|You may love them or hate them, but you can't deny the fact that for almost twenty years Manowar rocked the house all over the world and helped in shaping the face of today's heavy metal. Their dedication, loyalty and belief in what they do got them distinctive name of 'Kings of Metal' that they carry with pride and back up with outstanding records. After 6 years since their full studio album Manowar comes back as requested by fans with the epic album "Warriors of the World" that might once again leave the fans divided. Why? I had a chance to get all the answers from guitarist Karl Logan who explains musical ideas behind this epic and talks anything Manowar.|
Interviewer: It's been over 20 years since Manowar was born... with "Warriors Of The World" you prove that you're still alive and kicking, how do you manage to keep it all fresh and how long do you feel it's going to last?
Karl: Well, it's the love of what we do and the sincerity with which we do it. I mean, how is it that anyone can have a career that you know, and when you work at the company for 30-40 years they'll give you the gold watch and all that; you do it because you enjoy what you're doing and if you love your job you've been working your whole life. That's pretty much describing all of our lives here working in music and heavy metal. That's what we love to do. It's never really work; it's just about having fun and being paid for it. I think that explains the reason that we are still around. Another reason that we are still around is 'cause the fans want us to be. The fans love us and we keep getting more fans. We never let them down we always do what they want us to do, we listen to them, we read e-mails we read letters. Without fans you don't have anything. This is a band that always values its fans and values their opinions. They make us who we are so, as long as we have fans and as long as we continue playing we're going to keep doing it. There's no reason to stop.
Interviewer: Is there a chance of you guys finally settling down and becoming husbands and fathers?
Karl: Well, sure I can see myself doing it, I'm just speaking personally for myself. In one way I'm married to music... I guess when you're a musician you're relationships suffer personally because of your commitment to your music but at this point in my life I can see myself getting married, getting involved with someone. It's always nice to have someone to share your success with.
Interviewer: What would be the hardest thing to do: quit music, alcohol or women?
Karl: I think... definitely to quit music because there are a lot of times when you are not with women. There are a lot of times when it's just you and you alone. You can be in a foreign country and there are beautiful women around but you can't talk to them, you can't communicate with them so, it's kind of hard to socialize [laughs]. So, there are times that you go without women. We drink, we like wine, we like beer when we are in Germany but as far as getting drunk every night we don't do that. It's something you do when you're kind of just starting in the business you just go crazy and doing it all. After a while you learn that it takes more of a toll on you than anything and we're always about business and putting on a show and making sure everything is running smoothly and making sure we are in the best shape we can be to perform. There's not much temptation I would say for drinking. Giving up music? What else would we do? That's really what makes us who we are. I couldn't see us giving up the music.
Interviewer: Although the last six years you've spent on the road or releasing live albums and a DVD, don't you think that a six-year period is a little too long between new releases?
Karl: Well, yes and no. I mean, if you look at it from the point that it has been 6 years and if you think "ok, we release a record and then we just sit on our asses for 6 years and don't do anything" of course 6 years would be too long but in that time there was so much that the band was doing and there was so much the fans were asking of us. For the longest time people have asked us for a live record and when we did live record we had so many songs we had to do a double live record. Then, when we got done with that one the fans said "well, you didn't play my favorite song, you didn't put this on it, what about this song?" So, we had to do another live album and had to make it another double live album because there were so many songs that still the fans were requesting. For years they've been asking us for videos. They've been asking us for information on the band "What it's like to be in Manowar? What are the people like? Where's the concert footage?" So, we put together the DVDs. This is something the fans were asking for. The earlier records a lot of them were out of print and they were hard to find they were impossible to get on CD. The fans were asking us "How can we get these?" So, we took the time to re-master and re-release 3 or 4 of our early CDs. All that stuff takes time; to go through boxes and boxes of boxes of photographs and archives to select it, to organize it, to put it into some sort of script. The band has really been busy doing stuff the fans were requesting and if we didn't do it, it just wouldn't get done. That's what we've been doing for the last 6 years. In that time we also put together a studio and then only in a spring of 2000 that we really started writing this new album. So, the writing of the record and the recording of it actually took less than a year, to be hones with you but in between that time we've been busier than hell.
Interviewer: When you write new material do you think of your fans, of what they want and expect or do you satisfy your own goals first?
Karl: Well, there's an element of that. I mean, every time we put together a record there're our ideas of what it should be and than we also take into an account the ideas of the fans or things the fans have said in their letters or e-mails. A lot of fans were asking for something more epic, more like our earlier albums so, we took that into an account on this record. We made it a very broad album with a lot of influences and feeling of grandeur rather than just a straight heavy metal album. It's easy to play things that are faster and it's easier to write songs that are fast and heavy when you just play million miles an hour and you turn up the volume to 11. We wanted to show something a little more, I don't want to say experimental but a little more diverse. That's why a lot of songs on this record are powerful but a little slower or a little more delicately arranged.
Interviewer: Being called 'Kings of Metal' must carry tremendous pressure during song-writing process, how do you deal with that?
Karl: That's the title we were given by our fans really so, it's not something that we've taken upon like our own personal mentor. We don't write songs because we're pressured to it. I don't think we could write a better song just because we had to live up to a pressure or title. We write what we write because it's in our hearts. That's really a definition of what's really a true metal is. We don't write because somebody expects something of us like a record company expects a single or a hit. We don't write because the radio expects something that they can play in certain format. We don't write something because it's trendy or we think it's going to get on MTV. We write what's in our hearts and that's what true metal is all about. Whether we had that title or not it wouldn't make a difference in a music we're playing. It would still be Manowar, it would still be this same thing you would get. The fact that we were given the title by our fans is just an extra little you know, icing on the cake but it doesn't really affect who we are because we are what we are.
Interviewer: Since Manowar are 'Kings of Metal' who do you think qualifies as a 'Prince of Metal'?
Karl: There're a lot of bands out there that are playing stuff that's from their heart and there're a lot of bands that are not as successful commercially because they're doing this same thing we're doing. They're doing stuff that they love to do. I mean, there's a lot of good power metal from Europe and a lot of stuff that's really cool and pretty innovative so, I don't want to single anybody out saying anybody's better than anybody else because there's a lot of shit bands out there but there's a lot of people who are playing from their heart as well. And as long as that's what you're doing and as long as you're not writing from your wallet, you're writing from you heart then everybody out there who's following their sort of credo is pretty much alright with me.
I'd bet that almost every journalist asked you why the album seems divided into a calm side for the first half then a much heavier side for the second. So to avoid redundancy, just tell me what your definition of 'true' metal is, because with so much extreme music out there, the first half of your new album can easily be classified as 'rock' compared to some of those extreme acts out there.
Karl: Yeah, that's something I was talking about; having a diverse catalog of songs on this record. A lot of this stuff you might call a typical rock but first of all we wanted to show that heavy metal is really just a classical music played with guitars, loud guitars and drums. So, some of this stuff is classically influenced on this record just harkens back to that theory. I think the song that is the most rock-like is probably 'The Fight for Freedom'. The drum beat and the theme of that song is kind of like a parade march so it had to be an upbeat song. It had to be something that was reminiscent of a march of a parade type feeling because the song is about freedom and a fight for freedom and what it means to you. Not just being American but I mean people around the world are fighting for freedom everywhere. It's kind of a universal theme. So, I don't feel that in anyway we betrayed who we are. I think we just wanted to show that the band is not just about playing fast, loud and powerful, it's not one-dimensional, there're many sides of this band. There's depth in our songwriting and we wanted to really explore that on this album.
Interviewer: Manowar must be one of the most committed bands to its fans; almost every album in one way or another pays tribute to your loyal fans. Is 'Nessun Dorma' one of those tracks (paying tribute to your Italian fans)?
Karl: Yeah, in a way it is, in a way it is a tribute to our Italian fans. Originally we did that as a tribute to our Italian fans in 1997 at Monsters of Rock in Italy and the response was tremendous. So, in one aspect it is but on the other hand it's also a song that is a beautiful piece of classical music in opera and we just wanted to show the relationship between that and heavy metal because the music of that song is definitely, undeniably powerful. Again, it's just another side of the band and it's a reminder that heavy metal is about melody and memorable melodic moments not just percussion, it's not just about a drum beat like a lot of today's music is really build more around a beat. It's easy to play fast, play loud and play powerfully it's a lot harder to play something settle and to arrange something that's more just dynamic and deep in terms of its interpretation. It's a lot more difficult to do that. We really wanted to tackle that and show this aspect of our band, our songwriting and our love for this type of music, which really does kind of run through a lot of our heavier stuff even.
Interviewer: Is 'An American Trilogy' a tribute to a man (Elvis) who, like you, didn't give a shit about what people were saying and was doing his own thing and never compromised?
Karl: That's right. On one hand it's a very beautiful and powerful song and it's kind of relative to what's going on in the world today because there're a lot of wars going on, there're a lot of civil wars.... In someway it harkens to contemporary events but at the same time Joey is a huge Elvis fan, the band respects Elvis for exactly what you've said, the fact that he stood up for what he believed in, didn't let people to change him and he changed music in the process. It's 25th year anniversary of his death and we thought it would be a nice tribute to a man that we really feel contributed a lot to rock 'n' roll that eventually became heavy metal. It just fit on this record... we actually wanted to do this song on the "Louder Than Hell" album but it didn't fit with the concept of that record. This was a perfect time cause this album is more expansive, broad and dynamic... we're really happy with the way it turned out.
Interviewer: Do flags on the cover represent all the countries you've been playing or is there a different meaning behind it?
Karl: Nope. That's it. The flags represent countries we've been playing and along with the flags the fans, the people that we've been playing for. They are the warriors of the world. They are the reason we exist without them we would be nothing.
Interviewer: Why there are two different labels (Nuclear Blast in Europe and Metal Blade in States) representing Manowar?
Karl: To make a long story short it's just a business decision. We decided to go with who had the most advantages strategy for the band, that's all. It's just business stuff.
Interviewer: I guess you get used to headlining all kinds of festivals and tours but do you remember when the last time was that Manowar played as a warm up band?
Karl: Well, we don't really say a 'warm up' band... we've been special guests at some shows. I think it was 1997 Monsters of Rock in Brazil, we went on 3rd from the last I think. After us was Megadeth and then Slayer but to tell you the truth I actually prefer a lot of times in that slot because for instance, we just played in Spain and we went on stage at 2 o'clock in the morning, we were headliners, and I don't care what anybody says but at that point it's 2 o'clock in the morning after you've been standing in the sun for 12 hours and banging your head to the music the audience is just fatigued at that point. When you are a special guest you're really hitting the audience right at the peak of their frenzy. Monsters of Rock is one of those shows that I can remember and we just completely destroyed that place. Even the magazines that wrote about it said "Manowar came out and just kicked ass"... once we left the stage it basically was over. We're used to headlining but it really doesn't matter anymore. Let me put it this way, if you've never headlined before, when you're an upcoming band and just rising up basically all of a sudden when you are a headliner it's something to reach for, it's an achievement, you feel proud about it. At this point I don't care and I don't think the band cares when we're playing, it doesn't matter. Once we get on stage we give 110% and once we're done our fans are happy and the rest of the audience is happy and that's it, it's over.
Interviewer: It seems like that during your career even when you were up and coming band not too many bands wanted you as a supporting act anyway...
Karl: That's true; we've never done a major tour supporting anyone. There is a term in the industry called "The Giant Killer" and when you're the giant killer nobody wants to tour with you and play after. We've come all this way without ever being a support act for a major tour. We've done it the hard way, we've done it all ourselves.
Interviewer: Since now you have your own studio and even own label (Magic Circle Music) I don't think we'll wait another six years for the next release, right? Have you thought of putting Manowar on Magic Circle Music and become independent?
Karl: There is a possibility maybe in the future if it seems like the right thing to do but at this point I think we're happy with what the relationships that we have right now and as long as that's working for us there's no need to change that. Anything is possible in the future; the music industry is really right now in a stage of siege and a stage of major transition with this Internet bullshit, Napster crap. There's going to be a lot of things happening in the music industry that we can't even foresee just because of the way the thing are happening with computers, MP3s and all that... so, who knows what's going to happen but we'll continue making music.
Interviewer: Before we end, tell me what would you do if tomorrow there was no Manowar?
Karl: If tomorrow there was no Manowar I'd be looking for another band. I'd be looking for something else to continue playing and making music 'cause that's what I do.