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Mantar Drummer Erinç Sakarya Discusses New Album "The Modern Art Of Setting Ablaze", Working As A Duo And More

Having formed in 2012 after fifteen years of friendship, the Bremen born duo of Erinç Sakarya and Hanno Klänhardt, better known to the world as Mantar, are now promoting the release of their third full length album, "The Modern Art Of Setting Ablaze." Those who have heard it will testify that it's a vicious sonic assault, mixing elements of hardcore, black metal and all other extremities to create a wall of noise that puts the boot into your first nerve and doesn't stop kicking until it's over.

This Winter, the two have been on the road with Skeletonwitch promoting the record, although sadly they had to cancel the two British shows as Hanno has been taken very ill. While we wish him a very quick recovery, we were nonetheless delighted to sit down with Erinç to discuss the new album, as well as the history of the band, creating such a sound with only two people and much more. You can watch the interview in full below.

Diamond Oz: The new album, "The Modern Art Of Setting Ablaze" is out now. Having seen you at Bloodstock, I'd say that it captures your live show really well too. How would you say the reception to the album has been so far?

Erinç Sakarya: Actually, our thing is to put the things we do to the extreme. When we're working on the songs, I kind of have the impression, that's it more like pop songs played in a heavy way. I was afraid that maybe we're getting too soft. When we work on the songs, we leave the vocals away and just concentrate on the music and the arrangements. I heard the vocals pretty late and that was the point when I thought, "OK, we are still Mantar." It's kind of like the way we always do it except this Hanno had some riffs ready and we made complete songs out of it. Usually we'll work on this stuff together but it's not so easy when he lives in Florida and I'm in Germany. But I must say, I'm really happy with the result. More than ever. We both think that we did a good thing here.

Oz: I'm really shocked to hear that you thought it might be too soft because I thought it was vicious!

Erinç: Well actually if you sit there in a room and he plays guitar and we have the riffs, the melodies, it kind of sounds more like a pop band until you turn up the amplifiers and play it really loud and energetic, then it changes. Then when the vocals come in you see it's not really pop music. But we're kind of addicted to pop music, so there's still a pop format that we're trying to catch because otherwise we're not satisfied. We're not only into the sound but the songs have to have verses, choruses, C parts so we try to find something like that to try to be satisfied for ourselves. when we write songs.

Oz: That's very interesting. Obviously the title of the album is "The Modern Art Of Setting Ablaze," there's been a recurring theme of your titles now, they all seem to revolve around fire. Is there any particular reason for that?

Erinç: We are kind of into fire. It's something that comes from nature and if you burn down something you can bring it to zero and start a new beginning and fire washes away everything but it also destroys. We're kind of fascinated by fire not because we like to burn down stuff. We like destruction but we don't want to hurt anybody, so we're happy to throw a bottle against a wall and watch it break. Fire has become like a thing with Mantar and we use it because it maybe also describes our sound or live performance.

Oz: I think it's very fitting because it's like you say, there's that punk rock nature to Mantar which is pure anarchy.

Erinç: Well, that's where we come from. Maybe we should be more into water because we sweat so much on stage!

Oz: Obviously one of the most striking things about Mantar is that it's only the two of you and you create this enormous sound for two people, which is even more impressive when you see it live, I think. I know that originally you were hoping to find a bassist...

Erinç: We've been playing in bands for a long time and we're experienced to know that if you look for a musician, it should be someone that you might know and know what they can deliver. We were not looking for bass player on the internet who wanted to play in a doom metal, rock band or something like that. Some of the guys we thought about joining didn't want to.

When we started, we wanted to have a third person. We didn't want to seem special because we're a two piece but because we create this great, energetic music but no one wanted to join, they were like, "Oh! Not another band!" Everybody's in one or two bands. Nowadays there are so many bands around and everybody plays in a band. When I was younger I think we had one band that played rock music at my school so it was something special, but now there are so many bands that it's not that interesting anymore for people to join another band, then rehearse two times a week. So then we started doing things as a two piece, using an effects board and using like three amplifiers at once, then we had our first show and we decided that since we can do it as a two piece, we might as well stay as a two piece.

Oz: It's very special to watch because you're facing each other on stage and in a way it's very theatrical, it's almost like watching a play, like watching two people converse with each other.

Erinç: This is also how we see it. We rehearse face to face so it's like a battle between us and we push each other so we start to play more energetic and heavier than ever and sometimes we get angry at each other, but that's cool because it's we do aggressive music so if you get angry then you play harder and more intense. We do our stuff, we do it for ourselves, sometimes I call it "aggression therapy" because afterwards we are really satisfied and really easy and the people can be part of this and watch us while we're doing this. We're not like looking at them and doing it for them, so it's kind of a different performance. Now we're so used to it that I don't know another way!

Oz: I know you and Hanno have known each other for a long time. I think it was something like fifteen years before you actually started making music together.

Erinç: Yeah, we met for the first time in 1997. At that time Hanno was fifteen and I was like twenty two/twenty three. At that time he was already a great performer on stage, he had all the AC/DC poses, we had our own bands and we became friends. For a while I had the position of being like a bigger brother to him, I showed him so many bands and I took him to shows to see bands like The Hellacopters and he was really into it. Now he knows so many more bands than I do!

Oz: Of course, you're both from Bremen originally and you moved to Hamburg. Why was this decision made?

Erinç: Well, he wanted to work at a record label and I went there because I met a girl and I just followed her there. We didn't move there together but we moved almost at the same time. So we had that bond because we're both from Bremen and we know what we're both about and we've been friends for a long time.

Oz: I saw an interview where Hanno says he doesn't really consider Mantar to be a metal band. I assume you feel the same way?

Erinç: If you see Hanno and me, I'm the guy not that much into metal. There are ingredients of metal and hardcore in this music. I really like metal music but it's not something that got me socialising. There are so many metalheads who have listened to it since they were like eight years old but I've always listened to different stuff, a lot of eighties music. I was really into grunge and then later hardcore, punk rock and I always liked bands like Sepultura, but I wasn't really into Maiden or Metallica. Now I like them but it's because I appreciate what they're doing and I like the music but it wasn't something that makes me feel good because it's been there all my life. That's why we won't say that we're just a metal band but if people want to say that we are then that's OK, if they need to put us somewhere. I must say that the metal fans are some of the best that you can get.

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com since 2007 and a metal fan since 2001, going as far as to travel to other countries and continents for metal gigs.

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