Interviews Music

INTERVIEW: Our Man In Berlin

Interviewed by: Jasmine Uitermark


Who are Our Man in Berlin? And for readers who may not have had their ears blessed with your whispery vocal tones tucked into a bed of heavy bass lines, why should they listen to you?

Haydn Mansell – Vocals

Trevor Gerard – Guitar

Justin Martins– Synth/Bass

Daniel Hawtin –SFX Guitar

Cain Munns – Drums

I’m blushing and it’s not even my whispery vocals you’re complimenting!

If you have internet you can hear Our Man in Berlin here, and here.

What chip flavour describes your sound best, why (you can make up a chip flavour too)?

Sour Cream and onions. Shrek is love, Shrek is life.

Music you grew up with? How has this influenced OMIB’s compositions?

Personally I’m inspired by:

– Mum and Dad’s cassette tapes. 1990s dude

– The Wiggles – Cold Spaghetti (I missed school to go watch The Wiggles in Merriden, where my uncle had seen ACDC play in 1975, and it wasn’t even the real Wiggles. My teacher gave me shit because I was a bit old to miss class for Dorothy the Dinosaur but I learnt a valuable lesson: A fake O.G isn’t truly an O.G but they’ll charge the same fee.)

– The themes of cartoons like The Ferals, Arthur, Hey Arnold, Angela Anaconda, Bob the Builder (Mambo No. 5 Remix on loop at my friends 12th Birthday shed party), etc.

– Rage – Flicking over halfway through Herbie Hancocks ‘Rock It’ video

– The Mask (1994) Swing Dance scene – Coco Bongo – Made me want to learn drums. Chris Dave wearing the Mask is the music I dream of hearing.

The Pozible campaign Our Man in Berlin created worked really well as a fundraiser for the mixing and mastering of your new EP ‘Spirit Down’. Did you expect the reaction you received?

We’re ecstatic and blessed to have such generous friends and families whose willingness to invest money into independent music allows us to release our music to more people than just those who invested their time and money. We did our research, committed to an achievable goal and kind supporters granted us success! Thankyou everyone who pays for music. Thankyou Pozible.

Some of the pledges on the Pozible campaign were out there and required a lot of commitment. If I had over $1000 lying around I definitely would have been keen for a private performance.

Working on a stripped back-acoustic set (one of the Pozible rewards) in jams has been a great experiment in putting away the microscope; the tendency to play a song exactly as recorded, in favour of a freeform – spin the telescope – approach to see where the tune leads us.

Our pledge rewards were a result of our meditation sessions. We love being busy performing and touring –it’s a collective dream of ours to share our music with people on the search for new sounds and who still go out for live music. These Pozible rewards allow us to give directly back to supporters who put their hard earned dollars towards our musical endeavours, we aim to make it worth their while.

Give Rotunda the rundown of ‘Spirit Down’, what track was your favourite to record?

Bones is one our favourites to play. It’s polyrhythmic and a loose mover and shaker. The skeleton for the song originated over a year ago at a jam when we were rehearsing for our last EP tour. Haydn and Justin demoed it relentlessly for a couple of weeks. Haydn wrote the majority of his vocal melodies in Justin’s kitchen whilst he was waiting for a kettle to boil. Lyrically it’s pretty scattered, but he wrote the chorus line about how sad all of Tony’s Abbotts bullshit was making him. “Lose hope.  I’m so sick of you man. Get out the way.”

Moliere was the first single we put out from this EP. It’s got this really cool bass breakdown in the chorus section and a super frenetic ending which sums up how we were feeling at the time of writing the song. Control and manipulation.

Spirit Down is the title track of the EP and, we think, the best “song” in a singer-songwriter sense. The arrangement and dynamic is something we’ll never be certain of we worked on it for so long that we haven’t got much perspective left on it anymore. “You put your spirit down and called it survival” is kind of about giving up on what makes you truly happy in order to achieve some kind of mundane ‘stability.’

Separate has some complex rhythms in it and amazing guitar work from the lads. It’s an awkward yet creative arrangement – there’s such a small chance of the song even existing which is why we love it. The Tabla is organic and has a tribal essence – though it’s an electronic sample. Reflecting on the title, it could have possible insinuations of the separation and connection of the body and mind.

Muster is a home recording job. It’s something we’re quite proud of because we did it with shitty gear in Justin’s bedroom. We love how chilled it is compared to rest of the EP. We think it finishes things off nicely. It has a really cool outro/chorus that kicks things up a notch.

The tour for the ‘Spirit Down’ EP kicks off on the 8th of July in Brisbane, what city are you looking forward to playing the most?

Your city. Haydn said Melbourne as we get to play with our heroes, The Black Chords. Daniel said Byron Bay followed with a cheeky durry emoji. I don’t know what that means.

Favourite line-up you’ve performed with so far?*

DX Heaven were next level in Melbourne and we loved Angus Dawson’s set in Perth. Space Behind the Yellow Room were an Indian band we played with in Singapore who blew me away with their energy and came and tore up the joint when we got to play just before Coin Banks and his top notch bunch of musicians for the Music Matters conference.

What was the funniest moment of your last tour and antics that ensued whilst gallivanting the country?  

Haydn fell from the top bunk busted his knee and wasn’t allowed on the flight home on the Lonely Arms tour. Losing my passport in Singapore was funny after I got to pat some dolphins. The night of a 1am gig in Singapore, amongst the chaos of drunken revellers all trying to catch a ride home, we took off in our taxi and made it all the way to the hotel before we realised we’d left our drum pad and guitar pedal cases behind. With adrenaline and Full Frequency B.P.M in our hearts Justin and I raced and caught another cab the 20 mins back… to find our gear sitting where we’d left it forty-five minutes earlier. As much as I hesitate to condone Singapore’s traditional lopping off of people’s limbs as punishment for stealing, fear is a bloody good deterrent that likely saved our asses in this instance.

If OMIB could be in the Guinness World Book of Records, what would it most likely be for?

Worst Boy Band. Our synchronised steps are unintentionally weak, we’ve terrible posture and fans over 18.


EXTRA: Local bands we love

The Fix/Helium – The drummer, Daniel Susnjar, is a certified Dr. of Music.

Koi Child – J’ass feat. Brassholes. If you don’t know, now you know, Hipster

Shy Panther – Please make more music you beautiful men.

Colab/The Community – SO many talents

Mei Saraswati – Take a toke and pass it in the left hand

Lanark – Lush buddies

Methyl Ethyl – Ol mates

Blud – ???who