-Hello, thank you so much for answering to our interview. How’s everything going in the band’s camp? What’s keeping you busy?
No problem – thanks for asking us! Everything is going well at the moment – writing for the new LP is contending with the welcome arrival of summer and the imminent return of live shows in the UK, and we’ve all got at least one other band on the go too, so plenty to be getting on with.
-To begin with, when and how was MORTUARY SPAWN born? Where did the need or desire to form a band in this style blossom from?
Mortuary Spawn was born in my mind some time in the last eight or so years, although realistically we’ve only got going properly in the last two years, and even then, we’ve kept it pretty under wraps up until releasing the EP, with the exception of our first show (minus Joe on second guitar) with Demilich in February 2020 just before lockdown began. It began in earnest as an idea shared between Ben (drums) and me (Jack, guitar), where we thought we would give a go writing some interesting death metal while living in Leeds and London respectively, having prior experience playing together in a band called Bong Goblin. Unfortunately I have no grasp on how to record remotely, so it has been a protracted affair but one well worth taking our time on, as we have a really good lineup of competent, enthusiastic friends who all contribute a lot to Mortuary Spawn in one way or another.
– It’s very classic and brutal Death Metal but has some other nuances too so what bands would you say have been pivotal to build your own sound?
It’s pretty much as you say – we’re aiming for classic death metal, and although there’s no overarching theme or single style that we’re trying to emulate or think about when we’re writing, there are a few bands who I reckon do it better than others and can always learn from. Death pretty much started the whole style and have tons of originality for that reason; Obituary started off as Celtic Frost worshipping band and stumbled across something just as good themselves; Carcass come from the grind/hardcore scene, kind of like us too. It’s safe to say we don’t want to sound exactly like any of the above, but the very fact that they all have a signature sound based on inventive riffs is something to vaguely aim for ourselves. I listen to all sorts of music, admittedly a lot of it variations on rock, punk or metal, and it all feeds in to helping me understand what a great song is and hopefully how to write one with the help of everyone else in the band, but writing for Mortuary Spawn tends to be a pretty inward looking process.
-And what else does inspire you besides other music? It can be a moment, an artistic movement, a trip…
Nothing comes to mind apart from the general impetus to make good music to be amongst other good music and all that comes with that – travelling to new places, playing different types and sizes of shows, meeting new people, discovering new music, decreasing our life expectancy and so on.
-This EP has been released on cassette tape with Chamber of Emesis and digitally too. Are there plans for other formats? Since I’ve seen you’ve signed with Sewer Rot for a US release.
Yep – we’ve got Brutal Cave from Portugal on board to release a CD version this side of the Atlantic, and Sewer Rot should be announcing news of their format plans in the next few days hopefully, so check back with them for news on that! We’ve also got Spectral Records from Indonesia putting out a cassette run over there, so there should be ample opportunity to pick up a copy if you missed out on our initial run with Chamber of Emesis, and sorry if we become 2021’s worst distro-clogging offender.
– Already the band name itself gives a hint that you lean more towards the grotesque and rotten. How do you transport this to your sound?
The visual aid of the artwork definitely goes a long way in bolstering that impression, and although rotten and grotesque are quite abstract terms, I think having a super distorted bass sound and leaving in a lot of imperfections probably helps too.
-With your sound you create chaos, violence… What do you want to inspire with your work? What images do you want to paint in the minds of the listeners?
After a year where there’s been no shows and no contact, my mind drifts to the familiar imagery of classic live sets with no barriers between the crowd and the band in a sweaty venue with the simple pleasures in life all taken care of: friends, beers, stage diving and no work the next day. I guess not so chaotic and hellish, but don’t let my selfish desires stop you from summoning demon hordes in your mind’s eye.
– The sound on this EP is just putrid and crushing as it is groovy. How was this whole process like? I guess you may have a clear vision of how your music (and the style you play) should sound.
Yeah, I think each of us knows what’s expected of our roles in the band and brought in our own equipment, experience and approach to achieve that. My guitar sound is pretty loose and messy while Joe’s lead parts are the result of some serious technique mastery for example, and having Ben (drums) record and mix the EP is an obvious benefit! If you like how it sounds, give him a shout for your own projects for sure. We also recorded in the space that we practice in, so there weren’t many adjustments to work out after we were happy with our practice sound. It’s a constant work in progress though, I know I want to try a few new things moving forward and we’re regularly trying out different heads and cabs, much to the detriment of our spines.
-Speaking of this what do you think is the most important in an album of the genre? The overall feeling? The sound? The songwriting? Or is it a mix of different elements?
100% a mix of all of the above and more, but mostly it’s about putting the work in and having some enthusiasm – do that and generally listeners can tell. You can put out something phenomenal and it have zero production values (see Carcinogen’s Kure demo for example) and obviously the opposite describes a lot of bands too.
– There’s now an obvious resurrection of pretty much anything old school. Is it easier to get out there due to the growing interest or the fact that there are a lot of bands doing this makes it harder?
Who knows! The response to the EP has been great so it would seem like there is an audience out there for what we do, and there’s always room in people’s hearts and libraries for more good music regardless of style – whether we’re consigned to history as just another 2021 death metal filler band will be the true test. A lot of the bands who are being called old school though, it seems to be more of a compliment or assurance of quality rather than a genuine descriptive tool. Bands like Mortiferum or Black Curse for example, they strike me as quite original rather than backwards looking. Maybe what some of us mean when we say old school is that it wouldn’t be out of place in the pantheon of the classics, and obviously not everything that’s classified as old school deserves that status, but there’s no harm in that. At the end of the day, they’re just guiding words that briefly help entice people into clicking play before making up their own minds upon hearing the music, rather than a sacrosanct ethos.
-Anyway, where does the tradition end and where does the mimic begin?
With the amount of bands and records in existence now and over the last century, it’s probably simultaneously harder and easier than ever to draw the boundaries, or at least illustrate that they’re two ways of describing an almost identical thing. You can mimic with pride and integrity a la Gruesome or General Surgery, or try your hand at Finnish death metal no matter where in the world you’re from – it’s all good, regardless of whether or not you want to cosplay your musical heroes like people have been doing for years, or try and tread where no musician has gone before (and good luck with that).
– I think we all already know Metal tends to be a quite nostalgic “community”. When Simon Reynolds researched on the cult of retro on “Retromania: Pop Culture’s Addiction to Its Own Past” he wondered if: “Is nostalgia stopping our culture’s ability to surge forward, or are we nostalgic precisely because our culture has stopped moving forward and so we inevitably look back to more momentous and dynamic times?”. Applied to the Metal world, what’s your opinion? Do we use to look back because we feel there’s something missing on most of today’s music?
I studied the works of Simon Reynolds years ago and I think he quite rightly describes the state of pop culture’s self cannibalising tendencies well for the time, and sure, some aspects of metal and punk are probably closer to jazz in terms of obsessive collecting and poring over the past, but with the advent of instant mass information decades ago now, that was kind of inevitable. Since writing that though, it’s not like music has become boring or ground to a halt – we will always adapt as individuals, as generations, as movements or scenes to enjoy and explore sounds that are new to us, even if not to generations passed. Retro has always existed in plain sight (Motorhead espousing Johnny Kidd & the Pirates, for example) and is just one way of looking at how music evolves. Festivals suck at this though – look at Download and co for a prime example of perpetuating a nauseatingly stale cult of nostalgia revolving around 50 or so bands. We would also gladly play any large metal fest so please don’t take us too seriously.
-All this about “Spawned from the Mortuary” being said; how would you describe it in just 3 words?
Minor hype = deserved.
-And finally what’s next for MORTUARY SPAWN?
We’ve got shows in Leeds, London and Manchester announced if everything goes ahead with the pandemic restrictions easing, and no doubt we’ll be adding to that list soon – you can keep up to date with our show plans in all the usual places. Mostly we are and will be continuing to knuckle down writing new songs, wondering whether that new riff was a bit too tech, enjoying our brief British summer and trying to be good human beings outside of music.
– That’s all from our side, thanks again for your time. If you’d like to add some final words, feel free to do it.
If you like Mortuary Spawn, lend an ear to some of our other current output: Pest Control (crossover thrash/HC), Ona Snop (lunatic fastcore), Vomitorium (raw BM/grind). Fuck all forms of discrimination, respect yourself and others who aren’t you or your experience, and spend less time online if possible. Thanks again for the interview and hope to do a tour of all the amazing regions of Iberia!