Drummer Brian “Brain" Mantia has played with some of rock's more cult/fringe artists (Praxis, Primus, Tom Waits, Buckethead, Godflesh), as well as more mainstream/renown ones (Guns N' Roses). Raised in the South Bay city of Cupertino, CA, Mantia became interested in such ‘groove heavy' artists as James Brown, Led Zeppelin, and Jimi Hendrix early on, but it wasn't until he was 16 years old that Mantia began playing drums. Shortly thereafter, Mantia acquired the nickname “Brain" while playing in a high school concert band, due to his obsession with the complex Anthony Cirone book, "Portraits in Rhythm." Mantia continued to perfect his drumming skills, by studying at such music schools as the Percussion Institute of Technology in Hollywood. The mid ‘80s saw Mantia join the Bay Area funk-rock band, the Limbomaniacs, who broke up later in the decade, but reformed to issue a lone full-length in 1990, Stinky Grooves.
From there, Mantia played with a variety of other outfits, including M.I.R.V. (Cosmodrome, Feeding Time on Monkey Island), MCM and the Monster (Collective Emotional Problems), and Tom Waits (Bone Machine), before co-forming the funk/experimental supergroup, Praxis. Included in the group were Parliament-Funkadelic veterans Bootsy Collins (bass) and Bernie Worrell (keyboards), as well as masked guitarist Buckethead and producer Bill Laswell -- resulting in countless releases throughout the ‘90s (including such standouts as Transmutation (Mutatis Mutandis, Transmutation Live, and Warzsawa, among countless others). Mantia continued to work with Buckethead even outside of Praxis -- playing on such solo Buckethead albums as Giant Robot and Monsters and Robots.
The late ‘90s saw Mantia appear on releases by Godflesh (Songs of Love and Hate, Love and Hate in Dub), and longtime friends, Primus (whom Mantia was briefly a member of in 1989, before a broken foot led to his exit). His second go-around with Primus proved more fruitful, as Mantia toured extensively with the trio and played on such albums as The Brown Album, Rhinoplasty, and Anti-Pop. Already boasting quite an impressive musical resume, it was about to get even greater, as Axl Rose invited Mantia to join his overhauled version of Guns N' Roses (at the insistence of Buckethead, who was brought onboard as Slash's replacement). Mantia appeared with the group throughout sporadic live dates in 2001 (the Rock in Rio II Festival) and 2002 (the MTV Video Music Awards), while continuing to lay down tracks for the oft-delayed new Guns N' Roses studio release, Chinese Democracy.
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 Brains 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.