Don't Hold Me To That: A Conversation With Brad Manners
A friendly word attack from Brad Manners - Toronto's Bon Jovi (just kidding)
Brad Manners has been making snotty punk rock in the GTA for years and he's not about to let a global pandemic fuck that up. While the gigging has ceased indefinitely, he has stayed busy with solo projects, finishing his band's record, and guest starring on instant holiday classics! Obnoxious Brute, Jawsh, catches up with Brad as he hypes his latest project: Atomic Wrong!
BRUTAL REALITY DIGEST: Introduce yourself, your musical projects, and tell us your weapon of choice:
BRAD MANNERS: I'm Brad. I am the guitarist and one of the vocalists in School Damage from Toronto. During the pandemic I've started some side projects like Brad Manners and His Issues and more recently Atomic Wrong. My weapon of choice would be my Danelectro 64 and a few crispers.
BRD: When did you start School Damage?
BM: In early 2010 School Damage started. We were playing shows a few months after its inception. Ten years, 4 drummers, several tours and about 6 releases later and we are still a thing. We're just finishing up our most recent record that will be out in the late spring. Don't hold me to that. There's a goddamn global pandemic still happening.
BRD: You crossed the pond with that band, correct? What were some highlights from that trip?
BM: We've been fortunate to play a few countries. Europe was cool. We ate too much pizza and bread though and not long after I realized I have an intolerance for that stuff. Some highlights were playing a bar full of goths in Germany, a killer house show in Switzerland, dealing with German Border Guards when we thought we were in still Austria after a night of drinking Absinthe, and playing Punk Rock Raduno in Italy.
There was infinite beer and we got to hang out with people like Nikki Corvette, Jon Jughead from Screeching Weasel, the dude's from the Apers, as well as friends like DeeCracks, The Mugwumps, Ratbones and my old pal Jimmy Vapid. There's some stories I'd rather not disclose because I was either heavily intoxicated or we did something illegal and I'd like to go back there. We had a second Euro tour booked recently but it was postponed. Europeans are my kind of people. Because I am one.
BRD: You started a solo project for charity. How did that go and which charity did you support?
BM: During the first few months of quarantine I released a 4 song EP called Bored to Be Alive by Brad Manners and His Issues. I had some friends whom I've met through music help contribute on it and I recorded it myself which was a learning experience. A bunch of people chipped in on instruments which was rad. Members of School Damage, The Vapids, Brutal Youth and more. Surprisingly, a lot of people bought it which was really amazing. All the proceeds went to the civil rights organization NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). They still do.
BRD: Your Bandcamp houses a song called "The Next Day's Curse" which is the opening credit song for something called "Seratonin Party Massacre." Can you elaborate on what SPM is?
BM: The title "Seratonin Party Massacre" was originally a song on the upcoming School Damage record, but during Halloween I got really into playing synths so I wrote a theme song for a fictitious horror film named "The Seratonin Party Massacre". It was my nod to John Carpenter and Lucio Fulci and those horror films with the creepy but kind of corny synth music. I shot some footage for a trailer as well that I kind of abandoned. Maybe I'll get around to cutting that some day. A Seratonin Party Massacre is something that creeps up on you after going hard for a few days.
BRD: What's up with your latest project Atomic Wrong?
BM: Atomic Wrong was inspired by bands like Flipper, No Trend, Butthole Surfers, Swell Maps, etc. Those weirdo bands that are sloppy and unhinged and go off script and do free form style shit during live performances. I have an old banged up Stratocaster that I pulled out of a closet. I gave it an ugly paint job and wrote the songs with it. The guitar sounds and looks like shit and that was the inspiration for the band. Make do with what you have and use it to prove a point. The recording is just me despite two songs where Curtis Tone of ex-School Damage/current Plasticheads plays drums. But when things get better and live music comes back, I'd like to start bringing other members in and perform as well as continue to write. I'm sure I'll have some more songs recorded before then.
BRD: Toronto has been hit pretty hard by this damn virus. How have you been keeping your sanity during the lockdown?
BM: Recording, playing and learning. I've been recording by myself as much as possible. Learning a few things about that as I go. Been playing guitar and drums almost daily. I've really been into playing acoustic guitar but don't expect a Brad Unplugged anytime soon. And we're just wrapping up recording this new School Damage album which has taken longer than usual but because Toronto keeps going in and out of lockdowns during COVID, so it's tough to get things done safely and legally in the studio.
BRD: What's the best movie or TV series you've seen since you've been hiding out?
BM: I don't really watch television, but I'd be lying if I said I haven't been watching a buttload of YouTube cooking channels, Adult Swim, and every season of Eastbound and Down for the fifth time. But when I'm not filling my head with that junk I'm reading or watching Instant Karma videos on Reddit.
BRD: Have you ever crossed paths with the Australian School Damage?
BM: They've crossed paths with friends of ours but not us. We were briefly talking back and forth with them about the name but then it felt like it was getting ugly for no real reason so that stopped. I probably started it.
BRD: What are you hoping to accomplish in 2021 both musically and personally?
BM: To get this damn School Damage record out! Some songs on there are personal to me and I'd like the people who they're about to hear them. No one's promised a tomorrow and I'm trying to make an attempt to immortalize more than just an obituary.
Hopefully gigging will be a thing soon. We had a tour lineup with Lone Wolf that was canned due to COVID so I'd like that to pick up again if possible. I love that band. I love playing and I love meeting and hanging out with people. As for goals personally, a haircut would be nice. And to work on some other traits as well, I guess.