THE MANGOES
The Mangoes
(Mango Music)

 

A whole new generation of recording artists are arriving and they’re 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 1980’s YES feel on the Mangoes CD but some may argue it’s 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



mwe3
: Can you tell us where you guys are from originally and where you live now and what you like best about it?

Bret Bingham: I’ve 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: I’ve lived in Northern California my whole life and I agree with many of Bret’s points. I’ve had the opportunity to travel quite a bit and visit many wonderful places, but I haven’t discovered anywhere I’d rather live than Northern California.

mwe3: What’s 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 - it’s 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, it’s more of a fictional story that has been colored by our experiences in the business.

Bret Bingham: 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 you’re using to make the Mangoes CD. There’s 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 real thing!

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 can’t think of another band that chose a fruit to name their band after!

Tim Morse: Okay, I’ll try to give the Reader’s 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 he’d 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 tracks?

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 we’d 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 looking for.

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?

Tim 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 isn’t any parallel between them and the Mangoes! To me it was similar to a ‘Behind the Music’ study of excess and burnout.

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. It’s the music industry insider...or supposed insider, making promises, and in this case, having those promises coming true. “You’re 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... it’s a bit of a reflection on today’s 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 don’t have to be an artist... you just have to have ‘The Voice’.

mwe3: “Samba Mambo” is another instrumental. Why did you keep the instrumentals so short? They’re 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, that’s 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?

Bret Bingham: We didn’t 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 one.

mwe3: “Stupid Chorus”, track 7, is also key to the story of the CD? Is there a YES lick in there?

Tim Morse: It’s 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 “Can’t you see they’ve 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... it’s all just a click away.

Tim Morse: This song is a kind of protest song. I’m writing about people who have no compunction about stealing music and don’t care about the quality of the music they’ve stolen. The line about how ‘they’ve 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.

mwe3: Track 9, “Headed For A Fall” is one of the great songs on the CD. It’s such a sad sounding track. I know it fits into the album concept but it’s pretty universal in its lyric. Are those real strings in there?

Tim Morse: It’s a lovely song, completely written by Bret. I really enjoy the changing chord progression that leads back to the final chorus.

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 Candy’s 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 own gain.

mwe3: Track 11 “Surveiller” is another instrumental track with some wordless scat singing. What does the title signify? I don’t think I ever heard that word before.

Tim Morse: It’s 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.

Bret Bingham: It is a foreshadowing to 200 yards, where the real monitoring begins.

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 isn’t allowed within 200 yards of Candy. There have been other songs of implied stalking or creepy watchfulness, The Police’s “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? Who’s singing lead on that track? It’s amazing how the vocals are so varied throughout the CD.

Tim Morse: Well, everything is tongue in cheek with the Mangoes! But you’re 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 Billy’s own sordid imagination. I guess it’s up to the listener to decide. We wanted someone with a sort of ‘70’s 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.

Bret Bingham: This is Billy looking at what Candy has become and being disgusted with her and himself... as the song states: “it’s all part of the game” and he was very much a player.

mwe3: “No Future” features Billy singing to Candy or to himself? It’s a real heartbreaking kind of track.

Tim Morse: That’s some great singing from Bret, I think he’s 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 album’s 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 1980’s 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 don’t really see any YES influence on the album, to me “Epilogue” has more of a Pink Floyd/David Gilmour feel.

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, don’t 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 solo.

Bret Bingham: This song is in some ways about how transient life really is. Yesterday or a million years isn’t 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 we’re 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!

Bret Bingham: We knew we wanted a Mangoes theme. I think it was Tim’s 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 he’s 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 I’m considering a book project on a major music artist, but I don’t 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: I’m 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 won’t be easy to make another album this cool, wouldn’t you think?

Tim Morse: Actually I think we could easily make another one just as good as our first, but it would be different. There wouldn’t 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.



 

 
   
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