"some music was meant to stay underground..."


Crowned By Fire's Justin 'Slush' Manning

Los Angeles, California's CROWNED BY FIRE is a newly formed heavy metal band that has one of the scene's more talented guitar players leading them into battle versus the over-populated and mostly over-hyped hard rock acts that they will be competing against on their way to the top. I don't think they're going to have any problems gaining label attention quicker than most due to the fact they have that 'Us Versus Them' vibe going on that Guns N Roses gave off when they first hit the Sunset Strip, yet clearly back it up with serious musical prowess as the Gunners always did. What I like most about the early demo work from this band is that it has real soul to it, that is sorely lacking in any rock music that's being put out today, and I think that's what's going to really help them in the long run. I had a chance to get some questions in with their man on the six strings, Justin 'Slush' Manning.

Rocket: Are you originally from Los Angeles?

Justin: Yes, I am. However, my family is from the south and the mid-west so I’m not your run of the mill California guy. I drive tractors for a living if that gives you any indication of what hangin out with me is like. I’m kind of like a combination of Yosemite Sam and some skinny guy you’d see passed out in front of the Roxy.

Rocket: Haha! The best response I've gotten to that question this year. Bad ass! So when did you first start playing electric guitar?

Justin: I started when I was about 10 years old and I’m 28 so its been like 18 years. Well over half my life. The power of the riff compels me.

Rocket: I understand you've taken guitar lessons from some very notable people. Can you tell us more about that?

Justin: Yeah I was fortunate enough to get a job (through someone I didn’t even know at the time) with Zakk Wylde as his guitar tech. Which was a fucking dream come true for any goddamn guitarist that knows his head from his ass. Never having teched for anybody ever! What a way to pop your cherry, huh?

Rocket: Goddamn, this story's giving me goosebumps the size of half-dollars! Please continue! Ha!

Justin: Anyway, one day I’m the local guitar guy, the next day I’m on the road with my fucking hero, watching him play every night, scared to fucking death of him, hangin with everyone from Pantera to Crowbar to Mike Piazza. It was the weirdest most surreal thing you could ever imagine. So to make a long story short I had to quit because he was so inspiring that all I wanted to do was get home and fuckin play man. So we kept in contact and I ended up working for his wife Barbaranne with stuff around the house and ended up living in his guitar room and then his guest house. Kind of a trip. Then we did the Ozzfest and my job was to watch his kids, but most the time they were on the bus playin video games or whatever. So I was able just jam on an array of Les Pauls with Zakk and wander around the country with bands like Down , Messhuggah , Rob Zombie , Black Label , and of course the almighty Ozzy. So he basically taught me the underlying idea behind playing a lead and thru watching him play constantly I kind of took it to my own place. Ripping off his licks. Ha Ha.

Rocket: Bow down to that one, bro. Goddamn electric!

Justin: Then I worked with George Lynch for three tours one of which was with Yngwie Malmsteen. God what a dick that guy is.

Rocket: I think 'tool' is more appropriate! Haha!

Justin: But George was cool and I learned a lot from both of them. At one point I would come up and play two songs with Lynch even doubling some of his leads. Kind of a trip man.

Rocket: Who can forget 'Mr. Scary'. For those of you kids reading this getting some Domination 101 education. You need to track down that song and listen to it. It's one of the baddest guitar performances recorded in the past 20 years! So, Justin, what kind of guitars are you playing live and in the studio? I think we all know the answer already! Haha!

Justin: Les Pauls, Les Pauls, Les Pauls.

Rocket: Gee, really? I thought you were gonna rattle off Ibanez or Yamaha!

Justin: One of which was given to me by Zakk out of his personal collection. I love those fuckin things, man. No other guitar feels right to me.

Rocket: How could they? It'd be like driving a porsche that Steve Mcqueen gave you and then having to switch to some old fat guy's busted up Chevy Nova from the seventies! What kind of amp rig?

Justin: I run a stereo rig (two amps run out of a stereo chorus pedal). One amp being a solid state Randall head like the one the late great Dimebag used to use. Then the other is a Marshall single channel Master Lead with 6550 tubes in it. In to a 4x12 cabinet each. I also run a Roland Jazz Chorus 2x12 stereo combo amp for my clean sounds. Its pretty slick. Its loud and wide sounding. In my book everythings got to be big man. That’s whats missing in guitar players today. Their all afraid. I don’t know what their afraid of. But what doesn’t make any sense to me is some of them will play like a seven string when they know nothing about scaling just so they can tune down. Why don’t they just play bass you know.

Rocket: Haha. Now a lot of people get tired of me asking this next one for some reason... but they can all blow me! Ha! Tell me how the late great Dimebag Darrell's onstage murder personally affected you -- and moreover, how his awesome career in metal music still affects you to this very day.

Justin: Fuck anyone who has a problem talking about the greatest fuckin guitar player that ever lived. I piss on them.

Rocket: Brother, man. That's what it's all about, right? Dimebag fucking Darrell. Man, I gotta go drink after this!! Getcha pull!!

Justin: Dimebag was the most influential guitar player in the last twenty years. He changed my entire outlook on playing the guitar. I have 'Goddamn Electric' tattooed across my stomach if that gives you any indication of what a Pantera fan I am. That cocksucker Nathan Gale better hope that I never find his grave because I assure you that his poor mother would find a steaming pile of my shit up on that muthafucker. It’s the worst thing that could of ever happened. Fuck Fuck Fuck. I’m getting pissed next question.

Rocket: I feel you. My drive and determination working in this seedy as all hell music business comes from that man's great spirit. So how exactly did you join up with Crowned By Fire?

Justin: Me, John, and Reece basically just started it. Reece and I were looking for a new singer and I’d known John for a while and he was the first and only dude we jammed with. Basically it didn’t matter if he could sing or not we just wanted him to be able to keep up with us at a bar. Perfect case of being careful what you wish for. It's fuckin ridiculous at our rehearsals. I’m surprised we get anything done.

Rocket: I know you guys just recorded an EP earlier this year. Are you guys working on new material and when can we expect a full-length effort?

Justin: Yes, we are workin on new shit. It's heavier and more demanding than the stuff you hear on our MySpace deal. Which is fine by me. The closer I can get to that whole Pantera power groove thing the happier I am.

Rocket: I was justing talking about 'mosh groove', man! Fuck yeah! That is totally what's missing in metal today. Pantera were the kings of that. And Vinne Paul still preaches about how important changing tempo is, you know? What's been your favorite metal album for 2006?

Justin: Probably that new Chimaira album. Those dudes smoke. Was that 2006?

Rocket: No, that was last year. But you know what? It was so bad ass it pretty much is the best metal album released in last two years. Along with Zakk's stuff and DevilDriver. Now I like to have fun with this next one. What's the funniest thing that's ever happened to you on stage?

Justin: Probably getting a beer poured on my head while I was playin a lead and it went into my eyes and I couldn’t see cause it stung so bad. I had to play the whole rest of the song with my eyes closed on this little ass stage with all these people around me. People seem to want to marinate me when their around me. To see how much I can drink or something. After all I’m not Slash, I’m Slush.

Rocket: Haha. Well, thanks for taking the time out on this, bro. Give a shout out to your biggest supporters.

Justin: Hey muthafuckers! Come on back with the get up. Relax with a cocktail and don’t listen to gay music or I’ll argue with you for hours about how you need to listen to more Pantera! Fruitcakes!

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