Even if you don’t know what Jordan Mancino does for a living, you would assume he’s in a band.
His mustache is legit, he’s perfectly disheveled and his carefree attitude is like that of an uncaged bird. I met him outside House of Blues in Houston; the band was powering their way through an opening slot for Periphery and Nothing More. For what he and his bandmates have been through, his resilience is admirable. Wovenwar, the new band he drums for, is composed of the four abandoned As I Lay Dying members, birthed after their former band’s vocalist, under a self-proclaimed steroid-induced rage, solicited a hitman to kill his then-wife. It was a sticky situation, one all four of those guys were forced into without warning. With the support of a new visionary and team player, Oh, Sleeper member Shane Blay, they’ve rebuilt their music, retooled their live approach and have already been on some major tours with the likes of Black Label Society. Here, Mancino takes a walk back through his live music history and shares some insight into getting started for yourself.
From the LIVE MUSIC ISSUE
Pre-As I Lay Dying, when people started to realize you were pretty good or you realized you were pretty good, when did you start playing live shows and what did it look like?
I don’t know if either of those statements are true! First show. Gosh. It’s funny, my first band, Edge of Mortality, or the first band I was in. I replaced a drummer. It was the high school metal band. It was that band everybody loved, always won battle of the bands.
Popular, everybody came to the shows.
Yeah, exactly. I had been playing drums about a year-and-a-half.
You started about freshman year, maybe?
Yeah, high school. This was summer my freshman year, I think. Yeah, I’d been playing drums like a year-and-a-half. I got called up. My buddy that I was in a band with recommended me. I was like, “I don’t think I can handle this stuff.” This guy, he was a really good drummer, and I wasn’t even near that point where I thought any of the songs they had. Tried out. Didn’t really play that well, but they liked me. I was willing to work hard.
I think it was the second or third practice. This was two weeks after I joined the band. They were like, “We have a show coming up next weekend. You think that you’re ready?” I didn’t want to say no.
Had you played a show live before that?
No. You remember that band Cast in Stone? They were on Warfare. The drummer, Derek, plays on Bleeding Through. It’s his old band. Based down sea.
You were in California, on the West Coast.
San Diego, yeah. It was a big show. I think Born Blind played too. Remember that band?
That’s old school.
This was in ’97 maybe? Something like that.
Were you nervous?
Oh, dude, I was pissing my pants.
How do you feel like you did?
I did terrible. Absolutely horrible. It was one of those things where I knew the other dudes in the band were bummed out, too. I felt I let them down. They were totally cool about it, totally positive. They gave me that pep talk, like, “You can do this. Come on.”
Because they believed in you.
I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for that. I worked even harder. We had a show the next weekend and I pulled it off.
When did you feel comfortable starting to play live shows?
I don’t know, man.
Or do you not even to this day? What’s your routine like?
I feel comfortable. I feel more comfortable the older I get.
I’m never fully satisfied because I want to get better and better and better. The status quo doesn’t exist for me. I want to keep improving, whether it’s my gear or my actual performance or the technicality of my performance, the mics, whatever it is. It’s in a state of refinement. It’s always there, and that’s the way it always will be.
Apply that to Wovenwar. Now that you’re here and now that you feel comfortable, when you get back on the bus, do you think, “I need to go back over that”?
We know when we make mistakes. Whether people know it or not, we do. Sometimes things are more noticeable than others.
What’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to you onstage? Did you ever come in off-note, come in at the wrong time, play the wrong song?
Oh yeah. That stuff happens all the time. I think it’s, like, you just keep going. That’s what’s fun about a live show. One chance to do it. You make it happen. Obviously it’s live, it’s human and it’s not perfect. But it’s also part of the excitement and the energy is the live performance.
I think that’s why people come out. They want to see something special. They don’t want to see the record again.
Exactly. There’s certain energy. There’s adrenaline we get, adrenaline the crowd gets in a live performance.
I still want to know the worst time you ever had onstage. Because I don’t want to get “I’ve never thought about this.”
Stuff happens all the time. I remember one time we were playing Chain Reaction in Anaheim. This was probably 2003 maybe. Wovenwar just played there. It had this guitar intro thing. All of a sudden, right when that first hit happens, I did this (swings arms) and hit nothing and fell back.
Turns out it wasn’t me. My bass player hit the first note so hard he tripped and totally demolished my drum kit. Oh, yeah. We were all on the floor. We had to stop and I had to re-set everything up, and we had to start the song over again (laughs).
If you’re going to go out, you might as well go out strong.
It was sweet. It’s like, first note. “Oh, that’s okay, you guys are done. See you later.” That was a mess. I had to set up the drums again.
Which one is special to you? This may not be exactly what happened to you, but, like, Brett Favre, played a football game right after his dad died, and he had one of the best games of his life. Have you ever had a special show like that?
Even that specific situation happened to me when my dad passed away when we were on tour in South America. We just flew in to Brazil, to Sao Paolo. My dad was sick. He had been sick for about a year and was in hospice care. Got better, got worse. Even before I left for any tour during that period, I knew it could have happened. It did that morning, right when we got to the venue.
You didn’t even get to start the tour yet. How was the show? Did you play better? Did you channel the old man?
That’s what I was trying to do. My dad always told me — because a lot of times I wanted to stay home and help take care of him.
Or give up, because you’re like, “What’s the point? My dad’s going to go.”
But he always wanted me to stay on tour. He wanted me to keep playing. He’s, like, “No, I’ll be fine. Go on tour and do your thing.”
Was he a musician?
No. He’s not. I played the show that day. I booked a flight right after the show. Then, actually, Justin (Foley) from Killswitch Engage came and filled in for me the rest of the tour.
Oh, man, that’s great.
It was a very emotional show, but it was also a very meaningful show.
Let’s talk about one of your favorite performances or tours, and the conventional people you haven’t toured with you’d like to tour with, living at present.
This last tour we did with In Flames was unbelievable. It was our first full, comprehensive, regional tour in Europe with Wovenwar. We’ve been on tour with In Flames probably five or six times in the past decade with As I Lay Dying. They asked us to cruise out and do their headliner in Europe, which was just massive. It was just massive, massive shows, and it was so awesome. It was cool because over the years we’ve become really good friends with those guys.
Did Anders bring his kids along or was he rolling solo?
At one point in time, his kids were out there.
When I interviewed him about Siren Charms, I call him and I swear to God he’s making breakfast and has a kid in his arms. That’s the most metal thing I’ve ever heard. He’s like, “I’m going to be going on tour soon.”
They’re all family men. They’re all great dads, very cool people. They’re all just super down-to-earth. They’re good dudes. That whole tour was just amazing. All the crew guys we know really well, like Tom, who does sounds for them. He did sound for us for many years. It was like touring with family.
The tour itself was amazing. The response was absolutely amazing. And just touring Europe is always great.
There’s no gravity to this: something that pops in your head, somebody you would tour with.
Totally. There are so many bands we have toured with that I love, so many bands that I would want too.
How about outside of your industry? Like a Miley? Are you into pop?
Are you into country? Would you rather do a jam with Georgia Florida Line?
I like Alabama. A cool thing to happen, just playing-wise — Strung Out is one of my favorite bands, having grown up in SoCal. It’s lifeblood in Southern California. It didn’t matter if you were a metalhead, rap, hardcore, country. You still listen to punk, like Strung Out, Lagwagon, all these bands. It was what we grew up on. Being a metalhead, Strung Out was my favorite band. I saw them tons of times.
When they were younger and smaller back in the day?
In December, they played our venue in San Diego. I’ve caught up with Jordan, their drummer, a couple times over the years. We talk on occasion. He’s a really good dude and one of my heroes, too.
But you’ve never had a chance to tour with them?
But they played and we were there, and he hits me up. He’s like, “Hey, did you want to play a song tonight?” I’m like, “Oh man.” I hadn’t played my drums in a year-and-a-half. Not a year-and-a-half. A month-and-a-half since I got off tour.
You’re a little rusty.
A little rusty. Didn’t even get a chance to practice. But I know the songs. It’s just actually executing it was kind of a challenge.
You take the challenge. Whether you’d play it in a month, a year, whatever. You take the opportunity.
He called me up and I ended up playing this song called, “Mission to Mars.”
Did you get to pick that or did they pick that?
I picked it.
They like to ticket people. I noticed. Didn’t even know the practice, but I hadn’t been that nervous in a long time. Also that was so much fun, sitting there playing this song that I grew up…
Just loving and listening to hundreds of times. When I go up on stage, they’re looking at me. They’re like, “Yeah” and he was over there, and Jordan was sitting, “Yeah, this is awesome.”
He got to watch you play.
It was so much fun. It was really good time. That was a cool experience.
Wovenwar was posted on February 19, 2015 for HM Magazine and authored by David Stagg.