A few months ago the Dealstatic team saw a show by a bunch of grumpy old punks by the name of Maninblack. Headed by Andre Schlesinger, a name you may recognize from his time in The Press. Maninblack reminds me of the early days if industrial music when new wave, noise, dub and punk all coalesced into a vital, brutal new type of music. We sent Andre some questions that he was polite enough to answer.
What inspired you to use electronics for this project?
I’ve always enjoyed electronic music, since I was very young, having seen Kraftwerk’s early video of their performance of Autobahn back in the 70′s on TV, everything I was hearing and seeing simultaneously was though Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert, Midnight Special and later on Saturday Night Live, that was before MTV, that was before cable! After musing on this question I remember a few years earlier seeing The Monkees’s TV show and seeing / hearing Micky Dolenz using what was apparently a simple electronic tone generator and being fascinated by that. Later on, previous to Punk, I was listening to a lot of Glam, David Bowie and Sweet were using synths here and there and they were showing up on their singles which were getting airplay. And then there was The Edgar Winter Group’s Frankenstein… I’ve always wanted to be a keyboard player but I never had the patience for it. However, when some music instrument companies started producing guitar synthesizers in the late 70′s… Into the late 70′s I was getting into Punk, to say the least, although electronics where far beyond the reach of many bands it was showing up in the studio production and of course there was The Stranglers who were using synthesizers extensively. Towards the 1980s I was with a band called The Press and we weren’t using anything considered electronic, although we recorded our first track “Just Another Warning” using a drum machine, I had hoped we would be at some point, at least a keyboard player. Punk music at that time was interesting, you had Gary Numan & Tubeway Army with a very brash new sound, you had The Clash, or what was left of it, recording Cut The Crap which included a lot of electronics, Mick Jones’, at that point formerly of The Clash, follow up band Big Audio Dynamite using a whole lot of electronics and a band in the Oi! genre, that we’re associated with, called Blitz seemingly ditching their Skinhead following for a more Post Punk sound with the highly acclaimed Second Empire Justice. It was only a matter of time, and taking some 10 years off from music to study comparative religion at Hunter College and “elsewhere,” before Maninblack would begin to lurch forth from the tar pits. All in all it’s the way I feel, it’s what I hear in my head, my favorite movies like Blade Runner and 12 Monkeys, we’re the future, YOUR future!
Are there plans for a full length album?
Oh yeah… “plans” is our middle name. We’ve been approached by different indie labels over the past few years about releasing a full length. Now you have to understand that when I say “we” I mean Maninblack in flux with myself as the only consistent member. It’s difficult to produce a full length and then pin down the subsequent rehearsal and recording time when I’m looking to fill a spot in the band or I’m dealing with one or more members who isn’t as enthusiastic about getting things done as I am. I think that the current lineup stands a better chance of producing something substantial thn in the past but that in itself is something that has been painstakingly and methodically and worked towards. Right now we’re in the preproduction stages recording some audio / video demos for our press kit. As far as a ful length is concerned I have a concept right down to the title of what it will be, I’d like to start off with a certain feel for the first CD / album or so and then gradually work our way into a somewhat more progressive directing for any follow ups. So there is a definite plan for a full length, and although I won’t spoil it for anyone, as if…, I will tell you that the title is more or less a tribute to Charles Forte and David Bowie, big clue there, smarties out there will figure that one out!
It’s easy to complain about the current music scene in NYC, but as someone who has been around a while do you see any positives in the current scene?
I have a problem with so called promoters who don’t promote and booking agents who book mismatched bands and acts and that’s prevalent now on the club scene. We’ve played our fair share of events sandwhiched between Death Metal bands and Singer / Songwriter acoustic acts. There are a few promoters out there who are targeting specfic audiences and a few clubs to accommodate them, that’s what were looking for.
where are some of your favorite places to play?
Right now, and since we’ve played our past several show there exclusively, it has to be the Double Down Saloon in the East Village. It’s been our home base for the most part and I’m able to put on actual Punk music events rather than playing at some other club and being sandwiched between the above mentioned Death Metal act and an acoustic singer-sonwriter. At this time we’re getting ready to play our first show outside Manhattan, in Williamdburg Brooklyn at The Grand Victory, which we hope is the next step in playing larger venues. While I see us playing lager venues, here and all points abroad, I’d like to return to the Double Down Saloon at least once a year for our annual Free Performance For Comrades on Walpurgisnacht.
Can you talk a little bit about the equipment/instruments and software you use to record and play live?
Mainly I’m using a Steinberger Spirit GT Pro guitar into Roland GR-55 and GR-33 guitar synthesizers alternately, a Behringer X V-Amp multi EFX processor for my conventional electric guitar sound effects, a Big Briar / Moog theremin, and until recently I was using an iPod Shuffle taped onto the body of my guitar to play sound clips. Our bass player RJ Demler is using mostly Lackland bass guitars along with a Novation A-Station rack mount synthesizer triggered by a Studiologic MP-113 bass pedal keyboard. My keyboard player Michael Brown is using a Korg K61P electric piano / organ, DigiTech RP6 muslti EFX pedal, Akai MINIAK keyboard synthesizer / vocoder, a Korg Kaossilator and iPad for sound EFX and samples with Sound Effects! by TMSOFT and a Behringer Ultratone K1800FX keyboard amp. Current (and past…) drummer Brian Blainey is using a Roland TD-3kw electronic drum kit along with an Alesis TransActive Drummer electronic drum amplifier. We have our own full range mid size club PA system and lighting / EFX system.
- Interview by Brad Filicky