Mano Divina of The Divine Hand Ensemble, F.O.D. (Flag of Democracy)
Joseph A. Gervasi interviews Mano Divina, the original drummer of Philly’s favorite hardcore punk band, F.O.D. (Flag of Democracy) and the founder of The Divine Hand Ensemble (with many bands in between). Mano Divina (that’s his legal first name) was raised by an Italian-American family who took great pleasure from all forms of music and sharing it with one another. Since Mano Divina claims he can’t remember most of his childhood, our discussion soon reaches his teenage years, which were fueled by his obsessive love of music and, by his early teens, his welcoming into the nascent Philly punk scene. Mano Divina speaks with infectious enthusiasm about the accepting nature of the Philly scene and the creative individuals with in it. It didn’t take long for Mano Divina help form F.O.D. and play their first show — one of the most (in)famous in hardcore history — with Minor Threat at Buff Hall in Camden, NJ (a show discussed in some other interviews in this series). In our wide-ranging interview we talk about Mano Divina’s time in and out of F.O.D. (one of the first ultra-fast bands of the early ‘80s who’re still amazing today); the many bands and studio sessions he played on; his tutelage under none other than Venusian-Philadelphia jazz god Sun Ra (!); the threat Philly’s blacks and punks received when Rizzo was mayor and after the MOVE debacle; moving into the electronic music/rave scene; Mano Divina’s discovery of the theremin and the impact it’s had on his life; the mystical roots of his name; my beloved prog rock (King Crimson! Jethro Tull!); and, of course, forming The Divine Hand Ensemble. The Divine Hand Ensemble brings something of a punk attitude the performance of classical music. Mano Divina lectures on science and the theremin to wide range of people, so his ability to communicate with all and sundry is evident in this interview. Our talk filled with great stories and high cheer. I think many will find Mano Divina’s D.I.Y. ethos to be a source of inspiration. Plus: the interview ends with an absolutely demented story!