Spotlight on … Lars F. Larsen (Manticora).

*When did you really get involved into music in general and into metal specific? Who was responsable for your interest in (metal) music?

Hmm…it started around 1983-1984, when my uncle made a tape for me and my brother, containing Styx, Uriah Heep, Van Halen, Black Sabbath and so on.. I listened a bit to that, but was only really interested in Van Halen out of all those artists. My brother began listening to some more metal, like Saxon, Dio, Maiden, Priest and so forth and THAT caught my interest…so I went to the library with my best buddy (at that time, you could still sit down at the library and listen to a full album, several people at the time) and we put on this new album, by an American band, called Metallica (‘Kill ’em All’), and I was completely and utterly sold. From then on, I didn’t look back.

*Which artists or bands did influence you the most?

Metallica, Slayer, King Diamond, Iron Maiden, Helloween, Blind Guardian, Nevermore, Symphony X, Dream Theater, Classical music in general and a bit of Duran Duran, Madonna and George Michael. Singing-wise, I follow the path of the masters: Bruce Dickinson, Eric A.K., Russell Allen and Luciano Pavarotti…and I also LOVE Frank Sinatra.

*Which instrument do you play and how and when did you learn to play? Did you had lessons in school or private lessons? If so, was that because your parents expected that from you? Or did you learn to play the instruments by yourself? Do yo still follow some lessons?

Beside singing, I play guitar and drums. I took some guitar lessons in the school system back in 1986-87, I think, but it was only acoustic guitar and I didn’t follow the lessons very well, so I dropped it and didn’t actually start playing again, until Fear Itself broke up and we started Manticora. I mean, we just stood there, 1 drummer, 1 guitarist and 1 singer…so I bought a guitar, an amp + cabinet, and began playing again. I played guitar, while singing, until 1999, where we enrolled a lead-guitarist into Manticora – so I was free to only sing (I guess, I wasn’t really good enough to both play and sing at the same time).

I learned to play drums in my local youth club. I taught myself how to play, and never took any lessons there, as I found it quite easy to play the drums. I’m not great at it, but I can play some odd rhythms, etc.

Regarding my vocals, I did take opera lessons when I was a teenager. When I first began, singing in a band, I was unable to sing at all, so I had to fight my way through this whole thing, and I realized at some point, that I needed to get some lessons, since I got a very sore throat every time, I sang in the rehearsal room. So, opera lessons it was and my fantastic teacher taught me to breathe correctly, have the correct stance and balance in the body and most of all, a lot of techniques, where you focus that one special note towards a certain point, to be able to reach higher notes. The last technique has helped me go from a middle-range voice to actually reaching 5 notes above the high C – in full body (not falsetto), so I guess she was worth every payment my parents did. May she rest in piece (she died last year).

*Do you follow other or are you intrested in other styles of music beside metal? If so, what is the music you prefer to listen to?

Yep – as written above, I listen a lot to Classical music – Tjajkovskyi, Bach, Beethoven, Vivaldi, etc and I love to listen to opera. I get tears in my eyes, every time I hear Luciano Pavarotti sing “Nessun Dorma”. I also listen to a lot of pop and alternative music – as such, I really don’t have any limitations besides avantgarde jazz and reggae. Those 2 genres are the only ones, I simply can’t stand.

*Is music a full time job for you now or do you have a job beside music? If so, what kind of job are you doing? If you would be really succesful with music, would you quit your other job?

Hahaha – good heavens no. I have 4 jobs, beside Manticora. Not all of them full-time, but nonetheless 4 jobs. It’s quite hectic sometimes around here, so I have a very understanding family. I am running Intromental Music Agency (21 years now), I work as Head Of Sales at Target Merch here in Denmark. Then I have a part-time job as a fitness instructor at a gym, and last but not least, I am working with booking of Target artists in Denmark. Yes, trust me – if I could make any kind of living off the music, I’d definitely cut 3 out of 4 jobs. I’d keep one of them (not gonna say which one), to stay unaffected by the success (nobody likes a dive/smartass, so I’d need to keep both feet on the ground).

*If you could start a band with other musicians on other instruments, which artist would you pick for wich instrument and why? (Something Like an “All Stars Band”.) Would you still go for a progressive power metal band? Or would you do something completely different?

Hmmm….that’s a funny question. I never really thought about that. I think I’d go for the drums myself, as that seems to me, to be the best way to outlive my child’s dreams (I wanted to be a drummer, originally). I’d go for Russell Allen on vocals, as nothing this man does, has ever bored my ears. What a powerhouse (and he has been a very nice person, the few times we have met). Guitars: Definitely Kiko Loureiro from Angra (again – an extremely talented, but very kind person) and Kristian from Manticora (you can’t separate us, in my mind – if he’s not there, I am not interested in making music anymore). Bass player? Hmmm…who cares….it’s just the bass, hahahaha…(there goes our chance to EVER go on tour with Iron Maiden, I guess). Well, actually, maybe Steve Harris on the bass guitar! Why the hell not? I guess the music would have to speak for itself, with these guys in the band…

*If you had been banned to an uninhabited island and you may pick 5 albums to listen to, wich albums would you choose and why?

1. Angra: ‘Temple Of Shadows’

2. Symphony X: ‘V – The New Mythology Suite’

3. King Diamond: ‘Them’

4. Iron Maiden: ‘Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son

5. Blind Guardian: ‘Nightfall In Middle-Earth’

*The band was started after the break-up of Fear Itself. What happened? And why did you change from heavy metal / thrash metal to progressive power metal?

Well, in Fear Itself, we were 5 guys, wanting to drag the music into 5 different directions, and it just didn’t work out. 1 guy left the band, and then the 2 other guys also wanted to quit (same night), so Kristian and I decided to give it a shot with a band, that was headed more in the direction that we wanted. We continued under the Fear Itself name for almost a year with Mads and René, where after we changed the name, due to the drastic change in music style. We did more or less power metal like Helloween or early Blind Guardian – so it changed from thrash to power and later it has crept back on us to just mix everything we want, so nobody can really label our music anymore Nowadays, it’s thrashy prog-power, with speed and melody, topped by a hint of death and black metal, hahahaha. Schizo-metal, maybe?

*About every two year there was a new Manticora album until 2010 and the album ‘Safe’. And then there is a hiatus of about eight years untill ‘To Kill To Live To Kill’. What happened in between?

The simple question is that we wrote a 334 page novel and a double concept album, and those things tend to take time, when you are a perfectionist and want everything to be perfectly aligned.

The harder explanation is that Martin and Kasper left the band in 2013, and Mads left in 2014. At that point, both Kristian and I were more or less ready to throw in the towel (we had just come home from a very unsuccessful European headliner tour). I mean – we had experienced all there is to experience. Album releases, European tours, North American tour, large festivals. What more could we want?

Anyway, we decided to give it another shot with the huge book/double album concept, and then do things OUR way and with no deadlines and no labels, breathing down our necks. Just use all the time,we wanted, to make things work perfectly for us. Stefan and Sebastian agreed, so we used more or less 3 years to write it all.

*On that album (‘To Kill To Live To Kill’) we can hear two parts of ‘The Farmer’s Tale’ and we can one new part on the new album (‘To Live To Kill To Live’). Can we expect more in that “story”?

Nope – the story ends with the new album. Part one is about page 1-149 in the book, and part 2 is about page 150-334 in the book, so it’s a wrap from here…:-)

*Also on both albums we can find songs about ‘Katana’. Are that also parts of a bigger story?

The Katana (Japanese battle sword) is the essential and crucial part of the whole book, so yes, you can definitely say that it’s part of a bigger story. The story dates back to the 2nd Japanese/Korean war (some 500 years ago), and runs up to current times in Denmark (+ Oslo and Prague).

*Every new album (or ep) of a band or an artist is the best one, that’s what they always say. So here is a chance to promote the album. Why should a music lover buy your album? What are the standout tracks for you on this new album and why?

I don’t necessarily agree. I wasn’t really that impressed by our own 2010 album “Safe”, but this new album is a step up from part one of the new concept. Definitely. We had so much more time to do the vocals properly on this album (with properly, I mean that we finally had all the time in the world, to make sure that my voice was 100% ok, when I began singing). We never tried that before, so on all previous albums, it was: “Ok Lars – now it’s your turn…sing 10-12 songs over the next 2 days, and nobody cares if your voice is cranky. You have t odo it, coz the studio has been paid”.

On this new album, the band invested in recording equipment, and so Kristian and I fly-fucked every single note for almost 2 months, and the result is flawless, if you ask me…..and it doesn’t make it worse that the songs are amazing too, hahahaha.

My favourite track at the moment, is ‘Katana – Death Of the Meaning Of Life’. There’s a lot of Nevermore in that track…and who doesn’t like Nevermore?

See “CD-Review” for a review (written in Dutch) for the new Manticora album ‘To Live To Kill To Live’ (ViciSolum Records) –

*I suppose you will promote this album through live concerts (when of course everyting is getting back to “normal” after the Covid 19 disaster). If so, would you prefer small clubs or big festivals? And is there a chance we can see Manticora in Belgium?

I love both festivals and smaller clubs. Both kind of shows give you something completely special in each their way, when you’re in front of the audience, so any shows would do for me. I am quite sure you’ll see us in Belgium in 2021. We’re talking to agencies about European tours at the moment, so expect us to come down to lay to waste the land of Fries, Waffles, Beer and Maneken Piss….:-)