What is your name and role within The Matchstick Skeletons?
My name is Neu Mannas, and I’m the singer of The Matchstick Skeletons.
Does the Vancouver scene affect your music in anyway?
Those who know me, know I’m a studio rat. Spend most my time in a windowless room nibbling on the cables ’till I get electrocuted. And at that point I just hope the red light was flashing when it happened, so it got recorded. But that being said there’s a lot of great musicians in this town and collaborating with them / seeing them live can help bring new energy into songs where there might have been a void otherwise. Think about the song “I’m the Dog” on ‘The Know-How EP.’ When that was coming together I got help from 2 of my favourite singers on the planet. Jasmin Parkin & Krystle Dos Santos sung with me on that tune and ma ghaaaad, they’re unbelievable.
How did The Matchstick Skeletons form?
We came from the ashes of my last band Head of the Herd. Matty played drums, and I sang in that group. It was clear the two of us had a musical connection and when that band took a bullet, we got right to work on this. Found Ryan & Cole and it feels like the band I’ve been trying to make since I was a kid. I’m a happy boy.
What have you been working on recently?
Who or what influences your sound and songwriting?
My 2 favourite singers on the planet are Nina Simone and Ray Charles. There’s nothing ‘perfect’ about the delivery but gaddam if you don’t feel every word. I try and take that passion and put it into everything I do. It’s not about technical precision, it’s about feeling. And if you feel something, then you’ve succeeded. Music wise, I fuckin’ love funk music. And the rhythmic elements of those tunes have had a huge impact on me.
How did you first start playing music and singing?
I played piano growing up cause I had to. But when I hit 12 or so I picked up a bass and started my first band. It flipped a switch for me that never unflipped. From that moment I knew exactly what I was gonna do ’till I die. And I haven’t died just yet!
Did you get music / singing lessons at any stage?
I took bass lessons when I first picked it up. From a dude missing a thumb but who could still slap with the best of them. Singing wise I really just zig zagged ’till I found my voice. Then when I had to start touring for months at a time I worked with a coach to keep me from losing my voice when we’d do a pile of gigs in a row.
Who are you listening to at the moment?
Funkadelic, Grinderman, D’Angelo, and Billie Ellish have been in high rotation this week.
You’ve recently come off of a tour, what did you find most rewarding and challenging?
The tour was a dream. As well it was a trip. We were on tour while there was only 1 song out in the world. Regardless, we had people singing along by the 2nd chorus to tunes they’d never heard before. It was magical. We covered some Prince, some Bowie, and some Nancy Sinatra just for the helluvit too.
Your voices harmonize magically on this track, please tell us how ‘I’m The Dog’ came about:
First off, cheers. We love singing this song. Especially acoustically, the words really get to shine. It started as a synth loop I was considering for another project but when I picked up the guitar, the vocal melody poked its head out. At that point I knew it’d be a Matchstick Skeletons’ tune. The lyrics to me are the centrepiece, and the harmonies built around the lead were done by Jasmin Parkin (mother mother) and Krystle Dos Santos. Any day I get to sing with those gals, or Ryan/Cole, is a good fuckin’ day.
‘I’m The Dog’has a light orchestral feel about it, what effect was used on the guitar pedal?
It’s basically a mellotron emulator on the flute setting. I keep the wet signal pretty high cause I don’t want it to feel campfire-y at all.
Where was ‘I’m The Dog’ recorded?
We did the live version at Hipposonic studios in Vancouver, (same place we did the drums on the album). That room has a lot of history, I love recording there.
How do you usually go about writing music?
Oh man, that’s a loaded question! I’ve never really done 2 songs the same way and had it work out. I write loads of poetry (like i’ve got stacks of full books), from that when I’ve got the emotional capacity to, I carve through it and see which things work as lyrics (cause lots don’t). In the meantime I put together instrumentals with the band and then we get in a room and see what fits where ya know?
Any secrets that you care to share?
Ryan and I once went to 15 shania twain shows in a row.
What do you have planned for 2019?
The Know-How EP just came out so we’re spreading the good word on that. A handful of gigs should be getting announced as we roll on through the Spring too. And shhhhh….but….maybe….
Favourite food and place to hangout?
You can’t pry us away from the noodles of Vancouver. If you ever need to find us. We’re in a food coma in the corner booth at the many noodle delivery locations around town.