now is not to leave it so long before coming out with the next album. We’re not signed to major record label so a lot of it is down to the effort we put in. We want to keep writing and making sure that hopefully another album will be out by the same time next year.

What is your FAULT?

I can think of too many faults, which might be a fault in itself. We’re very down on ourselves whether it’s thinking we’re too old or too lazy.

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