Musical Terrorists

By Dr. Abner Mality

I go way back with Man Made Man. Perhaps that blows my journalistic credibility to the winds, but there's no getting around it. In a scene where many bands have expired, M3's career has endured for almost 10 years. Started by brothers Dave and Paul Mathes, the group has gone through several incarnations until reaching its current, most successful phase. A key event in the history of M3 was the arrival of lead vocalist Sean Virgin. As anybody who has ever seen the band live will attest, this dreadlocked dynamo is a veritable pit bull on stage, unleashing vocals that range from super-guttural growls to emotional clean singing to flat out hair-raising screams. His energy has really rubbed off on fans and observers. Recently, M3 has considerably broadened their sound by adding DJ Evil and Spydur into the mix. These guys give Man Made Man a unique industrial edge that separates them from the pack. We also have to throw in the thunderous drumming of Jack Holmes, certainly one of the hardest hitting skinsmen in town. (As we went to press, we learned that Jack had just left the band.--Dr. Mality)

2004 has seen the band really rise from "local band" to "band waiting to break out into national scene". They've opened for the likes of Six Feet Under, Bleeding Through, Society 1 and Dope and held their own with all of them. Along with The Heavils, they are really bringing something fresh into heavy music, but unlike the fun-loving Heavils, MMM is a dark and angry beast.

I figured it was finally time to sit down and talk to Sean and Spydur about the past, present and future of the self-proclaimed "musical terrorists"...

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: I think Man Made Man has been around for close to ten years now. Sean, do you know exactly
how long it's been?

SEAN VIRGIN: I've just been in the band for four years. I know they originally went by the name of Revengeance for a while.

WC: I remember that! I never thought that it would turn into something that would last so long.

SV: Well, I think the band as it stands now is really the original line-up. Before, it was more or less a growing period for Dave and Paul. I don't think Man Made Man really became Man Made Man until I joined. And then we added Kenny (D.J. Evil) and Spydur,too, to complete the package.

WC: Spydur, how would you describe your position in the band?

SPYDUR: I'm basically a sampler.

WC: It was quite a radical thing to add a DJ and a sampler to the band. What led to the decision to add them?

SV: We wanted to take industrial elements and add it to hardcore and death metal. We decided we wanted to take it in that direction.

S: A lot of bands here in town are trying to follow a certain trail. We're just trying to make our own trail.

SV: We're trying to stay away from the nu-metal thing. We're trying to meld the metalcore movement with the industrial metal movement.

WC: Is the industrial more of your background, Spydur? Who would you say your influences are?

S: I'd say basically cEvin kEy from Skinny Puppy, Chad Banks from American Head Charge. American Head Charge is a band I'm really, really into.

WC: Has there ever been a time during your tenure in MMM that you felt like hanging it up?

SV: Oh yeah, oh yeah.

WC: There was some difficulty with the drumming position for a while...

SV: Well, when children become involved in a band, you gotta give a boy time, you know what I'm saying? And we gave him that time, because he's our brother, y' know? We love him and he loves us back. When you need to take the time off to figure stuff out, you get it. And it may not be the last time we do that. Next time, it could be me, it could be Spydur, it could be DJ Evil, Dave, Paul...any of us.

WC: Do you feel this line-up is the ultimate Man Made Man line-up?

SV: You know what? Never say never. I'm not gonna go ahead and say this is the best line-up, per se. It has been the best line-up so far.

WC: If you had to describe the band's sound to someone who's an absolute newcomer to it, how would you do that?

SV: It would just say: metal. We're a metal band, you know. A metal band with hardcore and industrial influences, that's it.

WC: It's not easy to put your finger on...

SV: Yeah, we do have a pretty weird sound. A lot of bands try to follow the next thing. We've always been heavy. You know how it is in Rockford. There's all kinds of trends. You're rap metal one minute and then death metal the next. I think that's all gay. I'll be the first one to point that out, you know what I'm saying?

WC: What would you say the high point of your career has been so far?

SV: Definitely playing with Mushroomhead. That was one of the best experiences. Six Feet Under was another highlight.

WC: Basically, you are saying the whole year of 2004...

SV: Yeah! We have some really big news coming up before the end of the year. I can't say anything about it right now...

WC: Without putting you on the spot too much, does it involve label news?

SV: Yes, yes. And there's something else,too. Think of the forefathers of metal. We have something up our sleeve to do something on a larger scale. We may do some support for somebody on a national scale.

WC: I think you'd be a good fit for KMFDM...

SV: Yeah, that's one of his big influences (points to Spydur).

WC: Let's go to the other side. What would you say was your low point?

SV: I think the low point was in the early days, when we decided to go out to Chicago and play. We figured there would be no way to make a name for ourselves in Rockford. At the time, everybody was rap metal and poser rock. Nobody wanted to play with us, they all called us an 80's death metal band. So we went to Chicago and got ripped off by all the promoters and booking agents in Chicago. We wound up owing a lot of money and playing to empty halls. So we said, fuck that, let's do it in our own town. And I think we've done that.

WC: I'd say that maybe you've reached the point where...

SV: We need to leave Rockford to get noticed. We know that we can hang with national acts. We've been known in some cases to outdraw them. Especially after tonight (Pitfest 2004). Pitfest is something I've done for four years. If you really want to think about it, we drew more than Six Feet Under! One thing I have to say is that we have our fans, the Pit Crew, whether they are hardcore kids slamming in the pit to metal kids to industrial kids, and without their support, we wouldn't be able to have shows at all. A band is only as good as its fans. We're lucky enough to have very good fans.

WC: If you could pick one band to play with, who would it be?

SV: You know, there's a lot of bands I'd love to play with, but I'd have to say we'd love to open for either Fear Factory or Sepultura with Max.

WC: That last one might be a tall order.

SV: That would probably never happen but never say never. Anything to do with Max.

WC: How about you, Spydur?

S: Fear Factory or Nine Inch Nails would be wonderful.

WC: How would you rate the metal scene both locally and nationally right now?

SV: I really like the metalcore movement that's going on right now but there's getting to be too many bands like that, that sound the same, and I'm starting to get tired of it. It's turning into a trend. The metalcore movement started so fresh and so new but now it's turning into the glam scene all over again. I'd say there needs to be something a little different. On a local level, I see a lot of young bands coming up that are really good and I personally think that, given time, maybe the scene around here will take off. If we didn't have a band like The Heavils, that is so gung-ho about the scene, we wouldn't be where we're at right now. The local scene to me right now is good.

WC: I think it needs a little more diversity, myself. I'd like to see a traditional power metal type band, maybe a symphonic black metal type band. I do have to say it's better than it was five years ago. How do you see Man Made Man changing in the future?

SV: I'd say, with our new music, we're going heavier. I've really been wanting to push more in the direction of death metal, the deathcore scene. Stuff like Crematorium, the Scar Culture type of thing. I really love the really intense, really fast hardcore metal.

WC: I'd think that as time goes on, the sampling and DJ stuff will be more and more integrated into your sound.

SV: Spydur's so new to us, and Kenny is still relatively new, too. Hopefully we can foster their influence on us .Hopefully we can take all of the different little elements we bring to the band...because all of us are completely different people...and bring them to the forefront. Spydur's more of an industrial kid, Kenny's into drum-and-bass and rave stuff, whereas Paul and Dave are into Death and Testament and the founders of metal. I'd have to say Jack is more into the drumming of Paul Bostaph and Dave Lombardo... he's all Slayer, Lamb of God. We want to take what we like and throw it all into one pot and see what we get. Hopefully people will like it. From what I see, enough people do like it.

WC: What's your guys Spinal Tap moment?

SV: Any show where one of us is drunk become a Spinal Tap show. It throws a more interesting mix into the band's performance. We strive to be a good live band, but sometimes things happen, you know! As long as the kids have a good time, that's all that matters.

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