Sounds of claps, shouts and doo-wops bounce off the recording studio’s walls as indie rock band The Manifest Electric records it’s debut album, Wild. The group’s lyrics explore the chaotic period of being an almost-adult — the struggles of loans, career choices and being a 20-something.
Last year, three of the band members started playing together in UT’s Queer Chorus, a former UT music group. UT grad student Joey Ovalle, the band’s vocalist, guitarist and keyboardist, brought the band members together. The loss of Ovalle’s closest friend, who originally urged him to play music, inspired Wild, which the band released Tuesday.
“There’s a song about him right in the middle of the album, and it is the barest song with just vocals and guitar,” Ovalle said. “That’s why it begins: ‘I’m lonely, only breathing to get through the night’ because I just felt like I was putting one foot in front of the other. I couldn’t imagine living life without him.”
The Manifest Electric worked with Tim Dittmar, a professor of music at Austin Community College, to record the album out of the studio in his home. They did all of the recording for the album in two days. For vocalist Tori Spurgeon, it was her first time recording in a studio.
“We had a song that we learned 12 hours before the studio, and it had a difficult stacked chord, which sounds like a wave almost,” Ovalle said. “[Spurgeon] was so nervous because she was the last part to the chord, but she was perfect. I was so proud in that moment because I knew she could do it.”
The band has played at many venues in Austin including Spider House and Lucky Lounge. Along the way, they have experienced some mishaps including tripping up the stairs at Spider House, being chased by deer after a late-night practice and choking on water while recording.
“I drank some water while we were recording a song, and it went down the wrong pipe,” Ovalle said. “I tried to get as far away from the mic as I could and started having a coughing fit. If you listen to the record loud, you can hear me in the background.”
Vocalist Tori Randall said she loves how relatable the album is and enjoys the ’60s vibe of the music. She said her favorite song on the album is “Lana.”
“It’s where I am in my life,” Randall said. “It has lyrics like ‘All of your friends are married and having babies’ and ‘I’d rather die than see you again.’ I love that the song is upbeat, and the lyrics kind of hit you. It’s well written for our age group, and I love singing it.”
Josette Chen, a close friend of the band members, said she likes how listeners can connect to the music on Wild.
“The band creates a safe space where you can be confident and be yourself,” Chen said. “It’s a space with genuine people who aren’t faking anything, and the lyrics are catchy but meaningful. Anyone can relate to them.”
UT alumnus Cole Ourso, the band’s bassist, said the band has become a support system. The group often helps members get through the hardships that come with growing up.
“I struggle with my self-esteem, with myself as a creator, with myself as an adult,” Ourso said. “The band has helped me because not only is everybody in it a wonderful support system, but if I’m feeling lost and confused and angry, these people will totally understand where I’m coming from and will be there to help me move past it.”