Brain (musician)

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Brain in 1998
Brain in 1998
Background information
Birth nameBryan Kei Mantia
Also known asBrain
Bryan "Brain" Mantia
Born (1963-02-04) February 4, 1963 (age 60)
Cupertino, California, U.S.
Years active1984–present

Bryan Kei Mantia[note 1] (born February 4, 1963), known professionally as Brain, is an American rock drummer. He has played with bands such as Primus, Guns N' Roses, Praxis, and Godflesh, and with other performers such as Tom Waits, Serj Tankian, Bill Laswell, Bootsy Collins, Les Claypool, and Buckethead. He has also done session work for numerous artists and bands.


Mantia was born February 4, 1963, in the South Bay city of Cupertino, California, to an Italian American father and a Japanese American mother.[2] As a teenager, Mantia became interested in such artists as James Brown, Led Zeppelin, and Jimi Hendrix, acts that featured groove-heavy sounds.[3] When he was 16 years old, he started playing drums. Because of his 'obsessive' study of the drum book Portraits in Rhythm by Anthony J. Cirone, Mantia was given the nickname "Brain" by members of his high school concert band.[3]

Mantia attended the Percussion Institute of Technology in Hollywood, California, during the mid-1980s to further hone his craft.[3] During this time, he was a member of local funk-rock band named the Limbomaniacs (which would later become part of Ben Wa).[3] In 1989, Mantia joined Primus briefly, before breaking his foot, forcing him to pull out of the band.[3]

In the early '90s, he joined Praxis, a musical project led by Bill Laswell and initially featuring Bernie Worrell, Bootsy Collins and Buckethead. The drummer was a mainstay of Praxis for the 1990s, featuring on most of their albums. Mantia recorded with Buckethead on many of Buckethead's solo albums, including Monsters and Robots, Colma, The Cuckoo Clocks of Hell, and Bucketheadland 2, among others.

Sometime in 1995, Mantia was approached by his cousin, who was managing Mr. Bungle, to join industrial metal band Godflesh as their drummer. He accepted the offer and performed in their 1996 album Songs of Love and Hate as well as Love and Hate in Dub. However, Mantia was unable to commit his time in Europe and left the band the same year.[4] Some time later, Mantia rejoined Primus, touring with and recording for four years with the group, appearing on The Brown Album, Rhinoplasty and Antipop.[3]

In March 2000, Mantia joined the revamped lineup of Guns N' Roses after being recommended to singer Axl Rose by Buckethead (who himself had joined the band a few months earlier).[5][6]

In 2003, Mantia appeared on several songs on BT's 2003 release Emotional Technology as well BT's score for the 2003 film Monster.[7][8]

Mantia toured several legs of the Chinese Democracy Tour with Guns N' Roses from 2000 until 2006, when he left the band to take care of his newborn child.[9] Frank Ferrer, originally brought in as just a replacement drummer for the tour, eventually replaced Mantia as full time drummer for the band. Chinese Democracy was released in 2008, and featured drums from Mantia on every track except the title track. Mantia was also credited with writing the songs "Shackler's Revenge" and "Sorry". Parts of Mantia's drumming on the album were note-for-note re-recordings of Josh Freese's parts, who left the band before Mantia joined.[10][11] Mantia was also responsible for arrangements on "Shackler's Revenge", "Better", "Street of Dreams", "There Was a Time", "Sorry", "Madagascar", and "Prostitute", initial production on "Shackler's Revenge" and "Sorry", engineering on "Sorry", drum machine and drum programming on "I.R.S." and Logic Pro engineering for the entire album.

After leaving the band, Mantia made a guest appearance (alongside fellow former GNR member Robin Finck) at Guns N' Roses' House of Blues West Hollywood show on March 12, 2012. Mantia played congas on "You're Crazy" and "Rocket Queen". He continued to occasionally work for the band on yet to be released remix material.[9]

Since leaving Guns N' Roses, Mantia has primarily been focused on music behind the scenes as a composer and producer.

Mantia had a brief stint drumming with The Crystal Method in 2013 and 2014 (alongside Guns N' Roses guitarist Richard Fortus).[12] These performances included appearances on Jimmy Kimmel Live, and Last Call with Carson Daly [13][14]

In 2017, Mantia toured with Buckethead and Dan Monti as part of Buckethead's live show.[15]


Mantia drumming for Buckethead in 2017

Mantia has partnered with musician Melissa Reese on several projects, a composing team dubbed "Brain and Melissa".[16] In 2010, along with Buckethead, they released the multi-CD sets Kind Regards and Best Regards. Brain and Melissa composed part of the soundtrack to the video game Infamous 2, for which they were nominated for "Outstanding Achievement in Original Composition" by the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences awards.[17] Other video games the duo worked on include, PlayStation Home, ModNation Racers, Twisted Metal, Fantasia: Music Evolved and Infamous: Second Son (received the nomination Original Dramatic Score, Franchise at the 2014 NAVGTR Awards, shared with Marc Canham and Nathan Johnson).[18] They also scored the films Detention and Power/Rangers. They have worked with music video director Joseph Kahn on several television commercials, including NASCAR, SEAT, and Qoros. In addition, they scored a commercial for Johnnie Walker Blue which featured a computer-generated Bruce Lee.[19] They also worked on several remixes of songs off of Chinese Democracy for a planned remix album.

The two created a stock music album called "Eclectic Cinema" alongside former Guns N' Roses guitarist Paul Tobias, and Guns N' Roses and Buckethead collaborator Pete Scaturro.[20] Mantia has also worked with Tobias on several other stock music tracks.

The duo performed at the halftime show of a Houston Rockets basketball game on November 10, 2017, performing remixes of "Sorry" and "If the World" from Chinese Democracy, and a cover of KISS's "Do You Love Me?" from Destroyer.[21]


Information sourced from "Bryan Mantia's Drum setup".[22]


DW Collector's Series Maple drums in Tony Williams Yellow Lacquer with Custom Yellow Hardware
18x24 Bass Drum
8x12, 9x13 Toms
16x16, 16x18 Floor Toms w/ Legs
6x14 Edge Snare

9000 Single Bass Drum Pedal
9500 Hi-Hat
9300 Snare Stand
9700 Straight/Boom Cymbal Stand (x6)
9900 Double Tom Stand (x2)
9100 Throne


14" A Mastersound Hi-Hats
19" A Medium Thin Crash (2)
20" K CrashRide
20" A Deep Ride
20" A Medium Thin Crash
22" Oriental China "Trash"


Akai MPC 60 II, 3000 LE, 4000
Technics SL-1210MKZ Turntables with a M44Gs stylus
Vestax PMCO5PRO DJMixer

Selected discography and videography[edit]

  • Brain's Lessons: Shredding Repis On the Gnar Gnar Rad – 2002 instructional video
  • Brain's Worst Drum Instructional DVD Ever – 2008 instructional video
  • Stinky Grooves – 1990
Giant Robot
  • Giant Robot – 1996
Tom Waits
  • I Need 5 Minutes Alone (as Pieces) – 1997
  • Colma – 1998
  • Monsters and Robots – 1999
  • The Cuckoo Clocks of Hell – 2004
  • Kevin's Noodle House – 2007
  • A Real Diamond in the Rough (tracks 2, 4, & 7) – 2009
  • Best Regards (with Melissa Reese) – 2010
  • Brain as Hamenoodle – 2010
  • Kind Regards (with Melissa Reese) – 2010
El Stew
  • No Hesitation – 1999
No Forcefield
  • Lee's Oriental Massage 415-626-1837 – 2000
  • God Is an Excuse – 2001
Colonel Claypool's Bucket of Bernie Brains
Serj Tankian
Guns N' Roses
Science Faxtion
Travis Dickerson
Video Games


  1. ^ Frequently misspelled as "Brian Mantia"


  1. ^ "Interview: The Beats of inFAMOUS 2 – Drummer Brian "Brain" Mantia | CtrlAltKill". February 3, 2012. Archived from the original on February 3, 2012. Retrieved May 22, 2020.
  2. ^ "Interview with Guns N' Roses drummer Bryan "Brain" Mantia –". November 9, 2008. Archived from the original on February 19, 2009. Retrieved October 22, 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Brian "Brain" Mantia – Biography & History – AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved January 10, 2018.
  4. ^ NatterNet. "Brain talks about Buckethead, Axl Rose, Primus". YouTube. Retrieved April 13, 2023.
  5. ^ Carrie Borzillo-Vrenna (October 30, 2000). "Guns N' Roses Make Buckethead, Robin Finck, & Bob Ezrin Official".; Retrieved April 24, 2015.
  6. ^ "Guns 'N' Roses' Bryan "Brain" Mantia – Modern Drummer Magazine". March 25, 2009. Retrieved January 10, 2018.
  7. ^ "Emotional Technology – BT – Credits – AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved January 10, 2018.
  8. ^ "Music from and Inspired by the Film Monster – BT – Credits – AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved January 10, 2018.
  9. ^ a b "Guns N' Roses drummer says Axl Rose wants to release remix album of 'Chinese Democracy' songs". BLABBERMOUTH.NET. April 12, 2009. Retrieved February 14, 2015.
  10. ^ Joe Bosso (October 17, 2008). "Brain talks about making Guns N' Roses' Chinese Democracy". MusicRadar. Retrieved February 10, 2016.
  11. ^ "Brain Mantia Talks Tom Waits, Axl Rose". Retrieved January 10, 2018.
  12. ^ Fusilli, Jim (February 3, 2014). "The Right Method". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved January 10, 2018 – via
  13. ^ "The Crystal Method Celebrates 20 Years Together, Release 5th Studio Album". January 13, 2014. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
  14. ^ "The Crystal Method To Appear On Last Call With Carson Daly Tonight". February 4, 2014. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
  15. ^ "Buckethead Announces 2017 Fall Tour". August 2, 2017. Retrieved August 14, 2017.
  16. ^ "About – Brain and Melissa". Retrieved April 3, 2016.
  17. ^ "Outstanding Achievement in Original Music Composition". Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences. Archived from the original on November 13, 2014. Retrieved November 13, 2014.
  18. ^ "NAVGTR Awards (2014)". National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers. Archived from the original on March 22, 2017. Retrieved January 28, 2017.
  19. ^ "BBH China brings Legend Bruce Lee back to life in game changing campaign for Johnnie Walker". Campaign Brief. Archived from the original on September 23, 2015. Retrieved October 22, 2014.
  20. ^ "Eclectic Cinema by Various Artists on Apple Music". iTunes. November 19, 2013. Retrieved January 10, 2018.
  21. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: Anthems (November 12, 2017). "Brain and Melissa live performance – Houston Rockets Half Time Show". Retrieved January 10, 2018 – via YouTube.
  22. ^ "Brian "Brain" Mantia's drum setup". Retrieved January 10, 2018.

External links[edit]