Interviewer: Why was there a six year delay between the last album and "Warriors of the World"?
Karl: In that time, we entered a four year touring cycle. And in addition to touring the world three times, we put out two double live albums, which the fans had been asking for because all they had were these cruddy bootlegs. When we put out the first one, we had to do a double album because of all the songs we had. After the first one, everyone wrote in letters and said 'well, we loved this, but you didn't do this song, or my favorite song' so we did another one. We also did DVDs, and shoot videos, compile videos. Fans also enjoy this because up to this point there had been nothing available on video and let's face it... you're not going to see our videos on MTV in America. So we did a total of four of them so far, only one of which has been released. The next ones are probably being released around Christmas. Also, we re-released three of the earlier CDs which fans were asking for as well, and they were put together with new booklets and stuff. After all of that, we finally got around to building our new studio and that was finished in the Summer of 2000. So when you look at six years, it's kind of misleading to look at it as six years of idleness because we were busy. We only started writing and recording this album in the Summer of 2000. So it took a little more than a year actually.
Interviewer: What is your musical background? How did you achieve the talent level that you're at right now?
Karl: Thank you. I started out with guitar lessons, which I believe are of primary importance. I'm a teacher myself and I teach a lot of young kids, and I always start them off with guitar theory and just music theory in general. After that, it was just pure desire. Trying to play the coolest solos and the hottest songs from those years in the 80s when Van Halen and Nightranger and Ozzy Obsourne, Randy Rhoades, Yngwie Malmsteen... all these people. I played in a cover band for many years where we did all these hit rock songs at the time and I sat there, trying to learn these guitar parts so I didn't look stupid up on stage. Sadly, that seems to be a lost art today.
I've noticed that. No one does the blazing, intricate solos anymore.
Interviewer: Personally, I love them.
Karl: The reason for that is that no one can play them. Unfortunately, society is so quick anymore and this generation wants everything now now now. You can turn on a computer, jump on a website and have anything you want. Well, it takes time to learn a musical instrument. You can't learn it from a website. You can't just learn tab and learn a few power chords and think you're a songwriter, and think you're a musician and think you have the right to record a CD or walk around like you're a rockstar. That's the reason that so many bands today are so shitty. Instead of taking time to go out and learn their instruments and spend years playing cover music, so that you understand how songwriting works and how solos work and what a solo is really for. I mean, not every song needs a guitar solo, but those that do, you better have one in it. It's so sad to see some of the music today. The song will cruising along and then here's the part where there should be a guitar solo and all you got is a bunch of crunchy guitar chords and a drum beat. That just falls flat.
Interviewer: Since you mentioned music being so shitty these days, I was wondering if there any bands around now that you feel are true heavy metal and deserve credit.
Karl: No. To be honest with you, I couldn't even tell you one, and that's not because they're not out there, but because I really don't pay attention that much. To me, there's so much shit out there, that I just turned off the radio. I don't listen to it much anymore. There are a lot of European power metal bands that have some good stuff and every band now and then has a good song, it's just had to find people that are sincere, innovative and original without being copycats.
Interviewer: Is Manowar still considered the loudest band in the world?
Karl: Yes, we still hold that record.
Interviewer: Where did the Sign of the Hammer originate from? The actual arm motion.
Karl: I'm not sure, that's a good question. I've never had anyone ask me that. I don't know, maybe it's something that Joey and Eric came up with early on. I'd have to research that.
Interviewer: Yea, a bunch of my friends and myself were curious, so I wanted to ask.
Karl: You have me curious about that myself. That's a cool question though. I'm going to ask the other guys about it.
Interviewer: Can the US expect another tour for "Warriors of the World" or was the tour that came around before the album was released the only one we're going to get?
Karl: Right now, we're concentrating on a world tour for the Fall. It's undecided whether or not we're going to do an American tour. To do an American tour might cut into the European schedule. I'm sure within the next year or year and a half, we'll be getting around to America again.
Interviewer: Yea, I caught three of the dates of that last tour, and Joey made speeches about how it's not really worth playing in America anymore, so I was a bit worried. And I noticed that the turnout at the shows I was at, compared to the turnouts of the crowds in other countries, on the DVD... I was wondering if you felt it wasn't worth playing in the States anymore.
Karl: When we do America, we play smaller places. We do it before we hit Europe and we use the American tour as a warmup and to get the show together. A lot of times, it's not as high stress as playing in front of 80,000 people. There's a certain appeal to it, but the place we rock the hardest is definitely in Europe.
Interviewer: What are some of your favorite places to play in the world?
Karl: There are aspects of every country and culture that I love and to single one out above the rest is impossible. I love the flamenco dancers of Spain and the women, the landscape of the Czech Republic and the women and I love the Alps of Austria and the women... and the women!
Interviewer: So then, let me rephrase... which country has the best women?
Karl: (laughs). You know, I have to say, that's one thing that stays consistent. There are beautiful women everywhere in the world.
Interviewer: What was the largest crowd you've ever performed in front of?
Karl: I think it was close to 80,000 just recently in Roskilde, Denmark.
Interviewer: Any more information on the new "Hell on Earth" videos/DVDs that you mentioned earlier?
Karl: They'll be released probably around Christmas time. I think we're going to release parts 2 and 3 together as a special package. There's four currently done. There's also going to be a History of Manowar, with all archival footage and a history of the band, and other projects that are being talked about. There's going to be a full length concert video released from Brazil, the Monsters of Rock show, that's just a full-length concert, no backstage, no nothing... just the whole show. There's going to be some other surprises coming out as well.
Interviewer: Any reason for the abundance of tribute songs on "Warriors of the World"?
Karl: Well, I wouldn't say there was an abundance. "Nessun Dorma" is an opera piece. Manowar has always been symphonic and had classical overtones and classical chord structures. We decided to go full out and do a classical piece. And if you want to do a classical piece and incorporate a vocalist, you have to do an opera piece. It's one of the most well-known tracks in the opera world and we wanted to cover it because it's a powerful song. Heavy metal really is classical music played with loud guitars and drums. The Elvis thing is something we've wanted to do for a long time. Elvis was kind of a heavy metal person before heavy metal was a force. He lived his own way. He played and sang and moved the way he wanted to. He shook up the establishment and he stuck to his guns when everyone tried to change him. In the process, he changed music. That's an attitude and a lifestyle that we respect. August 16th is the 25th anniversary of his death, so we thought it was an appropriate tribute to someone we respect a lot and Joey likes his music a lot, he grew up on it. Not only that, it's also a magnificent song with a universal theme about war and respect for the dead. "The Fight for Freedom" was written before the September 11th attacks, so that wasn't purposely a tribute. In hindsight, we dedicated that to the victims, but that track was finished before the whole incident happened. We always dedicate our songs. Half our songs are tributes to our fans, including the song "Warriors of the World". You have to pay tribute to the people who put you here and keep you here.
Interviewer: What keeps you going for 20+ years?
Karl: Heavy metal and heavy metal fans. It's what we do. My PhD, my doctorate is not hanging on the wall, it's there on my guitar. That's what I spent my time studying. That's what I chose to do with my life. That's how I define myself, it's who I am.
Interviewer: How do you feel when you see younger kids at your shows now?
Karl: Absolutely. Our audiences keep getting younger and younger. That's great because we know that those people are going to carry Manowar into the future. They're the next generation of heavy metal fans.
Interviewer: Would you like to work with Metal Blade for your next release? Have they treated you well?
Karl: Yea. So far, it's been a nice, personal relationship we have with them. I'm sure when the time comes around, we'll go to them first.
Interviewer: How do you guys choose your setlist for the live show, since you have so many songs to pick from?
Karl: Well, there are the songs we call the "evergreens", the ones the fans want to hear. There are certain tunes that have a lot of audience participation. "Manowar kills", "Kill with Power"... they want to scream that. There are a lot of songs the fans expect. Like I said, we toured for four years with "Louder than Hell" and what we did on the third leg of the tour is we went out and played a lot of songs that people didn't expect, and you can hear that on the second live album. Things like "Bridge of Death" and "Guyana", lesser known tracks. We look at the concert, we look at the crowd, we look at what we've done before and what people are expecting. You can't play five songs from the new album because no one knows them and we want people to participate.