Q&A: Manny Mangos on Kurt Cobain, Lil B, and Fox News | New Times Broward-Palm Beach

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Q&A: Manny Mangos on Kurt Cobain, Lil B, and Fox News

Conflict-of-interest alert: I know that Manny Mangos is really named Manuel Vazquez because I actually know Manny. I met him about a year ago, and he is a buddy of mine, though I don't see him around much these days.

Beached Miami compared Manny Mangos to Calvin Johnson, and it's a good point of reference -- simple melodies, monotone vocals, cute imagery -- and Manny (also like Johnson, admittedly) is a little dark. It might be purposeful, but it is undeniably real. You can glean that just by looking at his Twitter, which won a tongue-in-cheek Miami New Times Best Of award and is overflowing with negativity and weirdo epiphanies, but some of those are jokes.

You can probably learn more about Mangos by listening to his songs, which are sort of punk and sometimes pretty funny, but you haven't heard them lately. He disappeared for a while on a self-imposed hiatus (more about that below), notoriously missing scheduled shows, but the Santeria-espousing Mangos is getting it together and is all the better for it. You can see him at the Snooze on Saturday.

When did you start making music, and why did you do it?

Probably like two or three years ago. I was just listening to Nirvana, all depressed. I just wanted to be Kurt Cobain so bad, I dunno. My mom bought me an arctic-white Fender. My little brother had a teacher that taught him music, so I used his guitar teacher to teach me to play too.

And you were feeling depressed too?

Yeah. I wanted an outlet. I kind of wanted to be a rock star, and I just wanted to vent a lot of what I was feeling -- families, divorces, isolation in high school.

How is what you're working on now different than when you first started recording?

Well, two experiences that are serious: jail and my dad dying. That kind of made my music a lot more real, more inspired. Nobody's really heard my new shit. Fuck everything else -- I'm really getting back into it. I had to try and go on a mission yesterday and buy new guitar strings. I have a show on Saturday with the Love Handles guys. They've really helped me a lot, and they want to book me even though I sometimes don't show up to shows. I'm really reckless.

Yeah, you weren't making music for a little while, right? You weren't playing.

Yeah, I went on a hiatus, as far as music goes, like an idiot. My most recent one was because of drugs. I was getting into a culture of selling drugs. I was just living in a different area and having to survive.

You weren't totally on hiatus from music, though. I saw a video of you freestyling. Who's Murda Mangoz?

[laughs] Yeah! Murda Mangoz is like my alter ego, like the street, hip-hop Manny. It's like who I am in Broward, growing up and chilling. I'm really trying to do the rap thing. Based [Lil B] is kind of an inspiration for me as far as hip-hop goes, but so are Waka Flocka and Gucci Mane. Real ignorant, free rap.

So are you focusing more on that now?

I was doing that more for a little bit. That's what got me on the hiatus. But my other music is the real deal. That's what I'm missing hard -- playing, doing shows, the crowd, my old friends.

So Lil B and Waka Flocka are your inspiration for Murda Mangos. What's your inspiration for Manny Mangos?

Jacuzzi Boys. Black, Norwegian death metal. Heavy metal -- like Black Sabbath, Cannibal Corpse. Not that I channel that musically, but that's kind of my vibe, you get me? Garage, psychedelic, metal, and -- this is very important -- soul and blues. Voodoo, Louisiana, the Delta -- just an acoustic guitar and not much technical skill, very stripped down, three chords. Passion versus technical skill. But then I like the energy of live metal, even though that's very technical. Mangos is the energy of black metal meets the skill of blues. I'm really inspired by Miami too: Dino Felipe, Jacuzzi Boys, This Heart Electric, Rick Diaz, Alex Puentes. And even though I'm not into hippie culture, I'm really into a psychedelic lifestyle.

So it's more about the soul and feeling of it. And what inspires you emotionally?

Girls, heartbreak, isolation, death, voodoo, trippy and psychedelic experiences, drugs.

I have to ask you about your Twitter because you talk about and use it a lot...

Yeah, I use it, but I don't like how my Twitter overshadows my music. It gets more attention. I don't really get shows, but people read my Twitter, even though I have like, ten followers.

Some people find your tweets kind of offensive. Do you care, or...

Well, lately I've been caring because I've noticed I get less followers every day when I do certain tweets. But generally, I'm just being myself, not giving a fuck, not taking it too seriously. I also think it's pretty funny that people are so offended by my conservative, homophobic, Republican-type statements.

But you don't really mean those, right?

Well, in a political way, yes. But on a real, everyday level, no. On a spiritual level, I respect all people.

You're a Republican?

Yes. My dad, my life experiences, living in the areas I've lived in, my military background... I've finally accepted it.

I didn't know that! So you consider yourself sociopolitically conservative? 

Yeah, absolutely. I'm anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage. I'm not into welfare, new world order, all that crazy shit. Even though I might live that life, at the end of the day, I'm really... Fox News. That's why I say crazy shit online. Because I mean it, and because I don't really care. I'm not trying to be offensive to people that I'm cool with.

Do you ever write more personal stuff that doesn't go on your Twitter?

Yeah, one of my goals is to write a book about the past five years of my life. I write journal entries, song lyrics. I read excessively. I'm kind of burnt out.

Yeah, last time I tried to interview you, you were in a motel room.

Yeah, that's like a crazy thing I've been into. I'll randomly go to a motel and just set up shop. I'll have mad weed and sell it and try to absorb the area, just walk around Little Haiti and downtown and get into trouble. Last time I did it, I was with my friend, and we'd just get fucked up and have long conversations and go to bars and meet chicks. I like to do random shit for fun, even if it's a waste of money and stupid and reckless. But now I'm trying to become less reckless, because it's fucking up my opportunities in music. I'm really not making any moves in Miami right now.

So you have to get back on track.

Yeah. One thing I really want to emphasize -- I'm really appreciative of some of the show opportunities I've gotten, and I feel very regretful that I fucked them up. One of the main ones I'm talking about was the show with the President at the End. I didn't intend to fuck up, and I really regret not playing that show. The last show I missed, I got really messed up and just didn't make it.

But you're definitely not missing your upcoming one, right?

No, absolutely not.

So sum everything up for me -- your current goals and the way you're ending your hiatus.

I want to have a book, an actual record, and an official American tour. Those are my three goals right now. That's my drive right now. And a girlfriend, whatever.

Manny Mangos. With Heartstrings and Honey Train. 8 p.m. Saturday, July 30, at the Snooze Theatre, 798 Tenth St., Lake Park. Click here. Also check out Manny Mangos' MySpace.

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