Into the Great Wide Open
CoC chats with Michael and Mircea of Mnemic
by: Jackie Smit
It's a shade after 19:00 in London's World's End Pub. As per usual, the establishment is virtually packed to the rafters with white-collar trendites indulging in their ritualistic sundowners, joined this evening by a select group of music fans who have chosen to sit down and enjoy a pint while they wait for Death Angel to take to the stage in a next door club. Amidst this hustle and bustle, strut the members of one of tonight's much talked-about support acts: the Danish techno-thrash collective known as Mnemic. One listen to their recent _Mechanical Spin Phenomena_ record should already have made it clear enough, but for those yet to hear them, here's a personal prediction: these guys are going to be BIG. They exude the same sense of impending acclaim that Pantera did after _Cowboys From Hell_ or Fear Factory upon the release of _Soul of a New Machine_. Not that they'd believe you for a moment if you told them, mind you. In fact, while most band members (or indeed average members of the human race) would greet a music journo with a hearty "fuck off" if said scribe were to interrupt their dinner, Michael and Mircea, vocalist and guitarist with Mnemic respectively, appear to have no qualms in answering my questions as they tuck into a well-earned meal.

CoC: Your website doesn't provide much by way of tell us how Mnemic got started -- care to shed a little light on the subject?

Mircea: The band basically started out with Brylle [drummer] and Rune [guitarist] just jamming on a lot of stuff, and then myself, the bassist [Obeast] and our first singer came in during 2000 with the idea to just do something completely different and completely original. We wanted to combine genres like jazz and techno, while still keeping the metal element strong. Then we decided to get rid of our first singer and I got in touch with Michael, and we did a demo at Antfarm Studios, which got us signed to Nuclear Blast.

CoC: So, you sent your demo to Nuclear Blast?

Mircea: No, actually there's a guy in LA who works for Nuclear Blast and about a week after we had done the demo, we posted some MP3s on our website and he got in touch with us and said that he wanted to offer us a deal. In the meantime we had received several other offers, but theirs was the best, so we went for it.

CoC: You are a fairly unique band on the Nuclear Blast roster -- do you think that they're the best label to represent your kind of music?

Michael: It's hard to say, because we don't have much to compare it with, but at the same time they've done a fucking excellent job. They're a European label, but even though we sound a bit American, they have done a great job with the promotion for _Mechanical Spin Phenomena_.

Mircea: Sounding American was never something we set out to be though, but our market is more centred in the US.

CoC: And have you managed to tour there yet?

Michael: Unfortunately not, but hopefully we'll be doing something there in the spring.

CoC: On the subject of promotion, Nuclear Blast is giving Mnemic a very big push -- you've done two music videos for "Liquid" and "Ghost" already. Which of the two clips is your favourite?

Michael: Well, that's really hard to say, because we haven't seen the final cut for "Liquid" yet. It's done, but we haven't had the chance to see the finished product yet, and most of it was done on a blue-screen anyway.

CoC: So, what's going to be the concept behind "Liquid"?

Mircea: We can't say yet.

Michael: It'll have a really nice car in it though.

Mircea: Yeah, there's a really great car chase sequence.

CoC: What about adding some ladies?

Michael: Well, I begged the band to add some ladies, some lightning and maybe some more nice cars, but the other guys wouldn't go for it, unfortunately. <laughs>

CoC: So, what's the feedback been like for the "Ghost" video so far?

Mircea: We get a lot of e-mails from the US, because "Ghost" is played on Headbangers Ball, and unfortunately at the moment that's only showing in the States. But a lot of people like it and we've been getting a very good response for the video so far. I don't know if it has had any effect on our sales figures, but people are definitely into it.

CoC: And are sales figures something that concern you at all?

Mircea: No, but it is exciting to see how your album is doing.

Michael: To us, it's like if you sell well, then you can have a clear conscience toward the label and toward yourself. I mean, if you're selling a hundred copies of your CD, then you should be wondering whether you even deserve to be in this position. So yeah, it's not our main concern, but it is something that we do take interest in.

Mircea: All bands want to sell well, because I mean, we want to make a living out of this. But at the same time, we want to do well, but doing what we're doing right now. We're not going to change.

CoC: Now, getting back to your experiences making videos -- have you enjoyed making them?

Michael: Well, for "Ghost", we did all the takes in this really hot room...

CoC: How many takes did you do?

Mircea: A million!

Michael: I'm not sure, but it lasted about eighteen hours straight.

Mircea: Imagine headbanging for eighteen hours...

Michael: Yeah, it's like playing a fucking concert for eighteen hours, and that was really shit. With "Liquid" it was a bit different -- we just did a lot of single shots and basically sat around watching DVDs and playing video games in between takes.

CoC: You worked with Patric Ulleaus for both videos, right?

Michael: Yeah, and he's fucking brilliant! I mean, he really knows his craft; he knows what he's doing. He is into metal, but he realizes that metal's not where the money is, which is why he has made videos for people like Ace of Base. But he's doing a lot more metal at the moment -- he did Within Temptation and the new Dimmu Borgir clip. He is definitely a cool guy and we love working with him.

CoC: And as far as the creative control on the videos were concerned, did you leave that over to him, or did you outline the concepts yourselves?

Mircea: Well, we actually had to leave it to him because we were on such a tight schedule at the time. But it's very hard to say whether we'd like to be more involved in that side of the band in the future. We'd like to be part of every creative aspect of the band, but we were happy leaving the concepts for "Ghost" and "Liquid" up to him. He is a very creative person, and he did a fantastic job.

Michael: We did give him a couple of ideas, and he used some of them, so it's not like we were out of the loop completely.

CoC: Would either of you consider directing a Mnemic video yourself in the future?

Mircea: I don't think we have the expertise to do that, to be honest.

Michael: You need a lot of money to do that though, because obviously if you're going to do something like that then you're going to want it to look good.

Mircea: That's a typical problem in this band -- we have so many ideas, but we don't have the budget to do it. I mean, before we had a record deal, we were considering doing a concept album, but as we were working on it, it ended up being cheesy because we didn't have the budget for it.

CoC: So, as your profile increases and your budget does likewise, where would you 'invest' in the band?

Michael: I think that firstly we'll get all our gear up to scratch, because being in a band has turned out to be an expensive hobby. I mean, gear breaks down and it costs a fucking lot to replace. After that, I don't really know.

CoC: After that, it's cars and women.

Michael: <laughs> Yeah, after that it's booze, strip clubs and big cars!

CoC: Now, as far as your live shows are concerned, do you see yourself moving into a more production-based show the way bands like Rammstein do, or are you pretty much a meat-and-potatoes band?

Michael: Definitely.

Mircea: We had those ideas before, but again -- no budget. But when we have the money, we will definitely be doing that.

Michael: We actually have a list of what we want to do, so hopefully one day...

CoC: Being a relatively young band, these are very exciting times for you, I'm sure. Do you feel that the big push you have received from Nuclear Blast has put more pressure on you to perform?

Michael: Well, more than anything we're our own biggest critics, I think. We get really fucked off and really moody when we've played a bad show. I mean, we really want to get better and better, and right now we feel that we're in a very developmental time and we need to be pushing the envelope all the time.

CoC: You mentioned on the website that you've been working on some new material. Care to give us any indication on what direction you're taking?

Mircea: It's much more dynamic...

Michael: Slightly faster.

Mircea: Yeah, I can't really say much about it at the moment, because it's always changing. We're always working on it and when we get into the studio, we'll probably change it again.

CoC: So, how does the songwriting process work in Mnemic?

Mircea: It all happens in the rehearsal room.

Michael: We're very old school like that.

Mircea: The drummer takes over and then I take over -- sometimes we end up jamming on the same riff for like four hours, until we look at each other and say: "Yeah, this is working."

Michael: And then I go: "Please fucking stop playing." <laughs>

Mircea: We're always working on a really tight schedule and for instance when we finish this tour, we have to go and write a lot more and start preparing for the next album.

CoC: Can we expect to see it on the shelves by next year?

Mircea: Definitely. Probably after summer sometime.

CoC: So, finally -- a lot of reviewers and a lot of your detractors label you as nu metal, when obviously if one gives _Mechanical Spin Phenomena_ a proper listen, that's not the case. What's your reaction to this?

Mircea: Well, it sucks, because basically we see ourselves as a thrash band that just enjoys incorporating influences from many other genres of music. We're fans of bands like Frontline Assembly as well as stuff like Suffocation, and when we make music we use a lot of this, but we also want to go out on our own. I guess it's hard for people who always want to label things to accept that.

CoC: Thank you very much, gentlemen. Any last words for Chronicles of Chaos?

Michael: Not much, man -- we're just thankful to all the people who have bought the album so far. We're looking forward to playing a lot more and to hopefully introduce a lot more people to our music.

(article submitted 26/12/2003)

1/18/2007 J Smit 6.5 Mnemic - Passenger
9/21/2003 J Smit 7 Mnemic - Mechanical Spin Phenomena
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