MORTAL SIN – Pumping & Pounding
To celebrate the release of Ozzie thrashers Mortal Sin’s fifth full-length album, "Psychology of Death", Eternal Terror scribe Peter Loftus was sent on an all-expenses-paid circuit of the globe to catch up with vocalist Mat Maurer.
What news from Mortal Sin?
Well we are proud to announce the birth of our brand new album Psychology of Death! That’s big news!! We have a new record deal with the Noise Art label & we’ll be on tour in Europe shortly. In the last few years also we had a change in membership in the Mortal Sin club too, Ryan Huthnance replaced Mick Sultana.
Tell us about the killer new album. You must be delighted with the way it turned out…
Well what can I say? I think it turned out brilliantly!! The production we got on this CD from Darren Jenkins is quite fresh, very solid but still has a kind of rawness to it. The songs really get the treatment they deserved. It’s so good when you write a song in your bedroom & when you record it on a two-bit system, you feel you’ve done a good job, but it’s not until you hear the songs recorded properly in a good studio that you hear them exactly as you imagined it – pumping & pounding through the speakers, energising you & waking you up with a good slap in the face!
It’s a modern sounding record, but the band’s roots in 80’s thrash are obvious too – do you still listen to thrash from that era? What about the new breed of thrashers?
Well we’ve certainly done a lot of homework! We are all big fans of thrash music as well as being musicians, so we listen to a lot of stuff. We said when we began writing this album that we wanted something like Testament’s "Formation of Damnation" mixed with Kreator’s "Hordes of Chaos" mixed with Overkill’s "Ironbound", but all in the vein of our own debut album "Mayhemic Destruction". I think any thrash band needs to study the music of all the forebearers of the genre to understand the heart & soul of the music, & Mortal Sin will often jam out on some Kreator, Destruction, Megadeth or Slayer. We’ve also kept an eye on the new generation of thrash bands like Evile, Warbringer, Bonded by Blood, Blacktide among others. Knowledge is king, so knowing what everyone is doing is important when it comes to writing.
How does the song writing and recording process work in the band?
We did things a little bit different this time around. Normally we would have all the songs completed before we went into the studio & do weeks of pre-production, but we are notoriously slow writers (at least I am!! Haha) & time was really passing by quickly & we thought the damned thing would never get finished! We struggled to get songs completed after losing our long term guitarist Mick Sultana & I was finding it difficult to cope with the suicide of my young nephew so I stayed out of the picture for a while Nathan, Andy & Luke continued to write songs. Luke went into the studio in June 2010 to record drums for nine songs, but at that time I had only completed three songs of lyrics. So I had a lot of catching up to do. The beginning of 2011 was not much better in my family camp with the death or my wife’s mother & my own mother within a few months of each other & I really felt like I was at the bottom of a rather large pit that I couldn’t get out of!! Perhaps that’s where a lot of the darkness in this album comes from, but out of the pit I climbed & finally completed the last couple of songs two days before I had to record them!!
Sorry to hear all the bad news, Mat. Mortal Sin had more than its fair share of troubles – line-up changes, personal problems, management issues etc. What makes you still want to record and play music in the face of such adversity?
I think adversity is our middle name!! Jesus, if Anvil hadn’t have done that movie, we sure would have been the perfect candidates!! Haha! You know there’s one thing about being a musician, & that is you live for playing on the stage. That one hour of performing songs that you’ve written in front of a crazy crowd is such an incredible experience that all the shit that happens means nothing on the grand scale of things. We have such a huge passion for what we do & I don’t think anything would stop us – they’ll have to shovel us off the stage!
Do you all have day jobs or is music your full time occupation?
In Australia it’s impossible to live off the music so we all have day jobs. I’m an Operations Manager for a Crewing Company, so at least I get to work & go to concerts & events. Nathan is a Senior Architect, Andy helps a guy run a courier business, Luke drives a truck & Ryan studies music full-time.
Do you think it is unrealistic for modern metal bands to expect to make a living from their art? (If so why?)
I dunno what it’s like in other countries, so that’s a really hard one to answer. I guess it’s possible – a lot of musicians play in more than one band to make a living. I think you really need to run a band like a business if you wanna live off the music.
Has it been a disadvantage coming from Australia?
Absolutely! Once the novelty factor wears off, coming from Australia has its drawbacks because of the distance we are away from everything. 26hrs on a plane from UK or Europe & the exorbitant costs of flights can hurt if you have to do it often!
How is the Australian metal scene these days? Are there any acts that you think our readers should check out?
We’ve been lucky here to also have a resurgence of local thrash acts to follow on from the worldwide trend & there’s definitely some great bands to watch out for. My personal faves are Desecrator, Wolfkahn, Deprivation, Elm St, Toecutter & Assaulter. Some of the older bands like Hobbs Angel of Death are still around and Addictive have been talking about a reunion, so the scene is looking great at the moment.
What has been your favourite gig of the past year?
Soundwave festival is usually always something to look forward to every year. It happens in February in all the major capitals with over 50,000 punters. This year the headliner was Iron Maiden, with Rob Zombie, Slayer, Primus, Queens of the Stoneage, Dimmu Borgir, & a host of others playing.
What are your plans for touring the new album? Any chance of you coming back to Europe?
We’ll be back in Europe in November/December for the Thrashfest Classics tour along with Sepultura, Exodus, Destruction & Heathen. It’s a great bill & all the bands will be playing songs from their classic albums.
What next for Mortal Sin?
We’ll be playing some more shows in Australia through to March. We’d like to play some shows in UK, so we are looking at the moment. We have a few Summer festivals lined up for 2012 as well so we’ll be back over there again for those. We are getting some riffs together as well so we’d like to back this album up a lot quicker than between the last two albums!!