Raw Uk - 1993
PEOPLE DON'T FUCK WITH US
Interview taken by Mark Greenway
Proclaims Manowar bass god and firmly unreconstructed man Joey DeMaio. "We have a record deal, we tour, we drink" … and that's not all the do, either! Mark Greenway catches sight of Joey's loincloth and smiles nervously…
Along with the 'False Metal' that Manowar have long been proclaiming death to, 'False Labels' have also been a thorn in their mighty sides. Over eleven years, numerous record companies have deserted the ranks. Atlantic are the latest to retreat, clutching bloody wounds. Shortly after the gargantuan 'Triumph of Steel' album, Manowar were label-less again. Time to lay down the swords and surrender? Not according to barbarian bass-wielder Joey DeMaio, who wasn't surprised when Geffen latched onto his much-traveled act.
"If you think about it, Geffen signed Whitesnake in similar circumstances," he explains. "The band was more popular in Europe than the rest of the world."
Two entirely different cases, though, surely? Manowar are more Traditional Metal than commercial.
"Well, we already sell a serious amount of records, and we have a huge following, so it made a lot of sense to sign us," states Joey. "Geffen have got Aerosmith, Guns n' Roses and Jackyl, so they recognize originality within Hard Rock. I mean, like Nirvana or not, there's only one of them, and there's only one Manowar!"
Indeed, their 'live by the sword' principal removes Manowar from the favored batch in the marketplace. How would Joey react to external pressure for an image shake-up? The composed coffee-sipper transforms into a fiery-eyed sword singer:
"People don't f**k with us, man. You have to understand that!" he booms. "We've been with eight record labels, so It's gone beyond the point where we're gonna be stopped!"
Even in a 'change or be dropped' situation?
"As I said, several companies have been and gone during our career, so does it sound like we'd listen to that kind of talk?" He reiterates. "We do what we do, for which we have fans the world over, and we're perfectly capable of making good records and touring, so that's all that should f**ing matter."
Surprisingly, there's no pressure on the band to provide a worthy successor to 'Triumph…' They plan to break out the battle chariots and tour the world again first. But when the time comes, will they attack with a different writing style?
"Why should it be any different?" shrugs Joey. "It's weird, but I don't know exactly what we'll do right now. When we've done with touring, then we'll decide how we'll go about writing, and just let things progress from there. Death Dealer (guitar) and Rhino (drums) just wanna get out there and tear ass, 'cos their musical background demands it. "Joey scowls momentarily. "Take Rhino. He knows he's the man. No one has the guts to give him a hard time, and I can't imagine anyone being stupid enough to try."
This is hardly a shallow threat, when you consider that Rhino is the man who laid flame to his previous drum kit as a sign of sacrificing his past. Not a man to be trifled with! He's not the only member of Manowar to resort to ceremonial madness to promote the cause. In 1983, Manowar sliced their bulging pectorals open in order to sign a record deal in their own blood hardly credible antics nowadays. How does Joey view the mounting indifference towards traditional Metal and its excesses?
"The people who rubbish the style pioneered by Black Sabbath, Deep Purple or Led Zeppelin always turn out to have nowhere near as much talent as those bands," he spits. "These idiots think we're not real, but what is reality? Are political lyrics a sign of superiority? When they vote, do they think it makes a difference?" he demands. "Life is a game of chance. You could walk out of this hotel and get run down by a taxi," snarls the irritated bassist. "We have a record deal, we tour, we f**k girls, we drink, so why should we worry about these assholes?"
Joey turns his anger on the press.
"I wouldn't even wipe my ass on the magazines that criticize us, because they're just f**kin' frustrated that we're still around."
To mark Manowar's new era, Geffen's initial undertaking with the loinclothed ones is a box set entitled 'Secrets Of Steel'. It contains the band's second and third albums, 'Into Glory Ride' and 'Hail To England' (both previously unavailable on CD), plus a new 20 minute video biography. Joey is pleased to be offering these recognized classics to the faithful.
"All our fan mail was mentioning the fact that you couldn't get hold of these albums, so it's not like we're shoving them down other people's throats unnecessarily. Plus, the video is hilarious. It's gonna make people laugh their balls off! I Kinda see it like taking someone round your house and showing them your baby pictures, or something you made in woodwork class at high school."
The early days hold precious memories, and understandably so. Few bands can lay claim to having worked with Hollywood legend Orson Welles. Welles who directed Citizen Kane, claimed by some to be the greatest film ever made contributed to the band's 'Battle Hymns' début. That must have been an unnerving experience.
"Yeah, he was a fantastic genius who recognized a part of himself within our band. Like ourselves, he was a maverick and an outcast in his business," remembers a proud Joey. "We mailed the narrative text for the song 'Dark Avenger' to him, and he loved the concept. He came down to the studio and did it one take."
Producing a guy who possessed such enormous talent was incredible. Other high intensity periods have provoked a suicidal escape urge within the dedicated DeMaio, particularly during the 'Triumph Of Steel' mixing sessions.
"I was working 20 hours a day and needed a break, so I went skydiving for the first time, because my brain said so. Like the rest of my career, everything went wrong. I came out of the plane, smashed into the cameraman who was recording the event and ended up upside down. The chute opened and I had to untangle the twisted lines. At that point I was happy to be landing, even if I broke both my legs; after all, I'd still be alive!"
Plots like that sound juicy enough for an action hero movie, and considering Manowar's pedigree of heroic excess, who better to play the leading roles?
"We've actually been offered parts in a German film, but it's still in the early development stages," says a hopeful Joey. "Personally, I think that Rambo and Chuck Norris films are really positive. They embrace the classic theme. The good guy kills the assholes, and the big bad guy, then rescues the girl and f**ks her. It's a symbolization of life, and fun at the same time. I'd watch the news if I wanted to be depressed, but why should I? Life's too short for that."