Kerrang Uk - 139 1987
THE FIGHT GOES ON
Interview taken by Dante Bonutto
ON FEBRUARY 23, 1987 Manowar will release their fifth studio album, 'Fighting The World, on the Atlantic/Atco label. Some said it would never happen; when the band parted company with 10 Records - one of six different labels they've been involved with over a four year period - there were those who unashamedly rubbed their hands in glee, confidently, predicting that the New York outfit, the carpet pulled from under them, would never hold their ground on the slippery parquet slope. Oh no? Bitter words are always the hardest to swallow, so keep an eye out for some suitably sour expressions. The people behind 'em are the ones who got it all wrong ... again! As I say, 'Fighting The World' will be with us shortly, and though the finished package bears certain traces of the band's previous label leapfrog (best not gone into there), I can still recommend it to anyone with a taste for the Big Bang. Blow Your Speakers' (a possible single), 'Carry On', 'Holy War', 'Black wind, Fire And Steel' ... no corner has been cut or knob left unturned in an effort lo produce what Manowar bassist Joey DeMaio hopes will be regarded as a "landmark,", and a digitally recorded one at that! Time (three months to record and mix), the right studio and the right people has resulted in a record guaranteed to frighten the cat, sabre-toothed or otherwise! The songs are good, commercial . . an' crunchy as always, with the Orson Welles-narrated 'Defender' rearing its head on album for the first time (it was previously released as a 12" single on the - Music For Nations label back in '84), and the sound .. well, now you're talking about a labour of love, a sacred God-given mission to do ultimate justice to the pin-drop power of the band's live attack. Guitarist Vinnie Vincent claims lo sleep with his hot pink Charvel and Manowar enjoy similar 'relation' with their equipment (which I guess gives a whole new meaning to the term 'humping gear'!); they've got 100 bass speakers, seven modified Marshall heads, 12 Marshall cabs (minus FX) and a stainless steel custom-made drum kit with computer interface facilities and all type of memory and storage. And, believe me, they're gonna use, 'em!
"Small gear sounds small, big gear sounds big," says Joey, a man with 10,000 watts at his fingertips, "it's as simple as that..."
Following their split with 10 Records, who Joey feels don't fully understand HM or the work involved in breaking a band of this nature, Manowar (completed by Ross The Boss on guitar, Eric Adams on vocals and Scott Columbus on drums) decided to keep a low profile, still writing, still rehearsing, still playing as always, but steering clear of the press until they had something positive to say, some new step forward to announce. They packed out shows in the New York area and visited Europe with Motorhead last Easter (The 'Easter Metal Blast' taking them to Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Holland and Belgium, the first time they'd supported anyone since an ill-fated handful of shows with Ted Nugent way back in '82), throwing in a couple of headline appearances along the way. WEA International come to see them 'fire up' and were mightily impressed, as indeed was Jason Flom, an A&R man at Atlantic Records NY. He liked the songs and he liked the band live, even going upstate to Valhalla (aka the band's rehearsal hall) to watch them run through some fresh - as opposed to Frash - material. Plus, the new Mannish demos were far from throwaway ear candy: 'Number One', 'Brothers of Metal', the rousing anthem 'Courage'... they were hotter than a 'Fisherman's Friend' and just likely to steam up the portholes. Interest peaked, Flom put the band together with veteran producer Eddie Kramer (Kiss, Fastway, Raven, Anthrax, etc) at Bearsville Studios, Woodstock, to see if there was more where those came from, the result being 'Blow Your Speakers' and 'Carry On'... not forgetting, of course, the all-important deal with Atlantic.
The show, as they say, was back on the road.....
Certainly the two Kramer-backed numbers were good enough to get the band signed, but, well, Manowar were after something more; they wanted it louder, heavier, meaner, the usual deal, and set about achieving that end with the good folk at Atlantic (who do understand Metal) giving them a free hand to do what needed to be done - no producer forced upon them, no cover version 'suggested', no wimp-out, no way.... Universal Studios, Chicago, was the site chosen to record, the band wanting to be close (both spiritually and geographically) to one Vince Gutman, the brains behind the M.A.R.C. company and the man responsible for Scott's computer-linked kit. Actually he happened to be one of only seven people at the band's first ever gig in Chicago, a genuine fan, only too happy to add his weight (not to mention his 'Drums of Death' system) to The Cause. Add the skills of engineer Richard Breen and the combined input of the band and you have...'Fighting the World', splendidly conceived right down to the artwork for the sleeve which yon see laid out before you; very 'Destroyer, very 'Love Gun', but then that's hardly surprising as Ken Kelly, the artist in question here, was also responsible for those two Kiss kovers, along with Rainbow's 'Rising' and a whole host of book jackets. He doesn't come cheap but when he does come the Earth most definitely moves... To back up the release of 'FTW Manowar and their famed Soldiers Of Death roadcrew plan to take to the road around April, starting in Europe, then crossing over the UK before heading back to the United States and Canada, a complete world tour in fact keeping them busy until the following December. As of May, they'll be available to support in the US but it remains to be seen just how many headline acts are prepared to place a loaded gun to their temples. Either way, though, support or headline, the band just want to play, to be given the chance to unveil their real Metal stage show (backline 'n' brawn), their new costumes, their treasured gear (idling at 120-130 decibels,hitting 160 on the spikes).. a new beginning, but with the past still playing a part in the shape of such first-album songs as 'Metal Daze', 'Battle Hymns' and 'Shellshock', the latter recently introduced to the set. Who knows, there might even be a video (a mini epic, of course!) Manowar; Errol Flynn is their mentor and they will not be moved. Honest.