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The Mantras

Friday, 09 January 2009
Bringing It All To The Table
by T.J. Royal, The Village Idiot
Robert Plant thinks The Mantras are neat.”

That endorsement of the Greensboro, N.C., quintet came while a buddy hauled the former Led Zeppelin front man around Nashville during his recent tour with Allison Krauss, said guitarist and singer Keith Allen.

“Jabberwocky” was the band’s song that got the rocker’s attention, apparently making him think a storm was heading their way as they drove; “No, it was just The Mantras,” Allen quipped.
The musical flow that comes from Allen, Marcus Horth (guitar/vocals), Justin Loew (drums), Brian Tyndall (bass) and Brent Vaughn (percussion) runs between rump-shaking, bright grooves like “Funky Jenk Patrol” to trance-inducing sitar numbers, back through to a wicked cover of The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Sir Psycho Sexy.”

“We just try to entertain people. I think it’s important, something that we do, is to entertain as well as play good music. We try and bring (all) of that to the table all the time,” Allen said.
“We have a rock ‘n roll heart, but we have that jazz-fusion thrown in there,” Horth added.

Even though the band’s tour schedule hasn’t turned into a full-blown grind, the band has hosted its own festival for two straight years, with Mantra Bash Part Deux in Climax, N.C., back in October. It featured 11 different bands over three days, including The Afromotive, Sci-Fi, Incognito Mosquito and Holy Ghost Tent Revival.




The Mantras also had the honor of performing the last Saturday show at Ziggy’s bar in Winston-Salem, N.C., for its Thanksgathering IX in November 2007.
“We’re trying to build (a fan base) in a smart way, and not get out there and all burned out. ... We’re just trying to take it at our own pace, (because) there’s a lot of things stacked against us,” Allen said about the band’s touring schedule.
“But that makes it kind of exciting at the same time.”
The Village Idiot caught up with the group for some more insight, between their snack and their practice session inside a Greensboro warehouse.

The Village Idiot: Where does your all’s inspiration for your original material come from?

Keith Allen: (The inspiration) comes and goes. Sometimes if I watch a movie, or sing a song or something... it’s just something that pops up most of the time. That’s what makes it inspiring, the spontaneity. Every time I’ve tried to sit down and write a song, it hasn’t gone very well.

Brian Tyndall: Sometimes I’ll fall asleep with my bass; I’ll just remember random licks, between being awake and asleep. Every now and then I’ll be able to pull a lick. That’s how I wrote part of “Miguel’s Travels.”

Marcus Horth: Intimate dreams. For me personally, part of the inspiration is a mixture of life experiences, hard times, falling in love. I’ve written a song about that. For me, it’s kind of a spiritual thing; you get in a zone where things come to you if it’s going to happen.

VI: How do you all feel when somebody thinks of you all having a jam band kind of sound?

Allen: I don’t know that we don’t want to be associated with it. It kind of got a bad rap in a lot of ways.

Horth: (Our style) could be from bluegrass to jazz.

Allen: It’s one of those sub-genres that has everything in it. I just think that we have more to offer than jamming on E minor for 20 minutes.

Horth: It’s not like we’re just jamming. It’s definitely real structured.

Allen: I think that we all feel like where there’s a certain point where it gets to be too much. I feel like that we like to phrase things as a group, but we all know when it’s kind of gone on long enough.

VI: What’s something crazy that’s happened out on the road to you guys?

Allen: One time we played at a house party in West Virginia, it was pretty interesting. We played until about four in the morning, and then it got so cold that our wires were starting to freeze, and we were ready to stop playing. They were about ready to beat us up and take our equipment. It was so cold that I wasn’t able to feel my face, but they were like ‘you ain’t stoppin’ now!’

The Mantras have plans to release a DVD early this year, featuring themselves and their cohorts from Mantra Bash Part Deux, as well as their latest album to go with it, Allen said. He also said a DVD will be released later in the year featuring their performances at The Blind Tiger in Greensboro.

- The Village Idiot


The Mantras - How Many? CD
January 6th, 2009 | Posted by: leeway
The Mantras’ 2007 release, “How Many?” features many of their “live” staple songs in a warm, well-produced studio effort.
This collection of 5 Greensboro, NC musicians has been pumping out its distinctive blend of funk, jazz fusion, and jam since 2003. In that timeframe, the Mantras have maintained a stable lineup featuring Keith Allen on guitars and vocals, Marcus Horth on guitars and vocals, and Brian Tyndall on bass. Justin Loew joined the group in late 2005, and has been anchoring the drum kit ever since, while the addition of percussionist Brent Vaughn in 2006 added rhythmic depth to the band’s syncopated grooves. After laboring in the trenches and playing to increasingly larger crowds each night over the years, the Mantras have gained momentum, playing attractive gigs at every Thanksgathering (Winston-Salem, NC), an energetic set at Trinumeral in August 2008, and have staged two incarnations of their own music festival, Mantra Bash.



“How Many?” begins with “Blue Tiger,” which showcases strong, percussive rhythms and is punctuated by Keith Allen’s capable slide guitar. From there, the album rolls into the initial, rollicking notes of “Song for You.” This song is buoyant and likable in many spots, progressive and atonal in others; the distinct personalities between these differing elements of the song are compelling. “Miguel’s Dream” features driving drums and percussion, lyrical guitar, and enough swing to inspire the ladies, while “Miguel’s Travel’s” completes the satisfying studio sandwich. The convoluted “Jabberwocky” rears its head next, and this Mantras “standard” has really benefited from a studio interpretation. The band explores various sonic layers with this song, utilizing slow, searching guitar riffs before cascading into a crunchy, frenzied guitar to close the song. Marcus Horth’s sitar lingers on “Mantraga 1” before segueing into the aggressive, driving “Cairo,” while “Mantraga 2” closes the album out with a loose, mystical feel.



The overall tone, length, and perspective of this album satisfy and will definitely please those that love hard-driving guitar. The new listener is likely to hear the influence of Trey Anastasio, Frank Zappa, and John McLaughlin in the guitar work on these songs, as many of these tracks showcase Keith Allen’s sterling guitar chops. Tyndall, Vaughn, and Loew lay down a pleasing foundation for Horth’s and Allen’s vocals and guitar work. Although one or two tracks seem clunky, the majority of the disc is consistently excellent and provides an informative overview of one of the hardest working bands in North Carolina.

- By J. Evan Wade


- Home Grown


Greensboro Funk Rock Mob The Mantras Play Flipside
Story by David Brewer
Delivering high-energy psychedelic rock with plenty of guitar-rocking improv, Greensboro funk band The Mantras will play Flipside this Saturday, November 8.Since 2005, Greensboro's The Mantras have been gathering a full head of steam, delivering blistering live shows from the Triad to Philadelphia, sharing the stage with some of the region's biggest names and developing a hardcore fan base that feeds on the band's jam-informed world funk rock. This Saturday, The Mantras will return to the High Country for a show at Flipside. The show will start at 10:30 p.m. Comprised of guitarist Keith Allen, guitarist Marcus Horth, drummer Justin Loew, bassist Brian Tyndall and percussionist Brent Vaughn, The Mantras began as a project to showcase Horth's original songs. Allen joined after only a few shows and each of the members began contributing to the band's sprawling, mostly instrumental compositions.
"We just all got a lot more collaborative with it," said Allen.
A North Carolina native and graduate of UNCG's jazz program, Allen characterizes the band's music as "humorous funk and dramatic rock." While the term jamband has waned in popularity and acts like The Mantras deftly avoid being associated with a dying scene, Allen is honest about the band's jam-heavy roots, but contends that The Mantras' flights of improvisation are less about aimless soloing and more about the group's ability to interact in a more traditional jazz sense.
"We feel like that when we improvise, it's a lot more intentional," said Allen. "Stylistically, we're pretty much all over the place."
The eclectic grooves and stylistic versatility of The Mantras are most easily comparable to quirky jam veteran’s moe and metal-influenced improv shredders Umphrey's McGee. The band's virtuosity is also reminiscent of early 1970s live efforts from Frank Zappa.
During the last couple of years, The Mantras have mined Greensboro's flat lining music scene, eventually selling out longtime area nightspot The Blind Tiger. The band has also been fortunate enough to share the stage with Rusted Root, Barefoot Manner, Dubconscious, The Bridge, Perpetual Groove, Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band, Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes, Hobex, Hope Massive and many more.
"We've had to work here for years to be able to have a steady crowd," said Allen.

In addition to their upcoming performance at Flipside, The Mantras will perform live on WNCW on Thursday, November 13 2008
- High County Press


The eclectic rock fusion band, the Mantras, has announce the release of their debut self titled album. Formed in 2003, this Greensboro, NC quintet, consisting of Keith Allen (vox/guitar) vox, Marcus Horth (vox, guitar) ; Brian Tyndall (bass, bkgrd vox), Brent Vaughn (percussion), and Justin Loew on drums, has been gaining an army of fans with their unique blend of rock, fusion, jazz, and funk, as well as their off the wall live shows.
It is not uncommon for bands to not only traverse these genres in a single performance, but to do so in a single song. Reminiscent of the blistering energy found in early seventies recordings of Frank Zappa's touring band, the Mantras excel with their virtuosic playing and superior musicianship, all the while not losing sight of the overall arrangements and songs. The band shifts seamlessly from one type of music to the next, a truly well –oiled machine, honed tight from years of live shows. On their debut self-titled release, the band continues in the tradition of being a musical melting pot, without feeling forced or unnatural. From the opening funk freak out of "Metronome," to the tongue in cheek hipness of "Jean Claude Band Van," never a moment passes with the Mantras that can't be described as pure fun. Able to send any listener in any direction in the musical universe at any moment, it is this unpredictability and spontaneity that will take any audience on a sonic joyride, and part of the reason why the Mantras are becoming known as one of the premier rock/fusion acts in the Southeastern U.S.
Recent winners of the 336events.com Battle of the Bands, The Mantras will be touring
relentlessly in the coming year in support of their new album. Current tour dates include a marquis festival performance at this year's Harmony Ball in Lake Toxaway, NC, as well as shows at hi-profile venues such as Ziggy's (Winston-Salem) and the Lincoln Theatre in Raleigh.
-Will Bradford, Macromanagement

- 336.com


The Mantras proceeded to make jaws drop. They utilized every moment allotted to them to make good on a promise from front man Keith Allen (guitar/vox), "to rock your faces off." The funked up prog rock quintet worked the crowd into near frenzy with guitar mastery from Allen and his equally adept counterpart, Marcus Horth (guitar/vox). Allen and Horth, along with Justin Loew (drums), Brent Vaughn (percussion), and Brian Tyndall (bass) are an impressive unit with funk, jazz, and rock laced chops that are as tasty as they were tight. A very special appearance by Will Little (East Coast Dirt/Duende Mtn. Duo) during fan favorite 'Jabberwocky', left the crowd screaming for more.... long after the band had left the stage. Fans of The Mantras could be found lingering outside the tent wide-eyed and debating, "Will the boys be able to bring the same heat at Mantra Bash," their own festival taking place near Greensboro, NC in October."
Chris Adams – Honest Tunes

- Honest Tunes


A little funk, a little fusion, a little prog, and a lot of jam-band make up the debut from North Carolina's The Mantras. These guys should go over like a house of fire on the jam circuit, especially with those who love bands like Umphrey's McGee and Phish, but there's also plenty of fusion fire to go along with their groovin' tendencies. Led by the stellar guitar talents of Keith Allen and Marcus Horth, the music throughout this self-titled debut features plenty of solo spots and tight ensemble arrangements, but has a loose and airy feel that flows very well from track to track. Spirited and melodic jams like "Dancin’” contain some tasty soloing from the guitarists, as well as intricate rhythms from drummer Just Loew and bassist Brian Tyndall. Vocally, these guys hit all the Phish/Grateful Dead spots just fine, but it's the complex instrumental bits that really set them apart from other bands on the jam scene. Check out the intricate interplay on "Eckard Falls", a real progressive fusion burner, the intense shuffle of "Metrognome" (featuring some heavy & complex sections that border on prog-metal), and the almost Weather Report-ish "Popna", complete with some wild Jaco Pastorius inspired bass work from Tyndall.
The Mantras have put together a fun CD that will have you tapping your feet to the grooves just as much as you will be inspired by their instrumental virtuosity. Good stuff all around for fans of the jam scene as well as Zappa inspired fusion.

- Sea of Tranquility


Mantras provide sound for a worn and funky tribe
By Jordan Green
The headliner tonight is the Mantras, a band that meshes rock, blues and jazz through an alchemy of psychedelic disorientation. The stage set-up includes a humble white sheet as a backdrop to catch a light show of revolving configurations of red and blue bubbles. Without much fanfare the band launches into a cover of Led Zeppelin's “Immigrant Song.”

A familiar thrill rips through the crowd, with the midnight tribe succumbing to ritualistic ass-shaking.

The dreadlocked Brian Tyndall stands on stage with bare feet, harnessing the primal energy of his bass guitar as it carries the furious leitmotif of the moment. The bearded Keith Allen, whose head is covered by a knit hat, approximates Robert Plant's famous wail by playing slide on his guitar. Marcus Horth, who like Allen plays guitar and sings, holds a look of bemused discomfort as his older brother, Justin, whacks the drums.

The second song locks into a tight groove like Grand Funk Railroad, and Allen introduces the band members in a hyped voice that carries over the frenetic energy of the opening number. Then the energy simmers down as the band segues into “Jabberwocky,” an original.

In the next song, called “Ska Face,” Marcus Horth plays chords on his Samick hollow-body guitar in an inverted ska rhythm. He draws close to microphone with a grimace on his face, and sings words of his own authorship, which feel both personal and universal: “Why do I create so much chaos in my life? Clinging to the darkness when I should be in the light.”

The audience responds intuitively to covers like the Zeppelin tune, but also willingly follows the band on its voyage through the jazzy and funky territory of its own songs. Some of the songs stretch into jams, seeming to trick the time-space continuum. The songs shimmer in dissolution and then return to form as Tyndall hammers the bass line down like a heartbeat, and notes fly from Allen's fingers like sparks or raindrops of honey.

One of the women who's been getting down on the dance floor, a gray-haired lady wearing a long flowing skirt, smiles proudly towards her son, the bass player.
Tyndall and Allen are both jazz performance majors at UNCG.
- Yes


The Mantras blow an intern's mind
By Dave Roberts
a groupie, girlfriend or just friend of the band - it's unclear - approaches me and, after discovering I'm a reporter, asks if I'm a "Mantras virgin." I caught the last song of their set at Get Down!Town before the Greek step competition, and was impressed then, but decide it didn't really count. If seeing them is akin to sex as she's put it, then that first encounter was decidedly coitus interruptus, so I answer, "No." She assures me they're going to melt my skull. I shrug and order another Red Bull.

The bar is much more crowded now as the Mantras tune up. Just as they start, guitarist and vocalist Marcus Horth lights a cigarette, leaving it in his mouth as they kick off.

"I don't think we've played here on a Friday night before," announces Keith Allen, also of guitars and voice. "Cheers, everybody!" he says before downing a shot in the middle of the first song. The crowd is obviously full of fans, their love for them apparent in their shrieks. Their cover of "Fat-Bottomed Girls" is fast and light, very Phish. In the extended instrumental sections, a recurring feature of this group, they are playful, slowing then building to a maelstrom that whips the crowd up, culminating in a big damn finish. I order another, probably my fifth or sixth by now.

Stylistically a jam band, they would be far more at home in an outdoors arena. While I remember at Get Down!Town they filled the beer garden with joy, here their music seems restless, claustrophobic, an animal pacing in a cage, searching every corner for the tiniest crack of release, straining against its captivity. I can feel their guitars in my teeth.

My sympathies are with the bongos: They are underused, almost drowned out in the heavy thuds of their larger cousins and the electronic mayhem of the strings. Thrilling, throat-tearing arribas announce the emergence of a new course on the menu. The melody reels back and forth, up and down in scale, the drums powerful in my head like angry monkeys. They want that banana, damn it!

My first impressions of them as Phish-lite were faulty. These cats can rock it out. Relentless, they don't want you mellow and swaying. They want you alive with movement, banging your head and strutting about with near loss of motor control, barely able to keep up with the wild pounding of the drums, the maddening undulation of the guitars, the light tickling of the bongos. The crowd screams as they finish.

Encore. Bass player Brian Tyndall rumbles out the intro with Flea-like enthusiasm, fast, tripping all about. The jungle is in it, a madness that threatens our collective sanity, back to full power, Captain, energy on full blast, torching any calm, setting it alight with a Molotov cocktail of rock. The roar settles just enough for the bongos to peek their head out and play a bit. They don't get much time before the lead guitar, alpha male, reasserts itself. His cohorts join in the thumping aggressive fingering, bringing the floor alive with twisting bodies lost in the frenzied hypnosis of the rhythm.

Their intensity is astonishing, that they can maintain this pace for so long. Just when one thinks they can't possibly continue, they crank it up a notch. Like snake handlers caught up with the Holy Ghost, the crowd has lost the will to resist them. Their detached air of hipster irony shed, they are experiencing one of life's rare pure moments, where the mind is aware only of the present, free from the million little hobgoblins that distract us. The Mantras finish with a wild interpretation of the Knight Rider theme, dedicated "to David Hasselhoff," that leaves us blissfully spent, drenched in afterglow.

"Those guys are solid as hell," I overhear one of the crowd members say to his friend in the men's room afterward.

- Yes Weekly


Q&A with the Mantras' Marcus Horth.
cutNscratch: First thing, this seems like one of the harder bands to classify. Stylistically, there's a lot going on - funk one minute, Latin the next, prog rock the next, etc., etc., with a lot of well-arranged instrumental sections. Do you guys even like to classify your music? If so, how?

Marcus Horth: The five members of The Mantras have a lot of musical influences, and one element that unites us as a band is the freedom to explore a wide variety of styles. We don't want to be pigeon-holed or be one of those bands where every song sounds alike---- we are far too adventurous for that!
cNs: Your online bio leaves off at 2007. What's been going on in '08?
MH: In 2008, The Mantras released their 2nd album "How Many", we played Shakori Hills music festival, Trinumeral Festival and our 2nd annual Mantra Bash Festival. It is been a year of substantial growth for the band both musically and our fan base.
cNs: You guys come from Greensboro, N.C. I know there are a lot of colleges around there. Is there a good music scene?
MH: Greensboro is full of fantastic musicians, but I would really say that the music scene is not that vibrant. I've seen a lot of bands come and go, The Mantras are in a unique position of playing adventurous original music and having great crowds that come out and see us time and time again--------Greensboro is, and has been good to us!
cNs: This band can play some long tunes, and there are certainly jam elements in there. What's the secret to holding that stuff together without losing your crowd?
MH: We have been known to have some extended jams live; I believe we keep peoples' attention by returning to good hooks and strong melodies without vacillating too much. It is equally important to us to play good songs with thought-provoking lyrics as it is to stretch the boundaries of a piece of music.
cNs: You're playing the Lantern, in Blacksburg, this week, and Martin's, in Roanoke, next month. Are you finding that our region is a naturally good spot for the kind of music you do, or are you just hitting it in hopes of finding your crowd?
MH: We haven't played in the Blacksburg and Roanoke areas that much yet, but it seems that there is a hunger for our music from the folks up here. With time I believe we will establish a healthy following
- Roanoke Times


COMA GUN MUSIC PRESENTS
THE MANTRAS “How Many?”
This sophomore endeavor from the Greensboro N.C. Quintet portrays a complex assortment of musical styles with rich melodious sensibilities – all coming alive within a spontaneously crafted sonic joy ride. Similar to their live performances, this album, titled “How Many?”, genuinely displays the reason why The Mantras are known for filtering in countless genres of music—rock, fusion, jazz, and funk—while maintaining an educated structure and constantly stimulating the brain. This can easily explain why their fan base is constantly growing and includes such a wide-range of music lovers throughout the states.

The steady, yet diverse, flow of the album is often interpreted as if the band is telling a story that one cannot look away from until the tale is completely told. “How Many?” is filled with many fan favorites, such as “Jabberwocky”, “The Sun”, and “Blue Tiger”. Also included are a handful of instrumentals like “Miguel’s Travels”, which truly captures the musicianship of each member. This album was created with the help of sound engineer Gabriel Godwin and mastering expert James Lee at Log Cabin Studios; both have worked with such bands as Perpetual Groove, Garaj Mahal and many others. With this perfect studio setting in the foothills of North Carolina, The Mantras truly display their knowledge and passion for the music throughout this album. For each song, the five band members seem to filter in perfectly, one by one, to create this irresistible collection of musical styles that can only be truly described in two words: “Rock Opera”. “Cairo”, track fourteen on the album, is a prime example of this perfect ‘mantra’ flow. The song starts off by establishing a gentle, yet firm, atmosphere—and then—just around the corner, you hear crazy riffs by the dueling guitars, followed by the bass and drums, that all together seem to resemble those of “The Mothers of Invention” era Frank Zappa. The two guitarists (Allen & Horth) continuously feed off of each others’ energy, each one with a completely different sound than the other, dissonant yet complimentary. The listener is swept up in a seamless convergence of sound and carried into a harmonic resolution.

The Mantras, which consists of Keith Allen (lead guitar/vocals), Marcus Horth (guitar, vocals), Brian Tyndall (bass), Justin Loew (drums), and Brent Vaughn (percussion), have taken North Carolina by storm over the past two years. Other than repeated sold-out shows in their hometown of Greensboro, The Mantras have firmly established a consistent supportive fan base from the ocean to the mountains, and everywhere in between. This year you can check out The Mantras at Shakori Hill’s Grass Roots Festival, Camp Jam, The Boone Music Festival, The Summer SOULstice, Trinumeral and a blow out at this year’s Mantra Bash in Greensboro NC. So please take a moment, get comfortable, and join all of us for an amazing experience with this band, The Mantras, and their new album, “How Many?”
- Coma Gun Music


Discography

1) "The Mantras" (self titled)
Type: album

All songs have been played on wqfs Greensboro

2) "How Many?"
Type: Album

All songs have been played on wqfs Greensboro

We also have many Live Recordings posted on www.archive.org

Photos

Bio

2006 saw a lot of firsts for The Mantras. to name a few: We recorded our first album (self titled); Started seeing our first group of usuals in the crowd; Our first Halloween show was a roaring success; and NYE was a sold out affair leaving us feeling very optimistic about the coming year.

2007 has been just as momentous as ever... Opening for Rusted Root, Barefoot Manner, Dub-Conscious and The Bridge was just the tip of the iceberg! We played to a sold out crowd at Ziggy's opening for Perpetual Groove and Yo Mamas Big Fat Booty Band Booty Band... Recorded and Released a New Album, "How Many?"... Organized and headlined our own outdoor music festival THE MANTRA BASH! (Which was a roaring success and looks to be an annual affair!!)... Sold out several performances at our home town venue "The Blind Tiger", including our annual Halloween and New Years Eve Shows... and started making tracks in the surrounding states!

2008 has been a building year for The Mantras: We hit the East Coast hard, making it all the way up to Philadelphia, P.A. and all the way down to Miami, F.L., touring to promote our new album “How Many?”. We have also been concentrating on building our fanbase locally, selling out shows in our hometown and working a heavy rotation of venues in the surrounding area. With marquee performances at this year’s Trinumeral Music and Arts Festival and The Spring Fling, coupled with the fact that Mantrabash more than doubled in attendance from last year, it seems things are looking more promising than ever for The Mantras!

THE MANTRAS HAVE BEEN FORTUNATE ENOUGH TO SHARE THE STAGE WITH SUCH ACTS AS:
Rusted Root, Randal Bramblett, Perpetual Groove, The Bridge, Yo Mamas Big Fat Booty Band, The Lee Boys, Addison Groove Project, Jeff Sype, Barefoot Manner, Dub-Conscious, Mother's Finest, Brock Butler (of P-Groove), Sci-Fi, The Burnin' Smyrnans, Mark Schimick, Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes, Hobex, and many more!