We recently had a chance to ask a few question to Baz Mantis from the newly formed band Ten Tonne Terror. Check out what he had to say, about vision, the sound and the spectacle:
1) You have been involved with numerous projects in the past, including most recently The D-Day Saints and Sabbatage, what makes this new project unique and how were the members sourced?
Ten Tonne Terror is the culmination of the last couple of years worth of work, particularly in terms of personal connections. With the Saints album I worked with seven different vocalists, one of whom was Brendon Maher, who I formed Sabbatage with for a one off show with Knightshade. Another connecting link was Kingsley Smith, who featured as one of the Saints vocalists, and who also ended up playing bass for Sabbatage and Kingsley happens to be the keyboard player in Knightshade too. So after that gig Rick Walker (the drummer for Sabbatage) and I teamed up to form a new band with industrial metal leanings. We were writing and rehearsing, just the two of us, and we wanted to rope in a bass player so we could finish a bunch of songs before we started auditioning vocalists. I’d placed ads on a couple of relevant sites but nobody expressed any interest. The ads got viewed a lot, but there probably aren’t many metal bassists in Tauranga. It was during this time that I made acquaintances online with Shane Davies, who ran Soundtree Studio, so I figured I’d hit him up to help find us a bassist since he was in the loop with all the local musicians. He asked whether we had recorded anything and we had this track I had filmed on my camera, so I isolated the audio and sent it to him, thinking he’d pass it onto any potential musician who might be interested in joining us. Next minute he’s asking me if he can have a crack at laying a vocal track down over it! I’m like, yeah ok – it was honestly a hideous recording with the audio clipping to the max and this was only the third time we had run through the track, it happened that quickly. So the next day I’m standing in line at the cafe and I get a message with an mp3 attachment from Shane. I was at work and I didn’t want to wait until I got home to listen to it, but I didn’t want anyone else to overhear the recording either, so I headed into the mortuary (I work in a hospital) where I knew I wouldn’t be disturbed by anyone so I could have a listen. I got chills listening to what he had done over our humble sub-standard recording, and that was the first time I’d ever had chills in that place … it was a magnificent delivery and he really got our style and approach from the outset. All thoughts about getting a bassist were put on hold while we organised a face to face meeting, as we were only online acquaintances at that stage, and that resulted in a recording session a short time later to lay the track down. This song ‘The Little Voice’ was released as a music video recently. I played bass on the recording because we still hadn’t found anyone for 4 string duties, then Nathan Waters, who plays bass in the Hamilton rock group Medusa Glare (Rick’s other band), he heard about our plight and felt sorry for us or something so he volunteered his long distance services so we could finally get the show on the road. We spent two nights filming the video, and he was at the second night’s shoot – he drove all the way from Auckland to Hamilton then to us in Tauranga then back to Hamilton afterwards just to be in the video – over 330 kms at the end of however many hours he had spent working up in Auckland that day. It was an epic feat by anyone’s standards and proved how committed he was to supporting Ten Tonne Terror’s entry onto the local scene.
2) Any details about why you chose the name Ten Tonne Terror?
When we first started the band as a two piece, we had a good comprehension about how we were going to end up sounding. We had a list of ideals that would have to be met if we were going to continue with the idea, one of which was having a name which stood out. I’ve lost track of how many band names I sent Rick – well into double figures. Each one I’d send didn’t really appeal to him until this one name came to me when I wasn’t really thinking about it – this was such a cool word arrangement I thought to myself that if Rick didn’t dig it then I’d keep it for myself and go do another D-Day Saints style project using that name. My intuition was right though because that got an instant thumbs up. Next thing to do was design the logo, which was Rick’s job as he’s a tattoo artist, then it was all on. Ten Tonne Terror was born.
3) What would you say the genre of TTT is?
Most people would tell you it’s metal, and it is. We have a number of shared influences amongst ourselves, because we’re all around the same age, we grew up listening to the same bands largely, which in turn shaped us in a particular way. I think I’d like to rephrase that question and make the emphasis on what we intend to deliver to the people … in which case what we want to deliver with our music and our stage show is what turned us metal fans in the first place. Back in the day there was a larger emphasis upon entertaining fans in ways which were radically different to conventional bands – there’d be costumes and props and flames and all hell breaking loose. It was a high energy visual experience as well as a high decibel one. These days, especially on the local scene, we’d been seeing too many bands turn up and play in their work clothes with no effort being made to engage visually with their audiences or bring something different to the table. There’s one or two exceptions but that’s largely what’s been happening for too long, so we’re about bringing a visually dynamic and unconventional element back to base, which is natural for us, having cut our teeth in that musical cultural environment when it was all happening back in the 80’s and 90’s.
4) What is it like working with the team?
Everyone has had many years of experience doing what they do, in terms of musicianship as well as the production side. We’re a unit which can draw upon each members particular skill set to really forge a trail in a particular direction and this in turn makes the whole journey less of an unknown and more of a cool shared experience. Everyone’s relaxed and good humoured but with all of us there’s this focus point, this state where we all know it’s time to work and get busy with the programme. We know when we’re on our game and when we need to pull over and stop for a bit to allow a different direction to form. All of us are multi instrumentalists, so we each know where someone else is going with where they’re at, what they’re doing and thinking – subtle stuff, like when we’re jamming a track for the first time and these dynamics appear from out of nowhere and it’s like they’re planned and rehearsed already but they’re not – it’s all like the parts are pre written and somewhere in our shared consciousness and they’re channelled and formed musically when we’re all on the same vibration of thought. And Shane’s ability to jump right into an improvised track played for the first time ever with a melody and set of words and lyrical direction – that always blows me away.
5) Are there any particular influences/references you’re pulling from? In terms of the audio visual context?
My background in film making and photography is something which I draw from in terms of the imagery you see in the video and promo pics. I have a lot of influences visually, I’m drawn to more surreal expressions but you don’t always see that in my own works. A lifetime of watching music videos and films and studying particular methods and techniques probably informs me more than I’m consciously aware as well. Our sound and approach to writing is more firmly set in place but what I do know is that there’s plenty of rich dynamic terrain to encounter in both the auditory and visual realms for this band.
6) How do you envision the act LIVE?
If anyone can see us through all the smoke and flashing lights they’d be lucky. I don’t think any of us would want to step onstage without something happening which reflects the true spirit of metal and what our music signifies to us and also to the people who come to see us because they affiliate themselves with our sound.
7) What does the future hold for TTT?
Our immediate future is taken up with writing and recording more tracks and deciding on whether we’re going to get a 5th member to join the sonic mayhem. We’ll shoot another music video or two then we’ll start booking some live shows. Mad keen to take the show on the road and start terrorising NZ towns and cities!
8) How can readers follow the band?
All our news, links and media is posted on Facebook as we don’t have a website yet, so you can all catch the latest happenings @ www.facebook.com/TenTonneTerror – remember to share our page if we’re doing good things to your ears, spread the word and we’ll be seeing a bunch of you out there when we start performing.