A whole new generation of recording artists are arriving and theyre
bringing a wide range of influences to their recordings. Case in point
is the band called The Mangoes. Their self-titled album, called
The Mangoes, mixes in power pop, rock and progressive
rock and the effects are sonically satisfying. The 19 track album
is the brainchild of singer songwriters Bret Bingham (vocals,
guitars) and Tim Morse (keyboards, vocals). The album rocks
up a storm and finds the two musicians joined by a number of players,
including drummer Bruce Spencer. The band has good pedigree
as Morse is a noted author who turned heads around with his acclaimed
book on rock legends YES, called Yesstories. Tim also released
a 2012 solo album called Faithscience. There is a bit of a
mid 1980s YES feel on the Mangoes CD but some may argue its
more in the realm of The Buggles, Badfinger and The Monkees. Based
in the Sacramento area of California, The Mangoes bring the spirit
of 20th century pop-rock alive and well into the 21st century. The
CD is nicely packaged and features complete lyrics and liner notes
to bring the Mangoes story into perspective. www.TheMangoesBand.com
mwe3.com presents an interview with
Tim Morse and Bret Bingham of THE MANGOES
Can you tell us where you guys are from originally and where you live
now and what you like best about it?
Bret Bingham: Ive lived most my life in the Sacramento
area. The great thing about living here is the close proximity to
other great places. We have snow, ocean and world class wine country
all within a two hour drive.
Tim Morse: Ive lived in Northern California my whole
life and I agree with many of Brets points. Ive had the
opportunity to travel quite a bit and visit many wonderful places,
but I havent discovered anywhere Id rather live than Northern
mwe3: Whats the inside story behind this first Mangoes
CD? How did you guys meet and how did this first Mangoes CD fall into
place? Did you guys use any real life anecdotes to draw upon regarding
the album concept?
Tim Morse: I had finished my last solo album Faithscience
and was looking to do something different for the next project, given
I had written/produced/performed that album. I wanted to share the
work load with someone and I wanted it to be lighter in tone and more
spontaneous. I definitely chose the right person for The Mangoes -
its been a pleasure working with Bret. It was an extremely enjoyable
experience to write and record this album. As far as drawing on personal
experience for the story, its more of a fictional story that
has been colored by our experiences in the business.
Tim and I played in a band that performed the solo music of The Beatles
so we knew right away that we had many of the same musical influences.
Tim had the idea to form a song writing collective and in the end,
it turned out to be a collective of two! The story behind the album
grew organically after the first few songs were written. From a song
writing perspective, having a concept added some focus and cohesiveness
to the eclectic styles we brought to the table.
mwe3: Tell us something about your gear including what keyboards
and guitars youre using to make the Mangoes CD. Theres
a number of other musicians mentioned in the CD notes.
Tim Morse: I used a Korg Triton for all of the organs, clavinets,
string pads and so on. A Yamaha P-95 was used for the piano, electric
piano and harpsichords. Lastly and most importantly, for all the analog
synthesizer sounds I played an authentic mini-moog that I found on
e-bay just before we started recording the Mangoes album. You simply
cannot duplicate that sound with anything else - it has to be the
Bret Bingham: I mainly played an American Standard Fender Telecaster
with DiMarzio Area T pickups through a Vox Tonelab modeler for the
album. Quite of bit of the tracks were recorded direct in to my DAW.
We were able to enlist some friends and past associates in making
the album - it brought some extra nuances to the music. The majority
of live drumming was provided by Bruce Spencer - he is always a pleasure
to work with.
mwe3: Also how did you decide on the name The Mangoes? I cant
think of another band that chose a fruit to name their band after!
Morse: Okay, Ill try to give the Readers Digest version.
My recording studio is named Morpheus Mango and early in the recording
process I was assembling a track list of our demos. I burned a CD
for Bret and just wrote Mango on it so hed know
it was from me. He saw the disc and said, What about The
Mangoes? And it stuck!
mwe3: Can you tell us something about when the album was written
and how the album was recorded? How do you guys work together on writing
Bret Bingham: Tim or I would bring each other an idea... sometimes
as little as a riff all the way to a mostly completed song and from
there wed trade ideas back and forth. Once we had the song in
a finished state, we would record live drum tracks at a local studio.
The drums created a bed which was then used to overdub the rest of
the instruments. A lot of this was done individually and remotely,
which allowed us to work at our own pace. We worked individually or
together with the guest musicians to get the performances we were
Tim Morse: It worked a number of ways, sometimes I would suggest
a riff to Bret and he would build a song around it. Sometimes we would
sit in the same room and work things out. Many times we would bring
in something reasonably finished and the other person would make some
suggestions to complete the piece.
mwe3: What kind of musical influences would you say are key
to the Mangoes album. Did you have any parameters in designing the
album concept, ala say Tommy or some of the Beatles / Monkees
kind of concept albums?
Morse: The Beatles are a primary influence. I consider them to
be the alpha and omega of pop music. Although Bret and I have some
common influences like Zappa, I think our own individual influences
probably brought more to the table on this project. We never really
talked about using something like Tommy as an example or a
blueprint for what we were doing, it just happened very organically.
Bret Bingham: For me, the parameters were to focus on primarily
two people embarking on a journey in the music business together.
There isnt any parallel between them and the Mangoes! To me
it was similar to a Behind the Music study of excess and
mwe3: The Mangoes CD kicks off with I Told You So.
Is that song about the pitfalls of the music industry?
Bret Bingham: In my view, the song is more in the spirit of
Have A Cigar by Pink Floyd. Its the music industry
insider...or supposed insider, making promises, and in this case,
having those promises coming true. Youre gonna make
it if you try - See, I told you so!
mwe3: Track 2 Over kicks off with the Mango
Overture. Is it another look at the music business? It makes
you wonder why everyone stays so long in the music business! The song
has a very Beatles-inspired Lennon-esque edge to it.
Bret Bingham: Musically, there is a definite connection to
John Lennon. Tim and I discussed having the main character Billy start
the story as a washed up musician. He only decides to be this sort
of svengali out of desperation.
mwe3: Track three Barista Girl is pretty funny
stuff. I guess the song is key to the album concept.
Bret Bingham: The Candy character starts out as a barista...
its a bit of a reflection on todays music reality show
environment. The next star might come from anywhere and win an instant
music career. We have television shows that celebrate this idea. You
dont have to be an artist... you just have to have The
Samba Mambo is another instrumental. Why did you keep
the instrumentals so short? Theyre great. That track continues
the Latin influence and sort of carries on from Barista Girl?
It has a slight Santana kind of edge to it right?
Tim Morse: The instrumentals are short just because that felt
like the proper length for them in this context. In a way they are
kind of vignettes between the songs to help with the story. I had
some vaguely Latin tinged themes that I put together as a separate
piece and decided not to incorporate them into Barista Girl.
Bret Bingham: Yeah, I wanted the guitar to sound like Carlos
Santana. We thought that the barista has to be seduced and who better
than a Latin guitar hero?!
mwe3: Track 5 The Future (Will Be Yours)" gets back
to the L.A. kind of 1960s sound. Is that another poke at the music
business? Are those real horns? A nice piano solo in there by Tim.
Tim Morse: Yes, thats a real trumpet performed on that
song. There are a lot of tongue in cheek digs about the music business
on this album.
Bret Bingham: It is another stereotype of the greasy guy in
a run-down jazz club. Poor Billy goes through all the embarrassing
stuff... has-been, cheesy jazz singer, overbearing manager...
mwe3: Track 6, Together - You And I would make
a nice single track. Is that one of the hopeful tracks on the Mangoes
CD? Is that another 1960s style track, ala The Monkees?
Bingham: We didnt want the CD to be too dark so this track
was the last track added to give the album some sunshine. Plus, we
wanted to have Billy and Candy have a honeymoon period albeit a short
mwe3: Stupid Chorus, track 7, is also key to the
story of the CD? Is there a YES lick in there?
Tim Morse: Its not a YES lick, but it is a motif in a
major key and it has a similar sort of rhythm.
Bret Bingham: This song is key to showing how Candy achieves
her fame. I think her music speaks for itself.
mwe3: Track 8 Brickwall features lyrics by Tim
this time. How does Brickwall fit into the Mangoes album
concept? I guess it ends on a low note with the lyric Cant
you see theyve destroyed everything... bummer. Kind of
has a little Indian music riff in there too.
Bret Bingham: To me this is about the way we smash music into
a little box so that it can be packaged and parceled out for free...
its all just a click away.
Tim Morse: This song is a kind of protest song. Im writing
about people who have no compunction about stealing music and dont
care about the quality of the music theyve stolen. The line
about how theyve destroyed everything is about how
the internet has helped destroy the value of music to people. Not
just the monetary value, but the importance of it has been diminished
because everyone can take it for free and listen to it whenever they
wish. The Indian riff is a nod to the Shakti/Shiva energy of creation/destruction
that runs through that song.
Track 9, Headed For A Fall is one of the great songs on
the CD. Its such a sad sounding track. I know it fits into the
album concept but its pretty universal in its lyric. Are those
real strings in there?
Tim Morse: Its a lovely song, completely written by Bret.
I really enjoy the changing chord progression that leads back to the
Bret Bingham: This song features a real cello.
mwe3: The Future (Will Be Ours) has a kind of Kinks
vibe to it. How does the song fit into the album concept? Is that
the sleazy A&R guy feeding Candys head up with lies?
Bret Bingham: Billy goes from telling Candy the future will
be hers to revealing his true intentions of controlling her for his
mwe3: Track 11 Surveiller is another instrumental
track with some wordless scat singing. What does the title signify?
I dont think I ever heard that word before.
Tim Morse: Its a French word that means surveillance.
The song has a bit of a Nina Rota feel to it and it felt right to
give it a title from a different language.
Bingham: It is a foreshadowing to 200 yards, where the real monitoring
mwe3: 200 Yards has a kind of Rundgren-esque flavor
to it. Is that the part of the album where Billy is stalking Candy?
Ah, the pitfalls of the music business! I guess 200 yards is the legal
limit for stalking?
Tim Morse: This is one of my favorite songs on the album and
it was the first one Bret and I completed for this project. I think
it has a Steely Dan kind of flavor to it.
Bret Bingham: Yeah, Billy isnt allowed within 200 yards
of Candy. There have been other songs of implied stalking or creepy
watchfulness, The Polices Every Breath You Take,
The Kinks Art Lover, but the Mangoes introduced
the restraining order limit.
mwe3: Dirty Love is a real hoot. How does it fit
into the album concept? Stalking leads to thoughts of Dirty
Love. It almost has a kind of heavy metal feel. Did you purposely
want a heavy metal kind of song in there or is it tongue in cheek?
Whos singing lead on that track? Its amazing how the vocals
are so varied throughout the CD.
Tim Morse: Well, everything is tongue in cheek with the Mangoes!
But youre right, I was little concerned that we needed a hard
rock song on the album. I gave Bret the main riff and he wrote the
whole song from that.
Bret Bingham: Candy finds someone new or this could be Billys
own sordid imagination. I guess its up to the listener to decide.
We wanted someone with a sort of 70s blues rock delivery
and Tim found that person in Tony Tuoto.
mwe3: Track 14 Disguise is key to the album concept?
The trappings of success? Another Lennon-esque kind of sarcastic jab
at the music business? Funny how the song can almost stand alone as
well as within the concept of the album.
This is Billy looking at what Candy has become and being disgusted
with her and himself... as the song states: its all part
of the game and he was very much a player.
mwe3: No Future features Billy singing to Candy
or to himself? Its a real heartbreaking kind of track.
Tim Morse: Thats some great singing from Bret, I think
hes channeling David Bowie!
Bret Bingham: This is the final end of the spectrum of the
future trilogy of songs. The optimistic Future (Jazz),
the controlling Future (Rock) and finally... no future. This is Bill
very much alone.
mwe3: Track 16 and 17 Tunnel and Epilogue
are two more instrumentals that lead into the albums zenith,
track 18, Broken Soul. Can you say something about how
those three tracks kind of segue into each other? Do you guys enjoy
writing instrumentals too or do you find they more serve to connect
the vocal tracks? Epilogue has a kind of mid 1980s
YES feel to it. Do you use YES as a jumping off point as far as connecting
the dots on the album?
Tim Morse: I definitely enjoy writing instrumental music as
well as songs. I honestly dont really see any YES influence
on the album, to me Epilogue has more of a Pink Floyd/David
Bret Bingham: The Tunnel was that moment where
Billy flashes back on everything that has happened to lead him to
where he is. So there is a weaving of music previously heard on the
album... Billy, dont go to the light!
mwe3: Broken Soul is kind of a fitting way to close
the album out before leading into The Mangoes Theme. Was
It Yesterday, Or A Million Years Ago. Fantastic guitar solo
on that track.
Tim Morse: We actually recorded that before there was a Mangoes.
Bret brought over the song and I added keyboards to it, I believe
it was our first real collaboration. I agree with you about the guitar
Bret Bingham: This song is in some ways about how transient
life really is. Yesterday or a million years isnt that far apart
on a cosmic level.
mwe3: Funny how you decided to close the CD with The
Mangoes Theme and not start off with it! Is it sort of a lighthearted
way to close the album? Sort of saying hey, look guys were only
joking around here.
Tim Morse: I think you hit the head on the nail, it was nice
to have a band theme song and it does remind everyone this is all
in fun. No Mangoes were hurt in the recording of this album!
Bingham: We knew we wanted a Mangoes theme. I think it was Tims
idea to have this theme song that you could imagine playing as we
drive off in our Mangoes van.
mwe3: Can you tell us something about your other musical projects
and what else keeps you busy inside and outside the music world? Also
can Tim say something about his solo project Faithscience and
if hes planning any new books or articles and can Bret say something
about his work in other realms of the music biz?
Tim Morse: Faithscience is an album of original progressive
rock that I released a few years ago. It was very well received and
if you are a fan of bands like Genesis and YES then please check out
some of the samples at timmorse.com. I just finished an article on
the Kate Bush concerts in England and Im considering a book
project on a major music artist, but I dont want to give away
any details on that yet. However, right now I'm working on a new solo
album to be released later this year.
Bret Bingham: Im currently working on a solo album. It
will also have some elements of a concept album. The Mangoes did seem
to get my creative juices, no pun intended, flowing.
mwe3: I sincerely hope you guys get to make a second Mangoes
album. With this much work and effort going into it, it wont
be easy to make another album this cool, wouldnt you think?
Morse: Actually I think we could easily make another one just
as good as our first, but it would be different. There wouldnt
be any point in doing the same album.
Bret Bingham: For now, Tim and I both working on solo projects
but I can imagine a new Mangoes episode someday.