Saturday, February 7, 2015

Band Interview: MORTUUS SUM

Interview with Yngve of Mortuus Sum

What’s going on with the extreme metal scene in Greece these days? How active has Mortuus Sum been over there?
We have many death and black metal bands. There's no point to begin naming them, because I will possibly leave someone out. Especially the Hellenic black metal scene; I must say that it is one of the strongest scenes worldwide! Mortuus Sum is active regarding releases and stuff, but we are not active in gigs.

Even if you cannot name all the bands currently active in the scene, can you name some of the most well-known bands?
Well known bands... here we go... I will definitely mention Acherontas which is the leading occult black metal band in Greece, Chaosbaphomet and Empire Of The Moon, Funeral Storm, Revencult, Nadiwrath, Profane Prayer, Dizziness. There are so many bands. We need pages and pages to mention them all!

One band from Greece that many people in the States have heard of is Necromantia. Can you tell the readers how well known and respected that band has become in your home country since the 90s?
Necromantia is one of the first bands of the first wave of Hellenic black metal. They are widely respected and they are a huge influence for the scene. They are one of the few bands that managed to go abroad.

What can you say of the club scene nearest your location? How often can you attend shows and how large are the turnouts?
We have some nice clubs here in Athens like An Club, Gagarin 208, Kyttaro Club, Fuzz Club. I cannot attend many shows due to some financial problems, but concerning the turnout, here in Greece and especially in Athens, we can see something that I truly believe isn't happening anywhere else. Everyone comes for the headliner or their friends when they are playing as support acts and they they just leave! I mean, what the fuck! I ALWAYS go to a gig before it starts and I am leaving at the end! Is it so hard? You paid some money; why would you leave when your friends go offstage, or why snob the support acts and come in time for the headliner? Show some respect. I don't get it!

Who are Mortuus Sum’s founding members? How did the band begin and what led to you becoming strictly a studio band?
The band was created in 2002 by me and Auren, and we were called Panzerfaust. We wrote a couple of songs, never released them though and then we split up because I joined the army and Auren left for Sweden. In 2007 I reformed the band as Mortuus Sum and here we are. I kept Mortuus Sum as a studio band only, because we all live in different cities, so there is no way we can all meet and rehearse. Nevertheless, if something really good comes up, I will gather some session members and I will do a one-off gig or something. I have no idea what will happen in the future. At the moment I am pleased with things as they are.

In what ways has the band changed musically from the time you started as Panzerfaust to the time you reformed as Mortuus Sum?
When I started the band in 2002, the influences were mostly of Norwegian origin. When I reformed the band in 2007, Norwegian black metal remained as an influence, but some other elements were introduced. Nowadays, the band is more Swedish oriented, like Dark Funeral, Marduk, old Amon Amarth etc.

Black metal means different things to bands in different countries. What do you and Mortuus Sum consider “true black metal”?
I will answer on behalf of all the band members (at least I think we share common beliefs. Time to learn the truth! Hahaha). Black metal for Mortuus Sum is a way of life, a way of seeing things I life. It is attitude and the way of acting. Moreover, black metal is staying underground and staying true to your principles.

How often has Mortuus Sum been able to do one-off shows with session musicians? How many people would show up?
There is possibility to play one gig sometime next year for the first time ever! As for people showing up, I cannot tell you that. Sure I want to have a full house, but sometimes less is better. Better with some TRUE fans of the band, than people that are there just because they don't have anything better to do, if you get my point.

How many people do you know who are equally dedicated that they will stay for the entire bill at a local show?
I cannot indicate a certain number, but they are few.

Are there as many print fanzines and online webzines as there are bands in the Greek metal underground? If there are too many to mention, cite those most active and indicate how wide their distribution is?
There are more webzines than printed zines in Greece. The truth is to print one a zine editor needs some money, so most people go for the internet choice. The biggest printed zine is Metal Hammer. There was Metal Invader, but now it is a webzine. There are so many webzines and blogs that I couldn't possibly start mentioning. There is Greek Rebels webzine, Rock Hard; really too many to start listing.

So for many zine editors, hosting webzines is a means to save finances while reaching a wider readership?
A webzine is sometimes much cheaper than printing an actual zine. That way, they can spend more money in promoting the local scene, for example by boosting some posts or by buying merch from bands or by any other way.

Does Greece have many independent labels to help unsigned bands get word around, or do bands release their material independently? Are many Greek underground bands using social media to spread their work?
A little bit of both. There some independent labels that are doing nice jobs releasing material, but there are bands that choose the digital solution. I for one, have released some digital material with Mortuus Sum, but in the end I founded a label, so we are going to have only physical releases from now on.

How much material has been released digitally by Mortuus Sum? Can your material be heard on multiple websites? On which of the social networks you listed has the band received the biggest response?
We have released "Promo 2011" in digital format and then on limited CD-r, a split EP with Funeral Storm, called "Inverted God" in digital format and a split EP with Nattergal, called "Buried and Doomed in Misery" in digital format and on limited tape format as a re-release. Our songs can be heard on ReverbNation, BandCamp, SoundCloud and YouTube. The biggest response is coming from ReverbNation's link on our Facebook page.

List the tracks that appeared on Promo 2011 and explain how they represented the band when they were composed.
"Promo 2011" only contains one song, the band's name song that is, entitled "Mortuus Sum". It was the first song that was composed and recorded after the rebirth of the band in 2007. It was and still is a trademark song for us. It was the song that put us on the map. It means a lot for the band and for me in person.


Who penned the lyrics to your song “Mortuus Sum” and what was the inspiration behind them?
The lyrics were written by Morrigan, our lyricist at the time. The inspiration was a dream she had, but I don't really know more, as it was something personal.


Where are Funeral Storm and Nattergal from? How long have you been friends with those bands and what made you decide to release split EPs together?
Funeral Storm are from Hellas and Nattergal are from Mexico. We are friends for quite some time now and it was a physical progress to release something together.

What local independent labels do you know of that actively support underground bands from your country? Tell the readers about your independent label, and how you managed to found it with the finances at your disposal. Is this label meant to exclusively release Mortuus Sum material or are you likewise going to sign other bands?
Acherontas Promotions, III Damnation Productions, Floga Records and Fist Bang are some if the labels that are active in Greece. My label is called Verba Volant Records but it is not yet active. It will be active for all bands and not only Mortuus Sum, even though that Mortuus Sum are already in a label from Germany, called Apocalyptic Art.

Did you become acquainted with the staff of Apocalyptic Art while seeking labels to distribute your material? How much has this label helped to spread word about the band?
I found out this label when they released the first album by Dizziness, a black metal band I play for. We became friends and we closed the deal. Apocalyptic Art is an awesome label and the guy who runs it is one hell of a guy. He is very supportive and true underground!


How long has Dizziness been around? How active is this band next to Mortuus Sum?
Dizziness are around since 2008. They are more active than Mortuus Sum regarding the releases they have. I was a full member for them, but now I am a session drummer.


How do you plan to run your label Verba Volant while remaining active with Mortuus Sum?
I intend to run the label firstly for my bands, when I want to release an EP or something and when I have some money, I am going to work with other bands also.

What bands do you have in mind to work with once you start doing so for the label?
I will work with extreme bands mostly, but of course I will not refuse to release thrash metal or other genres also if it comes my way.

How widespread would you want to see Verba Volant records become when you start running the label full time?
I am not going for the big money, that's for sure. I will try to keep it underground and spread the word of tapes as much as I can.

We met and began corresponding through Kat of Obscure Chaos Fanzine. Did you and she meet while she was seeking bands to feature in her zine?
I have known Kat since 2011 if I remember well. I remember I saw a post of Obscure Chaos that time; I pressed "like" and we began talking. One thing led to another and here we are! She supports me in any way possible and there are not a lot of people doing that nowadays. She helps bands like no one and I must thank her for that!


How much effort have you and Kat channeled into supporting one another and helping spread word in Greece and the USA?
I don't think that you need a lot of effort. You just need to really want to do what you are doing. I really want to support Kat in what she is doing and so is she with my bands and with every other band and I totally respect her. Just believe and it can happen! Of course it is hard, but it is music. We live for it!

How many contacts have you made through Obscure Chaos since you and Kat began corresponding?
I made some connections with radio stations and webzines and they are all so supportive. There are people like you, that know how important the underground metal scene is and you are all doing your best to make it stand out! On behalf of the bands I play for, thank you for that!

Name the radio stations and webzines that are most actively corresponding with Mortuus Sum at this point?
At the moment, only you and Obscure Chaos Zine are actively corresponding with the band. Also Fury Brings Tears zine is mentioning Mortuus Sum quite often and I am eternally grateful to all of you.

Given a choice, do you prefer reading web zines or print zines for the information they provide on bands and labels?
Printed ones of course, but to tell the truth, a webzine is way easier to find and read. The printed zines though are something that I will never give away!

Are there any webzines you have been looking over of late?
Due to some personal issues, I don't have the time to look around. Things are going better though, so very soon I will be checking up on what's happening once more.

What do you plan to release next under the banner of Mortuus Sum?
We were supposed to release our first full album, entitled "Vargavinter" early this year, but due to some personal problems it will be delayed. We talked with Apocalyptic Art and we all agreed to release it later, but within this year. Apart from this, we are preparing something more, but it is not official yet. The only thing I can say is that it will be a huge thing for the band and a tribute to the Gods. 


Mortuus Sum

-Dave Wolff