Interview with Eric, conducted by Bill Zebub for issue #27
A long time ago I had read a few articles in which King Diamond was said to have cast a spell on Manowar because they fucked him over in some way – maybe having something to do with not letting merciful Fate borrow some amplifiers. Years later, when I had asked King Diamond about this, he refused to say anything bad about Manowar, and he declined my offer of letting him give the un-edited story, dismissing it as simply a thing of the past. The stories in the old magazines didn’t really fit the character of King Diamond and it seemed that they blew the story out of proportion. The truth was probably far less interesting than the fictional drama that was presented by those charlatan journalists. When I spoke with Eric, the singer of Manowar, I told him what I had heard, and I asked him if he would give his side of the story. I made it clear to him that I distrust metal media, and that I am not going to fuck him over. As he told the tale of those early days, I thought to myself that I had a gold mine, especially because my interview would embarrass those so-called “professional journalists. But as Eric spoke, I sensed that he was under the impression that King Diamond had bad-mouthed him, and I explained to Eric that King Diamond could have devoted entire chapters of ant-Manowar sentiment in my magazine in any of the countless interviews I had done with him, but King always refused to say anything negative about Manowar, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the metal press had misquoted King, and Eric and I both laughed because he was no stranger to being misquoted in the press himself. So rather than print herein that first segment of my conversation with Eric, let me just say that my prediction was true – the actual story behind those dramatic headlines of the past were entirely false, and I am happy to report that Eric finally was made aware that King never badmouthed him – it was the lies of the media. I would like you to take this time to appreciate how cool I am. Just kidding. What I do want you to do is to always question what you read because you are probably not aware of the motives behind an article or review (and that goes for what you read in the Grimoire too).
(editor’s note – Strangely, after getting Eric to talk about the past, my tape recorder ate the tape and stopped suddenly, so I had to waste some time putting Humpty Dumpty back together again)
(Eric) What are you doing, man? (laughs)
It’s a Satanic curse.
(Laughs) I gotta show a little respect for King. Let me tell ya, it happened so goddamn long ago. What’s the big deal? That’s how I look at it now. There’s King Diamond fans. There’s Manowar fans. There are Manowar fans that are King Diamond fans. You know? At the end of the day, you wanna go see King Diamond – go see him. You wanna see Manowar? Come see us. It’s what the fans want. You know? Bullshit – at the end of the day – should be swept under the carpet. It’s water under the bridge now.
Yeah. I just wanted to destroy any kind of stupid rumors.
Yeah. Both our careers are still riding high right now. So, I mean, who cares about it now? It’s over and done with. That’s the way it goes.
I’m just glad that I finally heard the real deal.
Well, you heard it from me, anyway. That’s exactly what I remember happening. I think this happened in ’84. It was a long long time ago. We treat everybody who opens up for us with total respect. We really do. We always have.
Have you ever been told that you guys play too loud?
(laughs) All the time, brother!
I used to never understand why people wore earplugs until I saw you guys.
(laughs) Personally, I think that metal music should be played loud. It’s powerful music. If you’re gonna be playing loud, you not only have too see metal – you have to feel it. So I wanna be in that crowd and I wanna feel that bass drum hit me in the chest. I think that’s part of the show. I want that when I’m out there. It goes with the territory. It’s gotta be loud.
Are you vocally trained?
No. I had to learn how to do it from the school of hard knocks. Hard Knocks University. I think it’s just from years and years and years and years of being out there, singing, finding out what works for me and what niche I can get into to make it so I don’t have a sore throat at the end of the night. (laughs) I found a way that works for me. I sing from my diaphragm. I don’t sing from my chest any longer. When I do that I find that I have control and I don’t have a sore throat.
There was a period of time in which I was trying to find someone to teach me opera. This girl I talked to told me that it’s harder to sing metal than it is to sing opera. (I laugh) I noticed on your new album that you are actually singing an opera song.
I did study opera to do that. I did go into the city and I studied with an opera singer. And I don’t know if I agree with that (editor’s note – that metal is harder to sing than opera), maybe because I was brought up with metal. Opera was a whole new thing for me. To learn how much wider your mouth has to go when you’re singin’ opera – it’s unbelievable. To really project and to make it sound like it’s supposed to sound – it was a lot to learn. It was a lot of work, man.
I’m pretty sure that the girl who told me this only said that because she was training metal vocalists. I don’t think she had an opera background.
Yeah. It’s definitely two different styles. The only thing that you can say about both is that, to sing correctly you have to sing from the diaphragm. But opera is an entirely different thing. Opera is more breath control.
Bands on tour have maybe a drum tech, a guitar tech, but manowar is the first band I heard of that actually has a Harley tech.
That’s true! (laughs) That’s right! (laughs hard) You’re right, brother! Well come on! You’re talking to a band that, when we’re on tour for Europe we have a tour bus for the crew, a tour bus for the band, and a tour bus for the chicks! And that’s true! (laughs) Yeah, we have a Harley tech. It’s pretty wild. But we’re kinda known for doing pretty wild and different things. Scott is his name. He comes on the road whenever we bring the Harleys out. He takes care of the bikes. That’s his gig.
So you guys would never park outside of a biker bar with Japanese bikes.
No, no! (laughs) I wouldn’t own one, brother! (laughs hard)
It seems that bikers are pretty Manowar-knowledgeable. One particular guy, Jay, asked me how you feel about terrorism. Manowar is supposedly very pro-American.
I don’t know about being pro-American. I mean, we’re proud to be Americans, sure. We’ve has songs that talked about, and still do talk about heroism. We talk about how when things are down lift yourself up. Be a leader, not a follower. Believe in yourself and do what you feel is right. Fuck everybody. Don’t take shit from other people. We’ve always had songs – from Battle Hymns – biker songs. We still do. It’s kinda our life. We’ve always ridden bikes. It’s part of a lifestyle. It goes with it all.
Someone wanted me to rib you about the bass player wanting to be the singer of the band because he likes to talk between songs, but he couldn’t pull it off so he got you. Why is it that he talks between songs?
(laughs heartily) Because I get very little time to go backstage and sip on water and do whatever I have to do. That’s my only time I really get to rest up. All I can tell ya’ is that that’s my time – when he talks. It also gives a different perspective. People hear my voice all night long. And every other band – the lead singer does all the talking between songs. Because everybody else does it we decided not to do it. Sometimes Scott will get up and say something. If I’m singing all night long, you heard my voice enough. If Joey’s got something to say, he says it. His time to say it is a certain time in the set. It gives me time to do whatever I have to do – either change my outfit or do whatever I do backstage or talk to some chick backstage – whatever.
There are some death metal vocalists who speak in a normal tone between songs and they sound kind of gay, so I was wondering if you were ashamed of your speaking voice.
(we both laugh) You know, as a matter of fact, the new show that we do, it’s just one big medley of Manowar songs. There’s no talking in between. There’s no talking until the very end of the night. The songs just go into one another. There’s no rest at all. Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang. It’s pretty rip-roaring ass-ripping.
I don’t know what happened to Ross the Boss. Was that a friendly thing?
Oh yeah. Ross came up to us after Kings of Metal and told us that his heart was into blues, and he wanted to play a more blue-sy style of music. Hey man, ya’ gotta be happy. So we said OK. He finished the album with us and put his heart and soul into the album, and then it was time for him to move on. We want him to be happy. So we did what we had to do. Sure, we’re still very close friends. He was just here to sign the albums for the Silver Anniversary Edition. He came up and autographed albums. As a matter of fact I think he’s on tour right now with Manitoba’s Wild Kingdom. We’re still close friends. It’s not like I talk to him every day. I mean. All past members of Manowar are on really good terms. We own our own record label now – Magic Circle Music. Rhino, our old drummer- he’s got a project coming out on Magic Circle, and so does David, our guitar player. Once you’re in the band Manowar it’s like an inner circle of brothers, and that never changes.
Unless of course you buy a Japanese bike.
(laughs) Unless you buy a Japanese bike. Then you’ve got to do some explaining.
Manowar had Viking lyrics before this whole black metal explosion. I was wondering you were considered Viking metal, like Into Glory Ride. How do you feel about the Viking theme in that explosion?
It’s always been our image right from Day One – to bring music back to its origin. People were getting out of hand and it was more important to see a balloon blow up backstage. That got the biggest applause. You know who I’m talkin’ about. That got the biggest applause when people started blowin’ up fire and bombs on stage. That got the biggest applause of the night. People were kinda losing the fact that music is why people get out there. So we’re trying to bring that back to its roots. That’s how we started singing about Vikings and that whole image. It was a strong powerful image. Think about it. I don’t know if you’ve ever been up in that area – Sweden or Norway – but it isn’t like Florida. The weather’s pretty shitty and these guys are out there in ships in those days, out conquering the fuckin’ world. Some bad-ass guys back then. The whole image was a cool image to have. We thought, no one else has done this, so let’s do it. We pioneered it. It’s amazing how other bands now – you pick up albums in the heavy metal section – how many bands carry swords? It’s incredible.
I was always wondering if you were aware of that movement, but touring with Immortal, you became aware if you didn’t know about it before.
We’re pioneers in a lot of things. We’re the first band to record digital music – full digital sound. We’re the first band to record with symphonies behind us. And now we’re the first band ever to record in Super Audio CD format. It’s a brand new format that’s just coming out. Phillips approached us when we were in Europe mixing this album. They wanted to know if we’d be interested in being the first band to come out with Super Audio CD. It made sense. We’ll do it. It enhances the sound. It’s like we can put the audience on stage. So if you’re listening to Warriors of the World in Super Audio CD format, you can hear the drums behind you, the vocals in front of you, the bass on your right and the guitar on your left. Pretty cool. We put you right up on stage. I think it’s the future of music.
Did you guys ever play Dungeons and Dragons?
I did when I was younger.
You can’t hide it.
(laughs) Is that right?
Actually, I used to play Into Glory Ride just to get in the mood. That was the pre-game album. Almost everybody I know raises the horns for that album. It’s a must-have metal album.
I don’t know if it was a turning point for us, but it was the favorite of a lot of people.
Were you aware that Anal Cunt did a cover of Gloves of Metal?
Yeah. I heard it. It’s hilarious.
Were you the guys who invented the “Death to False Metal!”?
Yeah, we were. That’s another thing that everyone picked up on. We’re the ones who started that because there were too many bullshit artists out there who were passing themselves off as musicians. They can only be a musician in the studio where they have all the gimmicks. Then when they go out on stage they’re fuckin’ their fans because they can’t play live.
Would you agree that Germany still holds the flame for power metal?
I don’t think it’s just Germany. It’s throughout Europe. It’s Brazil. It’s Japan. Metal’s pretty happening everywhere, except the United States. I think it’s a couple of reasons. MTV is one. They just refuse to play metal. I think radio’s another. They refuse to play metal. And record companies don’t want to spend the money to keep metal bands on the road. It’s an expensive proposition. The metal fans that are out there are true metal fans. They believe in the band, just like anywhere else in the world. Anywhere else in the world you’d be playing for 10,000 people a night.
I think it’s kind of silly how yuppies turn their noses upwards at the mention of metal, but if you compare the lyrics, metal is cerebral and the other is full of words like “Yeah baby.” So I don’t understand how they can look down on something that’s superior.
It’s just got a bad rap in America.
Or rap is bad.
Yeah, I’m really mad about rap, especially the hybrid of metal and rap.
So I guess you don’t have that in your record collection.
No way! That, or country. Ok?
Is it true that Manowar is at war with Nevermore?
No. Not at all. I’ve never head that we were at war with them.
It’s one of two stories. Either Warrel Dane uccuses you of ripping off his style of singing, or I heard that in the early days some girl called him a Valkyrie, but as an insult, and he didn’t know that a Valkyrie was a girl, so he kept telling everyone that he was a Valkyrie, and he found out that the Manowar lyrics showed the truth that A Valkyries were female, he wanted to put you guys down to silence the fact.
No. I never heard about that. That’s news to me.
I just made that up.
(Laughs) You fucker! (laughs) They’ve been around for a while, and I think they play from the heart. If they play from the heart and not from the wallet then it’s true metal. If you wanna make money from this business, be an entertainment lawyer.
What’s the story with Metal Blade and your Magic Circle label?
I couldn’t answer. Joey deals with all that.
Because he likes to talk.
(laughs) That’s right!