Sitting down with Noctis, Mark Prendergast is reintroducing himself as Man Alive. He tells us about his debut project Colours and the moments that led to the new venture.
A guitarist recognisable to many, the man behind Man Alive is 1/4th of the world renowned band Kodaline, responsible for co-writing the tracks that took them round the globe. Branching out, he’s bringing his songwriting to a new home. His new project Colours was born from the most personal of moments, but for an artist like Man Alive, writing is cathartic. It’s such an essential part of his process that without it we wouldn’t be met with a new EP at all. “I write selfishly, I write for myself in order to get through things and process everyday life. If other people relate in any kind of way that’s amazing, and a huge bonus.”
Luckily for his listeners, he writes from real life scenarios that could hit home for anyone. Given how this EP was written amongst incredibly intimate feelings and moments amidst his breakup, it makes sense that these tracks found a home away from his band. Transitioning to a solo project was a clear decision once the songs were ready. “The catalyst was conversations with friends after showing them the songs, they gave me the nudge I needed.” The process itself was quick-moving and even as he performs them now, he is brought back to the feelings that inspired them. “Every song for Man Alive and also the idea to release it has come recently.” Even the stage name he has donned for himself was conjured up not too long ago, and he is still getting used to his new namesake.
Acoustically driven, Colours forms its own identity separate from Kodaline, but it’s still reminiscent of the parts that afforded Man Alive his success before this new EP. “As I grew up a little and joined Kodaline I inherited the rest of the band’s influences too, that’s probably one of the biggest positives about joining a band. I gravitated more towards lyrics and songs that conjure up emotion.” This is his constant; knowing that his strength lies in his writing allows listeners to enjoy it amongst a fresh production and expand their horizons much like Mark has in creating the EP. Driven by his guitar, Man Alive sits amongst artists akin to James Bay and Tom Odell, where we cannot imagine the artist and instrument not working as one.
Read our full interview with the artist below. Colours the EP and single are both available now.
How long has this new EP Colours been in the works? What was the catalyst for the transition into a solo journey for you and your music?
Every song for Man Alive and also the idea to release it has come recently. I had written a batch of songs first and then decided they would form part of this new project. The catalyst was conversations with friends after showing them the songs, they gave me the nudge I needed.
How did the process of this EP begin? Which track came first and spurred you to create a project?
The first track was a song called Colours. It didn’t sound or feel like anything I had written before, but it also felt quite natural at the same time.
How has your music taste evolved over the years as an artist? How has being in Kodaline influenced the choice to create a different body of work?
My musical influence changes every week. When I was a teenager I discovered the guitar through bands like Thin Lizzy and The Strokes. All I did was listen to bands that had guitar solos so I could try to learn and play along.
As I grew up a little and joined Kodaline I inherited the rest of the band’s influences too, that’s probably one of the biggest positives about joining a band. I gravitated more towards lyrics and songs that conjure up emotion.. Guitar solo’s are still the one though.
How do you usually start new tracks, what’s your process? Is it production/melody that comes first or lyrics?
Generally it all comes at once. When the melody and the lyric come at the same time I’m usually trying to get something out, or say something. That’s the most exciting part of writing for me, the initial moment of realising what a song means. Sometimes it can happen the other way, I can stumble upon a certain sound or piece of music and then figure out what I’m saying after.
Which song on the EP would you say currently resonates with you the most?
What Are The Chances. I think it means the most to me at the moment. The song is about being at fault for the end of a relationship, and not dealing with it the way you should. Every time I sing it it brings me back to that feeling.
How did you settle on Colours as the EP title? What does that particular song say about the EP to you?
I speak a lot about colours in a few of the songs so it seemed like an obvious choice. The song Colours is about not hiding who you are when you first meet someone. Just unapologetically being yourself. I guess that’s what I’m trying to do as an artist in a way too.
Where does the name ‘Man Alive’ stem from? Why did you choose it as your stage name?
I was driving at the time and I thought it up. Still figuring out what it means exactly. It’s still strange being called Man Alive because the name is only a few months old. It feels kinda like wearing someone else’s clothes. Not that I do that regularly but hopefully I grow into them.
Do you think a stage name has allowed you to create a persona/ character around your music or has it done the opposite, where it’s more authentic and ‘you’?
Absolutely yes, you hit the nail on the head. I can have more fun with it if it’s not under my own name. It’s made me write differently writing for a ‘project’ like Man Alive instead of attaching my name to it.
What do you hope people understand about you as an artist when they hear this new EP? Especially if we consider the preconceived idea of who you are in a band, how far does that differ from you as a solo artist?
I hope people can understand what I was going through at the time of writing. I write selfishly, I write for myself in order to get through things and process everyday life. If other people relate in any kind of way that’s amazing, and a huge bonus.
I think people might see some resemblance to Kodaline in some from my tunes but I don’t mind that..
How would you say this EP prepares listeners for what’s to follow?
I think this EP is a good introduction into my tunes, but there’s a few surprises in the future for sure..