Rock Eyez Webzine
Rock Eyez
Rock Eyez Webzine


Interview with Lars F. Larsen
(Lead Vocals - Manticora)

Lars F. Larsen - Manticora


Interviewed by Brian Rademacher
Date: April 15th, 2005

As a child do you remember the first album you bought?
Yep. It was Twisted Sister’s “Stay Hungry”. It cost me exactly 119 Danish Kroner, which was at that time $17 U.S. I was so fascinated by the heaviness and energy they gave off that I just needed to spend that money… even if I didn’t have a job at that point yet.

What was the first concert you attended?
Metallica on the “Master of Puppets” tour. Metallica was supposed to play here in Copenhagen on the 27th of September 1986… but on the way from Sweden, Cliff died. I didn’t have a ticket for that concert, but all the media buzz about Cliff’s death made me dig more into the band and I bought my ticket for the concert on the 8 th of January 1987. I remember everything as if it were yesterday. Metal Church was the opening act, and I was standing on the right side of the balcony with curly hair and tight pants, ha-ha-ha.

Did you collect anything as a child?
I collected all kinds of shit such as small liquor bottles, lighters, teddy bears and when I grew a little bit older, everything became Metallica and nothing else. My room was plastered with posters, articles and small clips from magazines. I had so much shit that I began hanging posters on the ceiling. I also had this jacket with stickers sewn onto it. It was more stickers than it was jacket. It was really cool, but I kind of lost the extreme fan interest and collector mania when I needed to invite girls over… kind of didn’t go hand in hand together.

Did you play any sports in school?
Not in school, no. We have a different way here in Denmark than in the U.S. We have sports lessons in school but only two hours per week and we don’t have anything specific that we do. The sports playing takes place in local sports clubs. I played soccer from the time I was five until I was twelve when a knee injury forced me to stop. It also kept me from participating in sports classes at school. After three surgeries on the knee, I’m able to play soccer again now but I have reached the age where arthritis is beginning to set in. (laughs)

Did you sing in church or school choir?
Nope. I’m an atheist… so I don’t show my face often in the church and we didn’t have a school choir in public school.

Tell me what the feeling was like at your first live show?
I lost 10 whole kilos of brown!!! Nah, seriously, I was so nervous that I almost was unable to perform. Luckily, I was only 16 so all the parents that were there (it was in the local youth club) were kind of nice enough to cheer a lot. My guitarist was so nervous that he had to sit down and play!

Were you in any bands before FEAR ITSELF?
Yep, I began singing (screaming) in a band called Stoney Pony. It was formed in my youth club and we played hard rock music in the vein of The Cult, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, DAD and so on. We began in 1989 and ended the band in 1992.

In 1996 you were in a band called FEAR ITSELF releasing two demos and a CD. Do any of those songs appear on a MANTICORA release?
No. For Kristian and I, FEAR ITSELF is a finished chapter of our common musical career. We didn’t really play very well and I can’t believe today that we actually believed we’d get a record deal with the stuff that we did. But I guess it’s always easy to look back. There was a period of four years (’92 – ’96) where we learned an immense amount about taking the inevitable “kicks in the face” that this business unfortunately tends to bring. Because everyone treats you like shit in the beginning when you are climbing up the ladder, you learn about being cynical. If you have a big enough heart, though, you also learn not to hold a grudge towards people that see you as a threat to their own position – even if you never intended to threaten it. Sometimes, a strong stage presence alone can make people start hating you because they are not able to perform like that themselves.

What year did MANTICORA start?
In May of 1996. We got Mads to play the drums and we continued like a trio at that point until we got Rene on the bass in July of that year. We kept the name of FEAR ITSELF until January 1997. We agreed that we had gotten so far away from the old style of music that FEAR ITSELF had created, that it was now time for a name change. So basically, the band began in May 1996 but was re-named in January 1997.

Your first album came out in 1999, "Roots of Eternity" on Black Lotus Records. It was produced, mixed and Mastered by Jacob Hansen. Also 2001’s "Darkness with Tales" was produced by Hansen. Tell me what it was like working with him?
Jacob is a great guy! He’s so funny that it almost makes no sense! He’s like this guy that contaminates everyone in the room with his humour and that’s a big plus when you are spending 14 hours per day in a studio for two weeks. He is professional, though, and knew exactly what we wanted at that point of our career… sound-wise. The only thing I can see now that he didn’t have was the ability to make people perform 110%. Jacob was satisfied if the musician himself was satisfied. It, of course, also had something to do with the fact that we didn’t have that much time in the studio. So sometimes, we had to compromise and let the ball roll… even if the instrument was only performed at 90% of its potential.

In 2002, "Hyperion" was your next release. A concept album on Scarlet Records with a bonus track in Japan called "Future World." Why does the bonus track only appear in Japan?
Because in Japan they have extremely high prices on CD’s. It is actually cheaper for the Japanese to buy a CD from Europe/USA through mail order than buying from their own labels. This causes the labels to want a one month’s head-start as well as a bonus track. This way, they are sure that they at least sell Japanese CD’s to the die-hard fans who can’t wait until the other versions are available.

2004’s “8 Deadly Sins" came out on Massacre Records. There were bonus tracks for Japan again… "Private Hell" and "Spawn of Darkness.” Will these two songs be on another disc?
”Spawn of Darkness” was for the Korean version and we made it because they released a digi-pack version of the disc with extra liner notes and a poster inside the CD. These 2 songs will not appear on any other discs as they are owned by the companies that paid for them – in this case, our Japanese and Korean record labels.

How do you come up with the music and lyrics?
Nowadays, we tend to work in concept ideas more than just writing ordinary songs. We write the lyrics first and try to shape the music after it. In some cases, we put on the lyrics after making the music, but that’s pretty rare these days. Musically, Kristian and I are the ones that come up with the riffs on the guitars and from that point on, we simply create everything in the rehearsal room by the whole band jamming our way to make the songs perfect. After the songs are complete (in a rough schedule), we incorporate solo guitars and keyboards bringing in the people that are paid to do that. We only work as a 4 piece unit now and have done so for the writing of the last 2 albums. It works perfectly for us, but let’s see what the future brings regarding the lead guitarist spot.

Do you think that the Europeans are way ahead of the USA in music today?
I don’t think so…..

Are there any plans to play in the USA?
Yep. We are opening the “Prog-power Festival” in Atlanta, Georgia in September and we are very proud to have been chosen as one of ten bands among the thousands of bands out there. We are looking very much forward to meeting our friends from Angra again. We just supported them on the European tour and it was very exiting for us to get to know these “old” dudes. I hope that some more dates can be confirmed before or after the festival… but there’s not a big chance for that.

What do you ask for in your dressing room on tour?
Towels, water, BEER, BEER, BEER and more BEER! On a serious note, we are satisfied if there’s something to eat and drink. It’s always nice when a venue has done something special for you… like filling the place with Red Bull’s, chocolate, BEER and other eatable/drinkable stuff. But we’re satisfied with a little. It’s not about what’s in the backstage room, it’s about what goes on on the stage!

At Intromental, you’re listed as booking agent, promotional agent and business contact. What exactly do you do for Intromental?
I do shit loads of stuff. In general, Claus (the boss) and I are working together on a partner basis more than on a boss/employee basis. This means that the job varies a lot from day to day. I book shows, talk to record labels about signing our new bands, read through contracts, send out mail, and inform the press about bands. I play the “bad guy” when a band needs a “No thanks!” to their demo, read through biographies and correct them, make coffee…he-he-he, review albums for our webzine, act as journalist when someone needs to be interviewed, take care of the economy, write tons of emails everyday, nurse the bands when they are on festivals and in general, just doing whatever comes along.

Tell me a band to watch out for that just got signed by Intromental?
Circus Maximus! Their debut album is out in May and this will make people fall over in awe. Another band that people should look out for is the American band Outworld. Their debut will hit the streets in the fall. People are predicting them to be the new Symphony X.

If you have a chance to play on-stage with another band who would it be?
I don’t really care anymore as I found out that it’s not who you are playing with, but what you make of your own performance. On the newly finished European tour, I was on stage at the last show singing “Hallowed Be Thy Name” together with the Angra guys and it was really cool to stand there performing with people that you have seen as your idols for a lot of years. I even had Kiko on my shoulders doing the old Dickinson/Murray thing! (laughs) But I was still concentrating about performing for the audience… giving them ME and not an Edu Falaschi look alike. I don’t care if the main band is Metallica, Maiden or Evergrey because for me, the important part is that MANTICORA performs well.

Does MANTICORA have plans for a DVD?
We are right now talking about the fact that it’s about freaking time that we release something like that. So we have begun the first steps in finding out what we’d like to have on a MANTICORA DVD. We have to look through 30 hours of video footage from past times in order to give the fans a lot of crazy stuff to laugh about… but we’ll get there eventually. Expect something early next year.

Would MANTICORA ever do an acoustic set?
Nope. The energy in our music would be lost without the distortion and aggressive attitude. I absolutely hate all that acoustic crap.

What can you expect from going to see a MANTICORA show?
You can expect PURE and RAW energy and a feeling that you are with us on the stage. I have studied a lot of singers and their way of behaviour on stage and in the band. We are extremely focused on giving everything back to the audience. We receive so much from them so they are bound to get their faces kicked when we show up in town.

What is your set list?
It differs from what kind of show we’re doing. This Tuesday, we’re opening for Brainstorm at Vance in Copenhagen and we only have 35 – 40 minutes to play. The set list is:

  • “Melancholic”
  • “Cantos”
  • “King Of The Absurd”
  • “Creator Of Failure”
  • “Shadows With Tales To Tell”

On the tour with Angra we also played “Private Hell.” In August, we will play again in Copenhagen, but this time as headliners. Thus, our set will be a 90 minute set. Of course we need to rehearse a lot of extra songs for that, but we haven’t agreed upon which ones yet.

What CD do you currently have in your CD player?
Angra “ Temple Of Shadows” (listening to it right now).

I am going to mention a few words tell me what comes to mind?
Ego – Myself and Yngwie Malmsteen. Luckily my own ego is WAY smaller than Yngwie’s.
Intromental – Work and fun.
Recording – A very cool, funny and long lasting experience. I love it very much… it’s creation!
Touring – The craziest thing I have done in a long time… total exhaustion!
Internet – Brave new world! The best way of getting rid of prejudice, misinformation and stubbornness.
MANTICORA – Power Metal… he-he-he! My life’s dream that is slowly becoming reality!
Lance King - ”Le King” as we call him here. Vocal GOD and a very nice guy as well. Someone who has believed in MANTICORA and has been a very important person to me.

What can we expect from MANTICORA in the coming year?
The release of a DVD with live shows, interviews, funny stuff, and crazy stuff! We are writing our next album, so we will probably be in the studio around this time next year. So, no new music within a year from now. We are most likely to have our old albums re-released throughout the whole world in late spring this year… including bonus tracks! So there is something to look forward to for everyone.

Would you like to say anything in conclusion?
I hope that our American fans will embrace the new CD “8 Deadly Sins” and we are very much looking forward to doing our first ever performance on U.S. soil in September. Hopefully we will see you there!

Thanks so much for the interview.
Thank you for the interest, Brian. Take care! © 2005 All rights reserved. The contents of this site may not be reproduced without the expressed written consent of
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