PlanetMosh’s Miley Stevens and Innes Rankin spoke to Mantar at Desertfest 2016. Mantar are a two-piece ‘not-sludge’ band hailing from Hamburg, Germany. This is probably the most fun I have ever had in an interview, and I would urge anyone who likes their music heavy to check these boys out. For a two-piece, they manage to sound heavier than most 5-piece bands out there. Definitely one to watch out for!
Hanno: vocals and guitar
Erinc: drums and vocals
Miley: first off, I have to start with your outfit of choice, Hanno – for those reading this interview later, Hanno is wearing a windbreaker jacket with ‘Rap’ on it and a Manowar cap. It’s brilliant.
Hanno: I told people before that I’m too old to pretend to be something I’m not. I know Camden is the coolest spot on earth at the moment – or so I’m told – people have the raddest backpatches and tattoos, I appreciate that…but it’s just not me, you know? I like what I like, I’ve liked the same music for the last 20 years. It’s like our band, we’re part of an awesome lineup at a great festival but we’re not doom…sludge or whatever. We are what we are. We don’t like to pretend. A lot of people like our friends in Conan and Samothrace – we’ve been on tour together in America – there are members of those bands who like the rap too [laughs]
Miley: …and obviously there’s nothing wrong with Manowar.
Hanno: Hell yeah!
Miley: I was told that you don’t like to be labelled sludge – why is that? Is it because you feel that it doesn’t define you, or you’re being put into a box that you don’t belong into?
Hanno: I actually think that sludge doesn’t define anything, really. When I first started making music with Erinc we started off being as hard and as tense and as heavy as possible. It was then that people started to confront us with the whole sludge label. We didn’t know what it was because we’re not…very…educated. [laughs]
Erinc: Who invented the name ‘sludge’?
Hanno: I know what it is, I had to look it up – it kind of makes sense. But to me it feels like it’s just an excuse for people who don’t know their musical roots. Do I play slow music? Yes, I do. Do I play loud, heavy music? Yes, I do.
Erinc: We play sludge.
Hanno: …do I play sludge? Whatever you say. [laughs] I don’t care about that label or term…or whatever it’s supposed to be.
Innes: Do you guys feel like you get wrongly billed as a metal band then?
Hanno: We don’t even try to be a metal band, that’s another thing. A lot of metalheads like our band, we’re on a so-called metal label at this point…but once again we try to play as hard and as intense as possible. If that makes us a metal band, then we’re guilty.
Erinc: We’re probably the heaviest band in Hamburg…but we don’t call ourselves a metal band.
Hanno: There’s nothing wrong with that…don’t get me wrong – just like there’s nothing wrong with sludge, it’s just not what I would call us.
Miley: There’s only two of you in the band…obviously you can’t accurately portray a 6-piece band onstage but how would you say you’re inspired by other bands? Who are your influences and how do they influence you?
Hanno: We’ve been asked that question quite a lot over the last few months and I still don’t know how to answer that. Some interviewers run up to us and are like “oh man, you have this Celtic Frost vibe” or “You sound like Crowbar” …whoever they are [laughs]. All I know is that I like bands like Nirvana and Thin Lizzy and AC/DC way more than these 10 metal bands what people throw at us. We like the destructive rage and the beauty in the violence when we play. We don’t do this to be like other metal bands…we do this to fuck shit up! Yeah? When it comes to music, I’m a classic rock fan. Of course, do I like black metal? Hell yeah! I love black metal…but more for the sinister vibe and the atmosphere of it. Even if we tried, we couldn’t copy that…because our skills as musicians are limited. We don’t have double bass pedals; we don’t know how to play blast beats….
Erinc: …we’re like the White Stripes of heavy music! [laughs]
Hanno: [groans] no we’re not! Don’t say that!
Innes: Okay then, being on the outside of the whole metal community…what would you say is the worst or the silliest trend in metal is?
Hanno: For a long time in my life – and I kind of have to excuse myself for that now – I thought that metal related to dragons and fairy tales and was stupid…but it’s not. But you know what I really hate? Technical death metal. Like super tech-death metal. That’s more lame than the fairy tales, dragons and elf-metal.
Erinc: ….you mean power metal?
Hanno: If I want to hear about elves and dwarves… I’ll just walk around Camden Town.
Miley: [laughs] Valid point. So this is your second time playing in London, is the London crowd any different to anywhere else – you can say no – that you’ve played?
Hanno: I was shithoused. I don’t remember a thing from last time. Seriously. But Erinc was saying in another interview that we either have good crowds or bad crowds. It doesn’t matter where we are – either people dig it or they don’t. It doesn’t matter to us whether we play to 5000 people or 5 people. If 5 people turn the place into a madhouse, it’s way more fun than 5000 people just standing there.
Erinc: I don’t know… I really like it when people stay
Hanno: That too! If people stay for the whole of our set, that’s the best. [laughs]
Erinc: Sometimes they are just still because we aren’t what they expected, and I like that too. Boring crowds are good too. People are good. If they don’t go away, it’s a good sign.
Hanno: We’ve played in shitty bands for 20 years…we’re still not used to people not walking away.
Miley: Bless you! I hear you have a new album out now?
Hanno: Yeah it just came out, it’s called Ode to the Flame…if you liked the first record Death by Burning which is pretty much underground and lot of people unfortunately still don’t know about it…idiots… [laughs] you’ll probably like this one. I guess you can steal it in any shop, or rip it off the internet.
Mantar’s new album can be previewed and purchased from their bandcamp page here