MOUTHY ISSUE TWO
May 2003
MORTIIS
interview by Ian C Stewart


It's rare in music, but especially so in the conservative genre of heavy metal, for an artist to keep a high profile while exploring different styles of music. How have you maintained your individuality and your popularity throughout the evolution of your sound?
I tend to not think too much about whether or not what I do will sell or be popular or whatever. I mean, we all do that to a certain degree, but I try to not let that control what I do. Maybe the fact that everything I do is pretty honest to myself, to who I am, and maybe that touches something in people. I honestly donít know.

Explain your musical evolution if you can. Is it just a case of your own personal tastes in music changing and your output reflecting that?
With the Smell Of Rain it was a question of evolve, or devolve into nothing. It was a necessary step for me to feel like I wanted to make music, and wanted to continue to express myself publicly. Obviously, my personal tastes have changed throughout the years, but in essence, I have stayed very true to my roots, which were heavy metal and rock music and blending that with the more recent discovery of synthesized and sampled music. Actually, Iím more true to my roots today than I was, say, five years ago.

Where do you see your music heading?
Not sure, but it's gonna be good.

What music software do you use?
Iím still relatively new to software, so Iím still experimenting with a bunch stuff. But I use Cubase 5 frequently, as well as Peak, Battery, Pro52, FM7 and so on.

Is there any other music software you plan on getting?
Iím thinking about getting a soft sampler called Kontakt. Iíve also tried Halion, and briefly looked at SampleTank yesterday. Thereís a confusing amount of software out there, and I for one tend to get stuck just messing around with them without getting anything done.

What's your home computer setup?
I just switched from an older Mac to a Macintosh G4, so Iím in the middle of making stuff work, which takes some time. Other hardware I use is Kurzweil K2000 (sampler, synth and master keyboard), Kurzweil K2500 (rack), Behringer Eurodesk MX8000 (havenít got a clue how to use it, I just use it to bring all the sounds together), Nordrack 2, Waldorf Microwave EXT (black, not orange), EMU Virtuoso 2000, Oberheim Matrix 1000 and a bunch of other things. I sort of got a lot of it at the same time, so Iím still learning the equipment.

What kind of speakers do you use - do you monitor at high volumes?
Actually I just use a pair of AKG headphones, havenít got any monitors. Though Iíd like to get some. I usually monitor fairly loudly, though.

Do you write songs on keyboards or guitar?
Keyboards, since I donít play guitar. The guitar sounds are usually just awful sounding keyboard sounds until they can be replaced with a proper guitar.

Can you describe your songwriting methods?
God... Not really, because it varies a lot. I usually start out with some sort of idea, and build in all directions from there. For some reason, it seems my initial ideas turn into what happens in the middle of the song.

What's your favorite place to play live?
I donít know yet. Some places have been more receptive than others, and a lot of places still remain to be played so get back to me in a couple of years, ha-ha!!

Do you use sequencers or a DAT for live performance?
We used to use an 8-track Fostex thing, up to the point where it was okay mixed and nothing needed to be changed, or at least there was nothing more we were able to change, then I took it over to a DAT, and weíve been using the DAT ever since. The Fostex was also unstable, and would crash a lot. Plus, even though it said it could burn backups direct, it really didnít. One of the tracks was stereo, and it only burned one of the channels, so, needless to say, the backups sounded fucking horrible.

Do you have any Spinal Tap tour stories?
Probably, though nothing special comes to mind at the moment -- apart from the occasional broken hand and bursting zipper, but nothing a real rockīnīroll band shouldnít know how to deal with, ha-ha!!

Will there be a tour anytime soon?
As always, we are working on getting it to happen, and if all goes well weíre looking at a pretty active spring and summer.

How is your relationship with Earache? You're almost the only cool person left there.
We have our ups and downs, but generally I like to think that we are working towards the same goal: to sell records. Ha-ha, I have no idea of the level of coolness of the other bands theyíve got right now, but Iím sure theyíve got a couple of cool people.

Do you enjoy the process of making music videos? What's your opinion of the videos you've done?
Well, for starters, I think I suck as an actor, and when the director tells you to ďlook startledĒ into the camera, I fuck even that up. But, I like the process, I think itís educational and in hindsight I enjoyed it, and Iím largely happy with what came out of it.

Do you have obsessive fans?
I have this great advantage, which is that people donít really recognize me very often, and Iím not THAT big, artistically, so itís all pretty cool. So to answer your question, yes I do think that there are obsessive fans out there, but they havenít really tracked me down so far. Iím pretty much left to myself if I go into the crowd after a show, or to a club where people would know me.

Are you still a KISS fan?
I love KISS. Itís such an old clichť, but KISS got me into rock in the first place. KISS, Led Zeppelin and Elvis Presley, which are like the three best reasons, I daresay.

Are you a Voivod fan, if so what do you think of the new album?
I havenít heard their most recent stuff, as I donít pay nearly as much attention to what happens around me as I should do. I was a big fan before, then it got a bit weird with new singers and so on. I still really love Killing Technology, War and Pain, Dimension Hatross and so on. I went to one of their shows once and spoke to the drummer, and he said it was an honor to meet me and gave me a CD and I thought that was so fucking badass because that was, like, my first, or almost first, meeting with an artist who's bigger than me who was into what I was doing, so it totally made my day back then, and still does to this day. I grew up with bands like Voivod, and when it turns out they like what you do then itís really gratifying.

What current music people are you excited about? Is there anyone you'd like to collaborate with?
I havenít heard much recent stuff so thatís hard to answer, Iím also a diehard loner when it comes to working and Iím much too self-conscious to imagine myself working with others. My self-esteem is really low, so people I would work with would think I sucked.

How many interviews have you ever done?
I have no idea... a thousand? probably not that many, but five hundred easy.

One last question. I play bass in a band that sings about food and Satan, called Devilcake. Is that the stupidest thing you've ever heard of? (please say yes)
It sounds like a perfect waste of time, howís that? Ha-ha.

Thanks Mortiis, you're the man.
Yes, I know.


www.mortiis.com



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