Sunday, July 9, 2017

Mordatorium Interview

1.Can you give us an update on what has been going on with the band since the recording of the new album?

As we were wrapping up the recording, we took a local show around here early June and we had to spend some time finding a new bass player as our current one had sort of walked out on us. We
asked our good friend Jon Corston who does guitar/vocals in his band Beyond De-th, as well as guitars in God Dementia. We'd done a lot of shows with Beyond De-th and I'd jammed with him a
few times prior, and he was into the idea of doing bass for us. We were already good friends and he's a really solid musician so things clicked really well so we got to work rehearsing. The
show went well, and after that we sort of took a break for a couple weeks, since then turning to behind-the-scenes stuff planning the album release and so on. Currently we're finishing up
deciding on a set list for a release show that we booked and then we'll get to practicing it.

 2.You have a new album coming out in August, how would you describe the musical sound that is presented on the recording and also how does it differ from the stuff you have released in the

With this one we stuck to a fairly dirty sound, but we really wanted to shoot for a more natural sound compared to the past releases which consisted of just me and a drum machine. So this
time around there's all acoustic drums with no triggers, resampling, or automated time-aligning or anything like that. So compared to the old stuff it sounds much more like listening to a
live band. Musically the material represents the stripped down 3-piece lineup we have now, focusing on energetic rhythms and grooves and heavy riffing. It's sort of a logical continuation
from the last release, "Raw". That album has a couple of short guitar solos on it, whereas this one doesn't have any guitar leads at all. The earlier stuff was more melodic and heavy metal
influenced whereas this stuff is more straight-forward, stripped down old-school death, drawing more from the heavily punk-influenced death metal bands

3.On your first album you had 4 different covers while the later recordings have been all original material, can you tell us a little bit more about doing cover songs in the early days of
the band?

I think playing a lot of covers is how a lot of young musicians get there start, as it's a good way both to hone your skills, and let various influences rub off on you in a more direct way
and develop both your playing and creativity. Learning things from other musicians challenges you to think in a way that you might not naturally think on your own. Around the time of the
first album, I was about 16 or 17, and I'd just been playing guitar for a little less than a year or so. So back then when I'd get together to jam with friends and my Mordatorium co-founder
Mike, we'd always be excited to sort of show off what new things we had learned. So our jams would be sort of a mix of trying to write stuff together and put together original songs, but
also playing through a bunch of other songs we knew.

When I did that first Mordatorium thing, I was 18 and the "band" as it had been had fizzled out with Mike calling it quits on it, and I was sort of just bored living in my mom's basement
and feeling a bit nostalgic about it. I wanted the music we played to be "written down" so to speak, so I took it upon myself to try and record all of it however I could. With some of the
cover songs I had come up with my own arrangements on them, for example the Carcass cover contains a riff from "Death Certificate" and then goes through a version of "Genital Grinder"
before actually going into "Polarized", and then with the "Harvester of Sorrow" cover it starts with the intro section of Diamondhead's "Am I Evil?" which Metallica had in turn covered. I
guess I had decided that they were worth including for that reason, and because it was a part of what we had used to jam on frequently. The "album" didn't really have a formal release, my
teenage self had insisted on calling it an album, and it was a full-length after all, but I think I had just uploaded it to our and myspace pages at the time and that's all that
consisted of its release. Recently I did have a small run of 10 CDs made of it because a couple of friends of mine said they wanted one for their collections, but nowadays as adults we sort
of like to pretend that that early stuff doesn't exist, haha. Some of the old lyrics and so on contain a bit of cringey teen angst, though I do think that the material itself is pretty
interesting, and of course by way of being an amateur basement recording it has a pretty unique sound. Not necessarily a good sound, but a unique one. While the music has gone in another
direction and we're essentially a different band now, the early stuff does still sort of influence our current stuff, however subtlety. So while we do sort of look the other way on that
first album and don't take it too seriously, I am still ultimately glad that I decided to record it and put it out back then.

4.What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the band explores with the newer music?

At this point the lyrics are a little all over the place, though I'd say they fall into a few categories. A few of the songs on "Obsessed With Death" draw from personal experiences which I
decided to write about in a really ambiguous and dark kind of way: "Rampage" essentially deals with feelings of motivation, drive, and overcoming challenges, whereas "Biting Cold" is the
opposite extreme dealing with depression and hopelessness. The title track draws from a personal experience as a child that ironically is rather lighthearted. On "Raw" most of the lyrics
were inspired by tales of horrific crimes, murder, and executions that I had read about, and that trend is continued on a couple of songs on this album: "The Gallows" was actually inspired
by the artwork on "Raw", depicting a saw execution, and then our ex-guitarist Jared wrote a song for us about the "Murder Castle" of H.H. Holmes, a serial killer in Chicago who was among
the first prominent killers in US History. Then there's a few where I'm just being a nerd and writing about some monsters from computer games I've played, with "The Abomination" from
"Raw", and now "Overmind" and "The Butcher" on this album. Lastly, “Beheaded” is inspired by more current events, a sort of response to the James Foley and Steven Sotloff executions by Islamic extremists, and “The Culling” deals with overpopulation and an imagined collapse of society.
So there are a few different things going on. In contrast to that though we've talked a little bit about focusing on a specific concept or theme on the next batch of material, so we'll see about that.

5.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Mordatorium'?

It's a bit of a silly story how the name came about: our co-founder Mike Moibenko and I were in an English class in high school and our teacher - in classic English teacher fashion - liked to use big, uncommon words whenever possible. After an incident involving some comfy chairs, she declared a “moratorium” on the comfy chairs, and for whatever reason the word stuck with me as a cool sounding word, regardless of its actual meaning. We were trying to think up a name for our little band, and so I took the old Germanic root word for murder, “mord”, and smashed them together. The dorks we were, we probably said something to the effect of “Mordatorium? Yeah, that sounds pretty brutal,” and that was that.

6.What are some of the best shows that the band has played over the years and also how would you describe your stage performance?

My favorite show that we've done was one we set up at the Livewire Lounge, our favorite local dive, about a year and a half ago in January. It was our first time really organizing and promoting a show ourselves rather than hopping on to one or working with a promoter, and it was really rewarding. The bands all had great sets and there was a great turnout for a small place like that so we were able to pay everyone pretty well.

We ordered a few giant pizzas, two of them were free-for-all upstairs, and another for the bands in the basement. That's a tradition that Jon had started when we would play with his other band. My best friend Lauren Gornik's band at the time Melursus came up from St. Louis, and they were really cool – I had a lot of people telling me they especially liked them. Unfortunately they've since split up. Anyway Lauren was the other guitarist in my old band Panzer and we had a decent following around the city, so I think a lot of folks around here were excited to see her play again. She also does all of our artwork in Mordatorium also. In fact she's sort of like a secret 4th member, always offering good advice and helping behind the scenes. Our set went really well, the crowd was in a good mood and got really into it. I remember just doing a good growl into the microphone during sound check and getting a cheer in response and I could feel the excitement in the room, it was an awesome feeling.

We also had a really good show opening for Marduk at Reggie's back in February of this year. It was a packed one too with a lot of good friends coming out. That's also probably my favorite venue in the city here, or one of them anyway. I'd played there a few times with Panzer several years ago, and it was cool getting to play there again.

As for our stage show, we usually like it keep it pretty straight to the point and let the music do the talking. Sometimes I'll do a little bit of banter here and there but I've found myself doing less of it than I used to nowadays. At the least I never plan any banter anymore. As for visuals we try to look the part a bit but don't go over the top. We don't want to look like any other joes wearing black t-shirts, but we don't want any costumes either. No bullshit, just death metal.

7.Do you have any touring or show plans once the new album is released?

Besides the release show, we don't have any other show plans. Between Pearl having a good full-time career and Jon having a few other bands and so on, our ability to take time off and go on the road is a bit limited. We've discussed it, and we're willing to do a short tour or two a year if a good opportunity presents itself, along with some weekend warrior trips around the region. I can't say for certain what the future holds, but at present our live plans will probably involve something like a couple of local shows each year and maybe some regional road trips or one-off shows in other places here and there as well. Again, if other opportunities present themselves that could change.

8.According to both the metal archives and facebook pages the band is singed to 'Exorcist Records', can you tell us a little bit more about this label?

Back when I was younger I was having some of The Dark Crusade CD's pressed and on the form I had to fill out I was asked to include the name of the label, and it was a required field so I
just made one up. The name comes from an old unfinished song of ours. I'm sure I could've written "independent" in there I suppose, but being young and naive I thought it'd make it seem
more legitimate somehow. I did at least make sure that the name wasn't taken already, and to my knowledge no other "Exorcist Records" exists at present.

A little later on I did have some serious thoughts about starting and running it as a real label, so I spent a few months doing research, comparing prices across different CD and merch
printers, getting some contacts together and so on. I had a logo made and started working on a website, but eventually I had a change of heart and decided that I'd rather just focus on
playing and doing my own band and not go through with the label thing. So I still slapped the logo on our last CD and had it listed on MA and whatnot, but for "Obsessed With Death" we
decided we'd do away with this "label" of ours and just call it what it is which is an independent release.

9.On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your music by fans of death metal?

The age of the internet is interesting because anyone anywhere in the world can stumble upon your music. We found a radio show in the UK that played a few of our songs. We've stumbled on some of the older releases on some Russian blogs, which were accompanied by some reviews that according to Google Translate didn't seem to be especially positive, haha. Pearl and I once took a trip to Montreal in April of last year and gave a few CD's to a record store owner there to sell.

At any rate this is the first release where we're really making a big effort to put it out there, so I don't think we've made too big of a splash worldwide at present, other than with circles of friends we've made at festivals and so on. So far the feedback on the new album has been really good though, and I'm excited for more people to hear it. As far as the verdict from the death metal community at large goes though, that remains to be seen.

10.Are any of the band members currently involved with any other bands or musical projects these days?

Our bassist, Jon Corston fronts his own band called Beyond De-th, which has a debut full-length nearing completion, and I think some tour plans as well. He's also playing guitar in God Dementia and working on doing vocals for Disinter – so he's a rather musical guy. I have a few friends whom I've talked to about collaborating on some other music with, but nothing serious. For Pearl and I, Mordatorium is our only band.

11.Where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?

It really depends on what sort of inspiration strikes. I have written one new song since we did the album, and it's got some more punk type riffing and more syncopated grooves and so on. I could see us moving even more in that direction, drawing from the sort of crust-punk influenced death metal and having less traditional heavy metal influences. So the same general sound but more high energy, aggressive songs. That's what I've been really into lately. But I never want to write an album that is all just different versions of the same song. I like to consciously switch things up in terms of song structure and tempo across a batch of material, always thinking of songs in context of each other rather than each one one at a time. So I'll have to keep myself interested with some variation of some sort, and that could come in different forms. Maybe we'll take a page from Vallenfyre and have some slower, darker, doomier songs and mid-tempo jams to break up the aggressive ones. Or maybe it's even possible that we might draw again a bit from our earlier stuff, maybe add a second guitar again, and while not being overtly melodic, have more harmonies and more technical guitar playing again. The focus now is still definitely on keeping it stripped down, dirty, and aggressive, but in the end we'll go wherever our creative intuition takes us.

12.What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?

With the current incarnation of Mordatorium, there's a lot of influence from bands like Grave, early Benediction, and so on. There's also Cianide from Chicago here who we love. Carcass has been a consistent influence over the years, particularly the Necroticism stuff as well the albums on either end of that one. Vallenfyre is one of our favorites too, we love their sound and I really appreciate the way they use different tempos and rhythmic feels for contrast across their albums.

Early on when Mordatorium first stared I listened a lot to the early Arch Enemy albums as well as some of the later Carcass ones, which sort of combined B-tuned dark sounding death metal with really overtly melodic and lead guitar-oriented sections. Going from there I was inspired by Hypocrisy, in particular a couple of their modern albums but also the old stuff. From there I got into some old American death metal, mainly Morbid Angel and some Death, and then Swedish and British stuff, especially Dismember.

As far as what I've been listening to lately, as far as our style of music goes, a lot of Pyre (from Russia), Under the Church, Backyard Mortuary, as well as Entrails and LIK from Sweden. On the other hand, I drive people around for work a lot, so I have to listen to things that are a bit more tame while I'm doing that. On that end, I've been listening to a lot of psychedelic rock or stoner rock or whatever you call it, in particular a band called Ruby the Hatchet which I really love. They have a new album coming out the same day as ours and I'm pretty excited for it. There's also one called Electric Citizen, Bill Steer's old band Firebird, and there's this band from around here called Black Road I've been grooving on too. I also have been into some more eclectic stuff and some female singer-songwriter types like Anneke van Giersbergen. I'm a big fan of Anna Murphy and her various projects – that Cellar Darling album should be showing up in the mailbox pretty soon now. So it's a little all over the place.

With metal music I've been a bit of a slouch these last few weeks especially. I mentioned Vallenfyre and Entrails earlier, both are favorites of mine and they both put out new albums very recently that I still haven't listened to yet! I sort of fell out of the habit of listening to music at home and I need to start forming that habit again, as there is starting to be a lack of metal in my musical diet.

13.What are some of your non musical interests?

Mostly I like just walking around or being out on a really nice day. I also like reading and writing from time to time. I studied history in college and so that's a big interest of mine, mainly early modern European history, and military history in general, though I studied ancient Africa and ancient China too.
 A lot of the time though I'll spend my free time playing computer games, the main ones being Heroes of the Storm and Starcraft II, though lately I've been playing through The Witcher III and I've been hooked on War Thunder also. I'm excited for the old Starcraft Remaster to come out, I'll definitely be playing through that one again. But other than being a computer nerd, my main hobbies are boring and involve cleaning, walking, and eating cheese.

14.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?

I'd just like to thank everyone who is helping to spread the word about “Obsessed With Death”, everyone who has been into Mordatorium and has encouraged me to keep going with it. Thanks to everyone who has shown an interest and taken the time to read through my ramblings. And a big thanks to my current and former bandmates for giving me the opportunity to play my music live, and taking what was a bedroom hobby project and making it into a real band.

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