Interview/Song Premiere: Manners, “Shrouds,” on dealing with death and anxiety

June 28, 2012 by Matthew Colwell

Interview/Song Premiere: Manners, “Shrouds,” on dealing with death and anxiety

Manners are a hardcore band in the vein of Defeater/La Dispute hailing from Hartford, Connecticut. While they have the sound mastered with just two EPs to their name, it's frontman Chris Hague's emotional past that fuels his dark lyricism, making for a unique experience among the scene. Releasing their newest record, Apparitions & Escapism, on June 29 via MorseCode recordings (purchase here), the album is composed of re-recordings of both previous works along with two new songs.

We premiered "Homecoming" and now we're back to bring you the album closer, "Shrouds," which deals with Hague's dealings with anxiety. In this AltPress.com interview, the singer details how the death of his mother in 2008 and being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder (which explains the vomiting before hitting the stage every night) has shaped these records for him and how writing became his way of coping with the issues.

 

How did writing about the passing of your mother help you with the coping process? what catharsis came from it?
My mom passed going on five years now—it will be five years this November—and it was a crucial time in my life when it happened. I had just turned 18, and it was my first year of college. I’ve never been good at dealing with that stuff and I’ve never really had to do that before. It was a huge trauma and I remember when it first happened, I didn’t feel anything for, like, the first three months. Then I just bottled it up and didn’t know how to deal with it.

At that time, I had just gotten into the hardcore scene in my area and I was just really angry and bitter with everything, even though I’m a pretty happy individual. I wasn’t in any bands at the time and was trying to work out [how to deal with my mom’s death]. Then a few friends were like, “We should sit down and you should write music with us.”

I basically just brought out all the stuff I had been writing since her death and at the time I had also been diagnosed with a fairly serious anxiety disorder, so I had a lot going on that was really complicated. When we started writing, I finally started feeling better having all this stuff come out. It was the only time I was able to channel all of the things I was feeling and make it make sense. I tried talking with a therapist and it just wasn’t working and I couldn’t get myself to say what I wanted to say.

Although the record isn’t inherently about my mom passing away, a lot of it [is centered on] dealing with death on different levels. A lot of the feelings I try to explain are lines I’ve actually thought to myself when I was feeling down. It deals a lot with the “why did this happen to me?” and “what did I do to deserve this?” questions that come up after a death.

How does being a frontman with a “fairly serious anxiety disorder” work out? What do you do to help yourself make it through a show?
I used to throw up before a lot of the shows we played and my eyes would get all blurry and my lungs would hurt. I would basically have a panic attack every time we played. This would happen during recording, too, and I would get frustrated and just say how it wasn’t going to turn out right and it was going to be bad.

The way I handle it is just by spending a lot of time alone before we play. I’ll disappear for a while and get my thoughts together. It helps a lot, too, having [support from close friends] at the show. Having people around who understand me helps a lot. When I don’t have that, I just try to hang out alone, take deep breaths and remind myself that, at this point, if people are into it, they’re into it and if they’re not, they’re not.

The song we’re premiering, “Shrouds,” is about your anxiety. In what way does it express your struggle with it?
This song is the first I’ve ever talked about it. The chorus of it is, “I’ve imagined you all to be corpses for the sake of getting through the night.” That’s sort of the way I’ve dealt with it. People always say, “Imagine everyone in their underwear,” and I always thought that was dumb, so I just try to imagine that everyone doesn’t exist.

My main thing is that I get really nervous because of expectations for us and for the way it’s supposed to sound, so just try to imagine that there are none. That’s why I talk at the end about vomiting and nausea. That’s all true. I talk about being in a bathroom by myself. This happens at every show we go to: I go to the bathroom, I’ll throw up and then I’ll feel like shit and then I’ll walk out and everything happens, and I just pretend no one’s there and [I'm] playing to an empty room.

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