Friday, November 5, 2004


Jake Strokman, second from right, leads the sonic attack in the hard-rocking band.

Manntis rocks on

Singer makes amazing

EVEN IF Riverside, California based metal band Manntis doesn't win first prize in MTV's new reality show, "Battle for OZZfest," the group already has two monstrous accomplishments under their belt for 2004.


With local opener Amplified

Where: Pipeline Cafe

When: 8 p.m. tomorrow (doors open at 7 p.m.)

Tickets: $15 (18-and-over)

Call: 926-3000

For more information: www.manntis.com

"Battle for OZZfest" airs at 10:30 p.m. Mondays on MTV

The first, and more obvious, was beating out over 500 bands that auditioned in Hollywood this past June.

But if it weren't for lead singer Jake Sirokman's miraculous recovery from a life-threatening injury he suffered just over a year ago, there wouldn't have even been a band in existence to compete for a spot in the first place.

"It's been incredible for us," Sirokman said from Southern California last week as Manntis prepared for upcoming gigs in Oregon before heading to Honolulu. "We've already gotten so much exposure."

THE OUTLOOK for the band was bleak in September of 2003, when Sirokman broke his neck in three places and doctors warned he might not be able to perform ever again.

"It was a pretty bad experience," he says of the accident, caused when the truck in which he was a passenger hydroplaned through standing water and flipped more than a half dozen times on a California highway.

For the next five months, the singer was stuck at home in a neck brace, unable to talk above a whisper, much less scream into a microphone. The band was also forced to replace two of its original members during this period, a process which almost caused them to break up.

"Months went by and I still had no voice," Sirokman said. Doctors were forced to push his vocal chords aside when they treated the neck injury, which resulted in his inability to speak.

At first, the group dealt with replacing its guitarists, first adding Jeremy Swanson before picking up Adair Cobley in March. But they were also face to face with the reality that without a lead singer, Manntis would cease to exist.

"Even though I suffered for that long ... (the injury) was the best thing that could have happened to the band," said Sirokman. "All of a sudden, I was talking."

After waiting a few more weeks to ensure his voice was completely healed, the 22-year-old returned to the "House of Manntis" (the home of drummer Jimmie Sanders that's used as rehearsal space for the band) and got back to business just seven months after the initial injury.

"Ever since then, everyone in the band has stepped up," Sirokman said. "We're taking it more (seriously) as a career now than just a hobby."

SoCal metal band Manntis plays the Pipeline Cafe tomorrow. From left, Adair Cobley, Clint Gregory, Jeremy Swanson, Jimmie Sanders and, sittin’ on a fence, Jake Sirokman.

THE SECOND episode of "Battle for OZZfest" aired on MTV this week, and follows members from each of eight bands that made it to the final round of competition.

Sirokman wasn't allowed to talk much about what happens on the show, but he is comfortable with the producers' pick of Cobley as Manntis' representative.

"You knew they had to do something like that," he says when asked if the decision to pick just one band member to participate was a fair one. "We didn't really care ... he's the best representative of the band."

During the course of the 2004 "OZZfest" tour this summer, MTV cameras followed the contestants while they worked as roadies. All of the episodes except the season finale have been filmed, with the last one planned as a live taping to retain the element of surprise.

And what a surprise it will be -- the winning band from "Battle for OZZfest" will be invited back as a performing act on the tour next year.

"We're still just playing it by ear," says Sirokman. "But no matter what, Ozzy and Sharon (Osbourne) are the gods of metal ... and we want to thank them for this opportunity."

Even if Manntis isn't selected to play "OZZfest" next year, the singer is confident that the band's renewed blue-collar attitude will pay dividends.

"We're going to put everything out ourselves without label support," he said. "We don't really care about the money."

After the MTV experience wraps up, the group will continue to perform while finishing up studio work on "Sleep In Your Grave," due out in stores late next month.

"We've been writing a lot of material and just trying to progress," Sirokman said. "This is the real deal ... and we're very honored to be where we're at."

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