The Maness Brothers | All in the Family

dl maness-75We know what we want out of the band and out of life and it’s easy that way. We can get mad and give each other black eyes and call each other up later to eat ice cream in the driveway.




I’m always fascinated by siblings in bands. It can make for some interesting dynamics or turbulent trials. With the Whiskey Mountain War Festival coming up, I decided to talk to the talented musical brothers, David and Jake Maness.

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How long has your band, the Maness Brothers, been playing?

JM: We’ve been jamming together for at least ten years; we started using the name the Maness Brothers about three years ago. Our first show was the first Whiskey War Festival in 2012. We played our only two songs and improved some blues for a few minutes with Nick Sacco [Whiskey War Mountain Rebellion] on bass.

DM: We’ve been jamming and writing songs together since we were wee lads. I’m a little bit older than Jake and I had a little high school garage–type band going on, and Jake used to fill in for our drummer at practices and some amateur recordings. He couldn’t have been more than 11 or 12 years old when that was going on. The actual “Maness Brothers Band” officially started in early 2012. Our lineup consists of me on guitar and Jake on drums; we both trade off singing.

Who are your musical and non-musical inspirations?

DM: A lot of our mutual music inspirations are John Lee Hooker, Canned Heat, Skynyrd, Hendrix, Muddy Waters, Woody Guthrie, and a lot of Southern and doom metal recently. Also, The Blues Brothers pretty much changed my life. From 5 to 15, I think I watched that movie a thousand times, and for a brief while I’d flip it on while going to bed to fall asleep. I wanted to be those guys, like Matt “Guitar” Murphy and Steve “The Colonel” Cropper. Those were the coolest dudes in the world to me. Still are.

As far as non-musical inspirations go, I would say my family and their life stories have inspired the way we write lyrics, and have inspired the way we want to live our lives, as musicians or just people. I would also say people like Charles Bukowski, Kurt Vonnegut, and Jack Kerouac have definitely inspired us to even consider the lifestyle of being a musician. I think people like that let us really understand the importance of furthering the arts, and that you may have to make sacrifices, work shitty jobs, and just do what you gotta do to live and fulfill your passions and dreams.

JM: David said it best. My grandpa gave me some Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich, which got me into a lot of jazz drummers who led their own bands or had big reputations just as drummers. I think when I was a kid that made me want to take drums more serious.

How would you describe your music?

JM: Aggressive blues rock. Midwest mud.

DM: Midwest mud or Midwest sludge

[Definition: dirty, loud, blues with at times a metal influence.]

How are your songs written? What are some of your themes?

DM: Usually I’ll have a guitar piece that I’ve been fooling with at home for a bit and we’ll start jamming around on that together. That usually takes some turns and twists in that process until we get something we’re both happy with. We both write lyrics at home and at least get a good base to work with. Sometimes the music will help lead us in certain lyrics.

Our themes have recently been about spiritualism, existentialism, friendships, and working your ass off at factories—or in my case, a wood shop.

What is your recording process?

DM: At this point, we’re just honing down our new songs, planning on touring them out for a while, and then we’ll hit the studio with them. We have a few different ideas on how we’ll record this next album so I guess or process changes.

How many albums do you have out?

DM: We just released Grief Factory out on 7-inch vinyl; that was our first “real” release as Maness Brothers. We have put out a few compilations under Family Reunion Records: The Whiskey War Festival (2012 compilation); Songs to Fred (a Fred Friction cover album compilation); and The Whiskey War Festival (2013 compilation).

I have to ask: What are the good points and bad points for two brothers in a band?

JM: We know what we want out of the band and out of life and it’s easy that way. We can get mad and give each other black eyes and call each other up later to eat ice cream in the driveway.

DM: It’s all good points; what are you talking about? [Smiles] We grew up fighting, so if we have disagreements, the issue is over with as soon as it comes in. A huge thing with being in a band with your brother is the mindset. I feel like we have a similar vision on how we want/need to live, and what we need to achieve to make us happy.

Tell me the funniest or strangest thing that’s happened to you as a band.

DM: Not too, too long ago, the Maness Brothers were part of a backing band for a country singer who played songs written for a book about moonshining. The guys in the band were all 50-plus and we traveled all the way to North Carolina for a show with ’em—it ended up being at a library and it was entertainment for the author’s book signing. Every senior citizen in the city showed up. The mayor of the city sold us a bunch of moonshine, and Jake and I just stayed up drinking and jamming with a few of the band members. Great time, all in all.

Tell about me Whiskey Mountain War Festival. How did you get started? Who is playing this time?

DM: The Whiskey War Festival is an annual, one-day colossal concert. A few different elements collided to get this thing started. My band Whiskey War Mountain Rebellion was gaining a bit of momentum and we were just playing shows left and right and trying to push the limits with whatever we were doing. Our good friend Dave Kipp has a live sound outfit called Big K Entertainment that has enough power and equipment to go back in time and run Mötley Crüe in the old Arena in 1986. (You know what I mean.) Anyway, we were throwing the idea around on Kipp supplying sound for a Whiskey War show. We had a connection to a VFW hall through Zack Sloan of WWMR’s dad, so we ended up getting a date there. It started out with only a few bands and then we just kind of kept adding different acts. We changed the name of the event and added the word “fest”; after that, we started to get an influx of different bands wanting in on it. We figured we had enough freedom in the event so we just kept adding them. That led to asking artists and basically just turning this into a real music festival. Jake had the idea to make a compilation [CD] of all the bands playing, and that added more legitimacy. All in all, the bands got booked, then we started to organize all of the different acts and artists we just pulled together.

Now the entire reason to continue this yearly is to provide a day for local and nationally touring acts to celebrate local music, and combine bands’ fan groups to make an enormous crowd of music lovers.

In a fight between Rocky the Flying Squirrel and Bullwinkle J. Moose, who would win and why?

DM: I would imagine Rocky because he always wins. But that seems to be a trick question. These two would never resort to violence with each other.

JM: I’d put my money on Bullwinkle; he comes off as a pretty lazy dude, but I think if you really got him going he could really pull some monsters out. I’m sure they taught him a thing or two at Wossamotta U. | DL Hegel

Maness Brothers links:
Twitter: @manessbrother

Whiskey War Festival links:

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