Interview - Manowar Undisclosed

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Terrorized Uk - 66   1999


Interview taken by Gregory Whalen

BRIDGE OF DEATH that leads to the GATES OF VALHALLA. For one thing, there's the small matter of headlining Dynamo 99 to attend to first. Gregory Whalen dons his GLOVES OF METAL to shake hands with the DARK AVENGER himself, Joey DeMaio. Wimps and posers leave the hall!

Manowar's successful attempt to become the loudest band in the world five years ago, deliciously described by erstwhile Terrorhack Jeff Wagner as "a pornographic exercise in volume" may not have got them into the history books (Guinness apparently refuses to recognise potentially harmful records) but it certainly impressed me. Not to mention the hundreds of thousands of other people who count themselves among the Army of Immortals. See, Manowar is more than just a band. It's a need, a calling, a way of life... a fucking legend. Some people don't understand this. They look at the furry loincloths, the leather waistcoats and the swords, and they laugh. But to mock is to miss the point completely: Manowar is not there to be analysed or scrutinised or studied. Manowar just is. Formed in 1980, when Ronnie James Dio introduce Ross "The Boss" Friedman to Joey DeMaio on Black Sabbath's Heaven and Hell tour (Ross was playing guitar for the opening act Shakin' Street at the time; Joey was a roadie for Sabbath) the band made, an immediate and lasting impression on the world of Heavy Metal. Having Ted Nugent kick you off his tour for consistently upstaging him after only a handful of shows is a pretty good start to a career by anyone's standards, and Marrowar soon became underground legends. Europe in particular embraced the band's unique strain of Wagnerian Heavy Metal and ever since they signed their first European recording contract with with Music For Nations back in 1982 (famously in their own blood) they have steadily gained a vast and dedicated following. Countless label problems and the occasional line up reshuffle have only slightly dented the great war machine over the years, and judging by their last Studio album, 1996's "Louder Than Hell", the well of inspiration is far from dry. Indeed, the tours that followed have been Manowar's most successful yet. The vinyl documents of the live phenomenon that was the Hell On Wheels / Hell on Stage extravaganza are a fan's wet dream come true and with the second of these released on Nuclear Blast, 1999 may well be the year when everything falls into place for the Loudest Band In The World. Joey DeMaio was recently in London to promote the new album. and the following is an excerpt from our all too brief conversation.

What memories do you have of the Hell on Stage tour?
"Oh God ... too many! It was just a great, great tour. The band and the fans were really, really in synch. We purposefully chose to play smaller venues than usual, and more of them, because I think smaller venues sound better from the point of view of live recordings. I don't know, just craziness every fucking night: drinking, fucking girls, hanging out outside drinking beers with the fans… just a great time. It was one big endless massive party every night.

Why release another live album?
"Because it's the second half of the first one. We just couldn't find enough room on two CDs to include eight studio albums' worth of material. Now the picture's finally complete and the fans have got what they wanted. We had the fans put together the tracklist for this record so that we were sure they were getting what they wanted.

Do you think that overall 'Hell on Stage' is a better album than 'Hell on Wheels'?
"I think it completes the picture for the live records. Like I said, 'Hell on Wheels' was part one, this is part two. If you put 'em both together and you own 'em both you've got the complete Manowar live story up to this point.

Would you agree that Manowar songs can generally be split into two categories the anthems and the epics?
"The anthems, the epics and also the songs that have real interesting Sound textures and explore different spaces. The thing is, we've always wanted to give the fans value for money, and the only way you can really do that is by not repeating yourself. I just can't stand putting on records by other bands where every song sounds the same. It's not true value for money."

Do you find one style easier to write than the other?
"No (laughing) I don't! It's incredibly difficult for me to write songs of any style. It's really hard when you've got to commit something to a recording that you have to live with until the day you die. To me it's incredibly difficult and I don't take it lightly. I think it's an incredible responsibility."

You have a reputation for being something of a perfectionist. Do You sometimes wish you weren't?
"Yeah. At times I wish I wasn't, because it would be a helluva lot easier on myself and the rest of the guys but when I look back over the band's records I'm very proud of the fact that we've always done the very best we could. I would never want to put out some piece of shit like some of these other bands and have to live with that."

Do you have any favourites?
"No. It's funny, a lot of people have been asking that question lately, but I don't. I like all the songs and all the records we've made. We've never, ever put a record out that we weren't happy with. And we've never put a song on a record that we weren't happy with either. I think it's kinda ridiculous when I hear other bands saying, 'We just did this because of record company' or whatever. Why would they do that? What a bunch of suck ass motherfuckers! Why would they tourn around and tell the fans 'Oh yeah we basically shit on a plate and served it to you and said eat it.' I don't fucking get that."

Would you say that you've learned from other people's mistakes in that respect?
"Yeah, I'd like to think so. I'd like to say that I've learned how to treat people, and how to treat music and fans from watching other bands do it wrong. Plus, I'm not a negative energy person - I'm a positive energy person and I love our fans, I love Heavy Metal and I love this music. And I'm happy doing what I'm doing."

Do you see Heavy Meal as a form of escapism?
"Sure, of course! Who the fuck wants to live in the real world twenty four hours a day when there's so much fuckin' bullshit going on? Wars, stupidity, poverty, people... God, the world is such a fucked up place! The real world couldn't ever be half as good as the world that we've created with our Heavy Metal, with our music."

You've always shown a healthy interest in battle and mythology. Where do these interests stem from?
"I guess I just like the idea that there's gotta be some people somewhere in the world who believe in what they are doing and love what they're doing and are willing to fight a make a stand for what they believe in. Without people like that the world couldn't possibly change or evolve or grow. "

Why is it do you think that Manowar speaks to so many people all over the world?
"I think because we're a little bit more honest than most other bands. People recognise that and they respect it, and they see hat we don't think of ourselves as being any better than anybody else. We're just here and we care maybe a little bit more for the fans, and we're willing to go that extra mile when nobody else is. We have the greatest fans in the world. It's no secret. Other bands are fucking jealous of it and well they should be!"

You're playing the festival circuit again this summer. How does it feel to be going head to head with Metallica at Dynamo?
"We don't really look at it that way. We are headlining these festivals and Metallica is playing there as well. The fans that want to come and see Manowar and Manowar style Metal - True Metal - are going to be there to see us, and I'm sure there's going to be some people thre to see Metallica as well."

Will you be doing any more touring before you hit the studio again?
"That's a good question. We're gonna be doing the festivals first, and then, after that I'm going to fulfil the last promise I made to the fans, which is to put together a live video. And that's gonna show all the crazyness on stage, off stage, back stage, all the complete insanity of Manowar. We've never done this before either, so it's gonna be cool."

Do you think you'll be playing the UK again anytime soon?
"God, I hope so! It's been a long time but it's really not our fault. We just couldn't find a good record company here. We've had so many probablems similar to what we had in France years ago. Thanks God that's been resolved... But yeah, we can't wait to start playing the UK again. We'll be back, I promise. Let's face it, the UK is what started it all. We've got incredible fans here and we'll never let them down. We know it's been a bit of a wait, but we'll make it up to you all."

Finally what has kept you going all these years?
"Simply the love of he fans, the respect that our fans have for the band and the fact that our fans have done it all for us. And we'll never, ever forget that. We've never forgotten it, and I think that's something that gets lost along the wayside. Some bands think that they've done it all on their own, that they're better than the fans. They think that somehow they got to the top and the fans owe them something, but it's just the opposite with us. We owe our fans everything. They've made us the Kings of Metal."

And long may their reign continue!
Unveil The Truth About Manowar
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