Today we have a very special interview for you: Manolis Karazeris (Dexter Ward; ex-Battleroar), who we don’t have to introduce to any of our readers, talks about his great love for Manilla Road. Up the Hammers!
André: Would you classify Manilla Road as an important source of inspiration for your music?
Manolis: I would categorise Manilla Road as a source of inspiration for my entire life. Even the festival I founded is named after the Manilla Road motto “up the hammers”.
When did you meet Mark Shelton for the first time?
Crazy as it may seem, I first met Mark Shelton at the Wichita airport when we took a trip to meet them in person and go to the Kalamazoo Metal Festival together in 2000. The story behind that trip is a bit insane. One night I was downloading a song by Manilla Road from Napster and at that time you could chat with the guy who uploaded the song. The guy told me that he was the new singer of Manilla Road and I asked: “What?“ To cut a long story short, the guy I was downloading the song from was Bryan Patrick and after long discussions he invited us to the US and we made this amazing trip.
Can you point out a special moment that you experienced with Manilla Road?
I’m blessed to have had plenty of special moments with Manilla Road. If I had to choose the most important ones, it would be like asking me which finger to cut off. Let me try anyway… First of all, it was this special acoustic show they played in a wine cellar after the Up the Hammers festival in 2012. It was a magical night for 50 fans of Manilla Road, with the band playing an acoustic set by the light of candles and drinking phenomenal wines. The entire show I was in tears and that night was the only time we played the song “The Wanderer” from Battleroar live with Mark singing. Then, of course, it was the first time I saw Manilla Road live, in their rehearsal room, where they played a show for me, Michalis Nochos and Nick Papadopoulos, the three guys from Greece who had travelled to Wichita to accompany them on their Kalamazoo Metal Festival trip. The entire day was the ultimate dream for any kid who grew up loving a band. They even had a BBQ for us in Mark Shelton’s back garden where we drank ouzo that we had brought from Greece. Needless to say, those days we spent there were full of memories I could write a whole book about. Another unforgettable experience from my life with them was the first time we heard the vocals Mark sent for the track “The Wanderer” for our Age of Chaos album – it even still gives me goosebumps just thinking about it…. As a promoter, of course, every time they played at my festival has a special place in my heart, but the show we did with Randy Foxe, who came to Europe for the first time, is another huge moment. Last but not least, I would say the gig we played with them in Switzerland, during a small tour we did together after playing at Keep it True back in 2008. It’s the only show I’ve ever played in my life in the country I love the most, and playing there and spending moments with Manilla Road made it even more important.
What makes Manilla Road special in your opinion?
I think Mark was surrounded by amazing musicians during his whole career, but what made Manilla Road special was of course himself. The songwriting was unique, Manilla Road is recognisable from the first 5 seconds of each song, the vocals are unique and Mark’s guitar style is a huge trademark for them. Mark was a larger than life character who put his soul into creating art that will last forever. Another important factor that made Manilla Road‘s sound unique during a certain time was when Randy “Thrasher” was behind the drum kit. No other drummer has ever played like him, he is still my favourite drummer ever.
What are your three favourite Manilla Road albums?
Today they are:
- Mark of the Beast
- The Deluge
What’s the most underrated Manilla Road album in your opinion?
I think Mark of the Beast is a brilliant album that Mark told me he never really liked, but I love it to death.
What are your five favourite Manilla Road tracks?
- “The Deluge“
- “Dragon Star“
- “Court of Avalon“
- “The Ninth Wave“
What’s the most underrated Manilla Road track in your opinion?
Which Manilla Road track moves you the most emotionally?
I think it’s the title track from the album Mark of the Beast. Every time I listen to it, the emotions rise up.
What’s your favourite solo/lead played by Mark Shelton?
I would say the solo from “Dragon Star“.
How would you define the term epic metal?
Every time I get that question, I reply the same, it’s kind of irrelevant to this interview, but it’s the plain truth. If you want to define epic metal, listen to Into Glory Ride by Manowar.
Are there any young bands inspired by Manilla Road that you appreciate?
There are many young bands that I appreciate, but none that I can think of right now that sound anything like Manilla Road.
What do you generally think of Manilla Road‘s legacy and the current epic metal scene?
Manilla Road are a milestone for the epic metal scene and will always be a reference for anyone who wants to try playing this genre.