Metal Hammer Uk - 9 1992
BACK FOR THE ATTACK
Interview taken by Andreas Showe
"Gloves Of Metal. "loincloths of Fur". There are some cynical herberts eho would suggest that U.S. Metal band Manowar are the living Spinal Tap, and that their 'Death To False Metal' banner should be treated with contempt for its stupidity! However, as the band release their seventh album, there can be no doubting their dedication to Heavy Metal. Andreas Schowe prises vocalist Eric Adams from the studio to explore the retun of self proclaimed "Kings Of Metal"!
It's been four years now since the mighty Manowar's last release, 'Kings Of Metal', which is a long time to be off the scene in anyone's estimation. Surely Metal fatigue hasn't been setting in a fur shortage for new loincloths, perchance?
"Nah, we've been working really hard on the new release because we wanted to make the ultimate Manowar album. We needed to have as much time as possible to get everything perfect. It's our seventh album and that means we do have a certain standard of excellence to maintain! Did you know that we've had our own studio since the fourth album? We had it built for ourselves and ourselves alone. It was tailor-made to our requirements and so its set up for our own particular sound and no-one else's. If took a while to get the place built and then it took some time to get all the songs together. Then, of course, we had to spend time working in our new drummer Rhino."
What were the reasons behind the departure of your previous drummer, Scoty Columbus? He'd been with the band for o long time. All that we heard was a rumour that there had been 'certain family problems'.
"Yeah, that's right. His son was really ill and Scott felt it was right that, after we'd rehearsed the songs for the new album, he ought to spend more time with his son and family. He came to us and told us about the situation he was in and of his decision, and there and then he came up with a suggestion for a replacement, a friend of his from Nashville called Rhino. He came down to rehearsals and when he started playing, we couldn't believe what he was capable of. He's really brilliant. It's great that both drummers were friends and there was no animosity involved. We arranged a sort of 'hand-over ceremony' in the studio. At midnight Scott handed over his drumsticks to Rhino and the title of 'Manowar's drummer', as well as the right to play the 'Steel Drums Of Doom'. It was really moving. Rhino then went outside and set his old kit on fire. When I asked him why he was doing it, he said that it was the first kit that he'd ever had and he wanted to mark a line between the past and the future."
A pretty expensive way of showing your gratitude!
"Yeah. And you know what he said? If he ever plays on another kit or with another band he'll burn that kit too!"
So what bands has Rhino played in - and has he actually got a real name?
"Uh, yeah, I think he's got one, but we just know him as Rhino. Manowar is his first band - he just stayed at home and practised like crazy! He's a man without a past and without a surname!"
But Scott's still a good friend of the band, isn't he?
"Yeah, of course. He's coming over to my place this weekend. On the road he was always my best friend. Now he's really happy because he can take good care of his son and we're all happy when he's happy. We're all really close and we all share our problems. It was really difficult to say goodbye to him and bring in a new drummer, even though the new guy was recommended by Scott. We're really looking forward to going on tour with him and letting him play the odd solo."
So what can you tell me about the new album? Have you got a name for it yet? How many tracks are there?
"Good question! Unfortunately, I can't tell you the album's title or even any of the tracks. We've got a couple of working titles but nothing is definite yet. I can tell you about the sound though. Basically, it's the next logical step in our development after 'Kings Of Metal'. The album will still have some of Scott's input on it, but it'll have the added dimension of Rhino's drums. Scott took part in the recording process, but Rhino's playing is fresh blood in the band. We're really happy with the new 'album. It sounds supremely heavy and it's not even slightly commercial. You all know Manowar could never, ever play commercial stuff."
On the last album you slipped in things that you never normally hear on a Metal album... church organs, kiddies choirs... is there any of that on the new album?
"Yeah, that's true, but don't forget that we play ass-kicking Heavy Metal - guitars, cranked to the max and a brilliant drum sound - our 'Drums Of Doom' have their very own distinctive sound. Naturally, there are a couple of surprises on the album for the fans, but I don't want to let the cat out the bag yet. As soon as the album is out you'll hear what's going on."
So who produced the new album?
"Dead easy. Just us! Because only we know exactly the way the album should sound and what we have to do."
Will there be a single out as a teaser before the album?
"Yeah and there will probably also be a video shot for it. But as to what song it'll be... well, the only thing that I can say definitely is that we'll be on tour in October."
I presume you won't be moving away from your 'Death To False Metal' stance. With the fusion of different styles that are around now, what do you classify as False Metal nowadays?
"To my mind, 'False Metal means, for example, when some guy goes onstage and can't play. Or when somebody goes on stage and instead of giving out intense power, just goes for one gimmick after another. Metal is pure power! Another form of 'False Metal' is when a guy who makes heaps of money from albums, touring and merchandising, then spends it all on houses, swimming pools and cars instead of ploughing back into the next album, so that the fans get more of the same. That's what I call 'False Metal'."
Something else that's always seemed kinda 'False Metallic' in the States is when a band releases a ballad so that they hit the charts. Then the kids who bought the ballad go to see the band live and when they see what the band are actually like they get pissed off because they're nothing like the single. Look at Mr. Big! Where do you stand on ballads? Do you think that if you had a ballad that charted, then the wrong people would come to your gigs?
"We've had a softer song than the rest on every one of our albums so far. I get a kick out of singing differently once in a while. But whether or not there will be a ballad on the next album is anyone's guess. There is a ballad in the songs that we have to choose from, but we've still got to make our minds up. The kids know us and our reputation, but when we write a slow song it doesn't necessarily mean that we'll have 'I love you' or something like that in there. We know that the kids come to see the loudest and proudest band in the world!"
As far as I know, you've never done a cover version of anything. How come? Don't you fancy having a go at one?
"That would be too cheap for us. We've never had problems writing our own material and putting it down on vinyl. We don't feel the need to copy anyone! We've got our own style, and we reckon no-one can copy Manowar!"
As far as some of your older fans are concerned, 'Into Glory Ride' was one of your
best albums. But now there are a lot of bootleg CDs of it going around. Why hasn't been officially re- released?
"That-'s got something to do with the old record company, but I reckon it's only a matter of time because 'Battle hymns' has been re-released on CD."
Going back to your 'Kings Of Metal' EP and the track 'Pleasure Slave'. A lot of people have said that the lyric condones violence towards women.
"We wrote those lyrics to show people that women were slaves to pleasure and not slaves for pleasure. How am I supposed to explain it? Every girl that's met us backstage would always say that we treat all women like ladies. We've got absolutely nothing against women! Naturally we haven't got anything against a bit of sex... safe sex of course! All I can say about it is that women bring pleasure!"
And the 'Pleasure Slave' backstage pass with the picture of naked women chained up is just a joke?
"Yeah, just our little joke! I'm sorry but the guys are waving for me to get back into the studio. I'm gonna have to wind this up."
Alright, alright! Just another few questions. If you look at the sales figures for Guns N'Roses or Metallica they have to be the 'Real Kings Of Metal'.
"Metallica brought-out a really good album and the fans honoured it by buying it in hordes. But when our album comes out then we'll see who the real kings of Metal are!"
There still hasn't been any kind of Manowar video on the market.
"Right. But we're working on one right now, and the record company will release it when the time is right."
So what happened to Ross the Boss after he quit the band when you finished working on 'Kings Of Metal'? Didn't he want to get into the Blues?
"Yeah, he really did join a Blues band here in New York, but they split up and I think he finally just hung his guitar up..."
Okay, just time for one last question. Manowar are really famous for all their Marshall speakers and amps onstage, but there's a nasty rumour going round that they ain't all plugged in and that it's all just for show...
"That's rubbish! What I say is this; before one our shows come backstage and take a photograph and then listen to the volume! Every single speaker is plugged in and switched on. And if anyone tries to tell me hat that's not true, then I'll tell them to their face that they're just a lowdown, lying worm. There's nothing fake about this
band, none of us would stand for it!"
So after a four-year break, are Manowar still the loudest band in the world?
"Sure we are and you'll be able to witness for yourselves... real soon!"