Manowar are currently touring Europe on their 40th anniversary on “Crushing The Enemies of Metal Anniversary Tour 2023”. Today they are stopping in Germany for the first time. After the show in Mannheim, others will follow in Neu-Ulm, Oberhausen, Bremen and Berlin. The day before their gig in the capital, which takes place on February 25th, there will be a fan convention in the local Kesselhaus.

The metalheads, known as the loudest band in the world, also thank their particularly loyal fans from Germany with their new single “Laut und hart, stark und Schnell”. Bassist Joey DeMaio spoke to about the next album, rising ticket prices and Manowar’s potential similarities with Madonna. Hello Joey, where do I catch you right now?

Joey DeMaio: I just arrived in the Czech Republic, in the city of Brno, and checked into the hotel. I was worried that I would be late for the interview. Of course I didn’t want that. I tried to be punctual like a correct German. That’s why my suitcases are still unpacked by the door.

Thank you very much, that is very thoughtful and it worked. A few days ago you were still in Leipzig, where you played a secret gig. Presumably on time for the specified stage time. How was it?

That’s correct. We always call it a secret gig, but since we’ve been doing it for a long time, it’s not such a secret anymore. We like to play in smaller locations to see what the audience thinks of the setlist and how we arrange the songs. It’s kind of a live rehearsal where nobody expects everything to be perfect. It’s all about having fun – for the audience, but also for us as a band. It doesn’t matter if a mistake happens, we openly admit that.

But then you are announced as a Manowar cover band, right?

Yes, the first few times we still claimed that the cover band that is closest to the original would come and that their tribute would be authorized by us. The spectators said, quite surprised: “They sound exactly like Manowar.” In the meantime, however, the cat is out of the bag and people already know that it really is us.

So you’re testing the arrangement and the setlist. But also new songs. How is the work on the new album going? When is it ready?

That’s probably the question I’ve been asked the most in my life. But hey, if you go to a restaurant and order a burger, it might take five minutes. But if you then go somewhere that has a 5-course meal, it will take longer. The chef has to collect all the ingredients first. And you don’t always ask when it’s time.

So it’s done when it’s done. There’s nothing more to say about that?

(laughs) Exactly. It’s probably the same with your articles and interviews?!

Well, there is usually a deadline.

Yes, but great art takes time. (laughs)

Of course, since you’re recording in your own studio in New York, you can take your time. How important is that for the sound of Manowar?

That’s the most important. And that’s the only way I can do it. When you have a career in show business, you depend on so many people, but you would actually rather do everything yourself. Of course you can’t, because you can’t clone yourself. If there were ten of you then everything you do in your life would be perfect. But that’s not how it works, and for me the most important thing is to have control over the quality of our sound. You can’t get people to like your music, but you can make everything perfect for you. Then you release it and people decide if they like it. Also, I can easily go home when I’m tired and come back the next morning after I’ve slept in.

With Michael Angelo Batio you’ve had a new guitarist with you for a while. How did that happen?

Our previous guitarist, Marcus Castellani, is Brazilian and when Covid came he couldn’t travel back to the US from there to record with us. I’ve known Michael for years, so I asked him if he could fill in. He agreed and was happy. And we were happy to be able to continue working during this time. A little over a year later, Marcus informed us that he didn’t want to go back, but wanted to stay with his family because there was a really serious situation there. We love this guy, but of course that was totally fine. Since Michael already knew our songs anyway, it just made sense that he would become a permanent member of the band.

You’re celebrating your 40th anniversary – like Madonna. Do you have anything else in common with her?

Let me think about it …

Maybe the outfits? Similar outfitter?

I already wear more clothes on stage than Madonna. But it could well be that she’s wearing our old clothes. Anyway, I think she looks amazing, happy and having a lot of fun. And she has no problem showing people her butt. I mean, she’s 64. And there’s only one Madonna. There is only one Peter Maffay, one Herbert Grönemeyer and only one Die Toten Hosen. There are so many trying to copy them, but that kind of thing doesn’t last long. The original survives them all.

Do you think it’s easier for men in the music business to get older than for women?

There used to be female singers who stood on stage until they died. I’d have to think about it longer now, but I hope it’s not the case. I think you should be allowed to dance, sing and act as long as you love it and are able to do it and don’t have any health problems preventing you. As long as the quality doesn’t suffer, your career can go on forever.

As long as people want to see you. And they are at least willing to spend more than 400 euros for a standing room ticket at Madonna.

Yes, that sounds expensive at first, but many fans compare the current situation with something 30 years ago. Since then, the cost of living has steadily increased. My health insurance is getting more expensive every year, as is electricity and heating. When we talk about a Madonna concert, it’s something on the scale of Rammstein in terms of the production, the effort of the show. That’s 30 or 40 trucks, which we don’t have, for example.

How are you all doing? Your ticket prices are around 70 to 90 euros …

We have 5 to 10 trucks with us. In addition, buses, petrol, hotels … everything is now around 40 percent more expensive. And sure, I asked a Scandinavian promoter how the pre-sales are going and he told me that people in general are being cautious right now. You are afraid of not being able to pay the heating bills this winter. That’s the reality. And the tickets for our concerts have not even become more expensive because they were calculated before Covid, which is making it difficult for us right now. And will they eventually become more expensive? Are the costs passed on to the consumer? Yes, but I’m also a consumer, I’m no different. The rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer.

You’ve been around for 40 years, you’ve witnessed all developments, you’ve released eight albums so far. Has it become easier over time – due to more life experience – to find inspiration for new songs – or does it become more difficult because everything has already been said?

Personally, I’m at least becoming more selective, because I feel like I’ve already done a lot and don’t want to repeat myself. But I also haven’t forgotten where we come from and what people expect from us as a band. You have to keep reminding yourself of that. People tell you what song they like and why. And I want to know what they like. That’s important too. We are a book of many chapters entitled Manowar. Every song is a chapter and every chapter is a part of the band, that’s how I see our career. And we’re adding more chapters.

Is there now and then music from newer bands that you like and inspire, or have the influences always stayed the same?

Oh, you know, I feel like it’s all been there before. The best ballet, the best jazz song… it’s all already been written. People like John Coltrane brought something into the world and established it. This is also the case in classical music. And there is still so much to discover and learn from all these musicians. Nobody will come and become the new Richard Wagner. There won’t be a new Mozart or anything like that.

You are also a big movie fan. Do you see it like that?

In fact, I haven’t seen a movie recently that I found particularly spectacular. But it hasn’t necessarily gotten any easier in this area either. I mean, when Ben Hur was filming, for example, you needed only a few dollars a day and you could hire 50,000 people, all acting in specially made outfits. That was different from creating such scenes on the computer today. Do not get me wrong. “The Lord of the Rings” is a great work of art, no matter how it was created. It’s brilliant, the music is wonderful, performed by a real orchestra. And the actors were fantastic too.

How about you with “Avatar”?

I’ve seen the first, not the second yet. The first one was all about how they made it, the technique is state of the art. I can appreciate that. I’m not interested in country either, when I hear a good country song, a crystal clear recording, I can still appreciate and appreciate it. I’m always looking for things I can learn something from.

Are you more of a film lover or do you also get something out of series?

Netflix has always had interesting things to learn from. I was watching the mini-documentary series “The Men Who Build America” ​​the other day about Carnegie, Ford, Rockefeller and people like that. That was very interesting. Here, too, I prefer series from which I can learn something. I have enough stupid things around me in my life. I mean, I work in the music business. (laughs)

But the good thing about the music business are the fans, and there’s even a convention for them now. How should I imagine it?

Exactly, this will be a little get-together for fans who feel like it. There will be some activities, we’ll probably record something together that the fans can join in on in the background. And there is a small excerpt from my next Spoken Words tour. Our guitarist will demonstrate some of his skills. Just different things that hopefully people will enjoy because they get a peek behind the scenes. And of course we play some of our songs.

And if you can’t make it to the fan convention in Berlin on February 24th, you can still visit you on tour, although most of the concerts are already sold out.

Yes, ticket sales went great in advance and we are very happy. It’s a great situation to finally be able to play again and to meet people who, like us, have been waiting for it for three years.