Swan? Oni Logan? No....Mike Mcmanamon! Mike
Mcmanamon is that punch that some bands lack and
wished they had on the vocal mic. With his meaty
aggressive vocals delivering songs cut from the
perfect cloth of melodic metal, You get a brand
all its own. "BRANDED" is the new Upcoming
release from Kivel recording artists TNA. In a
market, where singers mimic and are influenced
by such singers as Bon Jovi, Journey, Harem
Scarem and Def Leppard. Mike chooses the road
less traveled, and at times sounding very much
unto his own. However, at times cannot shake a
strong similarity to a Kal Swan (Lion, Bad Moon
Rising) and a pissed off Oni Logan (Lynch Mob)
both two BIG fave singers of mine. Now when you
have such a vocalist, all you can do is uncage
him and stand out of the way of the vocal
assault that can be only compared to a unfed
beast released from its chain onto a
unsuspecting crowd unaware of the fate that is
about to befall them. Mike is such a beast!!
TLRock had a chance to subdue this primal
creature and see what makes him tick and what he
has to say.
The Loudest Rock: "Finger On The
Trigger" was more of a straight ahead fun
record, that touched upon some mature topics, as
opposed to the average 80s era band. This album
shows alot of growth and a bit of a transition,
similar to how SKID ROW evolved between the
first and second album. With that said, do you
feel you have matured as musicians and as song
writers since "Finger On The Trigger"?
Mike McManamon: Keep in mind that
'Trigger' was made up of alot of our older songs
from the club days. Those songs are a
collaboration of the bands many years. As far as
the "topics", I believe that we were writing
from our prospective at the time. Hell, we were
involved in all the same crap as all the other
bands when we started out....bad behavior, etc
and all. Hell, we might have been worse than
most! HA! As we moved on we really became a
tighter unit, So alot has changed. We were
growing up, more aware of the world and in a lot
of ways finding out who WE were and and where we
fit into this world. Funny thing about this
band, we all came from such different
backgrounds, therefore our views and influences
were so much different. As a result we wrote a
little bit different from other bands in the
genre at the time. I think time has been good to
this band that way. Not that we didn't have a
few tongue in cheek songs, but I like to look at
them as a release (get your mind out of the
gutter!). Now, with our new album "Branded", I
feel that the band finally has it's voice. I
always knew where it wanted to go, set a
goal...and like adults reach for it and we have
achieved it. We are a better band now, and damn
ready to prove it.
The Loudest Rock: When you record your
vocals, do you set a goal for yourself and what
goes through your mind?
Mike McManamon: I try to capture the
best performance that I am capable of. I also
try to recreate that "LIVE" sound when I record.
In other words, I want to go in and nail it on
the first take! What you hear on "Branded" is
about as close to live as possible can be. The
only thing more real would be swinging from the
chandelier in your living room, with me
screaming in your face. Believe me, if I get
that chance...you will listen. In all
seriousness though, too many bands return from
the studio with patchwork known as an album.
When TNA records it's as live as possible!
Loudest Rock: I had explained to John over
at your label, that to me you sound alot like
Kal Swan of LION and BAD MOON RISING fame. Are
you aware of him and feel the same? You have a
very unique vocal style, who influences you?..
Mike McManamon: I apologize to Kal and
fans of Kal. But I am not familiar with his work
(someone send me a copy) as far as influences,
life influences me! Warts and all. Now as far as
other vocalist, I like to think that I take the
best and the worst from just about everyone in
every genre. A BIG fave of mine is Chris Cornell
(Audioslave / Soundgarden).
The Loudest Rock: Now I have to say,
your vocal range and delivery has improved
drastically since 'TRIGGER'. I'm not saying I
didn't enjoy your performance on the first
album, but your range and the conviction you
emoted in your performances on "Branded" just
blew me away. What would you contribute to this?
Mike McManamon: Experience, whiskey,
millions of hours of rehearsal, live
performance, dedication and a demon in my head
that won't leave me alone.
The Loudest Rock: Sean's playing is also
a immense step above the previous album. Would
you say that inspired you? Did you feed off of
his playing in your performance?
Mike McManamon: Sean has always inspired me. You
won't find a better guitar player to play with,
and in a lot of ways abetter person.
The Loudest Rock: You are home to Kivel
Records, along with a lot of great melodic acts
such as RAIN, ADRIANGALE and PYN SIREN. Do you
think you fit in well with the label and its
fellow bands? Do you and the label have the same
vision on what TNA is all about?
Mike McManamon: I think John Kivel has
put together a great bunch of bands, hats off to
him. I think that it is obvious that TNA and
Kivel Records are on the same page, even though
John thinks we are a pain in the ass!!! I agree
The Loudest Rock: Now on this album, you
lost one of your principle song writers in
former bass player Phil Pacheco. Did this effect
the way yourself and Sean would write new
Mike McManamon: No.
The Loudest Rock: Speaking of bass
players, please tell us how new bassist Doug
Odell helped in the sound and attack of the new
material. It is as if he was always in the band,
was bringing him in a long process or did
everything just gel?
Mike McManamon: Doug was that spark
that the band needed...he is great. What I love
about Doug is, when he is playing you can see
the soul burning behind his eyes. Doug is what
this band needed to make this album great.
The Loudest Rock: What were the writing
sessions for "Branded" like, and was there allot
of practice session to fine tune the material?
Mike McManamon: At first it was a
mess! I didn't know Doug, we hadn't played in a
long time together. I was nervous, wasn't sure
if we had what it takes. I second guessed
everything from the moment Sean started to put
together the time. But you know, after the first
song all of that went away. By the time we were
ready to hit the studio and record. I had MORE
confidence then I ever proceeded. I owe it all
to the guys in the band. NYC is a rough town, we
rehearsed in a few different studios. One memory
I have, was walking in the garment district on
the way to the studio. Must have been after 11PM
at night. Very hot and the city smelled liked
shit. There was this drunk in the street with a
sign that said "tell me off for $5", I gave him
$6 and let him have it!! He smiled that I
exorcized some demons and I had a great
rehearsal! I think we were working on "Kill Your
Idols" that night...wow !! Hah!
The Loudest Rock: Now in Sean's
interview, he mentioned that label boss J. Kivel
had a lil scare in the studio with a fake tree.
Do you have any interesting stories you can
share for us? Killer Plant?
Mike McManamon: ...Well the bell
didn't work outside the studio building. I think
I spent some time out on the street more than
once!! Also there were many a pics of some fine
ladies in the bathroom on the wall, so I was
afraid to touch ANYTHING in there. I guess I
should have brought gloves huh? As always, I am
in an isolation booth when signing and the guys
are in the other room which is a live room. So I
talk to myself, I must have looked like a loon.
I think Doug thought I was f*** at first. But he
seemed ok after the first few incoherent rants
from the room of doom. Some Jack a** put a
candle in the booth and the whole room smelled
like a bad prom date. Dan filmed almost the
whole record on his video camera...I'll bet
there is some very quality moments...something
for our permanent records!
The Loudest Rock: What goes through
your mind during pre-production? Was it easier
writing with Sean this time around or did the
two of you take a new approach?
Mike McManamon: I play off Sean. Sean
brings in a lump of clay...out come the chain
saws...and we whittled away until we have what
will from here on be known as "Branded".
The Loudest Rock: What songs get you
going when you hear them off the new album?.
Mike McManamon: "Kill Your Idols",
"Rain", "The Sound"..."Enter Sandman"...wait we
can't take credit for that...Will Lars try to
sue me for even mentioning that!?..ugh!
The Loudest Rock: I wouldn't call the
band photo, your 'typical' band photo. Who's
idea was it to shoot the band this way and in a
warehouse to boot!!
McManamon: That is where we live!! Actually
that was the labels idea. I was going to Ireland
the next day and got drunk...felt sick for two
days. Sean and his designer beer...BASTARD!!
The Loudest Rock: Speaking of photos,
John Kivel forward me a sample of what the cover
is suppose to look like, and I must say I was
very impressed. Whose idea was it to take a
different approach from the theme of the first
album and go with something as you have done
with this one. I get the impression that there
is an underlying message to this cover bordering
on concept. Care to elaborate?
Mike McManamon: Actually I think John has a
better handle on that...you guys should
interview him...I'll bet he can add to the
debauchery...far from innocent!
The Loudest Rock: Any interesting stories
about either of the photo shoots?..
Mike McManamon: YES!
The Loudest Rock: If you were to write
the set list and comprise both albums into it,
what 12 songs would you pick?.
Mike McManamon: "Kill Your Idols",
"Rung On The Ladder", "Take Me Home",
"Bittersweet", "Let Me Down Easy", "The Sound",
"Rain", "Do You Remember", "Draw The Line",
"Where's The Love", "Life Goes On" and "Can't
The Loudest Rock: If you were to be on a
bill with any of your labelmates, which would it
be? Also if you were to be on a bill with any
current or fave band in general what would that
Mike McManamon: ADRIANGALE, DAMN
CHEETAH...that was a hard question...TEMPLE OF
The Loudest Rock: Now on the first album,
you guys had one of the best ballads in a long
time. It reminds me of such ballads as Warrants
"Bitter Pill" and Babylon AD's "Desperate". How
come, after having such a amazing ballad did you
guys not try and make lightning strike twice?
Mike McManamon: I would like to think
that we write from the heart. Too may bands
follow a "format"...a few rockers...a
Ballad...an anthem. We thought it was time to
think out of the box. Besides, "Branded" is a
collection of our BEST material to date.
The Loudest Rock: Now for the question
we ask every band that comes through TLRock! If
you could form your dream team band...who would
it be and would you include yourself in it?
Mike McManamon: ...I would be lead
vocalist and chief of bad behavior and all
around Mayhem...As far as a band...Richard
Patrick (Filter) on guitar...Jason Newstead (Metallica
/ VoiVod) on bass...Jimmy Chamberlain (Smashing
Pumpkins) on drums...and his new band that
should have been called 'Smashing
The Loudest Rock: Any parting words for
the fans and board dwellers?
Mike McManamon: See ya on the slopes!
Snow will be falling soon, time to get the
boards out and disappear into the tundra. See
you in the spring, and of course...THANK YOU FOR
EVERYTHING...without you...there is nothing.