Closure In Moscow is a five-piece progressive rock band from Melbourne, Australia. The band consists of Chris De Cinque (vocals), Brad Kimber (bass), Michael Barret (guitar), Mansur Zennelli (guitar and vocals) and Beau McKee on drums. The band now lives in Portland, Oregon as of early last year. They still go back and forth regularly between Portland and their native Melbourne depending on their touring schedule, which is non-stop it seems.
After label issues, national and international tours, Closure In Moscow is set to perform on the entire leg of the Warped Tour. The Aussie prog-rockers are on Warped in support of their critically acclaimed debut, First Temple. We caught up with guitarist Mansur “Manny” Zennelli in San Antonio to chat about taking in Warped for the first time, life after releasing First Temple and those early label issues before signing with Equal Vision. Manny alo shares with us his view of the music industry and who he feels we should watch for in terms of the next big bands on the cusp coming out of Australia and The UK.
Being that this is your first time on Warped Tour, how are you taking that all in?
Manny: It is crazy. As soon as we flew into America, we jumped in our van and trailer to drive from Oregon to California. The next thing you know we are in this grueling, working machine that does not stop. It’s relentless but at the same time it’s great.
So you are doing the whole tour in your van? That has to take its toll on you. How’s that working out so far?
Manny: If you are going to do it, do it punk rock.
Who are you looking forward to checking out as a fan now that you have the chance here on Warped?
Manny: Dude, I checked out Dillinger Escape Plan. Holy shit. I can’t fathom how those dudes can play and sound that good. I can’t fathom what I am seeing is what I’m hearing. I don’t know how someone can play and do what they do. The guys from Parkway Drive, Aussies as well, I’ll catch them anytime I can. Every time I see them they just get better and better. Andrew W.K. is pretty cool. I like Never Shout Never.
That’s step in a different direction from the other bands you mentioned. I didn’t expect to hear you say Never Shout Never.
Manny: He’s a very interesting dude. He’s one of our good buddies. I had the pleasure of knowing him before I knew his music. Its great stuff and I have total respect for it.
Warped is sometimes jokingly called “Punk Rock Summer Camp.” Do you feel that term is accurate?
Manny: That’s pretty spot on. This is the hardest tour to do in the world and we’re doing in the hardest possible way. After this, I feel like nothing can stop us. This tour has made so many great acts and great artists. It separates the men from the boys in a lot of ways.
Now that you are here in the U.S. and in the middle of Warped, what do you miss about Australia?
Manny: I miss Vegemite. I forgot to bring some. It’s like this savory Australian breakfast spread. You guys hate it. You guys think it is disgusting. Other than that, I just friends and family.
Let’s talk about life for you guys since the release of First Temple. It’s been over a year since it was released and you’ve spent some time touring it. How have things changed for you since then?
Manny: It is unbelievably crazy. We got signed to Equal Vision, did the record and from there we were off. Our life was playing local shows or national shows in Australia and being somewhat successful to venturing out into the unknown.
The unknown being the United States?
Manny: Not just America but Japan, Singapore and South Africa. It all just exploded all at once and the doorway to the rest of the world opened. It is definitely a life changing experience. I definitely think it will shape the music for our next record to come.
About first First Temple, what is the significance of the title?
Manny: We don’t really like to give away too many things about band names or album names.
I’ve never seen anywhere online or in magazines that I read where you have answered that question. Why is that?
Manny: We like to keep everything ambiguous. I mean, some things do call for that like maybe individual songs. We like people to draw their own conclusions for themselves. I will give you one thing though, “Solomon.” That’s all I am going to give you.
I’ll take it. I wanted to ask you to about the label issues you had before signing with Equal Vison. Can you fill me in on some the details?
Manny: We were originally signed to Science Records. What happened was Warner pulled funding on them at the eleventh hour. We were all ready to go, having played fair well shows and all that stuff. After Warner pulled funding, the label collapsed basically. For a bit there we were stuck without anything. Luckily Equal Vision came in.
It is hard for me to believe that Equal Vision was the only label interested in you guys. Who else was in the mix and why Equal Vision ultimately?
Manny: Yes, other labels were interested, but we wouldn’t have signed with them. With everything we do as a band, as artists and musicians, we like to peer ourselves with people of equal mindset. The other labels that did come to us, didn’t have that mindset. If you aren’t on the same page, it won’t work. When Equal Vision came to the table, we were excited. They are a very reputable label and have put out some of the best bands that have come out in the last ten years or so in a wide variety of genres. We signed with them and they have welcomed us as part of their family.
What did they tell you that they liked about you guys, especially what it was specifically that got you signed?
Manny: I can’t remember exactly, but I think the main thing was they didn’t come to us and try to sell us on stuff. They didn’t give us any bullshit about “we are going to make you this, get you this,” all that. They came to us and said “We love your record. You guys are unique, we believe in your music and we’d like to work together.” As soon as they said that, that was it. It wasn’t as if a businessman is trying to sell you on something but rather a person that is on the same wave length as you that wants to get your music out. It was a no-brainer for us really.
With all the changes, what have you learned from it all?
Manny: Honestly, a lot of things. In the past year, we’ve grown so much as people. All the touring and seeing the world just changes you. It grounds you to some degree, but it also opens you up. We’ve learned that the music industry is still thriving. There is definitely a lot of artists out there that are legit and doing it for the right reasons. The actual “industry” itself, sucks. The music industry is one of the worst things to ever happen to music and art in general. I’m not afraid to say it. It is fucking awful, dude.
Wow. Elaborate for me a little about that please.
Manny: You got bands that go on tours where it doesn’t matter how good their band is but rather how good of a salesman they are. If they are a good salesman, they sell their CDs and their band gets big. Then you see the band that is absolutely killing it every night and they don’t’ get big. The industry man, we’re all in it. Take it as you will.
Going to Warped Tour and life changes here, what are you doing post-Warped Tour to capitalize on all this exposure?
Manny: After we finish this up, we will fly back home to write our next album. We are going to take about three months off I think.
So the new album is not currently written then?
Manny: Not properly, no. The thing about us is we’ll write something and it will be sweet for like two or three months. Come month three and we’ll be indifferent about it or want to change something again. We were still writing our album up until the moment we recorded it. We are just that way and always striving to do better.
What else can you tell me about the new album?
Manny: I can’t even begin to tell. I can’t give you a genre, or anything. I’m not trying to be difficult but until we get all this material together, because we write separately and then bring it together, we can’t even tell you. We could even rip out a country record man, not that there’s anything wrong with that. Who knows?
Any pressure being your sophomore album given the success of First Temple?
Manny: Anytime you release new material there is pressure, your sophomore album especially. That’s when I think the band has the most pressure. It is like “they have done it once, can they do it again?” kind of thing. I do think that it is a good pressure to have. It just makes you strive to do better.
Last question before we part ways here that I love to ask international bands. Who are some bands coming out of Australia that we need to know about?
Manny: There are some gnarley bands coming out of both The UK and Australia. I’ll tell you about two. In Australia there is this band called Secrets In Scale. They are a band from Adelaide who just recently moved to Melbourne. They are very good friends of ours. That aside, they are possibly one of the best bands I’ve heard in the past five years. They have a new album called Desert Mouth. It’s not yet released but I’ve heard it. It’s phenomenal. We took those guys out on our headlining tour. Let me tell you, it was hard following those guys. They were just legit. They’re a three piece band and they are amazing. The other band to check out from The UK is band called Young Guns. We haven’t got to tour with them yet but I checked them out last night online and I was pretty blown away. I think they are going to blow up. Mark my words.