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A Dirty Dozen with MORTIIS – March 2019

| 3 March 2019 | Reply


According to a recent press release: “Norwegian visionary artist MORTIIS proudly announces his return to North America in 2019! The godfather of dungeon synth is set to embark on a 10-date trek from March 28th to April 7th 2019. After playing in Europe (including several festivals), Russia, Australia, Mexico and South America, MORTIIS will perform his Era 1 material in USA and Canada for the first time in almost 20 years.” We get Mortiis to discuss new music, influences, and much more…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets the band put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

The latest release is coming up later this year and it´s called Spirit of Rebellion. It is in fact a heavily reinterpreted version of my second album from 1994 called Ånden som Gjorde Opprør. I originally sat down with the intent to re-record it, for the purpose of a couple of festival shows, where I was going to perform the album in its entirety. It quickly escalated into a total re-write of the entire album, where it ended up with a ton of new music, rhythms and arrangements were added (and some taken away), so it pretty much became a new album, or some sort of continuation of the original. There’s so much new stuff, I don’t really know whether there’s any point in trying to locate any nuggets for die-hards only. On occasion, I tend to leave things like that to linger on in the artwork, haha!

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

That’s hard to tell, but I knew I love hard rock music the day I watched Gene Simmons’ bloodied face on TV, sometime in the late 70’s or around 1980 or so… I was 4 or 5 years old, so it would have been 1979 or 1980. By the time I was in 9th grade, I knew I wanted to be in a band, and consequently, me and a friend from school, started a band together, that lasted for about 8 months.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

No not really. I have had many musical influences over the years. They’ve ranged from KISS and WASP as a kid, that got me into over the top imagery. Later on death metal like CARCASS was huge for me, and of course VENOM, CELTIC FROST and BATHORY were very important. I dug into the world of Kraut with bands and artists like TANGERINE DREAM and KLAUS SCHULZE, and of course MINISTRY, SKINNY PUPPY, NIN, etc were very influential for me for a while as well. It would be impossible to namedrop one or two songs, there are many good ones, for just as many reasons.

4. Who would be your main five musical influences?

Probably ENIGMA, NIN, MINISTRY, THE PRODIGY, some ROB ZOMBIE. But that’s just for a certain time period, and for certain elements of certain songs. I try to steal with style, haha! For the stuff I do right now, which is solo, and also known as “Dungeon Synth” I guess, I kinda just wing it, and invent things as I go along. Not saying it’s 100% original, because it’s not, but as of right now, I just can’t think of what inspires me to do what I do now.

5. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

Right now, none. This music is best worked on alone actually, haha! That sounds very arrogant. In a different scenario, working on a different kind of music, someone like Reznor would be pretty amazing, but I would probably be too awkward and self conscious to be able to be any good in the studio, haha! I can’t talk or perform any kind of musical theory, or play very well, my forte is getting shit done my way in the studio, in solitude – THEN I bring my shit out, to show whoever else might be involved, and then we start fucking around further with it.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

I think someone once started mentioning Aerosmith or the Doors or GNR, I can’t recall. That made me think “are you sure you listened to OUR record?” haha! There´s just no comparison. I don´t know how to describe it. I mean in the 90’s I developed a style that became known as Dungeon Synth years later, which is pretty somber, and to some degree, medieval, or soundtracky sounding music all based on keyboards and samplers. I left that stuff behind in the 2000’s and started putting out music that is much closer to industrial rock/experimental and crossover industrial metal. I have recently gone back to a very “pimped up” version of the 90’s Dungeon Synth, albeit with a bigger more rhythmical sound than before.

7. What’s the best thing about being a musician?

There’s an upside? No one fucking told me. I guess one good side, is when your antennas and alarm bells go all “red alert” when reading shitty contracts. It´s good to know you’re not getting fucked every time. That just sounds pitiful, but it’s easy getting screwed in this business.

8. When the band are all hanging out together, who cooks; who gets the drinks in; and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

We don’t hang together at the moment. We disintegrated back in 2017 after an avalanche of business bullshit that we endured for years. So we went on a hiatus, that was when I decided to go solo. Back to the beginning, it was what I did in my early years, and it felt kinda good to go back to that. I love my old members, but you know how it goes, you spend too much time in a room together, or someone’s in a shit mood, it kinda gets everyone in a shit mood, etc. We´re not the Eagles man, there´s no way we’d crack out a fucking acoustic guitar and go all Lynyrd Skynyrd (although I do really like Lynyrd Skynyrd). Haha!

9. When was the last time you were star struck and who was it?

Quite frankly it’s one of those things I don’t get. They’re just human beings. Still, I don’t really hang around famous people a lot, haha! I remember back in the band days, we were hanging out with Chris Vrenna when he was playing in Manson, and this was at a festival, and Slash came out of a room, and my guitar player got pretty fan boy-ish and did the autograph and selfie thing. Maybe I’m just arrogant or whatever, but I never felt the need to get all excited over those kinds of things.

10. If you weren’t a musician, what would be your dream job?

Maybe being involved at the creative level doing comic books or horror films. I just like the freedom to come up with a ton of weird shit that that would allow me to do. Strangely, I don’t read a lot of comics, or watch a lot of horror, haha! My wife watches horror all the time, so I’ve seen half the movie of a ton of horror films, haha!

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over”, even if it didn’t change your current situation?

I should have negotiated harder with Earache Records when we first negotiated the contract. I was young and ignorant. They won that round.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

Hmm again hard to pick just one. I´m thinking either NIN Downward Spiral or either of the 4 first Enigma albums. Simply because there’s so much insane stuff going on on them, and I’d love to know how it was done.




Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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