Beaumont’s Cat5 Interviews The Manichean
by Beth Rankin
The best of both bands: The Clouds are Ghosts and The Manichean
I get a little excited sometimes.
When an excellent out-of-town band books a Beaumont show, the prospect of seeing something new is pretty exciting.
And when there’s a bill with multiple fresh faces on it that doesn’t require I drive my box kite-shaped car in Houston traffic, I pretty much preach that show’s gospel until the hangover has worn off.
So when I saw that Austin ambient electro-pop outfit The Clouds Are Ghosts is playing Crockett Street with Houston dramatic narrative rock band The Manichean, I couldn’t even decide which band to write about.
The Manichean’s Boomtown Film and Music Festival show was a free-for-all of intense, hard-rocking, melodramatic energy — at one point, the lead singer may have used my head as a springboard to cartwheel across the front row. That set left a good portion of the crowd sweaty, speechless and perhaps a bit exhausted.
And The Clouds Are Ghosts — which boasts a few members raised in Beaumont — creates lovely, passionate pop melodies infused with drama and urgent vocals and synthesizer.
This set is bound to be full of sweeping emotional swells and a lot of boyfriend-girlfriend hand-holding.
So since I couldn’t decide which band to interview, I just let them interview each other:
Ladies and gentlemen, The Clouds Are Ghosts guitar/synth player Steven Paul interviewing The Manichean’s Justice Tirapelli-Jamail about … whatever they want.
Hey, don’t look at me, I’m not the interviewer here.
Q. I guess we’ll start with a question I’m sure you’re tired of answering. How do you actually say your band name?
A. We chose the name knowing that it would end up being pronounced an uncountable number of ways. As far as we’re concerned they’re all kind of correct. Phonetically speaking, however, it is pronounced ‘mæ-nê-kee-ên’.
Q. Since this is the first time most people from Beaumont will be hearing about either one of our bands, sum up your sound with three words.
A. Dramatic narrative rock.
Q. Will this be your first show in Beaumont? If not, where/when did you play before?
A. As a matter of fact, we played at Tequila Rok last month for the Boomtown Film & Music Festival and it immediately became one of our favorite shows in recent memory. Everyone involved in the festivities and the venue were amazing, the crowd was energetic and embracing, and we got to perform with Purple, We Are Wombat, Ringo Deathstarr, and our dear friends Bang Bangz in the same night.
It was perfect.
Q. Ringo Deathstarr — Me and our pianist Erin went to West Brook with that guy Elliot. I like that dude. Anyway, Beaumont has the former largest fire hydrant in the world. Have you considered going by to check it out?
A. We actually saw it the last time we were here. It is very large indeed. It’s also pretty close to the venue, which proves to be convenient when there’s a line for the restroom …
Q. In 2009, The Clouds are Ghosts did an East Coast tour. Is touring a major part of being in your band?
A. Our West Coast tour last summer definitely pushed us to travel outside of Houston more often. Lately we have been focusing our efforts toward closer stretches of road, such as Beaumont and Austin, with plans to frequent other regional cities that we’ve spent either little or no time in.
Q. You guys play a pretty intense live show. Has your live set always been so lively, or was it something that developed over time?
A. Well, at the beginning it was just Cory singing and performing spoken word with me on the acoustic guitar. That was a little over five years ago. We’ve always had an intensity to our live show, it was just more subtle then.
As the band grew, our performance took different shapes and that intense feeling morphed into something livelier and more physical. Cory has always been a climber, though.
Q. Who are some of your favorite current Texas bands?
A. It’s a pretty intimidating list. Let’s see here, Houston has listenlisten (one of mine and Cory’s favorite bands, Texas or otherwise), Tax the Wolf, The Tontons, Tyagaraja, Two Star Symphony, Female Demand, B L A C K I E and Peekaboo Theory.
Then there’s Austin with the obvious, The Clouds Are Ghosts, as well as Mobley, Boyfrndz, and the infamous … And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead.
Finally and most recently-known to me, we have Beaumont and its mind-blowing bands Purple, We Are Wombat, Hello Chief and We Were Wolves.
Q. What do you feel is the most important thing to keep in mind for maintaining a healthy relationship in a band?
A. I don’t think it’s different from any other kind of relationship; you have to listen to each other. It’s an agreement to hear what is said to you and, whether you agree with it or not, to do your best to understand it. Doing so keeps arguments to a minimum.
That and punctuality.
Q. Man, you’d be a great ombudsman for our band. The Clouds are Ghosts will be releasing an EP this fall. What does the Manichean have planned for 2012?
A. Quite a lot, actually. First off is Free Press Summer Fest on June 2 and 3. It is going to be life-changing and everyone must be there.
We’ll be releasing our full-length ‘LOVERS’ later in the summer and are going to follow that up with a small Texas/Louisiana tour. Also, there’s this project we’ve been working on that’s proving to be a pretty big spectacle. We can’t tell you about it yet but will soon. Maybe.
Q. Secrets don’t make friends. You’ll have to give me details later. But on a final note, another Beaumont fun fact: Did you know James Brown is from Beaumont?
A. Wow, no way. The James Brown?
Q. Well, not the James Brown, but James Brown the football player.
A. Right. The football player. Is there another James Brown or something?