First of all congratulations for the excellent new album. Can you tell me a little bit about the history of Manticora. When and how did you start? Thanks for the nice words. We began as a band in May 1996. Kristian (guitars) and I had been playing in a band called Fear Itself, and as that band split up, I contacted Mads (drums), whom I knew from this metal store in Copenhagen, and asked him if he wanted to play some good old thrash/powermetal. I gave him a demo of some of our newest stuff, and he was on. On the first day of rehearsal, the tree of us just clicked together and made the title track for our first release “Dead End Solution”. All three had a feeling of “We belong together”!!! Two months after, we enrolled Rene on the bass. He is Mads’ brother in law, so we didn’t have to look very far. Since then, we have signed a deal with Intromental management and they still represent us. We released our debut album on Black Lotus records in Greece. This cooperation didn’t work out very well, so we broke with them and signed a contract with Scarlet records in Italy in stead. They have so far released our second and third albums. In the meantime, we have had some line-up changes. Jeppe (keys) was taken into the band in ’99. Rene was replaced by Kasper Gram in December 2000 and Flemming who played solo guitar on the first 2 albums was replaced by Martin Arendal 3 weeks prior to going into the studio, this spring!!
I always associate Manticores with different role playing games. But isn't a Manticore a creature from Indian Mythology? Please describe the creature and try to draw parallels to your band. A Manticora is an Indian fable creature. It’s part lion, part human and part dragon. It’s very evil and it eats small human children, by swallowing them whole!!! – This should very well symbolize what we intend to do with people, regarding our music.
What is the background of your bandname? I was the one who came up with the name of Manticore, after having studied this book of fable creatures. We had tried out several band names, but found out that they were already taken, so in the end it was a choice between Manticore and Morannon. We chose the first, but had to alter the name into Manticora as we were threatened by a law suit from an Australian band/German record label, stating that they had the legal rights to the Manticore name. We didn’t want to confuse our fans too much, so we just altered the “e” into an “a”. Everyone was happy then!!!
How would you describe the development from the first to the last album? Maturity! The first album consists of the songs that we had been working on for 2½ years. I was an awful guitarist, so most ideas came from Kristian at that time. We were young and didn’t have the self-criticism that develops over the years. And on that album we did the songs first and put the lyrics on afterwards. On “Hyperion” we wrote almost all of the lyrics first and had to create the music around the lyrics, which was a very hard but also cool experience. Flemming (our former guitarist) didn’t contribute with anything to the album, so I had to bring my guitar to the rehearsal, causing the album to be more thrashy than the 2 previous albums. Anyway, Kristian and I work very good together and with the combined minds of the two of us plus Kasper and Mads, we have written a much more mature and personal album then previously. Also the fact that this is a concept album has caused it to be different than older material. Last, Martin’s solo’s are more Malmsteen/Friedmann inspired whereas Flemming was more of a Kirk Hammet guy. So, more melody in the solo’s and the melody lines.
Are you satisfied with the press-reactions so far ? Definitely! We haven’t received one single bad review!!! All the reviews have praised us as the real newcomers, and have put us among the trendsetters instead of the trend followers. And I personally have received very good response for my singing. This is a little personal victory for me, as I was pretty thrashed on the first and second album for my special singing style! Anyway, people really seem to dig the album a lot.
Your lyrics are based on Dan Simmons Hyperion-Saga. Who came up with the idea to use these book as a basis for the lyrical concept? Well, my older brother handed me the book and told me to read it. As I finished, I began to read it over again as my senses really got stimulated by Dan Simmons’ writing. I handed the book to Kristian and Mads, and they seemed to like it too. The three of us agreed that if we were to do the concept album that we had all dreamed of, we had the perfect idea here. From there it just developed.
Your vocals are outstanding. They do not sound like those typical Power Metal-vocals. I mean those female-alike screaming... Thanks. I really appreciate that. I have fought very hard to become a real singer. I have a theory that some people are born with the talent of singing and some people have to fight to bring it forth. I am of latter category. I had to choose between the vocals and the guitar at a point, and I thought to myself that I wanted to show the people who always told me I couldn’t sing, that they were wrong. I always fight for the things I believe in, and I certainly wouldn’t let anyone get me down on this matter, so therefore I ended up with the vocals. I think these are the reasons for me not sounding like the typical power metal castrato singer. Sometimes I envy those people for their talent, but then I think about the cool ability of being slightly different from the common thing, and I end up being satisfied with what I can offer.
How would you describe your music to an alien? I’d describe it as a mixture between the 80’ies American thrash style, the 90’ies German power metal style and the addition of a slight progressive touch. If you mean a REAL Alien form outer space, I’d probably say something like: “Lip nip nip nip lip nip”….hahahahaha
I guess you also consider "Hyperion" as the band's best album so far. I was amazed that the entire CD sounds very fresh and modern, but still has the spirit of the early Nineties. What were the different influences in the song-writing process? As mentioned above we are mixing different styles. But it’s not like we stand in the rehearsal room and think: “This riff has to sound like….”. We just bring some riffs and it develops from there, through jamming together. Of course the conceptual thing has put its mark on the songs, so we have to consider that fact here too. I think that we are non typical in the fact of the very limited use of keys. Normally in power metal, the keys are very dominant, but since Jeppe didn’t really contribute much to the writing, all the songs are VERY guitar dominated.
Who is the girl on "Loveternaloveternal.." with that fantastic voice? Her name is Karin Bodum and she’s singing in the Danish Royal girl’s choir. She’s extremely talented. Kasper’s father works together with her, and she is as proud to appear on this album as we are, having her singing. The one who speaks on “Reversed” is Stine Pedersen. She’s Kristian’s girlfriend. Since we all like the sweet sound of her voice we thought to let her have a go at it, and we’re pretty satisfied.
Another interesting fact: A Danish band, starting on a Greek label and now a contract with an Italian Label.
No interesting offers from Middle / North Europe? Yeah, we have had some interest, but not from some of the major labels, and that’s why we chose Scarlet records. They seemed to be the label with the best offer at that point. But of course, the interest has been rising from different companies, with the release of “Darkness….” and “Hyperion”. We’re to re-negotiate the contract with Scarlet records soon, and out of respect and cooperation they have the upper hand, when we’re looking for label to release the next discs. They have treated us good, and therefore we really need to see a good offer from another label, for even considering leaving.
What about the communication between you and the label? Any complications? I wouldn’t say complications. We are very close to the guys from Scarlet and they have fulfilled their obligations toward the band. They didn’t promise us a million dollars in the contract, as they knew they wouldn’t be able to stick to that. Of course it’s always a strange situation to release an album, not knowing if the next one is released on that label. We have told the label that we need to se some certain results in order for us to re-sign the contract, so as of now, nothing is settled. So all in all, we are satisfied with their work, and we’re awaiting the next couple of months to see what it brings…
By the way: Children Of Bodom conquer the pole position in the Finnish Single Charts, Hammerfall have big success in Sweden. Norway is notorious for the Black Metal scene.
So what about the fourth Scandinavian country ? In an older interview I read something like "The Danish Scene is the biggest joke on earth" :-) …absolutely true…..There are no metal fans left in Denmark. This is due to the fact that MTV has set the standards for what’s popular and what’s not. Metal is definitely not popular on MTV. Last time Iced Earth played in Copenhagen, only 350 people showed up (in a city with 1.2 million people)!!!!!! All the big acts do not play in Copenhagen any longer, and it’s very understandable. There are a lot of cool bands though. Maybe that’s also why we ended up on an Italian label..!
There are several Power Metal bands. What makes Manticora something special? What are the differences to other bands ? The aggressiveness and the combining of the styles mentioned above. We do not copy other power metal bands, and we do not wish to sound like Helloween or Rhapsody. There are too many bands out there thinking: “This sounds cool – let’s do like them”. And of course my special singing makes us different. We have a dark and gloomy atmosphere to the music writing and that normally doesn’t go hand in hand with power metal, but with the addition of thrash influences, it becomes the result, called Manticora.
Some honest words about the following bands: - Blind Guardian
….fantastic band and one of our major influences. We visited them in Sweet silence studios, while they were recording “Nightfall In Middle-Earth” and Marcus showed us around in the studio. Very nice people and incredible musicians.
- Pretty Maids
….one of Mads’ favourite bands and also a proud Danish band, who are among the trend setters. We have recorded their old hit “Future World” as bonus track for Japan on the “Hyperion” release, in Manticorized version. I like the older stuff, but isn’t a big fan of the band.
….Kristian’s biggest inspirational source. If Savatage didn’t exist, Manticora probably wouldn’t either. Chris Oliva is the reason that Kristian picked up heavy metal at all, and most of us in the band like Savatage in one way or another. I unfortunately don’t like their newer material that much…
- Depressive Age
….Cool German band with some fucking weirdo lyrics. This is mainly Kristian and Mads’ side of music. I like some of the stuff they have done (again, a different singer than the usual high pitchers), but I’m not a big fan. This is one of the bands that always go into the stereo, when we have a Manticora drinking session. We have some bands/CD’s that are classical tunes for us when we are drunk. “Cairo Crabat” is one of them….J
- Olsen Brothers
….Ambivalence! On one hand, I cannot stand their so-called music, but on the other hand, I know that these two guys have been fighting for 30 years to get acknowledged, and with such a hard struggle, I have to admire them a bit. One of those dudes has a REALLY beautiful daughter…just so you know…hehehe
Can you tell us if the internet is a support for Manticora? Any plans for a re-launch of your website (www.manticora.dk) ? I think that it’s cool to have a web site, and that – when meeting new people – you can always refer to the homepage, where they can find all the relevant information, instead of having to explain everything about yourself. I don’t know if the internet helps or not. I think that with the size of Manticora, it doesn’t make a difference. If we were a major band, we’d probably be able to take advantage from the net, but as it is now, we’re just a small fish in the pond.
Who are the persons BEHIND the music? What hobbies do you have? What kind of music do listen to and what music do you avoid to hear? I think the funny thing is that we are all pretty different, and yet we are able to meet in the musical related stuff. I play football and work out in a gym in my spare time. Kristian is into Playstation and computer games (which Mads also seem to like). Kasper is chasing girls, and he’s also playing some football. Martin is too obsessed with his guitar to have any other hobbies and Jeppe….hmmm…don’t really know. I believe that all of us are more or less open to all kinds of music, as long as we can hear the quality in the music! I mean, I can hear a song with Metallica and think that it sucks, and immediately after, I can hear a song by Britney Spears and think that it’s a good song. It’s no that genre orientated any more from our side. Back in the old days, I’d rather have given my right arm, than admitting that I actually liked both Duran Duran and Wham, but today it’s a different matter. Having said that, it’s of course urgent to me, to stress that we all love Heavy Metal in almost all it’s forms (none of us like Norwegian Black Metal)…We are not really that much into role playing games. We used to do a lot of Cthulu adventures in the past, but we seem to have too little time these days. You know, people grow older, get girlfriends, get apartments and begin living their own life, instead of spending the entire day with friends. I think that when the day comes for us to be able to live of the music, we’d have more time to begin these things again. I cannot wait for that to happen!
What is the most important thing that the band offers it's members? It’s the other way around. I don’t believe that the band offers anything at all to the different members. It’s a question of giving, all the time. The feeling of togetherness will be there between us, even if we don’t have the band, so I really think that we are giving to the band constantly. Again, the day that we can feed ourselves through the music, the band will begin providing us with things, like money, prestige, fantastic experiences, tours, etc.
What are your future plans ? Immediate future is, that we’re working to set up some kind of tour for the spring, with some band. I really don’t care which band we’re supposed to play with, as long as we go on the road. Longtime future would be to make as good albums as Hyperion…or even better….but I don’t think that’s possible, hehehe.
Lars, a very big thanks you for taking the time to for the questions.
Again it is your turn for the famous "Last words" !!! To all you people out there: EVEN if you don’t like power metal, I would still encourage you to get a hold of Dan Simmons’ book “Hyperion”. It is the most beautiful piece of fiction ever written. Stay metal!