Interview - Manowar Undisclosed

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Kerrang Uk 61 - 1984


Interview taken by Malcolm Dome

"I promise You, at times the volume will touch 160 decibels on stage," says Manowar bassist, Joey DeMaio.valves are vomiting.The speakers are straining.The tremble control is trembling. And the bass control is babbling. For what seemed like an eternity, photographer Ray Palmer and myself had been escorted around the delights of New York by Manowar guitarist Ross the Boss plus bassist Joey DeMaio, in the former's fiery chariot of dark vengeance (well, his girlfriend Judy's nifty red sports car).And, between snatching gulps of hot chocolate, mouthfuls of pizza and oyster, not to mention paying homage to (or, in Ray's case, falling asleep in front of) a video of the righteous "Excalibur', we'd been granted a violent playback of the latest Manowar opus, 'Hail to England'. Finally, as the spearing sounds of the album's closing cut, 'Bridge of Death', fade away,DeMaioturns roundfrom thefront passengerseatasks the dreaded five-word question:
"Well, what do you think?"a few seconds silence blackens the horizon, then Palmer's dulcet tones spring into action...
"I think it's excellent.To be frank, it's probably the best heavy rock album I've heard in two or three years."sigh with relief, my opinion of said LP being the same as that of the venerable lens man.Metallica are 'death' (see issue 48 for an explanation of this peculiar American colloquialism) then Manowar are 'genocide'.Or put another way, if 'Into Glory Ride' was 'so loud it cracked the beams' (excerpt from 'Gloves of Metal' lyrics), then 'HTE' definitely brings the house down in true Samson (biblical rather than Paul) style. At this stream of superlatives, a flickering smile wafts across DeMaio's visage, and his ice-cold grip on the glinting broadsword relaxes. Yep, these two Kerrangsters had avoided becoming playful fodder for the Soldiers of Death... Right, enough of this lunacy.On with the facts.'Hail to England' was recorded in just 12 days (at a cost of less than 20,000 dollars) at Toronto's Phase One Studios under the aegis of producer Jack Richardson.
"I'll come clean with you," admits DeMaio as dusk descends over the Queens district of NY, "this is the first good album we've made.We've put a dedication on the LP sleeve which says 'Jack Richardson is God', and that's the way we feel about him.He's 54 and he treated us like sons, cooking meals for all four members of the band as well as guiding us through the recording stages. We actually wanted Jack to do our very first album, but couldn't get a hold of him.We're delighted with the way things have turned out under him. It's strange the way events take shape.Originally we were going to work with Jon Mathias again, the guy who did 'Into Glory Ride'.He's a friend of ours and he told us how much he wanted to produce this new album.So, when the time came for us to begin recording, we contacted him and he said: 'yeah, I'm up for it, call my manager and he'll sort out the details'.So I rang Jon's manager and he said: 'OK, fine, how much of an advance have you got?'When I told him we had nothing, he literally said: 'Jon's not interested' and hung up on me. I don't hold any grudge against Jon, he's still a good pal.But it's obvious what's happened - he's got this business manager in who's ordered him not to do anything that doesn't pay on the dot, however friendly he is with the guys involved.It seems everyone is getting in managers now and they just louse up your career.You soon lose all your friends and suddenly you're alone.When that happens, the manager finds you're ceasing to make good money and decides to take off, leaving you in a right state.It happened to us with Bill Aucoin, so I understand both the temptation to get in somebody to do the financial work and also the dangers. Aucoin nearly destroyed us! Anyway, as things turned out Jack was a fantastic choice.We worked really fast in the studio.We're not one of those bands that likes to re-do the drum sound a million times.To us, spontaneity is what counts.And we don't believe in wasting valuable studio time trying to work out arrangements.Most of the stuff for this album was already honed down to a fine point long before we went into Phase One. Doug Hill, who owns the studio, told us horrendous things about what happened when Anvil did 'Forged in Fire' there. Apparently, they spent 140,000 dollars on studio time alone, block booking six weeks of time, ensuring they had access to the studio day and night.So, what did they do?Well, the guys would turn up at three in the afternoon, smoke a little dope and then someone would say: 'hey, who fancies doing some work today?" It's no wonder 'FIF' turned out so bad. To us, it's music that counts.We believe in certain values and won't compromise on them to any extent.Manowar are trying to create six-to-ten minute symphonies that are technically stretching and give the fans something to hold onto beyond simple riffs.I'm a great fan of Ennio Morricone (composer of the soundtracks to such movies as 'Fistful of Dollars' and 'The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly').His style of dramatic orchestration is really what I love to listen to and I hope Manowar have captured a little of that approach on the new album. Unfortunately, it seems that these days image is more important than music. Look at the scene in Los Angeles. There, people are more interested in spraying on loads of hair lacquer, putting on layers of make-up and posing in the right places than making a serious study of HM music.Be honest, how can you call any of those bands Heavy Metal?Just about the only new act in LA I've any time for are W.A.S.P - at least their attitude seems right."'s this solidly determined outlook that has alienated many potential Manowar allies in the music business.However, the band are adamant that nothing shall come between them and their principles - whatever the cost.
"Of course we wanna be on a major label, but on our own terms," asserts DeMaio. 'Hail to England' could very well be the album to show the world that Manowar's style of concussively extreme heaviness does indeed have a bright future.Certainly the likes of the shock-wave shanty title track (with its 20-piece backing choir), 'Bridge of Death' ("the ultimate Satanic song," According to the bassist."It goes one step beyond Venom and Mercyful Fate.Hopefully, they'll now top that and force us to come up with something even more stunning!") and Demaio's amazing solo 'Black Arrows' ("I did it in one take on a Piccolo bass tuned to one octave above the normal bass level"), should convince many people of this band's undeniable excellence. surely calling the album 'Hail to England' could prove racially limiting?
"I don't care.Look, the reason we called the album 'Hail to England' is because we're with the people who are with us.When 'Battle Hymns' was released, we suddenly found ourselves dropped by the idiots at Capitol Records in America who had no idea how to market us.We were left for dead and probably would have folded had it not been for the support we got from England.The press over there, in particular Kerrang!, kept us going.We owe our existence to English HM fans and this is our way of saying 'thank-you' to them all. If we are to break big, then the buzz will have to start from England.Already, Manowar is regarded in many American quarters as an English band and our only way forward is through England.To be honest we can't wait to get over there for our forthcoming tour.It's the most exciting point in Manowar's career.", the band's UK trek isn't so much a stepping stone as a make - or - break event.A series of good displays should ensure their future prosperity; failure... well, in DeMaio's eyes, that's unthinkable.
"We've said so much about how good we are onstage that fans have a right to come along and expect to be impressed.All I'd say to the kids is, buy a ticket and check us out - if we fail to match your expectations then you've every right to tell us to get out of the country and never come back. We know how vital this tour is and we're putting our all into making it a success.We are currently doing body-building exercises with a guy who is a former Mr New York and our PA system is gonna be a 50K rig.I promise you, at times the volume will touch 160 decibels onstage (louder than Concorde landing!)"
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