MANTICORA – Interview with Lars Larsen – english
The Danish band MANTICORA has delivered a giant monster of album with their second part of their epic „To Live To Kill To Live“. They have succeeded in surpassing their predecessor and offer progressive heavy Thrash Metal in a class of its own. Lars Larsen personally dealt with the questions. He is a great humorous person, but he is also a friend of clear words. Moreover, he really works his ass off for his band. The interview offers incredibly interesting insights into the world of Lars Larsen and his view of the rest of the world.
MANTICORA and the completion of the epic
MH: With your current album you have completed the work. I think there is no need to ask if you are proud of what you have created and if it meets your expectations. But what is the feeling to have finished this story? Are you relieved, or is it a little melancholy that it is over? Are there already ideas or ambitions for a new book?
LL: We actually looked at each other, after everyone had approvesd the final mix at Jacob Hansen studios and someone asked: „So…..what now??“, hahaha.
We are right now only concentrating about making promotion for the album – getting it out to as many people as humanly possible. There are a lot of obstacles, since we’re a band, signed to a smaller label. It’s kind of an everyday battle of Do It Yourself, to get attention from fans. So right now, there hasn’t been that much talk of new products. We have an idea, but it’s far from finished, as we’re focusing on live shows now – if possible, due to the Covid-19.
MH: Actually the release of the current album was rather planned and was originally supposed to be released one year after „To Kill To Live To Kill“, wasn’t it? Why did you take more time now after all?
LL: The simple truth is, that we toured North America. Then we toured Europe and played a load of summer festivals…Japan followed, where we played 2 shows. At the same time, we changed bassplayer (Kasper Gram re-joined the band) and we also had a change of drummer, as Lawrence was dragged in as a full-time member.
It was simply not physically possible to complete the new album as well, within a year, since we also have our daily lives and jobs to tend to.
To Live To Kill To Live
MH: What were your goals for the second part of the epic? What did you want to change or rather refine the sound?
LL: For me, the goal is always to enhance the vocals, so that they sound top-notch, and I have to say that this mission was accomplished. Due to the virus, we decided to purchase the equalizers and compressors. They needed to record the vocals ourselves this time, and since the country was virtually shut down for a couple of months. I had 2 months at my disposal to record the vocals (in stead of the usual 2 days to sing a whole album).
This meant that for the first time in 9 albums, I had a completely fresh voice every time. We began a new song and we had time to re-do the takes until we were 100% satisfied with the result. Kristian recorded/engineered and he dragged me around in the singing arena until both he and I were satisfied. So vocals are 200% enhanced, I’d say.
Other than that, we just wanted to make an album that made even more impact on people than the first part. I believe we succeeded. This one seems more complete, but it’s also a great round-up of the entire story. The 2 albums, combined, are one hell of a release, if you ask me. It seems that the press finally agrees with us.
The epic Beginning with „Katana…“ – Why not?
MH: The first song „Katana – The Moths and The Dragonflies/Katana – Mud“ of the new album has by far the longest playing time? Why did you choose this beginning and process the chapter in such a long song? What was the idea behind it or did it just come up?
LL: It’s simply a fact that this is one of the longer stories in the book I wrote, which the albums are based upon. It’s stretching over several chapters in the book and deals with so many topics of this little boy’s family, getting brutally slaughtered. Actually, the song was almost 19 minutes at some point, but we cut to the bone, so to speak (if one can say ‚cut to the bone‘ about a song, almost 15 minutes long, hahahaha) and the song splendidly described those chapters in the book. We have created a product, where we really urge the fans to read the book, so they understand, why we begin the album with a song of this length….
And then again – we are a band without rules, so if a song like this fits the concept, then we decide that this is the way it’s supposed to be.
We did have some people saying: „You can’t start out with a 15 minute song!!?“.
To this, I can only answer: „…says who??“
Lars and the lighter Songs…
MH: Which chapter of the story was the most difficult to realize musically? Is there a song from the whole thing that you favour?
LL: For me, it was „Goodbye Tina“, as I have never been especially fond of the lighter songs, vocally. It’s much harder for me to express emotions in softer songs, than on aggressive tracks. So I had a very difficult time, coming up with song-lines on this one. Again, Kristian (and the other guys) was a huge help here.
My favourite song on the album is changing all the time. At the moment, it’s „Katana – Death Of The Meaning Of Life“.
MH: Where does this affinity for Japanese or Asian culture come from, which plays a certain role both in the novel and in the musical appearance (see the song „To Nanjing“)?
LL: While writing the first part of the book (the extreme violent part), I had a dream about a young Chinese boy, standing on a dunghill in the setting sun, cleaving insects with a Katana sword – one of those dreams, where everything is so extremely vivid and seems 100% real. So I recalled both motions, colors and even the talking of the 2 girls, watching the boy swinging his sword. I began writing things down, and combined with the stuff I had already written about the violent psychopath and then including a story of a hitman, the book suddenly took shape.
Later, the Katana evolved to become the center-piece of the story all by itself. I did a lot of research for the book and the bloody story of the sword „Ten Thousand Cold Nights“ came up.
So it’s not really because I have a special affinity for Asian culture or anything, but the story led me that way, when I wrote it.
MH: Do you like martial arts films? What are your favourite movies in general? I would imagine that you like movies like „Kill Bill“. There sharp swords also play a „cutting part“.
LL: I LOVE Kill Bill, but mostly because I love the style of Tarantino. This guy simply can’t make bad movies. I’m not that much into martial arts movies, actually. I’m more of a sci-fi lover and I also really dig movies that make me think twice.
Feelings of revenge
MH: The reason for the story of the book is a tragic story from the past that left deep psychological wounds in you. All the anger, rage and hatred you have put into this story. Are these feelings now banished or how much of these feelings is still there?
LL: All gone…!
I was attacked – completely unmotivated – back in 1999 by 3 assholes, who broke my chin-bone and my nose, and I had some nightmares and some kind of PTSD, due to this, for me, completely un-comprehendible episode. I was waking up at night, bathed in sweat, and sitting in front of my computer for longer periods of time, just staring into the screen, grinding my teeth, and flexing my muscles to the max…..just to „wake up“! I´m not being able to account for those minutes I had been staring straight into nothing. It was kind of eerie and I had to do something about it. After 10 years of this shit (and experiencing stress-induced breathing problems as well), I think it was my brother who told me to write something about it. It didn’t matter what I wrote….just something about the incident.
So, I began writing about how I’d kill these 3 fuck-heads in my imaginary basement in my imaginary house…and I began feeling the relief in my whole system. It became a cleansing of the mind to write things down and after I pressed „enter“ for the last time, I have not experienced one single nightmare, so I have to say that the therapy helped, and luckily something good actually came out of it.
Hope for mankind?
MH: Now this incident happened some time ago. What is your impression of the development of society in general? Has the world got better or is humanity still going downhill despite all the progress? Is aggression, violence and war a part of mankind that cannot be eliminated?
LL: Let’s just say, I don’t hold the greatest of hopes for mankind. We seem to never learn from history and the old sentence ‚In 100 years, everything will be forgotten‘ seems to hold water – sadly.
The election of the orange carrot-head in the US says it all (and to those who think Obama was so great, they should do some research. He’s the American president who, since WW2, has dropped most bombs on foreign nations…(think about that….).
Russia, The UK, Brasil, Belarus, most Arab nations and loads of African nations are not doing any better, sadly. How is North Korea even a thing that has not been taken care of yet? It doesn’t make sense.
The world needs education, but when it’s more interesting for young people to watch if a Kardashian has got a new lip or ass implant, than watching what is happening to our nature, then it’s a lost cause.
What about a film?
MH: You has written a book. The book has been immortalised musically. Was there ever a wish or even a plan to have your book filmed? In your opinion, which actors would best embody the characters from the book and which director would you wish for?
LL: Hmmmm…..that’s an idea..:-) Maybe I should send the book to Steven Spielberg?
The hitman would definitely be Bradley Cooper. He’d fit perfectly into the role. I must admit that I don’t have a complete list of actors who could be playing the various parts, as I haven’t given this subject a thought. There is a huge role-list in the book. So many different characters, that it’d cost too much money to cast well-known actors to all of them.
Maybe I should be in that movie myself, hahahahaha.
Origin of the band name MANTICORA
MH: The mythical creature Manticore is composed of parts of different living beings. Translated from the Greek it means „man-eater“. Why did you choose this name?
LL: Now that’s an easy one. When having to decide a name for the band back in the 90’ies, we came up with loads of ideas, for a band name, but most of them were taken, so we ended up with either Morannon (Mads‘ idea) or Manticore (my idea). I had been watching a book at the library about fabled creatures and the Manticore sounded good in English.
It’s also a creature, known for devouring the children, so we decided that it would be a cool name – it’d also pave the way for some kind of cool mascot, later on, whereas Morannon wouldn’t make much sense in that field.
So, Manticore it was – later changed to Manticora (the original sound of the word), due to an Australian band, who already used the name Manticore.
MH: If there is anything else you would like to say and share with our readers, you can do so now. Many thanks for the great album and for answering the questions.
LL: Well, I do hope this new album makes its way to your CD player, streaming service or whatever you use for listening to music.
Please do me a favour: Try it out and if you like the music (which I know you will, of course, haha), spread the word to your buddies, who also listen to metal and on social media. We need the help of the fans, to get our music out to the masses, as we don’t have a big promo-machine behind us.
….and: see you (hopefully) on the road in 2021!
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