While the exotic youth of Bryan “Brain” Mantia would fill a book alone (tales of sex, drugs, myth, magic, life in a secluded mountain fortress, parasitical gardens, and covert political maneuverings are all the ingredients of this alchemical mixture, which is undoubtedly one of the most intriguing true stories ever told) it is his obsession with percussive sonic landscapes that has made this San Francisco native one of the most sought after producers/percussionists in the world of underground musical culture.
Brain (who’s name was said to be given to him by the ex-patriot novelist Paul Bowels in the early eighties) had his sights first set on a career in teaching Philosophy (with a heavy empathies on Wittgenstein) but it was after witnessing “a frenzied communication of percussion” by legendary underground drummer Billy Roz in a Moroccan street fair, that the youthful Brain abandoned his Philosophical career and begin an intensive study at San Jose State University and then on to the prestigious Percussion Institute of Technology in Los Angeles. After declining an invitation to teach at the Institute, Brain went on to extensively tour North America, Europe and Japan with the now legendary “Hip Hop imposters” The Limbomaniacs.
In the 1990’s Brain began a rich career of a studio session player, developing and perfecting his evolving style (with clients as diverse as Tom Waits, Bill Laswell, Giant Robot, BT, Chris Isaak, Jon Hassell, George Clinton, Gary Shider and Mudbone Cooper of Parliament-Funkadelic, heavy metal groups Exodus and Testament). Brain also participated in Ad sessions for Disney, Levi’s, Toyota, Acura, Activision and penned soundtracks (for New Line Cinema’s feature films Monster and Mortal Combat, film trailers Charlie’s Angels 2 and T3 and wildly popular Japanese television shows Ultra Man, Dragon Ball Z and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) and Sega games to name a few.
Not content to be just a mere hired gun in the studio, Brain also became the permanent touring member for such acts as Godflesh - for their album Songs Of Love And Hate (1994) (described by Alternative Press magazine as “Black Sabbath meets Wu-Tang Clan”) Primus (interscope Records) - for the albums The Brown Album, Rhinoplasty and Anti Pop and the Primus performance/behind the scenes video Videoplasty. On the album Rhinoplasty, Primus collaborated with Stewart Copeland (legendary drummer of The Police), Tom Morello (guitarist - Rage Against the Machine), Fred Durst (singer - Limp Bizkit) – each contributing one song as a guest producer. From 2000 to present, Brain is composing songs and recording with the latest incarnation of Guns N Roses and toured the world for their forthcoming Chinese Democracy album (Interscope Records). In 2005 he has recorded and toured for the Tom Waits Real Gone album (Epitaph), Praxis for the Profanation album (Sanctuary), Colonel Claypool’s Bucket of Bernie Brains The Big Eyeball in the Sky album (Interscope Records) and Giant Robot’s The Cuckoo Clocks of Hell (Catalyst).
Brain also became a fixture of the underground music world with his continued collaborations with legendary bassist/ producer Bill Laswell. His relationships with Bill Laswell lead to his membership in the band Praxis. Transmutation Mutandis (Axiom/Island Records), their first release, consisted of Brain, Bootsy Collins on bass, guitar fiend Buckethead, P-Funk keyboardist Bernie Worrell, and DJ Af of the Jungle Brothers. Praxis toured the world and released another studio album as well as a live album (which also featured the world champion DJs the Invisibl Skratch Piklz) and a series of live videos.
Increasingly fascinated with electronic production techniques, Brain has developed a comprehensive understanding of modern music software. This love for electronic manipulation has led to work with famed dance electronic producer BT on soundtracks such as Tomb Raiders and Driven and BT’s album Emotional Technology (Nettwerk Records). Brain’s skills with computers and music are featured on a Tech TV segment which documents his use of computers in the recording studio, with his portable and home studios. Brain collaborated with Stephen Jenkins (Third Eye Blind) on the RUN-DMC album Crown Royal (Arista) and again with Stephen and Vanessa Carlton for the theme song of the popular video game The Hunter (Midway). He’s also produced a pair of wildly innovative albums from social mercenaries No Forcefield and his forthcoming Break Beat album of original rhythms and arrangements. Brain has also focused on deconstructing the hip-hop beat and has released inspired neo Hip Hop on his Gonnervill Records label
which has produced remixes of Frank Sinatra, Vanessa Carleton, and Run-DMC.
His trip-hop/dub project Fullcone has had songs released on Axiom’s Valis-Destruction Of The Beat, Volumes I and II and Tetragramatron-Submerge compilations. Brain has recorded on several of Buckethead’s own albums including 1999’s Monsters and Robots and 1998’s Colma on Cyber Octave/Virgin Records. The two collaborated for Pieces - I Need Five Minutes Alone, for John Zorn’s label Avant. Brain played on DJ Disk’s solo album Ancient Termites (Bomb Records). A live album and video was recently recorded called Phonosycograph with Disk, Buckethead, Xtrakd, with a guest appearance by Les Claypool, and released on Japan’s BMP/Seven Records.
Worldwide recognition has now cemented Brain's popularity as one of the premiere drummers in contemporary music. He has released an Instructional drum video/DVD for Warner Bros. (Shredding Repis on the Gnar-Gnar Rad) and was a regular columnist for Drum! Magazine. He recorded and produced his own Beat DVD-R Brain: One Stroke Done (Big Fish Audio), consisting of 8 GIGs of 24 bit multitrack Pro Tools drum sessions
Not contented as being a mere “drummer” who Brain says, “are burdened with the issue of language”, Brain has dedicated himself to expanding his musical vocabulary by unconventional means. His current studies now consist of advanced music theory and piano technique, the behavior patterns of African honeybees and the economic science of “subdivisions”.
Brain is endorsed by DW drums, Pacific Drums, Zildjian cymbals and sticks, LP percussion, REMO heads, Joe Montineri snare drums, DC Shoe and Clothing Co., Apple Computer, Akai, IK Multimedia, Antares, Cycling 74 (MAX) and Red Bull energy drink.