QUICKIE OF THE WEEK: A short interview with Sven Herssens (MANTAH)

written by Marko Jakob

Pix666: Hello Sven and thanks for your time. Please introduce your band to the readers in a few short sentences. What kind of music do you make?

Sven: Mantah is a mixture of modern metal and nu-metal, so let’s say you will have a very familiar vibe from the 90’s to now.

Pix666: What was the main reason why you wanted to become musicians and which bands inspired you?

Sven: For me personally, music is all about channeling my emotions and expressing myself in that certain art-form. My main inspirations, and especially when it comes to my instrument, my voice, are Korn, Linkin Park, Static-X, … so mostly many bands I grew up with.

Pix666: Did you play in other bands before you started Mantah?

Sven: Yeah, I initially started as a vocalist for a death/trash metal band, there I learned a little about grunts and screams because I never sang in a band before. I was yet to become 15 years old. It was funny and still treasuring good memories about that period. I then started my own band in 2003 where I played guitars and lead vocals, it was called –Silence A Virtue-, grunge/punkrock influenced (like Jimmy Eat World, New Found Glory and Foo Fighters). We had a good short roll with a tour in Germany. Still good times and nice memories to it. Then I had CircleLogic, a more industrial-rock project, with a funny note, some members of Mantah were in it (Bert & Bart). There we already used some samples and such. It was a very fun adventure but then both Bart and I went our seperate ways as I formed Vienna in 2009 (where I was the songwriter, guitarist and backing vocalist) and he joined Spoil Engine. From there on everything went a few paces faster. I had my first arena gig, cool tours in NL, UK, attention on (inter)national television and radio, … After that I joined Fields Of Troy in 2014 as the rhythm guitarist and backing vocalist. The band was already going somewhere but I added some my american rock influences (like Alter Bridge, Alice In Chains, …) to this project. I went to alot of cool places, met a lot of new friends in the music world, so very grateful for that. The band recently got split up mainly to focus on new projects, as like Mantah.

Pix666: Recently the new Mantah Single ‚The Enemy‘ was released. How have the reactions to the song been so far?

Sven: Well we didn’t had any expectations, we all liked that song very much so we wanted to release this one as it also gives the audience a nice palette of what Mantah sounds like. Apparently many people like the song very much, so we are happy and thankful. We got many positive comments and comparisons.

Pix666: What is this song about, or what are your songs/lyrics about in general?

Sven: The song -THE ENEMY- is about fighting your inner-villain, the thoughts, anxiety tha holds you back or getting you down constantly. The other songs/lyrics on the album are generally about my experiences I’ve encountered throughout my life so far. I made the lyrics very open so it appeals to anyone. On the other hand, the title – EVOKE- explains alot too. To recall feelings, memories,… so in that case this word sums up all the lyrics/songs.

Pix666: Can you tell me how your songs are created?

Sven: Well, mainly Bart writes the songs in Mantah. Sometimes he comes up with a song that need little changes. Sometimes I come up with some chorus ideas, where I place a scratch vocal on it. Bart can forge a song out of that very easily. It’s mainly the creative combination of me and Bart. We didn’t have the idea of focusing us on a specific genre or band influence. We just created music what we felt was cool of how my emotions would translate.

Pix666: Some time after the band was founded, the Corona Pandemic occured. Did this unexpected incident change or influence your plans or the way you work as a band?

Sven: Bart and I initially started Mantah as a studio project. We always kept contact throughout the years after CircleLogic. He sent me some songs where he wanted me to do some vocal ideas on it or had some songs that didn’t fit his band and wanted me to do some scratch vocals. Bart always had the idea of doing something together again when the time was right. So after he left Spoil Engine, we agreed on doing a studio project for fun. So he wrote some ideas, I send him feedback or helped out with some riffs, choruses and sang on it. The songs came in very smoothly. Soon, we realized that this project had more potential than we thought so. We brought it to a rehearsal place and got in contact with some good friends where we knew they would be up for this game. It became clear very quickly that this project could well be a new band for us nd so the rest is history.

Pix666: Your debut album “Evoke” was released on 28 October. What can fans expect on the album? Will there also be a physical version of the album and if so, where can people order “Evoke”?

Sven: People might be surprised. There are heavy tracks as well as some softer ones on the album. The album contains 9 songs. We chose deliberately for this so the record won’t last that long to listen to. We plan to release a digipack on our album release, but in the future, a vinyl LP edition might be cool as well. We’ll see.

Pix666: Did you play a release show on the date of the album release?

Sven: Our album release took place the 29th of October. So the day after the official release. The release show was sold out!

Pix666: Would you rather have been a band in the old millennium or are you comfortable with the combination of music and social media?

Sven: Well, everything has it pros and cons. I must say, in the old millennium, there was a kinda magic when you discovered bands through magazines, getting to know a band through a Pepsi or MTV commercial, in a cool dusty record store. For me, those days were special. I remember when I went to school, nobody knew Linkin Park, Korn, Slipknot, Limp Bizkit, … I was one of the first. I knew they laughed with some self-made shirts or beanie I wore. I copied the logo of Korn or Slipknot with an unwashable marker. When those bands became popular, everybody wore their merch. I must say, the bands then, had the image being bigger than life. Nowadays, everything is on social media, bands need to work very hard to get noticed because there are so many good bands out there. I think it’s more difficult in our present day to make a living out of your band. This isn’t what our main goals are, we are here for the kicks and fun. But, we want to do it with a little old-school, millennium kind of vibe.

Pix666: What have been the most beautiful and unforgettable moments and experiences for you as a musician so far?

Sven: Well, that might be my arena gig with Vienna in Forest National, supporting Avril Lavigne. That was so unreal. The adrenaline and energy I felt then … crazy. It was packed with people, what I saw was like a wave of people in front of me.

Pix666: Do you have dreams and wishes for the next years with your band Mantah?

Sven: I hope to get Mantah on many bills in Belgium, Netherlands and maybe some neighbour countries. So basically just playing as many gigs possible and meeting many new, cool people. Just getting our music heard as much and far as possible. Releasing some new and cool stuff/music …

Pix666: What do you do when you’re not into music – do you have an interesting job or extraordinary hobbies?

Sven: My profession is mental healthcare worker. I have a daily job in the psychiatry. I love helping out people with mental issues to get them back on their feet and rehabilitate them into our society. My other hobby besides music is being a fulltime daddy/partner for my little boy and girlfriend, being there for them as much as I possibly can. In life, everything is about finding your balance. You can’t do or have it all at the same time. I’m grateful and happy how my life turned out as of today.

Pix666: Do you have any other news about Mantah, that you would like to share with the fans?

Sven: Keep an eye on our social media ‘cause we’re going to release many cool stuff the upcoming time!

Pix666: Thank you very much for the interesting answers – Good luck with your debut album and stay healthy!



photos © by Mantah