Manilla Road Special (22): Ernest Clark

Do you want to talk about Manilla Road? If so, read the next chapter of our great special. Ernest Clark, a passionate fan like Mark Anderson, praises his favourite band – and his friend Mark Shelton, of course.

How many times did you attend a Manilla Road concert?

Between 1986 and 2015 I have seen Manilla Road play over a dozen times, easily, I am from Wichita, Kansas, and I would go whenever I had the opportunity. The last time I saw them was in Austin, Texas, where I currently live.

Can you point out a special moment that you experienced with Manilla Road?

The first time I met Mark Shelton. I think I was fifteen or sixteen years old. It was at the Mystification debut at a venue in Wichita called Big Dog. I had already seen them play a few times by then and I totally devoured that album when it came out. Anyway, after the set the band was hanging out next to the stage and I figured I would at least try to thank them for the great show. There were already a few people talking to Mark and Randy and they were standing between us. So I’m just trying to be cool and not annoying and waiting patiently and Mark points over someone’s shoulder right at me and goes, «Hey, that guy. He was singing all my words at me!» It was in that booming voice Mark had and everyone just stared at me. So Mark walks over and I was freaked a little but he was totally cool as anyone who has met him can attest to. I remember the conversation bled into Coleridge and the Kubla Khan poem and opium. We eventually became friends years later but I was definitely a fanboy that night.

What makes Manilla Road special in your opinion?

When I first heard Manilla Road it was through my buddy Bill Oden when I was twelve years old. He took music lessons at the Jr. High where Mark Shelton’s mother, Mrs. Elliot, taught. So he gets ahold of Crystal Logic from her and plays it for me. It blew my mind. I was already into Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath and Rush and stuff and was into R.E. Howard and Edgar Rice Burroughs and Sword and Sorcery/Fantasy in general so when I started reading the lyrics it was all there, the imagery and the «epicness», everything I ever wanted to be in my Metal. That is why it was and continues to be special. There is no other band like Manilla Road. They are unique in a world of the mundane.

There is no other band like Manilla Road. They are unique in a world of the mundane.

Ernest Clark

What are your three favourite Manilla Road albums?

  • The Deluge, one of the greatest Metal albums ever. 
  • Mystification
  • Crystal Logic

What’s the most underrated Manilla Road album in your opinion?

The Blessed Curse. That one just grabbed me in a big way. Neudi kills it on that album. Sometimes I just listen to the drums, so many great fills it’s like listening to Neil Peart.

What are your five favourite Manilla Road tracks?

  • «Masque of the Red Death»
  • «Hammer of the Witches»
  • «The Veils of Negative Existence»
  • «The Deluge»
  • «Luxifera’s Light»

Okay, number six is «Riddle of Steel». This is not a fair question. Haha!

What’s the most underrated Manilla Road track in your opinion?

«Children of the Night». It’s a track I rarely hear mentioned in Manilla Road conversations. Which is unfortunate because I think it has this grandiose, melancholy quality that embraces the essence of Manilla Road.

Which Manilla Road track moves you the most emotionally?

«The Delug»e. It’s the penultimate Epic Metal song. It’s uplifting and frightening at the same time.

What’s your favourite solo/lead played by Mark Shelton?

«War in Heaven». You can hum along to it and then it has this monstrous climb that really brings the whole song together in the story.

How would you define the term Epic Metal?

Epic Metal is heroic. Not to say many other elements don’t go into it, such as fantasy imagery and grand tales, but it should make you want to do a D&D dungeon crawl or go outside and find a sword stick and bash your friends and enemies in the head, figuratively of course.

Are there any young bands inspired by Manilla Road that you appreciate?

Throne of Iron and Eternal Champion.

What do you generally think of Manilla Road’s legacy and the current Epic Metal scene?

Manilla Road is the first and last word in Epic Metal. If you are going to play in that world you have to go through them to move forward. That’s just the way it is.

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