Mourning Beloveth interview (12/2005)
|With:||Adrian Butler [Bass Guitar]|
- First of all, Adrian, I'd like to congratulate you for your latest release, the fabulous "A Murderous Circus", and thank you for the chance of interviewing you! Would you mind telling us a few words concerning the history of the band? How it all began and how was the course reaching nowadays, I guess it wasn't a bed of roses knowing that your really wonderful debut album, "Dust", was self-released in the beginning…
The band began in earnest in '93 when the original bassplayer left and co-founder Tim was left to fly the flag of doom with recently joined member Frank. Darren had just joined on vocals and Brian took over the bass duties. After many cold and wintry days in practicing Darrens coal shed I offered the band the opportunity to record their first demo at a sound engineering college I was studying at. This demo was recorded in 10 hours over one night in 1996 and was released to some minor acclaim shortly after. I then joined the band on bass and Brian moved to his preferred instrument, the guitar. We recorded our second demo in 1998 and this helped get us more recognition in the doom/death scene worldwide as an act to watch out for in the future, The demo had 3 songs with 2 piano interludes connecting each song. This was the 2nd and last time we have ever used keys on a Mourning Beloveth release. We decided to keep future recordings within the boundaries the band practiced with and keep it more metal so to speak. After some months we played support to Cathedral in Dublin which opened us up to the Irish scene and made our presence felt. The funny thing that night was most of the band were chemically imbalanced and made for an interesting show and went down well. Our 1st album 'Dust' was recorded at the famous Academy studios over 7 days and the experience of producer Magz was priceless for us as he helped us to find our feet soundwise and extract the main structures that were underlying in the burgeoning MB soundscape. We sent the promos around to a few select labels that we though might be interested but to no avail, so we decided to bite the bullet and release it ourselves. This was a lot of fucking work as we were only really getting to grips with the internet as was the rest of similar acts and groups worldwide so this opened a lot of new doors for us. Up until now the self promotion myself and Darren had done was though writing letters and searching though any zines/band fliers for contact information. I still have some of the letters and paraphenilia from this era and its really cool to look back and see how it was for us. Anyway, we sent out 300 promos to various magazines and radio stations. We gave ourselves a label name(Bron) courtesy of Tim which helped get us reviewed in the bigger magazines album reviews as some might think of 'Dust' as being a demo and this made a huge impact on the scene . We secured 2 support slots with Cradle of Filth in Dublin/Belfast in this period and played our first gig overseas in the Uk
We returned to the UK again 2 years later to record our 2nd album 'The Sullen Sulcus'. We were still unsigned at this stage and demand was growing for more of our stuff. Our first demo had completely sold out and 'Dust' was close to that too. We took a complete year off to write and prepare the songs for TSS. We didn't play any gigs or venture outside our state of mind to keep transfixed on the job at hand. This album was going to be the first collection of songs where everything had to be written from scratch and a complete album had to be unfolded at the end. The Dust album had some songs and a lot of riffs that had been around for years and the cd was really put out there, not to be rid of the cobwebs but to clear the palette to the TSS album so we knew we had a lot of work to put in. Looking back the TSS has immense walls of sound that we built up in the preparative jams and brought to tape in the studio. Magz had by this stage a clear idea of our sound and knew what we wanted as far as the final product was to be. Another element that was worked more on this time around was Franks vocals. His singing has brought a lot of extra melody and soothing reverberations to MB's sound that we didn't know existed before. Darren has always been trying different patterns in every release and has built up an immense vocabulary of places to go you could say. Not being a signed band even at this stage for us made things very hard financially as we were forking out thousands of euros again for another recording. We all have jobs and taking time out for recording was difficult at time to balance with personal lives etc but we've managed it so far and took on as much as we could. After this recording we restarted the promo campaign as before and contacted more labels especially the "sorry not this time but contact us after your next release" ones who wrote back to us after the last release. Out of all of this a few showed promising interest but Aftermath from Norway took us to the contractual stage and they released the album for us. In the end we ended up doing nearly as much self-promotion as before but being on a label with decent enough promotion and distribution took us to another level. My label Sentinel Records re-released the Dust album during this period too as the demand was growing again for Dust and we had sold out of the first edition.We thus embarked on the Doomination of Europe in the spring of 2003 and later that year we went to the USA for some hard graft touring from Los Angeles to New York and finishing in San Francisco a month later. This experience was simply amazing and one never to be forgotten. The cabin fever got to a peak midway through the tour and times were hard but we got though it all and made history as far as an Irish band touring in the US went. Some of the gigs had poor turnouts, some were cancelled and some were just unbelievable. The different experiences and people we met over the 5 weeks were there in total were just great and we did have a lot of fun. There is a tour report on out webpage with more info/photos etc. The course for the band up until now has had as many highs at times as lows but its something I/we would never change for the world. Its so nice to have a hobby that takes you around the world doing something you love and I wouldn't change anything ,past present or future.
- Let's move to "A Murderous Circus"; how did this title come out? Pretty different from the, let's say, common doom/death metal album titles, yet so beautiful and it seems that there wouldn't fit any other title…
The title came about as far as I can remember after a good few nights of phone calls between myself and Darren. He had a general idea of what the new songs were about and had built up a visual of the theme. The basics you can pick out to best explain the title is to imagine us the human race as the circus we are all at and today's showing is how we are all killing ourselves, be it indirectly or fueled by our selfish survival instincts. We may think that cloaking ourselves with what we think is helping us to survive this rat race is in the end going to kill us. We can all achieve highs in our life but the comedown is a torrid state of ill effects. It portrays how futile our existence really is……..I can see how the word 'Circus' in a metal album title can raise eyebrows but what best describes what the band is throwing in your face will make the understanding that bit easier. The title A Murderous Circus is a statement to something that makes us happy but is also killing us. It is also a statement on today's society-this circus we must live in but slowly grinds us down. Both the themes of personal debauchery and a vacuous society are linked in that we cannot have one without the other
- The cover of "A Murderous Circus" is one of most artistic covers I have seen in my life, oblivious and in its very own way poetic and expressive. The little girl with the cold emotionless face in the picture definitely steals the show, an angel dressed in black, bearing that gothic aesthetic oriented cross and staring deep in the eyes of the one cherishing the bleak beauty of the cover. What lies in the background of all this grey atmosphere of the cover? Ruins? A Castle? I'd like to know your opinion on this cover and how did you conceive it, it's pure Art…
The cover comes courtesy of Lukasz who works for Grau and Prophecy productions. Darren had some lengthy discussion with him about what imagery and mental pictures he had for the album and Lukasz got the message as we can all see. Ha had several ideas himself that he sent and after some rejections and alterations we ended up with the finished cover. The inlay was than a branch of this overall concept and each picture was chosen carefully to complete the packaging. The girl is in fact the daughter of a friend of Lukasz's and you can see more of his work on his own website. The imagery in all its greyness captures the bleakness and hopelessness of the albums title and the soundscapes of the songs within. MB always works hard on combining the imagery with the album title and the message in what you perceive sonically.
- How does it feel having reached your third official release and having only great albums in your history up to now? How much time did it take to compose "A Murderous Circus" and how much time did you spend in the studio (the production is very good!)? "The Sullen Sulcus" was released around 2002 and "A Murderous Circus" saw the light of day during 2005, so you had all the time in front of you to work on something special.
Its cool to have achieved 3 acclaimed albums under our belts. We all know the Doom/Death scene is small enough and its great to have made our own niche in the scene. The play support to big international bands,appear on comp cd's with main acts and appear alongside them in major magazines. The thing about MB is in the beginning we didn't want to call ourselves a'doom' band or whatever , we left it to the media to pidgeonhole us and even with this we think we have a lot more to offer than the aformentioned genre. We seem to touch base with many different styles and like to see people make up their own minds about what we are. We like people to get their own interpretations of the lyrics and try to figure us out for themselves. Anyway back to the question at hand. We took 3 weeks in the studio to record and mix AMC. We had the financial backing of a good label this time. This left the job of picking the right studio more open as we had money to spend. We did think of recording at home this time but I think the purpose of going abroad to record puts better musical pressure on you as you have to return home with the finshed product and maybe recording at home might have lethargic undercurrents. I had heard the debut cd of The Vision Bleak and the Alexander Welt cd from Bethlehem and the sound was somewhere around what we though might suit the newer vibes our new songs were throwing out. Darren was also got in contact with the label about the studio though Duncan(Antimatter/Anathema),cheers mate! So all in all the cost versus the logistics made up our minds to go to Studio E and let Markus Stock(Empyrium/Vision Bleak) take us on to record our 3rd album. We gave 2 weeks for recording and 1 full week to mix. Mixing for us was barely an option before as we were mixing at the same time as recording Dust and we had 1 day in total for the mixdown on the Sullen Sulcus so this was a great opportunity for us to see a lengthy mix in process on our stuff. From my own experience in sound college I know its important to leave as much time as possible if at all possible to mix and its something we will always make time for in the future. Recording this time round was a lot more relaxed as a result of the extra time in the studio and Markus's approach and we took our time crafting what we have now.
- The album is lengthy, but that's what someone should expect from a doom/death metal band, what is really remarkable though, something that not everyone achieves in the scene, is that, despite the fact it consists only of 5 compositions and lasts more than 70 minutes, it keeps the interest of the listener to high levels without making him feel bored. How natural it was for you to compose something so inspired?
We don't ever intent to write such longs songs. They just end up being as long as they are period. If it takes 14 minutes to get the message across and the song contains sufficent lyrics and riffs to make the song whole we leave it at the length it has to be. The only time we ever had to cut/edit a song was for the Part 1 track that appears on the bonus cd of the new cd. We originally recorded this for a split 7" with Lunar Gate(Sentinel Records). Before we recorded the tract it was close to 14 minutes long but we could only fit 7 ½ minutes on a vinly 7" at 33Rpm speed so we had to cut out some of it and still make it sound like the song was intended-This was hard to do ha ha! . It was funny too during the recording as when we were mixing the album we discovered that the album length was more than could fit on the normal 70min cd so we had to call up the label and see if they would press the album on a bigger cd! But yeah, the songs are long and the album is very long for just 5 songs but when the interest is kept and the listener doesn't get bored, then the songs wouldn't sound right if they were shorter for us. This is just the way it happens for us and we don't plan on making any changes.
- Concerning the lyrics of the band, they are written in a poetic vein, like you have always done, and they harmonize beautifully with the music and, of course, with Darren Moore's vivid interpretation giving life to them in the most appropriate way. Would you mind unfolding your thoughts in the desolate lyrical part of Mourning Beloveth?
Darrens lyrics speaking from his own point of view on the same overall concept breath life into these experiences and also show the near death result of overindulgence. Darren spends a lot of time writing the lyrics and pulls influences from whatever he may be reading or personal happenings in his life. They are nearly always the last part of the songwriting journey and he will tell you himself he does end up finishing them off in the studio almost everytime and making changes which in fairness is probably what a lot of bands do as the sonics of the album begin to make sense and the clarity help to make the lyrical gaps easier to fill in.
- One of the factors that keep the personal identity of Mourning Beloveth are the vocals, both grunting and the clean ones. Darren Moore has a deeply expressive voice, his grunting vocals are imposing and breath-taking whereas Frank Brennan's clean vocals add another sense to your music, a more epic one, if I may say, but still, so mourning at the same time. How does it feel being with Darren and Frank in the band?
Its cool but you have to deal with the tantrums of 2 vocalists ha ha , only joking. Honestly, its great being in the band with them as it is with Brian and Tim, we all have our job to do in the band and all put 110% everytime. The contrasting vocals as I have said above lend a unique contrast of vocal abilities between the pair with each own part filling in sufficienty for each other where necessary. We don't make it a necessity to have both sing on every song and there are songs as you know that don't have dual singing, its where Darren thinks it is necessary or where Frank might think a riff would suit a clear vocal line. It all depends on each individual song.
- The atmosphere of "A Murderous Circus" is imposing and at the same time wailing and grieving, surrounding the listener in such wonderful ways. Your doom/death metal is really admirable, balancing between really slow passages that evoke a death-like melancholic feeling and more upbeat outbursts that escalate the emotional charge of the song, something you achieved once again, successfully, in "A Murderous Circus".
Thanks again. Yeah, we try to achieve that balance there ion every song to suit its own individual mood. As I said before we do spend a lot of time preparing the songs. Even a couple of months before the recording of this album we took some songs and stripped them back to the bone and reconstructed them. This we thought was a bit risky as we were very close to the recording time but we ended up patching and tidying up here and there in the studio which is also the norm for us. It just goes to show I suppose how meticulous we are as songwriting goes and if I may be arrogant, it shows with the result of 3 good albums to our name.
- You are the bass guitarist of Mourning Beloveth and allow me to say that the rhythm section of the band works in the most appropriate way, the drumming is imposing or more accompanying and the bass lines lend groove to the compositions. You and Timmy Johnson create walls of sound that imprison the listener to the world of Mourning Beloveth. What caused your interest into getting the bass guitar in your arms and start learning how to play?
Great! Someone who recognises the bass and drums!! The bass and the drums put in just enough elements to complete each ones own part. I am a believer of the bass being very strong in the backround and pounding out the riffs without overimposing on the guitars. Maybe that's an old fashioned way to be but I'm not one for intricate basswork that has to be loud in the mix in an egotistical way. As long as it can be heard and it works with the drums I am happy. There are some songs where I think it could have been a little louder but it works as it is so let it be. In the songwriting process I usually wait until Tim has his drum patterns nailed before I complete the basslines.because these usually change for him as the guitars are nearing completion when we are jamming the new stuff. This too was the way in the studio this time around.I like to fill in the bricks in the 'wall' as you say.The rhythm section has to be strong and solid in doom to make it imposing and have that 'groove', or the lads might say ' swing' ha ha. I usually bounce around between playing what Franks melody is doing or chug it out with what Brian is playing and at the same time keep in with Tim so playing bass in MB is a cool place to be. As for all of us in the band as a whole, we have been in this group for 10 years now and have went through a lot of shit together as a band so we know and appreciate and understand each others abilities style and personalities. I picked up the bass nearly 13 years ago when I formed a band with Brian called Hemlock. We had a guitarist and no bassplayer so I went and bought one. I played guitar a little before but not as good as Brian could. Frank also played in this band for a time and our stand-in drummer on our USA tour played with us too.
- Now, I'd like to ask you to unleash your thoughts on a special song to me, "Nothing (The March Of Death)", it is one of my favorite Mourning Beloveth compositions and, I think, one of your best ones, a 20-minute endless opus.
This is along with the songs Dust and Sullen Sulcus is one of the longest we have ever written. The main idea of the songs here is How we struggle through life but eventually give up not on life itself but more on what normal society breathes-Should we try to question the meanderings of time or should we just give up. Its how we thought we would live forever and how we thought that what we did was helping us through the grey vastness but in the end it causes as much trouble as living the normal life. It's the downward spiral of life as we live it. If you think that there is a light at the end of a tunnel , its probably just a candle that goes out just as you arrive at it. The slow break in the song stems from an idea I had during the recording process of Dust. If you can picture the scene- It's the sounds( the wind,peal of a funeral bell,sound of a marching procession)that one is hearing from inside the coffin as it is being brought to the grave, hence the muffled tone of what you hear along with the underlying bassline. Where the guitars blast back in towards the end of the song are truly fitting for the mood of the song and bring us back to reality.This is a common trait of MB and one we always work hard on emulating someway or another for each song that sees fit.
- Would you like to unfold your thoughts on your two previous official releases, "Dust" and "The Sullen Sulcus"? What are your thoughts when the time comes to compare them to "A Murderous Circus"?
Each album has its ownl links to the history of the fruition of the band to its current form as much as it has its own personal memories for myself during the time with the band. Recording Dust for us was an immensely big deal as it was our forst album and we really didn't know what was going to happen. It was a collection of songs that we had around for a while and we made an album instead of just another demo. The whole process from the time we booked the studio until after we finished up doing the promo mailouts was a huge learning curve for myself and Darren and one which we still benefit from today from the people we met along the way and our good friends in the press. Going to record The Sullen Sulcus was different in the fact that we had to follow up Dust with another good album and keep going with the momentum we had created on our own steam. We also had to find a label this time around too which lent its own pressure to the mix.
- What I'd like to state is that your compositions have personality, they don't rely on others' sound and success, of course you have your influences, like everyone does, but you present them through your own musical prism. It's really great to see that bands like you exist in the scene and you are not just another band of the flow.
We like to make our own music our very own. We might borrow minor influences from great bands like My Dying Bride or At The Gates but we have made our own space in the world of metal and are an internationally recognized band now. When we were younger we wanted to be in a band and release an album. It's the journey to then and the benefits afterwards that make it all worth it. If you are not making money from it,who cares, we are in it for the fun and the experience wherever we can get it, nothing more.
- Which bands would you consider as influencial for you and Mourning Beloveth? What's your point of view in nowadays' doom metal scene?
Along with who I have mentioned above I would also add bands like,anything from Bethlehem to Blind Guardian, At The Gates, Rotting Christ, Candlemass, Dissection, Jack Frost, Dimmu Borgir, Darkthrone, Megadeth, Iron Maiden, ,Satyricon Judas Priest, Motorhead, St.Vitus , Bathory
- Recently you played live in Greece, but, sadly, due to lack of money, university exams and because I am not living in Athens, I couldn't see you. But from friends that saw you that day, some of them hearing you for the first time, I heard the best words for your performance on stage. How did you find the Greek audience?
The Greek audience was amazing. When we were told afterwards that there were people there who hadn't heard of us but loved the show, that was special for us. The crowd in Athens was going mental and we even got an applause as we took the stage. We were the first band on and the crowd went wild for us throughout. We sold all our merch too which was cool. We heard that the Greek metal fans were good and it was nice to experience it first hand.
- I have heard the best words for you on stage, as I mentioned above, but I'd like to know your opinion on what someone should expect from Mourning Beloveth on stage, the overall atmosphere and emotions you evoke on stage.
We like to keep the balance between both on stage, the songs we pick for the set and where we play them play a big part in the performance. Depending on the gig we will try a start like "Words' for example or and ending the set with 'In Mourning my days'. For a tour we will usually play the same set each night and alternate each with a different song ,-it al depends on the time we have too. We have used the 'Sinistra' track a few times as an intro time permitting but usually its lights down for an atmospheric start and then its full on after that. Darren will twist himself like a sick vine around the mic stand and the rest of us synchronise our headbanging sometimes when the music takes us on board. Tim will sweat and make ugly faces ha ha .
- What should we expect from Mourning Beloveth in the future? Any news you'd like to share with us concerning a new album or anything else you'd like to mention? What lies in the near or far horizon of Mourning Beloveth?
At the moment Frank and Brian are throwing around a few ideas and getting some stuff together. I haven't heard any yet but they are sending me a tape soon as I moved to Spain in October but will continue to play/write with Mourning Beloveth. Grau/Sentinel should be releasing the vinyl edition of Dust in the coming months and there are talks of us doing a split 10" with our Irish mates Wreck of the Hesperus. We are playing 2 dates in Ireland with Primordial on the 10th and 11th of Feb next year so book your flights now!!
- What is your label status at the moment?
We are signed to Grau for another 3 albums with the option of one of them being a live cd so we are fairly secure for the time being. The label is working really well for us and heres to a very successful partnership for the future. As for my own label Sentinel Records(Darren is now also part of Sentinel) we have just released the Primordial/Mael Morda 7"The picture disc features a live version of PRIMORDIAL's "The Soul Must Sleep" recorded in Vienna, Austria in 2003 and the title track from MAEL MORDHA's recently recorded debut album "Cluain Tarbh". The release is part of a special series of five split recordings featuring 10 of Ireland's top metal acts. The latest disc is limited to just 500 copies and is available directly from www.sentinelireland.com.
- They say that deep inside the soul of every Irish person lies bitterness and sorrow. Ireland as a country has come through many pain in its history and a personal opinion of mine is that this element makes your music have an intense personality through its wailing atmosphere. What's your point of view?
Very true and this question has been asked many times before of us. It's a natural ability for us to use this inner pain and heartbreak to enable us tu build up such heart wrenching melodies and anger in our music. If you take a band like Primordial for example, you can see similar qualities and traits throughout their career.
- And a final question before ending this interview. Can humanity stop "the apocalypse machine" that is slowly marching or doom is what awaits in the (near?) future for us all for everything we have done to this planet?
No-We are all fucked……And we all fucked ourselves…….
- Thanks a lot, once again, for this interview, Adrian, It was an honour! End the interview in any way you like…
Cheers for the interesting questions and it was indeed a pleasure.
||Posted on 15.12.2005 by "It is myself I have never met, whose face is pasted on the underside of my mind."|
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