10 for 2013 Interview: Oscar Manthorpe of Theme Park

By on Monday, 17th December 2012 at 11:00 am

London band Theme Park landed at #4 on our 10 for 2013 countdown as voted by you TGTF readers. Guitarist Oscar Manthorpe, ever so humble when proclaiming himself the “Other guitarist” in the band on his personal Twitter kindly answered Tom’s questions.

For the new listeners out there, how would you describe your sound?
The core of the sound is based in danceable pop music; catchy hooks, strong melodies, concision in the songwriting – at least that’s what we aim for. But I’d hope people don’t judge it in that framework alone; there are weirder and darker aspects, particularly lyrically and rhythmically.

How do you feel about the constant comparisons to the Talking Heads?
On the one hand, great! They toyed with what a pop song could be. That philosophy of mixing great hooks with odd sounds and rhythms to make something darker and dancier is absolutely something we strive for. But beyond ‘Milk’, I believe we execute that blueprint in a really different way, a different aesthetic. I know how easy it is to listen to new things with that ‘file next to’ mindset, but I think it’s often better to judge something on its own merits, outside referential parameters.

I mentioned earlier how you’ve supported many bands; who’s been your favourite to be on tour with?
Two stand out for different reasons. Bombay Bicycle Club was a lot of fun because they’ve been friends since however long, and Bloc Party ‘cos well… it’s Bloc Party. They released ‘Silent Alarm’ just as we were getting to grips with what an electric guitar was. So to share a stage with a band that people love so much was an honour.

Bands with brothers in are always a big yes, but are there any Oasis-style spats whilst on the road?
None! Not a single one, I’m afraid. The Haughtons (Miles and Marcus) are a very peaceful pair, and I’ve known them for about 20 years, so we’re all settled in to the rhythms of friendship. The closest we’ve come on tour is bow and arrow battles in castles.

Oscar Manthorpe, are you aware of the following you’ve gathered in the form of the There Goes The Fear podcast?
Ha, no! Should I be worried? [I think Tom needs to flesh this out in a future piece for TGTF. Just sayin’. – Ed.]

If you weren’t in this band, where would you be right now?
I love the idea of working in film or teaching. I’m planning on teaching classical guitar for a bit in the next break from touring actually. And Miles is perennially working on a screenplay, but he’s very protective of it. It could end up as a lost masterpiece.

The Mystery Jets remix of ‘Jamaica’ is incredible, what was it like working with such a great band?
Fun! At least, as much as working over email can be. I remember seeing them at Mean Fiddler just after ‘Making Dens’ was released, it was incredible. So having our paths cross was very cool.

Blaine Harrison’s dad famously played bass for Mystery Jets when they started out, is there space in the band for anyone’s father?
I’d have to credit my dad with introducing me to many of my musical favourites, but he only knows how to play one song, ‘Suzanne’ by Leonard Cohen, on guitar. So, barring a *dramatic* change of direction, probably not.

If you could have written any song already released, which would it be?
It’d have to be ‘Across 110th Street’ by Bobby Womack. Although it’s about growing up in a world a million miles away from my own, it’s just so atmospheric and evocative that it feels almost canonical. If I write a song 1/100th as good as that, I’d die a happy man.

TGTF thanks Oscar for answering our burning questions and Adam for facilitating.

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