Kerrang Uk - 37 1982
Interview taken by Howard Johnson
"We're the only true Metal Band in America!" Claim Manowar. Howard Johnson holds onto his ears and looks forward to a taste some mannish "black wind" (!?)
"Manowar - born to live for evermore - The right to conquer every shore!"
Believe you me, if there was ever a band that laid down a lyric and meant every single word of it, then Manowar is that band!
Bassist Joey DeMaio and guitarist Ross The Boss couldn't be seen by self sitting and scribbling at breakneck speed over a steamy telephone line in London but the burning passion which they have for all things Manowar successfully transmitted itself over those thousands of miles in a manner which can only be described as "religious"! I swear I could feel their eyes aglow!!!! Great has been the verbosity of the Manowar mouths on the subject of "Mannishness", the holy pursuit of all things Manly, but there comes a time when even the most hardened homo sapiens meet their comeuppance. That time is now...
"We've both got rather sore faces this morning," informs Joey. "Ross and I went to a night club in Mount Vernon last night and got into trouble with some short-haired disco types. Their birds were circling around us and they didn't like it. There were more of them than there were of us but at least we managed to get a few licks in - hey, music our thing, not boxing!"
Yet Manowar music, too, seems to have taken something of a beating. dropped by EMI America, much to the disgust of Capitol UK, who had managed to do great things with the band's first, and to date only, album Battle Hymns, and so far unable to resign with another Label for one reason or another, things have taken something of a downward turn of late. That sword-swinging, tough-talking fait has certainly come in mighty handy. So what actually happened with EMI? Is it true that Manowar was dropped from the label for not shifting enough product?
Joey: I would like to make a few corrections to the statement from EMI that claims we were dropped for not shifting product. That is totally false. The real reason for our leaving was that the record company lost its nerve. EMI got a new president in and everything changed. All of a sudden they didn't understand, the commitment that has to be made to keep a Heavy Metal band rolling - they got cold feet. And nothing has happened for EMI in the Heavy Metal field since. Look at the Spys' album. That was going real well and it's just died a death now. We had no promotion so we never stood a chance, and they pulled the dial right before we were due to come over to the UK to play at Reading"
Being visually strong and conscious of promoting themselves as a rock 'n' roll entity, it's no too difficult to comprehend why it was Bill Aucoin, a John Cleese look alike and Svengaly of Kiss, in their heyday, who was handling the management of Manowar at the time. Now surely here was the ideal man to find another company brave enough to throw out a lifeline of the mannish once.
Joey: With eight to ten thousand albums sold and reputations that both Bill and ourselves have, you would've thought it would have been no problem to secure another deal, but it didn't work out like that. We were actually pleased that EMI dropped us because all they were doing was letting the album sit on the shelf. We wanted to go somewhere where they would really help us. When Bill Aucoin called and gave us the news we said: "Great! Now get us a new deal!" but that turned out to be easier said than done. He tried to get us fresh contract but didn't turn up with much. He claimed that the labels were shy of a band that had been dropped after two months but we believe that he just wasn't on the case. He couldn't get the time of day with any of the record companies.
I'd said that he just happened to be in the right place at the right time with Kiss, adds Ross. He may well have point. Despite the mega - success achieved by Kiss, which automatically turned Aucoin into a money-making magician figure, his track record isn't particularly special. Despite having some excellent product to market, he's consistently failed to break his acts, from Starz through to Spider (US brand) and Billy Idol. Only with John Waite is there more than a glimmer of hope.
We've left him now, says Joey, because when we were with him nothing happened, absolutely nothing!
What did Manowar do to overcome this zero activity situation once they'd departed from under Bill's wing?
Ross: We obviously had some difficult and heavy decision to make, and in the hand we decided to really go for it (as all good mannish men should). We took the money owned us by EMI for their breach of contract and went to record the next album by ourselves in Rochester New York.
Hopefully this will prove a better produced LP than "Battle Hymns" the songs on which were severely hampered by an indistinct, lifeless sound.
Oh yeah! The engineer ruled that first album with an iron grip. He recorded the whole thing with Dolby! Who the hell uses Dolby on a Heavy Metal album!? We've made up for it now, though - the sound of the new LP is unbelievable! There's one huge drum sound!
The work of new Manowarer, Scott Columbus...
He's a true mad dog, the man we should have had from the start. A female friend of ours, found him beating aluminium in a foundry and told him that she knew of a band which is was looking for a drummer. He'd never heard of us but he came down and gave it a shot. He learnt the whole album in half an hour! The guy has incredible memory retention (whatever that means!)
The album is unnamed right now, says Joey, we waiting for the right moment - for inspiration to hit us! (that now seems to have happened - the album will be called "Into glory ride" - stop press ed) but the song titles should me our intention clear. There's "Gloves of metal", "Revelation (Death Angel), "Gates of Valhalla", "Secret of steel", "Brothers of metal", "Defender", and "March for Revenge (by the soldiers of death).
And what about an Orson Welles cabaret piece?
Yeah, Orson has a piece during "Defender". He recorded it when he did "Dark Avenger" for the first album but we've redone all the music. "March for Revenge" is dedicated to our road crew. In many ways they are the best part of Manowar. They have a religious belief that, one day, will be the biggest band in the world and they give whatever it takes.
There's that religious mania again. Belief in this band is powerful and runs from top to bottom.
We are the only true metal band in America, and all our inspiration stems from true heavy metal band. Black Sabbath are the ultimate as far as we've concerned and Black Sabbath the ultimate song. We've learnt that heavy metal doesn't have to be fast to be heavy. Slow and crunching can be heavy as well.
Do Manowar feel that they approach a Sabbath - like level of manic heaviness, than?
Ross: The new album takes up where side two of "Battle hymns" left off. I'd say that side one of "Battle hymns" wasn't the heaviest metal ever played, but with the new album we are definitely getting there. We want to do one thing, and that is play the best, the most melodic and the heaviest metal ever recorded.
Hyperbole of the highest order, but Manowar are deadly (double deadly) serious. Listen to Joey's views on the ultimate HM experience - the live scenario:
No band that doesn't play loud can be heavy! We have more gear and better gear than any band in the world. We go out onstage with a hundred speakers and thousands of watts of power whenever we can. When I do my bass solo I turn on every bit - and we take no gear out onstage that we can't use!! But what we play is distinct and clear. You can pick up Eric (Adams - Vocalist) perfectly, though we call the sound you hear when you stand between Ross and myself 'Black wind'!"
This, ahem, Black Wind, apparently blew up a hurricane recently when Manowar headlined "World War III" (you didn't know it had begun?!) with Virgin Steel in New York.
We didn't get on badly with Virgin Steel, but, as I said, we believe we are the only true metal band in America. One of the first gig I ever played was supporting Journey, explains Joey, their manager come up to me before the gig and said: "There's the lights, there's the stage, there's the audience. Go out and do whatever you can!". I was treated so well that, when we formed Manowar, Ross and I decided that if any band opened for us, we'd treat them the same way. That's what we told Virgin Steel. If you're truly fearless, why worry about the other band?! Listen, I truly believe I'm the fastest, wildest, best bass player in the world!"
You'd better listen too, punters, of Manowar see their main assault on world domination as stemming from Britain:
Ross and I formulated the basics of Manowar in the New Castle City Hall, when we were both on the Black Sabbath tour. We were inspired by Britain and want to play there more than anywhere else. If it means leaving over there for a couple of years, then that's what we'll do! We'd be over tonight if we could manage it! It will be an extreme honour to play in Britain and I guarantee we'll be everything we say we are!
Hardly bashful when it comes to singing their own praises are they?!
We're young, we're strong, and we give people what they want! Is Joey's claim.
People have accused us of having big mouths and we have! But we're sick ' n' tired of false metal and we can back up everything we say!
Are you going to argue?