Musicscan: First of all, please recall the recording process and the time in the studio
Mnemic: Well, the recording process was pretty chaotic and fun at the same time. We flew out to L.A. and used a bunch of different studios. First of all, we started tracking drums with Warren Riker at Track Record Studios, where Megadeth recorded their Rust in Peace, and bands like Kiss and Billy Idol recorded albums. It was a very cool experience for us, to be in a fancy studio like that. Actually that was the first different thing we did, we just wanted to be in a different recording environment, and Warren was the right guy to do it with. He has worked with all sorts of genres and recorded with artists such as The Fugees, Down to remixing Michael Jackson, and we needed someone with diverse ideas and working methods.
For the guitars and basses we recorded them at a studio called the David Harvey Building, which actually is half studio and half rehearsal pad - Static X where jamming their songs right next to us, when we recorded. After that we recorded 1 song at Christians Olde Wolbers studio, and had Jeff and Shane come in and do the guestvocals, then all the rest of the vocals where done by Guillaume at his studio back in Paris/France. We flew back to Denmark and did all keyboards/sampling and mixed and mastered the album at the Antfarm Studios with our good ol' friend Tue Madsen. All in all it took us way too long time to do this album, since we spent time recording from June to September. Usually it takes us 1 month to do an album, but this time we wanted to try a different procedure and we certainly came a cross a different recording method, which was all good. I think working with so many different producers gives you an insight to how different people think. It brought a lot of differences to the recording process, and maybe some ideas where on a whole different tangent than we where used to, but we are happy that we did something different, and explored.
Musicscan: When the saying "Make It, or break it" comes to mind regarding a band's third album, I wonder if you guys felt pressure regarding "Passenger" ?
Mnemic: Yes, we definitely felt pressure when writing the new album. That was because your third album, is supposed to be your most important album. This is the step where you will see a band succeed or fail. For us, of course, just like every other band we wanted to succeed, so we discussed many times in which musical directions we wanted to go. At the end of the day, it was impossible to follow our own guidelines, no matter what we did because everything just came out natural. We just wrote some songs that we where happy with in the end.
Musicscan: How did you discover or find your new singer Guillaume ? Was he involved in the Songwriting process ? Did he contribute some lyrics ?
Mnemic: When we where auditioning I got a call from Dirk’s wife (Scarve/Soilwork drummer), who is a really good friend of mine, and she told me about Guillaume. At first I was not into the idea of bringing in a guy from another established band, and especially a French guy, haha. I told her that we still had other people to try out and that I couldn’t really see this guy making it into our band, since he already had his own thing going on. A couple of months later, I started receiving emails from Guillaume, who wrote in a terrible English language haha. We kind of went through each and every singer we auditioned and still didn’t feel that we’ve found our guy. I mean some of the vocalists we auditioned, had really good vocal skills, but no stage presences, no touring experience and so on, which made the whole process harder for us. As the last man, we flew Guillaume to Denmark, brought him into the rehearsal pad and rehearsed the 4 video songs, in which he did amazing, and took us by surprise. We then went into a studio and tried out his vocal abilities and started to record on our pre recorded demo material. From there on, Guillaume impressed everyone in the band. I remember, sitting behind the mixer console, looking at everyone and everyone was smiling. From that moment we knew he was our guy. He could sing his ass off, new and old material, he had touring experience and loved the same music as we did, and that was perfect for us, because everything fitted so well on the personal level.
Basically Guillaume joined the band when all the material was written. He actually came to the band with some of his own songs which he demoed, and we recorded one of his songs, which is “In Control”. As far as the lyrics, when we didn’t have anyone handling the mike, I was writing the lyrics, so when Guillaume came into the band he took over – so it’s a 50/50 split between me and him writing the lyrics.
Musicscan: He really does a fine job on "Passenger", holding the balance between brutal vocals and the more melodically orientated parts. Did he quit his other band and is a fulltime member of Mnemic now ?
Mnemic: Yes that’s correct. In his other band, which is a more death metal oriented band, in my opinion, he didn’t have the chance to unfold his vocal abilities as he does on “Passenger” – in which he did an amazing job.
Musicscan: Let's talk about the new album. Besides the cold, claustrophobic and really tense atmosphere, how does the artwork correspond with the lyrics and the music ?
Mnemic: It’s a pirate flag, and we are the pirates and we have come to steal your money & women. Its as simple as that. No, not really. The concept of the Passenger album is build on the theme of "philosophy of existentialism". We choose this theme and subject mainly because its a very wide subject in which we could easily and flexibly subtract our own experiences from. Passenger is the other word for "Individual in Life" as we convey it. All individuals in life go to certain stages, just like a passenger that goes on a journey to a certain destination. In our case, the important aspect is the journey and not the destination. The destination can be seen as death in life, or as an orgasm. Most individuals strive to achieve the orgasm, without being aware of the orgasm is the end.
The most important is how we get to the orgasm and not how it ends - just like in life. Life is all about steps, and we have tried to put our personal experiences within the lyrics, and the things we have gone through as individuals in life. We are not trying to solve the question "What is the meaning of life?" but more trying to give our existential point of view of our life and our steps.
Musicscan: I first thought of a modern pirate symbol, using a pilots helmet instead of a skull, is that correct ?
Mnemic: Yes, that’s how it looks like, but that’s not the correct way to interpret the symbolism within the artwork. The helmet represents life and the bones represent the end, or you might as well also say that they represent death.
Musicscan: How important is the balance between brutal riffs and those really catchy melodies ?
Mnemic: To tell you the truth, for me its not important at all. If it was all up to me I would just take out all the catchy melodies and just play brutal nowadays. I think when we started out, it was very important for us to progress and experiment with all sorts of aspects within the music. I mean, when we wrote the first album, you can clearly hear the experimentation, within bizarre/neurotic melodies and the polyrhythms we created. These days, when we wrote the new album, it all just came out natural. I mean, I love to hear melodic parts, especially the chorus to In The Nothingness Black, which I wrote, but in the long run I am kind of getting tiered of it – and that’s maybe because we have been playing this song, every day, for the last 3 weeks (yes, we are on tour at the moment). Another thing is that we are 5 different cooks in this band, and everyone has a saying – cause it’s a democratic system – so that’s why the balance.
Musicscan: What would you regard was an influence musical wise and lyrically. Sometimes the music reminds me of an high end version of Fear Factory with a little bit of those complex rhythms Sepultura did use years ago
Mnemic: We do not get inspired by any other bands these days….. and who in the hell is Fear Factory?? As I said before, we just write songs that sound good to us, and the inspiration comes from movies and drugs – nothing else.
Musicscan: To what extend was Christian an influence ? What made you choose Tue Madsen ?
Mnemic: Christian wasn’t a big influence, mainly because he mostly worked on the guitar sound, which I think came out pretty ok. When we had to mix, we simply couldn’t agree on anything with Andy Sneap, so we went to someone who knows and understands the band, and we went with our old time friend Tue Madsen – mainly because we know what we will get, quality wise – it never fails.
Musicscan: What do you expect for 2007 both for the band and for each one individually ?
Mnemic: To break through and be more successful, than anyone else on this planet. As far as the band individually; To survive this crazy ride!
Musicscan: How did the cooperation with Shane and Jeff happen ? Why did you choose them and how was the time together with them in the studio ?
Mnemic: Its quite a funny story. Actually for about 1 year or 2 ago, I was on my way to the US and I was at the main airport in Copenhagen/Denmark, when I saw this short guy, with short hair and beard, in which I thought looked a lot like Jeff Walker from Carcass. It was weird, cause at that time you didn’t hear about Carcass, the only member you knew of was of course Mike Amott who had his thing with Arch Enemy. Anyways, I turn around and stalk him for a bit, and quickly realize that it really is the one and only, Jeff Walker from disbanded Carcass. I walk up to him and say “May I shake your hand, you are Jeff Walker from Carcass, its an honour to meet you!” and he says “Hey mate!” and from there on we went to the bar at the airport, quenched our thrist with some beers and talked old Carcass days, and sort of became friends. When he and Shane where in Los Angeles, and had some shows with Brujeria, I called him up and they both came out to the studio, and I asked if they would be interested in laying down some vocals for a song, and it wasn’t a problem at all.
I remember, I was standing in the same recording booth when Jeff was recording his vocals. It was a very cool experience, one of those you will never forget. I mean, Rune, Brian and me come from Death Metal bands, and have grown up on death metal. At that time Rune and Brian where playing in bands such as Sudden Death and Exhume and I was in a band called Feticide. Check out the band names, and you will know if you are a true Carcass fan.
Musicscan: Any final words to now and future fans ?
Mnemic: I never have any final words, haha…….Thanks for the interview, buy the album and makes us rich, so you can see our ugly mugs on MTV Cribs.