Manic Productions- Where Ships Are Run…And Tightly. An Interview.

January 10, 2011 by Chris Grosso

I sent this interview out to Mark & Ben of Manic Productions about three months ago, and now after getting it back, I see why it may have taken so long. I apologize ahead of time for the lack of substance in the questions. It was one of the first interviews I put together plus, it was via email which is my least favorite way to do these as it’s rather impersonal. I thank Mark and Ben for taking the time to do this however.

Here’s a little more about Manic Productions before you read on (taken from…

What Is Manic Productions?
Manic Productions is a New Haven based booking and promotions company that works to bring the finest underground music talent to Connecticut. Our goal is to help the best local and regional acts into a brighter spotlight, while proving to national acts that Connecticut is a legitimate and important tour stop by running well organized and promoted, and therefore well attended, shows.

Why Is It Called Manic Productions?
The definition of Manic is “uncontrolled by reason.” The crew of Kill Normal records was trying to come up with a new name for a booking division that Mark would head. They brain stormed on names and came up with the word “manic.” The looked it up and read the definition. Everyone thought it fit Mark perfectly and it stuck.

Q&A With Mark & Ben From Manic Productions

(M= Mark Nussbam/B= Benjamin Levesque)

TIS: Can you go back to the beginning and give a brief history of Manic Productions?

M: Manic Productions began in 2002 as the booking division of Kill Normal Records (which I ran with Andy Tabar/Ethan DeAngelus of The Flaming Tsunamis and Dan Lang-gunn/Matt Dufresne of Infamous Jake) We focused on booking mostly local and regional punk/ska bands to play with our labels’ artists. I got more and more into the booking/promotions aspect and less interested in the label and eventually we decided to split into separate organizations.


TIS: Manic Productions is certainly the definitive independent promoters of CT. What do you attribute your ever growing success to?

M: We work really hard to book quality shows, and getting the word out in every way that we can. We run a pretty tight ship.

TIS: It seems like a lot of bands skip CT and opt to play NY, MA, or RI instead. What do you attribute that too?

M: Bands always make it a point to play places like New York, Mass, Chicago, LA, etc as they are bigger markets which means greater attendance, more press, money, etc. If the tours have room for smaller places like CT, RI, VT we usually get a stab at it and are given a chance to try and make it happen.

TIS: How has the scene changed in your opinion over the last 10 years or so?

M: I don’t think the scene is too different than it was before. I feel like there are less places to do DIY shows and more shows are at Venues/Bars.

B: People are getting into different kinds of music, and will check out some things they probably wouldn’t have a few years ago, and people actually like Joan of Arc now and are excited to see them at Bar in February!


TIS: What’s a big no-no for bands you’re booking?

B: For locals it’s Not promoting, not showing up on time, not being respectful of us/the venue.  We have a really limited number of spots for local bands, and we get tons of requests, it’s a let down when bands don’t give it their all.  For touring bands it’s not getting mad and throwing speaker cables at our intern when you’re having a bad night, that’s a no-no and we probably won’t book your band again.

TIS: What’s one of the craziest things you’ve ever seen at one of your shows?

M: PA catching on fire during Nachtmystium,  Fireworks being sent off during Municipal Waste (indoors!), Moshing to Cursed at 2am, Putting on a SKA show at a Fried Chicken Restaurant…  

B: Vocalist for Annihilation time smashing a bottle on the ground, rolling in it and then having to get 30 stitches in his arm (also watching Mark drunkenly mop up blood!).  Ryan Daoust moshing the fake tree at lilly’s pad during Homestretch.


TIS: What are your top three favorite shows you’ve booked?

M: Cursive / The Appleseed Cast / Bear Hands / Call It Arson / Aeroplane, 1929 / The Striders/ Neil Hamburger / Deer Tick / Grand Buffet / Toby Goodshank / Haunted Continents / Arms and Legs / Dead Meadow / Robots and Empire / They and The Children / Crooked Hook / Guilty Faces / Failures Art

@ Heirloom Arts Theatre (Not Brooklyn Fest- 4/18/08-4/19/08) – One of the best weekends I’ve ever had with some of my favorite bands and great friends.

MONO / The Twilight Sad @ Daniel Street – We’ve done a couple MONO shows in the past but this was by far the best as the sound and atmosphere at Daniel Street was PERFECT for this show. MONO’s music hypnotizes you and takes you away into another world. This video seems appropriate:

Dinosaur Jr. @ Daniel Street (4/1/09) -We had a super early load in for this show and it was great being there all day working and hanging out with the band. Dino Jr has been one of my favorite bands for a long time and I was so happy to be a part of it. The show was a huge success and It was then that I really want to continue doing this for as long as I can.

Honorable mentions: BORIS @ The American Legion, The Thermals @ The Space, and Mount Eerie @ People’s Center (Performing ‘Lost Wisdom’) – I also miss all the Folly shows.

B: EYEHATEGOD / Nachtmystium / Howl / Ipsissimus / Iron Hand @ Daniel Street – Worked on making that show happen for about 6 months, and it finally happened, great show and got to have 2 of my favorite local bands open the show.  Great time and great turnout.

Alcest/Have A Nice Life/Mammoth Hunter @ Cafe Nine – Great show all around, It was Alcest’s first US tour, one of Have a Nice Life’s first shows, and Mammoth Hunter’s first show in over a year, it was a great show to be at, and getting to play it was even better!

Dinosaur Jr @ Daniel Street (4/1/09) – This is probably the all time favorite manic show, and i know mark mentioned it too but it was a full day of work and was one of the most rewarding shows we’ve done.  Dino has been one of my favorite bands for as long as i can remember and doing a show for them and having it be so successful was a great experience.

Some of my other favorites are Wooden Ships at Cafe Nine, Sunn at the American Legion, and Pissed Jeans at the Peoples’ Center



Mario & Ben



TIS: What’s one thing you would tell show goers in an effort to keep the scene thriving in CT?

M: Keep coming out to shows, supporting bands, supporting independent record stores such as Redscroll Records and spreading the good word.

TIS: Anything you’d like to add in closing I didn’t cover?

M: Sorry Neil Hamburger…about that thing with my ex…that was real bad.

B: Sorry it took 3 months to get this interview back to you.



Nemo aka: Manic Dog



Visit Manic Productions And Check Out All The Great Shows They Have Coming Up Here!

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Chris Grosso is a writer, public speaker, mental health youth group facilitator, and author with Simon & Schuster. He also writes for Revolver Magazine, Fangoria, and has spoken at a bunch of fancy-schmancy festivals and conferences (as well as even more events that were significantly less than fancy-schmancy). Chris's podcast, The Indie Spiritualist, is hosted on Ram Dass's Be Here Now Network.
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