Today, Josh Castillo answers our questions about Manilla Road and Mark Shelton. He played bass on Mysterium (2013) and The Blessed Curse (2015). Besides, he appeared as session musician on Hellwell’s debut album Beyond the Boundaries of Sin (2012). Enjoy reading!
When did you meet Mark Shelton for the first time?
I met Mark through Cory Christner (longtime friend, former drummer of Manilla Road) during the times of recording the Playground of the Damned album. I was invited to a house party next door to Mark Shelton’s house. Now Cory and I had history playing shows together in separate bands in the past, but most people would be surprised to know that I had little knowledge about the Road. They had focused their efforts abroad, which is understandable. Basically, what I’m saying is, is that I met him as the man he is, without hesitation from any intimidation, and we became friends. Mark Shelton was always a person down-to-earth, and that showed through and through over the years I knew him. I would later dig deeper, and yeah, became a little bit intimidated, but it was already too late for that. Haha.
Can you point out a special moment that you experienced with Mark Shelton?
That is a tough question, because there were so many priceless moments that we had together, that it is really hard to really narrow it down to one. There were countless times on stage together that are beyond any description, except being magical. I guess I still laugh about the time that we were on a morning talk in Malta, and we hadn’t had any chance to shower for a few days prior. I said: «At least they don’t have smell-o-vision.» We were given a pizza on the way to the studio. That’s when I told Mark he should give it to the host, like we were there to deliver it, and he did!
What makes Manilla Road special in your opinion?
It’s definitely the songwriting. Mark was definitely a master of story-telling and putting that to composition. Aside from that, it was all the constant support by everyone behind the scenes, all of the friends, the family and all the fans.
What are your three favourite Manilla Road albums?
Well, that’s a tough one too, because I might sound biased. I am really proud of the Blessed Curse album, that I got the opportunity to be a part of. I truly think it’s some of Mark’s best works. I don’t know. I love it all. I fell in love instantly with Crystal Logic. I love Playground of the Dead, which I see leads into the next question.
What’s the most underrated Manilla Road album in your opinion?
Playground of the Damned.
What are your five favourite Manilla Road tracks?
- «Road of Kings»
- «Crystal Logic»
- «Cage of Mirrors»
Damn it man, there’s too many to pick 5!!
- «Far side of the sun»?
What’s the most underrated Manilla Road track in your opinion?
I have two for you. The first is «Abattoir de la Mort». I don’t know how «rated» it was, but I always loved that song. I only got play it once live with Cory Christner. That was the only time I got to play live with him, in Manilla Road that is. The second is «The Fountain». I believe that Mark should have won a Grammy for that.
Which Manilla Road track moves you the most emotionally?
«The Fountain» and so many more.
What’s your favourite solo/lead played by Mark Shelton?
The solos he played, when we weren’t expecting them. We (the rest of the band) would just look at each other, and realize, this part of the song is getting extended.
Can you point out some favourite bass parts?
I really love the things that Scott Park came up with. When we would play the older «classic» stuff, it was important for me to play it like he did. I also really liked Mark Anderson’s style. I was always a fan of «March of the God’s». «Road of Kings», «Cage of Mirrors» and «March of the God’s» were some of the bass parts I really enjoyed to play.
How would you define the term epic metal?
Epic, duh… I’m just kidding. Once again it comes back to the storytelling and composition. I guess stories of history and mythology and what makes your imagination go wild.
Are there any young bands inspired by Manilla Road that you appreciate?
There’s too many to list, and I will feel bad if I forgot someone. Most of them were bands that we had actually toured with. I will say, that I have become friends with people (online) around the world, from countries, I’ve never been, and there are bands, that I’ve never met, in my life, that are influenced by Mark Shelton. That’s an amazing thing. He touched hearts in lands he never step upon.
What do you generally think of Manilla Road’s legacy and the current epic metal scene?
I hope that people continue to recognize and appreciate the art of what Mark Shelton created, because it’s REALLY worth your time. The rest is left to be seen.