Producer, song writer, multi-instrumentalist, and vocalist Anders Manga of Bloody Hammers can clearly do it all, and some. This front-man and creator, has continued to write and work hard during the pandemic to keep himself busy and keep putting out music during this difficult time. While you can add many genre’s to his ever-growing list of musicianship i.e. doom, gothic, psychedelic, and heavy metal; with Songs of Unspeakable Terror, you can add punk rock to that list. Full of punk riffs and horror related lyrical content, this album has been on repeat since I received it a couple of months ago. It is a fantastical and groovy way to start the new year with a positive upswing.
Bloody Hammers began in 2010 as a lowkey, throw it out on Bandcamp, kind of start. Little did Manga and wife and co-musician Devallia know, record labels would come knocking the next day, ready to make contracts. In 2014, Napalm Records was able to seal the deal, and Bloody Hammers has been with them since. Prior to signing with Napalm they had independently released their self-titled album in 2012, and after signing released second album, Under Satan’s Sun in 2014. In 2019 Bloody Hammers released their third album, The Summoning. This week, album number four, Songs of Unspeakable Terror will drop. The record was more of an impromptu, keep busy during Covid creation. Little did Manga know, Napalm would be eager to release it.
Metal Nation had a chance to chat with Manga about this new release among many other topics.
Bloody Hammers just released the album, The Summoning, in 2019 but you had plans to go on tour with your solo project instead, unfortunately obviously that didn’t pan out. Then you released Songs of Unspeakable Terror which was kind of an impromptu album.
“Yeah. We had just put out The Summoning, and six months later the pandemic happened. I had put out the Anders Manga album Andromeda in January of 2020, which is an electronic darkwave thing, and the pandemic started. So, I had to cancel some of the long tours we were going to do. I knew I was going to be in for a while, and I knew I had to do something to keep my mind off the horrors that were going on. I assumed Napalm Records wouldn’t want to put it out because they typically only want to do no more than one album every two years, but I am always writing. I was inspired when Covid hit New York in March. It was horrifying how many deaths were occurring and I started to think about some of my favorite bands from there back in the day like the Misfits, Ramones, so much of the punk stuff that came from there and I thought, ‘I’m going to write some punk songs to keep myself busy’. I was just playing around and I thought maybe I would release it as a solo project, just throw it on Bandcamp or whatever. When I finished it, I sent a few songs over to Napalm just to make sure they were cool with me releasing some music on Bandcamp through a different name, but when they heard it they said, ‘No, this is definitely something we want to put out’, and they wanted it to be a Bloody Hammers album, so here we are. *laughs*”
That must have felt pretty good for them to not only want to release it but they wanted to break the mold with Bloody Hammers and release it through that band name.
“Yeah, absolutely. I tend to not be very good at staying within my lane as far as genres go. I have always been pretty genre fluid and just like to play around with different styles and they [Napalm] have always been pretty tolerant of that. I guess our fans aren’t too surprised. *laughs*”
I think it’s great that you are not only able to do that but that it is well received.
“Absolutely. I have always been obsessed with the past and past music like Queen and Alice Cooper, and David Bowie, people like that. You never knew it was going to happen from album to album. Even the Beatles were always experimenting. As much as I love AC/DC and Aerosmith, you know exactly what you’re going to get with each album. I liked how Queen or Alice Cooper would do weird shit, like a showtune or something *laughs*. The only drawback is you can’t really shock an audience anymore, but you can confuse them *laughs*.”
Which I’m sure is a lot of fun when you get to see the physical reactions as opposed to what people are saying online.
“I am so close to the songs since I wrote them all, so maybe it’s not as different as I think they are from past stuff.”
I think there is some diversity just within this one album. I feel like “Not of This Earth” kind of throws you off a little from the rest of this album. It is faster with a stoner rock feel but still some punk undertones. Then “Lucifer’s Light” almost makes me feel emotional, it is a really pretty song.
“Thank you! I probably put it too deep in the album. Now I am kind of wishing I had put it earlier because I notice on Spotify, everybody’s records kind of tail off after about six songs *laughs* people kind of lose interest or something. With any band it is statistically known that however long it takes someone to drive to work or something. It was cool in the 70’s when Pink Floyd would put some awesome songs on the end. It seems like everyone has to stack their best stuff up front now. I still like to put some surprises toward the end.”
I think it fit really well because it slows it down but then picks back up with the last song, ‘I Spit on your Corpse’ to bring it full circle. It feels like it is going to be the last track, but you get a surprise of one more track after. You will be your own worst critic though.
“Yeah exactly, the songs are never finished, they are just surrendered.”
I like that. I know you have said in the past you wish you hadn’t named this project Bloody Hammers because you feel it sounds like a death metal band name, which you are obviously not, so I am curious, if you were able to go back and name it something different, what you would have chosen?
“Yeah. I have always been kind of an introvert, songwriter and recording stuff at home, and back in the 90’s I used to use a name, Coffin Moth, so I probably would have used that one. With Spotify and streaming cites, it became so hard to find a name that other bands were not using. You would think of a killer name, then find a band on a streaming page with the same name, even if they only had three listeners, and you would think, ‘Damnit!’ *laughs* The wife and I were trying to think of names and it had taken a long time. We had a bunch, but nothing we really loved. I had forgotten about Coffin Moth, which ‘Night of the Witch’ on this upcoming album is actually an old Coffin Moth song, you can tell it’s a retro song *laughs* We were listening to Roky Erickson who has a song called ‘Bloody Hammer’ which I think was a song about a lobotomy he had *laughs* and at the time I didn’t even think of death metal, well I didn’t even think we would be anything, so we chose that and put it up on Bandcamp. I never thought I would sign with Napalm or do any kind of anything *laughs* I thought I would throw it on Bandcamp and go about my day, but the next day I was hit up by labels *laughs* You know, I’m older, I’ve been around for a while and I thought, ‘Where were you guys when I was in my 20’s?’ *laughs* But here we are. When we first started many people would say, ‘Oh I thought this would be death metal, this name doesn’t make sense’”. *laughs*”
I don’t think of death metal when I think of a bloody hammer, I think of horror *laughs* So I think it works.
“I was reading Tony Iommi’s autobiography at the same time and in there somewhere he was talking about carpenters who were working on his house while he was trying to record, or something like that, and he said they were bloody hammering and I couldn’t record. I thought, ‘Oh that’s a sign that I should name the band Bloody Hammers’ *laughs* it just kept popping up. It was weird. I don’t think I have ever told that story before.”
You have mentioned how you feel like Songs of Unspeakable Terror is a party album for the apocalypse, with the world kind of going to crap. After I read that, I started it again and listened to “A Night to Dismember” and thought, this is a perfect song for oblivious teens to be partying to while the rest of the world is going to shit around them and they are just living their best lives.
“That’s true yes. I also feel like with all the real life doom, I mean, we have been called a doom metal band and a goth metal band, but I wasn’t in the mood to do anything doomy because everything with the virus and the election was a nightmare made me just steer more toward melody and juxtaposition of the situation I was in. I just wasn’t in the mood to do anything slow.”
It is interesting though, because I have looked through the lyrics and I wondered if you intentionally or subconsciously did incorporate some apocalyptic type lyrics that do go with what’s going on right now but with more of a creative and fantastical way.
“For one example, I was like ‘Shit, maybe I am a seer or something’ *laughs* but I wrote a song called ‘Waking the Dead’ and in that song I wrote, ‘And tonight we will watch the cities burn the worse is yet to come’, and after I wrote the song and it was all finished I thought, ‘Oh shit!’ *laughs*”
Well it does fit and I feel it will be a good album that fits with the times, but not in a depressing or triggering way, just kids surviving in their own bliss.
You have released two songs already, “A Night to Dismember” and “Hands of the Ripper”, how have the reactions been so far?
“‘A Night to Dismember’ I think got lost a little bit because it came out during the elections, but now that that is over with, maybe people will go back and find it. ‘Hands of the Ripper’ has done a little better right off the bat because I think people are listening to music more now then back then because everyone was really into politics. So far so good.”
Are you planning to release any other singles before the full album releases?
“Yeah, they want to do, ‘Not of this Earth’ single. You think that is a good choice?”
It’s my favorite.
“Cool, alright. Yeah they want to do that one right before the album drops. It is so hard to do videos right now. Were I live, Covid is up fairly high, so everyone is laying low. It is just a tough time to make videos. I don’t know if you have seen the video for ‘Night to Dismember’, but that is why I did the bad animation thing I did. *laughs*”
*laughs* I kept picturing the Canadians on South Park.
“*laughing* We wanted to take a comedic approach to it and we didn’t have help, which made it even more funny.”
So you got creative, and it worked. It’s a fun video.
“Thank you. *laughs*”
You get most of your inspiration through horror movies and true crime events, do you ever get inspiration through books?
“I am more of an autobiography reader. You hear about how Kiss got their inspiration from the Ed Sullivan show, mine was Alice Cooper on the Muppet Show. *laughs* I remember being around five or six and Kermit coming on saying something like, ‘We have the most horrifying performer of all time’, and Alice came out of this coffin. *laughs* I didn’t understand it, but I knew it was cool. Alice is definitely my biggest influence.”
You found your calling at a really young age through the Muppets of all things.
“*laughs* yeah. It was at the beginning of the Satanic panic and my mom would say, ‘You can’t watch Alice Cooper, he’s a Satanist!’ *laughs*”
But mom he is on the Muppets! *laughs*
“*laughs* That 80’s period was really hysterical. It was right when Geraldo was doing his satanic special. I grew up in the south in North Carolina. There were the tent revivals, Jim Bakker lived nearby and it was really oppressive. If you had an Ozzy Osbourne record, you had to hide it from under your mattress or it would end up in the fire.”
You just stuck with it though, it was your thing, so you kept hiding everything.
“Yeah, my grandma would make me go with her to the tent revivals and it ended up basically being a shopping list. Whatever the preacher said to not listen to, is what I would go get. *laughs* It was kind of the same when records in the store had parental advisory warnings.”
You play multiple instruments, is there one you enjoy playing the most or one you don’t know how to play yet that you would like to learn?
“Yeah, I started with guitar and a friend of mine taught me, ‘Holy Diver’, and ironically he is the head of a mega church now *laughs* I played bass on the last tour because we had a better guitar player that helped us out on that tour. I prefer to sing though, I like to engage with the audience and not be tied to an instrument. I have been trying to get better at piano since the lockdown. I like keys and synth.”
I really dug the vocals on “The Brain that Wouldn’t Die”, seems like you use more range there.
“Yeah I just go with what I’m feeling, and hopefully that feeling is within my range. I try not to let it get in the way or think to much about it when I’m writing them. I just go with my gut and I think I was inspired by 50’s and 60’s pop music for that song, like Sam Cooke, who is my favorite of that era. I guess I do have a decent range, but I have really bad allergies and it worries me. The last time we were on tour, something in my voice just closed down. I take allergy shots now to try to help out with that but there are times I will think, ‘Do I really want to try to hit this note?’ If I am allergic to something, but I’m allergic to everything *laughs* I have been getting shots every week. I live in a conservative, anti-masker town, I will walk in there to get my shot and people will be rolling their eyes at me. I don’t know if the masks work or not, but I assume they help and I just wear it because it feels like the right thing to do. There is a higher mentality because there are a lot of old people too, so I try to be courteous of that.”
Will you be doing an online show?
“I don’t know, it would be trying to find a place to do it mainly. I mean, I could do it in my basement *laughs* I would need to find a drummer, because I play drums on the record, but I can’t obviously play drums, and guitar, and sing. *laughs*”
That would be pretty impressive.
“I have thought about using a drum machine or something. *laughs*”
You could put a muppet back there! *laughs*
“*laughs* Yeah Animal! It all comes back full circle. *laughs*”
How can people best support Bloody Hammers right now?
“Just listen I suppose. We live in a fairly cheap area of the world and don’t have it as hard as others. We just live in a small cabin in the woods. My New Years resolution is to support fellow musicians more. I have been inspired by Blasko, Rob Nicholson, the bass player for Ozzy Osbourne, he is an unsung hero for the underground music scene. He plugs bands all the time, he has a podcast, and he is always trying to support others. He helped me with my contract with Napalm Records, just for free. He is a really awesome guy. I feel all us musicians need to help plug each other and promote each other. This is my New Years resolution. I have a Bloody Hammers Spotify playlist that I will add stuff I find. I know bands don’t get paid squat from Spotify, but at least maybe they will get a new fan and exposure. Spotify has been really helpful for us as far as people finding us. The checks are a joke but *laughs* but what is important to me is people listening.”
I sadly had to cut out so much of this interview due to length. It was a really fun conversation with a really incredible musician. Anders ends the interview with congratulating me for my three years with Metal Nation, that is how nice of a dude he is.
Bloody Hammers Songs of Unspeakable Terror is sincerely one of the most fun and entertaining albums I have heard in a while. If you enjoy punk rock, Bloody Hammers, or even music in general, I suggest you give it a listen.