Interview with Manticora (October 13, 2004)

1. Hi Mads and MANTICORA, first off I just want to congratulate you on your new album “8 Deadly Sins”. How does it feel to finally have a new album out?

Mads - Hi there .........  And thank you.
Well, it feels really good. But it always does. Even though this is our fourth album I still get the same kick out of it. A little like a 10 year old on Christmas Eve I guess. But it has been a long time waiting again. Two years is just way too long between albums. But last year we had the small tour and other single gigs, and were using most of the time rehearsing for these gigs, and we had a little break down in the writing process earlier, but when all these things had passed, we actually wrote all the new material pretty fast.

2. To new fans could your please fill us in on the history behind it all?

Mads - To start from the beginning we have to go back to 1996. Lars and Kristian had broken up with their band (Fear Itself). And Lars (whom I knew from the record store in witch I worked) came and asked me if I wanted to to join this power metal outfit that they had just started. As you can guess I said yes. I left Rip and Tear and a Megadeth jam band, and we found two guys with nothing, except for a rehearsal room and their guitars. We were not even close to being a band. We had no bass player, and we had no songs. So we started jamming things that just came up that first day, and we actually wrote the entire song: "Dead End Solution". We asked my brother in law Rene (Neo) to play bass, and we started writing like maniacs. In the beginning, we were still playing some of the old Fear Itself songs, because we wanted to get out and play as fast as possible. In 1997 we recorded our debut self financed mini-cd: "Dead End Solution". We used it to shop around to the record labels with the help of newly started Intromental Management, but we also sold 1000 copies of it. In 1998 we signed with Greek label Black Lotus, and we also added lead guitarist Fleming Schultz. In 1999, one week before going in to the studio we added keyboard player Jeppe Eg. "Roots Of Eternity" were recorded in Aabenraa with Jacob Hansen. In 2000 we parted with Black Lotus. And started shopping our new demo around; later we signed with Italian label Scarlet Records. In 2001 and we recorded the album: "Darkness With Tales To Tell", still with J.H. in Aabenraa. Shortly after playing ProgPower in Holland, Neo left the band, he was replaced by Kasper Gram. In 2002, three weeks before entering the studio to record "Hyperion" with J.H., we replaced Fleming Shultz with Martin Arendal. Keyboarder Jeppe had announced that he would leave the band after the recordings of "Hyperion". He did however play the some gigs with us after that. For the tour in 2003 Martin Jørgensen temporally replaced Jeppe Eg. In early 2004 we recorded "8 Deadly Sins" with Tommy Hansen producing it, and with Finn Zierler playing the keyboards.

Current Line up: Lars, Kristian, Kasper, Mads and as live and studio guitarist Martin Arendal (who isn’t part of the songwriting process). Martin Jørgensen plays keyboards live, and Finn Zierler on the album.

3. What are your expectations for the new album?

Mads - Ha ha ha. Our expectations are always high. And we always say same things. Like – this time it’s going to be great cause’ we’ve got better material, we’ve got to have a better label bla bla bla. But this time I actually believe it. Massacre Records are by far the biggest label we have been working with. We can already see the changes. Better promotions, more samplers, and professional people.

I hope, that we can sell enough cd’s to get a good tour, supporting a great band. And then I hope that if people like this cd they might say: what else have these guys done. And the buy some of the old cd’s, which I think deserves a better destiny, based on the reviews they got.

4. How has your new album been received by the media?

Mads - So far we couldn’t wish for much more. We have only received four reviews, but they have all been either top score or just a little lower. Also all the interviews we done so far, have praised the album. But we’re looking forward to all the smaller Internet reviews, to see what they say. Cause there are so many of them and some of them has a lot of readers. And too many bad reviews on the Internet can easily destroy a good review in even the biggest mag.

5. When I listen your music, I think of it as power metal with an symphonic edge - how do you feel about that description?

Mads - Hmm. I have started not caring about descriptions and labels any more. There are so many bands and so many styles, and even more bands that mixes them. So we have decided in the band, that when some one asks us what kind of music we play, we simply call it powermetal. Not that I have anything against your description, because we do have symphonic edges. But we also mix with thrash metal, progressive stuff, European and American metal. And some people then comes up a description a mile long and no one have a chance to really know what this band sounds like. So Manticora … well we’re powermetal.

6. On your last album you dealt with Dan Simmons epos “The Hyperion Cantos”, what is the concept about this time, and is it free invented or is there a deeper story behind it?

Mads - Yes. This time we came up with the concept ourselves.

"8 Deadly Sins" is meant to ask the question. Does God exist…..? or is he just a fictive person with the biggest fan base on the planet. The Bible speaks of seven deadly sins, but this guy wakes up at the hospital, stigmatized eight times in different vital organs. Not completely sure, why this has happened to him (he thinks, that he have, at least, tried to be a good Christian through his life) he goes back in time to see if there is something else, that could have caused this rather massive stigmata.

And the songs, then takes us through the periods of his life where he finds, that he has been real asshole. When he comes back to the present, still in his deathbed, he sees, that deadly sins are individual, and based upon things as conscience and fanatics. But even though we hear him actually regretting his deadly sins, he still asks; did I really sin. And I think, that is whats kills him. Feel free to make up your own ideas of what his crime against life is and why he is punished so hard…

7. Musically you always seem to be put in the same category as Blind Guardian - surely they’ve inspired you, but does it make your proud or a bit frustrated?

Mads - In the beginning, I thought it was cool to sound like Blind Guardian, but I think we have slowly moved away from that path. When we write music, we never sit down and say, Hey we want to sound like B.G. or some other band. We just write, what comes out of our heads, only thinking; do we like it or not. Some times it sounds like B.G., but I think most of it sounds like Manticora, and that makes me proud. What does make me a little frustrated is that some people keep saying; you sounds like B.G. as their only comment. I think when you look at the bands last two albums ("Nightfall" and "A Night At The Opera" against "Hyperion" and "8 Deadly Sins") I don’t think, that they have that much in common.

8. On this album you’ve worked together with Finn Zierler (Beyond Twilight) - was he involved in the song-writing process or was he merely hired help?

Mads - No, he was not involved in the actual song writing. But he did write and arrange all keyboard parts, recorded and programmed all of the great orchestrations and all the lead parts (with a few exceptions - Tommy Hansen is credited for additional keyboards).

But we really hopes that in the future, he might be involved even more in the song writing. Cause he has one of the sickest minds, when it comes to composing dark, yet beautiful music.

9. I think the addition of Finn’s keyboards on this album, has made it overall sound a bit more dark - was that intentionally?

Mads - Ohhh yes indeed. As I mentioned above, Finn has a brain, that is constantly working on dark mode. He has music inside his head all the time, and when he writes, it goes fast as hell, and it is usually the same that comes out; hell on earth. We had all been listening to Beyond Twilight for years and has always agreed that it is a masterpiece. So when we needed a new keyboarder to record the album, he was the first and the only one we asked. He shares the same management as us, and whenever he is in Copenhagen, we like to hang out together. And we will ask him again and again and again…….

10. The album was brilliantly produced by Tommy Hansen in his Jailhouse Studios in Horsens - how was it to work with him? And how did you “survive” living in province during the recordings?

Mads - The time we had in the studio were both extremely fun (people that knows us really well knows, that we can have a hard time being serious), but they were also frustrating. We were locked up in this house for a month in a town, and we didn't know anything about, what was going on or where to go. So we usually ended up just drinking a lot of beers, playing PS2 or watching DVD's. But that is only fun for so long. For the first time during a recording session, we started to get home sick, so it helped a little, when we had some friends and girl friends joining us for a couple of days.

Working with Tommy Hansen is a really great experience. I have never met a more professional guy, than him. His knowledge about music and production is just scary. He helped us arrange harmony vocals and choirs and he actually sings on the album as well.

When he has an idea of what something should sound like and you don’t agree, you’ve better come up with some really good arguments, cause he can get really carried away, when he's producing and mixing. And like Finn, he is just as passionate about it and keeps telling, that he hears this here and something else there. The only thing, that beats this is the two of them together. That is both scary and fun.

They have to try out every possible way of doing things before choosing what to do, while we try to hold them on a leash to keep them from drowning it in trumpets, bells and flutes and any other instrument they can come up with.

11. Who has done the artwork? And how important do you feel it is to have a great cover?

Mads - Monster talent Mathias Norén has done the artwork.
I think that as long as you are a rather unknown band, the cover is extremely important.
Example. Would you have bought the black album by Metallica if you didn’t know them…?

I know that I wouldn’t. We actually had another cover to start with. It was very different from this one. It was supposed to take out all excitement, and leave it up to the listener to create the pictures in their own heads, but we were not sure, that people knew us well enough to say; wow that’s the new Manticora album, and then buy it. Luckily for us M.N. had this cover lying around and offered it to us. And we think that it fits the concept completely.

12. Do you have any touring plans? And if so will Finn be joining you on the tour?

Mads - No, we don’t have anything planned yet. But our management is doing everything they can to get us out on a big tour.

We are working on at least two or three specific tours right now, that we could go on. So far we have not had the luck. But I am sure that something’s gonna come up. About Finn. We have absolutely no idea, if he has the time to join us on a tour. I know, that he is working on his own stuff right now, and he is a perfectionist, so no one knows, if he is finished by the time that we goes on tour. But you can be sure, that if he has the time and think, that it could be fun, then he is the first one were gonna ask. Otherwise we’ll use Martin Jørgensen, who played with us on the last tours and gigs, and who is a close friend of us. He has his own band called Sworn, that you should check out, when their album gets releases sometime next year.

13. “8 Deadly Sins” is your fourth album and you are now on your fourth record label as well. Why? And how do you feel about the co-operation with Massacre Records label?

Mads - Actually it’s “only” our third (we did two albums with Scarlet, 1 with Black Lotus, and the first EP was released through our management). (MY mistake - bad counting on my behalf - sorry, Kenn) Black Lotus Records in Greece simply did not have the ability to make anything happened at all. Christ, they didn’t even have a homepage or an e-mail address. The only way you could communicate with these guy’s was to send them a fax or a letter……? And when you did try to contact them, they never answered. They also completely failed to live up to their promises (including contractual agreements).

Scarlet records is an okay label to start of with. But they simply don’t have the funds or the will to take everything a step further. So when the contract was fulfilled, we said thanks for this time it has been great, but we have to move on. They said; you’re welcome. By deleting all signs of the band on their homepage.

I have already been talking about Massacre Records, and they seems to be very professional. All the promotion they have done so far looks good, and the future looks bright.

14. The internet is a very important source for many metal fans - how do you use the internet and how important is it for you and other bands?

Mads - We have our own homepage ( and we have a homepage on Intromental Management. There we try to inform people as good and as fast as we can about the things going on in the Manti-camp. Everything from releases to gigs. Answering fan mail and so on.  

I think the internet is very important as all most everybody have access. We can also see, that the number of hits on our own page is rising all the time. Personally, when I look for a band to find out more about them, it annoys, if them don’t have some kind of homepage. I usually gives up on the band a little faster then.

15. How do you see the Danish metal scene at the moment?

Mads - Hmmm what scene is that?
No, I think, that there is a lot of good bands out there, but we don’t get a lot of back up from anywhere. There is no economical support from the state as there is in Sweden, there is no support in the media, except from the ones that only deals with metal (which usually are the webzines). And most of the smaller venues has so bad equipment (due to the lack of funds), that the sound is horrible. So I think it sucks. And it has done for all the time I have been playing and it probably always will. Sigh…

16. To finish things off, could you pls. make a Top 5 over the 5 albums, that have had the biggest impact on you?

Mads - That’s a hard one. There are so many great albums, but I will try:

  1. Metallica - Master Of Puppets (The best album ever. Aggressive, melodic and catchy)
  2. Queensrÿche - Operation: Mindcrime (In my everlasting search of the perfect melody, Queensrÿche delivers)
  3. Dream Theater - Images And Words (The perfect mix of prog. and melody)
  4. Beyond Twilight - The Devils Hall Of Fame (Dark, evil and so extremely beautiful)
  5. Helloween - Keepers Of The Seven Keys, Pt. 1 (The essence of pure power metal)

Thank you Mads for this great interview, and do check our Manticora's great new album: "8 Deadly Sins".

Manticora - 8 Deadly Sin

Album on Massacre Records.

Click on the album cover to see more info on Manticora.