Loudest Rock Interview with Mike McManamon
 
Kal 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!

The 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 with him.

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 material?

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!!

Mike 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 Wait Forever".

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 be?

Mike McManamon: ADRIANGALE, DAMN CHEETAH...that was a hard question...TEMPLE OF THE DOG.

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.

TNA 2003

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 Corrigan..Zwan..Pumpkin'

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.

 

 

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