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This Heavy Metal Guitarist is Putting Brooklyn on the Map

To those on the outside, talent often appears inherent, easy, and natural. But the skilled know that “talent” is always the result of hard work, hours put in mastering technique, propelled by nothing but passion. That’s certainly the case with Paul Manning, a young heavy metal guitarist from Brooklyn. Fortunately, Paul’s hard work has paid off, earning him gigs playing the national anthem before New York Rangers hockey games, as well as some interest from the fashion world as a potential model. And fortunately for us, O.N.S had the chance to catch up with Paul at a studio in Brooklyn to talk about metal, putting in work, and defying people’s expectations to follow your own heart. 

So, when did you get your first guitar?

I got my first guitar around the age of 11 or 12, I believe.

Everyone I know who’s gotten really good at guitar has spent, like, years alone in their rooms, just playing and practicing. Did you do that too?

Of course. I remember when I first started playing guitar, it was like looking into a mirror. There would be a day that I’d either cut school or run home to just sit and play for hours. I spent an entire summer playing guitar in my room, just trying to become better.

At your young age, how did you find the time and space to do that?

My time was mostly free. I had few  friends and I only went to school, church, and after-school. And I wasn’t really into to video games like that.

If you love guitar, getting into heavy metal makes sense. But as you said at our photoshoot, people are often surprised to see a young Jamaican-American man who loves metal. With that in mind, how did you discovery heavy metal and get into it?

My parents only played gospel and reggae for the most part. I heard a lot of rap in my neighborhood, but I wasn’t allowed to listen to it. As for listening to music, I had to sneak and listen to it on “Music Choice,” a music browser in Cablevision. The first time I heard Ozzy Osbourne’s “Let Me Hear You Scream” was when I fell in love with metal. It influenced me to make a guitar out of paper and tape and I would mimic Zakk Wylde playing guitar until my dad bought me a real one.

The theme of this O.N.S Manual issue is “fearless.” Did you ever have to face any fears in your pursuit of guitar mastery? Were there any people along the way who said you shouldn’t be into heavy metal because of your heritage or where you grew up?

Plenty!! People in my church and community said it was rebellious and the Devil’s music. Some even said black people shouldn’t play that kind of music, but I stayed head strong and followed my heart. Now my face is in place that they could never ever reach.

I know you’ve played the national anthem at Rangers hockey games before. How did that come about?

It all came about from my previous performances. People saw me and took my information down and it all sort of just happened.

Do you have any advice for people who want to follow their interests or dreams?

Life itself. I’m learning to sit at the feet of my own life and let it teach me. I don’t only want to make music—I want to make the sky crack. As the saying goes, “No one else can touch your dreams but you.” 

You can see more from Paul on Instagram here: @uzumaki_333

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