In depth Mourning Beloveth interview Feb 2012
2012 marks the 20th anniversary of one of Ireland’s most important and resilient metal bands. While maybe not receiving the same level of recognition as peers Primordial, Mourning Beloveth have doggedly fought the corner of doom death from their bunker in the depths of Kildare, refusing to bow to trends or veer from their path.
Over the course of two decades the band have had a modest output, but always with an impressive level of quality. Their selection of releases stands them shoulder to shoulder with any top tier doom metal band today.
Well-established and highly respected on the touring circuits of Europe and beyond, this year sees the band return to the studio to record their fifth album, tentatively titled ‘Formless’. MI’s Andy Cunningham contacted Darren, Frank and newbie, Pauric, to get the skinny on twenty years of all things dark and dazzling and to see what the future has in store.
Welcome, gents. Lets go right back to the beginning. The band started in 1992, a real high point in terms of underground metal. What do you remember of that time and what was it that drew you to this music in the first place?
Darren: What do I remember? Nothing, everything; a broad question….
I remember starting to listen to metal and from day one, wanting to be in a band, going to gigs in Dublin and joining bands that never left the rehearsal room. We were all listening to metal and we were all in bands. There was a hunger to know more, hear more and do more.
I remember finding new bands every month when we made the trip to Sound Cellar, listening to those four or five tapes for a month and then going back for more. My Dying Bride playing Barnstormers to fifty people, going to gigs in McGonagles and hoping we would survive.
Seeing In the Woods, Katatonia and V.O.D in Charlies. Starting a zine with Aido and, when we went to photocopy it, meeting a guy who was doing the exact same thing. He was releasing Lycantrophy…
I remember putting on our first gig in Athy with Primordial, Thy Sinister Bloom, Fifth Dominion, Memorial and Mourning Beloveth.
Writing to bands in Holland, Germany, France wherever to tape trade. Writing to a doom band in Australia, Mournful Congregation, back in 1994 and fifteen years later touring with them for three weeks.
I remember after the first Mourning Beloveth gig Frank asked me to join the band. I thought all my Xmases fell on that day. Then he told me we had a gig but I was heading away for the summer so for my first gig I wasn’t even there.
Aido one evening told us that a guy wanted to create a shared website for us and Primordial, and we thought, ehmm… what’s a website?
Rehearsing maybe four times a year, sometimes in the bassist’s house and he wouldn’t even be at rehearsal. The first gig we played was the first time Brian met the bassist.
Rehearsing in my parents’ shed with one amp and drums and playing the same song for what felt like a year. Not knowing what we were doing but that was part of the fun, and still is.
Frank: Oh, I have nothing but good memories, I blocked out all the bad ones…
As I ponder this the same thing keeps popping into my mind; when we started this journey all those years ago I never dreamed that we, as a band, could achieve as much as we have; albums, tours, groupies and everything in between.
We started in a cold dingy shed jamming and all I ever dreamed then was to have a song on a demo and that dream came to fruition, so off to Pulse Studios we went to record what we call the ‘Burden’ demo.
Our first time recording was fantastic with Mr. A Averill and Adrian who later became our bassist. We hadn’t a clue, but that experience and receiving the DAT tape of our first recording, I remember saying to myself, I’ve made it to the top. But it was only our first step…
I guess I was doomed from an early age as I was growing up with two older brothers in the early eighties (who kicked my ass every chance they got, haha), but they had a few years on me and were already getting into metal.
I used to listen to what was on their turntable, and I’ll never forget the day Black Sabbath made their first assault on my poor ears.
That slow, melodic, heavy guitar struck something inside me, it spoke to me in a way no other band had before. I was a fan of the usual Priest, Maiden etc. from that time, but as crushing and exciting as all the other genres were, from new wave to death metal, and still are I might add, that doom guitar sound was the one for me.
I feel this music is captivating as it covers a broader expanse of emotions, it seems more real to me, whereas some styles of metal are fantasy based, God-hating cross-burners, or dragon-stabbing.
The doom scene was never popular but there are a lot of good bands that have surfaced over the years. Who wouldn’t want Candlemass, St. Vitus or Pentagram in their life, or even the new occult doom bands of late, like the lovely Jex Toth or Witchcraft plus many more I won’t name drop. When your mind is as sick as mine you see what doom can do for ya!
Doomed is what we are, and doomed I’ll stay…
Pauric, you have only been in the band a very short while, so tell us what drew you to this style of music in the first place. You obviously weren’t around at the time the band formed and were presumably too young to witness the initial doom death boom. How did you find your way to this dim and dark world?
Pauric: I was thinking about this recently, actually… I started getting into metal right when the nu-metal phase was at its most popular. Like any thirteen year old chap, I thought it was great. I wasn’t aware that music that could portray such aggression even existed.
Then I got into the classics with the likes of Metallica, Slayer, Iron Maiden etc.
When I first heard ‘The Angel and the Dark River’ by My Dying Bride I knew I had to explore all things doomy. I’ve heard a few people say that the Decayor EP, ‘Recurring Times of Grief’, sounds a bit like early Katatonia and Anathema, but I’m not much of a fan of either band, if I may be honest.
The first MB demo, while charmingly naive in some respects, laid down a strong foundation, so much so that if you pluck any song from any subsequent album a clear line can be traced directly back to that recording.
While allowing a certain amount of experimentation to seep into your sound, specifically on the last two albums, you have remained true to the original template.
It must have been difficult to be a doom death band in the late nineties and early naughties when it would have been about as uncool as it’s possible to get to play in that style. How have you maintained your own interest over the course of twenty years?
Darren: Yeah, as I said we wanted to be in a band. We never sat down and said lets be a death metal band or let’s be a doom band or anything, we just played and tried to write songs. We never tried to be cool or uncool, we just wanted to play in a metal band and have some fun.
It is always difficult being in a band but it is only really difficult if you are trying to succeed and we never had that problem. I think for the first demo the description was “dark sombre melodies with a raw atmosphere” and it wasn’t because we didn’t want to label ourselves it was because we didn’t know what it was.
But we had the mindset that we enjoy what we are doing, if other people like it great, if not, who cares.
We recorded the first demo in Dublin with Aido (who afterwards became our bassist) and Alan Averill as they had to do it as part of their college project.
Recorded over twelve hours at night it was a learning experience and I remember sitting there listening and thinking, ”Ah, that’s what we sound like…”
We now had something to listen to and develop on as all we were listening to up to that was shitty rehearsal tapes. That simple thing has helped us develop throughout the years.
Always trying to improve on the last recording, the last lyric, but also knowing when you have reached the limit of that certain style, be it writing or recording.
From the first demo to the second was a big jump, from not knowing what we sounded like to then hearing it properly recorded for the first time. It gave us a sense of achievement but also that we could do something better.
‘Dust’ is a culmination of everything we had been rehearsing for years. ‘The Sullen Sulcus’ was where we reached the peak of both musically and lyrically expressing ourselves with pastoral, melancholic, dreamy lyrics and music.
We recorded both albums with Mags in Academy and there were a lot of comparisons made with bands of that time too. Even recording with Mags… we didn’t plan it.
He was in Dublin recording the Primordial EP and Aido met him in Bruxelles. He came home and told us and we were thinking, fuck we could never afford to go to Academy Studios.
Mags is rich and famous from recording My Dying Bride, Anathema etc, but we contacted him and he agreed to do it.
Arriving at Academy, this old rickety building with the drums in the basement, the guitar amp in the hall and a sign above the door reading, “Abandon hope all ye who enter here”, just gave us a feeling that I think comes across in the ‘Dust’ recording.
Our sound changed for ‘A Murderous Circus’, many factors being involved, our own personal lives, the fact that we rehearsed in an old barn full of rats and damp for a while when writing it.
We moved studios, too. All of this was just a natural progression, we never sat down to discuss the fact that we have to change. It happens and we go with it.
And again with the release of ‘A Disease for the Ages’ it feels almost like we have
come as far as we can with this style; the dark, oppressive riffs, the minimalist vocals and lyrics. And it leads us into the new album, a new guitarist and again a slight shift of gears to bring us onwards and down.
On that note, Pauric, how has it been adjusting to life as the newest member of Mourning Beloveth? It must have been somewhat daunting walking in to that position.
Pauric: I wasn’t sure what to expect at first. I think I tried to put the idea of joining a well-established band out of my mind when I started off, and just tried to take things as they happened.
For example, my second gig with Mourning Beloveth was at Doom Shall Rise VII, headlining the first night to a crowd of 600+. The thought didn’t really enter my head until we stepped on stage. I just focused on learning the songs and the way things worked with the band.
The gig went better than I could have hoped.
The hardest part to adjust to was taking the bus from Donegal to Athy every week for rehearsals… That was one of the main stipulations on joining the band, to make it to practise each and every week. It would be a complete torture at times.
One day the driver continued without as much as slowing down while nearing my pick-up point and when I waited two hours for the next one, the same thing happened. Just drove right on past me. Thankfully I don’t have to worry about that now, since moving to Dublin.
Right from the off, Darren, you proved yourself a formidable wordsmith with the band. The older lyrics, those on the demos and the debut, ‘Dust’, were perhaps more indebted to the likes of My Dying Bride, Anathema and Paradise Lost; a certain romantic and pastoral air was apparent but your own voice always shone through.
Were those lyrics drawn from real-life events or were they more fictional based? Who specifically influenced you in those earlier days?
Darren: Everything we ever write are drawn from real life events, we don’t sing about slaying dragons or feeding elves because we have never met any. We sing about what we know and always will do. You never grow out of life.
As for the lyrical aspect I would say yes, those three band’s lyricists definitely influenced me a lot in the beginning and many other things besides, but not just by the words but also what they were saying, or more to the point how they were saying it.
I had been listening to metal for a while and my main focus was always vocals and lyrics, someone could play me a riff and I would struggle to place it but a vocalist or lyric I usually had no problem.
But I also think there was more. I think those bands had a mood that had to do with their upbringing, their education and their surrounding, and in many ways Irish people are the same.
Education and Ireland in general is similar to the English system, no matter how hard we say we are not. We were taught Shakespeare and Latin, we have rain and we are an island and that breeds a certain mentality too. I am oversimplifying, but…
The riffs also really stand out in a scene that often seems happy to throw the same old shapes. You have certainly cultivated your own style, and while it has developed and matured over the years, the core of your sound hasn’t altered drastically from the first demos. Who would you consider your main musical influence and have those influences changed much over the years?
Frank: Why thank you for your kind lies, I mean words…
As I mentioned earlier, Black Sabbath had a profound affect on me, as many others alike. I was a serious Maiden fan, not so much in their later years, but I have to say Candlemass was the band who brought it all together for me.
The day Tim (drums) gave me a copy of ‘Ancient Dreams’ I thought all my Crismusses came at once, and that was around the early nineties, just before the doom death scene rose with the like of My Dying Bride and Anathema.
All of these ingredients were being subconsciously stirred in the black cauldron of my mind, and I think that’s where our sound stems from.
As with any musician your influences will change over time and with maturity, to some extent, and hearing new bands all the time. I suppose I take certain things from them, but the core of what inspires me is still the same; slow melodic haunting beauty.
Similarly to Primordial I detect a certain ‘Irishness’ in your riffs, that same melancholy spirit that could only come from this land, but one that is often tricky to pin down. Do you draw any influence from musicians outside the realms of metal?
Frank: I disagree with this certain ‘Irishness’. I’ve had this put to me before on a few occasions. Is it because we come from the same little island floating in the Atlantic that the similarity is drawn upon? I don’t know if we do sound Irish, we could be from anywhere.
Well, my folks are avid music lovers. My dad is a Fenian rebel song man whereas my mother loves all things Susan McCann and the likes… I suppose all that kind of music being on at home all the time might have poisoned me somehow… I don’t listen to much music outside of metal to be honest.
As the great Susan would say, if it ain’t metal, it’s shite!
Tell us how you discovered your voice. Your clean vocals add so much more to the overall sound, either lifting the listener above the mire or indeed helping to drag him/her further down into it. What is your background there?
Frank: To be honest singing wasn’t anything I was really interested in back in those early days. I did like to sing into my hairbrush microphone in the shower, as ya do…
I had been in our primary school choir until the teacher said I shouldn’t sing in the way I did. That didn’t give me any confidence to keep at it at that stage of life so I found myself drifting towards the guitar.
After a short stint on drums- my brother had a kit- and after several punches in the head to stay away from his kit, I got a guitar and I was captivated with playing it.
Nothing happened until I joined my first band, Hemlock with Brian, our ex-MB guitarist, and Aido on bass, plus Old Season drummer, Anto. We had great craic in those days but getting to the point, we used to do this thing where I could sing nearly all the notes on the fret board and those guys kept telling me I had a voice, but I thought nothing of it.
Mourning Beloveth was started the day I got the sack from Hemlock for having too-heavy riffs, but even as Beloveth started to progress I still had no thoughts of doing vocals.
Our songs started to develop, and we were recording our second demo when Darren suggested ‘Autumnal Fires’ for me to sing. I just came up with that vocal melody there and then in the studio and found that mine and Darren’s voices matched.
Listening to the playbacks that night sparked something in us to the point where we decided I would do some more backing vocals in the future. The rest is history. Other than singing along to the mighty Messiah and Sir Brucie I’ve had no professional training.
Every time a new Mourning Beloveth album lands the dictionary gets a good old going over. You seem to have a searching mind, not content to retread old territory your lyrics seems to grow more and more unique/personal with each release. Are you a bit of a nerd?
Darren: Well no I am not a nerd, I don’t think…It depends who’s asking. I don’t know what colour socks someone was wearing when they recorded that album but I might know that they generally do not wear socks.
Yes I read, I listen to a lot of music, I watch a lot of movies but I am not nerdy enough to follow developments in most areas, except maybe music, but literature and film, no. I enjoy watching, listening, reading for the experience of being taken on a trip through somebody else’s world for a while and see if they have anything interesting to say and sometimes discovering they don’t but the trip was the interesting part.
I go through phases of certain styles of music, literature etc. I reach the periphery and see what else is around. In the band both musically and lyrically we always try to evolve, always question what we have done and what we are doing, never trying to repeat and sometimes the changes are subtle, sometimes they are not.
I love words, discovering new ones, playing with old ones putting words together that don’t make sense, except maybe to me. I collect words like I collect music, or how some people collect tattoos.
For example, I worked with a gas company for years and every day I would use a cylinder of nitrogen to check some stuff.
Every day I would see the words “colourless, odourless” as a warning on the cylinder, two simple words not even in a sentence, and when we were writing the ‘Disease’ album I saw those two words again for the millionth time one day, they clicked with me and they became the basis of a theme of one of the songs on the album.
Sometimes consciously, sometimes subconsciously I am collecting words but it is only on a certain day that they work. Development over the years has come from always wanting to improve and trying different things.
As you say, from the first album which was more pastoral and romantic developing to ‘The Sullen Sulcus’ where I tried some free association of words and metaphors to describe things that should not work with what I was trying to describe, for example ‘The Words that Crawled’ or ‘Narcissistic Funeral.’ Or maybe I’m talking crap.
Which authors or poets, artists or film directors or anything else besides do you find inspirational? Do you have any favourites that you return to again and again?
Darren: I am not going into list mode but I’m generally drawn to the well written melancholia in all art forms, the work’s poetics: its unique, isolated world, its atmospherics, colours and shapes. As I said in the previous question everything influences us in different ways, it’s just how and when we choose to use it.
If the older material displayed a certain grandeur and romanticism it was with ‘The Sullen Sulcus’ that things began to take a turn for the weird and wonderful. Your themes seemed to turn more inward on that album, literally and figuratively.
Each song on that album drips with potent imagery and a tangible sense of self-searching. It seems like you really dug into the darkest corners of your psyche on that album.
What was going on in your life that made you delve into those realms and can you give us some insight into the themes explored on that particular monolith?
Darren: Yeah, I agree it was definitely very personal, most of it describing certain moments in my life at that time. I always write personally but try leave it open to interpretation for anybody who is interested enough to read them.
When I write, I write with two things in mind; my own personal experience but also the overall theme of life. We do not preach in the band, rather we invite you into our little world for a time to see what you can see.
I never explain the lyrics, the lads in the band never ask either and I never ask what that riff means or what that cymbal there was. We rehearse and our collective unspoken lives at that time fall into the music.
When people try to explain to me what a certain song means to them that is their life falling into that song at that time.
I think lyrically we always deal with the same emotions of fear, hate, betrayal- it’s what influences this and the way we look at it that changes but since you asked I will give a brief description.
‘The Sullen Sulcus’ still has a romantic grandeur with it but in a very twisted way. I tend to use strange imagery and word association to try get across the atmosphere of confusion and unresolved anger of the time.
The opener, ‘The Words that Crawled’ is about a specific time in my life where a person’s words crept from their mouth and into my head, crawling around on the floor of my skull to strangle me.
It leads into ‘It Almost Looked Human’. Whereas the title is a message to that person, the lyrics deal with their effect upon me. With ‘The Insolent Caul’ the title itself has a couple of meanings, the main one being how a person, when they are trying to escape, create their own little world of wonder, almost turn back to the childlike form, but this looking back has a caul, or mask of nostalgia, about it.
‘Narcissistic Funeral’ is probably my favourite of that album and there are a few lines based on a St. Vitus song and it questions our relationship with the things we do to soar and to crash and to survive the in-between.
‘A Murderous Circus’, undoubtedly your most divisive album so far, could be viewed as one long drug binge, taking the listener from the swirling heights of ‘The Apocalypse Machine’ to the bitter come down of ‘The Crashing Wave’ and onwards through the painfully drawn out death march of the title track to the more recent ‘A Disease for the Ages’ which drags the poor listener into the realms of addiction and decay. Is that an accurate assessment or am I failing to read some deeper meaning?
Darren: Yeah, you are right mostly and I look at it that way too sometimes but there is another way to look at the last album too, and maybe it was not just us with the addiction or the fact that we are rotting away slowly but the fact that everything around us seems to have been doing the same thing.
‘A Murderous Circus’ would not have been the album it is without any of the lost weeks or months which we went through before and during the creation of the album.
Looking back at the albums they can be grouped into two. The first two, as you say, had an atmosphere of grandeur and a pastoral romanticism and the last two are the trawl through our own psyche having reached the limits of our existence with certain things, again, all done unconsciously.
Another note is that the first two albums were recorded with Mags in Academy and the last two were done in Studio E in Germany. Both studios fitted perfectly what we were doing at the time, the warmth of Mags’s productions with the grinding and cold emotions and productions of the latter two.
Put it this way, I don’t think we could have recorded ‘Circus’ in Academy. ‘Circus’ is like a sordid trip to the bowels of creation, the dregs of our human emotions.
You have a very accurate description of what ‘Circus’ is about and I would take it a step further in saying that I think it concludes with a hint of the aftermath, the reality of the situation, when the light comes twitching through the window after a few days of aimless wanderings.
Basically the album describes a week in the life of, and everything in between, from the grey, featureless week in the grand gestures of ‘The Apocalypse Machine’ and the moments of elegant elevation, to the arid wastelands of psychological self loathing.
The album divided opinion among our friends and fans, some loving it, some hating it and I have to admit that we did make some mistakes.
The first one being the songs were way too long in some cases, even for us, but it was more the fact that certain riffs were played for way too long, certain ideas fleshed out too much. Some of this was down to the fact that we spent three weeks in the studio which was way too long.
Our focus came in and out and relations in the band were on tenterhooks from the beginning but I also feel it has some of our best moments and, from my point of view, our best lyrics to date.
We had gotten down to the basic elements of ourselves and our music, and some of it was good and some bad, just like any human.
The album for me has some of the most creative parts we have ever tried and most of them worked, like the strange recording techniques we used for some of the vocals to some of the, as we like to call them, leftfield riffs. But again we end, we learn and we move on.
While many bands wimp out, sorry ‘mature’ over time, your music seems to have become even darker and more fucked up as you have progressed.
‘A Disease for the Ages’ is a harrowing trawl through human degradation and self-destruction. I actually found the album’s lyrics, especially when combined with the skin-crawlingly dingy artwork, difficult to stomach.
The entire album paints a grotty and dismal panorama that is definitely not for the squeamish.
If there is one album that it parallels in terms of filth and drug-fuelled debasement it is ‘Dirt’ by Alice in Chains. Where did the inspiration come from for those songs?
Darren: When we are writing the music for any album it has certain atmospheres, tones and feelings. I get an actual picture in my head of what the music is saying. The lyrics describe this picture in a lot of detail. None of our albums are concept albums but they all have a general theme which ties everything together from music to lyrics to artwork.
As I said previously we seem to lean towards writing in two album segments, atmosphere wise. The second album being probably the furthest we can go with that particular “style” for want of a better word.
With ‘Disease’ we had harnessed the themes of ‘Circus’ and brought them to their conclusion, all subconsciously, as it is only when you look back you can see this.
I don’t have to tell you what we were doing or going through when we were writing and recording the album as I think it is fairly self explanatory, and your description is very accurate in one way. We hit bottom musically, lyrically and personally.
Musically and lyrically everything had been stripped back, no more overlong riffs, minimalist vocals and lyrics and personally for us there was nothing good anymore, the marrow had been sucked from the bone and we grew tired of the malignant mortality we had to face, but it is also looking at that situation not on a personal view but more on the view of people in general.
Everybody decays and dies. We just do it in different ways. I would see it from the point of view that the world is more corrupt and polluted than anything we have ever ingested for the sake of a few daze’ pleasure.
If you look at the album this way lyrically, I will put it this way, when we were writing and recording the album my Dad had suffered with a tumour and he did not have too long left and the album title itself, ‘The Sickness’ and ‘Trace Decay’ had a lot to do with that.
I jokingly call them the Mary Harney songs, but again it had to do with what we as a band were doing to ourselves, I wouldn’t say to escape because you can never escape, but more to experience and push to the outer limits of ourselves and our music.
It is what we enjoy doing, what keeps us going, but we know when to stop, too.
You compared ‘ADFTA’ to ‘Dirt’, and I know what you mean. It’s like I compare ‘The Sullen Sulcus’ lyrically and mood-wise to Leonard Cohen’s ‘Songs of Love and Hate’.
He weaves a web with his words that I attempted to mimic. If you are going to be compared, then copy from the best.
The words Mourning Beloveth and debauchery seem inextricably linked. Do you ever feel like you are on a path of self destruction? Is your music a way to externalise some of the fears you have that your years of living in the fast lane might be causing some serious damage to your mind and body?
Darren: I think it’s more living in the slow lane than anything else. I have never had any fears about death, more a fear of life around maybe, haha.
But as I said, I think everything we eat, drink and even breath every day does a lot more damage than anything we have tried for the sake of science.
I don’t know why we are linked with debauchery, we are well adjusted individuals when you compare us to some, maybe you can tell me why? Or is it somebody living vicariously through our supposed rock n’ roll lifestyles?
There are times in the past when I thought I was at my limit, we all did, nowhere else to go but we always have the band and that is the interesting part and it’s onwards and down from there.
How important is the visual aspect of the band for you? Is artwork simply an adornment with the sole purpose of being eye-catching on the shelf or does it have a more important function?
Darren: The artwork is almost as important as the music and lyrics, and we spend a lot of time at it. Unfortunately none of us can draw so we rely on somebody else to put our music and lyrics into pictures.
Any artist we use we usually give them a very good idea of what we want, in a broad sense then give them the lyrics and maybe the music and see where we go from there.
What I tend to do is give them lyrics and highlight certain passages to try to describe the picture I have in my head, sometimes that’s what they come back with, sometimes not but we have been lucky in that we have worked with some talented artist.
I think our poorest efforts have been the demos but we have gradually, over the releases, been able to work closer with the artists but also the fact we have a clearer idea ourselves.
We agonise over what font to use for the lyrics or do we use the word “the” too much in the song titles, up to the band photos every little detail is thought out and planned when it comes to that, but at that stage it is very easy bring it all together as the album has been recorded.
The most important part of the artwork is that it fits the mood and lyrics of the album that’s all we care about.
You are currently in the middle of writing for the next album. What can you tell us about the new material? Are there any ideas or themes coming to the fore?
Darren: It usually takes me until we are recording to gauge the new material but with the new stuff I am genuinely excited at rehearsals, there are some very tasty riffs being played. We are at the stage now of arranging them into some sort of structure.
Usually we write the music and just when recording the themes of the lyrics come through, song titles and album titles fall in to place.
This time round we have been a lot slower at writing and I have developed most of the themes and song titles already.
The new one has a working title of “Formless” and is loosely dealing with the grey matter of life we wade through each day, how there is no structure to anything anymore, nothing is defined and words are just words but have no meaning, be it in public or private life.
We have a new artist I am sure some of you are familiar with, Peter Rees, and for once I think the artwork will be finished around the same time as the album instead of having a six month struggle after the album is recorded to find something.
We have had some good discussions with Peter and we are all on the same gama-wavelength.
We are aiming to record near the end of summer in some Welsh valley and to have it released for the Xmas No. 1 spot…
I think while ‘ADFTA’ had an overall oppressive feel going on and each song bled into and out of each other, the next album will be a lot more defined, each song being part of the overall concept but also being able to stand on its own a bit like the way the ‘Dust’ album sounds as a whole, or even ‘TSS’.
Frank: I can’t wait for a next excursion into the studio. With our new guitarist our songs will have a new flavor. Although Pauric is much younger in body, he is same mental age as us so he has a lot of the same inspirations as us.
The new songs are not as bleak as ‘ADFTA’ or ‘AMC’ but they are still pretty bleak.
We had some songs done, then we raped them asunder and put them together another way and then back the way they were. It’s hard to say really how it will sound and we’re not perfectionists by any means.
It’s not gonna be some strange off the wall or unexpected sound, but it will certainly have a new aspect to it. You’re just gonna have to buy it to know.
While the core of the band has remained intact since the first demo all those years ago the line-up has seen some changes in recent years. How do you feel the ‘newbies’ are fitting in to their roles and do they have much creative input into the new material?
Darren: Yeah, we always thought if one of us ever dropped off that we would end the band and when Aido and Brian left we thought about it each time but we felt we were still enjoying it. I think without the band at least one of us would have been committed at this stage.
I can say without contradiction that we are not the most talented band ever so for us rehearsing every week and the general atmosphere in the band has to be the priority. Together as a unit it works, take one part away and we struggle.
Aido was with us up until ‘Circus’ and it was difficult when he left, not just musically but also because he spent a few hours every day promoting us as his “job”- it was not a very demanding one, but on a personal level it was very difficult.
It was great on our last tour when he was tour manager and played with us on the last show.
Brian; the quiet man… Nobody outside the band knew what he did other than play the guitar but he was that glum adhesive that held everything together and when he left I personally thought that was the end of us and it has taken a bit of adjusting without him.
I always knew if a gig came up or we had to record, the word “no” was never used by any of us. Everything else in our lives was put on hold for the next thing we had. I think in our twenty years the five of us collectively missed about five rehearsals.
But yeah, Bren has been with us five years now and we knew him for years before that so it was just like an old friend came to rehearsal one night and didn’t leave.
We didn’t know Pauric at all beforehand and we were wary of letting a stranger into our circle, but it has worked out perfectly.
They are similar to the rest of us personally, musically and the rest and both have shown the dedication required to be in Mourning Beloveth
We decided when Pauric joined we would play a few gigs in Ireland and Europe to help him become familiar with the songs and our rock n’ roll lifestyle on the road. A week stuck in Portugal, cheap beer and shithead got us through.
As for creative input, we all do in one way or another. It is not as if one member presents the songs for us to learn.
Frank mainly writes the riffs, but Bren or Pauric come with ideas too and we work with them or through them, glue one part together, cut that part there, try a Cornish pastie…
I have been in bands where the songs are already completed and it doesn’t work for me, especially when you write the type of music we do, everybody needs to be involved or it doesn’t work.
Pauric, do you feel you have a more active or passive role in the writing process?
Pauric: Some of my riffs will be used in the new material, yeah. We all have equal input in writing the songs, so if one of us has an idea for a riff or a section of a song, we will play it and add to it what we can.
Sometimes Frank and I sit around jamming on the acoustics for hours on end, forming new ideas and riffs as we go along.
As a player, I tend to be a fan of oppression through melody. I am a fan of guitar harmonies, and I didn’t get much of a chance to explore that sphere of music to any great extent before joining Mourning Beloveth, due to Decayor primarily being a three piece band.
From the vantage point of a fan, how do you see the new stuff shaping up? Can you trace any noticeable threads back to any particular album?
Pauric: The new material is exciting me, both as a fan and as a band member. While it does have the Mourning Beloveth sound, we are trying a few new ideas.
I won’t be able to make any definitive comparisons to previous albums until I hear the finished product, but I think it’s safe to say, at the moment the new material has little in common with ‘ADFTA’.
The next few months sees the vinyl re-release of ‘The Sullen Sulcus’ and ‘A Disease for the Ages’ has just received the wax treatment. That only leaves ‘A Murderous Circus’. What can you tell us about these reissues? Will there be any bonuses, extras or new artwork?
Darren: Yeah, ‘ADFTA’ is out now on heavy double vinyl. It has a new cover and back but it is an old image from the merch for the album, of the famine statues on the quays in Dublin.
I hate feckin’ extra stuff or splatter versions (I still buy ‘em) so no, nothing coloured, nothing added just time.
As for ‘Sulcus’, it is the 10 year anniversary of its release this year and we will have it out in May, just simply on heavy double vinyl.
Haven’t spoken about ‘AMC’ yet but I would say next year for that one, maybe a limited edition in a box shaped like a headstone or something, haha…
You have, in the past, been involved in two split releases. Are we likely to see any more splits coming from the Mourning Beloveth camp and what bands would you like to share a release with if you could?
Dunno….The split with Lunar Gate happened as Sentinel was releasing their series at the time and we had a day in the studio to try out some stuff for the ‘AMC’ album so we recorded ‘Part 1’, which was originally a twelve minute song until we found out it wouldn’t fit on the 7” so we just left out the end of it.
The split with Tom Waits when we covered ‘The Weeping Song’, myself and Adrian had been talking about it on and off for six years before we finally did it, and he wasn’t even in the band at that stage, but we love Cave and always thought that song, although not one of his all time best, was an apt song for us to cover and I think we did it justice and brought our own little twist to the song. So no plans, but…..
You have opted out of playing gigs for the last year or so but that has always been an important factor for you guys. You were one of the first Irish metal bands to tour America and you have travelled extensively in Europe. What plans have you for future gigs and what gaps on the map are you eager to fill in?
I remember in the early days of the band we didn’t play many gigs at all but over the years as we grew in to the band we became confident with the songs and so playing live was a lot less of an ordeal.
I think especially with our first European tour and American tour in 2004, when you play the songs every night for a month that helps too.
We have played some great places from a wine cellar in Paris to the Party San festival in Germany. We even played in a junkyard in Denver, and in 2009 we played Russia for the first time.
Seriously, most have been amazing and it’s been a great journey and I am sure many more to come. We still have to play Japan, so until that happens… We will be looking at America again, Eastern Europe and South America…Maybe even Scotland and we already have two offers from countries we have never played before for next time so the list is quite extensive.