Margaret Garrett on guitar and vocals and Tara McManus on drums, vocals, (and occasional keyboards) make a sound which blends hypnotic blues, haunting slide guitar, and idiosyncratic rock and roll with dreamy, yearning pop.
The band started in the late 90s. Almost immediately, they joined Morphine for a US tour and recorded a self-titled EP with Mark Sandman of Morphine. They went on to tour the US extensively, playing with The Reigning Sound, White Stripes, Detroit Cobras, Holly GoLightly, Hot Snakes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Blues Explosion, Dirtbombs and many more.
During the 90s and 00s, Mr. Airplane Man released three albums and an EP on Sympathy for the Record Industry. They successfully toured Europe and played two Peel Sessions on John Peel’s BBC radio show.
Their music has also been featured in a variety of TV shows and films, including multiple episodes of The L Word and the film Crazy Eyes. Margaret has also created an original score for a scene in The L Word and the soundtrack for an indie film scheduled for release in the spring of 2015.
Now Mr. Airplane Man is happy to be playing and recording again, after taking a break to have babies, live in the desert, and generally shake up their lives.
In December 2014, Mr. Airplane Man released “Lost Tapes.” This album was recorded at The Money Shot (with Bruce Watson of Fat Possum Records) in 1999 and has not been previously released.
(from Mr. Airplane Man.com)
Answers are from
1. Let’s start this off by saying how thrilled we are here at 50thirdand3rd to have the opportunity to ask you a few questions. We have been big time fans for quite some time . that being said, How did the reunion of Mr Airplane Man happen and why wasn’t it a whole lot sooner?
Thank you so much! I’ve read your blog before and its really nice to be asked 🙂 So, about getting together again, honestly we were falling apart when we went our separate ways 10 years ago, like just so burnt out and kind of like living lives that were really out of balance and unhappy..and we had kinda lost ourselves, like who we were, it was very depressing! I think we both needed to tend to other things, we both had kids and dealt with personal stuff…i think well I was going to say , I think your mid 30s is a really hard time for women, but then I was thinking, well most of my 20s was hard, and my early 30s, and my teen years forget it…haha so I basically took off for the desert, and being out in New Mexico, slowing wayyyyyyyy down, learning stuff about my health and taking time to heal physical and emotional wounds or whatever, it was exactly what I needed to do. As I felt better and better I started realizing what I really wanted was to play with Margaret again. And then weirdly she popped out of the fog, we hadn’t talked in years, and she had been down a similar road, and was feeling the same way. And everything just started coming together and feeling really good and its been great this last year. So much has happened in one year its amazing.
2. Your latest Album “The Lost Tapes” was put out last December. can you give us the back story on the Album.,Recorded in 1999, why wasn’t it released back then ? And can you give us some insight on how you came up with the songs from the writing of the music to the lyrics ?
Yeah, we recorded this stuff in 1999, it was right after we went on a tour with Morphine. We started playing in 1996-97 in San Francisco but that was literally like sitting in a dark cellar completely messed up on mushrooms and trying to play howlin wolf and lee perry til 5 in the morning. 1998 we came back to Boston and started playing blues on the street and in irish pubs at night. like fred mcdowell and jesse mae hemphill and howling wolf of course. At night we would throw in VU and Headcoats and Stooges covers. Anyway right after we came back from the Morphine tour we put together a little tour of our own and through friends were able to record with Bruce Watson of Fat Possum one night in Mississippi. We recorded from like 9 pm til 6 am or something. IT was super fun and exciting to work with Bruce, he had just finished recording with Hasil Adkins and had him living there at the trailer with him for two weeks. Bruce had really great ideas for making things more minimal and rough. But we ended up shelving it, I guess because we just felt really critical of what we were doing and how we played. IT got tossed in a box and forgotten….Margaret came across it last summer, when we were starting to talk again, and we both heard it and thought it sounded really fun and fresh, we thought our fans would want to hear us with the Fat Possum sound…there was still some really awful stuff on there though that didn’t make it on the record, I’m laughing, like oh poor Bruce had to sit there at 3 in the morning hearing us do that??
3. Your music is just full of your collective love for the blues, was that something you had as youths , did you evolve into it and was that love of the blues something that joined the 2 of you together?
actually i had no feeling about blues one way or the other until i started playing drums and heard howlin wolf. Margaret actually hated the blues until she heard howling wolf. all we had been exposed to was like a certain kind of showbizzy slick style of blues I still dont like at all. we bonded for sure seeing punk bands together, and then in our 20s seeing Mark Sandman of Morphine playing, we went every Tuesday to see him at this small pub in Cambridge, totally amazing. When we lived in San Francisco together we both bonded a lot about the Stooges and Stevie Wonder and James Brown and Howling Wolf….we saw the Bassholes play and they turned us on to RL Burnside and Jr Kimbrough and then it was like total obsession, total blues obsession began.
4. You just finished up a tour of Europe, How was that, did the people just go nuts and do you think your reception in Europe is any different than here at home?
Oh the shows were so wonderful, I think a bunch of shows a lot of the people did not know who we were, and they were so receptive and we had the best time with them. People just seemed so receptive and present…I don’t know its very giving, they were very giving of their attention and getting into it. Then there were shows where people knew us and were super super super enthusiastic, it really moved me…I mean, I have been living my little life with my struggles in my desert cave in New Mexico, I’ve been kind of cut off from the world for a while, it was shocking to encounter these people so far away that had been listening to our music and cared to see us. I really felt like, so honored and like the luckiest person in the world.
5. Mr. Airplane Man will be playing this years Deep Blues Fest in Clarksdale Miss! Oct 15…and Memphis the night before..can you tell us a little more about these shows and are there any new songs that may find their way into your set.
Yes! Looking forward to Deep Blues and being down south again, and hopefully seeing some bands we played with and friends we made at Deep Blues Fest in Germany this summer. I am pretty sure we are playing with the Cheater Slicks in Memphis oct 14, which is crazy awesome I am so excited!!! Then on the 17th in Asheville with Reigning Sound…We are in Nashville at the Fond Object record store on the 16h and mayyyyybe New Orleans for the 13th…..
6. What plans do you have for late 2015 and are you in planning stages for 2016 as well?
I’m so happy about the shows coming up down south. We are also playing in Brooklyn Oct 5th with the Reigning Sound. And very happy also to say that we will be recording a new record with Greg Cartwright this fall!!
2016 we are hoping to play some shows in France in February and then hopefully do a longer European tour in the Spring. We are both mamas so its a little tricky to figure out but if there’s a will there’s a way is my feeling….
7. What role do you think growing up in Boston played in the formation of your sound?
well….there are so many good record stores and college radio shows and bands and real music lovers there…i’d say we spent more time on the cambridgy side of things, there’s that huge folk tradition there, blues freaks, lots of people playing on the street, in pubs. Its like a tiny town, and everything all close together, so many great nights hanging out at bars with killer jukeboxes, stumbling over to someones apartment at closing time with a bottle of jamesons to go listen to records and living room dance all night, or sit on your friends porch listening to sun ra until the sun comes up…it was a really fun place to be.
8. Are there any new bands out there that you find yourself listening to ?
well….I’ve kind of been in the baby cave for the past few years….but luckily my husband booked a lot of shows in New Mexico so I got turned on to some great bands…I saw Spray Paint a couple times and loved them, Ausmuteants were awesome…we saw Jeff from Demon’s Claws band Hellshovel who were fantastic live. Also me and my husband have some bands and we did a bunch of shows with Lenguas Largas from Tucson who I really like and miss seeing. As far as what I’ve been listening to lately, I’ve been completely obsessed with the Alain Peters LP that Moi J’Connais just put out. I mean its literally all I’ve listened to all summer besides straying off into Getechew Mekuria last weekend. I’m completely in love with it. So is Margaret, its all she has listened to all summer too….Margaret is also very into this band the Allah las.
9. After a 10 year break, how much fun are the two of you having now?
its honestly been more fun than ever! older, wiser, all that jazz…and it still feels just as fresh and exciting as it ever did to play with her…
10. Any last thoughts for your fans?
Thank you for reading this! i hope we meet someday somewhere…and best wishes all around
Mr Airplane Man shows coming up!
9/12 brighton music hall w/Barrence Whitfield!
10/5 bell house, brooklyn w/Reigning Sound!
10/14 murphy’s, memphis TN w/Cheater Slicks!
10/15 deep blues fest, clarksdale mississippi!
10/16 nashville TBA
10/17 asheville NC TBA
we are recording a new record with Greg Cartwright in October!!
exclamation points all around!
“The Lost Tapes”