Interview: UltraMantis Black
In late 2013, Relapse Records announced it would be overseeing an album from professional wrestler UltraMantis Black. There weren’t many details surrounding the release at first, outside the brief mention that members of Pissed Jeans would be serving as the backing band. So at the time, it was hard to tell which was more intriguing: that Relapse was releasing it or UltraMantis Black was making it. However, the end result might’ve been the most surprising: the taut, 30-minute powerviolence grind record was released in July of this year to positive reviews.
The history of pro wrestlers making music is littered with some really terrible albums, so for UltraMantis Black to debut with a damn solid EP was a breath of fresh air. In a rare instance, both fan bases won: Fans of UltraMantis Black the wrestler could sleep soundly knowing that he was courting victory in another arena. Fans of grind had another record to turn to during the summer months.
Anxious to learn more about how this album came to be a reality, I asked UltraMantis Black a few questions.
When did you first realize that you wanted to create an album? Was it something that you had wanted to do for some time or was it more of a spontaneous thing?
The Great and Devious UltraMantis Black has already perfected his craft in the professional wrestling ring. Although I continue on that path, it became necessary to deliver the doctrine of UltraMantis Black and the Spectral Envoy of the Final Judgement to a new audience through a different medium. This is what I seek to do through a calculated articulation of aural terrorism.
What are some of your earliest musical memories? What is it that drew you toward the hardcore genre?
Being chased by skinheads and gagging on mace are both my earliest memories and precisely what drew me to hardcore. I knew from that point forward that my life would be spent in pursuit of obliterating everything and everyone that hurts and poisons our lives and our world. The band playing at that time was Burn.
What is your song writing process like? Are there certain things that you look for? What does a song have to have in order for it to earn your seal of approval?
I trust in the genius of my musicians. Just as they would not dare to question my execution of a quebradora or application of a cravate hold, I too would not seek to pass judgement on the intricacies of their chosen craft.
What about when it comes to writing lyrics? What is your process like? Had you been writing before you knew that you would be releasing an album?
I am constantly composing narrative on my typewriter. Had there not been a musical recording produced, those ideas would have been manifested via an alternative vessel. I simply create in order to vent the spleen of UltraMantis Black, the being. The message of UltraMantis Black revolves around one central theme of liberation -- for humans, for animals, and for the Earth. Injustice in this earthly world is what incites us, and the actions of those who refuse to accept it are what inspire us.
Members of Pissed Jeans serve as your backing band, correct? How did that collaboration come about?
I never met most of the players in UltraMantis Black until our initial recording session. I began recruiting musicians three months prior to this time by discreetly presenting the core tenants of UltraMantis Black to a select group of individuals and leaving them to their own devices in regards to how they would choose to react and/or respond. I made it clear that in order to maintain the kind of anonymity that is so vital to our mission, we would not divulge identities from within and would only communicate with each other when absolutely necessary.
Following up off of that, how did you end up releasing the album on Relapse? Did you seek them out or did they come to you?
The Relapse cooperative approached me with the blueprints. They have since become a loyal ally to the cadre of UltraMantis Black and have shown full solidarity with our statement of intent and universal doctrine of the Spectral Envoy of the Final Judgement.
So far, the album has been receiving mostly very positive reviews. Are you surprised by that at all?
No. I do not concern myself with how the product will be received or accepted. The mission statement of UltraMantis Black is clear to us and so we seek to simply deliver our message in this medium which we have chosen. To those who embrace it, we welcome warmly. To those who don't, we will simply continue the onslaught until they do.
You've played a handful of live shows. Have you given any thought to taking a short break from wrestling and going on a full-fledged tour?
I see no reason why I could not continue both endeavors simultaneously. The rigorous physical training I endure guarantees optimal performance, even if moving directly from the ring to the stage.
After spending so many years in the ring and having such a storied career, how is it performing live with a band? Do you approach performing with the band the same as you approach wrestling in the ring? Are there any similarities between the two?
I approach the two in an identical fashion: with passion, with aggression, and with an overarching goal of forever attacking the enemy -- whatever it may be.