Imhotep "Inferno" Uk 8 - 2002
Interview taken by Frode Oien - translated for Imhotep by Roy Kristensen
Manowar are Metal. They've given us hours and hours of Metal, and it seems like they aren't finished off yet. Now, with the new album, "Warriors Of The World", it seems they are just as hungry as way back in time. The interview you're now about to read is a re-edited version of Frode ien's (Scream Magazine, Norway) feature in #66. Sadly I couldn't use the tape, as he didn't have it anymore. However, as Frank Sinatra would say, I did it in my way....
"Call To Arms". Lately, especially in the heroic, fantasy inspired and black, extreme metal most bands have the tradition of doing some sort of symphonic and atmospheric intro, just to set some kind of mood they think is suitable for their brand of music. Well, I rather go for the Manowar- version. "Call to Arms" brings us directly into the Manowar-mood with heavy drums and fighting refrains. Manowar are in shape.
Six years have passed since "Louder Than Hell", and it's a natural choice when Mr. ien shoots off by asking Eric Adams and Scott Columbus what's been going since that album was released.
"Well, we didn't do this on purpose. After "Louder Than Hell" we did one major world-tour, the biggest we've ever done. While we toured we got the idea to make a live-album. As most of your probably know, there are quite a lot of Manowar bootlegs in the market, so we though the idea had come to give the fans the real McCoy. And when we decide to do something we go for it a hundred percent, which in the end made us spend a lot of time to finish "Hell On Wheels". When this was done, we decided to get out of the contract we had with Geffen, and that took quite some time. So, we did some touring again, and we met all these fans who always confronted us with why we didn't include "Heart Of Steel", "Master Of The Wind", "Bridge Of Death" and so on, when we did "Hell On Wheels". So, we thought we should make another live-album. We surely had enough material to make a just as good sequel. When "Hell On Stage" was ready for the market, we begun to work with thoughts about both VHS and DVD, thus we made "Hell On Earth". All this have been time consuming, but we always felt this was something we just had to do."
Scott adds to Eric's words that they had cleared the archives and categorized the whole lot. Manowar are such a band that collects everything, and do not throw away. So, if they should need a plectrum which Ross The Boss used in 1984, they know exactly where it is.
Now, with "Warriors Of The World" released, were Manowar relieved or content?
"I'd say there was 'excitement'. The feeling of finishing all the 'dirty work', and finally be able to go for the real fun. I am very pleased with the final result and can honestly claim this is the very best we were able to do at the time. Everybody in Manowar has an opinion that counts, and when we had turned the songs upside down, back and forth and everywhere, we were all 100% pleased," says Eric.
To confirm Eric's words, Scott mentions the cover of the new album. Once again it's a Ken Kelly masterpiece in the traditional Manowar-spirit. Together with the Norwegian flag you can easily see several other countries national symbols. Personally expected Frode that the new album would be even heavier, as the older album were more Metal in his opinion. Eric kind of agrees.
"I see what you mean, and you are probably right. We don't think about this when we make the album, as we concentrate more on the actual songs. Damn it, Manowar are a Metal band, and I don't think you find other albums out there which are more Metal compared to our new album."
Was "Warriors Of The World" different thinking of the process, compared to the earlier studio albums?
"Yes, in fact. I think we saw this during the process and we realised there's no limit for what we can do. So far we've entered the studio, and been rather conscious on what we were going to do, but this time we felt way more freedom to break our limits. Manowar have brought Metal to places where nobody's been or will be, and we will continue to do that" concludes Eric Adams of Manowar.
"Fight For Freedom". After such a Metal track, it feels rather natural that "Fight For Freedom" is more or less a ballad. Or, at least, that's what you think for a minute or two, before the heavy drums set the pace. This track doesn't bring the Metal factor in front, but is still a nice follower to the opener. However, I never enjoyed those let-us-fade-this-track-out-by-repeating-the-refrain-all-the-time endings.
A strange aspect with the promotion of the new album is the tape version of the promo. Eric says
"This is not our idea. We didn't understand this either, but we've been told by Nuclear Blast that they didn't have time to print the promo-CDs if the press should be able to listen to the album before we were interviewed. In addition, I guess they are afraid the album was going to be safely placed on the Internet, but yesterday we found the whole album is there already... "
When the time has come to speak more about the contents of the album, the men are really enthusiastic.
"I'm sure the title track will be mighty when we perform it live. We are looking very much forward to play this, and to me personally I consider 'Warriors Of The World United' as the ultimate Manowar song, where the band and the audience melt together'" says Enc.
Frode is naturally; curious on the operatic track "Nessun Dorma", which has been done by, amongst others, Pavarotti and Sarah Brightman.
'''I don't know", begins Eric. "From the beginning this was a track we did to surprise our Italian fans when we did the Gods Of Metal festival there 2 years ago, but the response was so overwhelming we felt we wanted to give this track to the rest of the world as well."
I understand ien when he asks how this song is possible, as a self-declared Metal-band as Manowar and opera fit together like a paedophiliac and a child. It's not an unconscious choice when I wrote that, as a paedophiliac and a child fit together, but still its all wrong. However, I agree with Eric when he answers that they can do "Nessun Donna" since they do it the real Manowar way, despite the lack of heavy guitars, bass and hammering drums.
"Nessun Dorma". Metal and opera? The discussion will bloom, and the result is not given. I don't see any point why this shouldn't work, if done properly. And in the case of Manowar, there's no doubt if you like Eric Adams' voice you should like this. It's great, and it fits very well into the whole.
Will you do this track live in other countries than Italy on the forthcoming tour
"We don't know yet. We haven't discussed too much about this, but there will at least be 4-5 tracks from the new album" Eric says and Scott adds: "In fact, we feel the whole album is justified to do live."
On " Warriors Of The World' there are two cover tracks. This is not a common thing in the world of Manowar (besides the small " William's Tale" thing from "Battle Hymns" and " Hums Of The Bumblebee" from "Kings Of Metal'). Don't you have enough own material, or...?
"Yeah, you can ask. I doubt we are going to make a career of doing covers and the whole became pretty much a coincidence this time. Eric has told the reason for "Nessun Donna", but when it comes to "An American Trilogy" it is a track we have wanted to do a long time ago, but we have all the time felt the track didn't fit in at the given time. In example, on "Louder Than Hell" the track wouldn't have fit in at all. Even though the track is quite controversial thinking of Manowar, we are all big fans of Elvis Presley", says Scott. Frode tells them his opinion of the track, and its not all positive.
"Valhalla" and "Swords In The Wind". The songs are exactly like "Fight For Freedom" in the structure. They begin rather slowly, and acoustic, and are a natural follower to the operatic "Nessun Dorma". Then, after a minute or two the heavy and slow drums set in. Manowar really know how to do this stuff, and you always know when we speak Manowar, the sons of Odin.
Manowar have by now released nine studio-albums. After the debut in 1982 they released five more studio album during the 80's. What made you so productive in the 80's compared to the 90's? Eric says:
"We changed our label for each album (laughs). For "Battle Hymns" we wrote a contract with EMI and their sub label Liberty. They did a most horrible job, you weren't able to find the album anywhere and nobody had heard of the band. When our drummer, Donnie Hamzik, quit we phoned Scott since we knew he was a real Metalhead. We were a bit surprised when he told us he had never heard of us, and obviously nothing of our music. 'Great work EMI' we thought and quit our contract. The next two labels fired us (laughs again). Every time we left one label we began a new album, because without an album in sight there was no opportunity to gain a contract any where."
Then things began to set, and the band released three albums with Atlantic before John Kalodner got Manowar over to Geffen...
"John was an important supporter for us. He had big faith in Manowar, and he was a highly respected person within the business. We felt they looked seriously upon us, and everything went smoothly. Then, just like that, is John there at Geffen to make life in the Portrait label for Sony, and we didn't know a living soul in the company. We didn't know whom to contact, and I don't think anybody at the label knew who we were. For once we were the ones to leave a records label", says Eric and Scott join a good laughter.
An American Trilogy". Well, what do you know? Just when you though you knew Manowar, they strike with full force. Ahem, full force, anyone? I really don't know what to think about this American hymn, and all those Glory Glory hallelujahs. Basically, it's great that big bands dare to do something different, but "An American Trilogy" is not my cup of tea. I guess I wouldn't like it even if Elvis did it! Strange though, that in some wicked sense the track fits on "Warriors Of The World". Are you just as confused as me?
Why did you end up on Nuclear Blast?
"After we left Geffen we got a lot of offers. Considering our bad reputation the labels stood in line to get our signatures. About the reputation, I'd say it not a deserved one as we all the time have acted professional, though we have dared to raise our demands to the Labels. Well, we decided to go for a label in Europe which knew metal really good, and there are no better than Nuclear Blast. In addition the label have the necessary foundation to make our do our best. I guess it costs Nuclear Blast blood and tears to have our in their ranks, but they know they'll get gold and precious stones in return. We're quite expensive, but that's due to our sense for quality. Without quality you can't sell a product people believe in. You have to look at Manowar as an investment, and I'm confident they will get their money in return, with interest."
Frode asks about other labels, and if there is one that could've written the contract when they have the size in mind?
"Well, I don't know. In fact, I'm not too concerned with these matters. We're on Metal Blade in USA, and they are great. Maybe Metal Blade in Europe could've done just as good a job?"
So, there was no other major label you could choose in the end?
"No. As I said, we will from now on only work with people who know what Metal is. If we've been into Metal for money, I'm sure we could get more from other labels, but money is not the most important matter. We have enough, anyway."
"The March". The band continues in a most strange way, speaking of Manowar. However, as they claim Richard Wagner to be the father of Heavy Metal I can surely rely to this instrumental classic piece. And damn, be sure it fits well into the Manowar universe of Heavy Metal being the perfect introduction to the title track.
During the 90's Manowar have released two studio albums, "Triumph Of Steel' and "Louder Than Hell". Why? Could it be the domination of grunge and alternative metal?
"No, but let me correct you", begins Eric Adams. "Metal didn't loose a lot of fans to the grunge, we just lent them to it for a short while. I knew at once that this was going to be a passing trend. However, back to your main question. Early in the 90's we began to build our own studio in New York. And I really mean just that, build! We put everything together, even the walls, roof and floor. We finished the work two years ago", says Scott and informs Frode ien about some details about the studio, which they named Hell.
He continues: "At the same time there were a couple of changes in the band, and there was stuff that took some time to finish. We didn't want 'anybody' in the band, so we spent quite some time to find the most suitable persons.
Frode asks about the guys who've quit during the years, such as Donnie Hamzik, Ross The Boss, Rhino and David Shankle.
"Yeah; we meet every now and then, and we're all good friends. In fact, we had a meeting in December a year ago or so, when we re-released the first three albums. All of us were together and wrote new 'liner-notes' on those releases. Donnie is not that much involved in music anymore, Ross is active buy plays a different kind of music these days, while both Rhino and David have new albums going on, which we're going to release on our own company Magic Circle Records. The plan with this company is to release our own albums on our own some time in the future, while we at the same time grant other talented bands a chance to get our their album", ends Scott.
"Warriors Of The World United". The Manowar 'war machine' in its most prominent moment, so typical, so Manowar. You have but one choice, namely to raise your hands into the air.
Manowar have the plans ready to compensate for the lack of released the last years. Besides the two DVD-editions, the band have more going on. Eric says:
"We've just finished off "Hell On Earth" part 2 and 3.These are ready to be manufactured. I guess part 2 will be on the streets by the time we being our Europe-tour m September', while I'm not so certain about the third part. In addition to this we have this fantastic recording of our Monsters Of Rock concert in Brazil. The concert shows a complete Manowar performance from the first to the final track, and 12 different cameras did the recording. We are sure to release this on DVD as well. Next to all this, we've begun to work with a book about the story of Manowar, and a DVD with the same theme."
A new Manowar album is on the storyboard, let's say Autumn 2003. ien doesn't quite understand how the band shall manage to make a new album when they're on tour in USA and are going to do festivals until the Europe-tour.
Eric makes a promise and tells:
"We haven't made whole songs yet, but we have a lot of ideas ready. Before they become complete tracks they are torn apart and changed a lot. In example a song like "Brother Of Metal" (from "Louder Than Hell"), which had a pretty clear idea before we went into the studio. We ended with 65 different versions of the track before we were completely satisfied. At the same time, Manowar are not a band that works with a lot of things simultaneously. When we have a job ahead of us, we concentrate fully on that and don't mix it with other jobs. That's the reason we didn't write any songs when we toured. Everything is done while in the studio..."
...which confuses Frode a bit, as well as myself. I mean, first they have loads of releases in mind, at the same time they'll concentrate on one thing at the time. Oh well...
"Hand Of Doom". Besides being a traditional Manowar track most of the time, it has the definite doom inside. When the music kinda stops, and the thundering drums being together with "...high atop a mountain..." I'm in paradise. The way they build this part is fantastic, as it just builds and builds... Believe me, it's fantastic and if you happen to dislike Manowar you should still buy this album just for these two minutes of Metal. If no other reason, buy it for a musical orgasm...
How serious are Manowar when they state 'Death To False Metal'?
"It's very serious" says Eric at once, and illustrate this by using all the bottles on the table as an example, where the tallest is the Manowar bottle. "Think of all these bands, all of 'them know how to play to a certain degree and all are able to make music of a certain standard. However, most of these are fakes. Lots of those wouldn't be capable of doing the studio songs when they played live. Most of them use artificial aid in the studio, amongst others hired musicians. And this affects the fans first and foremost. The fans spend incredibly much money on their idols. These bands have already cheated money from the fans when they fooled them to buy the albums, they have cheated money when the fans buy the T-shirts, they have cheated money from the fans they these buy tickets to the concerts. In the end this is a lot of money, and then it turns out to be fake, all of it! What do they do to their fans? They take their money, that's the whole thing. This heavily provokes
me. When you show up at a Manowar concerts, it's all real and solid."
Frode says that gives the impression that all bands are the same kind, and that Manowar are the only real heavy metal band other there?
"If you think that like, you've misunderstood. Of course there are other bands that know how to play, and which are just as good as we are and who think of their fans. But most the bands are not like that. I won't sit here and give you names but the next time you're on a concert, I suggest you think about it; do I get the real stuff? Think much about it, and you'll soon be surprised."