Playing With Fire; An interview with Erinc Sakarya of MANTAR

Hailing from Northern Germany, monstrous black/doom/punk chimera MANTAR have achieved more in five years than most bands twice their age and size. The product of a twenty-year friendship between guitarist/vocalist Hanno Klaenhardt and drummer Erinc Sakarya, theirs is a success story born entirely of one thing: hard work.
With three albums, an EP and a live release already to their name, MANTAR have released their new album, The Modern Art Of Setting Ablaze, 24, 2018 via Nuclear Blast. The band has toured relentlessly, gracing stages the world over, including the hallowed likes of Roadburn, Wacken Open Air and Maryland Deathfest. They used the support tour for 2016’s Ode To The Flame, their Nuclear Blast Records debut, to expand tour exploitesRussia, Japan and South Africa. MANTAR recently announced the first leg of their European tour for November/December 2018 – see below for all dates:
Ghettoblaster recently caught up with Sakarya to discuss the album, the band’s friendship, and their loftiest goals.
Are you both from Germany originally? When during your upbringing did you discover your aptitude for music?
My parents are from Turkey but they moved to Germany before I was born. So you could say that we both are originally from Bremen, Germany.
We didn’t have a musical education in a classic sense…nobody went to a music school or anything like that. My parents weren’t even musical in any way… but they had some records that had big impact on me. I think I was about three or four when I listened to those records every day and wanted to be a rockstar. I guess Hanno was the same. He discovered AC/DC at a pretty young age and still says that’s his biggest influence. I think as long as you find your love and euphoria for music.. talent will follow. It’s all about passion.
You guys have a twenty year friendship right? Have you ever had a falling out? How did you make up?
Actually it’s almost 21 years since we met each other and became friends. Even though I was already 22 at that time and Hanno a lot younger, there was already a big bond for punk rock and beer that kept us together. Throughout the years everyone played in different bands and it indeed took us 15 years until we started a band together. It’s not that we didn’t wanted to do this earlier but I think there was a big respect for the bands we were in at that time.
Do you believe it is important for collaborators to have a person relationship/friendship in order to best leverage your collective strengths?
It makes a lot of things easier. For example, touring. It’s more fun to do this with a friend. But sometimes you can have a musical relationship to someone who is not your buddy or even a total stranger. I think what is more important is the musical team spirit, and you don’t necessarily have to be friends to have a good output. Don’t get me wrong, I love being in a band with a friend but that’s not the only way.

You’ve been all over the world playing music. Was there ever a situation while touring that surprised or inspired you in some way?
I remember that we had this Jesus-lookalike guy on a festival in Spain. It looked like he was floating over the heads of the audience. So we stopped the song and Hanno gave him a beer and got blessed. I guess it can’t get any better.
Where does Hanno live in Florida? How did that move affect the group?
Hanno lives in Gainesville. It’s been a while since he moved there, about three or four years I guess. Actually, that move didn’t affect the band or at least didn’t affect us in a negative way. We don’t rehearse on a regular basis so we don’t need to be in the same city all the time. If there is a tour coming up or we are up to work on new stuff, Hanno comes here or I fly over. After a while, that’s not even special any more. You get used to those long distances and kinda learn to deal with it.
What are you hoping to accomplish with The Modern Art Of Setting Ablaze?
Well, my personal goal was to make a better album than the last one. Mantar is pop songs in a heavy rocking black metal-robe and I think we made a really good version here. Mantar fans out there won’t be disappointed and maybe some new people, too.
What are the moments on the record you are most proud of?
There are a few hardcore moments on this album I am proud of. That’s special for me because I listened to old school hardcore, but never played in a hardcore band. It just happened – we did not put up any barriers style wise. I think we captured the raw live power of the band.
What, if anything, are you hoping to explore musically on the next go round?
I guess I don’t want to get heavier…we are already heavy and loud as shit and we will stay that way. But I’d like to be even more song-oriented than before… having verses and choruses, more melodies in, but still in Mantar style. We just talked about switching the instruments – maybe that’s the way to go (laughter).
What are your loftiest goals for Mantar?
Learning how to play our instruments properly.
Catch them live with Skeletonwitch, Evil Invaders and Deathrite:
17.11.2018       Markthalle – Hamburg, Germany
19.11.2018       Musikzentrum – Hannover, Germany
20.11.2018       Hirsch – Nürnberg, Germany
21.11.2018       Turock – Essen, Germany
22.11.2018       Dynamo – Zurich, Switzerland
23.11.2018       KJH Hallschlag – Stuttgart, Germany
24.11.2018       Rockhouse – Salzburg, Austria
26.11.2018       Backstage – Munich, Germany
27.11.2018       Arena – Vienna, Austria
28.11.2018       Explosiv – Graz, Austria
30.11.2018       UT Connewitz – Leipzig, Germany
1.12.2018         SO 36 – Berlin, Germany
8.12.2018         Schlachthof – Wiesbaden, Germany
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