BLOODY HAMMERS – From the Cold Dark Mountains of Transylvania, North Carolina

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Bloody Hammers cropAnders Manga, best known for his solo darkwave/gothic dance music, formed the gothic doom band Blood Hammers in 2012. Now releasing their fourth album entitled A Lovely Sort of Death, their second album with Napalm Records, Bloody Hammers has clearly become more than just a side project for Manga. When he first created Bloody Hammers, Manga had no idea it would go as far as it has. He elaborates, “I put the Bloody Hammers debut record on Bandcamp and I was like ‘whatever.’ It was literally the next day a label contacted me from Amsterdam called SoulSeller and wanted to release it. I had no idea where it would go.” One might wonder why he even decided to do an entirely separate project, when he was already a solo artist. Doesn’t being solo mean that he can do whatever he wants? Manga explains, “I wanted to do something more organic. My solo stuff is more electronic based. I missed playing guitar, and so I started playing guitar and I was like ‘ah this is probably too far out there for the fans who like the Anders Manga stuff.’”

Although Bloody Hammer’s music definitely still has an overall gothic feel to it, it is definitely more metal than Manga’s solo music. One might even say that Bloody Hammers has a “European” sound in the vein of bands like Opeth or My Dying Bride. Despite this fact, Bloody Hammers actually hails from Transylvania County, North Carolina in the United States. Though the name of the county where they reside still certainly lends to the band’s dark vibe. As Manga puts it, “If you live in Transylvania County you have to say you live in Transylvania County right?” Manga describes how Bloody Hammer’s departure from the Gothic-dance outpourings of his solo work was well supported by the metal community: “Not that were some massive band, but compared to the Goth scene there’s not a whole lot of press or websites dedicated to the music. The metal scene is much larger and journalists support all kinds of styles of rock music and that’s nice. The Goth scene sometimes seems like it’s more about the fashion and the dancing and the beats. I was kind of getting bored with it and wanted to do something else. I mean I still love that stuff, but it seemed like a lot of the clubs started to be more about bondage and S&M rather than the music.”

Bloody Hammers - Lovely Sort of DeathAs far as the definitively brutal band name, Manga explains that it comes from the Roky Erickson song Bloody Hammer released in 1981. One of Manga’s major influences, Erickson is a musician from Texas who was a pioneer of the psychedelic rock genre in the 1960’s who served a stint in a mental hospital.  As for other musical influences it is clear when Manga describes them how he ended up playing both Goth and metal music, “I was a weird child when I was in high school. It was different back then. There were metal kids, Goth kids, punk kids and these different groups of people. I never felt like I fit in. People would get in my car and see The Cure Disintegration and Slayer Rein in Blood. I liked Sisters of Mercy and stuff that wasn’t metal. I didn’t wear plastic pants I wasn’t super Goth, but I like all kind of stuff. The first record I owned was Gary Numan’s Pleasure Principle. I got into Black Sabbath and went through the whole thrash phase. I like music from the Beatles, to Pink Floyd, to Nick Cave, to Bauhaus, and Slayer.”

Manga explains that though Bloody Hammers is different from his solo stuff, he still prefers to mainly work alone. Manga and keyboardist Devallia are the only permanent members of Bloody Hammers: “We have a touring lineup of guys that help us out, but as far as the music it’s all me and Devallia. Devallia helps out with keyboards, and mixing and stuff like that. I watched that Dave Grohl movie about Sound City and he’s like ‘music is about people getting together and making music together’ and I was like, ‘it’s not like that for me at all.’ I prefer working alone. I’m an introvert.  I like working at 3:00 in the morning. I’m not one of those guys that can get together with other people at a specific time and be creative. It’s better to work alone. When you’re working in a band atmosphere where everybody has equal say it’s like ‘what about my song? You don’t like my song?’ I’m more like Trent Reznor’s style where they work alone or Al Jourgensen.” Even when it came to making the videos for Bloodletting on the Kiss and The Reaper Comes for A Lovely Sort of Death Manga describes how they did everything themselves: “Devallia  and I did those. We had a director one time before, but we’re introverts doing everything ourselves. It’s easier. When you get too many cooks in the kitchen. It’s a pain in the ass. Everything is so much easier now with making videos and things like that. There’s kids making videos with iPhones now.”

Bloody Hammers crop 2Released on August 5th 2016 A Lovely Sort of Death has a dark doom-like quality, but also clearly shows Manga’s gothic darkwave influences with a splash of rock n’ roll.  When asked about the direction of the new album and what inspired it he had this to say: “I just didn’t want to put any boundaries on it. I kind of like not fitting in a box. This album was just the mood I was in at the time, the weather had something to do with it. We were snowed in for days and days. I’m at 3000 foot elevation [where I live] and it was that isolation not being able to go anywhere. I just felt that atmosphere. It’s hard to articulate the creative process. It’s whatever comes to you. I could tell that some of the stuff that was coming to me, this batch of songs, was different.” In this era of genre blending music with bands like Opeth and Ghost, Bloody Hammers actually seems to fit right in. Although Manga explains that he did worry about his blending of genres.  “There was a couple of moments there was I was like, ‘maybe I should make this a solo thing or give it another name’ because it was different from what I was doing before, but I just put it out and Napalm liked it. Well at first they thought it was a little different, like maybe it’s not metal enough, but it grew on them and they were like ‘yeah we like this. We can get behind it.’” Despite these worries, Manga admits that he did have a lot of creative freedom while making this record.  “That’s the cool thing about now. You don’t have record labels dictating what you sound like. Back in the day there was some A&R guy worried about the single, but Napalm is like ‘whatever you want to do.’ Napalm is very supportive of whatever I want to do. They’re a metal label and it’s a bit of a risk for them so I appreciate them getting behind it.”

Bloody Hammers crop 3While Napalm records may have been fully supportive, one has to wonder what the fans might think of this departure from the band’s previous material. Manga explains that the new material is “a little more atmospheric [than previous albums]. It’s varied.” Manga goes on to discuss how he can’t worry too much about what fans think:  “A lot of people want you to do the first record over and over again and if you grow and do other things they’re like ‘you assholes do the first record again.’ And then some people are like ‘ah it sounds like the last record you’re rehashing your old stuff.’ But if you change they’re like ‘oh you changed too much.’ It’s like you can’t win. But I don’t care. I do what I like to do. If people want to hear it they want to hear it. You lose people, but gain people who like the new direction. I’m definitely not in it for the money. I don’t want to get caught up in a trap of like, ‘oh I need to figure out how to appeal to the fans.’ When I’m writing it’s good to keep your mind out of how to appeal to people. I’ve seen some of the fans of the older stuff say they really like the new direction and other ones are like ‘I don’t know.’ You just do what you do. You can’t get caught up in all that.”

It’s not that Manga doesn’t want to share his music, it’s just that he can’t get caught up in the hype while he’s trying to be creative.  Manga is looking forward to taking the new material out on the road: “We would love to go out and play some of these songs. We’re looking at fall and winter. I prefer touring in fall. It’s fun to go out and play. We had a good time playing festivals in Europe and we got to play with a lot of bands I grew up listening to, like Alice Cooper, and people who were heroes of mine. It’s cool to run into people we’re fans of.”

You can learn more about Bloody Hammers at

http://www.facebook.com/BloodyHammers

http://www.bloodyhammers.com

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