Mantas (MANTAS, ex-VENOM) (3/4/04)

First of all, please tell me about what's going on with MANTAS.

For around a year now I have been concentrating on putting the Zero Tolerancealbum together, which includes writing the songs, designing the logos and images and of course putting the band together. I have wrote 15 brand new songs in total specifically for this album, 10 of which will appear on the album and the other 5 will be kept for bonus tracks and maybe even 1 free download from the website which is due to be launched early March

The 10 tracks are "Zero Tolerance", "Rage", "Drill", "kill It", "Look Who Died", "Stone Cold", "Original Sin", "Rise", "Insanity", "Bring It On". The songs have been written without compromise, total brutality NO HOLDS BARRED !!

Would you tell me about members?

Sure, here are the members names and what they play. Bry (Vo), Marsy (Gr), Mantas (Gr), Cherisse (Dr), Tony D. (Ba & Backing Vo)

Obviously everyone knows that I have worked with Tony D. before and I was really happy when he stepped in to play bass. I gave him total freedom to interpret the songs as he heard them because I trust his judgement completely and I think he has done an amazing job. Apart from anything else Tony has been my closest friend for many years and was even my best man at my wedding, its great to be working with him.

Bry was recommended to me for the vocal job by a friend of mine with whom I train in Aikido. He had worked with Bry in a previous band and thought he would be perfect for the band……. He was right. Bry can be totally aggressive or he can be melodic and you will hear both on the album, though obviously more of the aggressive. His main influence is Max Cavalera and his love of extreme metal makes him an important part of this band.

Marsy was originally brought in to design the MANTAS website, which he has done and it looks amazing, it was only later that I found out that he played guitar. I asked him if he would like to try out for the band and he said yes. At this point I only had a couple of tracks recorded, so I gave him a copy of "Rise" and "Original Sin" to learn. A few days later he came back and played them for me.. the job was his, no problem. I was really lucky to get him at this point because he was in the process of breaking up his own band and concentrating on his web design. Marsy is into REAL METAL and is dedicated to playing the heaviest music possible !!

Which brings us to Cherisse..what can I say an 18 year old female drummer and she is fucking amazing !!!. She was recommended to me by Tony D. who had done some session work with her in London. He took her into the studio and she played to the backing tracks of "Rage"and "Kill It". He then sent me the CD of this along with her paying a solo piece. We then booked a rehearsal studio in London and myself and Bry drove the 300 miles to meet her. Myself, Bry, Tony D. and Cherisse rehearsed for 4 hours and she knew every song inside out, I was totally blown away. She is a perfectionist with a natural ability for her chosen instrument…… I think a lot of people are in for a shock when they see her play.

It is really good to eventually be in a band with people that I now consider to be true friends, there are no egos, no bullshit, everyone wants the best for everyone else and to make this band the very best it can be and this shows in our performance. When we are all together there is a definite feeling that this is something special and as soon as we plug in and play …….. this is one ferocious creature that no-one will stop.

When is the new album called "Zero Tolerance" ready?

It is ready now as we speak. We are waiting for the masters to return from Italy. The artwork for the CD is at the printers now so everything is ready to go. We are hoping for the release date to be 26th April 2004. 26 ZERO4 2ZEROZERO4. We have even recorded the track "Black Metal" especially for the Japanese release of the CD.

Who's the producer?

It has been produced in Italy at Damage Inc Studios by Dario Mollo. I think Dario has done an amazing job with the production, it sounds much heavier than anything I have done in the past but still retains sharpness and clarity. I cannot wait for everyone to hear this CD.

Any concept or message on the album?

I tend not to put any deliberate messages into my songs, after all I am a musician not a politician. I do write about things personal to me or how I feel about certain things but never to force my opinions on someone else. The contents of my songs will probably mean different things to different people and that is good, after all we are all individuals with our own minds and the power of choice, ultimately music is a very powerful and universal language and it can contain any message that you as an individual choose to take from it, whether it be a love song or thrash metal. Let us all just enjoy the music together.

I checked the promo CD which contains three tracks. The production is great and the playing is very tight. Anyway what impressed me the most is you still stick to thrash metal (of course in a different way from 80's). Actually it's heavier than these days death metal or stuff like that.

Domo, Domo arigato, thank you. I have tried to stay true to myself and the music that I love and then to make it HEAVIER ! On this CD I really wanted to be able to hear the riffs, I wanted the guitars to be surgical, razor sharp, so the when you listen to the songs , you were never in any doubt as to what was happening. I wanted to try and retain every element of metal that I love and so wrote and recorded the songs in the way that I felt would give me and anyone who hears them exactly what they want. Everyone will have their own favourite song from this album, but every song is an absolute killer ! Zero Tolerance my friend, no compromise.

"Zero Tolerance" sounds super heavy and could be the theme song of the band. By the way, someone who sounds like Cronos is screaming in the middle of the track. Who's screaming "Put your hands in the air etc" ?

That is actually me and the voices that you hear before that are Bry. You are right to say that "Zero Tolerance" is the theme song of the band, in fact everything is now under the name Zero Tolerance. Our merchandise will soon be coming out as Z.F.T. Metal Wear, you can guess what the F stands for !!

"Rage" features (I should say) catchy chorus and its last 2 minutes is impressive, especially vocal melody.

Again, thank you. I am really pleased with the way "Rage" turned out, in fact it looks set to be the first single and promo video from the album. This is definitely the song where Bry found his vocal style for the rest of the album. We were recording in the early hours of the morning, around 2 am when we decsidedto try something a little different in the way of recording the vocals, needless to say it worked and its our little secret. When I wrote "Rage" I had the idea of going from all out aggression to an almost dream like sequence at the end and I think it really works. I gave Bry the vocal melody and he did it no problem, then Tony D. added his own touch with some really cool moving bass lines underneath the guitars and "Rage" was born.

"Kill It" is nothing but extreme attack of thrash mayhem. This one is my favorite you know.

Cool, when we play in Japan I will dedicate this one to you ! This one was written to be just that . As you say extreme thrash mayhem.In that case I am sure you will also like "Stone Cold" and "Insanity".

One thing I'm not satisfied is that there is few guitar solo on it.

When I wrote all the songs I made a conscious descision that I would only put a solo into a song where I really thought it needed it or would make a difference to the song. I wanted to try to stay away from the standard verse, chorus, verse, chorus, guitar solo, verse, chorus, end and make every part of the song stand up on its own, besides, all of the riffs are so heavy and so good to play I just want to rock out with them. Honestly think that a guitar solo should take the song somewhere else and add to the song rather than be put there as a cliché. Sometimes, less is more.

Who played the drums on this CD? It sounds quite like machine.

It is a mixture of programming, an Italian session player and Cherisse. Cherisse can play everything on the album and more, she is a very talented drummer and as Ive already said, the first time I heard her play I was totally blown away and even now she gets better with every rehearsal. When it comes to recording, I am of the opinion that whatever works for the song should be done, having said that, I would not record anything that could not be done live because after all, Metal is a live performance based music.

Tony mentioned before that MANTAS will tour Japan late this year. Is it true? If so, what songs are you going to play? and which city will you tour?

Definitely hope so, it has been my dream to play in Japan since the first day I picked up a guitar and we are currently seeking Japanese promoters and venues. Obviously I think we will be playing in Tokyo, but we will play anywhere in Japan that we can. We will almost certainly be playing every song from the new album plus a few Venom classics, but you will find out which ones when we get there.

After leaving VENOM, you released a solo album called "Winds of change"(1987). It includes the song called "Sayonara". So you seem to like Japan.

I love Japan, the history, the culture, the tradition, the foodeverything, and most obviously the Martial Arts and so does Bry? vocals. Two of my greatest heros are O Sensei Morihei Ueshiba, founder of Aikido and Gozo Shioda founder of the Yoshinkan Aikido. I hold Shodanin Aikido and it has long been my dream to visit the Aiki Shrine in Iwama to pay my respects to O Sensei. Both myself and Bry have talked of how it would be a dream come true to visit Japan because of our interest in your country. There is another song on Winds Of Changecalled "Western Days" and the lyrics speak of my desire to visit Japan. I have recently been watching the K1 Kickboxing matches from the Tokyo Dome on satellite TV and it looks awesome - another Japanese fighter I admire is Masakatu Funaki of Ps Lab Pancrase Hybrid Wrestling. I have recently bought the official training text so maybe you can translate it for me when I visit because other than Martial Arts techniques, my Japanese is not so good. I will have to learn more. As for Japanese music, I love everything from traditional to Loudness, they are a great metal band and Akira Takasaki is one of my favourite guitarists. So, as I say, everything from Samurai tradition to modern technology, I can not wait to visit.

Would you tell me about the U.K. thrash scene in 80's?

I must admit that I did not really involve myself with the scene at the time and one of my main reasons for this was not wanting anything to influence my song writing for Venom as I was always about leading and not following. Sure , I was aware of what was happening and there were a lot of good bands around then, the scene was very healthy and that is always good for metal as we must constantly evolve otherwise we become extinct. The main bands that I was most aquainted with at the time were all from my home town in Newcastle like TYSON DOG, AVENGER and of course ATOMKRAFT.

What do you think of bands that were popular at that times such as ONSLAUGHT, ACID REIGN and SABBAT?

I'm going to let Bry answer that one because he is an encyclopedia of Heavy Metal and he knows those bands better than I do.


Hi Masa, I think ONSLAUGHT were better as a Death type outfit and their album Power From Hellwas one of their best moments. Their cover of "Let There Be Rock" sucked, although that's just my opinion, its just one of those songs that's best left to the originals.  ACID REIGN, yeah man, I did a lot of stage diving at their gigs, they were cool. By the way, if you ever get to see the Live 90VENOM video from the Marquee in London when Tony D. was in the band, the guy that dives across the stage during the track "Insane" was me, little did I know that almost 14 years later I would be singing in a band with Mantas and Tony D. SABBAT, the first two albums with Martin were great, after that I think they tried to sound too much like a Bay Area thrash band which is best left to those who do that the best, the Bay Area bands. Thank you Masa, hope to see you soon.

By the way, what's going on with VENOM right now?

Nothing from my point of view at this time as I am too busy and too happy with this band.

What was it like playing with Cronos again in 1996?

Strange at first as we had not seen each other for around 10 years and everyone was quite wary of everyone else because you have to remember that the members of Venom were never great friends. I think out of all of the time that the original members of the band were together, the two members who worked best together were myself and Cronos as we were the song writers, something that the drummer was never involved in.

What is your favorite VENOM song?

Difficult question but I would have to say "Witching Hour" because of the way I play it now.

Who's your main influence as a guitar player?

I would say that my inspiration to become a metal guitarist was definitely K.K. Downing of JUDAS PRIEST. I saw them on the Killing Machine tour way back and just thought that he was the ultimate metal guitarist, not only from a playing point of view but the image was perfect as well, right down to the flying V guitar which I immediately went out and bought as a result of seeing him. I think that some of the best metal guitar solos have come from K.K. Downing and Glen Tipton and I am really looking forward to seeing Judas Priest back this year. It seems strange that all these years later "Guitar World" magazine have just named their "Top 100 Metal Guitarists of all time" and I am number 39 and K.K. and Glen are number 13 and I now hear people saying that I inspired them to play guitar. Wow, that is an honour.

What music have you been listening these days?

I love SLIPKNOT, they are just so extreme, I watch the Disasterpiecelive concert DVD over and over, great stuff. I think the new MACHINE HEAD material is awesome and I really like DAMAGE PLAN, its good to see Dimebag back ! Another band that I really like is MUDVAYNE, I think they are quite unique. All in all it seems that heavy metal is alive and well.

By the way, have you seen Tony's new film called "Master and commander"? If so, let me know what you think.

Tony is a talented guy all round and if anyone deserves that kind of success it is him because he is one of lifes good guys. When I first heard that he had got the part in a Hollywood movie, no-one could have been happier for him than I was. He has worked so hard to achieve that and even with that success he is still the same Tony I have known for the last 20 or so years. I thought he played a really good part in the film and the film itself was visually stunning.

What's your slogan for life?

Live life to the full and be true to yourself.

What do you do in your free time?

Mixed martial arts. Aikido. Play station 2. I own a martial arts gym in the city of Newcastle and I teach a few classes there during the week.

Any funny stories to tell during your career?

Quite a few but I'm saving them for something.

Any messages to Japanese fans?

Always remember that the fans are most important people because without you guys the band would not exist and we as musicians should always be grateful for that. I hope they like the album Zero Toleranceand I hope to be in Japan soon to play for them.