Man Hands are back! After a three year hiatus they have returned to raise hell once more. I had the pleasure of sitting down with absolute legend and vocalist John Andrews about the group’s history, return, punk music and what else is in the pipeline for Man Hands.
Jack: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. How are you doing?
John Andrews (Vocals): Tremendous thanks Jack – I’ve just eaten a large portion of chips, beans and mushy peas for lunch so I feel like king of the world.
Jack: How did Man Hands form?
John: Blair (Ross – guitar), Lang (Jim – Businesslang of the year 2016) and Byatt (Scott – turning down the guitar so he can hear his snare) have played together for absolutely YEARS. I first heard of a band they were doing called Lakes (later Kid Pang) when I moved down to Canterbury for Uni. They were sort of like Big Brothers to Skylark so we became good mates when I joined SL. Man Hands initially formed as a crust band called Square of Black that I don’t think played many shows but after it broke up, those three started jamming some of the ideas and that eventually became Man Hands. The first singer was a bloke called Gareth who also did vocals in November Coming Fire and Black Shapes but he left to concentrate on those. I got asked to join when he left.
Jack: Were Man Hands always going to be a hardcore punk band?
John: Absolutely – the initial idea was to take what bands like Guyana Punch Line, Das Oath and Scholastic Deth had done and run with it. Fast hardcore with a sense of humour. An antidote to all the inward gazing, backslapping, po faced tough guys.
Jack: Do you look back fondly on the making of the split with Lich?
John: Absolutely – for me these were the first songs I’d been a part of writing and we recorded them with Jason (drums in Harrowed) down in Margate and he did a blinding job! We’d scrapped a session previously as it didn’t really have the bite and spite we wanted to capture.
Jack: How did the split come about?
John: We were all putting on shows and going to each other’s shows in a little Practice Room in Margate – just spending a lot of time watching each other, hanging out, going to shows. Felt like there were a lot of homophobic, misogynist bro losers into hardcore in Kent at the time so we all gravitated together naturally because we hated them. Plus we were making way better music than those cunts so that made it easier.
Jack: What will you miss the most about Lich?
John: Human Pyramids, Pillow moshing in Tolworth, Gabi’s informative monologues on Peruvian Wine. In all honesty they’re still our best mates and we all hang out still. Most of them are now in Savage Realm (with Kunal from Art of Burning Water) which is kind of a continuation but more Metal. Our boy Derek (guitar in Lich) moved back to America but he’s killing it out there making music and the only thing I miss is seeing him more regularly.
Jack: Two years ago you released Jockeykiller, which were songs for a split with I Like Bugs that never made the cut, why were you unsatisfied with them?
John: Just a bit unfinished really, we got the songs together quickly to tour with them and then booked in a session with our mate Duane Farrow (from Nothing Clean) at the end of the tour, who to his credit, did a wicked recording. Blair was dying of flu the whole time! Lang had to set up all his equipment and prop him up in the room to record his guitar. Just a general feeling we can do them better!
Jack: Do you still plan on re-releasing them?
John: I think in their current state, they’re up there on the Bandcamp and people can hear them and that’ll do. We’ll re-work and re-record next year!
Jack: You’re back after a three year hiatus. What was the reason for the hiatus?
John: Lang had to finish his degree he started over 30 years ago when he was 18. Then some marriages, then starting some families (collectively – 1 dog, several cats, and a baby girl). Also I was briefly fired after some nasty rumours circulated that I had gone to see Jack Johnson in Paris, but it’s all behind us now.
Jack: Why was now the perfect time to come back?
John: Because Abbie, Chris and Kunal asked us to play a couple of shows! [Laughs] We kept talking about it every time we were at each other’s gigs/stag dos/weddings but just needed a little kick up the bum to get practising again.
Jack: You’re playing two shows with Art of Burning Water in November. What are you looking forward to the most about these shows?
Jack: You’ve played Colchester a few time in various projects. What makes Colchester so special?
John: People come and see our bands and want to hang out and talk to us after we play! That’s really the main thing for us. We got so much love for all the people making DIY happen in Colchester, those that book shows, those that lend their drumkits and guitar cabs, those who work sound and volunteer at the bar, and of course the other bands and people who come out. Nothing but the most love to Abbi and Chris and the Jotnarr and Meadows boys.
Jack: The Waiting Room has sadly closed its doors. Can this problem be solved by simply getting more people to come to the shows?
John: I think sadly, no matter how successful a venue is – if the landowners want to use the land for something else, they have seemingly unlimited resources and effort to get venues shut down.
Jack: It is clear the band hate the Tory government. Do you think in a way that writing anti-Tory songs have become generic or is it warranted?
John: Yeah, I guess it’s pretty generic if you don’t have a particularly interesting take or point of view. I would never really think of us as a political band though to be honest. The one song “Jeremy Cunt” that could be seen as political was originally written about the time James Naughtie had a Naughtie slip of the tongue on the radio, but I guess it’s taken on new meaning what with the posh twat being hellbent on the destruction of our NHS. I’d rather write lyrics that are a bit funny, but not a joke if you get me, more like a piss take than be Discharge pt 2.
Jack: Is true punk music political?
John: There have always been punk bands representing marginalised groups and as far as I’m concerned they need to be the most visible bands in our “scene”, no matter how hard bros with endless merch and no tunes want to turn it into their own little circle jerk. We also just popped into the Gee Vaucher exhibition round the corner from the Waiting Room and it’s pretty clear how politicised punk can be. Can also be just writing music for fun with your friends.
Jack: When can we see new music from Man Hands?
John: The last practices have been more about getting us up to speed for the shows in Colchester and London, so enough wallowing in the past, we’ll be writing new stuff immediately!
Jack: What are the plans after the November weekender?
John: Write some new tunes – Lang is playing bass now which will change up how we write the smallest amount. And then hopefully get out and play some more shows early next year and put out a new record.
Jack: Finally, do you have fond memories of supporting The Afternoon Gentlemen three years ago?
John: Yeah the Gents have been good pals for years now, our mate Sam who was in Human Junk had put them on in Margate when the practice room shows first started happening and we all went and were blown away by how fast they could play and how much they could drink. Put us to shame on both fronts. They’ve always had love for the Kent bands and we’ve got love for the Gents.