Oh Manhattan guitarist Kodi Gray recently took some time to talk exclusively to MEB staffer Patrick Walford. They discuss vocalist Hance Alligood leaving for Woe, Is Me, the potential future of the band, the recording process for Spiritual Warfare, and much more.
MEB: Kodi, it’s been a crazy past couple days for you guys but the record is coming out in a few weeks’ time. How does it feel to get it out?
Kodi Gray: It’s been a long time in the making and it’s been a rocky road for sure. But we’re all really excited and even though Hance [Alligood] left I know he’s excited. It’s been a huge effort on everyone’s part.
With Hance leaving the band, are you guys going to find someone else to replace him?
We’re kind of on the fence about it, cause I’m pretty much the only one who’s been here the entire time while the record’s been written. It’s gotten to the point where we don’t know if we wanna keep going and get another replacement. It just depends on who it is.
I guess with him, the opportunity to go to a band like Woe, Is Me who’s already so established was just a great opportunity.
Yeah, it’s hard to pass up on an opportunity like that. We fully support Hance’s choice to join the band and there isn’t any bad blood.
Moving forward without Hance in the band, is there anyone on tap to replace him at this point in time?
We have a few people who are interested, but it’s one of those things where history could repeat itself, when vocalists replace other vocalists and a lot of stuff isn’t the same, and it’s really hard to keep going. We’re open to suggestions and we’re taking audition videos, and if the right person comes along to fill the slot, then absolutely. There’s already talk of new bands that we might come out with on Indianola. But who knows? Only time will tell.
So there are actual thoughts that you might leave Oh Manhattan the way it is, release the record, and then start something completely different?
Yeah, that’s one of the ideas that’s floating around right now. I’m okay with that cause I just like making music. It’s an opportunity to change styles and be able to make something else and keep it fresh, you know? If we have to leave Oh Manhattan the way it is, that’s okay. As long as people get to listen to the record, that’s all that matters.
Would you maybe do one tour for this album with Hance due to the positive fan feedback you guys have had?
That would be awesome. But it’s one of those things you’d have to take up with Hance (laughs).
When exactly did you find out that this would be happening? Was it a few weeks ago or was it just last week?
It’s been a minute, but in the music industry you have to plan everything out, so we’ve been trying to take our time and give Hance his space and see what he does. Why alert everyone that he quit in case he changed his mind? With all the controversy with Woe, Is Me happening right when our album comes out, we’re all just trying to deal.
Don’t you co-own a music venue in Atlanta with one of the guys in Woe, Is Me?
Yeah we do. That’s also part of the whole “scandal,” but it’s not as bad as the media’s making it out to be.
Talking about the quote-on-quote “scandal,” has this been brought about in the wrong way by the media as opposed to how the situation actually turned out?
Yes and no. There’s been a lot of different stories as opposed to what actually happened and it’s kind of funny to sit back and read them. At the end of the day, your friends are your friends and that’s about it.
What’s the best rumor you’ve read about Hance leaving the band?
I’ve heard all sorts of shit. The craziest one was that he’s trying out for Chiodos, Woe Is Me and some other Rise band (laughs). It was just like fill in the blank.
Moving forward with the band, is the main focus just trying to find a replacement vocalist?
Even before that, we just want to get this record released. That’s the number one thing right now; we just want people to be able to hear it. Indianola is making an official press announcement on Friday, that way we’ll be able to start looking for a new vocalist and start making videos and take it from there.
If you were to start a brand new band, from a musical standpoint, do you have any idea as to where you would be taking it musically?
Absolutely. I’ve already been writing for it, and started the whole process, so it won’t be too long before that makes a debut, but basically it’s just really scary and angry music.
Is there anything specific you’re looking to do with the music, from a sound standpoint?
Personally, I know that I want to create something that turns a few heads. Everyone’s heard the breakdown-autotune-breakdown formula that’s made a lot of bands really big these days, but we want to create something more creative and unexpected, so we’ll see what comes out of that process. We’re gonna try and combine a lot of other elements that we feel would be awesome and bring change to that genre.
At this point in time, that’s going to be on the backburner until you guys deal with the Oh Manhattan process?
Yeah, we’re gonna be taking a break through the holidays and try to regroup. For me it’s been five years of writing and trying to put this record out so we’re all gonna take some time out and reflect and hopefully come back strong.
As far as the record goes, is there anything you’re particularly proud of that you want people to know about?
The structure and the lyrics were really well thought out, so I hope everybody pulls the booklet out and takes a look at the lyrics. Donny Thomas was the first vocalist of this band and we go back to seventh grade; he’s one of the most brilliant lyricists I’ve ever worked with and probably ever will. The way all the songs tie together in this record, I think, should be appreciated.
What kind of a process was it putting the record together?
It was a long one (laughs). It was one of those things where we would challenge ourselves on a concept like themes of spiritual warfare, good and evil, which is almost a cliché kind of concept, but the way we approached it goes really deep. It goes on a lot of levels, such as spiritualism, scientific facts, death and what happens after it, and the music really represents that. We had a lot of songs that were based on underground movies that we were really interested in, so it’s kind of cool how the people who were involved in the lyric process and the concept would come in with ideas based on movies that we could tie into this whole concept. It was kind of lucky the way it all came together.
Thanks a lot for joining me for the interview today Kodi. Something I like to do with the bands I interview is I get them to choose a song from their own catalog and a song by any other band they want people to hear.
Glassjaw – “Tip Your Bartender”
Oh Manhattan – “Face of Another”