Roger Manning Jr. on The Moog Cookbook

We’re hanging out with Roger Joseph Manning Jr. today at WASTOIDS. Maybe you know him from Jellyfish, Imperial Drag or the Lickerish Quartet, or from his long string of solo albums. Or maybe you’ve spotted his name in the credits of albums by Beck, Blink 182, HAIM, Jimmy Eat World, Lana Del Rey, Nate Ruess, The Format, and many, many more. 25 years ago, he and his musical partner Brian Kehew embarked on a truly strange journey into the musical technology of the past, which helped to kick off a synthesizer renaissance. We’re talking about The Moog Cookbook, the duo he and Brian started, adopting the pseudonyms Meco Eno and Uli Nomi. They donned sci-fi-inspired cheeky astronaut gear—even before the French duo of Daft Punk got their own retro futuristic headgear and played cover versions of alternative rock standards that were dominating the radio airwaves at the time—bands like Green Day, Soundgarden, and Weezer, as well as classic rock songs by Van Halen, David Bowie, and Led Zeppelin, the Cookbook released two albums in 1996 and 1997, which caught the attention of Air, who invited the duo to collaborate, and Dave Grohl, who commissioned Cookbook-ified synth versions of Foo Fighters songs. 

Along with the  b-sides collection Bartell, these albums still resonate with warm, analog synth sounds. Part pastiche, part ironic send up, and part genuine, cross-genre/generation musical conversation, the Cookbook epitomized a certain strain of ‘90s pop culture that raided the past for inspiration and generated something that continues to buzz with a nostalgic glow. We caught up with Manning in his studio to learn more…

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