The Shadow's Soul Between Obscurity and Oblivion
CoC interviews Mortiis
by: Aaron McKay
Even if I live to be as old as the soul that Mortiis is portraying on stage, I will not understand why I am so enthralled with the music this enigmatic individual lavishes on his audience. Some say that Mortiis has a "cult" following, but this, I believe, is insufficient to describe Mortiis' fan base. An eclectic following of devotees might be closer to the truth. Mortiis' work passes unmolested through standard musical classifications and appeals to the most cerebral denominator among the metal citizenry. I was extremely taken with Mortiis' personality and demeanor. He shocked me with some responses and drove insight into the heart of my questions with others. I hope you will be pleased with the interview to follow, as I completely enjoyed capering through the mind of one of metal's most mystically cryptic talents.

CoC: How is the tour progressing? Are you able to reach some fans that you might not be able to reach otherwise by touring the U.S. and Canada?

Mortiis: Yeah, sure, technically -- it's been good, but the promotion is shit. I don't quite know who to blame yet. I think that basically no one is doing the job that they could have done or should have done.

CoC: How many people are attending the shows?

M: Man, like a hundred people. It is not like it is a lot of people, but the ones who do show up really seem to like it.

CoC: Excellent!

M: It's good. The thing is we are not actually headlining. We are actually supporting Christian Death.

CoC: <shocked> You are -supporting- Christian Death?!

M: Yeah, we are. The thing is you pretty much never see our posters up on the wall and we have done close to twenty five shows so far. I think that I have seen a poster up some five times.

CoC: <still shocked> Oh, my God, Mortiis!

M: Yeah -- so the promotion is a joke.

CoC: Well, I can't tell you -- that is kind of a blow. I actually, to be honest with you, thought you would be headlining.

M: Well, I'm not.

CoC: How much time are they giving you on stage?

M: Originally, we got forty five minutes, which was good, I don't want more than that, but we decided to cut it down to about thirty six and still keep all the show. It makes it more intense and makes it all set off better. I'm pretty happy with the way that it is. That is about the amount of time that I prefer to be on stage right now anyway. It is like it is: short, but intense.

CoC: Absolutely. Is everything working out as far as touring with Christian Death? I mean, do you appreciate being able to tour with them?

M: Maybe... I guess. It works out. They are the headlining band and they make full use of that power they have. Some things aren't good and other things are okay. I'm not going to backstab them or anything.

CoC: Do they [Christian Death] appear to be fans of yours?

M: No. I wouldn't say that. I've got some compliments and I've given them compliments. They are all like, "I used to be into your music" and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah... It might be a bit superficial, but at least we are smiling at each other. <laughs>

CoC: I know that an intricate theatrical presence is important to you to complement your music. How is this tour living up to your standards and expectations?

M: Most of the stages are really small, so we always compromise. We never have a full show. There is also the backline. Christian Death is backlined, which, a lot of times, takes up half the stage. We don't have a lot of leeway on stage, we basically can't run around and fuck around. But we still manage to pull it off pretty good.

CoC: That's incredible. I'll just tell you straight off, _The Stargate_ is an incredible album and absolutely intense. I wouldn't hesitate to call it a masterpiece.

M: Thanks a lot.

CoC: No, seriously, I mean that. I understand that _The Stargate_ has a special meaning, kind of a link between this reality and your world. Would you say that there has been a lot of "gates" to your music as far as Mortiis coming off another label, the different song lengths that you have [on _The Stargate_, as compared to previous material like _Fodt till a Herske_], and more of a collaborative effort on this album than what you have done in recent past?

M: You mean like things changed now?

CoC: Yeah, exactly.

M: Yeah, obviously it has. I'm working with more people now. We never did that before and I've changed labels -- for good and bad.

CoC: How does it feel to be on Earache?

M: I don't know... it's good. I know that it is good because they are bigger than Cold Meat. There are always things you don't like with all labels. That is never going to change. Like I feel they could have done more promotion for this tour.

CoC: They [Earache] could have done a lot more for you?

M: I think so. For this tour, they could have. That is not even "off the record". I totally feel they could have done better promotion for this tour. I mean the posters that they made came in about two days before we went on the tour. How are they supposed to get them out to the promoters on time?

CoC: How are the venues supposed to get them [the posters] up in time?...

M: But later on the tour I see them up more frequently, so I guess they [the venues] have had time now. Some places didn't even bother to put them up. You know, that is the business you're in.

CoC: Kind of "the nature of the beast", I suppose.

M: Kind of the nature of the business, actually. <we both laugh>

CoC: Right! I understand Vond and Fata Morgana are no longer. Is this true?

M: That's true. I decided to shut them down so that I could spend more time with this.

CoC: So that you could concentrate more on Mortiis?

M: Yeah. It was the best thing to do.

CoC: Is it something that you are comfortable with?

M: Yeah. Feels good.

CoC: Will Dark Dungeon Music still continue?

M: No. I did the same thing with them. I found myself working on it some eight hours a day and then some of the music just deteriorated, basically, and with all the shit, I just decided to put an end to that too.

CoC: Sure. I noticed in the CD inlay booklet that some of the lyrics for "Child of Curiosity & the Old Man of Knowledge", "World Essence" and "Towards the Gate of Stars" are in quotation marks and some of the other lyrics are not. Are there special meanings for those [in quotation marks]?

M: Right. Because it is more like dialog things... it was something that was originally supposed to be spoken by an old man in the song. For some reason that didn't really happen -- it just fell through, but the lyrics still belong to the song. It was supposed to be spoken words on the song; it didn't happen, but it still belongs to the song. That is why they have the quotation marks.

CoC: Oh, I see. That makes sense.

M: It does, doesn't it? <we both laugh>

CoC: Absolutely. It gives a little bit of insight into what you were actually going for with those songs.

M: I don't expect people to really understand it. It is the first question I get is about the quotation marks and so forth, so...

CoC: _The Stargate_ is truly wonderful right down to the lyrics complementing the music and how it comes across to the audience. It all just fits together perfectly. It really does.

M: That's good, 'cause I had a really hard time putting the whole thing together. It was a pretty confusing job for a while... I couldn't find the right pieces for a long time.

CoC: I'll tell you, it didn't come across that way to the listener at all. It just feels like it flows from beginning to end. It's truly wonderful.

M: Oh, thanks.

CoC: Did you ever consider taking a lead vocal role in one of your pieces?

M: I -may- try that out in the next album, but I don't know yet. If I try rehearsing and it sounds okay or it sounds like something that could be happening, I'll definitely look into it. If it sounds god-awful right away, it's like, okay, let's not do this. <we both laugh>

CoC: That makes sense -too-! You have a four album deal with Earache?

M: Yeah, I guess technically it is, but they are re-issuing... The first one is _The Stargate_, the second one will be a re-issue of _Crypt of the Wizard_.

CoC: <thrilled> Oh, really?!

M: Then two new ones after that. It's not like I'm going to make four brand new albums for them. They get three new ones, then an old one. They wanted four in the beginning, but I said "No, I don't want to give you that. If I totally love the deal that you are giving me and it is really dandy in a couple of years after the last record, we'll do a new deal." And I didn't want to set myself up for too much.

CoC: No, I certainly understand. You don't want to pigeonhole yourself into something you might want out of later.

M: Exactly, then I'm totally stuck for some five years. I don't want that.

CoC: I can't say that I blame you. Is there some place that you are looking at taking Mortiis with the next album? Something that you are striving to achieve with the next couple of releases?

M: As far as possible, musically, sales-wise and everything. Up the ladder as far as I can take it. This is what I want to do with my life, so why not try and become as appreciated as possible?

CoC: Well, you're off to a great start. You have a -great- track record and this new album can do nothing but help you.

M: I hope so.

CoC: It is really, like I said before, a masterpiece.

M: I wouldn't say that myself, but it is a good compliment.

CoC: Kind of finishing up here, Mortiis, is there any interesting tour related stories that you have? Anything that has happened that you want to share, good or bad?

M: Well, in Kansas we got paid in counterfeit money. <laughs>

CoC: <amusingly surprised> Really?!

M: It was an accident. I mean, that whole place is very dodge-y, so we had to go to someone else just to get the money. Basically the person that -he- got the money from was a drug dealer or something like that...

CoC: Oh, no...

M: He gave them counterfeit money and he didn't know it, and he gave it to us. We didn't realize that until we pulled up at a gas station a couple of miles down the road and they saw that it was counterfeit money and we were like, "OOPS". That was in a really bad area, so we didn't want to call the cops. They didn't want the cops around there anyway. If that would have been down the highway at a 7-11 or whatever, we would have been in deep shit! So we just went back and got the real money at the end of the day, but you know... I just know, there is this one drug dealer in Kansas City that I wouldn't want to be right now. That guy was an ex-hitman.

CoC: <still rather stunned> That is some bad stuff when stuff like that happens. I have to tell you, it was quite an honor for me to interview you, Mortiis. Could you wind-up the interview anyway you see fit?

M: I don't know, check out the record... <chuckles>

(article submitted 9/12/1999)


CHATS
9/23/2004 J Smit Mortiis: The Gloves Are Off
10/11/1996 S Hoeltzel Mortiis: Mind Melding With Mortiis
ALBUMS
9/23/2004 J Smit 8.5 Mortiis - The Grudge
10/19/2001 A McKay 6.5 Mortiis - The Smell of Rain
3/5/2000 P Schwarz 6 Mortiis - Fodt Til a Herske
1/1/1998 S Hoeltzel 7.5 Mortiis - Crypt of the Wizard
GIGS
12/9/1999 G Filicetti Mortiis / Christian Death / Godhead / Diet of Worms The Black Metal Opera Arriveth
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