Musicscan: Would you say that ...and death said live is representative for what Mors Principium Est went through since the release of Liberation=Termination and what the band wants to stand for in 2012/13/14?
Mors Principium Est: Guten Tag! The idea with "...And Death Said Live" was to keep the Mors Principium Est sound. That's what the band has always stood for and continues to stand for with this new album. I think the new album still has its own unique sound, just as all the previous albums did, but the band's sound hasn't changed.
Musicscan: Mors Principium Est has always seemed to me to be an underdog band, always maintaining a high level of respect from critics and their peers, though never quite attaining the commercial success that the band was due. Would you agree? Where do you see the reasons for it if you do?
Mors Principium Est: I agree. I was a fan of the band long before I joined and it's interesting to have seen it from both sides. I always thought the band should have been better known and have always thought of MPE as an "underground" metal band.
It's hard to say what the reasons are for this but I guess perhaps this style of metal doesn't appeal to the masses like other sub-genres do. I'd rather be part of a band doing something special that isn't noticed, than part of a band that does the same old shit and gets a billion views on YouTube.
Musicscan: For some time now the harder music scene seems to go even more extreme than ever before. Bands are pushing the boundaries as far as complexity, technical approach and extreme arrangements are concerned. What are your thoughts on this, and where do you see Mors Principium Est in the grand scheme as you are having a different approach with focusing on melodies, flow and a holistic melo death sound?
Mors Principium Est: For me it's all about melody. That's the point in music. Otherwise we'd all just sit around banging pots and pans trying to be as loud as possible. I personally think there is a lack of focus on the melody in a lot of metal music and that's one of the genre's flaws for me. I think if you're going to remove the melody from the vocals and have screaming, then it has to reappear somewhere else in the mix. In our case it's with the guitars and occasionally with synths. The vocals in metal (since screaming was
introduced) have become more percussive than melodic, so the guitars have had to compensate for this. No more strumming chords! It's turned into a "fret-wanking" circus and I have to say, I'm a big fan. Metal seems to breed an amazing class of musicians. The philosophy behind the genre is to be more complex, think more about the structure and theory, play faster. I think metal musicians take after the same beliefs and values of classical musicians. Compare one of Beethoven's symphonies to a pop song you hear on the radio and you wonder how the hell the music industry has become so amateur and dull! Metal sees the rise of people moving back towards the times when you had to be able to play more than 4 chords to be considered "a musician".
Musicscan: Do you feel that Mors Principium Est has found its "own" sound already with the new line-up, or is it still evolving?
Mors Principium Est: MPE has a very distinct sound and when writing the new album it was important to stay true to that style. You will still have people complaining that the new album doesn't sound the same as the old stuff, but I think we all knew there would be that few people would react that way no matter what.
The writing process was probably prolonged because we all wanted to put out an album that we were 100% happy with and that represented the same style as the band's previous albums. When the main songwriter leaves and you change two guitarists in a band, you wouldn't expect the next album to be exactly the same style, but actually I think we've done a damn good job of carrying on the legacy.
Musicscan: What influenced you while writing ...and death said live? And do you tend to write your songs in segments, which you then piece together or do you project an entire composition from a single melody or riff?
Mors Principium Est: Obviously the previous MPE albums influenced me when writing this album.
I think my writing style suited the band already; I just had to adapt it slightly and get into the "MPE mindset" before writing. Songs can build themselves in different ways. Sometimes one good riff is a great starting point and the song writes itself from there. Sometimes you get a clearer picture of how the overall song should sound and where it will go. I wrote a lot of the music for this album in my head while doing other things. I usually get ideas for songs and riffs when I'm away from my guitar and rush home excitedly to record demos. I remember spending a lot of time at work hiding in the toilets singing into my phone to record riff ideas that I was terrified I'd forget by the time I got home!
Musicscan:...and death said live is aggressive but having a good dramaturgy to keep things interesting. What is your attitude towards metal in general and towards your style of songwriting in particular?
Mors Principium Est: I've probably covered much of this already above, but I guess my style of song writing is more based around the melody than aggression. However, this is metal, so it's got to hurt a little too. One of the things Ville kept telling me when writing the album was to remember that MPE always had a sad/dark side as well as an aggressive one. I think there is a lot of emotion in this album and that's important in music. I find a lot of metal music quite boring and unimaginative. Music should take you away to another place and fascinate you, but I think there is a lot of music out there without much imagination or musical integrity behind it.
Musicscan: Do you still have to deal with limitations when it comes to the songwriting, or are you in a position to realize all the ideas you have? And as for Mors Principium Est - how important are compromises in music? Should this play a major role at all?
Mors Principium Est: There are always limitations. In more mainstream music, a pop band would be forgiven for venturing into a different genre for example, but for metal, you're crucified for it. If we had busted out a jazz section in the middle of one of our songs I don't think it would have gone down too well!
But realistically, on this album, the band had to prove it could survive the loss of Jori and the introduction of two new guitarists. The MPE sound is what the band has always been about and we have no intention of straying from that. So there were limitations in what I could write for this album because it wasn't my album; it had to be an MPE album.
Musicscan: Did all of you guys have had an equal vision about how ...and death said live should sound like right from the beginning of the working process? What stands out in your mind about the chemistry of the band during the writing and recording? How did this contribute to the overall sound and feel of the final product?
Mors Principium Est: It was probably the strangest way to write an album. I joined the band in April 2011 and the focus really was to just starting writing this new album.
The writing process was pretty much: write a demo, email it to Ville, wait for a response. The rest of the band would listen to it and Ville would email me back telling me how it could be improved or that it wasn't good enough. Almost 40 demos later and here we are! It had to be done this way because I live in England and the others are in Finland. By the time I finally met the band face to face I had probably written about 10 complete songs. Ville told me when I arrived in Finland that the songs keep getting better, so I should just keep writing. In the end, I think only one or two of those songs made the cut. It was hard work over a long period of time but I think there was a lot of pressure on this album and the hard work paid off.
Musicscan: How did you guys approach production this time around as compared to your previous releases?
Mors Principium Est: I can't answer this as I'm not sure how the other albums were produced. I can say that Plec is the man and I highly recommend him as a producer! I recorded my guitar parts from home using a D.I box and we re-amped them when we got to the studio in Sweden. The vocals were also recorded there along with the mixing and mastering of the album. The drums were recorded in Finland beforehand.
Musicscan: Is there something like a guiding line listeners have to know about to get a better understanding of what you are trying to tell them with ...and death said live?
Mors Principium Est: All people need to know is that MPE are back and have not given up hope.
The title of the album reflects this. I think Ville came up with it as the band was in a state of limbo with missing members. There was debate about whether the band would survive but thankfully it has and I'm proud to be a part of it.
Musicscan: Just let's briefly talk about your plans in 2013. What are the most important aims and plans with the band?
Mors Principium Est: Tour our asses off. Play to as many fans as we can who haven't been able to see the band before.
Musicscan: Last words?
Mors Principium Est: Thanks to everyone in Germany for supporting the band and we hope to see you soon! Plus, I'm dying for a bratwurst! Auf Wiedersehen!