The indelicate art of ripping your fucking face off has rallied many a two-piece squadron to their cause – 5ive’s Continuum Research Project, Jucifer, Årabrot (in their early, most mental days at least), Winnebago Deal and Oaf being just a few examples of bands proving far more than the sum of their parts – but all must bow before the might of the German/Turkish duo that is Mantar.
Their recent, Death By Burning, released on the estimable Svart Records, rocks like a series of baseball-bat blows to the back of the knees and is a strain-at-the-leash, sulphur-snorting streak of clattering and corrosive venom that our own Connie Gordon described as ‘infectious as workplace influenza’ and ‘possibly the best debut you’ll hear all year’. What infernal impulses drive this senses-wrecking duo? Read Connie’s interview with vocalist/guitarist Hanno and brace yourself for the startling, heavens-storming track, White Nights, below!
That’s quite an unholy racket you two make. How faithful is your live sound when compared to the album?
“Thanks a lot. Actually our live sound should be more or less the same as the sound from the record as we recorded the album with exactly the same equipment we use on stage and in the rehearsal room. Basically we just wanted to keep the live energy we knew from jamming. That’s why we kept it as simple and raw as possible. We barely did any overdubs. We agreed on the idea not to record an album that we cannot put live on stage. Everything else would be pretty lame.”
Speaking of which, does the title Death By Burning_ _have a specific story or meaning behind it?
“Well, I don’t think so. We just knew pretty early that that is going to be the name of the record. It just sounds cool. And might give you a slight idea of what you can expect from the record. It’s a good expression for a heavy band without any gimmicks and just pure honest rage. When I discovered the painting for the cover artwork. it was magic. I immediately knew that this needed to be our cover. That painting is called The Crown from a great artist called Aron Wiesenfeld. I think it describes our music better than we ever could. That kind of nothingness in the face of the girl with the burning crown… epic. Furthermore, death by burning is an expression that can express much more than just getting burned alive on the stake. We asked Aron about using The Crown as our cover and he kindly agreed. So it’s a fucking honour for us to have such a wonderful piece of art to represent our music. He sure is an incredible artist.”
Is your choice to exist as a duo the result of previous, negative ‘regular lineup’ band experiences? In the case of Mantar, what are the pros and cons of being a duo? Do you have designs of ever expanding your lineup?
“No. We just knew right away that this is going to be a two-piece. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not some kind of dogma thing. If we would have been five guys with the same musical vision we would have been ended up as bigger band, but it was just the two of us. We know each other for a very long time even though we just started the band and there’s a special musical connection between us with a lot respect for each other’s ‘talent’. In general, I think being just a two-piece is a big advantage. As we are just two people we have to make sure, that the riffs or the melodies we use are pretty intense as we can only focus on one thing at a time. But I think that’s just great as that is exactly what people remember a certain song for. A certain melody, a certain riffing or just a special drumbeat. We are able to focus on one really strong ingredient at a time and skip all the rest and unneccessary gimmicks.
“It kinda sucks that we need to carry shitloads of equipment with just two people though. We won’t show up with one amplifier and a little drumset. We ain’t the Black Keys. This is made to fuck shit up. But we don’t want other people to be part of this band right now. Why should we? It works great. And if you know your gear/equipment you can create living hell. Furthermore other people may weaken the energy of the current band. Quantity is not necessarily any guarantee for something intense. It’s very rare that you absolutely don’t need to talk. We just don’t talk about music and didn’t set up any plans about a certain genre we wanted to play. It just happened. I take that as a good sign.”
We don’t know if you know this - and we’re sorry to break the news - but the word ‘mantar’ is a term associated with a certain branch of the adult film industry where man-on-man rogering features almost exclusively. Assuming you didn’t know this, where does your moniker come from and what was the thinking behind it’s selection?
“Well it has some kind of strong, heavy and sinister sound. It means something like mushroom or anything like that in Turkish as the drummer of Mantar is Turkish. It’s just a powerful and proud sounding name for a band with the same characteristics. As a matter of fact we are totally aware of the man-on-man thing. I mean, come on, two grown men, one guy with shitloads of muscles, the other one handsome and quite skinny, spending every free minute together in a tiny room ‘rehearsing’ bare chested…?!”
Check Mantar’s Facebook page here
And get your calloused mitts on Death By Burning here!