Interview: The Deep Roots of Mantar

Interview With Mantar | by Hutch

“I don’t give a shit” was a common refrain during my interview with the German born and raised, Hanno. He and his friend, Iranj, from Turkey have formed a two- piece band. You can try to extract a list of influences or sound alike bands, but Hanno doesn’t give a shit to give you any trace of fodder with which to develop your answer.

The two have been friends for fifteen years, Hanno explained to me. “This is our first band, though.” He continues that the duo were “always jamming and hanging and going to shows.” When they made a decision to make music together, they “immediately started to write music. We jammed for four hours and we didn’t look further for a third party.”

I ask about Iranj’s Turkish roots. Hanno explains that in the late 1960’s as Germany’s production and manufacturing jobs increased, many Turkish immigrants sought jobs in Germany. I ask if xenophobia was a predictable recourse from German people. He replied that of course it was and likened it to the United States and Mexico. “Those Turkish families have stayed in German for three to four generations. I don’t care. My drummer is Turkish and he does a good job. People are afraid of immigrants. I don’t give a shit. I don’t judge people by their heritage.”

I ask what Hanno does for work. The response is an additional dismissive tone about work. “I don’t care about working. In general, work sucks. Don’t make it romantic.” This apathy is a red herring though for the music of Mantar. Hanno has a fervent passion for making music. He tells me that they rehearse daily. He also relays that he is glad that our interview is “with a person not a computer.” He types all day.

He also does not care about omitting the bass position in his music. A curdled frankness exudes from his reply. “There is no reason for a bass guitar, if you know your equipment. I use bass amplifiers and effects pedals to get the bass sound. You have to keep up. Be more furious, raise more hell. It is how you handle things. We are a very loud aggressive.”

There is no ambiguity or complacency when he discusses his music. That intensity was apparent from the initial rehearsals. “We wrote fifty or sixty songs. Then, we picked the best ten. We did it ourselves. It was simply supposed to be a self-released tape. We thought ‘let’s make fifty pressings to give to friends for free.’ Then, we began getting a lot of love. We thought it was interesting and intense to get so much attention.”

Again, I try to stoke a genre or influence to describe these intense riffs and pummeling rhythms. I might as well been trying to light a candle in a blizzard.

“We don’t have a background, no scene. The drummer has a hard time telling difference between black or doom metal. He doesn’t know shit about metal. We don’t go out much. We are just fascinated by heavy music, in general, since we were kids.”

While Hanno is insistent of a disconnection from a scene, drummer does love Dale Crover.” Well, who wouldn’t? But that rocking Melvins feel is undeniable. Especially the Houdini and Stoner Witch albums. I hear an early AmRep Helmet sound and even some Unsane. The songs however certainly gain momentum and carry a flame for Motörhead and posses markings of Black Metal. The vocals are a strained coarse delivery.

Hanno describes his drummer with admiration and gratitude. “He is able to make a song out of my dark and sinister sound. He is a groovy beat rocker. I am more doom and black metal. But this is what you get. We showed no interest in suiting any scene parameters. We don’t give a shit. I just care about playing heavy.”

Another incredible announcement would be the band’s upcoming appearance at Roadburn 2014. Decimating the legendary stage of doom is not a surprise if you hear the album. However it is when one considers that this will be their 10th show. Outsiders should brace for ravaging punishment as Mantar prepares to go through, Southern Europe. Dates have been set for Germany, Spain and Portugal. And they have been invited by Turkey and Greece.

Hanno would additionally like to travel more and “to play in the States. I know a lot of passionate people there. A lot of friends in California.” Hanno also attends The Fest in Gainesville each year. He occupies his time “getting wasted 24 hours a day. There is a lot of pop crap with lumberjack clothing and glasses and beards, but the music is great lately (getting) more metal with Ramming Speed.”

Speaking of Boston’s Ramming Speed’s label, Prosthetic, Mantar had already received a contract from Prosthetic and Century Media. Harnessing a humble approach, Hanno decided to “take it easy. We hadn’t played one show.” But eventually it was decided that Death By Burning would be at home on Svart. *(they just cannot put out a bad LP – hutch) “It was exactly what we were looking for; fair, no rights and publishing.” He expands on the ease and autonomy which Svart provides.  “I never talk to them. They just do a great job. I have never been to their headquarters, we just email. I think it is great. They put it out great vinyl.”

Revisiting the recording of Death By Burning, that raw visceral delivery is intoxicating. Hanno creates another explanation with his laid back demeanor.  In their DIY spirit, they did not even seek a producer. He clarifies, “I didn’t even ‘produce’ it. I just set up backline equipment and placed mikes and recorded how we play at practice.” Although this is not some staunch stroking of his own ego, intent on fortifying his precious material from invasive hands on the next album. “If someone understands what I want,” he would obtain one. “Next time, if someone gets it, no problem. I do not want to weaken the energy between me and the drums. We will see. It’s not a dogma, but we do everything ourselves; artwork, video, recording.”

“We knew pretty early the album would be called Death By Burning. The sentence expresses everything that band sounds like.”  A somber, stark painting named “The Crown” by Aron Weisenfeld  ( ) brought the perfect visual presence to the album. “I fell in love with the painting, elegant but violent. It is understated; dark and sinister but not in an obvious way. Something is wrong. It gives me the creeps. I got in touch with Aron. He also has a DIY ethic. As long as we mention his name, no need for a payment. It is an unbelievable master piece of a painting.”

Another outsider invited in is “a friend of ours, an MMA fighter, Kent the Norseman. He read the piece on “The Berzerker,” the cheap way, on a laptop.  It fits into the heavy riffs. He is obsessed by the Berserker and he wrote it. I am fascinated by Norse mythology,” but he appends, “but I am not into WP.

“I put effort into the lyrics but there is no message. I’m an artist, or whatever. I’m not expressing myself or opinion. I just am telling. I don’t give a shit what the listener gets from it. I am just telling. I am fascinated about warriors going into nature and prepping for war; Vikings and war. I’m more like Man-O-War; as long as I don’t dress like that. I am skinny. Well, my drummer is bad ass, twice my size with tattoos.”

Death By Burning will be introduced to the world on some reverent platforms, with a pre-listening session with Terrorizer and a Decibel premiere. Is he nervous or flattered?  “I am 30 years old. I like that people enjoy it, but I do not take it too seriously. My aim is to play as much as possible.”

Mantar band

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