The Manchester electro-pop fivesome deliver the definitive, ale-swigging muso’s guide to the city
Manchester is the second city of UK music, right? Hotbed of the 80s indie culling, master song-craftsmen and the Indie Kings in the North, spewing out disparaging vitriol of the gentrified affluence and consummate apathy down south, right?
From our Mozza and Johnny Marr to a Gallagher or two, these iconic staples of music have all called Manchester home, and the muso history is only part of what draws young artists the city. Indie pop stalwarts AFFAIRS are one such band. “When we started out with Affairs we were originally over in Hull and to be honest we did wonder how we would be welcomed when we made the move over to Manchester,” says Liam Grindell, guitarist and backing vocalist of the five-piece. “Obviously we knew of its extremely rich musical heritage, which I think probably spurred us on. We actually had promoters jump on board pretty quickly.” The support early on saw Affairs take to local venue Night and Day, which is a right of passage for many new bands. “I think for us we wanted everyone to know about us so we made sure promoters were aware of who we are. I think as much as the city welcomed us, we welcomed the idea of working with exciting new people.”
And the band are keen to wax lyrical on the sense of community. Opting to spend their free time between Ancoats and the Northern Quarter, they share that there are always gigs happening to satisfy even the most thirsty of music lovers. “Obviously when you are out and about at these things you tend to meet a hell of a lot of likeminded people, which is awesome. There’s a definite buzz and underlying hum of music in the city. Basically you’re just never far from something new and potentially incredible.”
What is your favourite Manchester venue to play and why?
One of the ones that ranks highly with all of us is Soup Kitchen. The sound in there is just insane. It’s just massive. Upstairs is a bar which always has loads of awesome beers on and usually some DJ spinning something you’ve never heard, but you’ll always wanna get down to it. The downstairs is their venue which definitely has a certain atmosphere to it. We just love playing there to be honest and have had loads of great nights there too. Two highlights were catching Sinkane and George Fitzgerald.
What is your most memorable gig in the area, for better or for worse?
I think one that did it for us all was headlining The Castle in the Northern Quarter. This was for Scruff of the Neck Records who were doing their Oldham Street takeover. There are several awesome venues down there and they put shows on in all of them on one night. The show had sold out and was literally insane; everyone was on the same wave length in that room. Sweaty as hell. I think it says a lot when the promoter is unable to get back into his own show down to everyone being rammed in. The venue itself is small so has a really intense atmosphere to it.
We loved your most recent single ‘Gracious World’! Can you tell us a little about what went into creating it?
We basically went out to create something that sounded a little happier than our previous singles, both in sound and message. Sonically, we wanted to create a more relatable pop track that people could get down to, perhaps a little brighter than our previous outings. Lyrically the track is basically just a massive middle finger to boring mundane, 9-5 jobs and thinking “Screw this I’m just going to go see the world and everything it has to offer.”
Where do you write and record your tracks? Recommend some great people to collaborate with for bands just starting out!
We handed the production helm back over to James Kenosha who worked with us on our previous single ‘Life of Leisure’; this guy really knows his stuff. We did break the process down compared to the previous record. Rather than locking ourselves in one studio for a few days we opted for using a couple of different methods close to us in Ancoats to record different elements. Me and Dan had a particularly long night in Guerrilla Studios guitar tracking. By 4am I don’t think we knew up from down and was just swimming in a mess of reverb. Luckily James knows exactly how to craft an awesome pop tune!
Where do you love to chill out when you have downtime?
One of our most frequented haunts is Seven Brothers. They’re a local Manchester brewery based in Salford but have their beer house 30 seconds from our practice space and studio in Ancoats. Dangerous! As you can guess it’s a family run set up and the story behind them is great. They do some mean IPAs and DIPAs. It’s generally just a nice place to relax, though the conversation usually turns back to our band. They were kind enough to let us use their space for a photo shoot not too long ago (pictured top of page, ©Miki Csepely-Knorr.) If you like exposed brick work and ply wood, this one’s for you. Another personal favourite is Coffee Pot which really hits the spot after a ‘big one’. Anywhere that gives the option to up your standard brekky to a boozy breakfast knows the score. Highly recommend this place for food if you are in the area and hunger strikes.
What promoters always bring exciting artists to town?
We have always been impressed with DHP and Now Wave. They always seem to be ahead of curve and bring in loads of interesting acts on a more international level. I can generally tell if it’s one of their shows now when I see something advertised, so they definitely have something down. They recently had LCD Soundsystem down at Warehouse Project which unfortunately we missed out on as tickets sold out so fast. Needless to say, gutted. We have worked with DHP a couple of times and they are a great bunch to work with.
Michael (Bradnam; drums, pictured right) you brew your own beer! What led you to pursue that and what is your best achievement to date?
I do indeed! I currently have a DIPA fermenting away in my living room. I think the reason I got into brewing was a mixture of discovering good beer during my time at uni and my propensity for making things and wanting to learn and try new things constantly. I love inventing, tweaking and trying out recipes and due to the almost unlimited variations of ingredients (hop varieties, yeast strains, water composition, malts and adjuncts) I live in hope that I might one day invent a new style. I think my best achievement is just consistently producing beers that people really enjoy, it’s a great feeling seeing someone genuinely enjoy something you have produced, much like creating music.
Are there any non-music related projects or places that we should earmark to visit?
As well as ones I have already mentioned, there are still tons. We are still finding new places all the time. As you have probably gathered we have a real taste for locally brewed beers. We would highly recommend checking out one of the many brewery open events from the cities brewers. It’s well worth checking out Cloud Water, Runaway, ABC Brewery online and especially if you happen to be in the city. They tend to do open days where breweries open their doors and have a load of their own beers on, as well as other local food vendors.
Affairs play the following dates. Listen to more of their music below:
Fri 27 October – Café Indiependent, Scunthorpe
Sat 4 November – Night & Day Café, Manchester