Kerrang Uk - 1994
Interview taken by Dave Reynolds
It's official -MANOWAR are the Loudest Band In The World! Deaf Reynolds is blown away by the Black Wind as the Kings Of Metal crank it up to a record-breaking 130 decibels! Wimps and posers, leave the hall!
HANNOVER'S MUSIC Halle is an amazing rock'n' roll venue. From the outside, it looks like just another large, imposing German industrial site. Originally built just before World War II as a U-boat factory, the building was a prime target for Allied bombing, but was never successfully hit. The pens into which the submarines were lowered to start their journey towards the North Sea apparently remain intact beneath the main structure, but security guards keep the curious away. Within these cavernous walls, on ground level, there now lies one of Germany's best Rock venues. And today, March 8, the Music Halle has been chosen to host one of the most momentous occasions in the history of Metal! This very evening, the mighty Manowar are scheduled to play a gig on their "Agony and Ecstasy" tour. But the emphasis is on the afternoon's events, for the New York Metal Warriors are set to reclaim their crown as the Loudest Band In The World, a record held these last few years by a bunch of absolute nobodies called Immaculate Mary. There's pride at stake here! At 3,30 pm Manowar's manager, Tom Miller, gives a five-minutes warning. He insists that all non-working personnel vacate the hall, leaving just the band's road crew, two video crews and your trusty K! duo to witness history in the making. Ear-protection is advised, but not enforced. Initially, the band's outro tape is blasted through the PA to ensure all the equipment is working properly. This captures the record of Loudest PA in the world for the quartet. Fired-up by this, some five minutes later and dressed in full stage attire, Manowar arrive onstage and launch headlong into "Black Wind, Fire and Steel". We all hold our breath. Have they done it? Earplugs or no earplugs, I'm sure I heard the band play louder their first time at Hammersmith! TV cameramen crowd round the two sound experts, one of whom is Germany's top man in this field. The announcement soon comes: the band playing together have registered a record-breaking 129 decibels! And incredibly, bassist Joey DeMaio has managed to exceed even this with a ball-breaking 130.7 dB! A Boeing 747 registers 140 dB on takeoff... Joey and singer Eric Adams are all smiles back in the dressing room. They've broken the World Record before now, but his time it was actually documented.
"When we did it at Hammersmith a few years ago, it wasn't officially recorded (the band could only claim to be the Loudest Band In The World), so this time we didn't want to make the same mistake," says Eric. "We had two guys with measuring equipment to ensure that they were both getting the same readings…"
Bu why wasn't there anyone here from the "Guinness Book Of Records?"
"The Guinness… people have very little to do with the setting of records. All they do is print things depending on their value to the publication, entertainment-wise," notes Joey. "You don't actually set records for their benefit, you set them for the sake of setting them! If they choose to print it, then great. We did notify them of what we were doing, in case they had any specific guidelines we could follow, but this was a World Record attempt for ourselves. See, there are people in this world who talk, and there are people in this world who do it. We do what we talk about! We've blown away every existing record there's ever been. Now we are officially - and nobody can dispute it - the Kings of Heavy Metal! That means we make thunder inside a room. We make more thunder than anyone can, at a louder level, yet as a cleaner, more pleasant, fun experience. People may well think they've heard us play louder, but it could be that we produced more distortion, so therefore it seemed louder. But the equipment we're using is higher quality. It's like turning up an expensive stereo: it's loud, but you don't perceive it as such."
So, what became of the previous World Record holders, Immaculate Mary?
"Brother, those small-time f**kin' creeps had the good sense to split up!"
Obviously, there was no way such levels of decibel excess would be reached during the gig.
"We care about our fans too much," says Eric. "We wouldn't want to permanently deafen somebody."
Do you wear ear-protection?
"No. see, if I wear earplugs in both ears, I'm not able to hear any high-end, which I need as a vocalist. They don't make earplugs to give you high end, other than the plastic ones, which fall out as soon as you open your mouth!''
Manowar's following in the UK may have become more selective of late, but their audiences are increasing in size all the time in Europe, particularly here in Germany.
"We're at that point in our career where our status is just going up and up," states Joey. "We sell more records each year and play to more people. But Y'know, I hope we don't become trendy to like! Nowadays it's almost a disgrace to have a backline, and these new guys are playing through amps no bigger than my mother's microwave! Y'know, I can't listen to this new dogshit. Grunge? Sponge?! What's it supposed to be? It's just a wank! It's dogshit! People say it's New Metal. What's it got to do with Metal?! It's not even False Metal! C'mon, f**kin' Poison are even heavier than the f**kin' shit these guys are playin'! When we used to say 'Death to False Metal', we were talkin' about all the poser music, but this new stuff doesn't even come up to that standard! Is there a word for something beneath shit?! You can't fool the real music fans. These 'New Metal' assholes will get away with it for a while, but once people really listen to it, they'll discover guys who can't sing, guitarists who can't play and drummers who just sound like they're farting. It's not music. This band offers quality entertainment. We offer a good sound, good music, a total value for money package. What I think has carried us forward more than anything is that it's not hard to get into us, and our fans are welcoming to others."
But the announcement of a date at London Marquee for the end of this European tour has fuelled rumors that the band is on the wane…
DeMaio smiles again.
"It's strictly our choice to play the Marquee. We've never played a club in London before, because we went straight into Hammersmith. We want to play the Marquee because it's a legendary venue. It'll be an honor to play there. It's the last gig of the tour. Our aim is to go in there and take the roof off that shack, brother!"
Back in the US, Manowar will soon be turning their attention towards their first album for new label Geffen, having recently switched from Atlantic. Record labels have always been a problem for the Loudest Band In The World.
"When we sign on that dotted line we're always promised the moon, but just end up with a telescope and the message: "That's close enough!" remarks Eric. "We've been together 13 years now. We deserve worldwide promotion."
Did you have any say in the recently released compilation, 'Best Of Manowar - The Hell Of Steel', on Atlantic?
"We had nothing to do with it! It was a contractual thing. It's got the worst cover ever. I mean, what the hell do those girls chained-up represent?! We don't chain up women. We let'em loose!" says Eric.
"It's weird to be optimistic about a new record deal after having so many," Joey shrugs, "but we are. There's always a good vibe at the start. Before, the only problem in America was that people just didn't get the fact that we weren't Winger or White Lion. We were not like any other Atlantic bands. This is Manowar. As a matter of fact, where are all those bands now? We're still here!"
Just one question remains. How does Joey feel about becoming the World's undisputed Loudest Individual Musician?
All three of us crease up in hysterics...