Metal Forces Uk - 36 1989
Interview taken by Rob Clymo
Rob Clymo finds Joey Demaio, Bassist with self proclaimed 'Kings of Metal' Manowar, still pledging his allegiance to the Faithful.
The thing that strikes you most about Joey DeMaio, bassist with self- proclaimed "Kings Of Metal" MANOWAR, is his seemingly uncontrollable enthusiasm and belief in the band, formed by himself and recently departed guitarist Ross The Boss alongside vocalist Eric Adams and drummer Scott Columbus eight years ago. When all and sundry issue forth contempt and derision, DeMaio remains unrepentant and oblivious to those who mock. Egotist or just a plain believer in the bands concept? Well, after talking to him for some time I'm tempted to side with the latter. On calling his home I'm informed by the man himself that he's only just got out to bed. It being well after lunchtime in New York.
Joey: "We were up late last night rehearsing."
What's it sounding like?
"Oh fuck, it's coming along really great, I can't wait you to hear it, you're gonna fuckin' shit, I mean, this guy just fuckin' burns on guitar (David 'The Death7Dealer' Shankle) I'm telling you and with all due respect Ross is a great player but this is a different style and I think you're really gonna fuckin' dig it."
How does David differ from Ross?
"Well, it's a completely different style; Ross is more of a blue guitarist right? With more blues orientated rifts and David is more classically Influenced, he plays a nylon stringed classical guitar on stage and it's just a wild and crazy style that he has, his own special thing is that he plays with two hands over the lop of the neck, you know, like a piano player plays. We've played a couple of warm up gigs and we're more than ready for the world tour which starts next week. I can tell you something that's gonna give you a real kick in the ass, we're gonna do two shows with TED NUGENT! You'll remember in 1982 we did five shows with him and we were supposed to do thirty but we were mysteriously asked to leave, so it should be really fuckin' good."
So who's going to be the loudest?
"Oh, there's no question about that - we will. it's his P.A. system so I don't know how much he's going to let us use, but I know who will be loudest and that'll be us no doubt."
So is that huge backline you use 100% genuine?
"Brother, of course. MANOWAR does not use fake equipment or stage sets or fuckin' bullshit, those are all Marshalls, they're all plugged in and they're all turned on. If you notice though it's always clear,| that's the thing about MANOWAR, we're louder but it's a very clear comfortable sound, it's not noise, we're not into noise. We pride ourselves on being the loudest and clearest metal band around. It's like, I'm sure you've been in a good stereo store before and you put your favourite record on the best system, you just can't turn it up loud enough because those speakers sound so good, well, that's the idea, it all depends but we usually use about 100,000 watts... it's the only way to go. That way you see it's like a racing car, you've got power to spare and you don't blow the thing up, most people don't use enough equipment and the little bit they've got they're straining, it sounds strained, but our stuff is just cruising because we've got so much power."
Do you agree that the band has had a more polished sound of late?
"I think the recordings are getting better, you're able to hear all the instruments more clearly, but in terms of getting more polished I think if you mean we've improved as musicians, gotten better individually and the band sounds better as a whole then, yeah, butt in terms of commercial or anything like that then, no. We have always been the heavy metal band, we've always written about heavy metal and heavy metal people and that's what our songs reflect - the glory of heavy metal. It's the whole experience of going to a concert seeing our fans and hanging out y'know, just enjoying the whole concert atmosphere, that's really what the songs are all about and I think we're really the only band that has taken up the cause of heavy metal and made sure that at least one song on the album dealt with that topic. We must keep heavy metal alive. Stick together, let's not give in to this commercial bullshit."
Let's hear about the latest album "Kings Of Metal".
"Well, we worked really long and really hard on it. It's an important album for us as it's our sixth, the band is getting bigger and bigger all the time and we wanted to do an album that was really a combination of all the other albums that preceeded it. I mean, the thing about MANOWAR is that we've got such a diverse following, the crowd we have is so different that we're very fortunate because some of the kids like a real fast song, some of the fans like a slow song, some like the narrative stuff and some like the solos and the craziness, so in putting the album together, we tried to make all the fans happy and give each segment of the audience the thing they wanted to hear. That was really the idea behind the album and of course to do something a little more adventurous, apart from the normal heavy metal stuff in using the choir and the orchestra on "The Crown And The Ring".
What's your reaction to all the complaints about the lyrics on the album?
"Well, this is part of MANOWAR's luck isn't it, it's just sort of, we all have things in life that we have to deal with and this is just one thing about being MANOWAR and is just something we'll have to deal with. People will always point the finger at things that are different."
"The Warriors Prayer" seems to attract a lot of criticism?
"Why would it, you see, you're English and so for you to hear an English accent it's no big deal, but here in America they love an English accent, it's so beautiful to hear the Queens English spoken, a real thrill because Americans have ruined the real beauty of the English language. The Americans speak English so horribly and what they've done is a fuckin' abomination. So naturally if the Americans hear an English person speak, the language is beautiful. I mean, I can't tell you how big of a thing it is here in America and the "The warriors Prayer" over here is one of the most popular tracks on the album, every fucker is going crazy over it. It's unbelievable, and I'm not just defending it I'm stating a fact. I had to do radio interviews at the record company the other week and I was on about two dozen radio stations, about six guys remarked about the "The Warriors Prayer" and how they loved to play it and let it run right into the "Lament Of The Kings" which is the way it's supposed to be heard... on the fuckin' RADIO. I couldn't believe it."
Has the negative reaction in the media come from England more than anywhere else and does that disappoint you, considering you like England so much?
"Definitely. I think the fans we have in England know it, they're sort of for us and I've always been proud of the fact. We may not be the biggest band in England, but let me tell you, you don't dare fuck with one of our followers -anyone that wears a MANOWAR shirt is not fucking around. So I mean, you have to take life for what it is really, because at the end of the day the truth is always known... we are the heavy metal band.. period.. that is a fact. Of course, people don't wanna know it, why do you think we always play alone, the only guys that let us play were MOTORHEAD, they're the fuckin' greatest. Lemmy's a great guy and you know that, he's a fuckin' great bass player, he's got a great sound and he burn too. I love to watch MOTORHEAD play, Because in between songs he's always doing little solos and playing little things that people don't appreciate"
Let's hear about some of the other songs on the album?
"Well, "Wheels Of Fire" is a sort of Warlord type track, we've got a lot of people in our audience who like to drive fast, whether it's on a e motorcycle, bicycle, skateboard, roller-skates, cars, whatever, that's a tune for them, you can't drive fast enough. I've got a friend who drives a racing car and we went out and recorded it reving up and we almost got fuckin' arrested! If you look on the album there are a couple of police officers names, they came to arrest us, but they got such a charge out of what we were doing they let us out of it. But that's a real racing I car you here. Then of course there's "Kings Of Metal" which is a song for all true followers who like to sing and shout, and for us there's nothing better than to look out there and see a whole audience singing the words. I can't wait to come to England and hear those fucker sing, It's gonna be the fuckin' best. I think the crowd is the whole thing about MANOWAR. It's funny, it's not like I'm there entertaining them, it's like they've come to do it for us, it's the fuckin' coolest. "Heart Of Steel" is like me and you were just talking about, people all over the world put you down and you've just gotta be firm with what you believe in. Don't you think it would make a lot of people awfully happy if we'd turn around, wimp out and go commercial - they'd love it. You've got to have a heart of steel to let people constantly put you down, they're always saying shit, but we can take it because we know we've got the goods and the fans to prove it, we know we've got a following out there. "The bass solo" ("Sting Of The Bumble Bee") is, well, what some people would call (laughs) 'the obligatory bass solo', but I didn't choose it. In the beginning I chose to do one to get it straight that I have a different playing style and I found when it came time to do "Into Glory Ride" I felt there was no need for it and then when we went out on tour all the fans said 'Hey, what the fuck is going on, how come no bass solo (laughs), what is all this shit?'. So of course then I did "Black Arrows" on ; "Hail To England" and when we did that tour people kept saying 'there better be a bass solo on the next album'. But it was funny when I didn't do one on "Fighting The World", Oh my God, the flak I got for it was unbelievable, so I guess it's not my choice anymore and the followers have deemed it be done. "The Crown And The Ring" is just a real special song for me because I flew over to England with a couple of engineers and we recorded the whole thing in St. Paul's Cathedral in Birmingham with a 100 voice all - male choir - it was wonderful. It was a lot of hard, hard work to organise it and very expensive, but so rewarding to be able to record the sound of all those voices... it gives me strength to live another day."
Are there any plans to release a single from the album?
"At this point, no, but maybe in the future we will."
Do you plan to continue writing in this particular style?
"Well, let's face facts, there's different songs on every album, you know, we don't always write about the same subjects and, I mean, the glory of heavy metal is something that we'll always write about because that's what the band is, but there's always offshoot type songs like "Crown, And The Ring" which is a little more of a drama, so we always touch on different subjects. I don't like people who write songs that are depressing, they wanna talk about politics and all this bullshit that's going on in the world, all these wars. I mean, for fucks sake, you go to a concert to be uplifted, to feel good, you don't want to see the same shit you read in the newspaper, a 1000 people getting killed in Beirut, y'know, who the hell wants to hear that shit, it's depressing enough, the world sucks as it is, so a heavy metal concert should be fun, it should be an escape, a fantasy, that's why we like to sing songs where the images are fun, forget the fact that we live in such a fucked up world. Wouldn't it be nice just to be riding through a field on a horse with a gleaming sword and a gorgeous chick on the back of the horse, riding off into the sunset, what the fuck's better than that."
Did you ever see the film 'Highlander'. MANOWAR should have done the soundtrack to that?
"Did I see it? - only about a thousand times. I love that movie, the music was a little soft, although I do think QUEEN did a good job. But I know what you're saying, I would loved to have done that fuckin' movie, maybe someday I'll be fortunate enough to do something like that. But I tell you what brother, the band are getting bigger and bigger and we're moving up in England."
Will David Shankle be writing at all?
"Oh, I hope so. MANOWAR is a band, that's what the fans like, it isn't any one person. Y'know, there's so many bands out there where one person uses his name for the band, and I think that causes a funny feeling among group members and among the audience. We're all equal in the band, we hang out together, we travel together and we all get on real well."
What was the reason for producing the album yourselves?
"I think when you're a new band starting out with regards recording, because of the fact that you've never made a record, then you don't know how to do it and you need a lot more help. But this is our sixth album now and we're pretty experienced and we don't really want someone to come in and change the sound from what the fans want, I mean, what would you do to Eric's voice to make it better? What would you do to my bass sound? Could somebody get a bigger sound on Scott's drums? I don't think, so when it comes down to it I don't think MANOWAR need a lot of production, we just try and record the band as sounds live and that's really it, what the band sounds like live is basically what our followers like and everything we do is based around them."
Do you see Ross much now and was it a surprise when he left the band?
"I just talked to him on the phone. Not Really, we both sat down and talked about it and he was telling me he would like to try some different things, so I said 'well, come let's do it then, I'll be glad to help you, why not?' When t you've got good friends then you want to see them happy and so I'm trying to help him with his new band as much as I can, whatever he needs. I mean, Ross was enthusiastic when we started the band eight years ago, it's just that right now guitar playing is going in one direction for heavy metal and he personally wanted to get back to doing a more blues/hard rock sound, a style that he started out doing, so why not. He's is happy, I'm happy, so the rest of the band"
How do you think MANOWAR's music compares to thrash metal?
"I don't think that it's really that far away, some aspects are very close and in others it's miles away, but I think there are a lot of similarities because we've got a lot of thrash fans, I think what it is the energy which is very much the same. We've got as much energy as any thrash band, it's just channelled differently, we put a lot of energy into the vocals obviously because we have a different type of singer and we put a lot more energy into the melody as you know, but I do think it's very comparable."
So how does the MANOWAR image go?
"Well, l think a lot of people have a hard time with the image because they don't look at it for what it is, they look and say 'Oh, they're Vikings', 'Oh they dress silly'. What it is, the reason for us doing this, is that we believe one should be oneself and that's the problem with music, people and life in general, they're all so concerned about fitting in with their friends and what shall I wear this week. Our whole attitude is fuck that, be yourself. So, because we've chosen to do that, all of a sudden we're outcasts and if you're an outcast then you must fight to retain your identity. That's the reason we dress like we do, we're sort of warriors, we believe in heavy metal, very simple. We have played gigs, warm-up gigs in jeans and t-shirts, but we think what carries the whole message is that we look different to everybody, everybody else looks the same, so in order to be individual that's what we have to do."
What are the band's touring plans to promote "Kings Of Metal"?
"We'll be touring America during January and February, and then we plan to come over to Europe in March, it's early days yet because the tour is being set up as we now speak, but we should be in most parts of the UK so that people can get to a show with the minimum amount of problems."
At this point Joey paused and took another call..
"Good news, the record is up to 32,000 in Germany and its only been out a week and a half, it just goes to show what you and I were just talking| about all along, that if you change you'll never develop a following because people that are with you are gonna leave you as soon as you change, and if you're false then people are gonna spot that too. I guess slow, steady and honest is the best policy. As I've said, I'd rather have 10,000 warriors than 100,000 posers."
As a parting note, I wondered if I there were any plans to include the choir or orchestra in any of their forthcoming live shows as a prime example of going over the top?
"Well, brother, you may have hit upon something, you're the first person to have suggested that, let's just leave it at that my perceptive friend. Let's just say that one never knows..."