Kick Ass Usa 30 - 1985
MANOWAR (Pt. 2)
Interview taken by Bob Muldowney
In part one of my interview with Manowar guitarist Ross The Boss last issue, we discussed Manowar's recent undertakings after I did a review of a show the band did a couple of months ago. Now it's on to a discussion of the metal scene in general, and Ross' impressions.
"A good tour of America by Manowar would really snap people's heads up. I mean, last year was a good year and it was a bad year for heavy metal. I've gotten away from criticizing or mentioning other bands because I think that belittles the band itself to talk about other bands. Everyone is doing what they believe in, you know what I mean?"
Well, let's not go too far in the other direction, Ross!
"I don't know whether it's the press or the media or the record companies or the bands themselves, but they have been using the name of heavy metal in vein. They've been prostituting it, bastardizing lt. I mean, every band is a heavy metal band, and I think it fools the kids a little bit. But after awhile, they aren't fooled anymore. You know, I think these kids are lookin' for something really heavy."
In other words, they're fooled only until they've seen the real thing. Right?
"Once the real thing hits 'em in the face, wow!" It's like the difference between night and day.
"Last year, the talk was only of the bands like Quiet Riot, Motley Crue, and Ratt, that sort of sound ('that sort of sound', translated into the old Ross would have been 'that sort of false metal garbage'). Now all of a sudden this year it's Metallica, Manowar, you know, power metal, whatever you want to call it. Everybody's got their only little cute term."
That's because the general public considers bands like Motley Crue and WASP heavy metal, so people who play real metal don't want to be lumped in with those bands, so they call it something else.
"No one knows what is going on. You take magazines like Creem or Hit Parader. They're really foggin' it to death. What's happened, the record companies have gone out and signed every band in the world (tell me about it! - ed.), so the fad is over before it got a chance to really get started. Instead of putting their money into some really good acts, they've thrown out millions on these bands that have nothing, no substance to them, just like they did to the new wave scene. Now it's even harder for real good bands to get a deal. If you're original, that's your curse. If you slap a ton of rouge on your face, that's what people want. And next month it's something else. But hey, the music business really hasn't changed much. We've been making records for ten years, and I haven't seen any changes. The stupid aspects of it are continually stupid. I haven't noticed a big change in things. The fads change, the names change, and the hairstyles change, and the amps keep gettin' smaller, but it's the same old thing. The same play, just a different cast."
Although nothing solid has surfaced in as much as a major deal yet, Ross felt confident that it was just a matter of time, so he and the band already had their battle plan laid out.
"You see, what we're gonna do if this band kicks off..." (You mean when! - ed.) " ... which I think we're gonna, we're gonna pull off the road so fast it ain't even gonna be funny, because these bands are going in for the kill on the one album, and they're burning the selves out. We don't wanna be like that I mean, if it's gonna happen, it's gonna happen, but I don't think that Manowar si the type of band that will burn itself o through commerciality. You hear and see it so much, you know, who wants to see another Motley Crue picture? They've be on every magazine cover, every place you look, it's them. Now with the court trial they're pulling back. No one wants to mention them."
Yeah, but when one's gone, another pops up, just like zits. Now it's WASP, which let Ross to ask me if I saw the Metallica/WASP/Armored Saint show. I told him I only went for Metallica.
"You should have seen Metallica crush WASP. I knew what it was gonna be like. I knew it was gonna be a zoo there. I saw only about ten minutes of Armored Saint, which I didn't get anything from. I guess they're trying to do their best. At least it's not hoaked up with the blood and the skull, you know? They sounded decent. WASP got on, and it was the noisiest, the most ... I don't know what it was. Three guys playing wireless guitars thru that P.A., and it sounded so bad, it was cutting in, cutting out. They were trying to get volume out of that piece of shit P.A., and you can't. It sounded horrible to my ears. What I saw was Blackie trying very hard to be Gene Simons, and I could not distinguish one thing that was going on, not one solo, I couldn't hear one not of bass. It was just a blur, and he used the words 'heavy metal' in his raps. He said, 'So, we got some real heavy metallers here' and he referred to his audience as 'headbangers'. I mean, at least admit you're not a heavy metal band. That's what I always say. Don't claim to be metal if you're not, and I want have any objections. Then I wouldn't have any objections, either, but they dare to desecrate the name of heavy metal on stage. Did they think because they were in a heavy metal club, they had to be heavy metal? What' the big deal? Why can't they just say 'We're a hard rock band'?"
Simple - because "hard rock" isn't 'cool'; "heavy metal is "chic" and "trendy", and if you call yourself "heavy metal" and put forth enough of a "metal image", you'll be able to fool a lot of morons and kids, which bands like they, Motley Crue, and the like do to make a living.
"Then Metallica got on, and it was fresh. It vas like night and day. These guys just come on stage and play, which is really good. I mean, we have our outfits, we do have our image, but that's as far as it goes. It's just how I look. And the audience wasn't fooled Saturday night. WASP didn't get any reaction at all. They barely got an encore, as far as I as concerned. They did not go crazy for WASP. Look, I'm sure some people thought they were really fine, and I'm sure they're all nice guys..."
Yeah. Ross, but the fact that they are or aren't nice guys is irregardless of the point. We're talking metal versus false metal, not who's a nice guy and who's not. I told Ross that's the same thing I heard from Slayer when I was back Stage once and criticized the Queen. Tom Araya told me that King Diamond is a really nice guy that very well could be true, but does, being a nice guy make him a metaller? Certainly not.
"It's a funny thing that you mention that, because when we met him backstage at that first gig, at that ill-fated show, he was fine, he was nice. We thought it was going to be a very good tour. Then after the show the show it was like, 'What happened' Who are these guys?' They just freaked out all together. They didn't show up for the next show, and then they started slagging us all over the place, all over Europe, and whenever we had an opening act they prayed that we were gonna turn the power off, not give 'em a soundcheck.. these kids got soundchecks, we went food into their dressing room, we made them feel most welcome, they had all the power and all the monitors and all the mikes they could ever possibly want."
Then, switching from one poser to another, the subject of Motley Crue, and the Vince Neil incident.
"I'd like to talk about that, too. I'm not a preacher of virtue. I never thought someone should say waht to do with your life or what not to do with your life. I don't think it's in the place of a musician to say so, but I think there are a lot of bends that are just going after the worst aspects of music, of the rock 'n' roll scene. This band is none of them. They boast about the drugs and the booze and the degradation of women, and the whole bit. I don't say there's anything wrong with it - if you wanna take drugs or drink yourself to death, fine. You've got the right to do anything you want with your body, but don't push it on the kids. Don't put it up to the kids like 'This is what we are and this is what's good', cause it only highlights the bad aspects of the music. And now it's backfired on them. It's backfired on these people. They had a lot goin', and this guy has screwed it first of all for himself, second of all for the band. I guess the bands feel insecure in the fact that they have to talk about things beside their music. I guess people would accuse us of the same thing, but we do not preach what to do. And I think Twisted Sister would agree. They do not go into the "Bad Boys" thing and tell you how to be bad and that you should be a certain way. I mean, there are "Bad Boys" and there are 'bad boys'. There's nothing wrong with drinking. I'm just saying that pushing it on these young kids is wrong. I think it's wrong and I have to say so, and if people think I'm a prude for saying that, well..."
If anyone puts Ross down for saying what he's just, said, he should feel proud, and pity those who have such a warped sense of values that they would criticize him for saying hat he's said.
"Look at what this guy has done: he's gone and killed somebody. Two people. And he paralysed someone else. He's ruined three people's lives, pain and suffering and misery, screwed up his band, and also screwed up countless kids who were following him. He's betrayed all his fans. I mean, Steven Stills and David Crosby, they have been arrested and they have smashed up cars, but they've never hurt anybody. The only person they could have hurt were themselves. It's bad enough doing that, drinking and driving - it's stupid and the law should be very strong on that, but they haven't hurt anybody. And I hope Ace Frehley never does anything like that. I hope he never hurts anybody. I'm fearing that's the next thing that's gonna happen. It just makes everyone look bad. There are people who are hard working musicians in this business, like myself, ho have been in this business a long time. Whether it gets accepted, I'm a musician and I'm gonna play no matter what people think, and these negative parts of the music have to stop. It just should stop, and I think that people may be are waking up out of their stupor. There's nothing wrong with drinking, there's nothing wrong with taking drugs, but if you're gonna go out and kill somebody on the highway, then there's something wrong with it. Then you are a murderer. I think a lot of these bands take the worst aspects of the Rolling Stones. Take a band like Hanoi Rocks - they boast about how fucked up they are all the time. They go onstage just blasted out of their minds constantly."
Another band many kids may follow and think they're copying in that sense is Van Halen, but anyone ho really believes that David Lee Roth is as drunk and fucked up onstage as he claims he is, is quite a fool, because that's just an act, as much of an act as Alice Cooper killing himself onstage and Gene Simmons spitting blood.
"He couldn't move like that if he was (drunk). He's got tea in, the bottle. These kids who follow these bands think you don't need any talent, just get up onstage and be drunk. The southern rock bands did a tot to promote that as well. First of all, this generation of kids, they don't read. They are not enlightened, like when we'd listen to Buffalo Springfield, Bob Dylan, Black Sabbath, B.B. King, and the whole circle of music. Everybody was into it. It didn't matter what the music was, 'cause it was good. Now the kids are very narrow minded and I don't think there's anything to change that. I think these kids aren't reading. All they do is watch television. There's nothing that I or any of my contemporaries can do to change the fact that these kids are not enlightened musically."
No, just keep doing what you're doing and hope for a miracle. I do what I can to enlighten the metallers. While interviews that deal with any band's past, present and future are always informative and interesting, I think it's just as interesting to read an interview such as this one, where we find out some of the inner thoughts of certain musicians, because from the thinking man often comes the best music. I mean, hell you read interviews by some band and all they can talk about is thrashing, death, speed, violence, killing, Satan, and killing posers, there isn't a hell of a lot of depth and you know there is only a limited amount of stuff they'll do. Reading so many of the things Ross has said just increases the great amount of respect I already have for Manowar. Though it's been quite a few months since this interview was conducted and nothing in the way of a major deal has been signed yet, I'd like to think it's still just a matter of time. I was just listening to "Hall To England" for the first time in awhile, and FUCK, is that heavy! Heavy metal - power, musicality, totally distinct and well written songs. Lots of talent. Certainly a band that, it marketed well, could be phenomenally big. And for all those speed death metal bands that think their childish satanic lyrics are evil, you sit through "Bridge Of Death", and I'll guarantee all you "evil death metallers" will shit your pants out of fear. The music, the feel, the lyrics, and the vocals of that song make it one of the eerie and downright satanic songs I have ever heard. Over the years, Manowar has not been a band without it's problems nor without it's faults, both they have been a band that has worked hard overcome numerous obstacles, and survived I sincerely hope that success and prosperity are next.