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A Conversation with Bill Manning
by
Matt Peterson
December 9, 2001

The Banned

Matt Peterson: Who are you, what are your instruments, and where do you live?

Bill Manning: We are Brian, Tom and me (Bill), brothers in crime. We are bass, drums, and guitar&vocals respectively. We're two-thirds Manhattan and one-third Bronx. We rehearse at our folks' house in Yonkers.

Matt Peterson: How long have you been together? Have there been any lineup changes, and how drastic were they?

Bill: We still play a few of the old songs from the original line-up five years ago, but about three years ago Brian took over bass privileges and I started singing. We added our friend James on guitar, which really expanded our sound. Not to mention, we were so young, we were simply getting better at our instruments and I guess we just developed our own style. James has since departed and we're looking for a new full time guy or gal.

Matt Peterson: What have you released? Where can I buy your releases?

Bill: We did an old seven inch and a series of demos, which have since gone "out of print." Our new cd Songs of Innocence and Experience is the best effort we've put forth to date anyway. I'd hate to use this as an ad, so I'll just say you can find us on the web somewheres.

Matt Peterson: Do you have any plans to release anything in the near future?

Bill: We've got so much cool new stuff, I'd love to get it out, I really do think it's great, but we're working on finding a new guitarist, which is our major focus. Besides, I doubt we have the money to record again so soon.

Matt Peterson: Have you ever been played on the radio? If so, which stations?

Bill: I think a friend of ours in Oklahoma is hooking us up on a radio station there, playing some stuff off the cd. Other than that, we played live on NYU radio once, and another live set on a radio station in Sacramento, the name of which I cannot recall.

Matt Peterson: Where have you been written about?

Bill: We haven't gotten much press other than sending out our stuff for short reviews in fanzines and such. We don't really seek out any press, and god knows it won't just fall into your lap these days.

Matt Peterson: How many shows have you played? How far have you traveled from home to play?

Bill: Jesus... umm, several shows. Years of playing here in New York, three U.S. tours, a short conquest of Canada. The first tour we made it out to California during what was a four week tour. That stretched us pretty thin, though, so the next summer we did about half the country. And this past summer, we did the same but with much more success. We had our cd to support us, we were playing a show almost every night. It was also a lot of fuckin' fun.

Matt Peterson: What would be your ideal lineup for a show and where would it take place?

Bill: Jesus. Well, not speaking on behalf of the other guys... I'd love to pack a friend's basement and play a show with just us and The Clash (circa 1980, maybe).

Matt Peterson: Have you ever toured before, and if so, how extensive was it?

Bill: duh.

Matt Peterson: What bands do you think have the biggest influence on you?

Bill: I hate those questions... I'm not consciously influenced by anything. I don't sit down and say I'm gonna write a Misfits song, or a Barbara Streisand song now. I personally listen to punk, rock, soul, whatever... and I wouldn't even say our style is some fucking melting pot of those or other things. Tom once said that he's influenced by the things he hates, too. And it's true. You don't emulate those things, but you hate them. They've had an impact on you, and that's influence enough.

Matt Peterson: Describe your sound to someone who's never heard you before.

Bill: Punk that rocks, I guess. And sometimes rolls?

Matt Peterson: What records are you listening to right now?

Bill: Actually, my roommate is listening to some terrible shit right now. But in my cd player, waiting to be heard, are Otis and the B52's to name two. But that's me, Bill. I'm only one third of the equation, y'know?

Matt Peterson: If you were each an appendage on the body of the band, what would you be?

Bill: We'd be a man with three assholes, and I think you can figure out who'd be what.

Matt Peterson: What are your plans for the future?

Bill: "a lot of beer, a lot of girls, and a lot of cursin' / twenty-two automatic on my person"

Matt Peterson: How can you be contacted?

Bill: Alright, I'll give up the web address... thebanned.net There you can find all our other contact info as well

Matt Peterson: Where do you stand politically? What current issues interest/alarm you?

Bill: If you're going to ask a question like that, all I can tell you is I stand pretty pissed off. For me, though, political issues are more difficult to cover in songs than people give them credit. I'm dealing with that now, and I find I'm dissatisfied with nearly everything I scribble on paper. Maybe I'm just a bad lyricist, though. However, I do feel that there have only been a few people/bands to ever execute the political song well. But I guess that wasn't the question. I'm not going to tell anyone how to think, especially in an interview. Political issues are meant to be discussed, debated, reevaluated - face to face.

Matt Peterson: Last words?

Bill: I could go on a rant, for god's sake.... you've asked me to say anything I want to. Well, a lot of shit's been on my mind, and at times like these I don't think I'm alone in that. And this is not some profound reflection, but it's something that helped put some of this crazy shit into perspective for me. Someone I knew a few years ago, with whom I have no bad blood or anything like that, recently acted as though we'd never met. I stopped to talk to the person he was with, and he never even looked at me. I just kept looking at him, trying to catch a glance, even if just to give him the typical-guy-head-nod, but I got nothing. Some people fucking baffle me. It is so goddamn easy to be nice. Without being as superficial as a partygoer, he could've shaken my hand, asked me how I've been. Instead, people like that have to be assholes to their fellow man. Unfortunately, we can only hope that the death of thousands of innocent people has since helped put things in perspective for people like him, helped change their actions. That is, of course, without them going into the streets and waving flags like buffoons. But that's another rant for another time.

So I've been asking people recently to do one thing... when you say "Peace" to end a conversation, or end a letter, think about it and mean it. Peace.

Matt Peterson is a staff writer. Contact him at mattp@rockzone.com.

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