Sounds - Usa - 1987
I ATE ROSS THE BOSS TUNA FISH SANDWICH
Interview taken by Roy Wilkinson / Fin Costello
Honest headbangers MANOWAR prepare to do battle with the hordes of False Metal. ROY WILKINSON crosses swords and mixes sorcery with ROSS THE BOSS and JOEY DeMAIO. Snarls 'n' studs FIN COSTELLO
A vast thee varlets and take heed as you enter the domain of Manowar. The story so far: having forsaken their native land of Amerika, the four strong SAS (Sword And Sorcery) unit known as Manowar have embarked on a European axe assault (promotional concert tour). After conspicuous victory in Gaul and Germania this happy band of brothers have landed in Britain to do battle in the hostile Netherlands, which those who dare to speak their name call The Odeons. Before implementing this plan (with much stagecraft and ampage), Commander of The Guitars, Ross The Boss, and Field Marshall-Stack, Joey DeMaio, have set up temporary court in the hit fertile valleys of WEA Recordsoria. It is there that we meet with He-Manowar Ross to hear his plans for the future and drink and eat heartily as he regales us with tales from his illustrious past. Manowar's Kingdom is a vicious one where speakers blow, drums of doom sound and guitars wail loudly (according to The Guinness Book Of Records, Manowar are the loudest band ever!). But in the fearsome lands of Heavy Metalia and Recording Industria, Manowar have many sworn enemies. The most insidious of these are the loosely aligned forces of False Metal who Manowar attack unequivocally on the sleeve of their current single 'Blow Your Speakers'.
"He who refuses to take part in modern mediocrity will forever stand alone, an outcast. He is the bringer of change, changes that instil fear in all who go with fashion's flow. Their power comes from others, not from within. They are false! Woe unto them for the bringers of change have banded together. The time is now! We cannot be stopped! We are riding up, riding on the will of the people. The battle rages - choose your side. DEATH TO FALSE METAL."
SO WHO are these people, where do they come from and why do they wear spandex trousers? Ross has the answers.
"False Metal is the musicians who are in it for all the wrong things - ego, money, girls, partying. All the stuff that really has nothing to do with it."
Surely not! Aren't these values at the very Gibson impaled heart of HM. Whatever, it seems that this blight is in no way restricted to any heavy metal sub genre.
"It's not a type of music, it's just individuals. In blues they call it shucking and jiving. I think it's just.. I dunno, it's just false. It's just a phrase we started a long time ago and it's sort of stuck. The phrase meant more back then than it does now."
Ross doesn't want to name names but he is prepared to indicate the antithesis of False Metal by giving some bands the Manowar seal of approval.
"The thrash bands - Metallica, Anthrax, Slayer - they're pretty hot at the moment but there are a lot of things, like that band Europe who do some things that I like (!) I'm not crazy about them, I'm not crazy about any of the bands about at the moment. To be honest with you, the older English bands are the ones I like: Queen, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin"
This metal miscellany can only provide the barest of guidelines to the realm of True Metal. Surely the best description of this hones headbanging will come with Manowar's new album, the ominously titled "Fighting The World". It's an album streaked with "Violence and Bloodshed", where Ross and Co declare a "holy War" on all metal's opponents and where the track "Carry On" plays into the hands of Manowar mockers. In the light of that song will be all too easy to subtitle 'Fighting The World' as Carry On Metal - Spinal Tap Go Wild 10,000 BC. But if you do then you will be sadly misguided for Manowar do not play Carry On Caveman offstage, as Ross explains when I ask him if the band live the designer Ancient Briton part in their spare time.
"Killl or be killed, hunt or be hunted, that kind of thing. Naaah, that's definitely from the past, not very modern... you couldn't classify us as warriors or Vikings or cavemen... it's just a tough image. I mean, I don't want to be known as a Viking or a barbarian, Gawd no! All we are is the hard, warrior type of guy; we play our music and if people don't like it then they can f*** off."
Up alongside the Hammer House Of Horror sound effects and he 4, 8 string and piccolo bass runs on 'Fighting The World' comes a magnificent voice adding its backing to the Manowar clarion call. Orson Welles, who before his death was substantial Manowar fan, narrates the intro to 'Defender' Surely working with a figure as legendary as Welles must have be awesome even for Manowar. Ross agrees.
"Hey, I'll tell you how awesome he was - he was so awesome that we had to bring him up in the freight lift. (Pause of laughter.) Back in 1982 we were thinking of people to do a voice over for 'Dark Avenger'. Someone suggest Orson so we sent him our music and lyrics and he really liked it - he said Manowar were like soldiers on the battlefield of life. At the time we also got him to do some stuff on 'Defender' and we've just put that out on the new album. It's amazing that Hollywood didn't want him. He had to come over here (Britain) and do commercials. They wanted Star Wars and he just wanted brilliance, Citizen Kane. Stuff like that. Sort of like us."
Together with this rather unsuspected inclusion on 'Fighting The World', Manowar have had some pretty strange credits on previous albums. On 'Hail To England' they credit the Manowar Medical staff. I ask Ross if this is because the band often cut themselves during a bit of sword practice. "Naaah. We work with doctors - they examine the band and we just like to credit them. It's not like we're at the doctors all the time because we're full of sexual diseases..."
WELL, MANOWAR interview over it's time to go and let this amiable, small but perfectly formed New Yorker get on with his lunch. But before I can get up, Ross insists on sharing his meal with me. Expecting hunks of red meat, I'm mildly taken aback when he reveals some tasty looking tuna fish sandwiches. I bid him a fond farewell, take one and the rest, as they say, is legend.