The Kings
Main Page

..: Interview April, Kostas Vasilakos & Alex Ketentzian 2002 :..

Talking with MANOWAR as an interviewer and not simply a fan, was something I wouldn’t even dream. If somebody told me back then, when I first listened to “Hail To England”, that in some years later I would have a band member of MANOWAR (Scott Columbus in particular) to ask him anything I would find fitting for the occasion, I would have told him to find something funnier to amuse me. But this thing really happened. Lets check together what MANOWAR’s drummer had to say.

Konstantinos “BattleRageR” Vasilakos: Hello!
Scott Columbus: Hello! How are you?

Kostas: Fine, thank you. Lets get started right away. Give us some info about the new album. Scott: Have you heard it?

Kostas: Of course I have.
Scott: Have you heard the whole thing?

Kostas: Yes, but on tape.
Scott: But you’ve heard the entire thing. Cool. As you guys know it’s entitled “Warriors Of The World”. It’s going to be released in May 27th, the single is going to be released in three days (15th of April 2002), “Warriors Of The World United” and that’s it. Our first studio record in six years. Everybody knows that; I have answered this question a million times these four days.

Kostas: Why did it take so long?
Scott: (makes bubbles with his coffee) As you know, when you make a record, and let’s take “Louder Than Hell” as an example, you make a record, the record is completed and it has a release date. And from that point forward you start doing promotion, start doing videos, we did “Courage”, we did “The Return Of The Warlord”, we did live gigs, live shows, in store appearances blablablabla. All that stuff encompasses the cycle of a record once it is released and also that time we played a lot of live shows. We took with us mobile recording units, and we put out 2 double live records, so there are 4 more CDs that came out that period. In an interview I did 2 seconds ago they said: “Well, guess what! You didn’t do ‘Gloves Of Metal’ and you didn’t do ‘Revelation’”. There are 2 more songs that were on neither of the 2 live records. There are people who are asking: “Why did you do a double live CD and why did you do 2 double live CDs?” And there is another answer to it. These 2 interviewers that came before you mentioned 2 of their favorite songs that were not on either. During that time period of ’96, when “Louder Than Hell” was released, right up until we played the last show supporting that record, which is the December of 1999 and we finished up in Moscow, Russia, that’s what we did those 4 years. Those 4 years were touring, recording live and touring and videos etc. Then we pulled off the road in the year 2000 and then we started to assemble the ultimate digital recording studio in New York. And that took a bit of time because, like I said, I’m a techno junky, and so is Joey and the rest of the guys and we wanted to get the best gear available. The highest-ends of everything.

Alexander “Velzevoul” Ketentzian: Like what?
Scott: What type of gear? Well, I don’t want to go into details…

Alex: Can you? Please? For me!
Scott: Pro-tools is a fun toy to play with. All sorts of stuff.

Alex: Console? The mixing board, what was it?
Kostas: He is a sound engineer.

Scott: Are you? We will talk about this later. If you are into audio equipment you know it takes a while to this interface with that and the midi interface with the audios ins and outs and to get all the spdf cables, all the interconnects and all the different kind of digital connections you have to match up and miniclock. And it took us a while to get all this stuff to work flawlessly. Because, when you record and you are in a creator process the last thing you want is: “All right, this is the perfect riff!” (Scott makes like if pushing the play button) “Uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuh!” (Scott tries to imitate the horrific sound you can hear when there is a bad synchronization) (great laughter) “The fucking thing didn’t sync up!” You can’t have that. So, it took us a while to get all that stuff seamlessly … I think you have had met this problem.

Alex: I have.
Scott: What is takes to get all this shit perfectly synced up together. This is in 2000. MANOWAR has a big archive of pictures and posters and pics and banners and chicks’ underwear; everything we have accumulated over the past 15-20 years and we got that all assembled and archived and data-based, so whenever we do a video or we need some pictures for a re-release and so forth, everything is ready in our finger tips and we know that what we seek is in the bottom drawer of the trunk number 17 on the building 2 for example. There is no more lost time anymore. We know exactly where things are. We also re-released, because of the 20th anniversary, “Battle Hymns”, “Into Glory Ride” and “Hail To England”. So, we totally digitally remastered those 3 albums as well as produced new booklets with pictures and photographs and interviews. We had all the guys back together, which is cool. We had Ross up to New York, we had Donnie Hamzik, the original drummer… It was fun! So, this is another thing we had going on at the same time. We also did “Hell On Earth Pt.1”, the video, assembled video footage and put that together in a video production facility. We released that and then we had re-released it in DVD 5.1…

Alex: That’s why it took so long. (Alex makes a gesture like “get on with it!”)
Scott: I’m not done yet. (laughter) We also have “Hell On Earth Pt.2” and “Hell On Earth Pt.3” that are done, so these are 2 more full-length videos completed but not released yet.

Alex: All that?
Scott: Yeah, and those are not released yet. We also begun writing the history of MANOWAR book and a history of MANOWAR is being done too. So, we’ve been doing a lot of stuff in these last 6 years, especially the last 2 and ? years. So, it took roughly a year and a half to compose and write and record the new record. Along with all everything else going on; having the studio up and running. And now that we have it this way it’s running (Scott knocks on wood) flawlessly. We want everybody to know it would NOT be another 6 year before a new record comes out. As a matter of fact, we should have a new record out before the end of 2003 (Kostas’ Note: cross your fingers people!). Another thing. You know how technology is today. It’s fucking great. I have some sequencing stuff on my computer and I can work on songs on the bus between gigs, so we are going to speed up the whole writing process. Long answer to a short question.

Kostas: All the work was done the last 2 years, basically. The 4 years before you were touring and touring and touring. But you hadn’t done that with all the previous albums. Why touring for 4 consequent years?
Scott: In the early years, fucking people wouldn’t let us play. We couldn’t pay people to let us play, so we had to make a record, we played a few gigs for 6 months and “Fuck, there is no place to play! Might as well do another record!” (laughter) No, seriously! And back then it was like “alright, roll the fucking analog tape and 1,2,3,4…” We pretty much everything at once and, Christ, I think we made “Hail To England” and “Sign Of The Hammer” in 11 days up in Toronto, at Phase One Studios.

Kostas: Compose and mix and…
Scott: Well, the songs were pretty much written but we had them recorded and completed in something like 11 days or something ridiculous like that. 2 albums worth of material. We went to England and wrote the title track “Sign Of The Hammer” but things were so much different than they are now. And besides, we are a type of band that will always move forward as far as the quality and the writing of our records doesn’t go backwards. This record had to be an improvement over “Louder Than Hell”. You can’t put something out to get something out and have a song like shit. We don’t want to do that. That’s another reason it took us so long. The more refined you get, the more particular you get in making a record and being perfectionist, which we tend to be, then it’s harder to tap your last work, so it takes a little longer to do.

Kostas: (sob) No more questions! (laughter) I’m afraid to ask you of anything! You talk too much! (laughter)
Scott: I talk too much? I’ll try and give a shorter answer.

Kostas: Ok, so why did you include “An American Trilogy” on the album? It seems a lot irrelevant with the rest of the album, to me at least.
Scott: Does it? When we started recording and composing this record it pretty much started to take a life, a shape of its own. When you are done with 2-3 songs you kind of feel the direction the record is going to go. Then, when you have 4-5 songs you get a little bit bigger picture of what our record is going to sound like. Sequentially and sonically, how the songs work together… We always wanted to do a cover of “The American Trilogy”, for about 10 years now and it’s never been the right time. As you know we never put a cover of anybody’s material on any of our records. We might have covered some songs live here and there in concerts but we never consciously said that we were going to do a version of this or that song. So, we felt, the way the album started to take shape and we’ve always wanted to do this song and it would fit nicely with the rest of the tracks and plus Elvis is a huge influence on us. He was a innovator back in his day. He didn’t give a shit what anybody else said him, he just did what he wanted anyway. He was the king of rock ‘n’ roll and we always thought this was very cool. We’ve always been big Elvis fans and this is a pretty tremendous song I think. It has a lot of emotion and a lot of energy in it.

Kostas: When I first listened to it, and I didn’t know then it was an Elvis Presley cover, I thought I was listening to something like a church hymn, especially with the line that goes: ‘Glory, glory, hallelujah!’

Scott: Are you familiar with the history of the song?

Kostas: Well, I read some things about it in the press release but not anything with many details. Scott: I’ll keep it short, alright? (laughter) The trilogy is obviously three pieces, the first one being “Dixie”. It starts with Dixie, which is the theme for the Southern forces in America during the civil war period and the last third was “Battle Hymn For The Republic”, which is your ‘Glory, glory, hallelujah!’, and that was pretty much the theme for the forces of the North. Then the middle section is actually “All My Trials”, which is actually a prayer-hymn kind of arrangement. So, you are correct when you say it sounds like something you will hear in church. It’s actually a prayer or a hymn. It’s kind of neat to take the 2 hymns for the forces of North and the forces of South and then sandwich them together with the prayer for the dead. It’s a pretty brilliant composition.

Kostas: So, it fits lyrically with the MANOWAR concept.
Scott: Yeah, sonically and lyrically. And like I said, I think it fits good on this album. I don’t think it would have fit in the last one, I don’t think it would have fit in the one before that, but I think it fits nicely into this record.

Kostas: Since I heard the album on tape, there was side A and side B. In side A all songs, except “Call To Arms”, were mid-tempo and ballad-like. So, why a side full of mid-tempo and ballad-like songs instead of a mixture with the speedy songs or maybe, less mid-tempo songs?
Scott: It’s funny because you probably get that feeling because of the media you are listening to. Listening to side A, then you take a little brief reprise of what you have listened to and then you start on side B and it’s like a whole different world. But when you listen to the CD from front to back, it takes you on a journey like a good book or a good movie would do. It starts out with a bang with “Call To Arms” and it gets you sucked up a little bit with “Fight For Freedom” and then it really takes a left turn with “Nessum Dorma”, and you go like: ‘What the hell is this doing here, but it’s cool!’, then it takes another right turn and it really twists and turns. Then about the middle of the album, when you go to “The March” you go: ‘What the fuck is this instrumental? It’s cool but what does a classical instrumental piece?’, then from that point on it goes through the roof, with “Warriors Of The World” and the 3 double-bass tracks in the end. To me, it starts somewhere and it is purposely done this way, sequentially. It gets you really sucked in and then shoots you through the roof at the end. How would it sound with “Nessum Dorma” as the last song? Like: ‘Uuuuuh… (moaning), what the fuck is this!?’ (laughter) But the way it is put together, I think, it makes a lot of sense musically.

Kostas: What about the cover art of the album? It brings to mind “Kings Of Metal”. Why the big resemblance?
Scott: Have you seen it?

Kostas: The cover of the album, not yet, but the cover of the CD-single, yes. I have seen part of the cover art of the album on your ‘secret’ website.
Scott: Here you go (he pulls out of a suitcase a G4 Mac computer and shows us the cover art of the album. It does indeed remind “Kings Of Metal”). It has the flags on the front and on the back it has flags which are not in the front. It is similar. We keep the theme growing; the heavy metal warrior. I also have the video, in case you want to check it, that was just completed for “Warriors Of The World” (we check the video. Simple but straightforward). (about five minutes later) Back to the real world.

Kostas: Indeed. Will the video be included in the album as a media section?
Scott: This is just completed days before we left and we left on Sunday. I just got the copy on Sunday. So, it is just completed and we don’t know what we are going to do with it yet.

Kostas: You are going to distribute it, that’s for sure!
Scott: We don’t know yet. We just got it done. You are some of the few people in premiere that have seen it; seriously. I just saw it for the first time Sunday. And today is Friday.

Alex: I feel proud.
Kostas: I feel special. So, why did you produce the album by yourselves?

Scott: Did we produce it?

Kostas: Didn’t you?
Scott: Yes, we did.

Kostas: Why then? Why not have a producer for instance?
Scott: Oh, I didn’t get the ‘why’ part in your question. We’ve produced pretty much all our records, the last several anyway, and we are happy with the results and we feel we are to the point where we know what we are doing. So, why have somebody else come in? We had Ronald Prent mix and do the final mixes and he did a great job. I don’t know if you are familiar with Ronald Prent and his Galaxy Studios…

Kostas: …In Belgium, yeah.
Scott: He did a pretty good job on the recordings. As a matter of fact, you guys are technoheads so you guys should be into the Super-Audio CD.

Alex: Direct stream digital.
Scott: Are you familiar with this format?

Alex: Yeah. It’s about 1 year and a half here in Greece.
Scott: Ok. Ronald Prent is on the board for Sony-Philips as far as researching and development and we are the first heavy metal band to be recording and releasing in super-audio CD 5.1 and as we speak he is mixing it. He is mixing the whole “Warriors Of The World Album” in Super-Audio CD format. So, now I have no excuse not to buy a Super-Audio CD-player. I have to have 1 by May 27th (the release date of the album) (laughter).

Alex: Why not DVD-audio? Some say it’s better.
Scott: It’s not better than SACD.

Alex: Some say it is.
Scott: I believe that SACD is the ultimate format. Hey, maybe we’ll do it in all formats, who knows? First we have CD, then SACD and maybe we’ll release it in all formats. A-track and cassette, who knows? (laughter)

Kostas: On the CD-single, “Warriors Of The World United” there is a media part. From it you can go to the ‘secret’ MANOWAR site and check a part of the cover art of “Warriors Of The World”. Don’t you think it’s a very commercial thing to do?
Scott: Sorry, what did you say again about the website?

Kostas: Don’t you know it?
Scott: No. But you’re saying that from the CD-single you can go to a website and get a glimpse of the cover art, right?

Kostas: Yeah, that’s right.
Scott: So, what’s wrong with that?

Kostas: Well, you don’t see the full cover. You see just parts of it. It’s divided in 9 parts, if I remember well, and every week there is one more part, which is shown, along with the previous ones.
Scott: So, what’s wrong with that?

Kostas: It’s a really commercial act. I didn’t quite like it… (Kostas’ Note: it seemed not so ‘true’…)
Scott: Don’t look at it then. You don’t have to anyway! You just saw the whole thing a few minutes ago! (laughter) It’s something for the fans; to give them something to look forward to. It’s kind of like Christmas 1 day every week.

Kostas: I have heard that you are going to tour in the US with IMMORTAL, right?
Scott: I guess so. I haven’t seen the itinerary yet.

Kostas: So, what is the connection between the 2 bands?
Scott: I will find out, because this is news to me. As a matter of fact, we played only 6 shows in the US. Like I said, our last show was Saturday in New Jersey and then Sunday we took a flight to Europe, so things have been fast and crazy and as soon as we come back in 10 days, we are going to start back in Philadelphia. That’s the only show that I know, because the rest are being filled in as we speak. So the touring information, it’s too early.

Kostas: Because IMMORTAL were doing a European tour with HYPOCRISY, SINISTER and some other bands and they cancelled it because they were going to tour with you.
Scott: During this next coming up?

Kostas: Yes.
Alex: Can we be your managers? We know more about MANOWAR than you! (laughter)
Scott: I don’t know the bands we play with until they walk in the door sometimes.

Kostas: Have you seen “The Lord Of The Rings”, the movie?
Scott: No, unfortunately I haven’t seen it yet. I have heard it is very very very good. Is it? Have you guys seen it?

Kostas: Yeah. Twice in cinema.
Scott: Do you highly recommend it?

Kostas: Definitely!
Scott: Cool! Is it out yet? Is it released in DVD?

Kostas: It is going to in a few months.
Scott: I have to check it out.

Kostas: So, the question is if you would ever consider writing music for such an epic film.
Scott: As a soundtrack piece? I think it would be cool. I think it would be very cool. Some of our stuff would work well in that type of movie or several other types of movies who could use some MANOWAR spicing up.

Alex: Conan…
Scott: Yeah, Conan part 7 or whatever (laughter) Sure we would love to do that.

Kostas: You are the only band I have seen selling mp3s on its website. I can’t ask you why you do it, because you make a living from it, but why should a fan buy an mp3 from your site instead of downloading it for free?
Scott: Because that’s stealing.

Kostas: Yeah, it is, but why not say: ”Buy the whole album, it’s worth it” instead of “Buy some mp3s”?
Scott: Maybe they only want 1 song.

Alex: It’s like provoking. You sell it and next door, it’s free.
Scott: Yeah, I know. It’s a big controversy this whole Napster/Gnutella thing. You know what? Here again you guys know with the technology it’s very cool; mp3s are cool, the concept is neat. You have a ton of information in a small place and you have a player that does no moving parts. It’s a cool concept. It’s like you are not supposed to make copies of CDs. That’s the whole thing. But it doesn’t make it right. I can see mp3s being, in that type of situation, beneficial if you had bands that would maybe be unknown or up and coming that would glad to give away their music, just to get heard. It would be cool in that application.

Alex: Lets stop this whole mp3 talking. We talk about it all the time.
Scott: What’s your feeling on it? To me there is problem.

Alex: I like it! I can’t help it. It’s free… Anyway, here in Greece CDs are expensive. It’s about 20 bucks a CD (Kostas’ Note: actually it’s about 15 Euros which is less than 14 US $) so with mp3 you can save money…

Scott: There are pros and cons.

Alex: And then we are technofreaks. (laughter) So, it’s easy for us.
Kostas: Lets say you could meet yourself back when you first started being with MANOWAR. What would you say to him?

Scott: What would I say to myself if I had him in front of me back from 1983?

Alex: You have yourself in front of you and he doesn’t know he is going to be famous etc.
Scott: Ok. Don’t drink so much (laughter)

Kostas: Use condoms. (laughter)
Scott: Yeah, yeah, use condoms! That’s a good one! Excellent idea! Don’t drink so much and use condoms. It would save you some trips to the doctor that way.

Kostas: Do you think that MANOWAR are evolving on their music album by album or just…
Scott: (he interrupts me) I answered that earlier. I really think we are. We are really consciously try to move forward sonically.

Kostas: You are evolving your sound or your music?
Scott: Both. We have done on this record a few things differently that, I think, enhanced the sound overall. Multiple rhythm guitar tracks and a few things we have done vocally to help thicken up the sound, to make it a little more rich, a little blusher sound, a little thicker, a little more dimension in the whole recording. Wait till you hear the CD. You have heard the cassette, which is sonically not accurate. But when you hear the CD finalized it’s pretty killer. Believe me. I am very critical. I have my own home studio and do a lot of stuff there and when you listen to it in a nice set of reference monitors, which are half-way accurate, it sounds really nice. Makkee 824, that’s what I use.

Kostas: Earlier, in the little question with the big answer, you said that MANOWAR are releasing this and that and a thousand thousand (that would be a million) things. Aren’t these a bit too much for the fans? Not all of them have plenty of money to buy every piece on your merchandise. They are ‘ordinary people’.
Alex: Suggestion. One at a time.

Scott: The thing is that it’s there. When you want to pick it up, it’s going to be there.

Alex: No, it’s not always there.
Scott: What do you mean?

Alex & Kostas: Here in Greece at least. And then, there are the special editions. If you miss them you can’t excuse yourself. And sometimes you have to order from the internet, from online stores. When you miss something here, you miss it.
Scott: That’s unfortunate. But all I can say is that it’s nicer to know that there are 15.000 things out there that you want and maybe can’t get right away but they are there, than to say: ‘There are only 2 things and I have both, so now what?’ What’s worse?

Kostas: You have a point there.
Scott: Sometimes you get complaints because you don’t have enough, sometimes you get complaints because you have too much.

Alex: Ok, you’re right! (laughter)
Kostas: Ok, we are done. The guys from the label are going to kill us (we had 20 minutes available but the interview lasted more than 40 minutes)! Thanks mate. Take care.

Scott: You too guys. I really enjoyed this interview!

Published by :


Copyright 2000 - 2002 ©
Site Design by Makis Kirkos.