Drummer Brian "Brain" Mantia has played with some of rock's more cult/fringe artists (Praxis, Primus, Tom Waits, Buckethead, Godflesh), as well as more mainstream/renowned ones (Guns N' Roses). Raised in the South Bay city of Cupertino, CA, Mantia became interested in such groove-heavy artists as James Brown, Led Zeppelin, and Jimi Hendrix early on, but it wasn't until he was 16 years old that he began playing drums. Shortly thereafter, he acquired the nickname "Brain" while playing in a high school concert band, due to his obsession with the complex Anthony Cirone book Portraits in Rhythm. Mantia continued to perfect his drumming skills, by studying at such music schools as the Percussion Institute of Technology in Hollywood. The mid-‘80s saw Mantia join the Bay Area funk-rock band, the Limbomaniacs, who broke up later in the decade, but re-formed to issue a lone full-length in 1990, Stinky Grooves.
Mantia played with a variety of other outfits, including M.I.R.V. (Cosmodrome, Feeding Time on Monkey Island), MCM & the Monster (Collective Emotional Problems), and Tom Waits (Bone Machine), before co-forming the funk/experimental supergroup Praxis. Included in the group were Parliament-Funkadelic veterans Bootsy Collins (bass) and Bernie Worrell (keyboards), as well as masked guitarist Buckethead and producer Bill Laswell -- resulting in countless releases throughout the ‘90s (including such standouts as Transmutation (Mutatis Mutandis), Transmutation Live, and Warzsawa, among countless others). Mantia continued to work with Buckethead even outside of Praxis -- playing on such solo Buckethead albums as Giant Robot and Monsters and Robots.
Mantia appear on releases by Godflesh (Songs of Love and Hate, Love and Hate in Dub) and longtime friends, Primus (whom Mantia was briefly a member of in 1989, before a broken foot led to his exit). His second go-around with Primus proved more fruitful, as he toured extensively with the trio and played on such albums as The Brown Album, Rhinoplasty, and Antipop. Already boasting quite an impressive musical résumé, it was about to get even greater, as Axl Rose invited Mantia to join his overhauled version of Guns N' Roses (at the insistence of Buckethead, who was brought onboard as Slash's replacement). Mantia appeared with the group throughout sporadic live dates in 2001 (the Rock in Rio II Festival) and 2002 (the MTV Video Music Awards), while continuing to lay down tracks for the oft-delayed new Guns N' Roses studio release, Chinese Democracy.