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  • Writer's pictureEmily Marshman

REVIEW + INTERVIEW: we had a chat with the manatees ahead of the release of "have it all (acoustic)"

A little over a month ago, Southampton-based three piece The Manatees released "Have It All" and proved that they're working hard to stand out among the new generation of emerging British guitar bands. "Have It All" is a fast-paced, edgy track about being in a relatioship with someone you're so in love with that it's easy to let their influence over you blur lines. In the succinct words of the band, "It’s about being so infatuated with someone that they could control your every move if they wanted to.”

The acoustic version dropped today and it's genuinely an entirely different vibe from the original. It's easy to lose yourself to how loud the track is and how fast it seems to go by, how easy it is to listen to it too many times in a row without really listening, but this alternate version, in my opinion, highlights how truly skillful and smart the band - Jay Harris on vocals and guitar, Tyler Bloor on lead guitar, and James Miller on bass - are. Every time I listened, there was something new waiting to be discovered (those riffs? the bass? Harris's vocals? their harmonies?).

The Manatees are truly a time bomb of talent. Having received praise from key industry tastemakers such as Radio 1's Huw Stephens, Radio X's John Kennedy, and 6 Music's Steve Lamacq and Chris Hawkins, I have no doubt in my mind that an explosion for these guys is looming on the horizon, and "Have It All" (+ the acoustic version) is proof of that. All it's going to take is the widespread exposure they deserve.

I had the chance to ask frontman Jay Harris a few questions about their new release, keeping busy (and slowing down) in quarantine, and the rise in electrifying guitar music. Be sure to check out the guest playlist he so kindly curated for us as well!

I have to ask about the name - where did The Manatees come from?

We’re right on the south coast so we wanted something that linked us to the sea. I saw one of these animals called the manatee on some discovery programme and thought it was a bit weird, the name stuck with me and here we are!

If you had to describe your music to someone who’s never heard of you before, how would you?

I’d like to describe our music as energetic, anthemic and guitar drenched.

Who would you say has had the biggest influence on you (personally and professionally)?

Personally it would have to be my parents, they’re real music lovers and I grew up around a lot of great records. Professionally there are quite a few. The Wombats were the first proper band I got into and definitely made me fall in love with the idea of being in a band myself. Jamie T has been and will always be a big inspiration in the way I write music.

I know that this quarantine has meant something different for everyone - some have seen it as time to breathe and to relax, but for others, they’ve used it to get a leg up. Has this quarantine been a productive time for you?

It’s definitely been a productive time for us but we’ve had to learn to work in a different way to what we’re used to. We’re really happy to have released 3 tracks in the period so far and to have kept up momentum. We’ve also loved a bit of breathing time and enjoyed spending it with our families.

This new single, “Have It All,” seems to be steering you in a different direction than your previous releases. Where do you hope it takes you?

It is a slightly different direction and we’re going to be exploring a new sound with the next few singles to come - we hope ‘Have It All’ has helped open the door to them. We still promise energy, lots of guitars and hopefully something you’re going to want to sing along to!

What drove you to release an acoustic version of this particular track?

We filmed an acoustic video for this track and put it out about a month ago. We had a lot of people ask for the audio to be released, so that’s what we’ve done! It’s also a great time to be consuming and putting out music, we’re just happy to have another track out there.

Who are some artists making music today that excite you?

Anderson Paak is really exciting to us all at the moment. His beats are a big inspiration and he’s such a talent. Arlo Parks is another really talented and exciting artist out there right now. Inhaler are a band doing a lot for guitar music and we love the stuff they’re putting out. The list goes on and on.

Who would be an absolute dream to play the same stage as?

That’s such a hard one, Johnny Marr is a big hero of ours so it would be a dream to get on stage with him.

The acoustic version of "Have It All" by The Manatees can be streamed on your preferred platform now. Follow the band on Twitter and Instagram and check out their website to keep up with everything they have coming - they're lucky enough to have a few upcoming tour dates: 16 October - Strings Bar & Venue, IOW

27 November - Rough Trade, Bristol

5 December - The Loft, Southampton

10 April 2021 - Omeara, London (supporting Neon Waltz)

28 April 2021 - The Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham

2 March 2021 - Teddy Rocks Festival

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