In a time that is monopolized by bands of the latest trend, cookie-cut and nearly indistinguishable from each other, Manna Zen stands out, from their name to their music, their live performance and even their ever-growing fan base. These Florida rockers aren’t trying to top any other act out there, but carve their own path in the journey of music, and bring you along on their ride. With an idiosyncratic sound that spans a variety of genres, and lyrics that tattoo a permanent place in your subconscious, Manna Zen has a little bit of what even the most fastidious music connoisseur is searching for.
Manna Zen has been a staple in the Jacksonville, Florida music scene for a number of years, struggling with the often experienced process of filtering through different musicians before finding the perfect sound. Vega, bassist Joe Kemplin, and guitarist Rob Schulte were faced with making yet another lineup change in late 2013, after losing both their drummer and rhythm guitar player. Such a setback might tear some acts apart, but for these guys, it presented a challenge easily managed. Within days, Vega had reached out to friend and fellow local musician Ben Hawkins, who was excited to step in and bring his searing guitar riffs to the band. Shortly after, Ben brought friend Kyle Brewer in fora jam session, and the cemented the most exciting lineup yet. Each member brings to the group their own unique sound, preference, and prodigious experience, ranging from influences such as Santana and Incubus (Vega), Type O Negative and Mudvayne (Kemplin), Goldfinger and Finch (Schulte), Led Zeppelin and Stevie Ray Vaughan (Hawkins), Nirvana and A Day to Remember (Brewer). Such eclecticism merges together to create a musical experience unlike any other. The best example of this can be seen, heard, and most importantly felt, at any of the band’s live shows, where the fan base, the ZENation, is growing in number. At each concert the finished set is echoed by chants of the band’s name as fans clamor for more of the sound they’ve grown to love.
Manna Zen has been privileged to play with such amazing acts as Godsmack, Seether, Stone Sour, Puddle of Mudd, and many more at the Welcome to Rockville fest in 2011, then again in 2012 with Korn, Shinedown, Evanescence, Five Finger Death Punch, P.O.D., and Halestorm. They were the only local Jacksonville band chosen to play X102.9's Rock on the River II with Sick Puppies, Panic! at the Disco, The Airborne Toxic Event, AWOLNATION and Hugo, and again joined X102.9 in 2012 for the Big Ticket fest featuring Bush, and Rise Against, and in 2013 featuring Stone Temple Pilots with Chester Bennington and Thirty Seconds to Mars. They've shared the stage with a host of other notable acts like Paramore, Fuel, Sevendust, Framing Hanley, Static-X, Tantric, Adema, Taproot, Alien Ant Farm, Trapt, OTEP, Helmet, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Eye Empire, Days of the New, LA Guns, Stevie Stelleto, Hed PE, Mushroomhead, and NONPOINT. The band has graced stages all over Florida including the historical Florida Theatre, Metropolitan Park, the Jacksonville Landing, The Sea Walk Pavilion in Jacksonville Beach, Freebird LIVE, The Coliseum in Daytona Beach, Brewsters MegaPlex, and a host of other venues. Their first album, a self-titled release, was recorded in Orlando at the prestigious Full Sail Studios, and garnered local and regional attention. Their latest album, "The Balance of Things", was recorded at Martell Studios, an effort funded by the band and it's incredible fans, the ZENation, and released in December 2012.
Known for their love of all music, and their faith and support in the local and underground music scene, Manna Zen’s next stop is a city close to you, and a lasting place in your heart and soul. Prepare to be swept away on their journey.