M.E.A.T Canada - 39 December 1992
METAL ON THE RISE
Interview taken by Metal Tim Henderson
The term 'heavy metal' and all the stipulations that arise from being a headbanger have appeared to have lost it's appeal over time. The Priest era of metallic 'faith', complete with the leather, studs, mane, and attitude has slipped by like a cool Autumn breeze. For Manowar, the proclaimed "kings of metal", "fighting the world" against the atrocities of "false metal" causes a snicker of amusement. Is this for real, or the ultimate parody of musical embarrassment? Don't dare ask them if they're serious about their mission the consequences would be devastating.
Manowar's majestic tale dates back to 1980 as bassist Joey DeMaio hooked up with founding guitarist Ross The Boss, during DeMaio's stint as roadie for Sabbath's 'Heaven And Hell' U.K. tour. Signing their first record deal in their own blood, and utilizing the narrating prowess of the late Orson Welles, their triumphant beginning emerged as Battle Hymns in 1982. Ten years, and seven power metal gems later, Manowar hold their swords high and mighty. Glistening in the smouldering remains of their hard fought battle of brawn and steel, Manowar's stubborn creativity is admirable. However, some may not get the signal from their most recent offering The Triumph Of Steel.
"There's plenty of people who are pissed off about it, that's for sure," Metal King and artist warrior DeMaio bluntly summarizes. "The backlash is, you've got a tot of pop metal posers that like pussy music, that want to hear shit that's radio music. Most people are used to shit being shovelled down their throat by MTV. But over here in Europe (where our conversation originated from by phone), people are freakin' out about the record. Kerrang! magazine said they couldn't give it enough K's they couldn't give it a rating."
As Manowar become caught in two worlds, separated by the vast Atlantic, a peculiar scenario emerges between the open minded Europeans and the finicky single sensitive Americans. It's reached a point where the band clings onto a maniacal cult following on these shores, whereas Europe welcomes the band with open ears they are headlining 15-20,000 seaters with a record that has sold over 100.000 copies in Germany alone within the first few weeks of release.
'You have to understand," DeMaio affirms, "it's going to be a slow, slow process for these people to get hip to what's going on 'cause they're used to so much dog shit. They are used to bands that can't play, can't sing, use low volume, sounding like easy listening country music. They're not used to a band that's going to gear up and melt your fuckin' face, jump around on stage going absolutely wild. They're not interested in that it's too intense. The problem also is that you have people over there (America) that have no balls they don't want to stick their balls on the line.
"Over here in Europe, we've got people in magazines saying if Metallica could play this fast, they would but they can't. They really call out the shit; they use their fuckin' balls for what they believe in. You have people in America who are to slow to respond to that. Everybody's wading for someone else to be the first one to make that step."
The three year 'break' since '88's Kings Of Metal places the fearless foursome (completed by new additions, guitarist David Shankle and drummer Rhino, as well as longtime vocalist Eric Adams) into the spotlight, whether or not they are readily accepted. Taking the time to build a studio, and create this monster epic of eight molten metal ear crunchers, has had no creative ill effects upon the band who's main goal, is to satisfy against the norm. I dared ask how Manowar can fit in amongst today's ever branching out hard rock scene after such a leave of absence?
"What do you mean Manowar can fit," he screams. "Fit where? Who cares! The fuckin' North American music scene is shit. Who gives a fuck! Who would want to fit in with that crap? We've never over tried to fit in. We don't follow trends we create them. That's why we're over here playing to 10 20,000 people every night that's the difference. We don't try to find out what's happening and go with the flow. We're not into that poser bullshit we play heavy metal music for heavy metal people. That's our style; that's what it's been, that's what it will always be. We're not interested in being some fuckin' band from Seattle that's going to come and go over night. We're more into where Led Zeppelin and AC/DC are. It's legendary rock.
"Don't get me wrong," he reasserts, "we've got fans in North America that are diehard. We get letters signed in blood from girls. The Manowar people are not fuckin' around they're very serious and they're growing every day. It's just a question of time that we're as big over there as Metallica. We started out around the same time as Metallica, and right now we're exactly where Metallica were at a couple of years ago in Europe. It's coming it's just going to take a little time, that's all."
Opus number seven and counting into the 90's. Whether or not attitudes change is a continuing, unravelling mystery of the unpredictability of North America. Manowar's stubbornness and musical determination cannot be denied.
"It feels fantastic to still be here playing music," he puts simply. "Doing whatever the fuck we want getting out on stage in front of 20,000 people, and scream 'fuck the world' and kick on ten more amplifiers. Being the loudest band in the world; doing what ever the fuck we want to do and having our audience stay with us and grow and grow.
"It's been a struggle each and every day that has made us proud of what we are, and who we are. We have fought each and every day for our place in the arena of rock.'
For this country, The Triumph Of Steel is truly a triumphant comeback album from an act focusing on overseas domination until they see it fit to enter this territory. Manowar mania may have struck Germany, but Canada has yet to quench it's thirst.
"We've never really gone away," he modestly motions. "We've always had the confidence and trust in our audience that we could go away for ten years. We don't look at it like 'we have to have a record out next year or people are going to forget us.' You can never forget Manowar once you've seen it, it can't be denied. When you see it live brother, you better strap your nuts to your fuckin' leg, because they're going to get blown off. We're filled with anger and hate. We're ready to get out there on stage and fuckin' kill. That's the name of the game. That's why it's been hard to get a tour with anyone else, no other band wants us onstage with them.
"We're comin' to America in January," DeMaio reveals. "We'll probably be playing some fuckin' shithole but we don't care. Wherever the heavy metal people are, that's where we'll play. In Canada, they know what heavy metal is all about. Don't forget we made two albums up there (Hail To England and Sign Of The Hammer) recording at Phase One (Scarborough)."
Leading off their latest release is a lengthy 28:38 metali tale, "Achilles, Agony And Ecstasy In Eight Parts", only Manowar can make such a lengthy statement. Without rendering it tedious and boring, the song is a gargantuan epic that requires complete attention.
"The idea was to create something completely unique in the sense that it's not a song's song, it's more of a story that is told with the use of different styles of music. It illustrates the Trojan War in several different movements. Each solo is designed to tell a different part of the story. For instance, the drum solo tells the story of armour being made the pounding of Vulcan's hammer. The bass solos describe the desecration of Hector's body, and the second part describes his body being hitched to a chariot and dragged through the dust, which is a beautiful thing. There's historical aspects to what we write about, but the band is a contemporary band. We lay music period, that's it. Regardless of where the theme comes
from, whether it's magic, or fantasy, or something based on history. The point is, the band is a band that kicks ass, and that's the name of the game. That's what we want people to focus on it doesn't matter where the song comes from. You'd like to think when you bought a record, somebody did some work to make the fuckin' thing."
Although many neo classical parallels can be made between The Triumph Of Steel and today's wartorn society, Manowar are far from political saviors.
"The state of the world today is fucked and everybody knows it," DeMaio remarks without hesitation. "People are fucked, and greedy and stupid. The references to war are more references to personal struggles that we all have to deal with. We don't get involved in political issues, that's just bullshit. People just using the fact that they can't play, to throw the focus off of the fact that they can't play and they have no talent. They have no business of making records, or being in this business, or ripping people off charging for concert tickets when they should be sitting at home taking lessons on how to play."
In an age where simplification reigns, DeMaio claims modestly that the '90s era of Manowar is beyond comparison they are louder, faster, more intricate and more compelling. Stroking the ego to it's limit, DeMaio is vague with Manowar's future.
"We're going to go where we've been going - bigger, louder, heavier, bigger production, more lights, more sound, more PA, more records, more touring melting more people's faces. Setting a standard of excellence that's high or greater, so no one else can achieve it and exceeding the ultimate. That's our destiny. Everything has a limit, the idea is that you want to try and find it, which most people aren't interested in. With us, what we want to do is find our limit and push it."
Proclaiming to "carry the flag of true heavy metal people" Manowar want to be ultimately perceived as an act that, according to DeMaio, "never took any fuckin' shit from anybody they did exactly what the fuck they wanted to do, and if anyone told them to turn down, they just plugged in more gear and turned it up louder and said, 'Fuck you.' They never disappointed their fans, and stayed true to what they believe in."
DeMaio has this parting words to the fans. "We're sorry that you've been waiting for so long, and had to put up with some of the dog shit that's been shoved down your throat from all over the world. I know that Canadians know what heavy metal is because you've had the bands like Rush, Triumph, Max Webster. I spent a lot of time in Canada, and Canadians have always been perceived as cool people."
The Great White North, Manowar and Metal to the death it feels good to have your ego stroked!