The Kings
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..: Interview May 2002 by Ferdi :..

What does one do when you're the uncrowned metalking, touring the USA, and have to do promotion for your upcomming cd? Exactly, you ask the journalist in question to call you in your hotel-room. That was how it came that I picked up the phone on a cold Thursday night (remember, the time difference Europe-States is about eight hours) for a phonecall to the Phoenix Hotel in San Fransisco for an interview with guitarplayer Karl Logan.

You're currently touring the US with Immortal. Some people think that it is strange to see Manowar touring with a Norwegian Black Metal-band.

Well, I think that it is okay. It's true that they are a different band then us, but they're great guys. I don't mind to have bands from a different genre to open for us. And on this tour we've been attracting mixed crowds. There are Black/Death Metal-fans showing up, there are Manowar fans showing up, so there's a lot of exposure to people who might not have heard about the band. And Immortal is a good group. Yesterday evening I saw their show for the first time, and I was impressed by what they did. After all, it's still metal. And what Immortal is doing is real. It's hard, it's metal. There's no bullshit in their music. It's not made for the radio, they play what they love. And I don't think that Metal-fans care a lot about these genres. Metal-fans just want to go to a show, drink beer, get their heads blown off and fuck a woman afterwards.

The new album is called Warriors Of The World. Who are the warriors referred to in the title?
The warriors in the album's title are our fans who have not lost faith in heavy metal and have been loyal to the band throughout the years. And Manowar has the greatest fans in the world. Without fans we would be nothing. Face it, radio and TV ignore us, they think that we are too loud for them. That's fine, so fuck them. Our fans, THOSE are the ones who keep us going. The album-title is a tribute to them. We salute our fans, we salute the people we are uniting through our music and concerts. Because everything we do is done for the fans. Everything. What would a band be without its fans? Without our fans you have nothing but empty seats and a big ego.

Manowar cares more about its fans than any other metalband I know. Why are your fans so important to you?
The people who buy the albums are our lifeblood. THEY are the ones buying the records, THEY are going to our concerts, and THEY are waiting at airports or at the exit of venues to shake our hands and to get our autographs. I mean, yesterday this guy came up to us. He had his back, all the way from his neck to the crack of his ass, tattooed with the artwork of Kings Of Metal. Such dedication of someone is unbelievable. To think that someone is dedicated enough to the band that he wants to spend the rest of his life with our image on his body is simply amazing. Those are the people we live for.

It's been a long while since you released a studio-album. How does it feel to have a new album out?
It feels great. I has been a long time. After our last record we toured for four years. We went to places we'd never been before, we played large arena's and small clubs. We have remastered three of the older albums, released two double live-cd's, compiled three parts of the Hell On Earth DVD and a fourth DVD with our full show of the Monsters Of Rock in Brazil, done with twelve camera's and no cuts in between the songs. So it took a long time before we could work on an album. It's not like we've been sitting on our asses all time. Now that we're on the road again we hear from people who say that they can't wait for our album, and nothing pleases us more. We're on tour now, and we're playing the title-track each night and people act like crazy when they hear it. They sing along to the song. Either they got it from the internet or they ordered our single from our website. The dedication of our fans is huge.

What do you think about the new album yourself?
I am extremely proud of it. It's a true Manowar CD. Lots of variety. For every light there's a dark, for each defeat there's a victory. We're not blowing people's heads off on each song, we also take a step back and show the majestic side of the band. This album is more than loud, it's also bright, dynamic and epic.

What I like most about it is the combination of different aspects on this album. There's lots of variety.
Exactly! That's something we deliberately worked on. When we did Triumph Of Steel we wrote a straightforward rock/metal album. This time we took things in a different way, and wanted to show people this rich side of the band. And we've heard people say it reminds them of albums like Kings Of Metal or Into Glory ride. That's great.

Did it take you long to record this album?
No, on the contrary. This one came together very quickly, all in all we spend less than a year and a half to write, record, mix and master the CD. We recorded this CD in our own, new studio, and digital technique made it a breeze. You know, in the past when you wanted to try things out you had to physically adjust the music. You had to rewind the track, play a certain part again and try how it sounds. That took a lot of time. This time we could play a certain part, put it in the computer, and edit it all we want. Composing music suddenly became like writing a letter using a word-processor. If we wanted to find out how a certain bit would sound if we shortened it, we could just load the track and chop a bit off. This made us record it really fast. The final mastering was done in the Galaxy Studio, and that helped a lot too. I believe that this album is the BEST sounding Manowar-CD to date.

Did you feel a lot of pressure when you worked on this cd, because the previous one was released such a long time ago?
No, because we never stopped working. After the last CD, fans were asking us: 'when will you guys release a live-album?', because all they had were shitty bootlegs. So we decided we wanted to make a live-album. But because a single CD wouldn't be, we released a double-album. After we released it, people asked why certain songs were missing. They were right, it missed out on a lot of classics, so we had to release another double live-album. After that people asked for a live-video, so we put together the Hell On Earth DVDs. There has been a lot going on. Only when the time was right could we begin working on the new album.

What exctly is your relationship with The Netherlands?
Well, I personally had a fiance there for two years. She lived in Rotterdam, and I spend a lot of time in that city. So I've been in Holland quite a lot.

The Netherlands is a country whose Metal-scene has always been dominated by more extreme kinds of metal, and a lot of people here seem to hate Manowar. Our biggest heavy metal magazine, Aardschok, seems to write a negative article for every positive one. Don't you have a love/hate relationship with this country by now?
Man, we have a love-hate relationship with EVERY country! Everywhere we go people ask us 'why are you doing this, why are you doing that?' But let me tell you, it is easy to take impressions and not look any deeper. Take this new record: some people might say that it's this same old Manowar again. But that's bullshit. There are (of course) the typical Manowar-songs, but also very sensitive songs. Songs that show the feminine side of this band. But people don't look at those things, they look at the thing that first catches their eye and base their judgment on it.

You guys get a lot of criticism for your image, music and lyrics. Do bad reviews bother you?
No, not at all. We are Manowar, we don't live to please the critics. We only care about the fans, and journalists don't mean a thing to us. If the fans would, for example, write on their website that they don't like something that we're doing, well, then we would have a genuine reason to have a meeting with the rest of the band to find out what we've been doing wrong. But the journalists who write about us.. you know… if you'd ask me to write about some of the bands that are around, I would murder them. I would fucking slaughter them in my review. But it doesn't matter. When you're creating your music as a musician, you're giving your interpretation of life. You're describing your vision of the world. And once you do that you're inevitably exposing yourself and making yourself vulnerable. But you can't let the criticism get to you and let it change you. That would be letting them win! Do you know how many record companies have tried to change Manowar? About twenty! They all said something like: "couldn't you play less heavy, less loud, make a hitsingle etcetera?". And that's bullshit. We are Manowar, we're not gonna fucking change! Some people don't realize that what we are doing is real. It's real to us, it's real to our fans, and THAT'S why we're not gonna change it. But some people don't want to look any further than the obvious, and that's why they never get to see the real side of us.

Back to the album. One of the most interesting songs on the album is Nessun Dorma.
That song is a tribute to our fans in Italy. We played it on Gods Of Metal a couple of years ago, and the response was overwhelming. People were holding their lighteners and cell phones in the air, male metal-fans were crying for joy. You know, Manowar has always tried to be different from the rest. I know that a lot of bands try to imitate what we are doing, and we recorded this track as a challenge to the metal-world. It's a message to all these bands: 'dare to be different'. Anyway, the day after we played it live, some fucker put the song on the internet. It was a crap bootleg, it sounded awful. But our Italian fans wrote on our website, 'We can't believe that you did it, we love the song, please put it on your next CD.' So we said to each other: 'look, the fans ask for it. We've got to record it.' So we did.

And what is the song about? I listened to the song, the vocals are beautiful but I haven't got a clue what the fuck Eric is singing about.
Hehehe, I understand. Well, the CD will have the English translation in the liner notes. Nessun Dorma is a love-song. It's about a guy who is so deeply in love with a girl that he's willing to do everything for her. It's a very dramatic and emotional song.

That's not the kind of theme that you would normally associate with Manowar.
That's right, but we're not out there to be predictable. We follow our own ideals and this song seemed to fit in with the rest of the material, especially because there are a lot of other epic songs on the album. I don't know if Manowar could write a song like that themselves, you would have to ask Joey that question. But as this is a cover we decided that it's okay. We've always wanted to record something classical, and perform it with style.

Manowar has indeed always been influenced by classical music and opera.
That's true. I consider Wagner to be the granddad of heavy metal. He was the first one to triple the orchestra and increase the emotions. Classical music is very emotional, dynamic and powerful - exactly the same thing that heavy metal is supposed to be. Heavy metal is full of power and beauty, so is classical music. That's a comparison you can't ignore. If Bach or Mozart would've been alive today, what do you think they would have played? Why, heavy metal of course! They would have wanted to utilize all the newest technology to push their music even further and make it more powerful. And what's more powerful than an amplified instrument? Nothing! Heavy metal and classical music have more in common with eachother than some people may think.

Another ear catcher is the song An American Trilogy, a song that is most known for being one of Elvis' great live showstoppers.
You know, we've always admired Elvis had this whole heavy metal attitude years before the style was born. Everyone told him: do not to play your guitar so loud, do not to shake your hips and do not to make the girls scream during every concert. And Elvis had the balls to stand up to that and, did those things anyway. This particular song is really special. It's a song that he always saved for the encores, because it was a really emotional song. The song is divided in three parts. The first part 'Dixy' is the hymn to the southern states, the second part 'Battle Hymn Of The Republic' is a hymn to the northern states, and the last part is a hymn to America. It's a very patriotic song, which by the way isn't the same as nationalistic. It deals with people who are fighting in various wars, real men who are dying for what they believe in.

Was your choice for this song perhaps inspired by the 9/11 attacks?
Actually, no. We wanted to record these songs for years, but it never seemed to fit the concept of the CDs. This time it did. However there is one other song on the new CD that IS dedicated to the victims, heroes and survivors of the 9/11 attacks. That song is called Fight For Freedom. It was actually written before the attacks, but when we watched the plains crashing down we knew that we HAD to dedicate this song to those people.

Heavy metal is on the rise, especially here in Europe. A lot of new bands are feeling influenced by Manowar. What does Manowar think of this, and what would you say to these bands?
Well, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. And I'm not saying that to be cocky: it's nice to know that people are influenced by the things that we do. I mean, there are quite a few guitar players from the 70s and the 80s that I feel influenced by, and I wouldn't be surprised if they felt flattered if they knew that I feel inspired by them. There's one thing that I'm a bit worried about, though. I like it when young bands appreciate us, but I hope that they won't just copy us. That wouldn't work well for them, because the audience isn't stupid and knows when they hear a rip-off. And no matter what happens, Manowar will always be one step ahead of everything else. So I would advise young bands: listen to our music, let it inspire you, and then try to do your own thing.

Do you listen to a lot of the new bands yourself?

I've got to be honest with you: no, not really. Most of the stuff that I hear are CDs that people give to me, and the bands that we play with. You know, when you've just rocked the crowd and have been playing in front of an entire row of speakers that are all blowing 120 decibels into your ears, then the last thing you want to hear is a Heavy Metal CD. I mainly listen to soundtracks and classical music. A lot of contemporary artists too. Good music, that you wouldn't usually hear on the radio. I try to avoid listening to other metalbands when we are writing a record, because it distracts me from creating my own, original music.

The American Metal-scene is currently dominated by shit like Deftones, Limp Bizkit and Slipknot. What do you think of the movement of this so-called nu-Metal?
I resent it. I like many different styles of music, but the thing that I hate most is rap and hip hop. The worst thing that any band could do is mix those things with Heavy Metal, that's completely horrible. Adding Rap to Rock is like taking the most beautiful girl you've ever seen to a plastic surgeon, and ask him to put a penis on her. I don't even call those bands metal, that's an insult to everybody who works with this music. It's a downright shame, that some people are confusing that shit with metal. The only reason I could figure out why people would call those bands metal is because there are teenage journalists who have never heard REAL metal before. I consider it an insult to us and our fans. It's degrading.

What does Heavy Metal mean to you?
It is about being authentic. You know, before you had MTV there were bands like Led Zeppelin and Alice Cooper. They were making a statement with their music. That statement didn't last for four or five minutes. No, that statement lasted for 45 minutes. It was a work of art. Nowadays you have bands writing their music and wondering 'is this short enough to be plaid on the radio? Should we throw in more raps or hiphop-beats?' That's not Metal! Metal is about believing in yourself, and taking people along in the world you created.

Okay. This brings me to my last question. In 1988, Manowar released the album Kings Of Metal. It's 2002 now. The world has changed, heavy metal has changed. Band come and go, but Manowar is still here. Are Manowar still the Kings Of Metal?
Let me put it this way... that is up to the fans to say. Kings Of Metal is a title that the fans gave to us. People came up to the band and said 'guys, you are the true kings of Metal'. So it's not a title that Manowar slapped onto itself, that would be arrogant. But years have passed, and people are still telling us that we are their kings of Metal. Some people come up to me after the show and say Karl, you're true king of Metal. They do that, despite that they know I didn't even play on that record. That's flattering, they hail me as the same king that Ross was. So, as long as the fans think so, Manowar will be the one and only Metal Kings.


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