I only just recently discovered the band Bloody Hammers (thanks YouTube suggestions!), and I personally haven't heard a band that's stuck with me like they have since first discovering Type O Negative, which is a HUGE compliment, as Type O is my all-time favorite band. Hell, my three year old daughter even loves hearing Bloody Hammers and has actually started singing along to the band's music, which is a first for her!
Long story short, I knew that I had to reach out to the man behind the music, Anders Manga, for an interview, and Manga was kind enough to oblige me for a quick chat about his musical career, his love for horror movies and Bloody Hammers' latest studio album The Summoning.
Crypt Teaze: To get things rolling, tell us a little bit about the band's history, as I'm very interested in learning more as well.
Anders Manga: It’s not REALLY much of a band to be honest. It’s more of a studio project that I do but my wife Devallia helps me a lot. In the past when we’ve played live, the band has been filled out with the help of local musicians who are willing to help us out.
I started home recording in the '90s doing different styles. Mostly just for the sake of hobby and entertaining myself. I recently cleaned up one of the tracks from back then and released it for free on bandcamp and youtube called ‘Night of the Witch’ from 1996 or '97. I called the project ‘Coffin Moth’.
Then in the '00s I did an all electronic darkwave project under my own name ‘Anders Manga’ and had some fun, playing the goth/industrial festivals and club nights. I recently put up one of the old videos from back in 2004 on my YouTube.
Then when the great recession happened in 2008, I didn’t do much music at all for a couple years. Somewhere in 2010 I started getting the itch to start writing/recording again. I recorded some stuff but didn’t release it or upload it anywhere. It was just a hobby for me.
In 2011, I realized I had pieces of over 20 songs sitting on my hard drive. I finally said, “Damnit, I’m gonna focus and get these things done and release ‘em”. So I choose the 10 I liked the best and really focused on tightening up the loose ends and finalizing them. I had a pretty stressful day job at the time. Anyway, I got those ten done but I didn’t have a name. Devallia and I spent days trying to think of something but weren’t really finding ‘the one’ ya know? I forgot about the name ‘Coffin Moth’ I used as my recording namesake years earlier.
A few days later, we were listening to Roky Erickson in the truck and “Bloody Hammer” was playing… I thought… hmm, that might work. I asked Devallia what she thought about it. We were both exhausted trying to find a name by then and just went with it. Now, in hindsight, I think it may have been a bad choice because it sounds so brutal… people think it’s death metal.
I uploaded them to bandcamp which became the self-titled Bloody Hammers album. A few days later I was contacted by a label who wanted to release the vinyl and I agreed to that. Then Napalm hit me soon after. It all happened pretty quick… and here we are now 4.5 albums later with The Summoning in 2019.
CT: How would you describe the sound of Bloody Hammers for those who've never heard the band?
AM: I don’t put any boundaries on it so it can sometimes go in some unexpected directions. If I had to explain it like a fan, maybe I’d say Traditional Heavy Metal with moments of darkwave, power metal and WTF.
CT: The band is out of Transylvania County in North Carolina, right next to the county I grew up in, Haywood. Now, I know for certain that both counties aren't really known for their doomy horror-based bands, what was it like for the band to have its start there?
AM: It’s really difficult to find like-minded musicians. Most folks around here are more into folk music, bluegrass and classical.
CT: It's obvious Bloody Hammers takes influence from classic horror flicks, but what are some of your personal favorites?
AM: We like the gothic horror stuff like Hammer, Amicus, Mario Bava, Paul Naschy used to make... but also the sleazy ones like Jean Rollin and Jess Franco would do of course. Mostly '70s but I’m also nostalgic about the '80s since I grew up with those movies.
CT: Also, tell us some of your musical influences.
AM: Everything I’ve ever heard I guess. A real fondness to Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper, Gary Numan, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Plasmatics, Tom Waits, Tangerine Dream, Popol Vuh, Misfits, Danzig, Bauhaus, Sisters of Mercy, Piero Piccioni… man so many! I guess that’s a good place to stop.
CT: Your latest album, The Summoning was just released back in June via Napalm Records. Can you tell us a bit about it?
AM: Devallia and I were watching old Satanic Panic videos on YouTube one night. All those weird evangelists we were forced to watch when we were kids in the '80s. It was pretty oppressive in the south back then. That’s what kicked off the inspiration. Watching those took me back to that time when it was oppressive but also fun. Yeah I had to hide my Dio records under my mattress but that forbidden feeling also made them more fun to listen to.
I took myself back to that time and just let the music flow. That’s probably why it has such a classic '80s metal vibe to it.
CT: What's your typical writing and recording process?
AM: Being a singer, usually it’s vocal melody that comes out of nowhere. Most songwriters probably tell you the same thing. The best ones just fall out of the sky and materialize very quickly. Sometimes it can be a riff too though but most times it’s a vocal melody.
Recording… usually I work out the structure of the song and memorize it. Then, with that in my head, I’ll lay down the drums, then bass and just keep layering from there until I have a good song. The mix is never really finished, they’re surrendered.
CT: How has the fan reaction been to The Summoning?
AM: Pretty damn good! We’re really happy with it. Since we’re not touring, the music itself is spreading without much promotion from us. The "Let Sleeping Corpses Lie" video has way more views than we ever expected!
CT: Any future touring plans in support of the album?
AM: Right now I’m dealing with some serious allergy issues. The allergist tested me for 40 things and I was allergic to 39. I can’t go outside, even taking meds without my nose and throat closing up so I'm taking these shots and hoping by next year I’ll be cured and can make a tour happen.
CT: Oddly enough, as a lover of synthy horror soundtracks, I discovered your other project, Terrortron, before Bloody Hammers. Correct me if I'm wrong, but with Terrortron you create soundtracks to movies that don’t exist, right? Can you give a little more insight into the project?
Yeah, it’s something I started doing back in 2014. I wanted to relive my youth and try to create an homage to some of those kick ass soundtracks from the '70s/'80s that I love. It’s also fun to make-up fake movies and let the listeners imagination fill out what the movie might look like. Devallia will help me come up with song titles that might move that imagination along.
CT: I could see Terrortron's songs fitting perfectly into some of the "new retro" horror films that have made a resurgence in recent years. Have you ever considered breaking into the actual film scoring business?
AM: I have, it’s something I’d love to try if the movie was good… or at least, so bad it’s good. Not just bad, bad ya know.
CT: Aside from classic horror films, are there any modern horror films that have had an impact on you?
AM: Yeah. Not sure how modern we’re talking but I really liked Starry Eyes, Creep… and the sequel, The Perfection, Mandy, Neon Demon, Autopsy of Jane Doe and of course, The Greasy Strangler is the best!
CT: Outside of the aforementioned musical projects, do you have any other creative outlets?
AM: Devallia and I carve weird wooden signs and list them on Etsy (https://www.etsy.com/shop/drabhaus/) for anyone who wants them. That’s cool… it’s kinda relaxing to go make a sign and work in the wood shop. I get to catch up on new music, listen to podcasts, whatever. It’s something we like to do.
CT: I want to thank you for taking the time to answer these questions, I could sit and chat about horror for hours, and maybe one day in the future I'll be able to chat a little with you in person after a show. To wrap things up, do you have any closing comments? Any words for your fans and newcomers alike?
AM: Cool. Yeah man, I love talking about weirdness. After all, I’m really just a fan of all this more than anything.
Closing comments would be just, thanks so much for spreading the word on the band. I get lots of people who tell me somebody at work told them about the band, etc and that helps more than anything. The more the music grows, the easier it will be for us to go out there and tour once I get these allergies sorted.