Metal Forces - Uk 2 - 1983/84
Interview taken by Bernard Doe
Bernard Doe slips on his loin cloth and jumps into his fur boots to discover the Barbarians of brazen rock!
Following the release of their debut album "Battle Hymns" last year, MANOWAR were proclaimed in their homeland as the ones most likely to save the dying spirit of True Metal in American hearts. In turn they were dubbed in music journals throughout the world as the Barbarian barons of brazen metal sounds. The idea of MANOWAR first came to light while lead guitarist Ross The Boss was playing in the French band SHAKIN' STREET, who were opening for BLACK SABBATH on a European tour. It was during one of the gigs in England that Ross met bassist Joey Demaio who was working for SABBATH as a pyrotechnician. It was then following a friendly competition to see which one of them could play the fastest that the two Heavy Metal veterans decided to form "the hottest rock and roll group in the world".
As well as serving time with SHAKIN' STREET and New York's LYRE, Ross The Boss is probably best known as being a founding member of the mid-seventies punk/metal outfit THE DICTATORS. Where he gained a reputation for having the hottest repertoire of guitar licks in rock. Joey Demaio too has learnt his trade playing in numerous New York rock bands and at one time played alongside guitarist David 'Rock' Feinstein of THE RODS fame, and Ronnie James Dio in the now legendary ELF. It was whilst playing in a band called THUNDER that Joey Demaio's music career nearly went up in smoke quite literally, when during his bass solo a row of flash and smoke bombs went off prematurely setting on fire his fringed costume. Demaio suffered severe burns which put him in hospital for two months, during which time he underwent countless hours of physical therapy before his hands were supple enough to play his bass guitar again. In comparison vocalist Eric Adams musical career started with a bang, when as an 11 year old his band THE KIDS, had a Number One hit single in Spain of all places. Adams portrays his wild man of rock'n'roll image both on and off the stage. He spends much of his spare time in the woods hunting wild game, a hobby which probably stems from his former occupation of a butcher and meat cutter. Drummer Scott Columbus is the newest member of MANOWAR. He replaced Donnie Hamzik who beat the skins on the "Battle Hymns" album. To say that Columbus, who is said to have been kicked out of all his previous bands for playing too loud, was brought up on Heavy Metal would be an understatement as he used to work in a foundry pouring liquid aluminium heated to 1200 degrees Fahrenheit! Last August saw the release of the bands second album "Into Glory Ride". Those of you who read my review of said album in the first issue of METAL FORCES will know that I personally find MANOWAR's barbaric metal on vinyl rather weak and disappointing to say the least. Well, no sooner had the last issue of FORCES come hot off the press, than into London from New York jetted Joey Demaio. It also gave me a chance to ask him some questions and in particular what he thought about my comments regarding "Into Glory Ride".
As you know from my review, I was disappointed in the album. I found that the songs were too long and monotonous.
"Yes, the songs are long, but that is the way we want it. Really the tracks are like mini- operas. It's no good us playing short three minute numbers. We need the time to express all we want into a song. You can't run a horse race over 10 yards of ground."
Maybe, but you talk about 'playing louder, harder and faster' than any other band. The album falls well short of that statement.
"Well, we certainly play loud and hard. By faster I mean individual playing - fast guitar playing, fast drumming - I' m the fastest bass player in the World! Short fast songs are for headbanging bands. Just what is Heavy Metal? The word HEAVY means something that weighs a lot and is difficult to pick up, and METAL is a substance such as iron or aluminium. A ship is HEAVY and is made of METAL, but that just cruises along in its own time, crushing all that gets in its way, and that's what MANOWAR is about. We want to be different. If all the other bands started playing longer, slower songs then we will start playing short, faster numbers."
How has "Into Glory Ride" been received generally?
"Very Well, we've been very pleased with the response to the album, even the critical reviews. It means we are being noticed, which is what we want."
I must admit that despite my criticisms, I like the track "Defender" - it's something different, but you decided to leave it off the album and release it as a 12" single instead. Wouldn't it have been better to leave your strongest song on the album?
"No, not really, like you say, "Defender" is something different and I wanted to make it something special by releasing it as a single."
"Defender" of course features Orson Welles who also appeared on "Dark Avenger" from your first album. How did he become involved with MANOWAR?
"When we were recording "Dark Avenger" we were using Eric's (Adams) voice, but we wasn't happy with the results, it wasn't giving the effect that we were after. So we said to Bob Currie, who incidentally was the man who discovered MANOWAR, someone who sounds like Orson Welles, why not get Orson Welles. Orson looked at the lyrics and agreed to do it, which really knocked us out! When he came down and recorded "Dark Avenger", he also narrated an intro tape for our live show, which was something he suggested himself."
Whose idea was it to sign your new recording deal in blood?
"That was my idea, I just felt we should show the people that we were prepared to give a little blood to the cause of Heavy Metal."
A year or so ago, there was a lot in the music press ('Sounds' in particular) about your rivalry with TWISTED SISTER. Was this something that was just blown up for publicity?
"Totally I've never even met the band. I don't know why the press made up the stories. Maybe they just thought it would help sell papers. I don't know. I've heard some of TWISTED SISTER's music. I believe they have a couple of albums out and are gaining quite a lot of success. Well power to them, I wish them well."
You're coming over to the U.K. to play gigs soon. How about the rest of Europe?
"No, not this time, we want to concentrate on England first."
So making it big in England is your main goal then?
"Oh yes, definitely. To us England is Heavy Metal. The English audiences are the most critical. If we can't make it in England, then it's not really worth carrying on."
Would you consider setting up base here?
"Yes, eventually we hope to come and live in England."
What's the music scene like in the U.S. at the moment?
"Pure shit! When I say shit, I don't mean the kids, I'm referring to the fuckin' people that run the business - they just don't understand what the HM fan wants. That's why we are on a campaign to wipe out all False Metal."
Just exactly what bands do you class as "False Metal?"
"I don't have to name bands, we would be here all night if I just began to. You know who I mean."
What are your own musical influences?
"I haven't got any. I listen to a lot of classical music, but I'm not really influenced by it."
What about favourite bands?
"MOUNTAIN... CREAM... BLACK SABBATH ..."
So you've been brought up on Heavy Metal then?
"Oh yeah, I eat HM, sleep HM, live HM... there is nothing else, is there?"