Lord Mantis interviewed by Slaves BC
So tomorrow — Friday the 29th — the new Lord Mantis EP NTW will be released, the band’s first recorded material since their big line-up shakeup (and merger with Indian) last year. You can read all about those changes, and take a look at that new EP as well as their previous album, 2014’s Death Mask, all right here. But beyond just reading about my thoughts and reactions to this new and old material, perhaps you might be interested in learning more about what’s been going on with the band — in their own words?
Andrew Markuszewski (lead guitar, Lord Mantis)
Dylan O’Toole (vocals, Lord Mantis / ex-Indian)
I sort of thought that might be the case, so when the opportunity came along to ask a couple of the guys (longtime guitarist Andrew Markuszewski and new vocalist Dylan O’Toole) some questions, I decided to seize it. But then when I thought about it some more, I felt like maybe it would be even MORE interesting to recruit two of the biggest Lord Mantis fans I know, and see what kind of questions THEY would come up with. Namely, Josh Thieler, vocalist and drummer, and Sean Singer, guitarist and backing vocalist, both from Slaves BC.
Now, you may recall that when I wrote about that band’s new album a few months ago, I had made fun of their awful taste in music. And while that was partially true (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to leave the room while hanging out with these guys, because somebody thought it would be a great idea to watch “The 20 Worst Crabcore Breakdowns” or something on YouTube), on the other hand, when Josh made his list of the top 12 albums of 2012, he insisted that Lord Mantis‘ Pervertor album was ranked in the #1 spot, while all the rest were tied for second. (Just a few weeks earlier, Slaves BC were honored to get the chance to open for Lord Mantis and Nachtmystium when those bands came to Pittsburgh.) I’ve known Sean to be Mantis-obsessed for a long time as well, but I can also clearly remember having a long conversation with him about how amazing the last Indian album was, as soon as that came out, a little over two years ago.
So yeah, I figured it might be fun to get these two guys to take on the task of interviewing Andrew and Dylan. And here’s how that turned out …
Sean Singer (guitar/backing vocals, Slaves BC)
SS: Dylan, in some Facebook comment several months ago that I’m sure is buried by now, you seemed almost a bit worried about filling [former vocalist] Charlie [Fell]’s shoes on vocals. But since you’ve been a contributing member of the band as the lyricist/vocalist for three fantastic Lord Mantis songs, it seems like you’ve already been a big part of shaping the sound/feel of the band. Now that the EP is just about here, do you feel more confident about your transition in the role from part-time to full-time?
DO: Worried? No sir! I am Dylan Patrick O’Toole. Before said shoes were ever created by Charlie I forged the way. My contributions are far greater than the few song performances. Charlie is a lifelong friend and I have honest respect for him. Confidence? The assessment of our performance prowess is unquestionable. I appreciate the question, and I don’t intend to be overly cocky, but I’m a believer!
SS: Andrew, it’s been said that your addition to the original 3-piece lineup was what created the chemistry that gave Lord Mantis their signature sound, beginning with Pervertor. Obviously, you’ve been making music with Bill [Bumgardner, drummer and founding member, as well as former drummer for Indian] for a long time, and several songs have included Dylan as well, but now that the group includes 3 full-time members who have a pre-existing musical chemistry with each other outside of Lord Mantis (Bill, Dylan, and Will [Lindsay, former Indian guitarist], has this resulted in a shift in the way the writing process takes place from your standpoint? And if so, has the adjustment been an easy one, or has it presented challenges?
AM: It’s basically the same road. I come up with plenty of material on my own, but the majority is always written jamming with Bill. At that point I sort of take elements we have, structure, and build on it. Songs usually end up humping a different animal after being tracked in the studio with additional layering and overdubs. Those are the best moments when a Lord Mantis song is tracked and done. When it comes to the challenges – those have decreased, so show us the money.
Josh Thieler (lead vocals/drums, Slaves BC)
JT: Andrew, you guys don’t really seem like you are that worried about social media or other people’s opinions or feelings. Did you guys notice any of the backlash from the Death Mask album artwork or from some of the lyrics on that album? If you did, has it had any effect on the way you are approaching the writing of lyrics or the development of artwork for future releases?
AM: It’s a two way road with everything we do. We are artists exploring art. It goes without saying that we are also an extreme band and perhaps people in general. Kiss your safe space bye bye. The same chains and bars you might find with another band simply don’t exist in the Lord Mantis universe. Trust us we’ve had red flags at times thinking about how some stuff could and would offend people. For fuck’s sake even I’ve been offended once or twice, and I play in Lord Mantis! Ultimately for us as a band – art trumps resignation, and that’s been a driving force.
JT: Andrew, what has changed for you guys now that Lord Mantis is being put out by New Density? Were there any limitations that you did not anticipate going from Profound Lore to putting it out yourself? Has it allowed you any additional freedoms (creatively, time) that you did not have previously? Has this had any impact on the writing process?
AM: The same creative freedoms were there before as they are now. There’s more challenges involved in doing a record from start to finish on your own. I always say the writing part is the easy part. The challenge is getting a budget, gear, etc. to fully manifest everything. New Density financed the release, and it’s been a narrow line to walk in terms of budget. Banks aren’t giving much to small businesses in terms of credit these days, and I’ve had to earn the majority of the investment through work. Bill is also part of the equation to help see things come about. There’s a lot of territory to manage, but I already have past experience with a small underground label I owned and managed in the past. I’m also willing to learn whatever is necessary to see our band treated basically the same as before, in some ways better, others more limited right now. The nice part is I don’t have to sign the same type of contracts in the future as before. Believe it or not there is a method to this madness.
JT: *WARNING: Fanboy question*
Dylan, you are pretty much my favorite vocalist ever and have forced me to raise the bar vocally for myself. What vocalists challenged or inspired you growing up and getting you into music?
DO: Butthole Surfers. [They] toppled the rock mold pyramids. That gave me some odd feeling that music had space for bastardized science asterisks like myself. I know it didn’t begin there, but in my case it did. Sanford Parker was a vital influence. His direction in the early days was a huge help. Will Lindsay too! Not their style, but their direction! I totally didn’t answer the question. I tried! Buried at Sea was my fave, and they do HHIG on dope, so it’s all that. Love BAS!
JT: Andrew and Dylan, what bands, if any, have caught your attention recently? Are there any bands that you have come across either from touring or other means that have made their way into your regular listening rotation?
AM: (DOLCH), Clandestine Blaze‘s Harmony of Struggle, new Mgła. This is what I’ve been listening to in terms of ‘new,’ cause otherwise I’m listening to The Hag, Waylon, The Devil’s Blood, or old Samael.
DO: Conway Twitty. Alexander “Skip” Spence. Marvin Tate. Dorian Taj. Israel López Valdés (“Cachao“). Dethbeds (loving this band from Chicago)! The Blind Staggers.
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