Tropical, trippy: Atole keeps the party crew spirit alive tonight at The Smell

Manny Lennox, from the Portland group Atole, is always been down for a music party—mileage be damned.

“I once went on a road trip to see DMX Krew, Bogdan and Cylob play in L.A. and San Francisco,” explains the band’s leader and singer. “Oh and I grew up in Vegas and used to be a in a party crew. We’d come out [to L.A.] all the time for dancing…in the late ’90s, haha.”

Manny, who is quite outspoken in his lyrics and art, bemoans the lack of homosexual abandon on today’s music scene. He dreams of “taking back house music from the straights.” He says, “[I] really miss those days when all the big house DJs and acts were gay.”

Atole—which also features Many’s boyfriend Tim, and bandmates Marius, Sarah and Jacob—is set to rectify that tonight when they bring their big, dancey, gay party jams to The Smell.

Atole (named for the traditional Mexican or Central American equivalent of Cream of Wheat or grits) totally kicks ass in concert. If you are sad or boring you won’t feel that way any longer when they jam. Fortunately that relief-from-the-blahs feeling is portable. All you have to do is replay an Atole performance in your mind, and you’ll soon be fired up and smiling again.

Manny, the group’s singer, songwriter and (for a long time sole member) reveals his secrets…

Are you guys excited for your show at The Smell?
Oh wow, yes!  We’re freaking-out excited. We love L.A., Peter from Essay and The Smell so much. Plus we have an all-new sound that we think our friends are gonna dig. Been so curious about Pizza! too, plus the new Laco$te…Super-excited!

What are some of your favorite LA bands to play with?
Anavan (aww), Captain Ahab, I.E., Laco$te, Lucky Dragons, Bobby Birdman, Nudge, Ariel Pink, John Wiese, it’s pretty overwhelming how many rad L.A. bands there are.

What’s it like being in a band with your boyfriend?
Pretty sweet. We get each other’s vibes and what we’re going for with ease, plus we can snuggle on tour and we have each other to talk to a lot, or not, haha.

What is it like for the other members? Are the other members on rotation?
Atole is a five-piece but only three of us could make it work to tour.  We kept alot of the same sounds and wrote some new jams that are very tropical and trippy. One of our members Sarah is moving to L.A. to get her MFA at CalArts. Big win for L.A.—she will be sorely missed and will hopefully become a guest member every time we visit!


How many different projects are you working on at the moment?
Well, Marius (bass) plays in an electro dance act called COPY (now with drums!) plus he plays in a punk funk band called Astrology.

Jacob (drums) and I used to be in Flaspar ages ago which is how we met a lot of our L.A. friends we play with and hang with now.

Tim (keys) works on very melodic almost IDM-y electronic music called Magnoodle but he never ever plays live.  He did make music for a Tampon commercial recently, haha serious.

I’m working on a solo record and playing solo soon, a lot of L.A. kids should be stoked on this (Atole used to be me and boomboxes). Part of the new project will be very experimental and theatrical, the other part will be me taking back house music from the straights. Really miss those days when all the big house DJs and acts were gay. Sigh.

Aside from Atole, which is your favorite?
Haha, um, my new solo stuff for sure.  Or maybe the new trio I’m starting when I return. Really excited about that—we plan on tearing Portland up!


Favorite top 40 song right now?
Oh wow, does it have to be current?  I really can’t stand Gaga or Biebs—I know I’m a hater. I’m over it though.  I do miss the days when Whitney Houston and Janet Jackson ruled the radio!

Cats or Dogs?
Cats!  But Tim and I are very allergic so we take lots of Sudafed and allergy meds and then we play with all the cats. They tend to be drawn to us, like they know they are taking our breath away.

Chutes or ladders?
Ha!  How about ladders, ‘cuz I get nervous when looking down from above.

Do you plan to come back to L.A. soon?
We do. Tim and I are talking pretty seriously about moving to L.A. with Sarah for at least a year, checking it out.  We’re both from sunny places and miss our families as well. We can always go back to Portland anytime, or stay in L.A. forever.

Don’t miss Atole at The Smell tonight:

RSVP for the show here

Watch an Essay mini-documentary here

Watch an exclusive Laco$te video here

Read about Pizza! fighting corporate weasels Best Buy here

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