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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
Alex: Direct stream digital.
Scott: Are you familiar with this format?
Alex: Yeah. It’s about 1 year and a half here
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
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?
Alex: Can we be your managers? We know more about MANOWAR than you!
Scott: I don’t know the bands we play with until they walk in the
Kostas: Have you seen “The Lord Of The Rings”,
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?
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.
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
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
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
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 : metaleagle.com