MNEMIC – Transcension
Bassist Tomas ‘Obeast’ Koefod announced his departure from Danish metallers Mnemic on April 13th, 2011, citing musical differences. Tomas had supplied bass parts to Mnemic full-lengths two through to four, namely October 2004’s The Audio Injected Soul, January 2007’s Passenger, and January 2010’s Sons Of The System. Italian bassist Simone Bertozzi (Empyrious / Modern Age Slavery) was revealed to be the man’s replacement.
“He’s been touring a lot,” explains Guillaume Bideau, vocalist of Mnemic. “He had a kid in-between and everything, so he’s had some changes in his life. The way he was seeing the music business these days and the way we were seeing it wasn’t fitting together anymore. That’s why he just decided to leave the band, and stay away from the music business for a little while. He’s just decided to play with some bands again in Denmark. He’s still a really good friend. We see each other as often as possible, but he just needed this break.”
Mnemic declared further line-up changes on October 29th, the exit of drummer Brian Rasmussen paving way for the addition of Brian Larsen (Vira). “He had some difficult problems, because his knees were fucked in a way,” the singer discloses. “In the end he couldn’t make more than three or four shows in a row, and that was a big problem. For example, a one-month tour or something like that would have been impossible. We had to switch to stand-in drummers and everything, so it was complicated. He wasn’t that motivated anymore to go out on tour, so it just naturally came on the table that we just had to step away and look for somebody else. Still once again though, he’s a really good friend. We meet as often as we can, and as much as we can.”
“We talked about it, because we had thought about it and thought it would be better for him to leave. It’s always difficult to talk about something like that though with a band member which is a brother, because he was in the band for several years – it was a long time. It’s always a really strange subject to talk about, but he was like ‘Yeah, I totally understand.’ I think it is way better for us. It was mutual.”
Guitarist Rune Stigart departed as well, Brian Larsen’s Vira bandmate in Victor-Ray Salomonsen fulfilling the resultant vacancy. “It was mainly because of the fact he isn’t a fan of touring as well, and Mnemic is kind of a touring band,” Guillaume feels. “We want to play as much as possible, and Rune didn’t share this vision anymore. We wanted to tour a bit more, but at this time they all had to make some choices in their lives regarding their families, jobs, and everything. They weren’t available for a lot of intensive touring. I was ready to tour a lot, but we couldn’t tour that much. We played a lot of gigs here and there though, a small tour here, a small tour there. In the end it was maybe 50 gigs, but we didn’t make a single real tour.
“Rune wasn’t really happy to go on tour in the end though, and regarding the music. We had some different visions in terms of where we wanted to go with the band. He wanted to go more into some kind of a heavy rock version, and Mircea (Gabriel Eftemie, guitars) wanted to be more like the old days – like the first two albums – and a mixture of what we all do together now. We went back to something more Mnemic in the end. We didn’t want to be more rock. We had a different vision of the music than he had. We just talked about it with Rune like we did with Brian, and it appeared naturally that him leaving was the best thing to do for everyone.
“Of course when all these changes appeared, me and Mircea didn’t really know what was going to happen. We were pretty happy because there was a lot of new blood in the band, and the guys were really motivated. On the other hand though, they were friends from before. Just Simone we met on tour, our new bass player. We knew the guys from before though, because they had replaced Brian or Rune on some tours or gigs. They’re way younger than us – like 23, 24, 25 – so we didn’t know how it was going to work. When we started to compose with them, everything fell into place. It appeared that it was pretty nice, and now we’re really happy because those two guys are really motivated. It gives a new energy to the band, so I think it was the best thing that could happen to us.”
June 2012’s Mnemesis is the first Mnemic record to feature the outfit’s overhauled line-up. “We composed everything once the new members joined the band,” the frontman clarifies. “We didn’t have any material from before they arrived. Usually I just fly to Denmark, and we have some writing sessions with the guys. We composed everything in the studio – we all have ProTools, and all this stuff. In rehearsals the guys were then just checking everything was alright, because some things you compose in the studio and then when it comes to rehearsing the songs sometimes it doesn’t really work. So yeah, we just test the songs in rehearsals and check if everything is okay. It took a bit less than six months, or something like that. With Sons Of The System, it took more than a whole year to compose the album. This time it was way shorter. We just worked on the first few songs, and we found a working rhythm somehow. We had to compose everything before setting a release date with Nuclear Blast, so we didn’t have any real deadline. It just happened like that.”
Mnemic’s overhauled line-up hasn’t greatly affected the assortment’s musical style, however. “I don’t think it has,” Guillaume reckons. “When we sent the album to Nuclear Blast, the guys told us ‘We’re a little curious because with three new members. Maybe the sound will have changed or something.’ They told us though ‘No, it totally sounds like Mnemic,’ so there wasn’t really a sound change or anything. It’s still very Mnemic.”
A form of word play, the title Mnemesis was suggested by a follower of Mnemic’s official Facebook page. “It’s always hard to find an album name that everybody loves in the band, the right name that everybody likes more or less,” the vocalist chuckles. “This guy just mentioned that, so we just had to put the M before Nemesis so that it became Mnemesis. These days me and Mircea write the lyrics, and we weren’t really enthusiastic regarding the world. This album is a way of punishing all the bad behaviour of the humans (laughs).
“The lyrics talk about some really personal visions that we have regarding the world. It’s kind of subjective, but it’s pretty depressing actually (laughs). My girlfriend told me ’Wow, you have some really dark names for titles.’ She just read the lyrics, and she was like ’Wow, you really don’t like how the world is these days’ (laughs). We’re all pretty angry about the world these days, and that’s reflected in the lyrics.
“People in general are so selfish; they just do things for themselves, and they don’t see the future. They’re just getting more and more selfish, and don’t think about others. It’s not new, but we think that these days. It’s worse than before. People are getting poorer and poorer, so the poorer you get the more selfish you become of course. People are getting richer and richer too, and the richer you get the more selfish you become as well. The more you have the more that you want, and the less you have the more you protect what you’ve got. It’s not political though; it’s just a vision of the world that we have. We don’t have any political messages.”
‘I’ve Been You’, for example, is a way of stating that we aren’t better than everybody else. “‘I’ve Been You’ is just a way to say ‘Yeah, I’m criticising, but I’ve been you so I’m the same. I’m not better than you,’” Guillaume divulges. “When I write lyrics, it’s pretty subjective. You have to just write them, pick out what you like in them, and amend them as you want. I don’t really like to talk about the lyrics.”
Guitarist Mircea Gabriel Eftemie likened Mnemesis’ sound to the sound prevalent on September 2003’s Mechanical Spin Phenomena and October 2004’s The Audio Injected Soul, Mnemic’s opening brace of full-lengths. “It was more or less a statement regarding the sound as well because on Passenger and Sons Of The System, there were a lot of low ends,” the lyricist cautions. “We wanted to go back to the cold and mechanical sound on the first two ones, but in the end, what we wanted to do isn’t really what we did. We’re really happy about the album, but it doesn’t sound like what we had in mind before we composed it. We would have forced ourselves otherwise, so it’s a bit different. I think it’s a nice mixture between the beginning of Mnemic and Sons Of The System, but the sound isn’t as cold as it is on the first two ones and it has way less low end than the last two albums.
“When they listen to the album, a lot of people say ‘It’s way more melodic and there are way more clean vocals.’ I have no idea though because when I’m in the studio in front of a microphone I just come into the studio with the lyrics, but sometimes not. When that happens I compose everything while recording the album, so it’s really spontaneous. There’s no plan. When I hit the studio I don’t have a general idea – I just see what happens. I try to be as spontaneous as possible, and have a lot of fun (laughs).”
Guillaume’s feelings towards Mechanical Spin Phenomena and The Audio Injected Soul are positive. “The first time I listened to them, I was pretty impressed by the sound,” he enthuses. “I was on tour with one of my other bands, and one of the guitarists just played Mnemic in the car. I was like ‘Yeah, fuck man. This song is pretty great.’ I loved it. I don’t like death metal, but the screams that Michael was doing combined with the addition of the music, the sound, and the choruses… At the same time it’s catchy, it’s heavy, it’s melodic, and the sound is pretty powerful. I like those albums, but I don’t listen to all of the songs. Some are too atmospheric and too weird for me.”
Mnemesis has been touted as more melodic than recent efforts. “I don’t think it’s more melodic, but that’s what people say,” the singer admits. “As I sang on the album, I don’t have a wider view on it. It’s still fresh for me, too new. I’m too much in the band to have an overview on that.”
Atmosphere is also prevalent. “We have some nice atmospheres on the album on songs like ‘Junkies On The Storm’, and on ‘There’s No Tomorrow’ there are a lot of ambiences as well,” Guillaume adds. “It’s pretty diverse.”
In cutting vocals for Mnemesis, the frontman wanted to slightly tweak his high-pitched vocals. “On tour, I just noticed that sometimes my voice doesn’t really work out this way,” he confesses. “I wanted to be able to make something really comfortable from when I wake up in the morning to when I go to bed dead drunk (laughs), something that I was able to reproduce all the time. The screaming voice I use on the album is my most natural voice, the one that I can always use on tour when I wake up or whatever. I just choose to use this one. I just go to the song, and the music tells me what to sing. Of course I use clean vocals on all of the choruses because I like catchy things, and that’s what I like to listen to. I do that most of the time, use clean vocals for the choruses. Regarding the verses though, it just depends on the lyrics and the ambience. The music just tells me what to sing. I don’t know. Once again, it’s pretty spontaneous. I don’t have a plan before I hit the studio. I just go there and see what happens.”
Touring commitments can take their toll upon the vocal chords. “On tour it’s always difficult because you have to sing clean parts and dirty parts, and that’s sometimes for a month,” Guillaume shares. “It also depends on if you’re doing a headlining tour. Every day you have to play 90 minutes, which is a long time. Of course your voice gets tired a lot towards the end, and with the buses you always have problems with the lack of air conditioning. Sometimes you get sick like that, and if you get sick on tour your voice gets even more tired. But yeah, with the vocals on Mnemesis I know I can go with my natural voice. Even if I’m sick I can do them anyway.”
Mnemesis has additionally been touted as less technical than recent efforts. “I don’t know,” the vocalist muses. “Maybe (laughs). I still think it’s technical, but maybe more… I know we had some songs on the previous albums where sometimes you hear the song, and then all of a sudden you have a technical part popping out of nowhere. Sometimes it was maybe copied and pasted just because this is Mnemic, and we have to be technical. Sometimes we just put a technical part in the middle of somewhere just to be technical. On this one, we didn’t do that at all. Composition wise, it was just a pretty natural process.”
Longtime associate Tue Madsen handled production duties on Mnemesis. “Tue is a really good friend of ours,” Guillaume beams. “He’s been with Mnemic since the beginning, since before I was there. He even mixed and mastered one of One-Way Mirror’s albums (July 2008’s One-Way Mirror). He’s a really nice producer, really laid back, and really cool. He works really professional, pretty fast, is pretty efficient, and listens to what you say. Some producers don’t listen to what you say. They say ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah… Whatever,’ and they do their stuff (laughs). Tue is Danish, so of course he can speak fluently with the other guys. He is a nice guy, super professional, a fast worker, and understands where we want to go musically.”
Metastazis, meanwhile, designed its cover artwork. “I don’t care about artwork at all,” the composer dismisses. “This is Mircea’s and Simone’s job because they’re both graphic designers. I’m totally focused on the music, so it’s not something I really care about. I leave the people who care about it to take care of it (laughs). The cover is pretty nice, pretty simple. It’s pretty much white, and we wanted this because I do a lot of pictures and I shoot videos as well. We made some promotional videos during recording, and then we had a photographer come to take pictures. We wanted something black and white. On the album it’s not black and white but it has a lot of contrasts, so it goes together.”
Of Mnemesis’ tracks, Guillaume cannot select a favourite. “When you’ve just finished recording an album of course you listen to it, and it appears that there are some tracks that you want to listen to more than others,” he figures. “With Mnemesis though, every time I just listen to the whole album I’m really happy about all of the songs. If I had to choose three songs, it would be pretty hard because there are too many songs to choose from. There’s ‘Transcend’… ‘Valves’ is really good as well because it has a pretty metal riff in the beginning, but that one is melodic so it’s funny. No, there’s not really a special song. I really love all the songs.”
Mnemic aside, One-Way Mirror is another of the singer’s musical endeavours. “It’s something totally different,” the singer critiques. “Compared to Mnemic, it’s a really different band which is good because I don’t want to have two bands and do the same music. Mnemic is more progressive I would say, and One-Way Mirror is more pretty simple metal. We just compose the metal we want to listen to. When I’m with the One-Way Mirror guys, we have an atmosphere and we party a lot. We’re just a bunch of friends, so we compose the music that we want to listen to when we want to party. It’s pretty simple, catchy metal rock. Yeah, it’s something really different. It’s a totally different approach than Mnemic, something way more simple.”
Mnemesis was released on June 8th, 2012 in Europe and on the 19th in North America, all through Nuclear Blast Records.
Interview published in June 2012. All promotional photographs by Nuno Alexandre.
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