Johnny Manchild and The Poor Bastards are the greatest band you’ve never heard of. The band consists of a piano, trumpet, saxophone, guitar, bass, and drums create a sound that you can’t here anywhere else. They mix jazz, rock, punk, alternative, and more. The Oklahoma city band has up to ten members or “bastards” that can rotate in and out. They have produced 2 studio albums with a third that arrived today. They are even innovative in their approach to releasing music. They released a single a month in 2019 until ultimately compiling all the songs together on “One Big Beautiful Sound”. At the start of this year, the band had a crowdfunding effort for their new album which raised $36,000. At the forefront of it all is Johnny Manchild. Johnny is the guy who writes the lyrics and helps compose a lot of the music. The band started because Johnny decided he wanted a band and picked guys from his college to be in it. I got the pleasure of interviewing Johnny on the morning before the band’s new album, “We Did Not Ask For This Room” released. This is the result:
Q: For someone who hasn’t heard of you or your music, how would you sell your band to them?
A: It used to be jazz punk when we started, but now we aren’t that anymore. I would now call us Art Rock, a term used by other artists.
Q: How has the process of making “we did not ask for this room” gone. Is is faster or slower than your previous new albums?
A: Slower, way slower. Partially on purpose and partially because of thing we couldn’t control. After putting out a single a month on “One Big Beautiful Sound”, I wanted to take my time on this one. The songs were great and the short time got some great songs out of that album, but some songs weren’t done perfectly because of the short turnaround.
Q: What was your reaction to how the bastard boutique website went?
A: I was hoping for 10 grand, and we hit 36 grand. I shocked me because we were in quarantine and how money was at the time. It showed that we had online support which was at an insane level.
Q: I’ve noticed that on past albums or singles you have taken songs you wrote years ago and remixed it in the poor bastards style like “Renegades” and “4 Years Gone”. Are there any songs on the new album that you’ve had previously written an redone in a new way on this album?
A: Not really, i didn’t right four years gone, my friend Jacob (Alpharad on Youtube) wrote it and wanted to slap it on the ned of a video where we covered “last surprise” i just added an extra verse onto it. “Renegades” was released because a lot of the fans loved that song and I still liked that song. And when covid hit we didn’t have a lot to do, so we made and released it.
Q: How excited are you for the album release show tomorrow? Are you feeling any emotions since its your last show in Oklahoma city before relocating to Los Angeles?
A: I’m not so nervous about it since their’s so much preparation out of it. Its not going to be our last show in Oklahoma as i will still be working here and with people here even when moving to LA.
Q: If you had to recommend one song from your catalog to hook a new listener, which one would it be?
A: Radio or alright. Off the new album patient or marigold.
Q: You’ve done a good amount of covers like “Shameika” from Fiona Apple, “Last Surprise” from Persona 5, and “No Surprises” with Amanda Fortney from Radiohead. What other songs would you want to do in your style?
A: I’m saving a cover right now, I don’t know the song I want to do but I know the artist. the album was supposed to come out but covid delayed it so i’ve been holding off on covers. But whenever the new Threshed in gold album comes out i’m going to cover one of the songs on that album.
Q: Do you plan on going on a tour for this album?
A: Actively trying to set multiple things up. Don’t anticipate or plan to release any new music for a while. We started a tour and made it to Chicago, Springfield, and Des Moines, then corona hit and we haven’t toured in 2 years. It feels like forever. So my plan is to tour this album for the foreseeable future. If i had it my way, we will be able to tour all over the united states and a little bit of Europe.
Q: How has the transition to Los Angeles been like?
A: The plan is to operate out of Oklahoma a lot. I’m moving to la, but the band is staying. For LA i’m looking to collaborate with as many artists and bands as I can. I also would like to with a couple producers. But I plan on working in LA and in Oklahoma.
Q: Your music is so intricate with the mix of traditional rock and jazz instruments. How is the writing process? I know you are a jack of all trades when it comes to instruments, so do you take the bulk of the work composing the music or is it more of a group effort?
A: Usually all helps, i write all the music. I take stars, i write all the cords and lyrics for my stuff, and then i will help base the chords on the piano chords. Sometimes i will play chords and they will play stuff back to me. We will go off of that and find what works. Most of the parts are based on my piano parts if that makes sense.
Q: How was it filming your first music video for “sift”?
A: It was a nightmare, but it was fun. I woke up at 2 am and put the makeup on for two hours. Then I went to the lake where we were filming. we started filming at about 4 or 5 am. The next day i woke up at 3 am and put the makeup on again. We didn’t get done with filming until 2 am. I was exhausted, but my girlfriend actually booked us a 1 hour massage after the weekend was over. I walked in, fell asleep and woke up with oil all over my body. It was the weirdest experience but the massage was good.
Q: Your first three singles on this new album (“Sift”, “Overboard”, “Stars”) spell out SOS. Was this just a coincidence or does this have a deeper meaning for the album?
A: Yes and no. I didn’t intend on doing that until i released overboard. I had another single in mind, but then I realized that if I release stars, it spells out SOS. So thats what we went with. The fans instantly saw the message which was funny.
Q: With these album you’ve found a way to innovate drawing interest for your band. On “One Big Beautiful Sound” it was releasing a single a month, something that was indirectly taken by gorillaz in their new album “song machine”. In this album it was funded through the bastard boutique. A genius idea where fans could spend money ranging from $25 to $100 or $150 to get the album early, merch, shoutouts in music videos, records and cds of the album, posters, shirts, sheet music and more. Do you plan on keeping this method for your next album?
A: Right now, i’m not looking to do another album or a single a month. The plan is just singles whenever we find the time and to work with other artists on music. I really want to focus on touring. For crowdfunding, we are looking to keep that, but to focus on patreon. We are trying to find the solution to having good perks but not releasing too much of the song before its release.
That was the last question of the interview. I would like to thank Johnny for taking time out of his busy schedule to take this interview. You can stream “We Did Not Ask For This Room” on all major streaming platforms and buy it on iTunes. I would highly recommend the album and any song on their discography. They are a great band that never stays the same and gets better every time they put out something new.