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Somewhere in the last summer via e-mail I had suddenly got acquainted with Tony Dolan, the former ATOMKRAFT and VENOM bandmember. And I'd known from him about the new band of Jeff Mantas - Tony's old pal, whom they'd been pounding with together in VENOM. No information about the band exact line-up was available. But no, it had been already formed at the moment, however very few people knew of it. The only detail I found out from Dolan was that in musical meaning MANTAS - is where "SLIPKNOT meets SEPULTURA". Upon the album recording the band prepared the press-release digest to be published in Internet sites newslines. The copy and later - promo CD "Zero Tolerance" with 3 tracks on it - have been delivered to my box. After I couldn't restrain myself from conversation with Mantas and throughout several thousand kilometers from Chernivtsi the telephone rang out…

Scorpio: How did the idea to create the MANTAS band come?

Jeff: I was given the opportunity to record a solo album at a time when VENOM was inactive due to various circumstances. I actually thought about it for quite some time before accepting the offer, however once I had decided to do it I went at it full steam, I don't do things by halves. I began putting all the songs and demo ideas together at home until I was happy with the direction in which it was going, I did not just want to write another VENOM album, this had to be different otherwise what would be the point in doing it. All the songs were written specifically for the album "Zero Tolerance". I started recording in January 2003, laying down all the guitars, then it came to vocals so I needed to find someone for the job.
Bry was recommended to me for the vocal job by a friend of mine with whom I train in Aikido. He had worked with Bry in a previous band and thought he would be perfect for the band... He was right. Bry can be totally aggressive or he can be melodic and you will hear both on the album, though obviously more of the aggressive. His main influence is Max Cavalera and his love of extreme metal makes him an important part of this band.
Marsy was originally brought in to design the MANTAS website, which he has done and it looks amazing, it was only later that I found out that he played guitar. I asked him if he would like to try out for the band and he said yes. At this point I only had a couple of tracks recorded, so I gave him a copy of "Rise" and "Original Sin" to learn. A few days later he came back and played them for me... the job was his, no problem. I was really lucky to get him at this point because he was in the process of breaking up his own band and concentrating on his web design. Marsy is into REAL METAL and is dedicated to playing the
heaviest music possible!!!
The next guy, who came in, was Tony Dolan. Obviously everyone knows that I have worked with Tony D. before and I was really happy when he stepped in to play bass. I gave him total freedom to interpret the songs as he heard them because I trust his judgement completely and I think he has done an amazing job. Apart from anything else Tony has been my closest friend for many years and was even my best man at my wedding, it's great to be working with him.
Which brings us to Cherisse... what can I say. An 18 year old female drummer and she is fucking amazing! She was recommended to me by Tony D. who had done some session work with her in London. He took her into the studio and she played to the backing tracks of "Rage" and "Kill It". He then sent me the CD of this along with her playing a solo piece. We then booked a rehearsal studio in London and myself and Bry drove the 300 miles to meet her. Myself, Bry, Tony D. and Cherisse rehearsed for 4 hours and she knew every song inside out, I was totally blown away. She is a perfectionist with a natural ability for her chosen instrument. I think a lot of people are in for a shock when they see her play.
It is really good to eventually be in a band with people that I now consider to be true friends, there are no egos, no bullshit, everyone wants the best for everyone else and to make this band the very best it can be and this shows in our performance. When we are all together there is a definite feeling that this is something special and as soon as we plug in and play. We can't wait to get out and do this live ..... it's gonna kill!!!

Scorpio: You know, for many people it is strange to see a girl - drummer.

Jeff: Yeah, it was a little bit strange for me, I didn't know, how would this look in the band. But now everyone sees, she's the incredible drummer! She's definitely the best drummer I worked with. For many who heard the promo is hard to believe, that it's a girl plays this great stuff.


Scorpio: Did you want to play thrash/nu metal, when you decided to create MANTAS?

Jeff: When I write the music for the MANTAS, I have the full freedom, and I don't think what style must it be. When I was in VENOM, there was a stamp, what should band to play. With the MANTAS I didn't want to sound anything like VENOM. I wanted to take it away from VENOM, I tried to make heavier music. When you hear the whole album, you will see, it's a wide stuff. You have already heard 3 tracks from the album on promo…

Scorpio: Aha!

Jeff: So, these songs "Zero Tolerance", "Rage" and "Kill It" perfectly describe the album. It is heavy and brutal. "Drill" has industrial elements, brutal guitars, smashing drums and stuff like that. "Stone Cold" is one of the fast tracks on the album. The track, we can say "Yeah, that's quite like VENOM would be" -"Rise". The another fast track is called "Insanity", also song, which we all like very much. The other two songs on the album "Look Who Died" and "Original Sin" are the very heavy tracks. No one, who will hear the album can say it's black metal or death or thrash. I think it's just good heavy metal. Many people ask me in interview, what the music on album will be, what style? And I say them: "Look! It's just heavy metal.".

Scorpio: We can see 666 in your logo and on the cover of promo. Are your lyrics about satan?

Jeff: Yes, I mean there are satanic elements in some songs. I think it's mainly in "Zero Tolerance", just pure aggression. It's just about being yourself, taking responsibility for yourself. "Original Sin" and "Look Who Died" have got the satanic tendencies. What about 666, I always signed my name like Mantas 666, so it is a part of me. The idea of logo is originally by Bry. He's a good artist. And then we decided to combine MANTAS banner with three sixes in circle, it looks great. Now we are also working on the artwork for T-shirts. We are going to release also some merchandise.

Scorpio: And what about the performing? What festivals and concerts are you going to play on?

Jeff: At the moment all the concerts will start in June. We also play at Athens open air festival in Greece. We are going to go everywhere. I don't want for it to be like in VENOM. We selected, where to go. But with MANTAS we will play in smallest clubs as well as on the biggest stage. And it doesn't mean where we are in playlist of the festival. We can open the fest, headline or be in the middle. We don't care. I love be on stage, I love to be in studio. At the end of the day I'm just the musician. We will play anywhere, you will invite us. No problem.

Scorpio: I've also read that you will play some VENOM stuff.

Jeff: Yeah, couple of songs. VENOM is a big part of my life, I was one of the members of this group. It seems logical, if we play a couple of songs. It's not gonna be a lot of VENOM sings, 'cause I don't want anyone tells "Oh, Mantas wants to rely on old VENOM songs.". There will be 4 tracks in the set, I think. Now we play 4 VENOM songs and play them really very well.

Scorpio: And do these songs have other arrangement?

Jeff: No, no. The arrangement is basically the same, we haven't changed anything. All the songs we play are written by myself.

Scorpio: Is it now, in the beginning of 21st century, easier to promote metal group, than in 80s?

Jeff: Oh, yes. When we first started playing the kind of extreme metal, it was very difficult to get promoted. To get on the radio - impossible. Nobody wanted to know about it. And now, I think, the extreme forms of heavy metal come more in forefront, and it's a lot easier. Obviously, with the help of the Internet. Everybody has computer at home. You can find so many metal bands, hundred heavy metal. Now if you are young band, have a good computer set in the house, you can record your own album in your bedroom, burn the CD and promote yourself. Now it is pretty easy to do. But what about performing and gigs, it is still difficult to get the chance to play on big stage.

Scorpio: And what can you tell about the label, which will publish your album - Demolition?

Jeff: I know the guys who are running Demolition for about 25 years. We hope to push the album as far as we can. They are good guys, and our relations are good.

Scorpio: And will your album be distributed in Russia and Ukraine?

Jeff: I sincerely hope so. Even if we won't find any distributor in your countries, I want to do the album available on the website, which will be launched soon. Now it's almost finished. There will be also clips of all songs, merchandise, all information about MANTAS, of course.

Scorpio: Do you know something about Ukraine, Russia, Belarus?

Jeff: I was already in Russia, when VENOM played in St-Petersburg. It was in 1991, I think. We played on White Night Festival. That was my only experience of Russia. Are there many metal clubs there?

Scorpio: No, not so many. The most known bands go to Moscow: DIMMU BORGIR, CRADLE OF FILTH for example. In Ukraine situation is not so well, active metal life only begins. Last year Kiev visited PUNGENT STENCH from Austria.

Jeff: I see. If somebody is interested in bringing MANTAS to play over there, he can feel free to contact me at tora@supanet.com.

Scorpio: And now game for your imagination. I will say invented band name, and you say, what music should the group with such name play.

Jeff: Ha-ha-ha, cool!


Jeff: Death metal, four guys, long straight hair, doomy stuff.


Jeff: KNIFE IN YOUR HEAD, he-he, good! Like hardcore punk. Skinheads hardcore punk band, yeah.

Scorpio: 13th SATAN'S DAUGHTER.

Jeff: Oh, it's gonna be black metal like CRADLE OF FILTH. Screaming vocals, they are looking like vempires.


Jeff: Gothic. Something like MY DYING BRIDE, maybe.

Scorpio: MARS SWORD.

Jeff: The first thought in my head is industrial. A lot of samples and stuff like that.


Jeff: Band for girls, girly rock band, yeah.


Jeff: Ha-ha-ha! Surgical metal.


Jeff: BOOGER BOYS! Ha-ha! Oh, good! American toilet rock band.

Scorpio: And the last - CUCUMBER IN YOUR ASS.

Jeff: Ha-ha-ha-ha! Have you ever seen the band called ROCKBITCH? They do hardcore pornography in stage. It's a rock band full of girls and they do unbelievable things on stage, ha-ha.

Scorpio: You live in Newcastle…

Jeff: Yes, yes.

Scorpio: And all other except Tony.

Jeff: Yes. And Cherisse also. Cherisse lives also in London, in two streets away from Tony. Myself, Bry and Marsy live in Newcastle.

Scorpio: It must be very uncomfortable to play in group and to live in different cities.

Jeff: It can be quite difficult, but one week we go to rehearse to London, and other week the travel to Newcastle. It's not to bad. Sometimes there are some problems, of course. Few weeks ago we had really bad snowstorms over here. Myself, Marsy and Bry went with big difficulties to London. It is about 300 miles, but it was like we travelled 700 miles. It's OK, we're always in touch via the phone. It would be nice to live closer to each other.


Scorpio: And where do the band's members work?

Jeff: Tony does a lot of acting as well…

Scorpio: Master and Commander, heh.

Jeff: Yeah, yeah. Cherisse is actually still in college, her study finishes in beginning June, and then we will start our touring. The other guitarist Marsy makes websites, he's doing MANTAS website obviously. Bry does anything he can. He works in different agencies and stuff like that. He works, when he need, he doesn't work all the time. Hopefully, I want the band to be the main thing for everybody. That's my aim for this year.

Scorpio: And now Jeff Mantas awards. First nominee is "The best metal group of last year".

Jeff: For me it's SLIPKNOT. I like SLIPKNOT and wait for their new stuff. The other band, I love is MUDVEIN. It's difficult to choose favourite band. MY favourite band of all time is JUDAS PRIEST. But what about last year - SLIPKNOT, MUDVEIN, SOULFLY. I hate new metal, such as LINKIN PARK…


Jeff: Oh, fucken Fred Durst. No, no LIMP BIZKIT for me, please. I like hard directions of metal. I like the new DAMAGEPLAN stuff, PANTERA.

Scorpio: And the best album?

Jeff: It would be SLIPKNOT "Iowa" or MUDVEIN "The End Of All Things To Come".

Scorpio: Best non-metal musician.

Jeff: Uh, difficult. Er…

Scorpio: Britney Spears, heh.

Jeff: Ho-ho-ho, no! Have you seen her last video?

Scorpio: Toxic?

Jeff: Aha, terrible! Er… best non-metal, it's very difficult. I think fusion project of John Petrucci from DREAM THEATER.

Scorpio: Best politician.

Jeff: Absolutely none of them. Nobody! They all are liers.

Scorpio: Best sportsman.

Jeff: Somebody from combat style. Mike Tyson, maybe. But, you know, there is a guy, right here in Newcastle - Ian Freeman. He fought in Russia, Japan. USA. Yeah, he's great sportsman.

Scorpio: And have you heard about the Ukrainian boxers - Klichko brothers?

Jeff: Yes, I've heard, they are two really big guys. But I never saw them fight.

Scorpio: Most beautiful woman.

Jeff: I will say my wife, 'cause she'll kill me, if I don't. Ha-ha-ha! Uh, it's so difficult to answer, there are so many beautiful women!

Scorpio: Oh, you know, there is a joke: There are no uncomely women, there is only few vodka.

Jeff: Ha-ha!

Scorpio: Next nominee - the most clever person.

Jeff: It's Jim Simons from KISS. He's a very clever guy, good businessman.

Scorpio: And who's the most stupid one?

Jeff: He-he, too many to name.

Scorpio: So, I think there are no more nominees. And what are your hobbies, how do you spend your free time?

Jeff: My hobby is PlayStation2. I'm playing at the moment the game called "Men Hunt". The other things outside the music Aikido - traditional Japanese martial art. I like Japanese culture. Of course, I spend much time with my family.

Scorpio: And have you ever been to Japan?

Jeff: No. I like Japanese culture, traditions, food, I train Aikido. It's not only fight, but also spiritual experience. I have a lot of DVD of the masters from Japan. It is one of my dream to go to Japan.

Scorpio: And do you listen to young metal groups? Something interesting for you?

Jeff: I'm open to everything, really. I mean metal based and stuff like that. I'm sure, right at that moment as we speak, there are a lot of young bands around there. They are very-very good, you know. They gonna be the next generation. Maybe there is a new VENOM somewhere, and maybe new METALLICA somewhere. Someone is gonna be the next big band. Every group, that's playing metal, for me, they're doing a good job. Everyone who promotes metal music does a good job. There are a lot of fucken boy bands, "Britney Spears" and all like that, who manufactured music. Rock and metal - that is really nice music, by real people.

Scorpio: Honest music.

Jeff: Yes, exactly, my friend, it's honest music.

Scorpio: Thank you for your answers, it was a big pleasure for me to talk with you!

Jeff: I want to say all fans over there and all readers over there, I really hope, you will enjoy "Zero Tolerance", when you will get it. Hopefully myself and the band will be over there, as soon as we possibly can to play for you. So, promoters from Ukraine and Russia are welcome to invite us. Let's keep metal alive! It's all for fans, who buy the albums, who come to the gigs and who helps to promote the band. Without you guys metal wouldn't exist. Cause without fans there would be no bands. So just remember, you guys are the most important people!


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