Insite got in touch with Mana Tapu, a local band with big ambitions after winning the Hard Rock Rising competition, which is their second competition win in less than six months. Although they think that the idea of a battle of the bands is kind of silly, their motivation is drawn from a desire not to lose rather than from a desire to win.
It’s your classic band formation story, with Maltese lead guitarist and bassist, Dario & Fran going back years playing music together. They later met MC Pupa Chile & guitarist Jogy one night while out drinking at Juuls reggae bar. What started out as casual moonlight jams by the beach led them to meet their other MC, Tete in Bugibba, and finally finding Andrew to get behind the drums.
Mana Tapu represents quite a mix of nationalities with all but two band members hailing from different countries.
“It isn’t easy, but making music with a bunch of other people never is. It always takes an enormous amount of cooperation, collaboration and compromise. But our number one rule is to do what’s best for the song, so that synergy is what governs the song-writing process in Mana Tapu. There’s something really amazing about composing music with a bunch of guys from different cultural backgrounds and influences that is bound to result in some interesting sounds. And it really does – we’re thrilled with the result.”
They’re all pretty passionate about song writing, each of them drawing influences from different genres therefore guaranteeing something different and original as an end result. Rooted in reggae and ska, they are musically versatile and can throw off into funk, folk, punk, blues and flamenco, among others.
Their single “Babylon Aside” sends the message that in order to lead a happy and good life you need to start off by keeping all that is bad in this world, aside.
“None of us are particularly religious but you don’t have to be to agree that the world would be a better place if everyone made more of an effort to stop doing bad things. If we were all a little less selfish and materialistic, this world would be a hundred times better.”
After winning The Hard Rock Rising’s local competition, they will now compete with the winners from around the world. The competition’s final aim is to sign a band to Hard Rock Records & tour the world in support of an album with other big name acts.
“The amount of support we’ve received from our fans, and even people who are just catching us live for the first time, has been incredible. We’re always amazed at how much fun we have on stage with the crowd in front of us. The way we see it, it’s a positive feedback loop – our fans are out there singing with us and dancing, and that gives us a huge boost to give ‘em as good a show as possible.”
Between two music videos they’re working on, time booked in the studio over the summer and the numerous gigs they’ve got lined up, they’ve got their work cut out for them. Having recently returned from Ibiza where they had some down time as a band, recharging their batteries, they’re now getting ready for a long summer of music and partying here in Malta.
Despite the restricted size of Malta’s music scene, they believe that there is definitely some solid local talent out there, and what is needed is more venues, more bands and more fans. They also that believe the local scene would grow quite easily if more widespread support for local bands by the general public is shown. It’s by attending shows, requesting local artists on the radio and purchasing music that the local scene can really grow and thrive.
“Conversely, musicians and artists have a responsibility to make a proper effort to give people something enjoyable. It’s a two-way street.”
Mana Tapu also have a number of songs in Maltese which they are looking forward to play in front of large audiences this summer who have never seen them before or heard their stuff. Despite all of this, they accept the fact that as artists they will not be able to sustain themselves by their music alone in Malta.
“Let’s face it, artists are martyrs to their craft until they either die, succumb to societal pressures, or achieve success, and only a small fraction achieve measurable levels of success. And yet, it’s these musicians and artists that make life so much more palatable, whether you’re stuck in traffic, doing homework, painting, or out for a beer with friends.”
The way they see it, the problem with Malta is a sort of vicious circle, the lack of good venues puts bands off, which in turn puts venues off from investing in getting better, and which as a result puts off potential fans from attending local gigs. One also can’t exclude Malta’s geographical isolation from all this, which prevents foreign bands from coming out on tour here and generating more interest through big names. It’s just not cost-effective for them to make the trip here.
“Imagine if the government in Malta subsidized some of the costs of traveling to Malta for bands from abroad, or the costs of concert promotion, as long as local bands are on the bill. That would be GREAT for the music scene here! Malta needs a major infusion of culture, and the government needs to invest. If Malta wants Valletta to be a credible cultural capital in 2018, then it needs to be the actual hub of culture in Malta. Currently, what is going in Valletta aside from lots of construction, and a few restaurants and wine bars? Nothing, absolutely nothing, and that is immediately apparent to anyone walking through the streets at night.”
In the mean time, Mana Tapu have a number of live gigs coming up this summer. For more information just visit their online pages listed below: