On August 24th, Germany’s Mantar will release their third full-length studio album The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze via Nuclear Blast. Since the duo’s inception back in 2012, they have become known as one of the hardest working bands around as their new record is just an extension to their resilient efforts. We were lucky to speak to vocalist/guitarist Hanno about the new album, challenges, their overall sound, and more.
How would you compare the new album (The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze) to 2014’s Death by Burning?
I think just like most bands, the overall songwriting got better. We, like every other band, needed to learn more – it takes time. There were some albums we wanted to learn what to improve on and what the strengths were. And then from this record, for the first time ever, we’ve been totally able to only concentrate on our strength and skip all the other shit. I love the Death record because the Death record always has a rawness.
We’re just like any other band, we just met several times of the week. We rehearsed and based on those jams, rehearsals, we just play, you think and make songs out of them and recorded them. The song writing, newest record, the latest record, is so different because I moved to the United States. The songwriting, it’s a lot of work entailed and a lot of more effort and edge that songwriting nowadays. What I like about the first record that it has a certain rock and roll vibe, it’s a little bit more punk rock. And there are some moments in the newest record that’s going to get out at the end of August that still picks that up and that’s something I like. There’s not only differences but there’s also some similarities, because there is a lot of stuff that is viable. It’s at this real raw power I really liked about getting.
Can you explain the lyrical content of the new album?
We’re taking the time so the thing is the records called The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze. The mind of the masses. That’s what it’s about. People denying to themselves. Like they always did. People are false cures and false prophets. This also includes what’s happening now in the United States, everyone knows what I am talking about. Instead of taking care of themselves, they strive to hide behind the hate of the masses. It’s always easier to take your own decisions and fend for yourself and that is what it’s all about. Because that is what we know more than in anyway. It just has to fuck around with the minds and take the light of the first masses. Nowadays that it’s been eight years ago and 500 years ago and 2000 years ago. People aren’t going to learn by repeating history.
That is true. Tell me a little bit about your style, you guys have been described as punk, to sludge and black metal. How would you describe your overall sound?
That’s hard to tell because we have never tried to fit into a certain scene. You never need to go satisfy the needs of a certain song. Think with just as much tact as we are and just as fast as we are slow, but names don’t mean shit really. It doesn’t mean anything but if that helps, yeah black metal is a thing, but also punk rock is a thing.
Outside of it people know what sludge is. When I heard that word the first time when we were already in the band, I said what the fuck is that. When I looked it up, I think bands that are supposed to be sludge in them, I think with all do respect but, I don’t think we have anything to do with them. I don’t think by sludge, I don’t know what that’s supposed to mean.
I definitely did hear some black metal and punk elements on the new album. I heard the combination of influences, which makes it new and interesting too.
I hope so. Why should I try to be like other people who are already better? Why should I try to sell my gig when I’m always going to be second best? Why should I try to sound like Obituary or whatsoever? You cannot make that any better. There is nothing worse than rip offs. Why the fuck would you start a band like that? No one would be aware of the fact that right away it’s always holding back when we would be second best. So we just always do something different.
Do you plan to return to North America for a tour?
We got to. I really like being here now. I live in Florida, moved to the United States myself. It’s so rare for a German band, especially for German up and coming band to make that step to the United States. I will always love for more tours to form, like real tours. And yes we got to work on them. We have to make it happen, I want to come back and I believe next year it’s going to happen again. Touring in the United States is very expensive. You don’t get hotel rooms, you don’t get comped. In Europe, even a small band, you get unlimited beers, you get a place to stay. I’m not even talking a hotel. Like get a place to crash. In the United States things are so different. You come to some sort of bar at 8:00 pm you have no sound check, get on stage at 11:00 pm you gotta get out. And you don’t have a place to stay or anything. So you have to plan it very well. And that’s the thing I don’t. The band’s main job for the last years is how to have that maturity so that everything works on a professional level. If that’s getting better, I’m willing to come back.
You get more perks touring in Europe than the United States.
Ask your friends bands and why they all love touring in Europe so much. Because they get a place to sleep, they get money, and they get soaked. I know guys from the United States and they tour here for like 6 months straight because it doesn’t cost a thing. They don’t have to pay rent at all. And here, they get a place to sleep every night. They get housed every night and they even get some money by selling some merchandise. Stuff like that. It’s a race to get to tour here especially in Scandinavian, Germany and Austria, Switzerland, stuff like that. We treat them very well.
That sounds far-fetched compared to the United States, doesn’t seem like it would happen out here anytime soon.
Yes, of course I want to come back, to tour and stuff like that. I would love to because as long as there are certain bands, we have a lot of fans in the United States. At least I hope that. And I would love to play for everyone. But I got to make sure not to use all of my private money in order to make a tour like that happen. We’re a band for over 5 years now, and work at a professional level. And I want that in the United States so there has to be certain standards. Like the place is clean, something to drink, and not coming to freaking Miami or somewhere, where you get like $1 off the bar, which is I don’t think it should have been that. Because we drink a lot, you come there and you lose money because you spend more money on the drinks you have than the money you make on the show. There’s something wrong with that.
That’s crazy. And now that the album is complete, what are your plans?
We have all of the major festivals, all in Europe. We did two in the summer already. And then of course we have to promote the record, by the end of summer I go back home and at least try to chill for some weeks. Then we invited our friends from Skeletonwitch for a whole month of a European tour towards promoting the record. And probably going to play the next tour and the next tour, and see what’s going to happen.
What are some of your biggest challenges as a band since you started?
Well, of course to survive and maintain this band. We lost our jobs. You have to invest a lot. Work very hard to start to make it work out in the long run. In the past few years that takes mind off work out that of course that’s why a lot of bands don’t make it in any way because they rarely leave their shitty office jobs. Instead of having the balls to say hey let’s get out there. Let’s do something. Let’s plan the band, let’s show the people how good we are. And we tried that and for me personally we get to.
Travel is very hard I don’t like the tour months. I don’t like to travel. I love being on stage for 60 minutes a night. Just rock out is great. The challenge is, I need alone time, I don’t have that on the tour. Costs of traveling, so that’s a big challenge for me.
You actually gave everything up for this band, that is inspiring.
Yeah, but on the other hand I gave way more things than I did rock. I settled, I moved to the United States which I love, I really, do love the United States. Always been really welcoming to me. I’m very grateful and I take it as a gift. I got more than I gave.
That’s incredible. And a lot of people, as you said, they don’t know how to separate from that fear of the unknown. They stay safe in their 9:00 to 5:00 jobs.
And I don’t blame them because I am the same. Always looking for some sort of security and a master plan. I hate when things are uncertain. And I hate when there’s no guarantee that things going to work out and so on. But it was work my music or want to work in software and I was very sure that’s the last time I was going to give that. Okay let’s do it. Let’s try it. A job you can find anywhere. But a band being able to record that really gets doing all the work. That’s a very, rare gift.
Is there anything else that you’d like to add or say to your fans?
Check out the new record and thanks for listening to Mantar and hopefully to see us when possible you guys back in the United States, try to make us come back.