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Take Five: An interview with MANTAR

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Hailing from Germany, MANTAR describe their sound as follows: black metal doom punk. MANTAR’s debut full-length studio CD is titled Death by Burning. Take Five caught up with guitarist/vocalist Hanno, who had the following to say.

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Please explain what led to the formation of MANTAR, and then please describe your musical approach.

Hanno: “We have known each other for almost 16 years. We both played in plenty of bands and hung out together, went to shows . . . but we never happened to start a band with each other. Some time ago, I came up with the idea to form a new band, something more on the heavy side. So we met, jammed for about 3-4 hours, and it worked out fantastic. It got together what belongs together . . . so the rest is history, so to speak. We rehearsed and practiced a whole year, got a bunch of songs together, and quickly recorded them in a friend’s studio, where we can rehearse as well. Today, we are mainly surprised to be already asked to play Roadburn-festival. Everything is going quite fast. We are beyond stoked to play shows like that after playing our first show only eight month ago.

“We share the same vision of a musical aesthetic. We both have the same urge to play music. We don’t have any message to spread. We just like to play music in a violent way. That’s all. We don’t talk much about music, we just let it happen. And actually there is no need to talk about the music, in general, as we know each other pretty well. We started early making our own music, playing in bands, doin’ shows. Next to that we both started listening to (heavy) music pretty early as well. It kinda shapes your skills and your general idea of how a ‘heavy’ band has to sound, I guess. The songs for MANTAR came pretty easy. We know each other for a long time but just made it last year to finally get together as a band, even though we always wanted that. Something in us seemed to have been waiting for us to get together. There was a strong urge to create something. That’s why it came all that fast and turned out to be that powerful, I guess.”

Tell me about your debut full-length studio CD, Death by Burning. What can listeners expect to hear?

Hanno: “The record is basically what the band stands for: Raw display of power. I think it turned out to be pretty dark, sinister, and intense. That is the main approach of the band. You know, we don’t have much of a ‘scene’ background, as we always tried to do our own thing. Even far before MANTAR even existed. The more I talk to people about the record, the more I figure out what they like best about the record; as far as I understand, it’s the fact that the record does not fit in a certain ‘scene’ or sub-culture. It’s just a heavy piece of music. And I think it has the potential to unite a lot of heavy music lovers from different genres. It’s just pure honest rage. For the recording work we wanted to keep the (live) energy from the rehearsal room. That’s why we kept it as simple and raw as possible.”

Mantar is a two-piece, with you handling the guitar/vocals and Erinc the drums/vocals (no bass). However, the band has a huge, blistering sound. How do you accomplish this? And do you have a similar sound live on stage?

Hanno: “Main reason might be that the band actually is just very heavy. Furthermore, we are using equipment for at least four people, combined with a good amount of violence. I use three amps at the same time and some special FX pedals to get that low end. I use bass amplifiers, too.

“Erinc is hitting the drums as hard as possible; that’s quite important, too. He really is an insanely loud drummer. Every second club asks us to put duct tape or sh*t like that on the cymbals. But we deny to do so and decided only to play shows where we can put the sound on stage that we deliver on the record. We used exactly the stuff to record the album that we use live and in the rehearsal room as well. And the result is great. We dig it. If you know your gear/equipment, you can create a hell of a lot of bass. There is no need for a bass guitar to raise some hell.”

What inspired the lyrics for the track “Astral Kannibal”? How did you go about putting words to paper?

Hanno: “The song basically is about an out-of-body experience and a journey to the stars. It’s about a dream I had when I was a teenager. In general, the lyrics are pretty much nature related. The urge of man for the final battle. The return to nature. And for sure the general sickness of mankind. I don’t judge, though, I just tell. We don’t have any certain message. I don’t care what people think. I don’t want them to act according to my lyrics. Our only message is the power of the music.”

Any plans to tour the United States? Any chance you will come to New Mexico?

Hanno: “We would love to. One of my biggest dreams actually as I know so many cool people in the States and spend a lot of time over there. If anyone would like to hook us up with a tour, feel free. Just let us know and we will fly over. As I never have been to New Mexico, it’s on top of my agenda. Thanks for your interest and your questions. Spread the word!”

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