Sunday, April 7, 2013

Moregengrau Interview

1. Can you give us an update on what is going on with the band these days?

Quite a lot! We just released our debut album on 4/2/2013. It's been a
whirlwind of preparatory activity over the last few months - mixing,
mastering, album cover, layout, proofing, then getting all the
infrastructure in place to handle sales. Clawhammer PR has been helping us
with the promo campaign. If it wasn't for them, I think I would have had a
stroke by now. We're actively booking up shows around Texas and polishing
new songs which we will play at the Martyrdoom fest in June. There's a
great amount of momentum right now - we intend to keep it rolling.

2. The musical sound of the album goes back to the early days of death
metal, what was it that motivated to go into this direction?
I grew up with old school death metal. I'm tapping into those themes and
riffs which inspired my most passionate reactions. I think it's important
to remember how you felt when you first heard a style that ignites your
inner fire. For me, I go back to two points in my life: shows at the tiny
River Rock Cafe in Buffalo, NY and sitting in my college dorm room
listening to Pestilence's "Consuming Impulse". At the River Rock, I came
to know who I truly was while getting killed in the pit of that sweaty
little room: I may be small but I’m tough and stubborn as hell. I can
withstand just about anything and do just about anything I put my mind to.
In college, listening to “Consuming” taught me how I wanted my own metal
band to sound. Of course, I’ve gone on to enjoy and take inspiration from
tons of other music but time and again, I go back to October 1990, lonely
as fuck, away from home for the first time, studying those Pestilence
songs with a near obsessive focus. Whenever I sit down to write music I go
to these places; I’d like to think I’ve captured elements of both
formative times.

What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the band explores with
the new release?
I didn't want to do a concept album as I knew that would take me far too
long to write the lyrics. I am the slowest lyric writer in the world.
There's abstracted occultism in Extrinsic Pathway, Chemosh Enlighten,
Grave of Lies and worship of destruction (self or external) in
Antithetical. Choking Grove explores the former Houlthust munitions dump
in Belgium and The White Death takes place in the split second before
famous WWII sniper Simo Häyhä pulls the trigger on one of his 505 kills.
Polymorphic Communion is my answer to Municipal Waste's "The Thing." Many
of the lyrics in the occult-focused songs have a double, personal meaning
which lends a special intensity when we perform those songs live.

4. Some of the lyrical subjects deal with occultism and the left hand path
how would you describe your views on these systems?
I don't have definitive views nor do I subscribe to one particular way.
It's more of a general lifelong current that’s flowed through me always. I
have memories of being about eight, pouring over the booklet from this LP
"Vincent Price: Witchcraft and Magic." It was full of old woodcuts and
engravings featuring demons and demonic rites - same ones you now see
every day on T shirts and album covers. Back then, I'd never seen anything
like it. I must have read that booklet 100 times; I had every word in it
memorized. The animal-headed demons fascinated me, leading to a deep
interest in lycanthropy. Any book with even a paragraph about werewolves
was read cover to cover, so of course I was simultaneously exposed to a
lot of information about witchcraft and demonology. I think it all comes
down to the fact I've never felt quite right in my own skin. There's
always been this ferocity in me which never agreed with the cute little
girl who stared back in the mirror. No surprise that subjects which deal
with transformations, the letting out or embracing of inner demons catch
my attention. Much of my life has been defined by being uncomfortable -
socially, emotionally and physically. A dark and different child, my path
of life has only made me darker and more strange.

I believe in the power of the opposite, of inversion. I believe in
closeness to and acceptance of death. Strength and internal poise are best
gained through enduring discomfort, physical and mental. We live in a
world where we avoid any type of discomfort and look what it’s gained us:
The Hipster. No. Adversity builds character. I believe in living with eyes
wide open, and seeing All: beauty, decay, pain, happiness, simplicity,
complexity, genius, stupidity, and most of all, Onself as One Truly Is.

5. What is the meaning and inspiration behind the bands name?
The word itself means "gray morning" which is a fine theme for our focus
on dark, depressing subjects. Selecting a name took quite a while. Four
hundred thousand metal bands have consumed every good medical term, Latin
phrase, occult word and demonic name two times over. While cruising
through some old German songs, I stumbled upon the word "Morgengrau."
There was an instant connection. We researched it thoroughly, found no
evidence of use by a metal band, then claimed it as our own... only to
discover a year ago that a black metal band in Germany now has the same
name. Seems they showed up on the Web after we'd finished our search.
Frustrating. I'm trusting that interested listeners will be able to tell
which band is which.

6. What are some of the best shows that the band has played so far and how
would you describe your stage performance?
We’re intense. Focused. We seek to project as much dark energy as
possible. We don’t have a tremendous roster of shows under our belt yet -
I’m a big fan of being tactical rather than playing every gig that crosses
beneath our noses. Every show has had excellent responses with each one
bigger and more ferocious than the last. Very exciting to see how things
are building. Playing NYC’s Martyrdoom festival this year will certainly
be a huge milestone. It’s been a long time since I’ve played outside of
Texas and last year’s Martyrdoom fest was killer, so when we hit the stage
in June we’ll be fully charged with adrenaline and ready to destroy.

7. Do you have any touring plans for the new release?
Touring is something we'd love to do but the feasibility at this time is
questionable. Nick and Jake are young enough to do the "quit your job go
on the road" thing, but Reba is just starting her career and I'm going to
work my corporate job until I die, if I can manage it. We've talked about
short 5 day runs. Two weeks max is probably all we could ever manage.
Still... you never know. Nothing’s impossible.

8. The new album came out on Blind God Records, how did you get in contact
with this label and how would you describe the support they have given you
so far?
Great label. Full support. Never say no to a request for more money...
because the imprint is mine. Christ, this last credit card statement was
huge! Completely worth it, though. I don't like the way it looks when a
band puts out an independent release that’s missing the label imprint on
the back and the spine. Feels lacking somehow. Furthermore, it took us so
long to record and mix the CD, I didn’t want to waste another six to nine
months shopping it around. Now it’s out in the pipeline and the response
is great - we’re moving quite a few ourselves, getting excellent reviews
and are working on some distribution so we can move product in greater
volume. Label support of some kind for the next one would be great so we
have more flexibility around recording and merch budgets.

9. On a worldwide level, how has the feedback been to your music by fans
of old school death metal?
As I mentioned above, it's just getting started. We've had some fantastic
feedback. My little mid-life experiment seems like it’s going to prove
successful. I've always wanted to do a death metal band - starting one at
age 38 after 20 years not playing guitar was a bit of a gamble. There have
been a few freaked out reactions from people who only know my work in
Ignitor or Autumn Tears. Can’t say I blame them - especially the Autumn
Tears fans - Morgengrau is quite the change. The great thing is of all my
musical endeavors, this is the most comfortable band I’ve ever been in -
the most work but the most satisfaction with the least stress. Easiest to
perform. Most satisfying shows.

What is going on with the other musical projects these days?
I have my Iron Maiden cover band, Drifter, which I’ve been in since 2006.
I like being in a cover band because it’s super low stress - no musical
arguments or hurt feelings, plus it keeps my clean vocal chops in shape.
I’m always down for session vocals of any kind but right now that avenue
is quiet. Jake’s other band Plutonian Shore is actively playing shows and
demoing tracks for their new album. A capella esoteric vocal ideas are
always kicking around in my mind but I know my limits - I have time right
now only for Morgengrau.

What direction do you see your music heading into on future releases?

Morgengrau will remain old school death metal. No blinking or going off
course. We have no desire to go skipping down the paths of experimental,
ambient, hyper blast, progressive, gore or whatever else. Our job is to
keep writing interesting, catchy songs that remain true to the genre.

12. What are some bands or musical styles that have influenced your music
and also what are you listening to nowadays?
I'm listening to way too much Finnish Death Metal these days - Torture
Killer, Winterwolf, Demigod, Scent of Flesh. Been overdosing on Immolation
new and old in anticipation of the upcoming album and the tour. I’ve
already mentioned Pestilence’s influence. Other influences: Asphyx,
Deicide and Morbid Angel. All the old DM classics. I do try to pay
attention to other forms of music which I may not like but understand to
be structurally successful - 80s pop is a great example. Simple, catchy
and not overdone. Nobody’s trying to prove the length of their penis by
playing 25 notes a second. There’s much to be learned from the excellent
songwriting of those days.

Outside of music what are some of your interests?
Murder. I am an amateur student of forensic anthropology, particularly
violent death. Military history and technology. Paleontology, with a focus
on therapsids and theropods. Parasitology. Bizarre diseases and medical
conditions. I enjoy people watching and studying human behavior in
stressful situations, as the truth of a person is revealed when the going
gets tough. I also love exotic and muscle cars. In a couple weeks, I’m
going shooting for the first time in just about 30 years so that will
probably start up a new obsession around guns as well.

14. Any final words or thoughts before we wrap up this interview?
Thanks Extreme Metal Zine for your interest and support! Check us out at and pick up a CD via
Come walk the Extrinsic Pathway with Morgengrau... Hail Metal, Hail Death!


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