[sic] Magazine

Interview: White Manna

Still reeling from their hard-hitting and impressive debut, our Rob Gannon jumped at the opportunity to ask one of White Manna ‘s “band of hooligan goof balls” David Johnson a few questions on cat poop, proto-punk and narcotic-fuelled spiritualism …

In order to soften you up for the hard-hitting journalism to follow, can you tell us where you are at the moment and what was on the agenda for today?

David Johnson: I am currently in Manila, California, a small coastal community in Northern Humboldt County. I live right on the beach here for very cheap. It’s a very inspiring place to live and create with dunes and coastal forest for miles. Today I took my elderly dog to the vet as she’s been sick for a couple of days. I think she ate too much cat poop, but I’m not quite sure. She’s very old and I think it’s hard for her to bounce back from getting so sick like this, but I’m sure she’ll be fine by tomorrow. Also, I’ve been reading The Illuminatus! trilogy by Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea for the second time. It’s a very fun book to read, pretty brilliant stuff. I rarely read the same book twice.

There’s a rumour that the band is named after a New Jersey diner. I find it somewhat hard to believe given the appropriate transcendentalism of the name. Care to give us the truth?

DJ: The truth? We are named after a diner in New Jersey, as well as after the food of the Israelites – the holy bread if you will. There’s a lot of speculation as to what was contained in this holy bread, which is probably why I initially chose the name. I think, quite simply, the name means something arbitrary and comedic in some respects and something very metaphorical and sincere as well. We are a band of hooligan goof balls, but we all have a spiritual contemplation of existence.

With that in mind, are you religious at all? I’m curious in particular about the album’s euphoric closer “Sweet Jesus”. Were you just drawn to the exclamation or is there something more at play?

DJ: I’m spiritual. I think about existence often and I’ve read a lot about religion and philosophy, but I do not adhere to any religion and I feel they are man’s final obstacle. I also love the blues and gospel music too, which of course both speak of spiritual thoughts and/or laments. The song “Sweet Jesus”, I have no idea how those lyrics came out of my skull – probably just the weed talking …

I was coming onto that. The White Manna sound is pretty hallucinogenic. Do you rate drugs as a creative influence or more of a mind-expanding pastime?

DJ: Drugs have been a very creative influence in my life. I continue to subject myself to new things and new situations and hope that I walk away somewhat unscathed. I suppose I consider White Manna some form of drug music, but we are responsible individuals and definitely take a proactive approach when playing. I don’t think we have as much fun when we all “check out” and no-one is home, but we all have high tolerance levels too!

Is it fair that reviewers are picking up strong veins of American punk-rock in the White Manna brand of psyche?

DJ: A lot of the American proto-punk bands are very inspiring to us; The Stooges , MC5 , The Seeds , The Velvet Underground , Captain Beefheart , and The 13th Floor Elevators are important ones, but the early CBGBs scene is a very influential period as well. There is a strong lineage with these bands. We are all music nerds coming together from different parts of the United States and with our own separate musical evolutions before White Manna, but I feel like some of the strong influences (or bands we like to rip off) are the proto-punk bands from the late 60s- a lot of Altamont brown acid music can be very timeless and actually very beautiful.

Agreed. Finally, what can we expect next from team White Manna?

DJ: Well, we will be recording in a couple of weeks in a warehouse here in Arcata. Piet Dalmolen , who recorded the self-titled album, will be recording us live for about five hours a day for four days. We have a lot of new material and new band members since our first album. We’ll probably have two albums’ worth of live White Manna and we’ll sort through that over the next couple of months, do a few overdubs, and hopefully have another album out sooner rather than later. We are then very much looking forward to traveling to the UK and Europe in the fall of 2012.

~[sic] magazine would like to thank David Johnson for his time and look forward to catching White Manna on the European tour later this year. You’d be very wise to join us. White Manna is out now on Holy Mountain ~

[sic] review: White Manna

White Manna @ bandcamp