As the bass player for the band Manticora, Kasper Gram has seen a lot of the world and has shared the stage with many great metal acts. With their latest release Safe the band has taken their sound to another level. Recently, Sea of Tranquility's Scott Ward had the opportunity to ask him a little about the band and the new album.
SoT: Hi Kasper, I hope everything in the Manticora camp is going well. I would assume so with the release of the new album Safe. It is very impressive I have to say. How has the reception been to it?
K: Thanks J The reception of "SAFE" has been really great! All the reviews I've read so far are really good, including yours. (laugh) Only a few reviews have been not good, but still ok. So definitely a good start of the new era, in the history of Manticora.
SoT: Safe is anything but what the title implies. It is an even darker album than your last records The Black Circus Pt. 1 & 2in both style and subject matter wouldn't you agree?
K: Indeed! I actually don't know why it ended up like that. I think it is/was just part of the process Manticora is going through every time we write a new album, and since it has been 3 years since the last release, I guess the development of our music has taken yet another turn. We didn't do it on purpose. (Laugh)
SoT: There also seems to be more instrumentation on this disc. Kristian and Martin really have cranked up the guitars a notch or three. Was this a conscious effort or did it just come out that way?
K: That is actually a conscious effort. We wanted to have a heavier guitar sound, appealing to fans of Nevermore, Arch Enemy etc, and with heavier riffing, we thought this sound was ideal for the tracks on "SAFE".
SoT: Can you tell me a little about the songs on the new album? How they came about and what is behind them?
K: Well, music wise we always use the same process when writing. Individually we write a lot of riffs on our own, and when we meet up in the rehearsing room, we put the pieces together if they fit, or else we try to re-arrange stuff and write some melodies. When it comes to lyrics on "SAFE", Lars did all of them this time. Since it was not a concept album, Lars kind of just wrote what was on his mind, life/death, religion, being a father, freedom of speech etc.
SoT: What are your tour plans with the new album? Can we expect to see you in the United States again?
K: We just did a 17 days headliner tour in Europe in October 2010, where we had 2 co-headliner shows with Shadow Gallery…..that was great! Regarding a U.S. tour, we would love to come back, but we need to sell more albums before it makes sense, otherwise it will be too expensive for both us and our record label. But hopefully it will happen somehow in the near future!
SoT: One of my finest memories is seeing and meeting you on tour with Jon Oliva and Circle II Circle. Lars mentioned to me that you had special instructions for that Detroit show (don't walk around outside after dark). Is there any other funny tour moments that you would like to share?
K: Hehehe, yeah that's right! Hmmm, let me think….there's a lot of funny tour moments. I remember a flat tire on the freeway in New York, but that was not funny, hehe. You can read the whole U.S. tour diary 2008 here.
I'm getting too old to remember!
SoT: What are your favorite memories so far with the band?
K: The whole experience of touring with Angra in Europe 2005 was awesome! That was our first big tour with cool venues that was even sold out some nights (Paris 1500!). And for me personally it was a dream come true. One of my other great memories is when we opened for Helloween and Gamma Ray in Atlanta in 2008, on their Hellish Rock World Tour! I've been a fan of Helloween since I was 10 years old, and suddenly sharing the stage with them and Gamma Ray, hanging out backstage drinking beers with Markus Grosskopf, chatting with Kai Hansen, and simply just being part of the whole Helloween/Gamma Ray "circus" that night was SO great!
SoT: Is there a band that you would like Manticora to tour with?
K: There are many, hehehe. Helloween, Gamma Ray, Blind Guardian, Nevermore, Iced Earth, Iron Maiden, Metallica…..you name it!
SoT: As I listen to your catalog of music, there is a real maturing with each album. When you started out did you envision the band as it is now? What were the expectations of you and the band?
K: I actually didn't join the band before the "Hyperion" release. But I know that from the beginning it was the goal/dream to make a professional band making quality music. We are trying to take this band as far as we can, even though the business is tough sometimes, and I think we slowly reaches our different goals along the way.
SoT: Tell me a little bit about your band mates:
K: A very enthusiastic guy who never gives up!
K: One hell of a shredder, and a good guy to have in the band, when it comes to the technical stuff.
K: The worlds fattest feet, hehe. We call him the machine. A great and funny guy.
K: A great song writer
Now what do you have to say about that bass player Kasper?
K: Hehehe! He's a very cool and friendly guy, always with a smile on his lip….and he plays the bass VERY well, hehe!
SoT: Is there anything in the near future that we should be watching out for? DVD? Live Album…etc?
K: Nope, unfortunately not. We have decided to follow up on "SAFE" in 2011, hopefully with a lot of festival shows and touring.
SoT: Is there anything else that you would like to tell the fans?
K: Check out our new album "SAFE" and buy it right here if you like it.
If you don't like it…..buy it anyway! Hehe. The more albums we sell, the bigger is the chance of getting our asses to USA and play for you guys!
SoT: How about to the few that have not heard your music. What would you say to them and how would you describe Manticora?
K: Manticora in action! Take it or leave it! This is our video track from our latest album "SAFE"!
You Tube .
SoT: Kasper, it has been a pleasure to talk with you and I cannot wait to see you in action again. Good luck with the new album and keep us posted on any future endeavors. Can you tell everyone where they can go and see the band (website) and hear them?
K: The pleasure is mine Scott….great questions!
SoT: Thanks again and take care!!!
(Click here to read our reviews of Safe)