Ernie Ball String Theory is a web series that explores the sonic origins of some of music’s most innovative guitar players. In this episode, Phil Manansala and Alan Ashby of Of Mice and Men reflect on the progression of their careers, their guitar playing origins and where the motivation to play comes from. Find out the top six things we learned –


1) Manansala always wanted to be a guitarist. (0:18)

“Guitar playing, to me, is everything; ever since I picked up a guitar when I was a kid. I didn’t know it would take me where I’ve gotten to go, where I’ve been able to play or even to get to do as many albums as I’ve gotten to do. But I knew when I was a kid, picking up a guitar was what I wanted to do the rest of my life… it’s always inspired me, and having a guitar to get my artistic ideas out has been the best thing for me – it’s everything to me.” – Phil Manansala

2) Embrace the struggle of improving. (3:51)

“You have to suck at first. If you don’t suck at music, and you’re just Michael Jordan right away, that doesn’t work. To look back and think about how the progression has come now, to how we write songs – it’s crazy to me, it’s beautiful, it’s the growth. You have to have that sort of growth.” – Phil Manansala

3) Classic Rock drew Ashby towards guitar. (1:35)

“My parents were really into music. My dad was super into ZZ Top and Eric Clapton, and he would always play live concerts on the TV, and I was always really into them. I had a lot of energy and my parents decided that I needed some extracurricular activities in my life. My mom suggested that I play saxophone or take some saxophone lessons… I had been watching all these AC/DC videos that my dad was playing, and I told her no, I want to play guitar.” – Alan Ashby

4) Live shows incited Manansala’s desire to pursue a career in music. (5:45)

“I started with pop punk, went to a lot of Blink [182] shows, MXPX… going to a lot of concerts at the Showcase and The Glass House. Whatever was playing there, I would just go… the “Screamo EMO” movement happened in the early 2000s, and going to concerts is what really forced me to want to write music like that because the energy of the crowds. I was in the crowd going crazy for that stuff.” – Phil Manansala

5) It comes down to love for the music. (7:57)

“You’ve got to love playing music, and if you’re not in that situation, where you love playing music with whoever is in your band, no matter where you are, no matter what the fuck you’re doing. It’s more about the love and the appreciation for playing the music. The stage can be wherever… the stage can be your fucking living room.” – Alan Ashby

6) Of Mice and Men knows what they want. (10:44)

“We’re writing these songs because they make us feel like us, which is, I think the best part of writing music. Writing the songs for yourselves and praying that people like it. I hope they like it as much as we do… hopefully we meet halfway.” – Phil Manansala


Of Mice and Men play Ernie Ball PARADIGM Super Slinkys and Super Slinky electric guitar strings.

String Theory

Check out other similar guitarist String Theory films from Ernie Ball including Daron Malakian of System of a Down, John Petrucci of Dream Theater, Dave Navarro of Jane’s Addiction, Robin Finck of Nine Inch Nails, and many other amazing Ernie Ball artists. Watch additional episodes of Ernie Ball: String Theory.

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