1. Can you give us an update on what is going on with the band these days?Shark: We are very busy these days with all that is happening with Manilla Road. We have 3 labels that we are working with Golden Core / Zyx Music in Europe for Digital and CD releases, High Roller Records out of Germany for our LP vinyl releases and Shadow Kingdom Records for our CD releases in the States. It seems to be working out rather well for us right now. Both Shadow Kingdom and Golden Core / Zyx Music are pounding out the promotion for us and our distribution is soaring in Europe right now along with our recognition and awareness by the metal audience round the whole world. We did a lot of touring last year in Europe, England, Scandinavia and Canada and we have many more shows lined up for this year including some festivals with Kiss, Rush and ZZ Top, Diamond Head, Tygers of Pan Tang, Saxon, Accept and many more great bands. We are playing the Maryland Death fest where Venom will be also. Also doing the Chaos in Tejas festival in Austin, Texas, The Sweden Rock Festival, The Hellfest in France, The SWR festival in Portugal, The Ages of Metal festival in Belgium and the list goes on. I know our management is still booking shows for 2013 so it looks like we will be on the road a lot this year. We just finished doing an acoustic show in Mannheim, Germany and also headlining the Metal Assault festival in Wurzburg, Germany with Raven, Attacker and Brocas Helm. Both shows were a blast and it was really fun hanging out with the Raven guys. They are really funny and cool mates. We are also working in our studio as often as we can putting together tracks for another Manilla Road album for next year. Have to start on it now so that we have plenty of time to work on it seeing that we will be touring so much. It's a good time to be in Manilla Road I think.
2. How would you describe the musical sound of the new album and how it differs from previous recordings?Shark: It's sort of a culmination of all the styles that the band has ever portrayed you might say. It has a bit more of a classic feel to me than most of our recent releases. The production is the very best that Manilla Road has ever seen on a project. It's got several really thunderous songs on it but it has a vast amount of artistic MR to it also. I'm really proud of this project and I think this is the start of a whole bunch of really great sounding Road albums to come.
3. What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the band explores with the new release?Shark: There are several songs that are based on Irish and Scottish lore as well as some contrived stories about said same as well. A song about the never ending search for the Fountain of Youth. A tribute to the unknown soldiers of the world. A metal anthem. Some wise advise and my favorite is the title cut Mysterium which is about my Great great great Uncle Ludwig von Leichhardt. He was a really famous German explorer in Australia that led an expedition to circumnavigate the Australian continent that mysteriously vanished in 1848 and to this day there are no real answers to what fate befell them. Some of the Scottish stuff is family related as well so this albums lyrics and topics are fairly personal to me.
4. What is the meaning and inspiration behind the bands name?Shark: The meaning is pure epic fantasy. The inspiration was beer and weed while watching Monty Pythons Flying Circus in the Kitchen with Ben Munkirs.
5.The band was broken up for a long time, what was the cause of the split and the decision to reform?Shark: Actually Manilla Road was only disbanded from 1992 to 1994. Randy Foxe and Harvey Patrick joined back with me at that time but we only did shows in Kansas and never recorded anything during that time. We did that until the late 90's and then Harvey left the band and I started working on the Atlantis Rising project that at the time was to be called The Shark Project. It was about then that I was contacted by the Bang Your Head festival in Germany to play in 2000. Randy could not go so I got another drummer and the bass player (Mark Anderson) that had been working with me on Atlantis Rising and we went off to Germany. The astounding amount of love and popularity that we saw from the fans there showed me that Manilla Road was not meant to just fade away and so it was the fans that really put the breath of life back into Manilla Road.
6. The band has a long history, how would you compare the state of metal now to when you started?Shark: Much different that is for sure. You have the internet now days and that shines a totally different light onto the music scene because now you can make yourself known to the world on your own instead of having to rely on having a label deal. One thing has never changed here in the states though and that is that the masses still follow the fads and trends so only major label stuff gets most of the attention. It does appear that there is a rise in the classic metal scene in the states though. And I am really glad to see that. And Europe never let metal die so it still has a very strong existence there.
7. What are some of the best shows that the band has played so far and how would you describe your stage performance?Shark: Well I have always thought that we were a better studio band than we were live and I still sort of think that. But all the shows we did last year on tour were really good shows and I might have a hard time picking one that was much better than the next. I remember doing a great show in Helsinki the last time we were in Finland. Lots of really young metal heads at that show and they all knew the words to all our songs. Amazing. The two shows we just finished doing in Germany were really killer and I also remember putting on a really good show in London last year. We just shared the stage with Marta Gabriel from Cystal Vyper at the Metal Assault festival where she sang Flaming Metal Systems with us and that was very special. We also just did part of our show at that festival with our first recorded drummer Rick Fisher playing all of the Crystal Logic album with us live in celebration of the 30th anniversary of that albums release. We headlined the Up The Hammers festival in Athens last year and that was just a tremendous show with so much love and magik coming from the audience. It was a great moment that is for sure. Man there are just lots of shows I guess that I think were really cool. From Sweden, Norway, the UK, Finland, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Canada the US.......man its been a good last year and so far this year has kicked ass too. Can't wait to get back out on the road and rip it up some more.
8. Do you have any touring plans for the future?Shark: Hell yeah. We are going all over the place this year. I think our next stop after taking some time to work in the studio is Portugal at the SWR festival. That is in April I believe. The in May we will be doing the Maryland Deathfest and the Chaos in Tejas festival in Austin. Then to Sweden for the Sweden Rock festival and I think some shows after that in Europe or the UK. Somewhere in that I think we are going back to Italy and we will be playing the Hellfest in France in June as well. I know we are back in Germany in September in Ludwigsburg I think. And we are headlining the Friday night show at the Ages of Metal festival in Belgium the night after the show in Germany. There are a lot of other shows in the works also. We are talking about going back to Canada and many other places in the states as well as more shows overseas. It should be a really sweet year to catch Manilla Road on the road.
9. Currently you are signed to Shadow Kingdom, how did you get in contact with this label and how would you describe the support they have given you so far?Shark: Well we are actually signed to 3 labels. Shadow Kingdom takes care of the US for us and High Roller does all our LP stuff out of Germany. We are also signed to Golden Core / Zyx Music in Europe which is a major label out of Germany. I met the owner of Shadow Kingdom back when he was first starting out and we had many talks about how he should approach the label business. We have remained close friends since then. All the labels we are working with are doing a great job of promoting and support Manilla Road and I am proud to be affiliated with all 3 of them. Shadow Kingdom is doing a bang up job for us here in the states reissuing most of the back catalog and Golden Core will be doing the same in Europe. All of our stuff is being made available in LP form also so like I said before it is a good time to be in Manilla Road or be a fan of the band also.
10. On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to the newer music by fans of metal?Shark: Our newest album Mysterium seems to be turning some heads in the right direction. It is getting really good reviews in all the major trades in Europe so far all of the fan feedback that I have is really over the top and very positive. I think we nailed it with this album and I can thank all the other band members for putting their all into this one.
11. What direction do you see your music heading into on future releases?Shark: You just never can tell with us you know hahaha. I am always trying to re-invent the wheel so to speak. I can always be sure that it will be epic and at times heavier than hell. As far as the direction of our next album....well we are working on the creation of those songs right now and I will say at this point that it will for sure be interesting.
12. What are some bands or musical styles that have influenced your newer music and also what are you listening to nowadays?Shark: Everything I have ever heard has influenced me in some way or another good or bad. When it comes to who I derived my style from then I would have to say it is a combination of all my favorites that I learned tricks from. Bands like Sabbath, Deep Purple, Pink Floyd, Hendrix, UFO, Scorpions, Beatles, Wagner, Bach, Mozart, Frank Sinatra, Johnny Cash hahaha it sounds weird but it's true man. I have molded so many styles and influences together that it is impossible to say who dominates.....well maybe Judas Priest and Accept dominate a bit but hell I don't know I just play what the muse tells me too now days. As for bands I have been listening to from now times I would say Orchid, Midnight, Darkthrone, Argus, Grand Magus, Battleram, Battleroar, Doomsword, Candlemass, Ironsword and wow the list is going to get really big if I keep going on. There are a lot of really good bands out there right now.
13. I see a lot of references to fantasy literature in your lyrics, what are some of the authors that have influenced the songwriting?Shark: Robert E. Howard is my favorite along with others like Poe, Lovecraft, Burroughs, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, August Derlith, Clark Ashton Smith and a plethora of others. I also read tons of history literature and keep track of lots of archeological and anthropological stuff as well which comes in handy for ideas.
14. Outside of music what are some of your interests?Shark: I like to hang out with my kids. I love to play golf but don't get much time to do it anymore. I a big movie buff whether it be old or new. I like to read and I love to hunt and camp whenever I get the chance which is also rare these days. And I totally love to ride my motorcycle.
15. Any final words or thoughts before we wrap up this interview?
Shark: I would just like to thank you for doing the interview and say to all of our fans that it is because of you (our fans) that Manilla Road still exists and I thank you all for giving me the opportunity to live out my life's dream. You have all proven to me that dreams can come true if you work at it hard enough and stay your coarse. Our fans stayed the course with us and Manilla Road will always do the same as long as we are wanted. Up The Hammers & Down The Nails
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