Interview with singer Markku Pihlaja of Manitou by Fons
It's almost a shame that we have not done an interview after you released 'Deadlock', your previous album. No here is a chance for us to make it up to you! Let's start with a short history lesson, how did it all begin for Manitou? Manitou was formed late 1997 with a little bit different line-up what it's nowadays. The goal of the band was then, and still, is to do some traditional heavy metal mixing some proggy elements here and there. When we started, stuff was more progressive. Then we found ourselves in the middle of the "finger masturbation" which wasn't that cool when we talk about rock attitude.
'Deadlock' was a brilliant metal album, and unfortunately, it did not quite get the attention that it deserved, so a major break through has still not happened. However, you had the opportunity to go on tour with U.D.O. and Helloween to promote the album. What can you tell about these support gigs?
We can't talk about any tours with UDO and Helloween, but we were supporting etc. those bands during the spring and summer 2006. We did 26 gigs on our Deadlock tour here in Finland and one abroad gig at Blome, Latvian Open Air Metal Show.
You signed for Metal Heaven Records that released your new cd 'No Signs Of Wisdom'. How did you get into contact with Metal Heaven?
Metal Heaven licensed 'Deadlock' and they pretty much liked it, so they made an offer to do the whole new album with Manitou. And quicker than we thought, we were in the studio with some new songs to record.
'No Signs Of Wisdom' has been released on August 1st. How are the reactions so far?
Feedback from the media has been really good, especially in Finland. Also the audience took that album better than we expected. But the timing when the album was released wasn't that good. Cause the crowd and media were spending their time on beaches and festivals like normal people are doing when they are in summer vacation. That really sucks, cause the album didn't get the promotion what it deserved…
I think you did a great job with 'No Signs Of Wisdom', but personally I prefer 'Deadlock' when it comes to my favorite Manitou album, but I bet you have a different opinion about that! Are you satisfied with the new album?
Yeah, it's the best Manitou album for sure. On 'No Signs Of Wisdom', you can find all Manitou spices and it's kind of a "break through" when it comes to composing songs and crystallizing how Manitou really sounds. A bit of hurry etc. composing new material seems to be best way to do songs for us.
Which one of you is the most important song writer? In what way do you create new songs? Do you come together to jam for days or does every musician send his ideas through email?
Markus is doing most of the songs. He's doing some riffs or home made demos of the ideas in his mind. Then we split the ideas to pieces and stack up it again together, so everyone can put something on it, if needed. I'm doing it the same way, do some demos or show the ideas I have.
What can you tell about the recording process of your new cd? Was it much different now you have signed for a bigger label? Was the label involved with the production process in any way, or were you free to do whatever you liked?
I don't know about bigger label, budget was pretty much same. We have a kind of "artistic freedom" to work, which should be the base of doing music all over. We did 'n.s.o.w'. almost the same way as the albums before. New on 'n.s.o.w'. was recording and mixing in different studios. And I've recorded my vocal parts all by myself. Recording vocals is for me very intimate situation and I really don't like it if there are some punch drunken monkeys telling me to do it any other way. It's kind of selfish, but that's the way I want to do it. Big hand for the boys, they trust me and let me do it how it's best for me.
What can you tell about the lyrics? Are lyrics important for Manitou?
Lyrics have become more important recently. I've become more critical than before and somehow I have more things to tell. Stories from everyday life, dramatized to fit better to heavy metal songs.
I compared Manitou's music with bands like Dream Evil, Firewind and Iron Maiden. What are the band members' main influences?
Influences...hmm. I think we are to listening almost all kinds of music, but the archetypes for Manitou are for example Queensrÿche, Iron Maiden, Dream Theater, Ozzy, Tarot, Dio, Judas Priest and Annihilator...
Are there any touring plans to promote 'No Signs Of Wisdom'? Will it be another tour as support act or are you planning to do some headlining shows?
We've done a bunch of "headline" gigs here in Finland and a couple of gigs are still planned. There has been some talk about tours but somehow this seems to be under the stone. And sad but true, we are looking for a new agency handling Manitou gigs.
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