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Interview: Mircea, Michael (Mnemic)

Pure metal...interviews

If you think that 'Mechanical Spin Phenomena' was the best thing that you should expect to get from Mnemic, then youíre sadly mistaken. Not even a year after my first Interview with the Danish quintet, I was given the chance to talk to them again - not only with the bandís guitarist Mircea, but also with their charismatic frontman Michael.

While Fear Factory were having their sound check, I talked with them about the bandís second studio album 'The Audio Injected Soul', their impressions of touring with Fear Factory and the tragic death of Dimebag Darrell.

Hi guys, itís really nice to see you again so soon. It is not more than ten months since I saw you perform in the London Underworld. I wished back then that next time that you would visit the United Kingdom, you would play in front of a much bigger audience. The funny thing is that not only did that happen, but you also got to support one of your favorite bands, Fear Factory. You must be really ecstatic as we speak.

Mircea: It feels wonderful. We are a band that always wants to get things going on - we always want to go on tour, and itís really cool to be on tour with Fear Factory. We played with them before and theyíre just a bunch of really cool guys. Itís quite awesome, and Iím really happy about it.

When did this very interesting tour start?

Michael: Actually, tonight is the very first gig that weíll make for this tour. This is the very beginning, and hopefully the result will not affect anyone. It probably means that all the bands will give their very best to make a good start.

You mean to tell me that you do not feel nervous at all (laugh)?

Michael: (laughs) I donít know. The truth is that weíve never played in the Astoria before. It is quite legendary since many important shows have been filmed here and we know that there are going to be many people watching Mnemic tonight, but I cannot say that weíre nervous. I believe that excited is the right word.

There have been quite a lot of things going on in the band these past ten months, most important of all being the release of your second studio album 'The Audio Injected Soul'. I have personally heard only good things about it. What about you though - what is the outlook that you have received so far?

Mircea: It is wonderful - the reaction that every band wants. We cannot really satisfy everyone with our music, but it seems that our fans and the majority of the music journalists have opened their arms and embraced our new record (laughs). Itís really good...I donít know, either weíre lucky or really damn good. I cannot really describe it, but Iím very pleased that people like it, and in that respect help us continue what weíre doing.

This is also your second release with Nuclear Blast. How is your relationship with the German label going?

Michael: Our relationship is really good. We met most of the guys that work for the label personally. We have been in close contact with them quite a few times and they are quite cool people. Everything that we have originally requested from them like money and tour dates, we got so far, so there are definitely no complaints as far as weíre concerned. They are pretty much responsible for us being here tonight, and weíre really happy about it.

'The Audio Injected Soul' was released three months ago, and it wasnít long ago that you had finished touring for your debut album. When did you manage to find the time to compose and record the eleven songs that make up this release?

Mircea: Well, we really donít have enough time, but we make time. Weíre the kind of band that works 24/7 and does things 100% - this is what we want to do. Back home in Denmark, we live in three different cities, and every time that we have to rehears itís a fuc*ing drag, because we all have to drive and meet up in one place. For the last record, we had to travel every weekend and live in the rehearsal room for something like three months. Basically, we always make a schedule of the things that we want to do, and the things that we might do. That is a way of keeping ourselves busy all the time - it really keeps us going. Believe me when I say that it is quite a hard thing to do, but weíre there!

Mnemic

How would you compare the music that you wrote for 'The Audio Injected Soul' to that of your debut album 'Mechanical Spin Phenomena'?

Michael: This album is definitely easier to listen to. Itís still well played, and all of the guys in the band have made quite a good job in it, but I guess that what Iím trying to say is that this time the songs are easier to swallow. There are many more rhythmical choruses this time and there is a more straight forward approach to the songs. The first album was quite complex regarding the rhythms that we used and the way the songs are built up. This album is easier to listen to, but thatís not necessarily the way that things will continue in the future. Itís more of a statement of where we are now.

I will have to agree with you on that. I believe that this time you created a far more melodic album - still itís quite easy to recognize the identity of the creator. What is the idea behind this release and which member of the band is mostly responsible for the majority of the compositions. Is that you Mircea?

Mircea: The first album was written by the three of us (Mircea, Michael and Rune: guitar), but in time we took some old songs and rebuilt them when new people came into the band. This time around it was more like a forum. Everybody threw ideas and we just built them up. I cam up with some riffs, Rune, the other guitar player, came up with some stuff. Then our bassist Thomas 'Obeast' came up with some choruses and Michael and our drummer Brylle brought on board some really interesting stuff too. We took every single idea that we had to the rehearsal room and we worked it out. There was not something specific that inspired us in doing that - it is something quite natural for us. It wasnít like 'hey, this sounds like Messugah, letís use it' or something. It was more like 'hey, this song is good', so whatever sounded good for us we started building it and made new songs out of it.

Your drummer Brylle has quite recently become a father. Is he playing with you guys tonight? It must be really hard for him to be on tour this time of the year.

Michael: Yeah. This part of the tour is quite short - only two weeks, and then weíre heading home for Christmas. Itís probably not going to be easy for him. He spends quite a lot of time on the phone...itís tough, man, but heís here and weíre really happy about it.

Michael, I assume that Iíll have to talk with you regarding the lyrics of the new album. It seems that it is not only the music that is more straight-forward this time, but also the lyrics of 'The Audio Injected Soul'. Talk to me about them.

Michael: Every song of the album is like a little story. I get inspired by many different things like when I see something happening on the street or when I meet somebody that has something interesting to say. I usually write down notes, little lines that will probably make a good subject one day. Some of the songs of this album are true stories, and some others are pure fiction - things that simply pop up into my head. Thatís basically the thing - there is not a particular subject like a concept behind the lyrics. Each song stands for itself.

The idea I got from them was that I was communicating with some sort of troubled human being, a person thatís under an enormous amount of pressure. Was that a deliberate thing?

Michael: It was. I wanted to release some frustration...a feeling thatís almost impossible to describe, but everybody knows how it feels. Itís really very weird. If you manage to get such a feeling into your lyrics, well thatís very good, but thatís as far as it will get. Frustration is the key word in this case.

Why donít you guys explain to me the meaning behind the title of the album - what does 'The Audio Injected Soul' really mean?

Mircea: We chose this title for our new album because it sounds cool (laughs). No, itís really because....we really wanted to do something about us and our sound. How can I possibly explain this...When we get a positive reaction from our crowd, or we receive a letter from a fan telling us how much he likes our music, there are some feelings that get born in every individual fan that is out there. These are the exact feelings that we wanted to bring up to the people who are listening to our music. What we want to do is to inject our 'venom' to people...well, itís not really a venom because it makes people feel good. Itís something that is natural within everybody. When you put a record on and you listen to it, it grows on you. You can really relate to your favorite album - when you listen to it there are some special feelings that arise, and thatís exactly what the title of the album is all about. Itís all about conveying these special feelings to people.

I was really not at all surprised when I found out that youíve once again used Tue Madsen as the producer, especially since he did a great job on your debut album. This time though, you used a new sort of sound technology thatís called AM3D. I donít want you guys to get into deep technical terms by explaining exactly what this is all about, but I really want you to tell me what was the difference that this system gave to the production of 'The Audio Injected Soul'.

Mircea: OK, let me see how Iím going to put this correctly. The thing is that we were trying to see how we could do things a little bit different this time, and I heard a couple of years ago about this new technology which they were using in video games. What AM3D does is that it creates some sort of surround sound, but not the exact same thing as most of the people out there know it.

If you listen to the song by wearing a set of headphones, you will be able to understand what this thing is all about - you will get the real vibe of the whole thing. We used it because it was a new thing and also because it was created in our home town. There is this company thatís called AM3D which developed it, and we thought that it would be fun to do it.

We tried to use it in several tracks, but it didnít work out the way we wanted, so we basically only used it on one song. Technology is a good thing, but what is really important is the music. If we insisted to combine this technology to our already developed songs, it would end up ruining a lot of things in the music structure. The whole sound works in the headphones, where you can feel the guitar coming around you, or something like that (laughs). I think that even Pear Jam used a similar technology on one of their albums, so it is not a groundbreaking move from us or something like that, but itís there.

How much time were you given in the studio in order to complete the recordings of the new album?

Michael: We were in the studio for something like a month...a little bit more than a month actually. We were doing gigs and festival during that period as well. It was very nice, but a little bit more stressful this time around. We did a couple of gigs and festivals in between the recordings of the album, and that was definitely a mistake. We shouldnít have done this, because what it does is that it breaks your focus. The whole process was quite stressful because we always had a deadline that we had to meet, and I really didnít find it relaxing or enjoyable - not at all. It wasnít really until the end, until the mixing of the album began, that we realized that we are going to make the album on time. It will definitely not happen again.

Weird, I assumed that with the experience gained from the recordings of 'Mechanical...' you would feel more relaxed this time around. What about Tue - is he the kind of person that will allow you to create your album exactly as youíve originally pictured it? There are quite a few producers out there that even tend to interfere with the bandís compositions.

Mircea: Tue is the kind of guy that interferes, but always in a good way. He usually comes with a lot of cool ideas, and I think that in our debut album he even recorded one riff for us. He always has his own idea on how the songs should sound, and we normally end up combining those ideas. He is a very cool person - not the bossy type of guy, but a very good friend, like one of us. He knows how we are thinking, and thatís also one of the reasons why we have chosen to work with him. I have only good things to say about him - nothing negative.

You have so far recorded two videos for the new album, one of which has a very interesting story, which involves your fans and Germany.

Michael: Well, Mircea and I live in the same house. One day we were sitting around, trying to come up with some ideas, like writing a story for this video. What we agreed on is that we wanted to make some live clips, or even better clips that would capture that live feeling that we want to have as a band.

We are talking about our latest video 'Door 2.12'...we wanted to shoot a video that would feature some of our fans. The problem was that the location got settled very late, one day before we got there, so we didnít have enough time to announce it until the evening before the shootings began. Many people that wanted to get involved in this project didnít have any chance...either that or we just donít have any fans (laughs). People came there and it was really cool.

There were enough people there to fill up the room that we wanted to use, so in the end we ended up not using the crowd shots at all. We had a couple of beers with the people that showed up, and then we shot a couple of scenes...itís going to happen - I know it will, but we will just have to prepare things a bit better next time.

Did you work again with Patric Ullaeus - the guy that helped you with Ghost, or are there new people involved?

Mircea: The video for 'Deathbox' was done by them, and the new one was done by a new company thatís called 'Blow Film' which has also worked with videos for Within Temptation and Caliban.

We are very happy with what Patric did for the three videos that weíve worked with, but we canít continue using the same guy over and over again. We wanted to do something totally different this time around - we also wanted to have our own ideas inside our videos.

In the first video, we just went to Sweden without having any idea of how we wanted the video to work out. Patric shot the video, and that was it. This time around we wanted to have a little bit more control...no, basically we wanted to have our own ideas throughout the whole video. We even created our own headphones for that video, which has a certain Marylyn Manson vibe to it. This video has a character this time, it is not just us playing all the time. A lot of things are happening concerning our new video, and weíre really happy about it.

Judging from the experience gained from performing live for the promotion of 'Mechanical...', which is the part of the world that you found was more appreciative towards Mnemicís music?

Michael: The first few countries that first started to get into our music were Austria, The Netherlands and Belgium. Things are happening really fast for us. In the beginning, there was nobody there when we were playing, and now we see many more people coming to our shows, everywhere we go - all over Europe! Thatís really satisfying. The last time that we were here in the UK supporting Soilwork (note: the band had a gig in the Camden Underworld) we had a really good time, and we really hope that we can do the same here tonight.

I was one of the lucky ones who did attend that specific gig, and I remember that I was very impressed by your performance. At the beginning of this year you toured with quite a few bands - which was the one that you enjoyed playing with the most?

Mircea: There are a couple of bands that we really enjoyed playing with, and Darkane was one of them. We are really good friends with them. We also have a good relationship with Soilwork, and Fear Factory are really good guys too.

You also did a couple of days with Damageplan if Iím not mistaken.

Mircea: Yes, we also played with them! We didnít really meet them because we had to move to the next venue right after weíve finished our set. I saw Vinnie Paul for a minute or two, but that was it really. Now we are doing this short tour, and next year weíre going to tour the US with Soilwork, Hypocrisy and Dark Tranquillity and hopefully weíre going to make some new friends. We feel much better knowing that Soilwork are going to be there, since theyíre great people.

I guess that you are already informed about the incident concerning the murder of Dimebag Darrell a day ago in the US. This is a tragic thing thatís happened.

Michael: It really doesnít make any sense. When we got up this morning, all these text messages started to come in...we were in the ferry at that time and I was thinking 'what the fu*k is going on here'? We donít know the whole details regarding this incident, and I donít think that anyone really does. Itís so sad...a disillusioned fan who went nuts with a gun in his hand...where the fu*k is this world going to? You really need to have made some really bad things so as to deserve to die in such a way, you know? There is no excuse for doing this, itís simply insane! Itís a shame because deep down inside I was hoping to see a Pantera reunion one day.

Did you ever find yourselves in a bad situation, hopefully not a similar one, while on tour?

Mircea: Not really. Weíre taking things really easy when weíre on tour. Of course weíre partying - itís a part of the whole thing, but weíre not that big of a band in order to start meeting all those crazy people. Nothing really crazy ever happened between us and our fans - nothing that I can recall.

Michael: Only a couple of fist fights from time to time, but thatís just about it. Only fights that take place when people are having a few more drinks than they should.

Mircea: When we started this tour, I threw a bottle at our guitar tech, which hit him in the head and he started bleeding. That happened in seconds, and it was basically my fault (laughs).

Thatís a way to start a tour! Does he still talk to you then?

Mircea: It was an accident, and yes, he still talks to me (laughs). Heís a really good guy, and I bought a box of chocolate in a shape of a heart and gave it to him, so I think that heís OK now (laughs).

Mnemic

Which is the next logical step for the band, guys?

Mircea: The first thing that weíll do is to tour the States quite a lot from now own. We are trying to book as many dates as we possibly can. I know that after the Soilwork tour, we are going to tour again with Obituary. They have personally requested that we go with them on tour, but that is the only thing that we know so far. After that we plan on making a third studio album that is hopefully going to blow everyone away.

Do you see yourselves being with Nuclear Blast for the years to come? Do you have a long-term contract with the label?

Michael: Our contract is fine. No one knows what will happen in the future. I am not going to say that we will be with Nuclear Blast forever, but so far I do not see a reason why we should not be with them. They are treating us really well - they are happy, weíre happy and as long as this is the case the relationship is definitely going to go on. I donít want to go into details as far as the contract is concerned. We are happy, and we are staying with this label.

Mircea: Until Sony comes and picks us up (laughs).

Mircea, last time we spoke you were laughing with the idea of touring with Fear Factory, and here you are.

Mircea: Thatís true - you never know what happens next. Life can change in five seconds...definitely. We are very happy with whatís happening.

Guys, I wish you all the best for the rest of the tour, and thank you for the interview. Are there any last words that you want to say?

Mircea: Please buy our records and make us very rich (laughs).

Michael: I want to tell people to check out our new album. They are going to find some really good music there. At least give it a listen. Come over here and weíll play it for you - itís fun, itís always fun (laughs).


Interview © 2005 John Stefanis


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