Wisdom In Chains’ new album… “Nothing In Nature Respects Weakness” comes out this Friday… July 20th and follows in a long line of great albums for the Pennsylvania 5 piece. Finding their “Class War” album in or around 2010 played a big role in the formation of this website as they helped rejuvenate my interest in doing interviews and were also one of the first 3 bands interviewed on this site when it made its debut in February of 2012. For me, I feel this band gets respect but just not enough of it. Maybe I am being too much of a fanboy here but each album easily drops at least 5-7 (and in some cases more) great songs with thought provoking lyrics added in as an additional layer of why I love this band. We caught up with their guitarist Richie “Krutch” Mancuso in late June for this interview that goes deep into the making of this new album which will be available on Fast Break! Records here in the US and on Demons Run Amok in Europe.
Lead photo by: Wass Photography. Graphics by: Bas Spierings
IE: Hey Richie, where are you right now and what do you think you would be doing if you weren't answering these questions?
Richie: Right now, my fat ass is laying on my couch eating cheese doodles and drinking grape soda answering these questions. If I wasn’t answering these questions, I’d be doing the same thing, except scrolling through my World Star hip-hop app.
IE: It’s been 6 years since we last did an interview leading up to the release of 2012's “The Missing Links” and now in 2018 the new one you have coming out is titled "Nothing In Nature Respects Weakness". Definitely an eye catching title. When you think about what the title is saying it doesn't really need an explanation but from past Wisdom song titles and album titles you like to make people think about things, do research and what not. Your last album titled “The God Rhythm” is a perfect example of that. Tell us more about this title and what you were shooting for when you picked that title for it.
Richie: I actually heard this said in a rap by the rapper Thirstin Howl The 3rd. Ever since I heard it, it’s been stuck in my head. I analyzed it a lot, I tried to disprove it, but I couldn’t. I could only discredit it with some far-fetched scenarios, but in reality, the statement holds true. We are currently living in a time where for a portion of American society, weakness and meekness is preferred. I’m not so sure that is a smart approach in life though. Nature, whether it’s human nature, or earthly nature, it swallows and destroys weakness. The weak become the food, the weak are forgotten, I’m not saying to be a bully, I’m not saying to prey on the weak, I’m just pointing out, with strength comes comfort, with serious strength comes peace. There is no truer statement than “nothing in nature respects weakness”.
"NOTHING IN NATURE RESPECTS WEAKNESS" FRONT COVER WITH RED VINYL
IE: One thing that stands out on this new one is the fact that you guys really expand the Wisdom In Chains template. The style and sound we have come to know is still there but on songs like “Better Than I Was”, “The Boy And The Cave”, “Palisade Cliffs”, “Slow Drown” and “Halfway There” you incorporate these long, almost power ballad type of intros with long build ups at the start before jumping back into stuff more along the lines of what we know from you guys. Are you still the primary song writer and what kind of stuff are you and your bandmates grooving on these days that have you introducing more of these types of songs? These types of intros are not new to Wisdom but on this album there seems to be more of them and they are more pronounced.
Richie: I love a good intro, maybe there are too many on this album, I don’t know, but these songs weren’t all written together. Some of these songs we have been sitting on for a long time. I still am the primary song writer, but everyone gets in the mix. Our bass player Evan wrote the foundation of two really cool songs on this album. Joe and Luke hear all the stuff and come up with great ideas. I don’t like to hand them complete songs, I like to show them a verse and a chorus that go nicely together, and right away I can see if they like it. If they do like it, they start adding cool touches and vibes. Our lead guitarist Chris, he’s crazy, he won’t learn the riff, he just starts harmonizing over stuff he likes immediately, finding the right scales that give it a different vibe, he can add things that totally change the mood, so that’s cool. As for the intros, we do love glam rock ballads, power metal, metal instrumentals, and all that sort of stuff. From Hammerfall to Lynyrd Skynyrd, we eat it all up.
"NOTHING IN NATURE RESPECTS WEAKNESS" BACK COVER WITH RED VINYL
IE: How would you describe the new direction some of the songs take? Evolution of hardcore music? Or evolution of Wisdom In Chains?
Richie: Hmm, I don’t know. To me, it doesn’t sound that much different. I definitely would say evolution of Wisdom in Chains though. We are sort of out on an island by ourselves lately. The scene and the bands are going in a really heavy direction. Big death metal and grindcore influences lately. It’s honestly getting a bit hard to fit in the mix.
IE: During the writing process were there any tracks that the band felt may not have been coming together the way you wanted them to but somehow made a recovery and are included on the new album?
Richie: Yeah, a lot of songs. Almost an entire albums worth didn’t make it. About 3 songs that weren’t going to make it ended up getting a redo vocally and we hopefully saved them. “Life Lessons” was nearly gone, “Slow Drown”, and I think one more. Joe takes criticism very well, he’s evolved enough that his ego doesn’t force him to live with his mistakes. He changed whatever we as a unit thought wasn’t good enough. He killed this record, I’m always blown away by his clever lyrics and how he switches up phrasing and patterns.
PHOTO BY: AGA HAIRESIS
IE: Favorite tracks off the new one? What makes them favorites?
Richie: Hands down, my favorite is “Halfway There”. It helped fulfill my metal ballad fantasy. Plus, having such a top notch singer doing a duet with Joe, I loved it. I had the music for that song for so long on an acoustic guitar, I never thought I’d make a real song out of it. To hear what Chris and Evan did to that simple part in the beginning, they gave it such a mood, that bass line is perfect, the guitar solo that Chris put on there, I love it. Luke played so hard, but smart on that song, and Angel and Joe singing together… cold chills son, that’s my favorite easily. Not sure what others will think about it though. Haha.
IE: Can you talk about the recording process some? It was done between January and March of this year which makes me think the process was relaxed and low pressure. Maybe just meeting up on the weekends to knock it all out perhaps? If that’s the case is that the way you have been handling the last couple of albums?
Richie: We had some serious issues in the beginning. The engineer had a stroke, and his head was whacked out a bit early on. He was making crazy mistakes. I went there three different times to do the rhythm tracks and barely got anything done. Two times were due to the engineer forgetting how to do stuff, simple stuff. What could I do though? He just had a stroke! And the one time was because Evan was breathing down my neck like a hawk waiting to eat my dying carcass, driving me nuts. After that though, things got smooth. We’d go in for a few hours here and there, chip away at it until we were done. It was fun for the most part. There are definitely parts on the album that drive me nuts, but hopefully no one really hears it like I do.
IE: Now that you are like 7 albums in as a band how hard (or easy) is it to continue to consistently write new albums that not only satisfy you and your bandmates but also your fans? Are there even further stretches musically for you guys that may have been considered amongst yourselves that may not have gotten on to an album?
Richie: I don’t know really. I feel like we can keep writing good stuff no problem. We left a lot of songs that we felt were strong off of this album, we just didn’t have lyrics for them yet. Also, towards the end, we started writing even more. I had to say in practice “ok, let’s stop writing man, or we will never focus on the album”. There was a cool instrumental that I wanted to throw on here, but we didn’t get to it. Chris had a real dope track that we just didn’t have lyrics for. Honestly, I’d rather write and record than play live, so, I hope we get another chance.
IE: You have 4 guests on the album. Who are they and what songs are they on? Were all the recordings done alongside you guys in studio or remotely?
Richie: The first was Freddy Madball. Freddy knows our process well, he’s sort of like a producer for us on past albums. We sent him “Someday” for the split we did with them, and he was really into it. Joe and him mixed it up, got the lyrics down and Freddy recorded his tracks in Florida and sent them up. Matt From Noi!se did “Already Dead” with us. He’s a guy that we never met, but interact with online, and we love his band. He recorded his parts in Washington I think. I really love the phrasing he used, so different from Joe's style, real emotional. We had Davin from Eaten Alive do “Slow Drown”, we have known her forever, she is our homey and a well respected figure in PAHC. She came to the studio with us and belted out her song. It was cool to hear her on more of a metal style track. Last was Angel, who we have known forever. She’s been going to shows since she was a bambino, and now she’s in a successful cover band called the Benderz. She is a legit pro... she came into the studio and just was pitch perfect from beginning to end on “Halfway There”.
IE: Over the years Wisdom and Madball have had one of the closest relationships between bands I have seen in a long time. I know Freddy from Madball used to manage you guys (maybe he still does) and you've toured together on a few occasions and now you are releasing full length albums within months of each other. Can you talk more about the evolution of this relationship and how this close bond has benefited both bands?
Richie: Well, let’s be honest, we are the only ones benefiting from that relationship, they are Madball, that’s NYHC royalty. First off, we are huge fans of them. Honestly, I’m not even sure how we met, I’ve been seeing them live since the 90’s, but at some point we played together, and we just had a great time with them. Easily relatable, they are great guys, eventually Freddy took a role with us, and really helped us with biz things that we really appreciate, stuff I can’t even talk about, respect to Freddy and the entire outfit. As for Hoya, that guy just is like one of us, he likes to chill, bust balls, talk, eat, play Mafia… Great guys.
IE: I don't have the lyrics for the new album yet but from a bunch of listens “Already Dead” sounds like another Wisdom track where your singer Joe to a point declares his atheism. The line “I Dont Believe In You” hits right before talking about God. Lyrically speaking are the band's words just Joe's views or do the rest of you always agree with what he is singing about in all cases or maybe in just some cases? The band also has a few songs about family and children yet all of you are not parents. How is the writing of the lyrics approached when Wisdom is in the writing process? Basically does everyone have to agree each and every time?
Richie: We just have to agree that the lyrics are clever, and it sounds good. Joe writes 90 percent of the lyrics, I’ll throw a song down here and there, definitely help with song titles or topics, but that’s his game. I’m not entirely sure that the song you mentioned is him being an atheist, but you may be right. He’s the only one with a wife and children, so those topics are all him. We definitely don’t let him get away with anything we think is corny, like I said, he takes criticism well. At the same time, we gotta let him do his thing.
IE: You guys are not new to making music videos. Are you kicking around ideas yet for these new songs and what songs would you target if you made more?
Richie: We are actually working on a video for “Already Dead”, hopefully we bust it out by the end of July. I’d love to make a ton of videos man, but budget wise, it just can’t happen.
PHOTO BY: WASS PHOTOGRAPHY
IE: What hasn't seemed to change since our last interview is how Wisdom goes about your business. For the most part you are all blue collar workers who seem to put your professions before the band. The band is obviously important to you but putting food on the table seems to be the priority and totally understandable. Do you ever wrestle with the idea of either trying to do more with Wisdom while keeping your jobs or perhaps even wondering where Wisdom would be if the band were a priority over your jobs?
Richie: As far as this band is concerned, we played it really safe. We didn’t have the balls to go all in when we should have. That will always eat me up, I’m a team player, and whatever the guys wanna do, I’m with it. I do feel though, we made a lot of mistakes. There are no redos however, and we make the best of it, I doubt it could last much longer at this rate, it’s starting to become more frustrating than anything. The rewards just aren’t there for the amount of work put in.
IE: With that last answer do you feel like the end is nearing sooner than later with the band?
Richie: I think the end is very near.
PHOTO BY: PETE GREGORY
IE: What do you guys have booked or set up for the summer of 2018? Are there any plans to be doing any US runs or with your limited time to tour will it be all or mostly Europe?
Richie: We have This Is Hardcore coming up at the end of July, Then off to Europe for August, after that, it’s up in the air. We have more offers in Europe in November and December, but not sure if the fellas can commit. Nothing really set up for the USA.
IE: Yourself and Joe are up to episode 68 of your “Post America Podcast”. For those who have not checked it out yet can you touch on what kind of guests you have on, what kinds of topics you like to hit? For a newbie what episode would you suggest to start off with?
Richie: Yeah, it’s me, Joe, and Chris. It’s fun, we like it. We sometimes have guests, but not often enough. The last guest we had was John Joseph, DAMN! He dropped some bomb shells. Finding out Harley snitched on the good brutha Scott Ebanks..YO! That blew my mind, and I confirmed it with Scott. Crazy shit. Mainly, we just start talking, not much at all planned. We talk about food, music, politics, religion, goofy shit we used to do. People seem to like it. I don’t know numbers at all really, it’s kind of an intricate set up, Chris Mav is the brains, he records, EQ’s, edits, and uploads everything. If you are into hardcore, start with one of the interviews. Roger from Agnostic Front was a great one. If you just wanna hear random shit.., start at the newest, and go backwards. Click HERE to check it.
IE: You have been doing Wisdom In Chains for something like 17 or 18 years now and before that some remember your days in your old band Krutch. That’s a lot of long rides in vans, shows with less than stellar turnouts, plane rides, time away from girlfriends and wives, kids and everything else that goes along with being in a band that is just doing it because they enjoy playing and making music. After all this time where does the drive come from? What makes it still fun and all the hard work fun for you?
Richie: Well, Wisdom started that long ago as a fun side project, but really has only been active since like 2005. We love music, it’s what we do. We don’t golf, or some bullshit like this. It’s fun, it’s therapeutic, it’s a great way to keep in touch and see friends, cool events to look forward to, and it’s keeps the creative portion of the brain healthy. It’s fun, but like all things, they come to an end.
PHOTO BY: JETRO STAVEN PHOTOGRAPHY
WATCH THE WISDOM IN CHAINS VIDEO FOR "ALREADY DEAD" BY CLICKING BELOW