"All About The Album - 15 Questions" - a brand new section at the RockUnited site where any recording artist with an recently released CD is confronted with standard questions (15 of them, duh!). If you'd like to have your material up here, email: urban "at" rockunited.com (simply replace "at" with your standard @ )
MANTICORA, "Safe" is the latest album by the Danish metal band Manticora... and it's quite "Safe" to declare this to be fine effort with ultra heavy crunchy guitars, top notch drums, and vocals which you'll either love or hate. Indeed, I don't believe there's a middle ground here, Lars F. Larsen is simply one of those vocalists with a very special set of pipes and he admits to never really been a fan of all those powerhouse vocalists for that matter. Here to answer the "All About The Album" questions, Mr. LARS F. LARSEN...
How has the reaction to your latest CD been?
The reactions have been 99% positive - only 1 lukewarm review from Holland so far. The reaction from the fans has been fantastic, and that is for us most important. The reviews are of course great, but they are subjective in most cases, and so the subjective reaction from the generel fan is more important than the review from the reviewers.
How long did this CD take to make from start to finish, recording-wise?
We spent 8 days, recording the drums and vocals, to begin with. Them we recorded the guitars, bass and keyboards in our own dungeon - this took 4 weeks - and in the end, we spent 8 days in the studio, on the mix and mastering, so all in all it took 6 weeks, but a lot of the time in our own studio was divided into days and off-days so it wasn't effective studio time. I'd say that we spent 3½ weeks in all on this album.
What kind of 'sound', production wise, did you have in the back of your mind, prior to entering the studio?
We began by using 7 string guitars, and with a ½ note downtune, it became very very deep and heavy, compared to what we usually sound like. We simply wanted the guitars to dominate this album, getting rid of all the keyboard atmosphere and the very dominant drums, that we usually have aimed for. Something like Arch Enemy meets Dream Theater, meets Metallica (with usual Manticora vocals).
What kind of input did the producer have during the process?
Tommy (Hansen) was less of a force on this album, than he has previously been. We explained to him that we didn't want his usual sound (not that there's anything wrong with that), but aimed for a much darker and less nuanced sound, so Tommy tried to remove his signature sound from the music. It was of course hard for him, since his ear is so trained for this specific kind of power metal, but he managed to listen and understand what we wanted with our changes, so he had SOME input, but not as much as he usually did with the older albums.
And are you pleased with the final outcome? (sound - production wise)
The generel consensus in the band is that we are satisfied. Some more than others. I'd have loved 3 more days for the mix, since we ran a little short of time, but it's all a question of money.
Did the producer (you) use any (weird) experimental miking and/or recording techniques?
Nope - good old fashioned recording.
How did you go on about capturing your 'live sound' in the studio, or perhaps you didn't
No. We are fans of the old layer upon layer technique. The difference this time
around is, that we recorded the drums and vocals first, which is very very
strange. Normally, the vocals are recorded as the last thing, together with the guitar
soil. By doing it this way, we could divided the days between us (Mads and I). Mads would
bang ahead for 4 hours, and record a couple of tracks on the drums, whereafter I'd
take over for the last 4 hours, with singing, and choir. It worked very well, and I
think we might be going for this option again, next time, we record an album....but
Please inform us about your favourite songs and lyrical highlights and why?
The title track is my absolute favourite. It is 14 minutes of pure joy for me -
mixture of Nevermore, Metallica, Mercyful Fate and Dream Theater, and the lyrics is
a tribute to my little daughter and partly my wife. Their names are Sara and
Any overall theme of mood that you're trying to capture while writing songs?
On this album we were all for making a black/white thing - to use the contrasts in every aspect. Life/death, new/old, sadness/joy, etc etc. That's also why the coverartwork looks the way it does.
Does your vision for coming up with music get affected at all by time?
Yep - new impressions of course raise new awareness and makes us different human beings. It's evolution of the mind, and with that evolution also comes the urge to create different stuff than you're used to. It shows in our music and in the approach we take towards writing an album. I believe that the fact that 3 out 5 guys in the band have become fathers during the writing of this album has had something to say...!
Did the record company interfere with anything on your "sound" and songs?
Nope - the record label wasn't found untill after the recordings.
Are there any 'crazy' behind the scenes anecdotes from these sessions that you can share with us?
Apart from us, being drunk all the time???? hahahahaha. Naaah, it's pretty much standard, what we are doing. We've recorded the last 4 albums at Tommy's place, so we know the city and the surroundings. We've done all the crazy stuff in that city/place 5 years ago, when we were young and fresh. Now, we're more leaning towards making some great dinners and trying out very good redwine. As youth is slowly fading away, we know our limits, and have to get a good night's sleep to perform 100% the day after.
How would you describe the sound of your new CD to any potential new fan?
As mentioned above: Mix of Metallica/Dream Theater and Arch Enemy.
Who are your influences and heroes? (music-wise)
Personally, my inspirational sources are many - James Hetfield, Russel Allen, Bruce Dickinson, King Diamond, Erik A.K., Warrell Dane, Placido Domingo, etc. All great singers with particular voices. I don't really care for all the powerhouse singers, like David Coverdale, who have the most obvious metal voices. I'm more into the voices that are a bit crooked and very distinguished. Musicwise, I am very inspired by bands like Metallica, Dream Theater, Testament, Pink Floyd, Blind Guardian, Nevermore, DAD and so on. But I also take inspiration in music from Muse, Radiohead, and some classic stuff. It just has to contain energy - then I like it.
If there's anything you'd like to add, say, please do:
BUY the album!!!!!!!......like......NOW......:-)
Interview by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,