Kerrang Uk - 149 1987
THE FIGHT GAME
Interview taken by Howard Johnson
THOSE JOLLY nice chaps from Manowar gave me a credit on their spanking new 'Fighting The World' album as one of 'the faithful', which is top hole indeed. But I have to confess that at some points along this rough-shod, craggy ride, my faith in the boyz with the Noo Yawk noize has occasionally faltered. It would have taken a man with a resolve of steel and no mere mortal such as myself not to have felt the odd tinge of doubt floating in there. After all, hadn't Manowar been with more labels in their comparatively short career than most bands see in a lifetime? Hadn't the four been virtually touring recluses, never seen on any of the major treks? Hadn't it been two years since the 'Sign Of The Hammer' album was released? Well yes, that is all strictly true, but slaps from the hand of fate that would have killed off most normal bands have only strengthened the belief of bassist Joey DeMaio, guitarist Ross The Boss, drummer Scott Columbus and vocalist Eric Adams. After all, Manowar are no ordinary band (whaddaya mean, 'grown men wearing loincloths can't be normal'?!). Nah, Manowar have belief and Manowar have attitude, and if their music hasn't always been the most inspired on God's good earth, if I've ever thought that Manowar have been just a trifle . . . well. . . silly, it's their attitude and belief that have carried them this far. And now? Well, I think that the band's new long player is certainly a major step forward. It's hard, it's loud and it's superior in the songwriting department to anything they've come up with before. Whatever they might say, I think that Manowar have become more commercial, but in a more than acceptable fashion. It's not a question of wimping out, it's simply that the song structures are tighter, more cohesive and more memorable. There's no dissipation in intensity, and, hey baby, that's just fine by me. And whaddaya know, Ross and Joey seem just as chuffed with their progress as I am . . .
"We've always tried to be both as heavy and as melodic as possible," says Joey. "You can sing along to a 'Metal Daze' or you can lay back and be blown away by the likes of 'Mountains'. We've never done anything other than simply be ourselves whereas everyone else is merely copying instead of going their own way. At the moment, Thrash Metal is a very trendy musical form and while I'm happy for Anthrax and Metallica because they've achieved success, it's really not what Manowar are about. This year Thrash is in, last year it was Glam Metal. This year long coats are in, last year it was bandannas. Every year there's a different influx of stupidity in the Metal scene - it's a world of sheep, but Manowar just rolls on. We follow our own path and if people don't like it they can die!"
According to Joey, however, there have been a lot of people simply dying to see Manowar now that they're back in circulation...
"We did a coupla dates at our old battleground of L'Amours in Brooklyn, New York, and we've been burning through Europe for the last five weeks. It's been great. The two years we've had off have done us a lot of good, because the support of the fans is now so much stronger. They've been spreading the word and they've been dying for us to come back. There have been a lot of intense fans at the shows, a lot of Manowar tattoos! People have tried to stop us, but there's no way they can because the fans want it! And now we've got the label behind us to make it all happen," adds Ross. "Jason Flom at Atlantic Records in New York is a fine man and we've got a lot to thank him for. He brought us to the label and left us to get on with what we do. There was no problem when we wanted to produce the album ourselves because he realised that he wasn't signing a normal band. Not only was he signing a band that had already made records and done world tours, he was signing the most extreme band around!"
"WHICH IS why we've had a lot of problems and why people have been foolish to write us off," interjects Joey. "If you're going to be as extreme as Manowar then you invite your own trouble. We've always been conscious of the fact that you're bound to get hassle when you play gigs with more gear than anybody else, when you test the rooves of studios to see if they're nailed on properly. When you want perfection. When you want something that goes beyond the limits set by mediocre people, then you're also going to get trouble."
Hyperbole is Manowar's middle name, ain't it? No wonder the boys tend to rub people up the wrong way, huh? Apparently, the band have been all but barred from participating in this Summer's 'Monsters Of Rock' festival in Germany because some of the other acts appearing don't want them on the bill. . .
"They can't face such a severe ass-kicking," smirks Joey. "I think that we've been misunderstood a lot of the time because we've got such big mouths and we let people know how good we are. Maybe it's not that we're so good, but that everyone else is so bad. Let's face it, most music out there today is really s**t. Can you honestly compare the top bands of today to Led Zeppelin, Cream, Black Sabbath and Mountain? Bands write one good song to get played on the radio along with nine other s**t tunes. It disgusts us and it always has!"
But isn't that down to the restrictive rules and regulations of the industry? The freedom that was afforded artists in the Seventies just isn't there any more!
"But you forget that it starts out with the bands. A musician can always make music but a record company can't make records without bands. As long as the groups keep pussying out then things will stay this bad. We stay true to ourselves. We're not stuck in any formula. Our new album has fast songs, slow songs, rock 'n' roll songs, anthems. There's variety, just the way it used to be! We have more in common with classical music than with most modern rock. When you go to a classical concert you go to hear the music and that's what you get when you go to see Manowar- musicians making music. People have accused us of being too serious about what we do, but hell, we are serious about it. If you want comedy go and watch Richard Pryor. The bands that are all jockey have to be that way because their whole lives are a joke. Their music is a joke, their playing is a joke and their whole image is a joke. Those people need a sense of humour real bad, but it's not on when people have paid a lot of money to see you, it's a poor excuse. The whole jokey bit is a veil to hide behind so that bands don't have to take Manowar out with them to be blown away. One major Metal band refused us an opening slot for one night when we needed to do a showcase gig on the grounds that we were too serious. In a way, I suppose I can understand it. After all, what singer wants to get on stage after Eric is done? You tell me. Who would want to follow me when I'm out there to drink everyone's blood? Even two guitarists are blown away after Ross has done his thing. Who would want to follow Scott when he's just proved he's the finest mad dog from the Bill Ward school of animalism around? We've only opened ten shows in our career, five for Ted Nugent and five for Motorhead, and it figures that those are the only people who would stand up to Manowar!"
OOH YES, nothing like a bit of hyperbole to set the old adrenalin flowing, but there's no doubt that Manowar walk it like they talk it, playing louder and prouder than any band I've ever witnessed! And with 'Fighting The World' there might just be that extra substance involved to help the four really break out of the underground. Maybe after all this time Manowar's moment has finally arrived. Joey certainly believes so ...
"Our fans have stuck by us, they've never let us down, and our few friends in the press have stuck by us. The band has fought, fought, fought and come back both bigger and better. Everyone else who tries to stop us can get f**ked and die a fiery, hideous death because we're coming through and any f**ker who gets in our way is gonna get mowed down! All I can say is, it's about f**kin 'time!"