Rock – the acoustic way

WHAT do you get when rock fans go acoustic? Well, Roots, Rattle and Roll apparently.

That’s the title of the upcoming album by festival favourites The Mantic Muddlers and their sound is a happy coincidence, it seems.

“I’ve always been interested in the more crazy rock ’n’roll stuff, I love big rock riffs like the way Jack White played in The White Stripes, but if you play that on an acoustic guitar, it comes out as a genre you wouldn’t expect.”

So says Mantics frontman Jake Davies who formed the band after being asked to jam by fiddle player Laurence Evans and they were then joined by George Mercer on the stand-up double bass.

They make do without a drummer and the singer explains: “The way George plays bass means he is the backbone of our sound anyway, and it’s made us better musicians I think.

“As for Laurence, people say they’ve never seen a fiddle player play so much rhythm and he will put in reggae beats on his fiddle, he’s a unique player.

“It’s a big part of what we love doing, playing stuff you wouldn’t expect to hear with what we’ve got.”

The Hampshire outfit have been going in various line-ups for four years but emerged as a serious trio about a year ago.

“We took a conscious decision to start taking it much more seriously – doing originals and forging ahead with our own identity rather than just drifting and playing anywhere that would have us,” says Jake.

“We’d got to the stage where we were playing people’s weddings or in someone’s back garden and you could probably make a career out of that with a better income than we have now. But, while playing posh garden parties was good fun and it was great for our learning process, we’re being much more specific about what we want to do now.

“For us it’s all about good songs and I feel we’ve got enough now to make our set really our own. We still play the odd cover – there’s an old bluesy Tom Waits song – but not necessarily ones people would recognise.

“We just love playing but the album is our way of getting some material out there and get us more and better gigs.”

It seems to be working. Following a series of support slots they are now firm festival favourites and have played in Bristol, Bournemouth, Brighton, Southampton, Portsmouth “and London obviously”.

“We’re doing Friday and Saturday at Boom Town and played at One Summer’s Day in Guildford last weekend,” says Jake. “We’re playing places where there’s

more going on rather than just drifting along.”

“It’s coming up to a year since we made the decision to aim for quality over quantity and I can see the results already.”

The Mantic Muddlers’ hectic summer schedule includes the King’s Head in Guildford on Thursday 2 August and Weyfest in Surrey on Saturday 18 August.

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