Kick Ass Usa 29 - 1985
MANOWAR (Pt. 1)
Interview taken by Bob Muldowney
Although I have always enjoyed much of their music, recognized it as high-quality, powerful heavy metal and respected the individual talent of the band members as musicians, I've never really been what you'd call a Manowar fan, or a member of the "Army Of The Immortals". The reasons are many and varied. When the band first released the amazing, fantastic, awesome "Battle Hymns", metal in America was still quite small, except for bands like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and Black Sabbath, big metal bands on major record labels. I was in the process of searching for heavier and heavier bands, having recently been exposed to the never - before - type mayhem o Motorhead, Tank, and Venom, so, although I appreciated the talent on the album, my intense desire for pure power, mayhem, and noise (of course, that's "cool" now, but, back then, very few bands did it) led me away from Manowar.
After seeing them for the first time in January of 1983, interviewing Ross, and hearing their second album, I was still not overwhelmed. During the snow, the band played a number of those song, slow, melodic songs and, combined with the overly-outspoken Ross The Boss, who seemed to call everything 'false metal' I just could not get into the band. December of 1983 I saw them at L'Amour East is Queens and, with an other very poor song selection, poor sound, low volume, and the exclusion of a number of songs, including the sacred "Metal Daze", I was further turned off from the band. The tide began to turn when, as metal began to become a fad and mediocrity became the norm, "Hail To England" was released and I was very impressed, and began looking forward to seeing the band. "Sign Of The Hammer", while not as powerful as it's predecessor, once again displayed some power, a diversity in songwriting, and loads of talent, far better than a lot of the mediocrity and inadequacy appearing on vinyl and demos. After a telephone interview with Ross, I detected a serious maturity which lead me to believe the band was here to stay. Their show at L'Amour on February 9th made me sure of that. The show was nothing short of phenomenal, as the band spewed forth tightness, talent, power, quality,...everything. Next to Motorhead and the Rods, it was undoubtedly the best show I had seen in over a year. Following their usual long and hideous intro (let's lose that intro, guys), the band broke out with "Manowar", and, for the next half hour (until the bass solo), the band unleashed nothing but killer after Killer. "Blood Of My Enemies", "Metal Daze", "Animals", "All Men Play On Ten", "Secret Of Steel" , and "Thor" left me and all the metallers there thoroughly devastated and wondering of there was any band that, combining talent, power. and quality metal, was any better. Joey DeMaio's bass solo wasn't as long as usual, but, though he is quite talented on his four-string weapon of death, his solos tend to get overly-technical and self-indulgent after the first minute or two. Next up, the band launched into what Ross calls the "Blitzkrieg" , a four-song onslaught that just levelled all in sight, "Kill With Power", "Fast Taker", "Warlord", and "The Oath". Now that's metal! After their "Blitzkrieg" ended the regular set, the band came back for two encores, "Sign Of The Hammer" and, of course, the immortal "Battle Hymns", on which Eric Adams showed, as he did throughout the entire set, that he is undoubtedly the most amazing singer in metal. Sometimes I believe he's not human. His god-like ability must be heard live to be believed (as if hearing it on vinyl isn't proof enough). Their set was relatively short (only around seventy minutes), and, while another ten of fifteen minutes would have been greatly appreciated (adding a couple of songs excluded that night, including "Gloves Of Metal" and "Each Dawn I Die"), I left there totally satisfied, and, for the first time, I left a Manowar concert feeling I am, indeed, a Manowar fan. During our interview five days earlier, Ross had a lot to say about a variety of subjects. Due to the obvious large amount of material this issue and lack of room (despite adding eight pages!), The entire interview cannot fit here, so we'll just cover his thoughts on the band itself, and finish the interview next issue. Ross traced the past year or so of the band, a year in which they signed with Virgin Records in June, recorded two albums at one time (all songs for 'Hail To England' and "Sign Of The Hammer" were recorded in one session, except for the title track of the latest album, recorded in England when the second album was mixed by Tony Platt), began their first European tour in October (during which they visited Belgium, Holland, West Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland), and then hit England.
"For us, Europe was just totally the greatest. The audiences there are just so incredible. We were touring at a time when there were a lot of bands out on the road. Iron Maiden was in Europe with Motley Crue. Dio was there...we were actually following him around. WASP was there. All those hard rack bands (talk about "Kill With Subtlety"! Notice how he just slipped in the phrase "hard rock bands" there? Excellent), and we went as headliners and did so surprisingly well that we caught the record company and the promoter off-guard. In Munich, for example, Iron Maiden and Motley Crue played to 270 people in a 10,000-seater in the 0lympian Hall, and we did 800 there our first time in. I mean, you're talking about two bands (Maiden, Crue) that are supposedly something."
Their second British tour, set for February, was cancelled because Virgin Records wanted them to play in the U.S. and g et. a U.s. record deal. Ross explained that Virgin is a huge company but they have no U.S. affiliate. The two shows they did at L'Amour on February 9th and 1Oth were showcase gigs for the major labels. Unlike in the past, when the band made their record deals, they basically will be signed to a major deal which Virgin Records will negotiate.
"We're signed to the world with Virgin, so we have nothing to say on that. I mean, we have our input, but they will basically put us where they see fit."
At this time, Epic may be an early favourite.
"We also decided to hire a manager. Joey and I have taken the band from conception, playing no gigs to getting a record deal with EMI, to, I guess, the big cult band that we are now. So now we want a manager to take care of the business end. We're signing with ATI. It's just time now, we feel, for us to make our move in America. We've just gotten to the point where we could go just so far on our own, and now we need other doors opened for us."
Reflecting upon the fact that Manowar has released four albums already, Ross said,
"It was just 1982 that we did our first demo. We've put out four albums and two 12" singles in two-and-a-half years, just about an album every six months. That is quite an amazing track record. "
They stand up on themselves on their own merit (apparently in reference to various production problems, especially on "Into Glory Ride", which, by the way, Ross hesitantly admitted - for fear of being accused of making excuses - was actually meant to be a demo as, after EMI dropped them, they were searching for a major label, when Music For Nations came along and offered to put it on viny).
"What can I say? I mean, we put them out."
With the four albums, even having played just about fifty shows, Manowar has amassed a large and dedicated following.
"We're proud of that. I mean, we'd like to play a lot. We'd be happy to be playing every night, but, as you know, we are not the type of band that can go into a club and play through their P.A."
Being such a talented and powerful band, Manowar also has the problem of not getting a chance to tour as a support act for an established metal band.
"That hasn't happened, so we have had to headline our own shows, which is an incredible expense. It's very difficult."
As I mentioned, part two of this interview will appear in KICK*ASS #30. To wrap up this article, we can end with a simple statement that Ross made.
"We're looking forward to the future. we'll keep doing it as long as there's an audience for it."