By Brian Tucker
Long running N.C. jam band and more The Mantras will play two nights at The Whiskey in downtown Wilmington May 5th and May 6th.
You can read my article on the band at Star News.
The band is currently recording material for a new album. Their last two – 2016’s “Knot Suite” and 2014’s “Jam Bands Ruined My Life” are excellent, disparate offerings. If you want a taste of their live show check out Bandcamp where a plethora of live shows have been uploaded, several at The Whiskey where they play often each year.
Below is a bit more with The Mantras’ Keith Allen.
The songs on “Knot Suite” are a little shorter than those on “Jam Bands Ruined My Life.” Was this on purpose?
Allen: A little of both. I personally think that we express ourselves better in shorter segments especially on a record. The live shows are where we really like to stretch out.
What’s important to convey in a song – something emotional, a good vibe or good groove?
I don’t know if there’s really an answer to that. Especially with our music ranging the gambit from serious to hilarity, mostly I think sudden/spontaneous inspiration is what usually makes a good song.
The band is in its second decade. Can you share how that feels looking back?
Looking back I feel blessed to have been able to do this for this long. I feel proud to have built a legacy of recordings and inspiring people. I’m not so much surprised at the longevity, I more feel lucky to have met the right people. The other guys in the band, the people that work very hard for us, the family, friends and fans. That’s what has kept us going.
What do you recall in college when discussing a band and what you’d sound like?
We never really discussed what we wanted to sound like, we just wrote what we wrote, and tried to branch out in all different directions. Initially we all bonded well musically, but the last decade has taught us a lot about interaction with each other on stage and overall musicality. It’s definitely a tree that has grown an intertwined over the years.
Have you ever thought of calling it quit?
I think everybody wants to quit sometimes, I’ve been truly lucky having people come into my life at the right moments when I thought about calling it quits and pull me out of the downward spiral and give me perspective. The experience that solidifies us as a band is the true nature of camaraderie and solidarity. We look out for each other and pick each other up when we fall.
Are live shows fruitful for studio recording?
The sudden and spontaneous inspiration is what it’s all about so there’s no telling what can end up being fruitful. I think the only thing that can make the studio easier is being in the studio. The two are completely different to me. I feel like we are just now starting to be able to work in studio after four- five albums. At the end of the day, we just really like playing music with each other. It’s always different it’s always a challenge. We all have our own strengths and weaknesses so it’s fun for us to improve and work together.
You’ve made several studio albums, what’s been most beneficial you’ve learned in doing them?
To trust each other. Trust is very important in the studio and we’ve learned to trust each others judgment and criticisms and praises, etc. And that trust feeds into the band in every other aspect as well.