Scott Columbus: Why I Left Manowar
Even though his face is still on Manowar’s website as an official member, drummer Scott Columbus is no longer in the band. Indeed, as Classic Rock discovers, he hasn’t been part of the battle-metal veterans’ roster for more than two years! In a revealing interview, drummer Columbus talks about his strained relations with Manowar, and how he’s hooked up with another ex-Manowar member, guitarist Ross The Boss, for some live shows. “I had a long and wonderful career with Manowar; I have no regrets, it’s just life moves on,” reflects Columbus. Hail to a new beginning…
Interview: Rob Kern
Over the past two years Manowar have been threatening to release a new full-length platter as a follow up to their 2007 effort Gods Of War. They have gone so far as to release an EP, Thunder In The Sky, with the song Father in fifteen different languages (Kings Of Linguistics?). Recent live appearances have seen original skinsman Donnie Hamzik temporarily filling in for the absent Scott Columbus. Recently Scott announced some dates with ex-Manowarrior Ross The Boss and oddly enough these dates conflict with his day gig in Manowar. Classic Rock sat down with Scott to see what is going on in the Manowar camp only to find out that he left the band some time ago! It seems the Kings Of Metal will not be confused as the Kings Of Media anytime soon…
CR: You’ve recently issued a press release announcing you are playing some dates with former Manowar guitarist Ross The Boss.
Scott Columbus: Ross and I have been in pretty close contact over the years and recently over the past year we’ve been talking about playing together again. Talk turned into reality and we’re playing a bunch of shows over the summer in Europe and the United States and we’re going to have a good time.
CR: Where does this leave your current status in Manowar?
SC: My current status is… (pause) Well, if you look at their website my picture is still up there, I don’t know why. I’m not currently in the band Manowar anymore.
CR: When did the split occur?
SC: I’d say it was about April 2008. When Mr. DeMaio [Joey DeMaio, Manowar bassist/mainman] and myself agreed to disagree on a few points of interest. That leads us up to today. You know what? I had a long and wonderful career with Manowar; I have no regrets, it’s just life moves on.
CR: Would you classify the reasons for the split personal, financial or musical?
SC: Yes [laughs]. My answer is yes to all of the above.
CR: Over the past few years Manowar has veered from the traditional Power Metal path and moved towards a more Symphonic Metal style. Was this a factor in your decision?
SC: The thing is, I’m kind of an old school guy. You’ve got to realise I’m part engineer, part producer, a whole lot of drummer and so on and so forth. I’ve always been an analog kind of guy. I like tube amplifiers for guitar players, I like the old method of recording where the band is actually in the same room together at the same time and you go, “One, two, three, four, bang!” and you make a live recording. In this day and age a lot of bands just don’t do that anymore. That was a little bit of the issue for me [in Manowar].
One of the guys I’ve checked out and always aspired to was Joe Walsh. He made a statement a few years ago saying any kid in their basement with a Pro Tools rig can make a record now. But he preferred going in with his band, throwing on two-inch tape, having the engineer say, “Go” and make a record. Joe said he could make a record for X amount of dollars and it sounds better than all this stuff that is processed, digitised, carefully calculated and cut and pasted. I’m kind of old school. That’s where I’m at.
CR: Sometimes the cutting and pasting can take the life out of the music.
SC: The spontaneity is gone and it becomes homogenised and processed. It almost sounds cold in a way. Hey, it is what it is.
CR: Manowar has stated that you are still in the band and just taking time off for personal tragedies. What is your take on that?
SC: Well, you can refer to a few questions ago when I agreed to disagree with Mr DeMaio. In other words, maybe that’s a question he will answer if you ask him. I am not in the band. Period. There you go. [Editor’s note: we attempted to contact Manowar to talk to them about Columbus’ comments but received no response.]
CR: You left the band for a period in the early 90s and Manowar contributed the time away to your son’s health problems. Was this the case?
SC: It was the very end of 1989 leading into 1990. I was officially gone in 1990, the first time. I can just tell you and the world that my son was never sick. So you can deduce from that what you may. However, that’s what I’ll tell you [concerning the official statement].
CR: Didn’t Manowar claim he had leukemia?
SC: It doesn’t matter. Yeah.
CR: Your face is still on the band website as an official member.
SC: The only thing I can think of is they haven’t found a drummer who is as handsome as I am to put their likeness up on the website [laughs]. I don’t know. Other than that, I don’t know what to tell you.
CR: Have you had any contact with the band since your departure in April of 2008?
SC: Yes, I speak quite often with the singer [Eric Adams] who is a dear, dear friend of mine. He and I hung out on the road all the time for many years, so I speak to Eric all the time. Joey [DeMaio] I speak to periodically. Some of the ancillary people I speak with because we’ve always had a great relationship, so why let something professional interrupt something personal. I tend to make friends for life. Once people get to know me they realise I wear my heart on my sleeve, there’s no bullshit about me. I can do a lot of things very well but one thing I really suck at is lying.
CR: Manowar have been working on a new album, did you contribute to that before your departure?
SC: I have not been anywhere near that recording studio in at least two plus years.
CR: Since Ross The Boss’ departure the length between studio releases has grown longer. Was this something that frustrated you?
SC: Not so much frustrates me; I think it more so frustrates the media and fans, most importantly the fans. We would often get questions like, “A new record was promised on this date and not delivered.” Here again, I don’t call the shots in that band so I can’t answer that question.
CR: You and Ross The Boss have reconnected musically, do you ever see a day when the both of you could reconnect with Manowar and do something together?
SC: You know, I’m a firm believer in never say never but I don’t see it. Then again, who ever thought that Joe Perry and Steven Tyler would get back together after their recent incident. I don’t see it but I’m not Nostradamus and can’t predict the future. If I could predict the future I would go out and buy a lottery ticket right after this interview and win a couple of million dollars.
CR: How has it been going reuniting with Ross The Boss?
SC: I’m joining his band on several dates and I’m going to be like a special guest. I’m gonna come out and Ross has his own thing with the Ross The Boss Band. He’s got a new release coming out shortly so they’ve got that going. But a big part of their live show is some of the classic older Manowar stuff and that’s where I fit in. I’m gonna come up and perform some of the classic tracks with Ross and his band. It’s going to be great, we’re even talking about doing some double drumming in things like Battle Hymns. I’m really looking forward to it.
I was talking with Ross the other day and we were discussing maybe in the near future he and I will record something together. Ross and I always connected on the classic Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin riffs. He said he’s got a bunch of material stored up that he hasn’t been able to utilise yet. We both agree that together we might be able to do something pretty cool.
CR: We’ve heard that you also have some solo material you’ve been working on?
SC: Yes I have. It’s going to be released to the world very soon. It’s a solo project entitled Instrumetal. It doesn’t have vocals on it and I’d like to keep it that way. I could possibly see a bonus track or two with vocals. Right now I’ve got 13 tracks and it’s nearly complete. Soon I plan on releasing one song for the world to hear and get an idea what I’ve been up to for the past several years. The song is called Lightning In A Bottle; it’s a little ditty between myself and the guitar player I wrote the album with, Patrick Macdougall.
I’ve got a website under construction and it will be available on my website and I think people will really dig it. It’s very heavy, very rhythmically driven. I call it heavy metal elevator music; you pop the CD in your car and before you know it, you’re driving 125 miles an hour! I’m really excited about it. I produced and engineered the whole thing myself. So if it sucks, I suck and if it’s good, well… yeah! [laughs] I’d also like to mention a side project I’ve got going on called Brick. I’ve some of the coolest and best local upstate New York musicians available, we’re just now starting to rock out and rehearse. I just want to tear it up, keep my chops fresh and have fun. Fun, fun, fun; we’re going to play some covers, Godsmack, Alice In Chains, Korn, King’s X, Sabbath, etc. I haven’t been doing ‘nothing’ as some people may perceive and the so-called ‘tragedies’ could be an aberration.
CR: So the personal tragedies are not as career threatening as some are stating?
SC: Well, I wouldn’t put it that way but when you give an umbrella statement it leaves a lot to be desired as far as answers, details and specifics. I guess you can go to the Manowar website for answers because I don’t have any. I’ve got to tell you, I’m in the best shape of my life. I mean I’m 112 years old (laughs) but I’m in the best shape of my entire life.
CR: How do you think Manowar will address your situation in the band after reading your statements?
SC: That’s a question to ask Manowar. I’m looking towards the future and Manowar is in the past. I just can’t wait to get out and play again. It’s been too long for the fans; it’s been too long for me. I’m ready to rip.
For more info go to Scott Columbus’ website: http://scott-columbus.com
* Scott Columbus will be drumming with Ross The Boss’ band on August 13 at Bloodstock Open Air 2010. Get your Bloodstock tickets here.
* Scott Columbus’ new song Lightning In A Bottle will be featured as a Track Of the Day on the Classic Rock website soon.