Interview with Mat Maurer of Mortal Sin
Interview questions by Militia
HailMetal.Com: How have you been these days mate?
Mat: I`m going through a lot of emotions. Trying to write a great comeback album whilst still working in a demanding full time job can really take its toll on a person! I feel anxious as well as a tad nervous. I guess you could say our careers are on the line with this album, although we are seriously confident that we`ll do justice to the scene in Australia if not the world!
HailMetal.Com: I have to admit I`ve been at the Sydney NYE fireworks party and you and I wore the same Sinner t-shirts. It`s a small world huh? :) Did you like the fireworks and all that crap?
Mat: It`s a family tradition that we go down to the Sydney Fireworks to bring in the New Year. It`s boring as hell waiting all that time just to see twenty minutes and millions of dollars go up in smoke, but there`s just something about fireworks that ignites the passion in you to make the next year your best - and I really feel this year will be a great one for Mortal Sin.
HailMetal.Com: Mortal Sin have been BACK now for about a year (playing massively and releasing some killer material to our delight). What is the feeling like in the Mortal Sin camp now?
Mat: Oops, I guess I answered that in the previous two questions. There is restlessness, anxiousness, frustration, anger, passion, and several other secret ingredients that help make the colonel sanders band have that special touch to put into our album!!
HailMetal.Com: Lets go back to the Sydney Annandale Show back in March last year which was of course your triumphant and historic return to the stage. How did it feel for you guys to be back in front of a live crowd once again?
Mat: For me personally, I live for the stage. It`s been hard watching other bands on stage and not feeling the desire to want to be back up there. Even though we have only done a few shows in the past year the ultimate goal for the band has been to write a new album. It has been a slow progress but we feel we`d rather take our time than rush into songs and not get them right.
I`m sure the rest of the band would agree with me that playing on the stage is the "Dog`s balls" for all musicians, and to have the privilege of playing in front of a bunch of dedicated fans (Some have been around since the beginning in 1985) really gives you an extra thump in the heart!
HailMetal.Com: That gig was of course taped and a DVD `Out of The Darkness` was the result which is now out. Tell our readers what we can find on the DVD.
Mat: The rundown on the DVD is as follows.
Mortal Sin - Out of the Darkness - Live at the Annandale Hotel on March 5, 2004
01: Out of the Darkness
02: My Nightmare
05: Rise or Fall
06: The Infantry Corps
07: All About You
08: I am Immortal
09: Mayhemic Destruction
Produced by LiveCast Multimedia (Sydney Australia)
Widescreen 16/9, 2.0 Stereo & 5.1 Surround sound
5 Cameras used.
The DVD also has two film clips filmed for SBS television`s "The Noise" program hosted by Annette Shun Wah - Voyage of the Disturbed and Women in Leather.
As a special bonus on the DVD a complete live show from 1987 - the golden era of Australian thrash - Mortal Sin live at the Hills Inn is included in its entirety (including a cover of Diamond Head/Metallica "Am I Evil?). The show is a one camera bootleg style setting, but definitely a blast from the past! A 30 minute interview with the band introduces the two new members Mick Sultana and Joe Buttigieg and tells the history of how the band started and the next 20 years of Mortal Sin. Total Running time 2hrs 17mins The DVD is fully autographed by the band on the inside cover with silver pen and limited/numbered to just 1000 copies.
HailMetal.Com: Having previously toured with Metallica (`89) here in Australia and of course later with Testament and Xentrix in Europe in `90. What did it all mean for Mortal Sin back then?
Mat: It was an amazing ride. I guess it`s like catching a big wave and riding it as far as you can. It`s what every band dreams of. We had done everything we had set out to do and we were given the opportunity of doing it on the world stage. We felt like we were holding the torch for Aussie metal at the time.
These days when someone comes up to you at a gig and says Mortal Sin was the reason I picked up a guitar or started singing, you get a huge buzz out of that, and no one can take that away from you.
HailMetal.Com: If given a chance to tour with Metallica again would you welcome it?
Mat: Absofuckingtallicalutely! What band would knock back an opportunity like that? When Godsmack were chosen as the support for the first tour for St Anger, they were half million sellers on their previous album. By the time they had finished the first leg of the Metallica tour they had sold nearly four million albums!!
HailMetal.Com: What are your current opinions on today`s Metallica as musicians?
Mat: I actually just watched the bonus material on the "Some Kind of Monster" DVD and the manager said something like - After twenty years you have to wonder what makes the band want to get up in the morning - after selling 100 million records and having shitloads of money in the bank, they really didn`t have to get out of bed and make another album. To them it was a challenge. Just as it is for every musician. A challenge to make an album of songs that hopefully your fans will really dig. The movie kind of makes you understand why the St Anger album is what it is. I think the next one they make will have to be killer or their fans might finally give up on them. I`m sure they have it in them, and I look forward to hearing it!
HailMetal.Com: Speaking of tours, Megadeth are highly rumored to return to OZ in April. Can I jump the gun and say that you guys will be the support if that tour indeed happens?
Mat: It would be great if that could happen. It`s in the hands of the metal gods, but those gods have not been totally smiling on the Sinners of late when it comes to International supports. I can`t wait for the moment we get on stage with an International band again!!
HailMetal.Com: Any plans to tour the world in the near future? Any details you can release to us would be appreciated!
Mat: We are currently applying for a lot of the European festivals. We`ve got a chance for the Keep it True Festival in November, but sometimes the timing is all wrong and we probably needed to get an album out late last year to get on the summer tours over there for this year. Maybe next year!!
HailMetal.Com: Recently, Mortal Sin were inducted into the "Hall of Fame" at `Kerrang!` magazine`s first-ever `Australian Heavy Metal Awards`. You guys must be over the moon about this. What does this mean for you guys?
Mat: We started out in the scene right on 20 years ago, so firstly just getting to this point has been a fucking mad journey. If you receive accolades on the way, they are definitely bonuses, but most of all I hope that we can still inspire people. The Hall of Fame award is recognition for us of the hard slog that brought us through those twenty years of Metal to today.
The fact that we were among the first thrash bands to sign to a major label, the first thrash band to tour overseas etc. I hope that we may have opened some doors for other Aussie bands, and that Aussie bands can continue to bring out great albums and compete on the world metal stage!!
HailMetal.Com: You also performed a special live set on the night of the awards. Why not at the MFTB night as well?
Mat: I think the Metal for the Brain bands were determined long before the idea of the Kerrang! Awards had been even thought of, so there was no reason on our behalf for not playing on the Saturday night. We hung around just in case any bands had pulled out but those metal gods were too busy down the front of the mosh pit having a good time to think of us again!
HailMetal.Com: How did the gig pan out?
Mat: We had a good time. We were a little rusty, because we hadn`t played since last August, but the crowd were very appreciative and I read a lot of good reports from some of the metal forums. (Yes we read many of them!!)
HailMetal.Com: Tell us about the new sinners, Joe & Mick (ex Addictive). Does it feel like they are now part of the family?
Mat: Of course! We set out right from the beginning to make them a part of the band by telling them they would be responsible for writing us a great album! Seriously though, it has been great working with them, especially Mick, as we get together to write with him more than we do with Joe. Mick has a very good metal mentality and a good ear for what we like to play. Joe has contributed a few things, but we have told him he must contribute more.
HailMetal.Com: Your next album, `Far From Extinction` will be released through your own label, being Mega Metal Productions. Excitement in the camp?
Mat: We are still looking for a distributor, as we don`t particularly want to release it on our own label, but some times necessity takes over from luxury. I would feel a little more excited if somebody else was putting in their hard earned cash into our project!! But yes, of course we are excited!
HailMetal.Com: Any expectations? You must feel a bit nervous about how it will be taken in by the fans?
Mat: As I said in a previous question, we are feeling a lot of emotions, and would gladly fast forward the remote control a few months so we could just be on the road touring in Europe with an album already out.
HailMetal.Com: Is the song writing process for this album a team contribution or are you solely responsible for putting the songs together?
Mat: Most of the writing has been done by the "three amigos" as we call it. Mick, Andy and myself have pretty much written the whole album with Wayne and Joe putting a minimal contribution.
HailMetal.Com: Speaking of labels, you guys are seeking a major distributor? Anyone interested at this time?
Mat: We`ve had quite a few emails from record companies who have written back to us saying the usual standard letter thing like "Thanks for your interest in bla bla records, unfortunately we are not signing any bands unless they can sell a gazillion records without us having to spend much money. The recent downturn in record sales because of the downloading phenomenon means we can`t spend our expense account money that we got from the Australian Idol bullshit that we have been flooding the market with. Please try again when you have made a name for yourselves. Lots of love, Billy Boofhead - Head of A&R." Seriously again though we have had good interest from two or three labels in Italy and Brazil, but these labels want to release our back catalogue, so we`ll see what happens. I`d really love to do what John Butler has done and stick his finger right up the nose of the big record companies and actually did go out there and sell a lot of records, but it is quite difficult to do on your own.
HailMetal.Com: Correct me if I`m wrong, but some of the NEW songs you guys played live recently sounded, to me, a bit speed/power metalish. Is this the new direction the band may be taking or am I way off? I can`t imagine the mighty Mortals play anything but the pure raw fucking thrash metal!
Mat: You are way off the mark! Actually most of the new stuff is not that thrashy at all, but mostly very heavy chunk. To be honest I have no idea what you would call our music now. If you call it thrash then I guess its thrash. Everyone has their own opinion of what metal is now. To me, if you can bang your head to it, it`s metal. A lot of the comments we get are - It`s got that old school feel to it but its very modern! Some of the young kids that have heard some new stuff have just said its way cool!! Oh well, the truth will be in the pudding as they say when the album comes out.
HailMetal.Com: Will the album be a return to Mayhemic Destruction days or something completely different? Can we have a small preview? Modernised sound? Tracks?
Mat: It`s probably a step up from Face of Despair. The demos we recorded recently had a very raw sound like Mayhemic Destruction, but with polished songs like Face of Despair. Some of the new songs we have written are: Lost Within, My Nightmare, Out of the Darkness, All About You, Nothing to Give, Don`t Talk to Strangers, Broken Promises, Rise or Fall, Deadman Walking, Before the Bough Breaks, and a couple of others.
HailMetal.Com: Some of your Mayhemic Destruction followers are a bit reluctant and are skeptical about the new album. I`ve heard some of the people say that they are not looking forward to it (`stick to playing live` and `don`t release new material`).Your thoughts on this?
Mat: You can`t please ALL of the people ALL of the time? We may have started out as a full on thrash band but I think most fans could see with Face of Despair that we were more of an experimental band on the verge of Progressive music at that time and we are moving forward from there. That`s not to say that we won`t ever write another thrash song. As a band, you write whatever comes out of the heart, whatever you are inspired by or influenced by. I personally am not particularly influenced by death or thrash music, as I listen to a lot of Dream Theater, but I still enjoy some Bathory or Slayer every now and again.
As far as the "Stick to playing live", I think we have a really good live set that includes a lot of old and new stuff, and many of the old thrashers that I`ve spoken to have told me they like the newer stuff as well as the old stuff. But you know like I do that the golden era of 1984-1990 thrash will never be beaten - it basically changed the face of metal. Mortal Sin has been privileged to have played through this era and still be around!
HailMetal.Com: Release date for the album?
Mat: I can`t answer that without the help of a crystal ball! We`ve still got a few more songs to write, but we hope to start recording in April, but as I said earlier, the writing process has been slow.
HailMetal.Com: What would you say to those that don`t listen to your music in general or often enough?
Mat: We can`t force anyone to listen to our music. The fact that people still listen to Mayhemic or Face of Despair is always going to be a huge buzz. Getting emails from people who have just heard Mortal Sin for the first time is an even bigger buzz, so the future is what counts, not necessarily the past (You can`t change the past but you can alter the future??)
HailMetal.Com: Are Mortal Sin back for good? Tell us about the Aussie metal scene. Do you see Mortal Sin to be god fathers of Aussie thrash metal and I guess somewhat influential to the up and coming aussie thrash bands?
Mat: I feel Mortal Sin can be around for at least another ten years! We feel like we are just starting again from the bottom and have to make our way up again, so that is another long journey for sure. Godfathers? In a mafia sense?? Like I said earlier, if we have inspired musicians to get into a band and play metal, then that`s a bonus.
HailMetal.Com: A few Aussie bands are currently doing their hardest to break through internationally. In your opinion, can we compete with Europe and the rest of the world? I mean every country has its day, why can`t Australia be next?
Mat: Australia can definitely be next, but Aussie bands should not wait around to be noticed. We should hire a whole jumbo jet and get as many Aussie metal bands on it to travel over to Europe and just fucking blitz the place. Europe would not know what hit it! Heaps of Aussie bands are just as good if not better than any overseas band, we just need to get over there to show them. So come on Aussie bands - get your money together and just go!! Just fucking go!!
HailMetal.Com: Sorry that this interview took this long, hopefully it will spread a few good words about Mortal Sin and Aussie metal scene in general!
Any last comments mate? Feel free to add anything you wish and please do tell us why the Mortals website still hasn`t been updated? :)
Mat: I have been the one in charge of getting the website up and just like the songwriting it has been a slow process. Twenty years of history had to be put together remember!! Anyways I have forwarded the site to our webmaster, so hopefully something should be up very soon. Oh, and I have handed over the web duties over to Mick. Ha ha. I`m over it! Hey at least I finally got the www.mortalsin.com.au part of it to work! Just keep logging onto it and one day soon you`ll get a nice little surprise!
Thanks to hail metal for the great job you have been doing for the scene. It`s definitely a great site, a good representation of Aussie metal! For all Mortal Sin fans, thanks for your continual support - don`t worry too much about whether the new music is not fast enough or not death enough or whatever... just be glad for the time being that Mortal Sin is back together again and we`ll get out there and take on the might of Europe and America and hold the Aussie flag high!!!!!!
Many many cheers from the Mortal Sin camp.
HailMetal.Com: Thanks alot for your time mate and all the best with the band for the future. All images courtesy of MortalSin.Com.Au