Judas Priest’s Rob Halford calls himself the “Metal God,” but Jose Mangin is the “Metal Ambassador.”
Born in Phoenix and raised in Douglas, the UA graduate shares his love of the genre on SiriusXM Octane, by hosting metal festivals and attending shows. Nothing is just for fun. He’s always working the room, pushing the genre and his new nonprofit, Headbang for Science, that provides scholarships to young metal fans.
The inked mogul with the gauge earrings has become one of the foremost authorities on heavy metal. He helped create satellite radio’s Liquid Metal and Octane stations and celebrated his 22nd anniversary with the company on Sept. 21. He laid down guest vocals on a Suicide Silence song, introduced Metallica at Yankee stadium, hosted a Korn concert in Los Angeles, and interviewed Ozzy Osbourne.
“The bands in our community are the nicest people in the world,” Mangin said via telephone from his Huntington Beach home.
“I love supporting the musicians themselves — not just their music, but the record labels and managers. These bands, these veterans, inspired me to be a metal ambassador.”
Mangin was born in 1977 at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix. He and his family lived in Phoenix, Sierra Vista and Tucson before settling in Douglas.
He was introduced to metal by older cousins when he was in kindergarten.
“They had a room in the back shack with cool metal posters,” Mangin recalled. “I thought, ‘Wow. That looks awesome. What is that?’ There was a big metal scene in Douglas.
“There were a bunch of long-haired dudes. There wasn’t anything in Douglas other than Mexican music, cowboy boots, Mexican language, and super, super Mexican dudes and chicks — then there were the in-betweens, who leaned toward rock and metal.”
His first concert was Iron Maiden and Anthrax at Compton Terrace, south of Chandler, in 1992. Mangin left school and took a bus from Douglas to Tucson, where he met his cousin and a friend. They drove to Compton Terrace and took the same route back.
“It was a big deal,” he said with a laugh.
Mangin wanted to attend other shows, but his parents weren’t too keen on it.
“I tried to go to other metal shows,” he said. “I wanted to go to Clash of the Titans, but I couldn’t go. I was too young. I didn’t have the means to do any of that. We were very poor as well.”
To commemorate his first concert, Paul Booth’s Tattoo Parlor inked “Persistence of Time” on the back of his leg as Anthrax watched. It was during an episode of “Headbangers Ball,” which he hosted for four years.
After graduating high school with a perfect GPA, he attended the UA, where he earned a degree in chemistry, thanks to a full-ride scholarship. He then headed to Tennessee to pursue a doctorate.
While at the UA, he served as music director of KAMP, the studio radio station.
“Arizona is what made me into the metal person I am today,” Mangin said. “I love giving credit to Arizona. I wear Arizona jewelry. I always have my stuff that I bought in Bisbee or Scottsdale. I have Native American jewelry, and turquoise jewelry. When people compliment me on my jewelry, I tell them it’s from Arizona. I’m proud and quick to point out where I’m from and bring it up in conversation.”
In 2013, Affliction Clothing named him director of artist relations, and Mangin has worked with artists on the company’s music branding. He also co-owns Riazul Tequila.
As an energetic presenter and conversational interviewer, Mangin has on his resume eight years with the nationally syndicated LatiNation, in over 100 major Latino markets, and multiple award shows. Programs broadcast with the likes of Amazon, AXS-TV and VH1 often utilize his talent.
Recently, Danny Wimmer Presents signed Mangin to serve as “official host and backstage correspondent” at all of its rock festivals, including Louder Than Life in Louisville.
In a statement, Danny Wimmer Presents said, “He’s such an amazing ambassador in our community, so to be able to have him at all our events exclusively is incredibly exciting. Jose’s energy is contagious, and we know our fans will dig getting to see him at the festival, along with all the great content he’ll be grabbing backstage.”
Mangin is just as enthusiastic.
“I’m so excited about that,” he said. “I’m hosting all of Danny’s hard rock and metal festivals this year and next year. It’s just an honor. I’ve worked with Danny for over 10 years. I always wanted to be his main host.
“I’m a big ambassador for this music. My favorite part of being the host of these festivals is being able to say thank you to the subscribers of SiriusXM. I have meet and greets, talk to fans, take selfies, and give hugs and fist bumps. I feel a lot of love wherever I go.”
He recently returned to Arizona to attend the SiriusXM Octane-sponsored Memphis May Fire show at the Crescent Ballroom in Phoenix and, two days later, saw Anthrax, Black Label Society and Hatebreed show at the Van Buren in Phoenix.
“I hosted the Memphis May Fire show and it was really good to be on stage in Phoenix and talk about my Arizona roots with the fans there,” he said.
“When I mentioned Douglas, there were three people who cheered really loudly. It was cool to get a big Douglas cheer.”
Spreading the wealth
Mangin founded Headbang for Science during the pandemic, but it was born out of an idea he had in a dream in September 2014 in New Jersey. He followed through with it when the world shut down.
“I was watching all this stuff happen,” he said. “Everything was happening with politics and global health and the division among us.”
“I was so hurt by all of that shit. I wanted to do something. I didn’t know what to do. I realized I had this dream of starting a scholarship foundation for heavy metal nerds who want to be doctors and scientists. I thought if I did this, especially right now, it would uplift our community and help out in a unique and awesome way.”
To qualify, applicants must be a graduating high school senior who wants to major in medicine or science. They have to have a 3.5 grade-point average or higher, who “loves the hell out of heavy metal music” and shows financial need.
“My first taste of success was my grades and then winning scholarships,” he said. “My grades were the first things I was ever recognized for. It’s an amazing feeling to have.”
He said students need motivation from more than parents, teachers and counselors to “kick ass in school.” Instead, kids look up to idols.
“If I didn’t win a full-ride scholarship to UA, who knows what I would have done,” he said. “It gave me the confidence that carries with me to this day. I still have the feeling of winning those awards and I want to win more. It’s an addictive feeling.”
Mangin promises to make “mini celebrities” out of the scholarship winners by putting them on the radio and social media. They’ll be the envy of their family and friends, he added. The first one will be named this spring.
His first fundraiser was held at a sold-out Spiritbox concert. At the show, he received a $20,000 donation for Headbang for Science: two oversized checks, each $10,000, from Spiritbox and its label, Pale Chord.
“It was so fricking cool to get big checks. I’ve never held one of those checks in my life,” Mangin said.
“I was on stage at a sold-out venue, and everyone was cheering and clapping and rooting for the charity. It was really cool, very moving and surreal. I can’t wait to do more things like that and more fundraisers. I want more karma points. I want to have an awesome bank account of karma that I can always pull from. I just want to do good.”
Headbang for Science