– Hello and, first of all, thanks for taking your time to answer to our questions. How’s everything going in the band’s camp?
We are doing really fine. Everyone is excited about the release of our debut album and the latest developements around it. It will also be released on vinyl on High Roller Records in a couple of months. The line up has never been so strong and we are looking forward to some really great gigs.
– WHITE MANTIS is a pretty new band that has is about to release its debut album so, first off; could you please make some history of the band? What motivated you to form it?
After my former band split in 2009 I needed a break from being in a band but 2 years later I just wanted to form a new one. We started in early 2012 right off the bat by writing original material however without having a clear vision where the musical journey would take us. The line up was completely different and in august 2012 our lead guitarist Andre joined us. Back in the day Matthias Habermann, a very good friend and former bandmate has been our drummer, whose unique Thrash/Rock drumming style gave our riffs a special flavour. Our style at that time already revolved around Old School Thrash, but it took us at least one year to figure out, what our own interpretation of Thrash could sound like. It was the song „My Favourite Chainsaw“ , which even made its way on our debut album, that showed us how White Mantis roughly could sound in the future.
– WHITE MANTIS was formed in 2012. How were your first steps until you released your first demo in 2014? What kind of activity did you have during those years?
We did a lot of rehearsing, trying to find “our sound” and in december 2013 we had our first gig. Really, at that time nothing really special happened, just 4 guys thrashing around! I don´t really remember when we did our first rehearsal recording , which later was put on the first demo. But that´s the way we did it. Apart from our demo recording we had a couple gigs in the area around munich.
– You released three demos from 2014 to 2018. How were those years like? How did you promote your demos? Did you try to use them to get a record deal? Did they make you gig?
Except the promo from 2018, which simply is part of our debut album production, all our demo drum tracks are rehearsal room recordings. The guitars were recorded at our homes and the vocals in the studio I work in. I work in the audio post-production/sound design field, therefore I am far away from being a professional music producer. The vision for the sound of the demos cleary was to give shit on perfection. I despise over-produced albums and our second last demo „Ravenous“ was only an over-dubbed rehearsal room 2-track. Those demos we sold on our gigs at that time and sure they made us gig. I have sent a lot of proposals to promoters but not to labels. That demo was pretty ok, but it would never brought us a record deal and I knew that.
– And now you will soon release your debut album «Sacrifice your Future». Do you approach differently the work of a demo compared to the work you did behind this full-length?
In late 2016 we had a major line up change in the rythm section of the band. Thomas Taube ( ex- Odem Arcanum , Reign Of Decay ) and Jan Strobl ( ex- Odem Arcanum ) joined us and we started recording the drums in our new drummer`s studio. For him it was learning the songs and recording them right afterwards or almost at the same time. He did an amazing job on doing it. Recording the guitars and vocals wasn´t that much different from the demos. The biggest difference is the quality of the songs, which of course are way better on our debut album compared to the demos. Thomas , who also is the producer/mixer of the record put a lot of effort in finding the right sound for the guitars, drums and bass and also the right overall sound for the record. For the demos I didn´t think so much about these things and just mixed it.
– In this album I hear different influences, from SLAYER to KREATOR or VOIVOD, you seem to draw from different scenes but what have been some of the most influential bands for WHITE MANTIS?
The three that you mentoined are great influences of ours. I also take a lot of inspiration from old Megadeth, old heavy metal in general, Bathory, Aura Noir and some other scandinavian black thrash bands.
– Your album «Sacrifice your Future» is a quite old school and fast Thrash Metal album with some other (technical) nuances, but unlike a lot of bands nowadays, isn’t that much on the Crossover side nor it sounds like a tribute to Teutonic Thrash Metal. Did everything end up as you expected?
I don´t like Crossover Thrash so much. Nor it is musically very appealing to me neither lyrically. Unlike most of the bands in this genre we also put emphasis on ambience and not only aggression. I really like the darker side of thrash metal. Slayer´s Hell Awaits album is a perfect example for that. It´s not that we sound like that in every song, but that side of thrash is definitely a huge influence. We are very happy about the whole album, but one the other hand I already have some points for the second album, that I would do differently. Let´s see how the next record will sound like.
– Was it easy to get the sound (production-wise) you had envisioned?
Like I said before that was the job of our drummer/mixer Thomas Taube. He´s really a sound designer when it comes to producing an album. And he has way more patience than me when doing it. At the beginning we had a slightly different vision of the sound. but we realized, that playing in standard tuning would make sounding that way impossible. But that didn´t matter too much and in the end I think the album sounds great. Not too polished and dirty enough to kick your ass and with some great “80s trademarks”.
– You also focus a lot on riffing, being a very guitar-driven album. In fact some guitar melodies create a good balance with the aggressiveness on the album; was this a hard work or it rather came out naturally? As the album feels really honest.
Wow, that´s really cool to hear! I appreciate that! Sacrifice Your Future is not a very fast written album. Some song are 5-6 years old and represent how I like my metal as a fan!I guess that´s why it sounds so natural. I wouldn´t call it hard work, but I definitely always have an eye on the balance betwenn aggressive riffing, some progressiveness and the right melodies for our sound.
– All the aforementioned makes the album sound fresh but when and how did the songs on the record begin to get shaped?
I always do a rough preproduction of the guitars and very simple programmed drums. I am very lazy when it comes to drum programmming, but I do it to figure out if the song will work like I imagined it or not. Afterwards I show it to the other guys and we work on the details of the arragement. After having finished recording the basic tracks I always like to add some over-dubbes. That might be another lead melody, harmonization or noise effects. Some of our songs are being written very fast and simply without a lot of changes in the pre-production phase and some others need to evolve over a longer period of time.
– Anyway all themes and lyrics on the album seem to have a deeper, not too obvious meaning, feeling like metaphors about our society and the world we live in, am I wrong? Where do you take inspiration from to write your lyrics?
Lyrics are very important to me. I grew up listening to classic metalbands like Iron Maiden, Metallica and Megadeth, which all have great lyrics. These songs speak to you, especially when you´re young. Some of our songs deal with socio political issues, either depicting reality directly or describing in a more metaphorical way. Other songs are purely fictional like “My Favorite Chainsaw” and “There’s No Law on the Post-Apocalyptic Highway”. These two songs are the only ones with a Post-Apocalyptic setting. Sure, movies like Mad Max are an inspiration, but also dystopian novels like Brave New World. I like to work with images that convey certain moods, sometimes scenery or short stories.
– How do you reflect that on the album’s title?
The album title “Sacrifice Your Future” evolved from the visual cover idea. I like the combination of tribal elements and the post-apocalyptic topic. It´s based on the idea of a society turning away from that form of civilazition that we have today and instead going back to a more “primitive” way of living, not only technologically but also socially. Of course that´s mere fiction and anything but a political statement. This is totally the dramatical and movie type aspect of White Mantis.
Yes, we´ve sent our promo during the mixing stage of the album production to quite a few german labels. Then, after completing the mastering we´ve sent the whole album again. From those who were interested in releasing it Thomas “Duck” Dargel felt like being the right one to do it. Iron Shield is a small label from Berlin, which has a reputation for releasing really great Heavy/Speed/Thrash Metal records. You have to check out for example Black Mass and Fusion Bomb and in January our mates from Invictus. They also will release their debut album on IRON SHIELD.
– In which formats will the album be available?
Sacrifice Your Future will be available on CD via Iron Shield Records and I guess around February 2020 on vinyl . On which label I cannot tell at the moment because it´s still nothing signed yet, but we are very confident that this release will happen. Furthermore you will be able to stream it on all the common platforms.
– All this about «Sacrifice your Future» being said; how could you describe it with just 3 words?
Raw Power Delivered
– Now there are a lot of bands providing a traditional sound into different styles but; what could you say sets WHITE MANTIS apart?
I do not want to adjudicate on the scene because it is up to everyone self to decide which band he likes and which not. In a way any band is somehow different to another, at least there are certain nuances even if they sound very similar. Sometimes it´s just the production and vibe, that makes an album interesting. To cut a long story short: Listen to our album and make your own opinion. I am totally biased on that anyway! Hahaha!
– On the other hand, are you aware of what’s going on in the music industry nowadays? Do you dig any of those bands taking back a more “old school” sound?
There is definitely an urge for new bands, who can deliver their own take on Old School Thrash Metal or Metal in general. Those who deliver great records and have a growing fanbase have somehow found their own old school sound. They are no complete copycats because they found their own formula to write in the vein of Old School Metal.
– And finally, what are now your near-future plans?
The song writing process and the rehearsals are very, if not not the most important part of the work in White Mantis. We are now in the early stage of songwriting for the second album and it goes very well! We also hope to play many gigs in 2020 and maybe in your town or city, too. So watch out for White Mantis!