Metal Edge Usa - November 2002
THE KINGS OF METAL
Interview taken by Tripp Eisen
Manowar has been a passion that has evolved into a mission for me over the past few years, as they have provided the theme music and inspiration of the battles I’ve faced in my life. They are a band that has stuck to their guns and never followed trends, and they are an entity in and of themselves. Controversy follows them – Partying, girls, motorcycles, and the monikers “The Loudest Band in the World” and “The Kings of Metal”. Fighting for Heavy Metal music is prevalent in Manowar’s message, but it’s more than just that – Their message has consistently been to believe in yourself, be proud of what you are, to fight for justice, and that good things will come to the righteous. Like many Manowar fans, I’ve been waiting with anxious, impatient enthusiasm for the follow-up studio album to 1996’s Louder Than Hell – With the June release of Warriors of the World, that anxiousness was answered. During a break from my songwriting sessions with Static-X, I took a trip back east to attend the Manowar-headlined March Metal Meltdown in Asbury Park, N.J. I’ve been barraged by questions over the years about my interest in “other” metal bands, and my response has simply been, “Manowar is all that matters.” I don’t care about King Diamond or Dream Theatre or Iron Maiden or Dark Funeral. Sure, I love Overkill and Pantera, but there is one band that stands alone and on top of the mountain that coveys a pure, strong, clear message – Manowar. Given the opportunity, I was thrilled to engage bassist Joey DeMaio in an exclusive interview. Topics included the new album, the state of Heavy Metal music, riding horses, touring the world, the phenomena of the Kings Of Metal, and the battle against false metal mother-fuckers. All of this, and I got to further my very own mission – Carrying the message of the Kingdom Of Steel to the throngs of loyal… Well, enough already, here we go…
JOEY DEMAIO: Okay, shoot you maniac...
TRIPP EISEN: The new album, where was it done?
JD: It was recorded in HELL. HELL is the name of the studio that we built to do it, and it's conveniently located in my house. So you can guess... The reason for the name is because it was hell to build the thing, to get everything all working and wired up, cause it's all digital, and if it's not clocked together, you get nothing but distortion. So after six months of working out all the technical stuff
TE: You recorded the new album... There's an Elvis (Presley) cover-static-X just covered Elvis "Speedway" for the NASCAR-themed album Crank It Op-how'd your's come about?
JD: It at the very beginning ofthe record "An American Trilogy," it was Elvis' encore. We've always wanted to do that song, just because it's a beautiful song. If you understand the arrangement, the reason it's a trilogy- meaning that it's in three parts-there's "I Wish I Was In Dixie," which was the South's war hymn there's, "The Battle Hymn Of The Republic," which was the north's, and then there's, "Ail My Trials," and that is the prayer for the death of war. So the arrangement is brilliant. It really talks about the North and South and then the whole Civil War. It's just a brilliant piece of music and we've always wanted to do it.
TE: You guys have been pretty busy since your last studio album, you've put out two live CDs... But now you're back out, with the some line-up. How does it feel?
JD: It's so funny, I was just telling Eric (Adams, vocals) the other day, "When are we gonna stop calling Karl (Logan, guitars, keyboards) the new guitarist?" Then I remember, "My god, Karl's been with us since 1994!" It's so funny.
TE: What will he your approach to the upcoming tours?
JD: This tour we're on right no because we haven't played in two years, we're just out there to brutalize. When you see the set and the way we've constructed it, we're just gonna get out there and hammer people. Because we're playing in headliner positions, I know people have been on their feet since ten in the morning (at the festivals), you know what I mean? The only thing that is gonna wake these fuckers up is for us to get out there and and get in their face. That's what we're gonna do, just brutalize. We're going to do a huge tour in the fall/winter and we're gonna pull out all the stops on that, just go crazy.
TE: Artistically, manowar stand alone, but where do you see your place in the world of Heavy metal today? There's a lot of metal coming back, like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest are still lingering around. How do you feel Manowar fits in?
JD: We don't fit in now, we never fit in then - We never fit with them now. It's a strange existence, that's for sure.
TE: a lot of these bands lose their front man, and the it's like they're gone - then the frontman comes back, like Bruse Dickinson. Manowar persevered through thick and thin. That's it, and that's important.
JD: Well, we're a band of brothers that believe in each other, that's the thing, and we've stuck together through thick and thin.
TE: This year mark Manowar's 20th anniversary. Does that feel special?
JD: Uh, not really. We've done some anniversary release, but we really haven't concentrate on anniversary tour.
TE: "Death to False Metal" - is that still a valid cry?
JD: Oh, sure it is. When I think of false metal, I think of the word false, and people and the fact that people don't believe in themselves and what they're doing. Yeah, I think it's definitely valid.
TE: Who is true metal? Back in the day, Motorhead and Black Sabbath were names that you mentioned...
JD: Yeah, I think there's been a few bands that you could really stick in your hand and say "Yeah, there they are, these guys are really holding the flag."
TE: Anyone today?
JD: You'd have to throw some names at me....
TE: Well, I think of Pantera.
JD: They've always been a strong band. I don't think they've changed - I think they're still true to what they did, to what they started out as.
TE: What about Slayer and Metallica?
JD: Slayer hasn't changed. Metallica is just country music, they're ready for the TNN network
TE: Are there any new bands that you think are holding the banner?
JD: well, you're holding the banner. I really don't know how I'd classify Static-X's music, though. You know what I mean? I don't know if you would say it's metal, because when I think of metal I think of the classis sense of metal. But there's definitely metallic onslaught there, you know what I'm saying?
TE: Well, Phil (Anselmo) from Pantera put his arm around me and said "Listen, boy, you're doing good, but you gotta make up your mind what you want to play - are you metal or are you industrial?" them halfway through our tour with them, he goes "I like you guys, keep doing what you're doing"
JD: Really, to be fair, Static-X isn't you band. You're in there now, but they developed their style over years. So now, in the future, as you start getting in a whole different perspective with your personal influences...
TE: We actually just started writing, and the first three songs were a real band effort. I feel like part of a group now.
JD: Which is so cool
TE: Yeah, it's feeling good. I have a good chemistry with them. I got to co-produce the Elvis cover we just did with Wayne (Static, Static-X frontman), so it's an honour that he's letting me spread my wings. This may be a bit controversial, but Pantera claim every night on their tour that, "We're the kings of metal, motherfuckers!"
JD: I didn't know that, but I'm glad someone informed me.
TE: I wanted to bust Phil's balls so badly, but then he'd see me wearing my Manowar shirt every night, and he's like, "Hey, wear that Manowar shirt with pride" He gave me the, "Yeah, Manowar, I like the first three albums.." But wait, wasn't Sign of the Hammer recorded during the same sessions as the third album Hail to England?
JD: I like his first three records, too... I think it's funny! But it really doesn't make any difference to me what they say - I always thought Pantera was a great band, and I always liked the fact they held true to what they were doing. That's really it - As far as the other stuff goes, some of the stuff I hear people saying about Manowar, is just so amazing - from good to bad - that I just can't keep myself in the frame of mind to pay attention to any of it. I mean, what do you listen to? If somebody comes up to you and and goes, "Tripp, you're the greatest guitarist in the world!" Does that really mean you are? Or if somebody comes up to you and goes, "Tripp, you're playin' shit!" Does that mean you are? No, it doesn't. Everybody's got an opinion. We never called ourselves "The kings of Metal", that's the whole thing - it's from the fans.
TE: What album did that start?
JD: We actually have been called "The Kings of Metal" since into Glory Ride (1983). A couple of journalists said in their articles that , "these guys in my opinion, are the kings of metal". Then fans would show up at show chanting, "Kings of Metal". It just grew and grew, and by the time we did the album Kings of Metal, it was so engrained, it was a way of saying thanks to the fans for giving us the name. We didn't one day say, "Oh, everybody, we just thought we'd let you know that we are The Kings of Metal" Like Michael Jackson was the King of pop.... But Elvis was the King of Rock'N'Roll, there can be no doubt about that!
TE: The movie "Conan the Barbarian" was one of the reasons that I first took to Manowar...
JD: It was an awe-inspiring movie.
TE: Just recently saw the movie again, and seeing those guys riding on the horses with the bid helmets reminded of your video "Gloves of Metal"
JD: It's funny you mention that, because we just re-edited that video.
TE: I love the imagery, sword and all....
JD: When do you think about it, it's funny - What band is going to jump offstage and jump on four of those horses? They weren't ready for the glue factory... Fortunately, I've ridden all my life, but these other guys haven't, and they had the fucking balls to go through with it! And let me tell you something, it's not a cool feeling when a horse just decides to run as fast as it can and you can't do anything about it. If you can't ride and control that horse, guess what? The only choice you've got is to fucking hang on! If you don't hang on, they'll run you into trees. Horses are smart, they'll try to knock you off! So let me tell you, I'd like to see some of these other bands get their ass on one of those horses and see what happens!
TE: What would you say if tougher to ride, a motorcycle or a horse?
JD: In my opinion, a horse, because the motorcycle does what you tell it - The horse does what he wants, even if you tell him something else.
TE: My bass player Tony (Campos) has a motorcycle that's a bit more like a horse - He's got the most powerful bike on the market, the Suzuki Hayabusa GSX 1300R. Two weeks ago before the Pantera tour, he's riding out in Hollywood and skidded on one of those metal plates in the roads, flew off and broke his collarbone! So he just come out in a sling, and we had a backup bassist (Marty O'Brien, of Tommy Lee)
JD: We had a similar situation - Karl had to play a whole tour, some of the biggest festivals of our life, with a broken leg, sitting on the drum riser.
TE: What do you think of U.S. fans? I'm constantly touring with a Manowar shirt on, and people always comment on you. How do you feel about that? How do you feel about that? Have you given up on younger fans?
JD: No. I never really thought the band would be a big band in America, just because the mentality of the American fans is, "If it's on MTV, it must be good, and if it's not on MTV, it must not be good" that's kind of the criteria that's used, and it's sad. It's a whole different mentality in America than there is anywhere else in the world. Everywhere else in the world MTV is not the sole barometer of what's cool and what's not. In other countries, people do what they like, and they listen to music they want. It's not like there's this one thing that shoves it down your throat. Some people will shove pizza down their throat every night for the rest of their life - That's what's going on here, and it's sad for the American kids.
TE: Do you guys get radio airplay in other countries?
JD: Yes, but not the way it is here in America, Every country's got its metal show, and there's that one cool person that the kids and the fans listen to. We're on all those shows. it's not like when you turn on the radio here in America.
TE: What about the creative process and your inspiration. I know you write most of the music...
JD: It's funny - people ask that, and I don't have one, I swear to you! I'm not trying to be vague, I'm not trying to be cool... some days I'll walk in and I'll pick up my guitar, I'll start playing and I'll just look at myself and say, "fucking stop, man, have some respect for yourself, you're not doing shit today. Don't fucking embarrass yourself or your instrument". And I'll just take the guitar and I'll set it down. To me my guitar's like a sword. It's my Samurai sword - it's there, and you wear it in case you need it. It will protect you. You respect it, it's like a gun. You don't take a gun and say "hey, everybody, look at my gun, check it out!" I don't play my guitar unless I'm in the right mood to play it. I'll pick it, and if I hear something that I do that's good, I'm in the mood. if I play it and I just don't have it, I set the guitar down.
TE: How about lyrics?
JD: Same thing. I start by closing my eyes and I think about something -If something comes, it comes. I could be in the shower and get an idea. I could be driving down the street sitting at a stoplight and all of a sudden something will pop into my head. I just don't have any set thing. What I do, I just do.
TE: Sometimes for me, I'll be listening to another band and it will inspire me to come up with some lyrics or just the vibe... To me, Manowar is inspiring. Duran Duran says they were influenced by Kiss, and they sound nothing like Kiss. You can get inspiration from things that are outside your sound - I don't write songs that sound like Manowar
JD. It's the spirit.
TE: Tell me about the band Bludgeon (A Chicago band that DeMaio is producing). Wayne and Ken (Jay, Static- X drummer) actually know them from the local Chicago Circuit They played some gigs with them in the early '90's. They couldn't believe those guys were still together. Perseverance is a tribute to a band.
JD: I just think that they're a band that people should check out because these guys are really serious about their music. They believe in themselves, and that's why I like them. Their kind of music is not necessarily the kind of music I go home and listen to every night, but what I like about them is their conviction and love for each other and their music. That's why I produced their record and want to get their music out there.
TE: Are there any more plans to tour American?
JD: We're going to head to Europe for some festivals.... we're having a great time so far in the US - the crowds we are playing to here, are not big crowds, but we've never played to big crowds in America. But we've got the crowds with the biggest heart, the biggest belief. 500 of our fans are like 500 of anybody else's, I promise you that. there were 300 people in Haverhill, Massachusetts the other night, and they sounded like fucking 10000. They were not going to leave until they heard another song - believe me they would have torn the building down! That's the kind of fans we have, and I'd rather have 300 of them than 10000 of this other fuckers. Let's face it, if I was worried about playing to big crowds, I wouldn't be playing this kind of music.
TE: That's one thing people ask me - "do you like playing big crowds, or do like doing the smaller clubs?" I feel blessed that Static - X can do small clubs and do the big venues, depending on the tour.
JD: It's two different kinds of enjoyment. It's a blast to be from me to you away on stage, and have that kind of fun. And it's also a blast to be playing in front of 50000 and enjoying the big energy of a mass group. It's not individual anymore. It's individuals when you're this close, and you're slapping hands and stuff like that. But when you've got a barrier that's 50 feet away and there's 50000 people, it's a different energy. It's 50000 people being one spirit of heavy metal.
TE: we just got back from doing Mexico with Korn to big crowds like that, and it was just the most overwhelming thing I ever felt.
JD: Yea! it's righteous. I hope you got it on video.
TE: We got it! it was surreal. I thought "this must be how Manowar feel"
JD: What's so cool about you is, you followed your dreams - you had your ideas, you always wanted to rock, you did it. You went and saw a band, determined what music you like best, you followed you heart, followed your soul, followed your fucking music, and look at you now, man. You're a fucking rocker, you're a bad ass, and you're not playing music that comes from your heart. That's balls, man. that's a cool thing.
TE: I appreciate that - every night, for me, it's Manowar in my soul. "Heart of Steel"
JD: You have fucking changed the face of metal in America, single-handedly. Do you realize how many e-mails I get about you? Some people know you, but other are just flipping through the stations and all they see quickly is you with your fucking shirt. They don't necessarily know you. I get both! I get people saying, "Tripp from Static-X was on MTV wearing a Manowar shirt" and I get, "there's some crazy mother-fucker in the band who's wearing Manowar shirts!" It's so fucking hilarious. The people who don't know you, know you because you're the defender....
TE: I was at LAX (Los Angeles Airport) getting off a plane and i ran into Sebastian Bach (former Skid Row frontman). I've never met him before, but I went up to him and he goes, "You're Tripp." He said he was friends with the singer of my old band, Dope. He said he knew there were some problems there but when he first met Edsel, he went up to me and said, "Hey, where's the guy that wears the Manowar shirt, man?" So he first knew me by the shirt I wore!
JD: That's what I'm saying! People know there's a lone warrior on the fucking path of steel, That's good to know...
TE: I get my balls busted all the time. I just sit there and smile.
JD: They're jealous mother-fuckers
TE: They say: "Do you really like them, or are you just kidding?"
JD: You just tell them, "Can I hear your record? How long have you been around? how many times did you fucking cut your hair and put on makeup?" What the fuck! "How many times did you try to suck ass to get a record deal? How many record companies have you told to get fucked?" Come on, what are all these careers based on? Ass kicking?