With a primitive, brutally aggressive sound, the Bremen natives are pushing their sound into new areas all the while continuing to preserve the beating heart of their mission statement. Overdrive delves into the world of black, punk, doom metal hybrid that is MANTAR.
OD – Firstly, let’s address the new album’s title ‘The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze”. What’s the meaning behind that title?
HANNO – Well, it’s kind of a cynical title in a way because ‘The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze‘ refers to setting a fire in the hats of people and it’s all about people who let those fires happen and don’t think for themselves.
This problem is as old as mankind itself so that’s why it’s the “Modern” Art of Setting Ablaze it’s just a little bit cynical. People never seem to think for themselves and here we are in 2018 and masses of people are putting their faith in false prophets and corrupt leaders. I don’t want to dip too much into politics right now, but I think you know what I’m referring to.
The bottom line is we are living in very dangerous times right now because people don’t want to fucking think for themselves. That’s why leaders and false prophets find it so easy to manipulate people.
OD – I’ve always found that Mantar are a band that literally march to the beat of you’re own drum. The hybrid of doom, black, thrash and punk is a combination that most can’t box, do you find that the material is becoming more exploratory when you look back on the stuff you were doing on ‘Death By Burning”?
ERINC – I think that we just approach things in a more organic way. In some cases, we may even sound like some other music that I’m not even aware of. We just do what we can do, but do it in the very best way that we can. We have some influences there from punk, hard rock etc and we do what we can and try to focus on what we can do best.
We try to take all of the components of our music and make it work kind of like a machine. Do you know what I mean?
HANNO – I think we just got better over time and one of the things that I think is a real magical part of Mantar is that we really try not to over-think things because we’re very ignorant musicians.
Lots of people say to us: “Hey, you sound like this band or that band or this genre or that genre.” and to be honest, most of the time, I don’t know who or what they are talking about. Don’t get me wrong, I totally understand why they are saying it but for us, we just do what we do and we’re not really interested with what else is happening with regards to the latest fad in heavy music.
We just play as hard, heavy and intense as possible and all we can do is explore our own version of genres that we like. For instance, I listen to a lot of Black Metal but are we a Black Metal band? Absolutely not! But there are certain references such as how we interpret different elements of genres that we respect. Erinc doesn’t have a double bass pedal or knows even how to play blast-beats and I don’t know how to play in the style of Bolt-Thrower for example, but we fucking love that stuff.
OD – It’s been documented that the thought process behind the album is “mankind’s tendency to blindly follow those that would lead us into oblivion”, bearing that in mind, do you find that although the world is in a terrible state, there are not enough bands/artists that are talking about the reality of the situation and hiding behind more cryptic lyrics?
HANNO – I have a very strong DIY punk background and I totally get what you’re saying, but I don’t blame bands who want to concentrate on other topics other than the state of the global political landscape or religion for example. I don’t want Mantar to be seen as a political band, I see it as we are more reporting on what is happening from our perspective rather than judging people.
When we write the lyrics to the music, we don’t set out with the intent of giving a solution to the problems around us, there’s also a morbid fascination for us of how fucked-up things are at the moment. I don’t preach, I just report what I see. The stupidity of people is a never-ending source of inspiration for me.
OD – With regards to the current state of heavy music, do you find that it’s becoming homogenised and almost commercialised? If so, do you find that it’s near impossible to maintain the purity of the initial sound when dealing with what is considered to be the big record labels?
HANNO – It’s so easy to just put a pile of corpses on stage or get an image of a Nun fucking herself with a crucifix, that’s just too easy. We want the music to be dangerous, subtle and filled with pride.
Let’s take a second to think about KISS or Metallica, they were fucking superstars in the late 80’s and just look at the ‘Black Album‘, I have no problem with bands getting bigger and bigger, just don’t put out shit music! That’s all I’m asking for and I’m not necessarily referring to the bands that you just mentioned, I don’t care about these bands. I don’t own a single record from any of them, but I’m pretty sure that if you asked fans of these bands they will say: “I much prefer the older stuff rather than the latest record.”
My opinion is, you should always be as dangerous as possible if you are playing heavy music. Stay fucking dangerous in some kind of way. There’s nothing wrong with having more fans because if your music is good, people will find out eventually.
OD – So, what would be one of your all-time favourite bands then?
HANNO – For me, my all-time favourite band is AC/DC. They have sold the most rock records in the entire world. Do they suck? No! They are the best!
OD – With the Summer dates out of the way, you be undertaking a more in-depth headline tour with Skeleton Witch and then dates right up to December, what’s on the schedule for 2019?
ERINC – We’re gonna play one show kind of like a festival for one hundred thousand people and then we’re done with touring. (laughing)
HANNO – We’re gonna do more European dates and we’ve just been offered an Australian tour, as well as some dates in South America. So, yeah, that’s all cool but we need to find the time to do that. I really like playing, love being on stage but the touring part of it is so dull and not my favourite thing. It’s so fucking exhausting and especially for a person like me, I really need a lot of alone time. I don’t like to be among people too much.
OD – If you could change anything about this industry, what would it be?
ERINC – I would shut down the internet so we could sell more records. (Laughing)
HANNO – Smart, but also an old-fashioned opinion about music piracy. Wow, Erinc you’re such an edgy mother-fucker! (Laughing)
OD – Is there anyone that you’re listening to now that you would like to share with us?
ERINC – For me, I just love Sisters of Mercy.
HANNO – Yes, Ursut who are a fucking brutal good crust-punk band from Sweden. They are very dark, super violent and aggressive. You’re gonna love it.
“The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze” is out now via Nuclear Blast Records. Order your copy via this link.
Mantar will be on tour with Skeleton Witch next month which you can view on the graphic below;