The Manichean, Not Quite As Mysterious As They Sound

Each Wednesday, Rocks Off arbitrarily appoints one lucky local performer or group "Artist of the Week," bestowing upon them all the fame and grandeur such a lofty title implies. Know a band or artist that isn't awful? Email their particulars to

The Manichean, Not Quite As Mysterious As They Sound

Here's the cool thing about the HPMAs: they present you with a very easy To handle list of quality musicians located in the greater Houston area. Mind, it's certainly not an exclusive list, or all-inclusive, but it does well to present you with a list of Can't Miss artists.

On that list, right under the Best Progressive Rock tab, you'll find The Manichean, a -surprise! - moody progressive rock band. (The band is also nominated for Best New Act.) Last October, Jef with One F wrote here that they were "loud and experimental and it's got horns and strings and it's full of weird spoken-word and atmospheric moaning." That's really a pretty good way of describing what it is that they're best at.

So after an encounter at a bar with Cory Sinclair, one-half of the Manichean brain trust, Rocks Off set out to conduct the be-all-end-all interview that would unravel the duo's unironic charm. Instead, the conversation veered towards drug use, birds flying into peoples' eyes and the proper usage of the term "film noir." Good luck.

The Manichean at Free Press Summerfest
The Manichean at Free Press Summerfest

Rocks Off: You know the guy Mason Verger from Hannibal? Do you think that that could actually happen? Gross.

Cory Sinclair: Right? And the justification for his hideous disfigurement was a popper high - S&M play, popper high, broken glass, in the face, self inflicted, face fed to dogs... scene. The Manichean neither endorses nor frowns upon the casual or erotic use of inhalants, but doesn't that seem a little excessive? To quote our pianist, Austin Smith...

[clap, clap, clap, clap]

"Face is hot, poppers are hot. Face is hot, poppers are hot. Face is hot, poppers are hot. Face is hot, poppers are hot..."

But actually the beautiful thing about Mason Verger's character was the fact that he was always as ugly on the inside as he ended up on the outside.

The Manichean, Not Quite As Mysterious As They Sound

RO: Please explain "... Zoe" Are you aware of how terrifyingly creepy it is? How exactly do birds flood one's eyes?


"The Unfortunate Circumstances Surrounding Zoe"

is a trick story, a ruse. It takes place in different parts of the main character's mind - the central character throughout the plot of the album entire [sic]. We as humans each have conflicting interests and impulses within us as well as different realities that could play out. "...Zoe" is a reflection of those choice realities and the fantasies within ourselves that might not always be proper, or appropriate, or sane.

Yes, it's meant to be terrifying and even insofar as creepy because it is a mirror of what men are capable of, and that is what can be truly horrific. But perhaps there is a measure of redemption in that which is truly tragic. "Zoe" will be our song that most people won't want to listen to, but they know they should.

And the birds we'll leave to your imagination.


The Manichean, Not Quite As Mysterious As They Sound

RO: Also, are you aware of how strong the "I Absolutely Have To Listen To This Song All The Way Through No Matter What" feeling is throughout? It's impossible to turn off. It's like the audio equivalent of coming across a wacky ski movie at 2 a.m. on Showtime.

CS: Furthermore, yea, either you follow Zoe's fate or not. And thank you.

RO: Ooh, speaking of, you're admitted cinephiles. List the four best wacky ski movies of all time. Or the four best film noir movies? Whichever you prefer.

The Manichean, Not Quite As Mysterious As They Sound

CS: Mmmm... May we include a hyperlink, 'cause this would be our response, specifically regarding Film Noir:

RO: Is that the proper usage of "film noir"? It seems wrong.

CS: Yes. The grammar is in line and you seem confident in your usage, but was that a proper answer to your cinephile question? Hmmm...

The Manichean, "Lacerus"

RO: You all are up for a couple of HPMAs. How do you feel about that? We ask because when you have a band that sounds similar to how you do, or looks to build that same sort of aesthetic, a lot of times they'll be like, "Oh, we hate that we were nominated. Everything sucks. We hate everything. We're so dark and mysterious." You guys aren't douches like that, are y'all?

CS: We are aware of our aesthetic value and we know just how dark and mysterious we are. We also understand that the Houston Press is now seriously invested in the artists of this city. Whereas our interest in a popularity contest would be counterintuitive, our participation in and promotion of a genuine reflection of Houston music is right where we want to be.

The 2010 Houston Press Music Awards Showcase is going to kick ass. So yes, we are elated to be nominated.

The Manichean Fitzgerald's Midummer Beach Party Saturday, July 10 with Caveman Electric, Black Powder Poets, Tax the Wolf and Kat Kilpatrick. They'll also be doing a "very long live performance" on KTRU 8-10 p.m. Tuesday, July 20. Find them online at

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