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:: INTERVIEW TO MANTAS

PLEASE, PRESENT YOURSELVES OUR READERS...

Hi, my name is Mantas, I am the founder member of Venom, the creators of Black Metal.

WHAT'S ABOUT YOUR HISTORY?
As the founder member of Venom I am justifiably proud of what we created, our place in Metal history is secure and it does sometimes make me wonder where the path of Heavy Metal would have gone without Venom but that was then and this is now and I have never been the kind of person to rest on past glories as I feel I have so much more to give.

WHO DECIDED TO FOUND THE BAND?
Basically what happened was, Venom had been asked to headline a gig to celebrate 100 issues of a British extreme metal mag called Terrorizer to which we agreed. It was at this time during the preparations for the gig that Cronos had an accident which forced us to cancel the show. During this enforced lay off we basically just lost touch which is the way it has always been. What people have to realize is that aside from Venom the members have absolutely nothing in common with each other so it has always been Venom that held us together, when that is not there we go our separate ways. I then just concentrated on my Martial Arts training and gained another Black Belt this time in Aikido. Some months after these events I received a call from the guys at Demolition Records asking how I was and what I was doing and would I like to meet up for a chat. It was during this meeting that they put forward the idea of doing a solo album. At that time I had absolutely no thoughts of doing anything like that and it was only after several more meetings that I agreed to do it and began the writing process. It took nearly a year for me to agree to do it as I really did not have any plans to do anything like this however once I agree to do something I do it with 100% commitment and so began writing the songs and creating the images for “Zero Tolerance” Everything you see and hear was specifically created for “Zero Tolerance”, I wanted this to have no limits, no boundaries, no compromise. It would have been easy for me to write another Venom album and release it as Mantas but why do that, if I am going to make a change I make it a drastic one. It was during the recording process that myself and other people around me began to realize that this was taking on a life of its own and turning into something pretty special. What had started as a solo project was now demanding to be a band and I had the chance now to take things far more extreme than I could within Venom. I began to feel more musically alive than I had done in a long time and every song I wrote seemed to inspire the next, the writing process continued during the recording of the album and the track “Kill it” was literally written one day and recorded the next. To have musicians around me who could take this new beast out on the road was the next logical step. During the recording of the backing tracks the question arose as to who was going to handle the vocal duties. It was then that I received a phone call from a friend of mine with whom I train with in Aikido and he asked how the recording was going. I told him that it had come to the time to find a vocalist at which point he said he knew a guy who he had worked with in a previous band who he thought would be perfect for the job so he put me in touch with Bry. Bry then came down to the studio to have a listen to the songs and he liked what he heard. An audition was then arranged and we went to a different studio. At that time I had just began writing the lyrics and one of the first songs that came together with the lyrics was “Rise” so that was the track he sung. Two weeks later the job was his ! Here is an interesting point….. In 1990 Venom played in London at the Marquee club, it was at the time when Tony D. was in the band on bass and vocals and we had recorded the Prime Evil album. The gig was being recorded for video release and during the song Insane you see a guy stage dive across the front of the camera…..that guy was Bry who is now in my band on vocals. Marsy was originally brought in to design the web site, it was much later that I discovered he was a guitarist. By this time during the recording I was starting to think about a full band line up as things were progressing so well it just seemed natural that there should be a band. I wanted a second guitarist to add to the weight of the sound as the recordings were sounding so fucking brutal. Marsy was at that time in the process of disbanding his own band due to the lack of commitment from some of the members. I approached him to see if he would be interested in trying out for my band and gave him 2 songs to learn – “Rise” and “Original Sin”. He came back to the studio about a week later, played the tracks and the job was his. Obviously then Tony D. came in to handle bass duties which I was really happy about and with him came Cherisse on drums both of which have since very sadly departed the band, Cherisse because of other contractual reasons and Tony because of an unfortunate situation completely unrelated to this band. Tony is and always will be my closest friend and he is a great miss to us all but we have to move forward and so now have recruited ex Hellbastard bassist Drew. We now have an amazing young drummer from the Czech Republic called Marthus who we found via the internet and who had just relocated to England to continue with his music. We got in touch with him and invited him for an audition and when we all played together we knew that this was meant to be, he fitted in perfectly and is now a permanent member of the band. It took quite some time to find the right drummer but as soon as Marthus joined us we played our first show with him and new bass player Drew in Holland after just 2 rehearsals and I have to admit that it was even more brutal than the last line up. We then played in London again at the end of 2004 and are now looking forward to getting into Europe in 2005. This band just loves to play live and believe me its pretty fucking intense on that stage! I think a lot of people are going to be surprised when they see us.

THE MAIN FACTS IN YOUR HISTORY...
Venom were the first band to take Metallica to Europe as their support act, other acts who supported Venom in the early years were Slayer and Exodus.

WHAT'S ABOUT YOUR PREVIOUS RECODING PRODUCTION?
Many albums with Venom of which my favourites are; Welcome to Hell, Black Metal, Prime Evil and Resurrection.

I GUESS YOU MUST REALLY SATISFIED WITH THIS DEAL OF DEMOLITION RECORDS...

I have known the guys at Demolition for quite some time now and as I said, I really did not have any plans to do anything like this, it was them who approached me with the offer and it was only after long consideration that I agreed to do this. I signed purely as a chance to do something with the music that I love not realising the beast that I would create in the process. I had not even looked ahead as far as putting a band together or live dates or anything like that it was just as things progressed I realised that this was destined to go somewhere and it literally took on a life of its own. The guys at Demolition had the faith in me that they knew as the main writer in Venom I could deliver the goods. They wanted a fucking heavy album……. I gave it to them.

A QUICK INTRODUCTION TO 'ZERO TOLERANCE'?
“Zero Tolerance” is definitely what I am about musically. I feel as though I am writing without any restrictions, musically or lyrically, I don’t have to sound like Venom which has given me the freedom to explore more sonic possibilities. After all, what would be the point in me leaving Venom only to return with long blonde hair and an album that sounds like any other Venom album ? I am essentially a creature of habit in as much as I like a routine but if I make any change in my life I make it a drastic one ! Why paint a white wall white again ? Paint it black, paint it red, make a difference…. That’s why I’ve got a Mohican haircut and an album that I think sounds fuck all like Venom “Zero Tolerance” is ME, it’s me writing the heaviest shit possible with no compromise. I love metal, simple as that, and I am very proud of this new beast that I have created and now its time to let it loose and see what damage it can do.

WHY SUCH TITLE?
Zero Tolerance to me means having no limits, no boundaries, no compromise, no holds barred, straight down the line in your fucking face maximum brutality !!!!!!!!!! I suppose for my own indulgence as the founder member of Venom I really wanted to put my own stamp on this album and say “this is where the real Metal came from” and because of that I was determined to write the heaviest material possible... NO LIMITS, NO COMPROMISE, NO HOLDS BARRED… ZERO FUCKING TOLERANCE!!!!!

YOUR ALBUM HAS A STRONG THRASH METAL BACKGROUND...
It is interesting that everyone seems to have their own ideas as to what “Zero Tolerance” is and that is good because it says to me that it crosses a lot of boundaries within the world of Heavy Metal. There are a lot of cross over elements on the album but that is definitely not deliberate, it is just the way it came out. It is obviously very difficult to be totally original these days by the very nature of the sheer number of bands which are around. When I founded Venom all those years ago there were not the amount of bands around as there are today but even then it was never a conscious or contrived effort, I just did what came naturally to me maybe through ignorance, who knows , but they do say that ignorance is bliss and I try not to let myself be influenced by the current scene or what is hip at the time, you have to try and retain some kind of originality however hard that maybe and I would much rather be a leader than a follower. I think, and I have been told, that I have created an identifiable Mantas sound which says to me that I have retained some originality and who knows maybe in the future people will say “they sound like Mantas”, that was certainly said of Venom with all the bands that followed us. I feel as though I am writing without any restrictions, musically or lyrically, I don’t have to sound like Venom which has given me the freedom to explore more sonic possibilities. I think that this album crosses all the boundaries of all the sub genres of metal and when I am asked which category it fits into my answer is always HEAVY FUCKING METAL !!!

WHAT'S ABOUT ITS MOOD?
People have told me it is quite a dark menacing album and lyrically is real and thought provoking.

THE SOUND IS VERY POWERFUL...
Everything you see and hear was specifically created for “Zero Tolerance”, I wanted this to have no limits, no boundaries, no compromise. It would have been easy for me to write another Venom album and release it as Mantas but why do that, if I am going to make a change I make it a drastic one. I feel that I have written songs without restriction, musically or lyrically and that I have taken my music far in excess of what I could have done in Venom and this is only the beginning, it will get more extreme.

MORE INFOS ABOUT YOUR SOUND?
The whole album was recorded in Cubase SX. I found that recording this way gives me more freedom and control over the whole process and of course does not limit you in any way as to the number of tracks you can use. On this album all the guitars were recorded directly into Cubase SX via a guitar processor. All these layers went in completely dry with no effects then I went into a live room and set up the guitar stack – 2 Marshall 100 watt heads through 4 4-12 cabinets and ran the same processor in stereo through the 2 heads with a touch of Chorus. I then recorded the song straight through in 1 take to add more movement and a certain live feel, the guitar I used for these takes was a BC Rich Beast Pro Platinum Series. All the takes that were recorded into Cubase were done on a Jackson and my old faithful Ibanez RG which I have had for many years. All of the samples that you hear on the album were created in the studio by myself and Bry so they are all original. All the voices you hear are either me or Bry and we had a great time doing them. The samples you hear at the beginning of “Rise” were created on my home studio then flown in via CD. Dario Mollo has produced the album and was suggested to me after he did some work on another of Demolitions bands. I sent him the song “Rage” to see what he could do with it and what he sent me back impressed me so much that I had to have him do the rest of the album. I can honestly say that this is the best sounding album I have ever had. It was recorded really well and Dario has just worked that extra magic on it. It is brutal to the extreme but has a vicious clarity to it so that nothing is lost. It is definitely a guitar driven album and Dario is well known for his guitar playing so I think it made sense to have someone who understood the needs of a guitarist to produce this album. All I can say is thank you Dario.

WHAT'S ABOUT YOUR WAY TO WRITE?
It really depends, sometimes the music comes first sometimes the lyrics. As a musician and song writer you are constantly being creative so you tend to accumulate archives of riffs and lyrics. I have tons of stuff even from the very early days of Venom which have never been used and there is a lot of stuff from the writing process of “Zero Tolerance” that I just did not get round to using, 2 of these tracks will appear on an EP, with a lot of other cool stuff, which will be released next year to coincide with a tour we are planning. However all the songs on “Zero Tolerance” were specifically written for the new album and I would have to say that on this particular occasion that 90% of the music came first then I looked at the phrasing of how the words would fit within the structure of the song then came the subject matter for the lyrics. Sometimes even an idea for a song title can inspire a whole song, for example the song “Zero Tolerance”, the music was already written and recorded and it was only when I began to write the lyrics that this song became the title track of the album, until that point I knew that I wanted the album to be called “Zero Tolerance” but had not chosen any specific song to be the title track so I suppose it was quite spontaneous which is often the best way and creates the best songs. Another example would be “Kill It” which was literally written one day and recorded the next. I think a great metal song needs to come from the heart. I have never been concerned with what is musically or mathematically correct, I just play what feels and sounds right to me. You need to get that conviction in your playing across to the listener, they need to know that you mean every single note you play, you need to move them physically and emotionally.

WHAT'S THE ROLE OF LYRICS?
I have always said that you should make your own mind up about the contents of the lyrics and take from them what they mean to you as an individual and not what I tell you they mean, this way it makes the song more personal to you. Let me ask you and your readers a question, it is a question that I have asked quite a few people and I would be very interested to hear your thoughts and answers so maybe you could ask them to write to your website with their ideas. Here it is – What do you think or what do the lyrics to “Kill It” mean to you? I would be very surprised but also pleased if they mean the same to you as they do to me. Who knows, they might have a much more personal meaning to you and that is good because that song then becomes yours, not mine. I know what they mean to me and I feel strongly about it but that is my opinion not yours, if it is your opinion, then good, we have something in common and I have shared it with you but it is for you as an individual to take from it what you get and that applies to all the lyrics on the album. Make up your own mind. I think the lyrics to “Original Sin” and “Look who died” are self explanatory, but I think they come across in a much more real sense and after all, reality is far more frightening than the idea of demons and goblins and if you want any more evidence of that just turn on the news channel.

I FEEL AN ANGRY ATTITUDE IN YOUR SOUND...
The world is a pretty fucked up place at the moment. On this album I have written about a lot of things which are either personal to me or that I feel strongly about but that’s not to say that I am trying to force my opinion on anyone, no way, after all I am a musician not a politician.

WOULD YOU LIKE TO TALK ABOUT THE TRACKS FEATURED IN?
Firstly I would have to say that they are definitely the heaviest songs that I have ever written both musically and lyrically, they have real aggression in them and songs like “Rise” and “Drill” I have been told, by those who have heard them, are particularly menacing. I am so proud of all the songs, I can’t wait for people to hear them. “Rage” is mid paced brutality with a surprisingly melodic ending and a nice sick twist to the final lyric. “Kill it” is out and out, no excuses thrash. Songs like “Stone Cold”, “Insanity” and “Bring it on” are just full on, in your face, no holds barred HEAVY FUCKING METAL!!! Tracks like “Look who died” and “Original Sin” speak for themselves; I still do not like religion.

INTERESTED IN SPREADING MESSAGES THRU YOUR MUSIC?
As I have already said ...I am a musician not a politician but if someone gets something specific from my music then it is their choice to interpret it that way and if it just makes you bang your fucking head .....then it has done its job!!

WHAT'S ABOUT YOUR FUTURE PLANS?
In 2005 we really plan to tour hard, anywhere and with anybody, we just want to play live. We are also hoping to hit as many of the summer festivals as possible. We have just confirmed for the Inferno Fest in Oslo on March 26th and I have just heard that we are to appear at a festival in Belgium around August. We have also recorded a promo video for the song “Zero Tolerance” but due to the line up changes we are going to re-shoot the band footage. All the other footage containing the story lines are ready to go. We are also going to be releasing an EP to coincide with our touring plans which will feature some new material and other cool stuff.

WHAT'S ABOUT YOUR EVERYDAY LIFE?
I also teach Martial Arts in my home town at my own Dojo.

ANY LAST REMARKS?
Check out “ZERO TOLERANCE” if you are into REAL METAL you are going to love it! See you all on tour my friends!! Thanks for a very interesting interview, KEEP METAL ALIVE!! ZERO FUCKING TOLERANCE!!!!!!!!!! Cheers, Mantas.

For more infos:
http://www.demolitionrecords.com/
http://www.mantas666.co.uk/

EMANUELE GENTILE

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