– Hello, thank you so much for answering our interview, it’s a pleasure to talk to you again. How is the band currently doing with the latest album already out for some months?
Shark: Thank you for doing this interview. It is always an honor to talk with you. The band is doing well, thank you. The Blessed Curse has been getting really great reviews from all over the globe so that is always a great ego boost for us. I don’t really know how well it is selling yet. Still a little early to know how it is doing in that respect but as far as we can see from the Manilla Road camp it is being accepted as a classic Manilla Road album already. That’s cool with me because we are damn proud of this album and we worked really hard at making it the best effort we could put out at this time. It’s a good feeling that is for sure.



– This album is entitled «The Blessed Curse». And before digging into it I would like you to tell us a little bit the reason behind the album’s title and its cover artwork.
Shark: The title refers to both concepts within the album. Both concepts deal with the blessings and curses of each topic. The art is a fantastic piece that Paolo Girardi hand painted, yes hand painted with oil and canvas. We both worked on the concept together when we met in Milan, Italy last year. I came up with the idea of the arm coming up out of the ground with the skull in it’s hand and he came up with all the rest of the cover idea. The painting symbolizes mankind digging up the historical facts and through archaeological and forensic sciences we are learning the truth about our beginnings as a civilized race of beings on this planet.


– This opus consists of two CDs. Do you see it as a single full album or were you looking to release something different, as some kind of two albums in a single release?
Shark: We are always looking to do anything unique that we can and The Blessed Curse was a result of many months of working on how we were approaching this project. The main idea was in the presenting of the two different concepts and it just became a big enough project that we decided it should be two albums with songs from both concepts intertwining throughout the whole of the project.

– Let’s start with the first album, «The Blessed Curse». Here we find 10 tracks that range from powerful, epic tunes to songs with more Doom touches. What did you want to represent on this CD? Are you pleased with the final outcome on this first record?
manilla road 4Shark: What I was really after on the first album, musically speaking, was to show the many different sides of Manilla Road and to deliver a well rounded album of power, epic, ballad, doom, thrash, speed, progressive and melodic heavy metal. Ha ha that’s a mouthful. Manilla Road has always been about fusing different styles of music together with all sorts of heavy metal genres. It’s always been like an experiment with the band being the mad scientists. We have done so many albums ranging in so many different styles that I wanted to put out an album that would expose as many musical approaches as possible on one slab. And yes I am very pleased with the outcome of the first album of The Blessed Curse. It was a very important project to all of us and we put our hearts into It. We are all pleased with the final results of this album from performance to writing to production. It’s an album that is presented just about as close as possible to what I hear in my head as the sound of Manilla Road. Not saying there is no room for improvement because like a good scientist I am always looking to reinvent the wheel.

– Songs as «Truth in the Ash», «The Dead still Speak», «Kings of Invention» or «Reign of Dreams» got that epic strength, those heavy solos wih epic choruses and the old school rawness of the band. Tell us a little bit about these songs.
Shark: Those are all pretty much in your face type songs. Truth in the Ash is a fairly straight forward rocker. The Dead Still Speak is more along the lines of speed or thrash at times along with a straight forward rocking approach. Kings of Invention reminds me of some of the types of stuff we were doing around Open The Gates or The Deluge but once again the root of all these songs is pretty pedal to the metal rock n roll.


– Another strong point of the album are the mid tempos, with Doom touches. Tracks full of emotions and powerful as rocks riffs, sometimes close to the SABBATH tradition. «Luxiferia’s Light» or «Sword of Fate» show this. How did those tracks born?
Shark: Those tracks for sure were spawned out of the feelings of the concept dealing with the doom aspects of the topic. When I first started writing this album I was not sure it was going to be a concept as a whole because I had these two different concepts in my head already. But as I continued to write songs for the album they kept ending up, to me in my mind, as obvious continuations of those two topics and my head would not let me go onto other topics. I just kept feeling the power of the concept driving me to continue what I consider to be bold statements about our existence here on earth as a race of people. And also the sort of cosmic concepts we are putting forth with the After The Muse part of the albums kept creeping back into the mix as well. So it all sort of drove itself around in my head and kept spilling out these two concept lines and the music is a result of how the topics were making me feel at the time. You mentioned Sabbath and I must say that the immortal Black Sabbath is the reason any of us play doom metal like music. Tony was the first to really blow down the doors with that powerful interval doom sounding chord voicing that is so simple but yet so powerful. All metal guitarists use this technique sometime or another and I thank the metal gods that Tony brought it to us all. So there will always be a Sabbath influence in my music I am sure. Sabbath was the first big rock concert I ever went to and that was back in 73 or something like that. I’ve been a devout follower ever since.


– And we can’t forget about those tunes were poetry, mysticism and that mystic/cosmic flavour you only know how to do flow. A good proof is «The Blessed Curse», but no doubt tracks as «Tomes of clays», «Falling» or «The Muses Kiss» are highly addictive, enveloping, lyrical and magical. These are the kind of songs you do the best. How does the idea for such superb tracks arise? Tell us a little bit about these tunes.
Shark: Well The Blessed Curse and The Muses Kiss are both from the After The Muse concept and Tomes of Clay and Falling are both from the manilla road 3more historically philosophical concept. I think I felt so passionate about the two topics that it was like being possessed and the kiss of the muse just started flowing through me. I love epic metal songs like the ones we are talking about right now. My whole musical career has been spent trying to create songs that rival epic greatness like Beyond the Realms of Death by Judas Priest or Child in Time by Deep Purple or The Wizard by Uriah Heep. Man these are just to mention a few. There are so many great epic songs out there from the heyday of inventive rock music from the 60’s through the 80’s. I never want those type of approaches in writing to disappear so I keep trying to perfect and experiment with these types of songs. It’s a bit like a quest. One I call the search for the lost chord. It’s not that I’m really looking for one specific chord that we all forgot somehow. It’s more like the continuing conquest of music and searching yourself to achieve what has never been done before. It’s all about trying to pull the very best music possible out of this old soul. I’m a huge history, mythology and philosophy fan and these two concepts both ignited my creative fire in what appears to be a very positive manner.

– And well, if that wasn’t enough, we also have the second CD, entitled «After the Muse». This CD is even more acoustic and intimate. Was this how you envisioned it?
Shark: Yes it was. Now I did not want the whole of this slab to be totally mellow though and that is why we put both versions, old and new, of All Hallows Eve on it. Once again I was trying to expose the many facets of Manilla Road music. Acoustic music has always been a part of the Manilla Road spectrum ever since the first album Invasion with the song Centurian War Games. I know some may say that I’m getting old so I’m starting to mellow out but that is far from true. Wait until you hear the new Hellwell album that we are working on. It was all about the melody and the inspiration of the muse and the concept thereof. As we were putting together the project it became evident to me that I should be showing where a lot of this epic music is rooted and that would be within the more basic acoustic style of music. Even many of the really heavy popular riffs from some of our songs were created first on an acoustic guitar. It’s the love of melodic music that brings all of this into focus and I think even though it is a bit of track of normal for a Manilla Road release I believe it is as it should be.


– More or less the album follows a same pattern as I said earlier. Tell us a little bit about these songs and why did you choose «All Hallows Eve» for rerecord and include both versions.
Shark: The 1981 version of All Hallows Eve is just a recording of a rehearsal back in the day and it is not even a complete take of the song which is missing the last minutes of the piece. But it is a good visual as to what the band was up to as far as really early epic and doom oriented music. And we did the new 2014 version to show what it would be like if we were to produce that song in present day. We even got Rick Fisher to play drums on the song so that it was as authentic to Manilla Roads sound back then as possible. And this song is not really part of the concept but it felt to me like it all fit well since this type of song is exactly what comes out of the inspiration of the muses kiss.


– Already with the album reviewed; how has the interest toward the album been evolving since it came out, both in sales and acceptance/press?
Shark: The press on it has been incredibly good. There is always someone that does not allow there to be any greater Manilla Road album than Crystal Logic or Open The Gates or maybe The Deluge. But that is to be understood. I too still am most fond of Stained Class by Judas Priest and that will most likely always be my most favorite JP album even though they have put out so many great releases since. That’s the good thing about music though you don’t have to love just only one song or one band. You can enjoy it all if it sounds cool to you. That’s what is best about music. I am not sure about sales yet. It is a bit too early to tell and I don’t usually ask until our royalty statements are in my hands. I guess I like to be surprised. I guess I’m more concerned with how our hardcore fans respond than anything else. It is they who have kept us going all these years and so it’s really important to us that they like where we go with our music. But when it all comes down to it in the end I just write what I feel and think and it usually is not influenced by anything more than the muse and an over active imagination.


– And about tours and plans, are you already playing live or do you have plans for upcoming festivals this year or next year?
manilla road 2Shark: We did the Up The Hammers festival a couple of months back but recently I have been primarily working in Midgard Sound Labs (our studio) on the next Hellwell album and also another project or two that I am not really going to talk about yet. Just suffice it to say that I have been keeping busy in the studio and I think the work will result in some really cool music. As for touring I think we will be trying to tour in the US around fall or early winter and I think Europe will be in 2016 along with many other stops around the globe.


– Speaking of tours, tell us how was the experience of playing in Spain was like in the «Mysterium» tour at the Pounding Festival in Madrid. It was a pleasure to me to be with your the day before and to finally see you live in Spain.
Shark: That was an incredible time for us. I loved playing that festival and we saw so much historically cool stuff throughout Spain due to the fantastic hospitality of the Pounding Metal Society and everyone involved. It was a great time. And we did not lack for excitement outside of the festival either. I almost got in a fight with a drunk old man outside of our hotel. The police came and arrested the guy eventually. And our drummer Neudi got lost in a cab driving all over Madrid telling the cabby that the name of his hotel was the San Jose, which was our hotel in Portugal ha ha. He finally found the hotel around 6am. So we had a blast and I sure hope we get to come back to Spain to play again because it was fun for all I think.


– Is there any chance that you could come back in this tour?
Shark: I would love to. I’m sure we will return. Hopefully sooner than later.


– And on a view to the future, what’s left for MANILLA ROAD? I remember your words in an interview where you said «I am sworn to the gods and the muse to continue this quest for the lost chord as long as I live and with your help I may even some day achieve just that». How’s this quest going?
Shark: It seems to be progressing well my friend ha ha. Since I finally wrote a song called In Search of the Lost Chord ha ha. I have to give due credit here though. Geanluca Silvi actually wrote the guitar part for that song and it inspired me so much that I wrote the songs lyrics and vocal parts. He and I are very close friends and so it was a really special time working with him. Also with Kostas from BattleRoar, he did some backing vocals along with Geanluca (Doomsword / Battle Ram). It was one of those special moments like working on the Wanderer song with BattleRoar some years back. I think the quest is coming along rather nicely. I feel that The Blessed Cures / After The Muse release is one of my most profound statements musically, lyrically and conceptually. So in my opinion the quest is doing fine. But it is far from over in my mind. There is still a little more time left for my experiments in the the sublime and the macabre. Sometimes it’s all just entertainment and for fun and then there are those times where you feel like your doing something really important and that maybe your making a difference somehow in this life. The most important thing though, I believe, is to be true to yourself and your loved ones and adapt, improvise and overcome whatever you are faced with in life.


– Haven’t you ever consiered doing a live album? Anyway at this point in your career it had to be at least a triple album, right?
Shark: Well we did Live Roadkill back in the 80’s so we have done one already. But we sure have not done one for a long time. It is something that manilla roadcomes up every once in awhile but to tell you the truth live albums usually don’t sell that well and in this day and age the reality is that physical product does not sell that well for anyone any more. Even the big pop stars are selling lots less CDs and so much music is just flowing out there without anyone paying for it that the music industry is approaching an all time low as far as income is concerned from actual sales of the physical recordings. So I’m not sure a live album is really what Manilla Road needs. We have always let every one put up their live videos of our performances on youtube so if you want live Manilla Road there is a bunch of it available to be heard and seen on youtube. The topic still comes up though and it still could be a possibility. We shall see.


– So that’s all from our side. As always it has been a real pleasure talking to one of my favourite bands, and hope to see you again. If you want to add something else, feel free to do it. Thank you for everything.
Shark: Thanks so much for your support and for the honor of doing this interview with you my friend. It is always great talking with you. As for a last word I would just like to say as always that it is the faith of our undying fans that keeps Manilla Road alive and well and all of us in the band send out our appreciation to all of you for your loyalty to us and the music and Epic Metal. Keep the Irons hot and of course Up The Hammers & Down The Nails.
Thanks again my friend.
Mark Shelton


Paco Gómez

Deja una respuesta

Tu dirección de correo electrónico no será publicada.

Highslide for Wordpress Plugin