Manilla Road - Biography




Mark Shelton (Vocals/Guitar) was teached playing piano by his mother when he was 5 years old. But other instruments should follow. He learned to play drums and he was a member of Jazz- and Countryrock-Bands, then he had his own rock´n´roll band called EMBRYO. From one of the two guitar players in this band he was teached to play guitar. After High School he started to study anthropology and he created a new band together with bassplayer Scott Park and drummer Rick Fisher: MANILLA ROAD.

In 1980 they released their first record INVASION on their own label "Roadster Records". Their second album METAL was released in 1982 and still they were experimenting with different styles. You can find simple rock-tunes on both albums but also long space rock songs. Still on their way in finding their own style the band recorded an album which was not released. They simply were not satisfied with the result.

For most people the MANILLA ROAD story began in 1983. "Flaming Metal System" was released on the Shrapnel Records sampler US-Metal 3. This strong song was by far the best track on this compilation. They played gigs with Point Blank, Krokus and Ted Nugent and of course they decided to make a new record: CRYSTAL LOGIC! This is the first real MANILLA ROAD classic containing 7 great songs (and 1 rocksong that was just made for airplay). This LP was also released on "Raodster Records" and was re-released in 1996 by the French company "Black Dragon Records". In 2000 the album was released as CD for the first time by the German company "Iron Glory".

In 1984 drummer Rick Fisher left the band and was replaced by Randy "Thrasher" Foxe. His unique and virtuous drumming should be another trademark for the band in future. The band signed a record deal with the French company "Black Dragon" (Savage Grace, Candlemass, Heir Apparent and others) and then they recorded OPEN THE GATES. It was released as LP with an additional 12" containing two more songs. With a great cover artwork by Eric Larnoy and a much better sound quality as on the previous releases the record was pretty succesful in 1985.

THE DELUGE was released in 1986 followed by MYSTIFICATION (also on Roadster Records) in 1987. The band went on tour through the States together with LIEGE LORD and on this tour they recorded their first live album ROADKILL (1988). This time "Black Dragon" also released the album as CD and so the fans could enjoy a lot of bonus tracks (you nearly have 50% of THE DELUGE on it).

When OUT OF THE ABYSS was released in 1988 (LP & CD) the band had a very bad press here in Europe. This record was more "Thrash Metal"-based as the previous releases but there was still a lot of typical MANILLA-material on it. The band did also a great job when playing really fast. "

In 1990 the band returns -still in the same line up- with the next album THE COURTS OF CHAOS. The mix of epic MANILLA-songs with thrashy fast material sounds great and the additional use of keyboards played by drummer Randy created a good atmosphere. Unfortunately this was the last MANILLA ROAD album - the band split up.

Surprisingly a new MANILLA ROAD CD was in the stores in 1992 (and OPEN THE GATES was also re-released as CD). A new MANILLA-album? No, not really. Mark Shelton started with a new project THE CIRCUS MAXIMUS with two new guys (Andrew Coss and Aaron Brown) but Black Dragon put the name MANILLA ROAD on the cover to sell more copies. The main problem is that all three members share the lead vocals on the album and so it is just a 30% MANILLA-recording.

The interest in MANILLA ROAD got bigger in the late 90´s with its metal revival. A lot of new bands are now influenced by the ROAD and a lot of magazines wrote that MR was one of the best bands metal ever had. Nobody here in Europe knew that Mark is still working with different members and that he has a new project called SHARK and that he still keeps MANILLA ROAD alive! Some companies were interested in re-releasing the classic MANILLA-albums as CD (Black Dragon isn´t existing anymore!). The first release was CRYSTAL LOGIC (with one bonus track) on Iron Glory Records. Now the album got unbelievable good reviews in EVERY European magazine and then something happened... In June 2000 the band (Mark with two new members) had their first gig in Germany, at the BANG YOUR HEAD-FESTIVAL in Balingen, made by the German magazine "Heavy oder Was". It was a great success for the band and they were booked to the next WACKEN OPEN AIR (in 2001).

A few months later the next re-release of a classic MANILLA ROAD album sees the light of the day: MYSTIFICATION featuring one unreleased bonus-track. In the meantime Iron Glory Records puts out a limited picture disc of CRYSTAL LOGIC.

While the band is working on a new material in late 2000 the bands popularity rises! After the good reviews for the latest re-releases and the gig on the German festival metal fans worldwide start to talk about this special band and this website is visited by fans and interested people very often. The original fans of MANILLA ROAD are happy to see that this group is still active and having more success than even in the eighties, when Black Dragon Records had not enough power to promote the band well.

The following reissues on the CD (DELUGE and OPEN THE GATES) helped the band to rise their popularity with a lot of good press around the world in early 2001. While the fans are able to enjoy the classic Manilla-stuff in a better sound quality the band is working on a new album called ATLANTIS RISING. The group played several festivals and gigs in the USA for which they get very good reviews too.

In July 2001 ATLANTIS RISING was released and the band proved that MANILLA ROAD is no relict from the eighties but a strong, unique and extremely creative group who still blows away all the so called "true-metal-bands". The Iron Glory label issued a new studio set in November 2002, the album at first given a working title of 'Seven Trumpets' but switched to 'Spiral Castle'.

The band also reunited during 2003, returning to Europe the following year, the band put in April shows in Italy, Greece and a headline position at the 'Keep It True' event at the Tauberfrankenhalle in Lauda-Königshofen, Germany alongside SATAN, HALLOWEEN, ELIXIR, PARADOX and MAJESTY. The new look band comprised Shelton, vocalist Bryan Patrick, bassist Harvey Patrick and nineteen year old drummer Cory "HardCore" Christner.

In mid 2005, as MANILLA ROAD launched new album 'Gates Of Fire', it was learned that Mark Shelton was contributing to the DAWNRIDER project assembled by MAJESTY mentor Tarek "Metal Son" Maghary. In October the band revealed they had signed to the Greek label Black Lotus for a new album.