Mantar | Interview with Erinc

Comprised solely of one guitarist/vocalist and one drummer, Germany’s Mantar have released their debut album Death By Burning earlier this year and it sounds ten times more massive and intense than many groups with full line-ups. Through smashing together such distinct styles as metal, punk and rock’n’roll, the duo have found a sound that is equally memorable and intimidating, oppressive and engaging.
We recently caught up with drummer Erinc to talk about the band’s background, their crushing new album and their plans for the future.

Mantar is getting a lot of attention in the press lately. Have you been surprised at the reception that the band has received?

“Yes we are… indeed. It’s nice to get so much positive response from all over the world. Furthermore it´s kinda funny as our main goal was to do some recordings and make 50 to 100 tapes for close friends. Everything worked out a little different. We don´t expect anything. We don’t take shit as granted. Actually we take everything more as a gift. It´s great to see how many people dig that record. For a brand new band, that´s very, very cool.”

I understand you have been friends for a very long time, so what provided the impetus to start making music as Mantar now?

“The concrete idea came from Hanno about two years ago. He had the vision of a really heavy band…and if we could handle it…we should run it as a duo. Maybe there was this glory moment to start something new… because we were kind of frustrated about the ongoing musical and non-musical stuff we were into. So I said “yes, let´s meet and work things out”. The only agenda: …play as heavy as possible. It worked out great and we decided to continue this…and still do as you can see.”

Have you two been in other groups before?

“Yeah…there were lots of bands. Some were good and some just crap. But we never played together in one group before, even though we know each other for so long now.”

I must confess I was a bit stunned when I discovered that you only record drums, guitars and vocals and don’t use any other instruments. Seriously, it’s absolutely insane that only two people can make as much noise and sound as massive as you do. Could you tell me a little about how your new record Death By Burning was created and what equipment you use to create such a gigantic sound?

“Well, the magic is to use the equipment of a five-piece-band. Using 3 amps with 3-4 big cabinets at once makes your biceps really impressive ;). Believe me. To coordinate all the heaviness. Hanno is using kinda the biggest FX-Board out there. Looks like a spaceship to me…but this self-build wonder board would kill dinosaurs!! Additional to all this technical stuff…there’s a pretty hard hitting drummer on the other side. Ladies and gentlemen, that’s me…hehe. All in all, we used the same equipment for the recoding we use live and for rehearsals as well. We did not want to fake anything. If you know your gear it´s possible to raise some serious hell.”

The press release sent out by Svart Records says that we shouldn’t call Death By Burning sludge. Why is sludge a dirty word to you? What do you think is the most accurate description of your music?

“I think that the genre "sludge" isn´t something you can rely on anymore as a trademark for something particularly good. It´s pretty worn out these days and a lot of bands use it as a brand because they don’t have any own character or don’t know about their own roots. Maybe due to the fact they never had any. Don’t get me wrong I love shitloads of stuff that is branded as "sludge". Great bands out there, but well... some kind of inflation is going on nowadays. And what the hell does sludge mean?? That people play slow, heavy music? We aren’t even that slow…”

Are there any particular influences that you would say Death By Burning is indebted to? For instance, I recognize some Melvins traits in songs like "Spit" and "The Huntsmen".

“Aaaah yes… great man !! The Melvins always have been a big inspiration. I love Dale´s drumming. And obviously we can’t deny that we like to rock...Motörhead and AC/DC also did their parental deeds. Even though we have a much darker atmosphere I guess.”

"The Stoning" sounds pretty punk’n’roll in the instrumentals. Which one of you is the punk or rock’n’roll enthusiast?

“We both got punk background. That’s where it all started. Energetic aggressive music still has the biggest impact on us. In Mantar it might be me who brings in all that rock’n’roll beats and stuff. I’m a rock drummer and can’t deny that… sometimes Hanno has to slowdown me when I get too rock’n’rollish . On the other hand that might be the interesting thing about the band. We just don’t deny the groove as many other bands do. We still think that even dark, aggressive music´s gotta roll somehow.”

What’s it like playing these songs in a live setting? Is it difficult to recreate the extremely dark atmosphere of the album on stage?

“As we were aware of the fact that we will play shows, we didn’t use stuff for the recording that we won’t be able to reproduce live. Actually we even do use the same technical equipment live as in the studio. Same amps, same cabinets and same drums. from that side it’s pretty identical to the album. The songs sound harder and more energetic on stage…but still dark and evil. I think most important is to play as intense as possible. People will feel if you really are in the moment of playing the song. We get ourselves in some kind of destructive rush, a positive, very energetic feeling though.”

Death By Burning was the church’s privileged method of execution for crimes heresy and witchcraft in the middle age. Is there any particular theme to the record, lyrically?

“No. Not really. The power of nature has been a big lyrical influence. It´s about the urge of man for the final battle. The return to nature. And for sure the general sickness of mankind. I dont´t judge though, I just tell. We don´t have any certain message. I don´t care what people think. I dont want them to act according to my lyrics. Our only message is the power of the music. That´s too important to also focus on any message.”

What can we expect from Mantar in the future? I understand you’ve some shows booked for the next few months.

“Right...playing shows and touring is the main agenda at the moment. Having a good time…reaching lots of people. We are very happy to play so many different countries already in the very first year of playing live with Mantar. It´s great to meet so many new people and get the chance to play big shows like Roadburn and stuff like that. But after all that I hope that we will be back in the studio as soon as possible. The aim is early 2015…”

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