Interview: Adam Haritan of Mantic Ritual
Thrash metal newcomers Mantic Ritual are currently on tour to support their debut album Executioner available on Nuclear Blast records. Mantic Ritual are a fresh change from today’s over polished, generic metal. Dan Wetmore provides powerful vocals over hard driving drum beats and simple guitar riffs returning metal to its roots. Drummer Adam Haritan checked in with us from the road to talk about the new album, the metal scene today, and plans for their follow-up album.
SoCalMusicToday.com: Tell me a little bit about Mantic Ritual, obviously thrash metal, but describe the band to someone who has maybe never heard of you
Adam Haritan/Mantic Ritual: Well as you said we are basically a thrash metal band from Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, although we do not really hold ourselves to that genre. We see ourselves as a good heavy metal rock and roll band that is doing what we love, and trying to express our creativity through music. We started off 5 years ago in Pittsburgh and we played a bunch of shows around there, but we felt that in order to take our band to the next level we needed to get better recognition. In order to do that we decided to move to Los Angeles where the music scene is just booming right now, especially thrash metal. We kind of witnessed that huge resurgence in the genre over there and we decided to move our band 2000 miles across the country and in doing that, luckily enough we got a record deal with Nuclear Blast, and recorded our album in Germany. In that time we got good management and got some tours going for us and that is one of the reasons why we decided to move back to Pittsburgh, to focus on the band and not really pay astronomical amounts of rent, so we decided to move back to Pittsburgh and tour from here.
SCM: So you must admit though, Southern California is much nicer than Pittsburgh?
AH: It depends what your definition of nice is, sunny weather to some people is really nice. I love the sunny weather and I loved it out there, but I also love the four seasons and cool air and rainy days, and sports like the Steelers and Penguins. It’s good to be from a town like Pittsburgh, but I have no regrets of moving out to Los Angeles. In some ways I wish we were still there but in order for the band to work this well we decided to keep ourselves in Pittsburgh.
SCM: I am sure you have answered this question a million times but I am going to ask it anyways. You changed your name from Meltdown, what was the whole reasoning behind that?
AH: It was all the obvious reasons I guess. There really is nothing discreet about it. Meltdown was our name before Mantic Ritual and we really like the name but it was a little to generic, and there were already other bands using the name. In order to prevent confusion with those bands and to avoid any future legal issues we were advised to change our name. We did that in September 2008, just before the release of the first album so I don’t really think it has hindered us in any way, just because our album wasn’t even out yet. The fans we acquired after the album probably wouldn’t even know we changed the name anyways. We all like the name a lot, our singer Dan came up with the name and we think it is catchy. We don’t think it is necessarily a thrash metal name that just throws us into that category off the bat. It is just a good heavy metal name, so that’s why we stuck with it.
SCM: So what are some of your influences, when I listen to the album it has an early Metallica, and almost an Iron Maiden feel to it.
AH: Yeah definitively! When we started this band Metallica, Slayer, and Merciful Fate were the biggest influences on our song writing, but we all came from different musical backgrounds, especially the punk rock background. A lot of us used to listen to punk rock before we got into heavy metal. We listened to bands like The Ramones, The Misfits, Sham 69, and The Sex Pistols. The simplicity and the attitude in that music is definitely brought out in Mantic Ritual. So we just draw our influences from the heavy metal ones are most prominent, so that is really where our influences come from.
SCM: Well, what do you think of the metal scene now, there is this weird transition happening where everything is just hard-core screaming where you cannot even understand it. But you guys are kind of going back to pure metal, what is your take on that?
AH: Yeah I guess it is no surprise that we are not really big fans of the modern metal scene. I think it is too over-produced, it’s become too sterile, and there is just no feeling in it anymore, it just doesn’t really make sense to me anymore. That is why we I guess sound like we are from the days when metal was first becoming a big thing. Where production mattered, song writing mattered, there is melodies, and there is guitar solos and mainly just talent, I believe, which is kind of lost in today’s music. We are just trying to keep it simple, we think that is the best formula for a good band. Keep it simple and catchy, and that is what we are trying to do.
SCM: As far as lyrical content and writing, is there an overall theme or message you are trying to get out with any of your tracks?
AH: For the most part these songs were written over a span of four years, since our bands inception back in 2005. A lot of these songs are pretty old and this is when we were just getting into the band. Some of the songs are just basic heavy metal anthems like “One by One” and “Next Attack” are just songs that I wrote, and there is really no hidden meaning behind it. They are just heavy metal tunes I guess. Some of the songs that the band wrote later on as time progressed are just about how we feel about the world and about what’s going on. It’s just about how people dumb themselves down and are content living a life of mediocrity and aren’t being creative and they aren’t thinking for themselves. That is really what is being brought out in our lyrics.
SCM: It is kind of interesting; I was reading somewhere that you guys are all vegetarian?
AH: Yes three out of the four of us are vegetarian. Jeff is the only one who is not.
SCM: Now that is kind of different, you normally think of metal as that hard-core lifestyle and just don’t really care.
AH: Yeah we all value our health, well especially the three of us that are vegetarian I think Jeff values his health too, but in a different way. We don’t hold ourselves to any label and we are not trying to fit in to the heavy metal community and being something were not. We are just being ourselves and that is who we are, and we value our lives. The vegetarian was just a natural consequence of that, for us. We are not trying to promote it to anybody or use our music as a means to get it out that. It is just something we live by and what we do.
SCM: Right, it’s just who you are.
AH: Yeah, it’s who we are and we happen to play heavy metal too.
SCM: How long are you guys on tour for, another month or so I think?
AH: Yeah this is about a six week tour, and this is our second week actually. Our first show was two weeks ago to the date, so we have about 4 weeks to go.
SCM: What is up after the tour, are you taking time off, going to get back in the studio?
AH: Ideally we would like to continue touring, although we have nothing set up right now. When we are not touring we will probably just be writing for the second album. We already have a few tunes down, and we’ll just use that down time to get real creative and stock up on some songs that we can’t get to while touring.
SCM: Now as far as studios, it’s probably too early, but are you going to go back in the studio with Andy over in Germany or stay stateside?
AH: It probably won’t be with Andy, although we really loved the work that he did and think he is an awesome producer. I just like variety. How we can work different angles and seeing what other people can do for us, because we don’t want to create another Executioner album, we want something that is different a little bit. I think using a different producer will bring that out. If it happens to be Andy we would have no problem with that, we had a great time over there.
SCM: So if you could pick one producer of all time to produce an album who would you want?
AH: Phil Spector. I love the stuff he has done. I am not too sure how it would sound in a heavy metal band, but it worked for The Ramones and I really loved the “End of the Century” that he did, even though it sounded completely different than what they were going for. I think it was great, so if I could work with one producer it would be Phil Spector.
SCM: That was definitely a curve ball there.
AH: But it is the truth.
SCM: Other that the punk that you mentioned, do you have any obscure influences, like maybe some jazz or anything like that?
AH: I listen to a lot of 50’s and 60’s rock and roll. Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry and a lot of doo-wop bands too, and I think that really comes out in my drumming. If anyone listens to our album they can tell that my drumming is pretty simple. I just provide a 4/4 back-beat. Nothing too flashy which I think is how a drummer should really be. It shouldn’t really be soloing the whole time and playing at a million miles an hour, although I think that is pretty awesome and crazy at the same time. 50’s and 60’s rock and roll is probably my favorite style of music and I mean I like everything. I don’t want to be that person that says every single style of music gets incorporated into our music. I can appreciate all kinds of music whether it is classical or old country & western stuff.
SCM: So on that note, with the passing of Michael Jackson a couple of days ago, how much of an influence was he on you growing up?
AH: Honestly I really loved him as a kid. I bought all his cassette tapes when they would come out, but once the ’90’s hit I think like most people, he was forgotten and I didn’t really pay attention to him to much. But when I was 5 years old I was rocking out to “Thriller” and “Bad” and all that stuff so I think he was definitely a cultural icon, it’s just sad that he went the direction that he did. It is kind of like how Elvis Presley ended up, but I guess that is just a sad state of his life.
SCM: It looks like you guys are coming back to Southern California.
AH: Yeah I think we are playing in the area July 10, 11, and 12th
SCM: Cool well have fun on tour and we will see you out here soon.
AH: OK – take care.
Mantic Ritual will be rolling into Southern California this weekend with two separate shows. Saturday Night they are playing Chain Reaction in Anaheim and Sunday they will be at the Key Club in Los Angeles. You can find out more about Mantic Ritual via their myspace at www.myspace.com/ManticRitual and you can pick up their debut album Executioner or individual tracks via iTunes today.