Although MANTICORA are on their 8th album I cannot remember ever having checked this Danish band out, until now that it. Answers from Lars. Anders Ekdahl ©2018
Was it hard to come up with a name? What does the name mean to you? How important is it to have the right name?
-Yeah, actually it was quite hard, since a lot of cool names were already taken, when we started the band, but i guess the younger bands nowadays have an even harder job, hahaha. The name is simply our identity, so it’s really important to have a good clinging name that is easy to remember for the fans.
Who would say have laid the foundation for the kind of sound you have? Who are your heroes musically and what have they meant to you personally and to the sound of your band?
-From my perspective, as a singer, it’s people like Bruce Dickinson, Russell Allen, Erik A.K. Hansi Kürsch and actually also Luciano Pavarotti who have helped shape me. It’s all people that I’d love to sound like, without copying anyone (since my voice of course doesn’t sound like theirs) and without me, even pretending to have their talent. Musically, we’re children of the 70’ies, so our natural inspiration lies in the fast growing metal-world of the 1980’ies – mainly bands like: Savatage, Overkill, Metallica, Slayer, Testament, Iron Maiden, Helloween – but we’re also naturally influenced by later emerging acts like Dream Theater, Symphony X, Pain Of Salvation and such – the more prog-oriented part of metal. It’s one big melting-pot in Manticora, with a little bit of this and a little bit of that and also now with the new guys, bringing in their stuff….which is why we sound so special (people find it a bit hard to label us – is it power? Is it thrash? Is it prog?).
When you play slow do you have to think differently arranging the music than if you play faster and vice versa?
-Nah, not really. We’re of course writing riffs with a certain bpm in mind, but everything can be altered in a second, when we’re together. Maybe I am writing a fast riff (that’s my style), written completely for double bassdrums and in the 5th gear…and when we’re putting drums on, Kristian might try out drums in half the tempo, than I had in mind, or even in 3/4. This is a fun part of making music, because sometimes things are getting altered so much that the original meaning of the riff is gone – only to be replaced by a new and better sound groove. So it’s all rather chaotic in the writing process and therefore, it’s not the speed of the playing, making it hard/easy to put things together. Only the input from all the guys in the band,
Will your music work in a live environment? What kind of stage environment would best suit your music; a big stage or a small club?
-I believe our music has always worked flawlessy live. but that’s up to our fans to decide, I guess, hahaha. I prefer, playing on stages that are mid-sized. If the stage is too big, like on a huge festival, we’d need some more show on stage, with special lights, etc. If the stages are too small, I can’t move around, and I really don’t like that. I normally jump and run around a lot, so I need some space. I think the other guys like that as well.
It is very hard to be 100% satisfied. Everybody seems to be disappointed with something they have released. Is there something that you in hindsight would have done differently on this your latest recording?
-Yepp, I’d have loved to not throw all responsibility overboard and let one guy in the band take control, when he wasn’t able to do so. “Safe” was a decent album, but not more than that. I actually don’t really feel like singing any of the songs of the album live, since only the lyrics give me some emotion. But done is done, and things can’t be changed, so it’s kind of futile to even talk about such things.
Promotion can be a bitch. Even today with all different platforms it can be hard to reach out to all those that might be interested in your music? What alleys have you used to get people familiarized with your band?
-It might be easier to ask, which alleys we have not ventured into, hahahaha. We’re of course getting promoted by the record label and the promotion label, but beside that, we’re on Facebook, Twitter, Bandcamp, Songkick (soon), Bandsintown, Instagram, and a lod of other pages that you obviously have to spend time on these days to exist as a band. I don’t really like it, as it takes away a lot of precious time, we could’ve used to write new tracks, or arrange merchandise, shows, etc etc. Anyway, it’s a necessary evil, and we’re pulling along. Beside all this, we’re of course playing as many liveshows as possible, with festival shows and tours, coming up.
To me art work can be the difference between bust or success. What to you is a great front cover? What should a cover have to make it great?
-It should be something that makes people go: “Aaaaahhh!”, when they see it. Having said that, the frontcover is slowly losing its importance with all the new streaming services. People don’t really give a damn anymore, as long as they can get their playlists fixed on their phones. It seems that only the die-hard fans care about the artwork and the lyrics these days.
Do you feel that you are part of a national scene? Is a local/national scene important for the development of new bands?
-Not really. We’re not really that popular in Denmark, but it’s a calculated choice we made a lot of years ago. We rather wanted to get out across the borders, than building the strong name within the borders first. Denmark is one big meltpot of ass-kissers and jealous dickheadz, and we are not that way ourselves. We all refuse to have to suck up to someone, just to get a festival show or get a warm-up show for a larger band. We’ve always kept our integrity in this matter, and stayed at a sound distance. So the national scene can be good, if bands are cooporating and throw away the envy that lurks….but in Denmark, it feels a bit…infested, to use a nasty word, hahaha.
I could just be me but I got the feeling that the live scene is not what it used to be. Could be that more and more people use the net to discover bands instead of going out and supporting new bands live. What is you experience with the live scene?
-I just think it’s completely overcrowded. The nature of the business is this: No bands are selling albums anymore, so the only chance to make some money on the music, is to get out on the road – even for the large acts, like Maiden, Metallica, Volbeat etc. Then they can sell shirts at extreme overprice together with the overpriced tickets. The semi-large bands need to tour as well, to be able to make a normal living, and since the largest bands are hammered down on every festival all summer through, the semi-large bands have to fight for the crumbs, which are the lower spots. Smaller band? Forget about it, if you’re not willing to invest something like 50.000 Euros in touring. So new bands are having a very hard time to even get the chance to get established. I am happy that we have somewhat of a status somewhere after 20 years, as I don’t think, I’d have the patience to start up as a young and hopeful band today (no matter how talented you are).
So, the live scene is there…it’s just grotesquely overcrowded, due to income from album sales having disappeared.
What does the future hold?
-Manticora is headed out on North American tour in August/September, as support for Persefone (first shos ever in Mexico and Canada!). Then we’ve got a round of smaller shows at home in Denmark during the fall, where we’re also preparing recordings for part 2 of the album. In the spring, we’re headed out on a European tour (being booked, as we speak), and then comes summer festivals in 2019 – hopefully a lot of them. So far, we’re booked to the sold-out Karmøygeddon festival in Norway, which we’re looking very much forward to.