Updated: Jul 6
Interviewed by Sam Lambeth
The King of the Cover? The month-by-month majestic? Call him what you want, but singer-songwriter Perry Manning has built an exciting, intriguing and rewarding career, and it’s all down to one simple thing – staying alive. Sam Lambeth spoke to ‘our Pezza’ to find out more.
When King City asks Perry Manning what influences his songwriting, his answer seems plain at first. Then incredibly complex. Then hard to forget.
“Life. It’s that simple.”
It’s a description and thought process that could also be applied to Manning’s music. Since the start of 2021, the Bedworth balladeer has released a single every month, each one an intriguing, enigmatic and raw acoustic ditty.
Over the past six months, Manning’s committed and ever-growing fan base has been treated to a new song with every passing payday. It has led to Manning being known as the calendar crooner, the four-week wonder, the monthly melodist.
Since January, we’ve been treated to songs that are brooding and brutal – ‘Vinegar and Veins’, ‘Catch Me If You Can’ – as well as more tender, tear-jerking tracks (Manning’s tribute to his other half, ‘Sophie’, being a prime contender).
“It was never my intention to do a song a month, but after the third release it did cross my mind,” Manning says. “There is a bit of pressure that comes with it, but I enjoy that. Plus, I am always writing, so it’s not like I'm short of ideas.”
After all, life keeps changing, so there are always things to scribble about.
His next single, ‘Tie Me To The Tracks’, carries a distinctly autobiographical flavour.
“It’s the tale of a troubled lad killing the lifestyle he currently leads in order to become a better person and find the young boy he once was, to become the man he should have always been,” Manning states, with typically poetic flair.
Indeed, the topics of life, change and mortality arise frequently through King City’s conversation with Manning. Now living a clean, sober life, Manning reflects upon his first band, Just Morale, with hard won wisdom.
“We had a loyal following and played with The Twang, The View, Reverend and the Makers, and many more,” Manning reflects. “We’d wipe the floor with any band around now. We were the best band going.
“But the truth is, if we had made it, I can’t imagine any of us being alive now to tell the tale.”
As the years have progressed, Manning’s band members have decreased. When his last band, Perry Manning and the Seadogs, collapsed – “people weren’t fully committed and I wasn’t fully committed to people” – he went fully solo and hasn’t looked back.
“I really enjoy it,” he beams. “I record all my own material when I want and how I want it. It’s just me. I’m happy with that.”
Manning has carved out another niche for himself – as well as the monthly releases, he also uploads a cover every Sunday morning. It has been a weekend staple, the music equivalent of washing your car, mowing the lawn or visiting your in-laws.
Over the past few months, Manning has performed some fantastic versions of tracks by The Clash, Oasis, Cast and many more.
“I love it. Look, I don’t do anything if I don’t enjoy it,” Manning says, firmly. “It has helped broaden my fan base, I feel. I try to put a good variety of artists I cover out there, so I can try and gain some new fans.”
Gigs are coming back and Manning has a few to look forward to, including supporting ex-Inspiral Carpets man Tom Hingley at Birmingham’s Grey Lantern.
“It’s hard doing a setlist as I’ve got so many songs to choose from, but I’m really happy with the set I’ve got ready and I’m confident with how strong it is.”
There are number of solo acoustic performers around at the moment, including Manning and fellow Midlands troubadour Brains for Breakfast. So what makes a great solo acoustic performance?
“Honesty. Emotion. Relatability,” Manning states. “I will always be honest, and live and breathe the emotion of my songs onstage. I want people to feel it.”
Feel it they will. Manning has a gift, a passion and a determination. Life has had its ups and downs, but Manning has battled hardily and has come out swinging, usually with a fresh song in his hand.
And it’s fitting that when King City asks Manning what lies ahead, his answer is as simple as it is sublime.
“To stay alive.”
Perry Manning is on Twitter and his music can be heard on Spotify.