Metal Hammer Uk - 5 1987
Interview taken by David Ling
The history of Manowar is a long and tempestuous one, with its fair share of ups and downs Hailed as the Loudest Band In The Entire World, they've even gone so far as to sign their record contracts with their own blood. Misunderstood by three record companies and mocked by certain sections of the music press for their gothic image and "no compromise" attitude, some would say it's a miracle they're still making records. Here bassist Joey DeMaio tells the band's story from the first day that they decided to start "Fighting The World."
EARLY METAL DAZE
"I first met our guitarist Ross The Boss at Newcastle City Hall in April 1980. I was working as a pyrotechnician for Black Sabbath and helping Geezer (Butler) out with his bass gear. Ross was playing with Shakin' Street, the support act, I recall going out to the soundboard and checking them out, and thinking my God, what a horrible band. There were so many talented people in it, but as a band they just didn't happen. Ross was burning away like a mad dog on guitar, and later on backstage Ronnie Dio introduced us because we were both Americans. We got on just great and I said to him 'You're a great guitar player, let's get something together.' I'd known Eric Adams all my life, we'd grown up together so there was no question of who the singer should be. We found our first drummer Donnie Hampton (web Masters note: HAMZIK!) trough an engineer in Florida."
"I certainly remember our first live gig, and so do the people that own the place. It was at a place called Summers On The Beach in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in June 1982. We'd already recorded the first album, 'Battle Hymns' and we wanted to play a few warm-up gigs. We were so psyched up because we'd been together for two years and had never played a gig. So we brought in the full wack of gear that we'd just bought and we leveled the place. They were supposed to have one band play, then us, and then the first band was supposed to go back on again. After our soundcheck, the manager came over and told me they've requested us not to perform. I said 'I don't blame them.' We shook plaster loose and shook the glass in the front windows. The guy came up to me afterwards and told me it was 'the best thing I've ever seen.... but don't think of coming back'. So we started out
from the first gig being Manowar."
RATS LEAVE THE SHIP
"After the first album was ready, we were supposed to have been coming to play at the Reading Festival in 1982. But we got dropped by EMI and we didn't have the money. Rats always leave a sinking ship, and when the record company dropped us, the management and agency took a shit too. We were alone and friendless, except for the fans that liked the record and the English music press, and that's no bullshit. Everybody told us to give up, but I looked around at all the untalented losers around and thought 'why should WE pack it in, they should'. It was all the more reason to carry on and clear the shit out of all our path. Our Death To False Metal motto came out around the time of the second album 'Into Glory Ride'. If you look at the sleeve to that one you'll understand what we're talking about. Scott Columbus took over on drums for the second album. It came out on Music For Nations. At that point, we had a lot of interest from small labels, MFN was the best of the lot. But, at that time, their biggest album had sold only about 5,000 copies. They were a very small label, whereas now they're a big small label. Manowar came in and sold 5,000 records the first day. Our first UK tour was around that time. It was a grand tour, a long dream fulfilled. It was great to come over and play all the proper venues like Hammersmith Odeon, everyone who turned up was there for Manowar. We know that there will never be big crowds to see us, we know we're not gonna appeal to everybody. We're never gonna play at Hammersmith for a week in a row, mass appeal is not our scene, true metal is our scene. We came back within seven months and the crowd had got slightly bigger."
THE 10 DEBACLE
"Because of the success with 'Into Glory Ride' and 'Hail To England', we signed to 10 Records. We'd recorded the album we did for them, 'Sign Of The Hammer', at the same time as 'Hail To England', keeping the songs separate. The albums were very much alike, but you could see that the music had grown. That's something we've always tried to do, expand and grow within the confines of True Metal. The company seemed to have a lot of commitment, but things are not always what they seem. The 'All Men Play On 10' single had a gatefold sleeve, and they charged us extra royalties for it. They dropped Manowar after no investment. Just to point out what a bunch of losers they are, look at what they've done to Gary Moore's career. A brilliant artist like him - and make sure you get this right, I like everything about him, his songwriting and his playing - and they haven't done anything for him. Why don't they invest some money in him and break him in America? And look at that hoax with Warrior. They spent half a million dollars on them, and maybe a hundred thousand on us. They sold maybe 5,000 records worldwide, and Manowar sold 100,000 without any promotion. But you have to understand it's difficult to constantly be fighting the world. It ain't easy, but some f**ker's got to do it."
ACROSS THE ATLANTIC
"We came back from America and decided we needed a company with balls. Jason Flom from Atlantic had signed Twisted Sister so we knew he had 'em. Whether you like Twisted Sister or not, you gotta admit that they're an outrageous band. He came to see us live, got into it and signed us for ten albums. The best part is that we didn't want to end up with another half-assed label, we're on a course of doing what we want to do. They let us produce the new 'Fighting The World' album, and digitally as well, and do the front cover. They're a real company, and they're behind us. It's a great feeling to have after five albums."
BACK IN EUROPE
"Manowar will be back in England sometime in late May or early June. England started the band up, and we'll always play here every year. We have a special love in our hearts, it's almost like coming home. The song says 'we met on English ground', that's where I met Ross and it's a soft spot for us. We'll always play there and any f**ker who doesn't like it can die. I don't give a shit if there's five hundred people or two hundred, even one hundred, as long as they wanna see us we'll always play. And without giving anything away, I can tell you we've got a lot of surprises in store."