Sacred Metal Page > The Interview-Section > Keith Menser - the man behind the US-scene!
Keith Menser - the man behind the US-scene!

If you're thinking about the US-Metal scene nowadays you'll soon came across one name of one man: KEITH MENSER. The brilliant bassplayer of different soon-to-be-underground legends like MYSTIC FORCE, TWILIGHT KINGDOM and DELUSION (he was also bassplayer in ICED EARTH) is also the initiator of the annual POWERMAD-Festival, which will be one of the most underground-shaking metal festivals on the other side of the atlantic. I thought it would be time to get in contact with this man and told him some questions...


SACRED METAL-Page: Keith, tell me more about your musical background! When did it all began, what was your first record, who were your former bands, the whole story ...

Keith Menser: Well it has began when I got out of school, no! no! It all began when I was about 10 years old and I bought a copy of Black Sabbath "We sold our soul for....." and it totally grapped all of my interests. My mother also loved the now classic rock such as Zeppelin, Purple, Yes, Sabbath, Floyd, etc, etc, etc.... I was always around it and whem I got that "We sold Our souls..." is when I think I really wanted to jam as a musician. As the years when on I got into it all... Kiss was a big part for a few years, Rush was the center point by the crunch of Sabbath. I became very open minded and began to hear all kinds of great music. But I did not start to play Bass intil I was actually in my last year (12th) of school, and I bought a Bass & amp... I started what I call the pre-formed MYSTIC- FORCE, together with my brother and some friends which ended before long. I hooked up with Guitarist/Rich Davis and formed a group which we needed a name for and we used the name of my previous band... So this is way I call my very first thing Pre-Force. MYSTIC-FORCE went through a few line-up changes, which brought in Drummer/ Chris Lembach and Vocalist/Bobby Hicks to complete the band with Rich and myself. We bagan to build a good name for ourselves in the tri-state areas (MD., PA., DC., VA., WV., DE., ) club circuits and grow as a live group. We did play covers but good picks and we never played a show without our own compositions. MYSTIC-FORCE recorded two demo's before recording a EP entitled "Take Command" in 1989. The following year we signed to a small label in England called CMFT Records and they released our offical debut record called "Take Commad (The Demo Years)", which contained the above memtioned demo's and ep + bonus cut. The label closed doors two weeks after releasing the record, however it did do pretty good for us and openned new doors... The same year we released a EP entitled "Shipwrecked with the Wicked" on my new created label I started called Siegen Records, this release was a sample of what our second record was going to sound like. Soon we entered the studios to record "The Eternal Quest" and at the time of mixes we signed a deal with the German based Rising Sun Records. "The Eternal Quest" was released in Europe with a good response and the fact that the group never got the chance to do a tour to support the release sales were very well. We entered a studio once again to record our third record entitled "A Step Beyond' which was released in '95 again through Rising Sun Records and we had great plans to do a European tour together with Metal Church, Vicious Rumors, Roit, Jag Panzer as a Rising Sun tour. But we scheduled 4 area appearences to get our live stage set and show together for this tour... and man it all fell apart then when we parted ways with our former vocalist/Bobby Hicks for various reasons. Rising Sun lost their distrisbution and the record lost it's push...

What is happening within Mystic Force right now? "A Step Beyond" has been released a while ago now. What happened after the departure of singer Bobby Hicks? What is he doing now? Do you feel comfortable with the former Oracle-singer William Wren, which was a fantastic choice, by the way?

This was truely was a down fall for the group, however the remaining three members were still into MYSTIC-FORCE 100%, so we began to seek a new singer and after auditioning 87 vocalists were hired Vocalist/ William Wren to fill the position. We recorded a 6 song Demo to introduce the vocalist to a few selected industry personnel. Then we began writing, and was recently recorded all the tracks for our forth record which will be entitled "Man Vs. Machine". The record is in the process of mixing and mastering, and it should be released on Siegen records in the states sometime in Feb/Mar. along with a special limited edition Best of Mystic-Force lp entitled "Evolution Fields". We shall seek label interests to sign a new deal with a European label in the near future. Yes, I feel it's safe to say we are a very comfortable with William Wren and he gives the MYSTIC-FORCE sound a new added edge with his great vocal abilities. Vocalist/Bobby Hicks is currently working with a group in the vein of straight forward hard rock/metal with strong vox and they are more of a fun kind of band. They did record a 6 song demo in which I helped out with by handling the editing & mastering. I'm very good friends with him still as it's not good to let your past affect your future, plus we have always been very close. I may do a Siegen Records project band with other players from various groups and have Bob do the singer doodies..... Who knows at the moment the new MYSTIC-FORCE record is a main focus.

In what aother bands do you still play? I know that you're a true metal-maniac... (Like many other metal-musicians are playing in jazz-bands or something else, as a side-project)

Yeppp! At the moment I've been very lucky to have such great opportunities, I'm playing in a very talented progressive metal group called Twilight Kingdom and we are releasing a debut album through my label called "Adze" in Feb. which has been gaining much attention. I'm woking with a project called Delusion which is a power metal group and we will rleleasing a record called "The Tragety of Regrets" in mar. on siegen rec. I'm recording a few tracks on Ian Perry's (Vocalist of Elegy) fourth solo record to be releasd this summer. I've been recording songs for many metal tributes for such groups as Iron Maiden, Meryful Fate, Metallica, Judas Priest with MYSTIC-FORCE. Black Sabbath and Fates Warning with my project group together with my brother (Scott) on vocals called Treason. Iron Maiden, Metaliica with Delusion. There will be a few more tributes to add to that list.... It's man I'm very blessed with metal madness. I'm always interested in recording with different bands and projects, I have an ADAT/Cubase recoding studio at my house and I work at a large studio with a 2" machine and 3 ADATS. so it makes it very easy to do session work. Anyone in need of a Bassist to record on band/ solo/ project records, feel free to get in contact at or write to the address below.

Now I want to know everything about the POWERMAD-Festival, which is organized by you personally. How did you came to this idea? What was your favorite band on the billing? Why did so many great bands cancelled their gigs in 97?

Well the POWERMAD 97 and 98 festivals were a good start to what I hope will help the progressive metal history alive in the states and bring more awareness to the music fans who don't have a clue about imports and other markets, etc. Here in the US we don't have alot of magazines and not many stations here are playing the hard stuff. If there is no way for the people tofind out about new bands and records, how can they bought them??? America needs outlets of others sources and this way I started this festivaldedicated to progressive power metal.The first year we had many groups pulling out at the last min.for varoius reasons, which really sucked. But with anything it takes time to make something special to happen, especially when your trying to convience the world of such a great ideal. Ha! Ha! But last years no bands cancelled , but we did have two bands walk because they did,nt want to play on Sunday. Your gonna have somekind of problem when you bill 25-30 bands to perform on one week, because everyone wants to pick there slots and if we could do this we would have 25-30 bands on Saturday nite... NOT!!! The third annual POWERMAD 1999 is scheduled for August 20th, 21st & 22nd at the same venue, so bands send your promotional materials for consideration for a showcase slot... Plus, bands, labels, etc. we have a POWERMAD compilations sampler which is giving to all who attent and sent to labels, mags, promotors, etc. People this is a three day/nite progressive power metal party with a 'Powermad Power metal Market' with many booth and space is currently available. A weekend for the fans, bands, labels, mags. etc. cand meet and greet in true metal spirits. It's my way of trying to pull together and help build a new scene. Basically I'm Mad about Power Metal.... People please hel p me spread the words about this festival, it will make prog power metal history. I really would have to say most of the featured bands had their special moments. In '97 I would say tops were Vicious Rumors for power and The Quiet Room... 1998 would be Ion Vein, Psyco Scream, Aztec Jade, Mastermind, etc.....

What about the reactions about this happening in the US-press and do you only get positive feedbacks from the Metal-Fans?

Well I diffently can't complain as POWERMAD 97/98 festivals have gained ink from many reginal, national and International magazines & fanzines such as Metal Maniacs (US), Progression (US), BallBuster (US), Heavy Order Was! (Ger), and so on...... POWERMAD 1999 will be even greater as the word has been getting around the undergounds and the interests are much stronger already and we've got many months to promote and really focus on this years event. There will be many new features added to the festival to make it that much more appealing to the music world. A weekend festival dedicated to the dedicated...

Is Heavy Metal dead in the US od A?

FUCK NO!!! There are many people into this here and there shall be a rebirth in the future of American music scene. It may not be as large as the 80's, but it's never died and there are so many bands recording great records which make there way into other markets to help keep the bands spirits alive.

Please give me a list of your ten All-Time-Favorite records! Can you give me a short list of some great musical disappointments?

1. Rush "2112" (plus, all records.. especially from "Moving Pictures" back to Debut)
2. Pink Floyd "Darksides of the Moon"/"The Wall"
3. Fates Warning "Awaken The Guardian"
4. Black Sabbath "We Sold our..."/"Heaven and Hell" (all records... they "never say Die")
5. Iron Maiden (All records up until Adrian split)
6. Ozzy O "Blizzard of Oz"/"Dairy of a Madman" (Randy Ruled, unbelievable that it's been almost 17 years since he died)
7. Queensryche "Rage For Order" (Plus, all other records)
8. Watchtower (both records) 9. All progressive power metal releases with great songwriting and musicianship
10. I'll leave this one open to everything else that ties for greatness (too many to list, not enough pages).... The Sound of Metal itself!!!!!!
11. All Siegen record releases... "Hey this list goes to 11"

1. WAR!!!
2. People dying before their rightful time. Everyone deserves a full live.
3. Great bands slpitting-up or changing in a total musical direction
4. Iron Maiden's new singer (I mean the Bruce look-but-not-sound-ANYTHING- like-Bruce)... One Question Steve.............. WHY??????
5. Metallica stating that they have never really been a metal band??? What in the ....? "Master of Puppets" diffinds the meaning of metal... for that matter lets see your name is {METALlica} not metallicnone. They really lost it all with the death of Cliff.
6. People working again'st each other. What kind of music do you absolutely hate?

I really don't hate any music, I would rather say that I'm not into it. I'm very open minded and there is things that just don't do anything for me such as country music, rap... There are one or two artists in those styles that I can handle in very small doses. I hate trends, this is simply a one minded way of thinking/marketing and is the opposite of group devolvopement.

What is your daily job, how do you earn your money?

I do computer graphics and work at a studio. I also run my label, all money amde from this goes back into the label for future growth. At the moment Siegen Records has 6 new releases to come out in the next three months..... Twilight Kingdom "Adze" (watch out for this!! -Michael) Mayadome "Near Life Experience" Mystic-force "Evolution Fields/Best of V.1" Mystic-Force "Man vs. Machine" (can't wait hearing it!! -Michael) Delusion "The Tragety of Regrets" Nightmares End "Blackend"

Besides playing the bass-guitar, what are your hobbies? Do you have a family?

MUSIC is the biggest... if I not playing, writing, recording, listening, buying, promoting, manufacturing, marketing.... Music, I'm working on the computer, excerising, going to clubs and seeing bands live, coming up with crazy ideals such as Siegen Records, POWERMAD festival, etc. Movies, funny shows, enjoying life, and simply having as much fun as humanly possible...

It would be great if you could give me some comments about the following key-words:

Germany: A land of metal mastered ears, a place were metal is loved... I'm part German, so maybe this is one of those reasons way I love true metal so much.
Heavy Metal: A true passion and way of life for me
Progression: music with artistic textures
Bassplayers: People who have a very deep sense of rhythm and know how to use there fingers... Ha! Ha! The ones who fill the space between the guitars and drums
Savatage: One of the best all time Power metal groups... I love 'em Vinyl/CD: I 've both loved and collected both in the times and I still collect hardcore.
Internet: a great place for metal to find it's rebirth Bill Clinton: He got put on the spot, however they did'nt say were the wife was while he was getting a blow from Monica... Sex, lies & political fuck- up's
record companies: An outlet for the artists, but a
John Arch: One of the few vocal God
Trends: First they suck and then they go away.... Fates Warning: Progressive metal masters who have been very underrated
Summer: Hot and Fun... Cold weather is not always for me

And last but not least: any famous last words?

First off I would like to thank you Michael Kohsiek and you great magazine for interests and this interview... Your support and beliefs mean so much.
I would as like to thank everyone who has supported my band, label, festival and all other involvements within the music scene. 1999 will be a great year and I wish evryone the very best.... Anyone who wants to contact me can do so at:
Global Connections, c/o Keith Menser, P.O. Box 28452, Baltimore,
Md. 21234 (USA) Fax: 410-426-3018 e mail: or want more information on all activities go to the website at:

It was really a pleasure making this interview with this enthusiastic metal-manic, a big "thank you" to you, Keith! Be sure to check out the next releases on his label SIEGEN records and check out his webpage!

(c) 1999, Michael Kohsiek