Artist Interview: Meanswell
My name is Kevin Manship and I'm the lead singer/guitarist in Meanswell, an indie rock band hailing from Austin, TX! We formed this group in the early months of 2017 after deciding to re-brand the name and sound of our previous group, The Gents. We wanted to focus more on elements of straight forward rock and roll as opposed to the more eclectic Americana elements we had incorporated on our previous recordings. My other bandmates are Matthew Blissard (vocals/guitar), Andrew Simmons (vocals/bass), and Jon Denn (drums).
Q: Clearly the idea of “Meanswell” goes beyond just a title of one of your songs or the name of your band. How does this phrase resonate with you and how did it become integrated into this artistic project?
A: We had been playing under the name, The Gents, for a couple years and decided we wanted to change our name for copyright and re-branding purposes. We'd done a few EP recordings over the last few years and found our sound was evolving. We didn't want people to be confused by the new direction of our sound if we kept playing under the old name. We had decided it would be unique to make up a word for our new group's name so we kicked around several ideas. The idea for “Meanswell” is a contraction of “means well.” I was going through a terribly stressful time and had recently had a falling out with my girlfriend. I was totally heartbroken and tried writing to help compartmentalize some of my thoughts and realized I kept saying, “I meant well,” and realized that it wasn't okay to only mean well in a situation like that, you have to go above and beyond for the people you love. So I suppose the name is sort of ironic in that sense – it's a reminder to myself to love and support the people around me.
Q: You have an extraordinary video to go along with your most recent, self titled, song; how did the fusion come between you and William Robinette?
A: We had a blast making that video with him! We actually have known William for several years as he and Matthew attended college together at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA. He pursued a career in videography, and direction and has enjoyed tremendous success. We saw him in Richmond on tour during the summer of 2016 and told him that we were interested in making a video for one of the songs we had been working on. He agreed that was something he would be in to making for us! Once we got our first three singles recorded, we sent them to him and asked his opinion on which he had the best vision for. He chose “Meanswell,” and we picked a weekend for him to come down and shoot it. As silly as it sounds, we built the majority of the story for the video off the suggestion we should shoot model rockets off and then pretty much worked our way backwards from there. William's experience with direction and camera work helped us immensely in getting the project done pretty quickly all in all!
Q: When you are exploring with your music what kinds of themes do you like to build into it? What do you feel is the most relevant thing for you to write about?
A: Matthew and I typically work on lyrics together after one of us comes up with a chord progression or a hook that we like. We both agree that we enjoy using our own experiences to create the themes for our music. We feel like it makes the music more personal to all of us when we're putting in to words our inner thoughts and feelings. All of our songs are about things that have actually happened to us! I love listening back to things we wrote in our early twenties because it takes me back to that time and place, I can recall the emotions we were feeling at that time. It's interesting to see the progression as we've matured as people and as musicians.
Q: Musically speaking, where do you get a lot of your inspiration from? Is it fairly organic to work together and build your music?
A: Musically speaking, we all have some influences that are similar but also some that are unique to each member which is where the fun part is. We've listed bands like Queens of the Stone Age, The Strokes, and Weezer all the way to Fats Domino, and Sam Cooke. Like I said, we typically find a melody or a hook that we like and then put lyrics to it. Once we've got a basic outline for the song, we tackle it as a band, adding bass and drums, and typically arranging our backing harmonies last.
Q: With the singles being premiered should people be expecting more music to be released or possibly an EP or full length?
A: We do have several more songs finished that we have not recorded from this writing period so we are excited to record those and release them in 2018. We're also writing new material as well in hopes that we can have enough to pick and choose from to find the most consistent through-line for a full-length recording.
Q: Over the course of the next month, what are you hoping to accomplish as a band?
A: We have one more single to release before the end of the year so we're definitely looking forward to that. We also plan to complete three or four more of the songs we've been working on more recently!
If you want to check out some music of Meanswell's you can find their self-titled music video down below!