Interview - Manowar get ready for their first UK tour in 16 years
Q&A with the most awesome metal act in the world
Manowar are the very embodiment of epic metal excess and they return to the UK for their first full tour in 16 years playing their debut album Battle Hymns in its entirety as well as other thunderous metal classics. We catch up with outspoken bassist and founder of Manowar Joey DeMaio
For the uninitiated what exactly do Manowar sound like?
Massive. Uncompromised. Pure, mind-blowing, face-melting heavy metal.
What attracted you to metal in the first place?
I have been a huge fan of metal ever since I first heard Black Sabbath.
What attracts you to fantasy and mythology as topics in your songwriting?
Fantasy, and mythology especially, inherit the core values of any society, past or present. Honesty, loyalty, brotherhood, the fight for what is important in life. These are timeless and universal topics, regardless of age, gender, wealth or nationality and that’s why they reach our hearts. Whether it is now, or a hundred years from now.
What’s so special about Battle Hymns?
That is for the fans to decide. For the band, naturally, it is a special album since it was our first one. Everything felt great from the very beginning and the fans loved it, then and ever since. So there must be something special to it.
Tell us about the release of your rerecorded Battle Hymns MMXI, what did you change and why?
We used the technology of today, that wasn’t available when we recorded the album first. And of course, we have developed musically over the years. So the sound is more massive than it was, and nuances are different. We feel that it is a great complementary album and we are equally proud of both productions.
What makes Manowar’s music so epic?
On one hand it is our massive yet crystal clear sound. We go at any length for it; we don’t compromise until we have achieved a sound that will blow our fans away. Lyrically, as mentioned before, we address topics that everybody can relate to. Our songs are metaphors for our lives, and we know that for many of our fans all over the world they provide inspiration and guidance in their lives.
Do you think there’s a strong link between metal and classical music?
No doubt! Wagner was really the father of heavy metal, and those who play the uncompromised pure metal continue in his line. For us, today’s heavy metal is truly a modern facet of the classical masters like Wagner and Beethoven.
What was it like as a performer playing the world’s longest heavy metal concert? [Manowar played for 5 hours 1 minute in Bulgaria in 2008]
Spectacular. The energy was amazing, the fans wanted us to play even longer and hours really passed by as if they were minutes.
And the loudest? [In 1984 Manowar broke the record for the loudest ever performance, a record they have gone on to break a further two times]
Very satisfying! Knowing that we achieved a sound that was crystal clear even at the highest volume, made us really proud. And let me tell you right now: another mind-blowing sound experience is yet to come. Stay tuned until our album comes out next year. This sound will be even more spectacular than any before.
Why do you think Manowar’s fans are so loyal?
The Manowar fans know that we are true to ourselves and to our music. We are no ass kissers who would ever follow trends or do anything we don't believe in. Our fans are the same. That has formed this unique bond between Manowar and our fans that you don't find with other bands.
Why do you think you have connected so well with fans in the UK?
First of all, the fans here have heavy metal in their blood. They have supported us since our first tours at the beginning of our career and they have stayed with us. At the same time we have gained a lot of new fans. Our show in Birmingham in spring was killer and having received so many requests for a wider tour we discussed what we could do to make this return special for a country that has such a special place in our hearts and in our history. We decided that playing in club-like’ venues this time, similar to our first concerts, would allow our most loyal fans an atmosphere where they can get as close to the band as it gets. A totally different experience from the festival and outdoor shows of the last years.
Do you think rock music suffers with too many dull, boring bands these days?
Yes. That’s why bands like Manowar persist.
Why has it taken Manowar so long to come back to Scotland?
We had to wait more than a decade for a promoter who had the balls to bring Manowar back, and in Ian Richards of Academy Music Group we found him.
Looking forward to playing for the Scottish fans?
What a question! We can’t wait. This is going to be a massive experience, for both the fans and the band!
What can we expect on the night?
Face melting power, a killer sound, a show full of our classical hymns, and a band that is ready to blow your heads off.
Manowar play O2 Academy, Glasgow, Tue 1 Nov.