Victorious Festival, Weald & Downland and an overdue album release await The Mantic Muddlers

Mantic Muddlers at The Loft in Southsea, July 2019. Picture by Paul Windsor
Mantic Muddlers at The Loft in Southsea, July 2019. Picture by Paul Windsor
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By the end of the month The Mantic Muddlers hope to have their debut album, Tall Tales and The Gospel Truth, ready for release. 

The trio actually had the album launch show back in June – but circumstances prevented its release until now.

Frontman Jake Davies explains the rather unusual situation: ‘We all had a listen yesterday to the masters and we’re 100 per cent happy with it, and it’s going to coincide with the Weald & Downland show.

‘It got massively delayed – we set ourselves an almost impossible challenge and we booked the launch gig for the end of June before we’d even recorded it. 

‘We thought we’d record the album in one weekend in this industrial kitchen we know local to us and do it completely live. We’ve got this friend who’s really good with microphones and he’s recorded us live before, so we thought let’s do it like that, because that’s what we know and be completely in the moment.

‘But then I ended up getting a chest infection on the weekend we were due to record.

‘I thought sod it, let’s give it a go, but we did maybe two songs and my voice completely went.’

The next time they could go in and record was a month later, which put them way behind schedule.

‘It didn’t quite come together, but we nearly made it! A lot of people came to the launch gig and were asking: “Where’s the album?” And I had to make this humble apology.

‘It’s been a bit of a learning curve and for the next album – we do intend to put more albums out – we’re going to give ourselves a lot more time to get everything done.’

The band, completed by Laurence Evans on violin and George Mercer on double bass, have been making a name for themselves as a captivating live act with their self-described ‘roots, rattle and roll.’ They formed about five years ago, passing through various iterations before settling on the current line-up when Laurence joined two years ago.

‘Me and George went to school together, I’ve known him since I was 10 and we were in our first band together. It was hard-rock and then we got into our heavy metal and we’d throw ourselves around the stage. The genre and stylings have moved on, but the passion to get up and jump around hasn’t.

‘Laurence came up to us at a gig and said he liked what we were doing, and had we ever considered having a violin player?

‘He popped around for a jam and he fitted right in immediately. He’s so sympathetic to what we do – he can sit on top or dive right in to the music – he really knows his stuff while me and George sort of make a racket! It’s a real nice balance.’

George’s double bass also has an unfortunate habit of ‘exploding’ mid-song as anyone who saw them recently support American roots act the Resonant Rogues at The Loft in Southsea can testify.

‘It wasn’t one of my favourite sets of ours, but it was a great night,’ admits Jake with a laugh. ‘I loved Megan (Linford)’s set and the Rogues’ set, but everything comes with its own set of challenges!

‘That happens maybe once a year to us, one time George did it at Weyfest in front of a good couple hundred people. He managed to get it back together in probably a couple of minutes, and when he did it got a bigger cheer than any of the songs we played!

‘Maybe if we rehearsed it properly we could make it part of the show...! But when it goes mid-song you are just like: “Oh, bugger”.

‘Apparently the bridge of the bass isn’t attached to anything, it’s wedged between the strings and the body.

‘Danny, the bass player from the Resonant Rogues, said it has happened to him as well, so it must be a recurring thing.

‘The beauty of George’s bass is that he can fold the neck down into the body so it’s travel-ready, and fit it into our small car rather than a van, but every time he sets it back up it’s that bit more prone to doing it again.’

The band are playing The Beats and Swing tent at Victorious Festival on Southsea Common, on Saturday, August 24 at 12.30pm. Go to victoriousfestival.co.uk.

They then play as part of the Weald & Downland cultural summer season, near Chichester, on Friday, August 30, doors 6.15pm, with Silver Threads and Fate the Juggler. Go to wealddown.co.uk.