Man, chino!

These are some good old fashioned hard hustling rockers looking make enough noise to be noticed, and we had a casual chat about stopping it all when the muse visits, the end off the era of rock star Gods, ice cream falling on Floyd’s new pants, and tips for keeping long hair as a dude.

Manchino, from the piney wilds of Alabama, relocated to the slightly more on-the-map Eugene, Oregon. They moved their belongings out to the Pacific Northwest two years ago after finding one other in Alabama after meeting up at a Battle of the Bands. The Men of Chino consist of:

Drew Rachel – Vocals
Jeff Blackmon – Drums
Kris Pourchot – Bass
Randall Broome – Guitar

From the start this hard driving four piece mixed together “dessert rock and other cool shit.” Emerging on the Alabama music scene in 2013, they graced the slightly elevated stages of smaller venues and the low bills of a few festivals, working up a stage presence in the process of the kind that is seldom seen in today’s indie kids. Check out their Youtube videos if you wish to see a band who plays actual instruments bringing back a thing lost on this end of the musical spectrum since the early 2000s: swagger.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Randall and Drew one early fall Saturday where they promptly called me at 3 pm as scheduled. Gracious and gregarious, the guys bounced off each other and deferred to one another when we spoke. It was a few days after Drew’s birthday and right on the cusp of the anniversary of their move to Oregon. When asked about the music scene in Eugene they claimed artists are very giving toward one another. They claimed that this essentially noncompetitive musical environment which is refreshing.

There sound mixes elements from the glazed-out 60’s, the strutting 70s and even a dose of mudhoney from the 90s.

They bring different rhythms to the table, with each member of the group having different musical tastes. Randall listens to a lot of guitar driving bands and artists like Greg Allman and Jeff Beck. Drew enjoys an interesting pair of favorites: Nirvana and Elton John. They all get into the 90s grunge they grew up on, not to mention CCR and The Doors. They don’t specifically mention Led Zeppelin, The Beatles and Sound Garden, but the these three titans come through loud and clear. Needless to say, this is a rock band through-an- through. As a matter of fact, if you closed your eyes you could think you were listening to Chris Cornell’s twin. Rachel has an amazing amount of vocal range. He can handle getting to a higher octave then bring it down to a warmer baritone.

Their cover of “Fairies Wears Boots” just detonates on impact. Rachel wails the Ozzy lyrics like he feels them deeply. Guitars sputter and stretch. Blackmon pounds it out neanderthal style but with a hint of jazz swing, and if Bill Ward himself were to hear this he would most likely smile if he wasn’t too out of it.

If real deal rock n’ roll is currently out of fashion, these dudes never read the tweet.

My first taste of Manchino was listening to their ethereal, atmospheric track “Beyond the Sky”. A trippy opening and languid guitar are carried by a bed of fried bass lines before Rachel comes in with the yowls. I was sold in the first nine seconds.

“Artificial Love” is tinged with real-sounding emotion. The melody is slower and the Broome’s guitar limps with a heartbroken swagger. Rachel said he wrote this song about his time when things weren’t going his way. The loss of his beloved Grandfather coupled with a few other personal disappointments tossed him to the throes of melancholia. He wrote this song in mere minutes. They laid down the melodies and they decided to keep as is. Rachel sang it a few times and then they recorded the track with no manipulation or alterations in production. The fragility built up from his vocal tone is entirely relatable. “It’s not the way it’s supposed to be/Artificial love….I told myself a reason but it was wrong/time moves on.”

My personal favorite has to be “Set The Course”. I hear some Duane and Dicky Les Paul dueling on this track, and Sir Gregg, may he rest in peace, would have been proud to come up with a straightforward and effecting snatch of lyrics such as, “My deepest thoughts remain unspoken… Find myself on the other side of an ever changing time and when the time must come I will carry you my friend.”

“Inertia” is the latest single they released on Oct 8. There is a grooving vibe to this tune, not to mention an aggressive edge made all the more effective by being slightly buried in the mix. You have to look to find it. Broome kicks in some slithery guitar work that’s really best heard under headphones, and the tripped-out 1971 atmospherics on display here will call for some large vintage cans should you make the wise choice and go this most-appropriate listening route.

I asked about their songwriting process. Rachel is always in tune to the world around him as he seeks inspiration for his lyrics. Broome said they do send him melodies they come up with to see if that acts as an inspiration. Notebooks are Rachel’s thing. I like that Rachel does the longhand writer thing. Sometimes there is nothing better than seeing the written word penned to decipher the emotion of the minute. He lets the muse find him and will reach for whatever notebook full of lyrics is closest.  “Sometimes a lyric comes when you’re cooking breakfast.” He doesn’t always craft a full song and when stuck he may leaf through the books to see if he can find a lyric that fits.

We chatted about the end of the era of rock Gods like Jimi and Robert and Freddie who perhaps weren’t’ the type to go out and mingle with their fans. Now if a band wants to make it they need to get their ass on social media with a Twitter handle, a Facebook account and please spam the gram. I got the sense that these boys would have much preferred to go the enigmatic Zeppelin route. Rachel and Broome spoke of not having a manager, meaning they book their own gigs, handle all scheduling plus money and press. It’s quite the feat considering artists are artists and sometimes don’t have the business acumen, but these guys are doing fine posting videos and keeping fans updated.

The conversation took an interesting turn when I asked them about women musicians they admire Joan Jett, Blondie, and Heart came in high on the list. Also mentioned was Amy Winehouse. Stellar choices in my opinion. Bloom spoke of running into Joan in Florida and said she is so “nice” and took a picture with him and a friend. Rock on Joan!

I asked Randall if he had any hair tips because, it must be said, the band has fantastic hair.
“You gotta get past the awkward phase where your head looks like a mushroom cloud. After that, two things happen: the weight of the hair brings itself down to a tamer state, and you’ve spent so much time looking ridiculous that you now longer care what everyone else thinks. Long hair can be a hassle for sure. But once you get past the phase you don’t want to go through it again.”

I forgot to ask the origin of the name and falsely assumed it was for the Italian word for masculine. The actual story of the name is so much better. Broome texted me, “So one hot summer day 2012-2013 we were all in Birmingham. Flloyd, our bassist, was wearing his new expensive chinos. We were taking a walk because he wanted to show them off. We stopped in a shop to get some ice cream cones (double scoop waffle cones) Flloyd’s a ferocious licker of ice cream, causing his scoop to topple over on this new pants. After which he exclaimed ‘Man, chinos!'”

Rockers to the core in a time where strut is taboo. Humble dudes who house ice cream on hot southern summer days. Manchino is as refreshing as they come and I’m rooting for them.

Now let’s hope they make it out of Eugene and hit the touring circuit soon.

Tina Romano