Unleash the Beast... Manimal speak out!!
Sweden is well known for quality music and releasing some great albums from various style of music. Power Metal is pretty well known and such bands like Hammerfall have but Power Metal on the map for Sweden, other bands followed with Dream Evil and many more and now Manimal.
This band have been around for some time but only in recent years have released 2 albums, both for German label AFM. Their debut album 'The Darkest Room' saw the light of day in 2009 which had some progressive elements and a good debut. In 2015 after some line up changes the band released their 2nd album 'Trapped in the Shadows', which was more of a Power Metal album and a fine album indeed. Capturing the music elements of Judas Priest, Gamma Ray, Primal Fear and Dream Evil this is a great album.
I managed to catch the band a couple of weeks ago on their current UK tour supporting Firewind in Sheffield UK to talk about the bands history and current album and future plans here is what the band had to say.
I'd like to start by asking you when did the band form and by whom?
(S) "Well I got together with Henrik our guitarist in 2009 and he and the previous members of this band had formed Manimal together with me and they were looking for a singer and I was available and and in the last 3 yrs we Kenny and Andre have been playing with us. So Kenny and I worked together and that is how I know Kenny.
(K) Samuel got me the job in the band as he was looking for somebody to work in his day job as a stock worker and Samuel is a service technician. (Ed: Is it hard for you guys to go on tour with you're day jobs?) (K) Well they are fair with us and it is not easy as I am the only one working in the stock room department and I can't do this job as much I would like to do but still there fair about the whole situation.
(S) We are pretty much split with our ages, Henrik and Andreas are about the same age and we knew each other as we played in the same scene in Gothenburg and Henrik knew about Manimal."
Samuel who are your vocal influences besides Rob Halford? Also what about the rest of the band who are their influences?
(S) "Well I like Queensryche Geoff Tate, I also like Todd as a singer too. I also like Michael Kisker Kai Hansen, Ralf Scheepers. (H) Judas Priest KK. and Glenn, also King Diamond Mike Weed and Andy, Yngwie when I was younger I like a lot of bands like Rammstein and easier stuff now. ( ) As a bass player I never idolized any one and I loved bands like In Flames, Soilwork, Hammerfall, Manowar."
Moving on what other names did you have before choosing Manimal for the band and what does it actually mean?
(S) "Well we first had the name 'Wildness' but we then started to write some new material together and we thought that it was a new start and that we should have a new name. Back in the day the search engines on the internet were not that good so we search for the name 'Manimal' to find if the name was taken and we didn't find anything special.
Later on we found out there was another band in France called 'Manimal' as well and they were playing Thrash Metal. So when they broke up we thought we should have that name and so we did. We thought it was a great name, mixing the likes of man and animal coming together."
Do you think the bands name reflects on the music you have created?
(S) "I would say so yes, I would say we are a Power Metal band and I think a lot of our music and rhythms and riffs are primal stuff and we decided to choose the name as we thought it would reflect the music. (Ed: If you have to say some bands that you maybe compared too who would they be?)
I think back in the early days it would be Judas Priest, Queensryche & Rammstain, but now on the 2nd album we have gone more towards the Power Metal style a lot of Judas Priest (laughing)."
What's the metal scene like these days in Gothenburg to what it was back in the day? Has it changed much?
(K) "I think the scene is about the same as it was back then. It is still kicking and there are a lot of new bands coming out of Gothenburg mainly at the Sticky Finger Club, so it still is kicking."
Moving on how did the deal with AFM come about for the debut album?
(S) "Well we went through our German publisher and asked them if they could send out some promos to different labels which they did and it was AFM that showed interest in the band and we signed the deal for the 1st album and released in June of 2009 in Europe and later on and in 2010 released in the U.S.."
So who came up with the title 'The Darkest Room' for the debut album?
(S) "Well we took one of the titles of one of the songs and we thought it fitted the album title, the mood and feel of the album and it reflected that pretty well and the title track is a pretty strong song and one of the best songs on that album if you ask me. "
Did that album take long to record?
(S) "Well it didn't take that long to be honest, I think we spent about a month recording and another month to have it mixed Thomas Linden who had been working with Hardcore Superstars, Europe, a lot a Swedish bands, he is a great guy. That album turned out really well for us.
Writing the songs for that album took some time because in 2001 was wrote our 1st song together and it appeared later on our debut album and the last song was written the same year we recorded the album.
That debut album reflects a pretty long process of the bands formation and time span and we released 3 demos within the time we formed the band prior to the release of the debut album.
Half the songs were featured on the debut album, the rest we wrote in the last half a year of the release of the debut with Henrik and the rest with the previous last 2 members."
What songs from the debut are you're favourites and why?
(S) "I would have to say 'The Darkest Room', because I love the chorus in that song and it was a pretty dark song and at the same time pretty catchy song and I like the mood and feel of the song. (Ed: any songs on that record that you don't like or think could of been better?) None, you have to move on with you're life.
(K) I think I have to say that my favourite song is the same as Sameal (H) I would say the song 'Human Nature', even though I didn't record it and I love performing it live as it has a lot of cool parts in it. (A) It's the same as Kenny I have the same live connection as I wasn't around when they recorded it, but I like 'In the Shadows'."
Moving on tell me about the new album 'Trapped in the Shadows', why the title for this record and any other titles in mind?
(S) "Well this album is more focused on the riffs and vocal harmonies and more straight forward and less progressive as the debut album had some progressive elements. We still have some of this record but it is more straight forward as Kenny said. (K) It is a little more darker I think this album compared tot that of the debut."
Who came up with the album cover concept?
(A) "Well it was a friend of Henrik's who came up with the idea of an ancient Egyptian story's Anubis and he told Henrik about it he gave you some sketches and he said Anubis. There is a story about how he judged people before they died and he takes the people who have recently died and he wastes the feather or the heart to see if they go to heaven or hell. The heart is connected to the debut album."
How long did it take to record the new album?
(S) "It didn't take that long to record, we started out with the drums and that took a week and then we continued with guitars and bass and I recorded the vocals in my home studio and it took about 2 months to record and the mixing was done by Achim Kohler and he has done a great job."
How well is the tour going with Firewind so far? Did the tour start off in the UK?
(S) "This is our 1st time in the UK and we didn't know what to expect and the UK audience have been great towards us, just as good as the German audience. (Ed: Any plans for any festivals this year?) When we get back off tour we will focus on the next album and it will be released next year 2018."
The band have released 2 videos so far, what are the concepts behind them?
(S) "Well our 1st video was done by a guy called Chris, who we know and we worked the idea out with him with me in a straight jacket for the song 'Irresistible' and then a mental hospital and we liked this kind of stuff. Again for the 2nd video 'Trapped in the Shadows' we worked out again and it was done in my basement at home.
Kenny was taking care of the filming and editing so it is his work mainly. We might do another video of live performances as we have been filming the shows every night."
How well is the deal with AFM going so far? You getting enough support?
(S) "We are very pleased with the label and they have an option for the next album so after the next album release next year we will see what happens."
Well thanks for taking you're time out doing this interview, best of luck with the next album. Keep in touch. Do you have anything to say before we finish the interview?
(S) "Yes please check out our music and albums, you will get a surprise when you hear us as most of you have never heard of us before. You need to come and see us live and hear what you are missing."
Thanks to the band and Mike @ AFM for the interview and support.