Manganista
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Manganista

San Diego, California, United States

San Diego, California, United States
Band Alternative Reggae

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"You on the Bus?"

When Manganista chartered a "party bus" for a gig at L.A.'s Viper Room at the end of June, they decided to record on the way.

"I wanted to record a crowd of about 30 or 40 people singing the last chorus of our song 'Turn Back the Clock,' " says singer Matt Rhea. "The potential bus noise, balance issues, and organizing 40 drunk people to do anything seemed like a tall order. Our producer printed a rough mix of the song, and I dumped it onto my portable eight-track recorder. I grabbed the recorder, two boom stands, two mikes, and two pairs of headphones and set up shop in the middle of the bus, using one of the stripper poles for balance. We printed lyric sheets and [keyboardist] Travis brought his accordion to provide the pitch and for guiding the crowd. It went surprisingly smooth, so we did a couple of takes and it was a done deal."

The band charged bus riders $45 each, which included a show ticket.

"At the club, I spotted our lyric sheets in the crowd, so a lot of them were singing along. That ended up being the highlight of the show.... Afterward, we found a 300-plus pound man passed out cold in his own vomit across the Viper Room bathroom floor. Three or four security guys dragged him across the club's floor and dumped him on the Sunset Strip pavement, smack dab where [one-time club co-owner] River Phoenix had died. That was our cue to get the hell back to San Diego."

Manganista's new album Propaganda in Stereo -- which includes the bus recording -- will be released in September. They appear Wednesday, August 15, at 'Canes. - SD Reader 8/9/07 - Jay Allen Sanford


"Big Score"

Kyle Ponterio says he is one of about 30 professional marimba players in San Diego and the only player in a local rock band.

"I was teaching percussion at a local school," says the classically trained Ponterio. "They were getting rid of old drums that were not to be used again because of missing parts. The marimba was broken down in one of the cabinets. I told the band director, 'If you ever want to get rid of it, just let me know.' She said, 'Okay, just don't tell anybody.' "

Ponterio says he spent about $500 to repair broken keys on the 60-year-old instrument. A new marimba costs between $2000 and $17,000.

"The material they use to make new marimbas is not as good. They used to be made of rosewood, but rosewood is becoming scarce. You can't import rosewood into the U.S. anymore." He says new marimbas often use a lesser wood or synthetic material.

When Ponterio joined Manganista last year, it was the only band he'd been in outside of a school or marching band. He took over the complex parts that had already been written for a synthesized marimba by singer/songwriter Matt Rhea, who admits his six-man band may not be appreciated by mainstream music fans. He uses Danny Elfman as a point of reference.

"Anybody who doesn't appreciate or at least respect Oingo Boingo knows nothing about music. There are countless guitar bands out there. What would be the point of contributing new music to that category?"

Manganista appears Saturday at Pete's Place in La Mesa and December 9 at Squid Joe's in Carlsbad. - Ken Leighton - SD Reader 11/22/06


"Don't Tread on the Soundman"

"I knew the sound guy's stress level was rising [after] one of us said a microphone should go on one side of the stage and then we changed our mind," says Matt Rhea of Manganista, which played L.A.'s Viper Room on March 10.

"The head honcho sound guy started yelling at people left and right -- I mean really yelling, to get everything either on the stage or out of the venue. I couldn't figure out what the big deal was. He said, 'We're opening in two minutes. Move, move, move,' like a drill sergeant. Everything was kind of a blur and then, right before they opened the [club] doors, they closed this curtain around the stage and we had to work behind the curtain. They have some rule that the band can't be seen setting up....

"There were a couple more outbursts from the head honcho sound guy, mainly riding the sound guy who was working directly with us," continues Rhea. "Despite their military-like tactics, they were pretty damn efficient when everything was said and done. I'll take a little getting yelled at any day in exchange for a decent-sounding set." Manganista appears April 7 at the Ken Club. - San Diego Reader 3/23/07


"Manganista takes 2nd place at the San Diego Song Writers Guild song writing contest"

The Nate Donnis Trio was judged the Overall Contest Winner, with its songs "No Other Place" and "Tip of the Tongue" combining to tip the scales in the band's favor. Led by Nate himself on guitar and vocals, the band laid down a soulful acoustic funk with deep grooves and insightful, introspective lyrics. The band was loose, but its performances were solid and inspired... clearly a winner here. We expect to hear much more from Nate in the future.

Manganista ran a close second on this night of uniformly excellent but individually unique performances, with its exciting blend of electronic and acoustic elements combining into a sound that had everyone who saw their set transfixed. When was the last time you saw a mallet player on stage with a rock ensemble? If you caught Manganista, you know how exciting an ample infusion of this percussive element can make a band. - San Diego Songwriters Guild - September 2006


"You say Scaramanga, I say Manganista – tomato, tomahto ..."

Speaking of idiosyncratic/acquired tastes, I've duly noted that local ska/reggae/new wave/funk/something-or-other oddball group Scaramanga, which changed its name to Manganista a few months ago, has developed a large and loyal legion in lovely La Mesa.

Musically, the group can conjure pure hellfire; I'm particularly enamored of the rhythm section, which includes guitarist Ryan McMullen, a rare master of the covert Curtis Mayfield wah-wah weavage method; bassist Drew Kent, who seems to have taken several blood transfusions from Aston Barrett; and drummer Dusty Norberg, who detonates layered polyrhythms that sound like he's got four arms working at once.

That said, I can only scratch my curmudgeonly cabeza at the franticly adenoidal, dweeb-chic vocals of Matthew Rhea and Travis Wingo, both of whom would seem more at home as "Daily Show" correspondents than as rock 'n' roll frontmen, despite the fact that they seem to be the main draw among Mangaheads.

Go figure.

Hey, I managed to enjoy some of what apparent Manganista-mentors Oingo Boingo and Talking Heads were laying down despite the "God, please take me now" vocal "styles" of Danny Elfman and David Byrne; if you're inclined toward those groups (with a dose of English Beat evident as well), check out Manganista Wednesday night at the Casbah (which continues to bill the group as "Scaramanga").
- Buddy Blue, San Diego Union Tribune - January 12th 2006


"Popular Local San Diego Band Releases New CD “I Make You Look Like Movie Star”"

SAN DIEGO, CA, Friday March 17, 2006 – Manganista, formerly dubbed Scaramanga, releases their much anticipated debut CD “I Make You Look Like Movie Star” with a CD release party at The Kensington Club on Adams Avenue this St. Patty’s Day March 17th. Show begins at 10pm and will include appearances by Skydiver, Unsteady and DJ Bwyse. The CD included thirteen unique Oingo Ska English Beat Talking Heads influenced tracks and is Lee Knight production.

Manganista’s revolutionary sandistas include Matt Rhea on vocals, who composed the bands music and lyrics, Travis Wingo on vocals and keyboards, Dusty Norberg the four armed drummer, Ryan McMullen on guitar, Drew Kent the bassist, and Kyle Ponterio on Marimba and Percussion. Manganista is a word created by the band and kudos to their creativity because they own Google. Enter Manganista and you get 18 pages of them and only them (minus a sprinkling of a few foreign language sites), which is appropriate because their sound is their own. “Being different comes easy when you have a six foot marimba in your band” states Rhea.

They were noteworthy enough to receive a write up in the UT by Buddy Blue the San Diego musician, writer and all-around curmudgeon. Blue compliments “Musically, the group can conjure pure hellfire”. He recognizes the accomplishment of their default creation of Mangaheads and “ has developed a large and loyal legion in lovely La Mesa.” These fans have begun to request their music be heard and as a result some of these tracks are popping up on 94.9. The CD can be purchased at their web site www.manganista.com.
- San Diego Music Matters - March 2006, Heather DeWitt


Discography

Propaganda In Stereo (2007)
I Make You Look Like Movie Star (2006)

Photos

Bio

The intellectual bizarrity/composition of Oingo Boingo and Talking Heads and the ska mischief of the Specials and English Beat. Manganista somehow has the ability to dabble in countless musical genres and come up with a sound that can only be described as "Manganista."

Rock music with an island vibe, a Ska band on steroids, or a New Wave band that ran into the Beach Boys while vacationing in Cambodia. Call them what you will, but make no mistake...Manganista will compromise for no one!

The late great Buddy Blue wrote in a 2006 San Diego Union Tribune article about the band, “Musically, the group can conjure pure hellfire." A press release from The San Diego Song Writers Guild wrote, “An exciting blend of electronic and acoustic elements combining into a sound that had everyone who saw their set transfixed.”

Manganista has been building a dedicated following of ‘Manga Heads’ from their unforgettable live shows at San Diego and Los Angeles venues such as the Belly Up, House of Blues, Canes, The Casbah, Viper Room, The Knitting Factory and The Galaxy Theatre. Some of the bands Manganista has shared the stage with include The English Beat, Unsteady, The Aggrolites and Flock of Seagulls.

In conjunction with gigging regularly, Manganista has just released their second album "Propaganda In Stereo."