Norwegian avantgarde metal band Madder Mortem never dominated the charts and most certainly their new album Red In Tooth And Claw will not change the pattern. On the other hand, their unique work with melancholy and double vocals means a world to their loyal fans. Drummer Mads Solås was the one, who found the questions in his electronic mail box.
You made us, hard core fans, wait for seven years. I must say, it was worth it, but what was the reason?
Hi! Yes, seven years is a long time. Since Eight Ways we’ve had to replace two guitarists, for different reasons, and also find a new label. Finding a new bandmember for us is not only about finding someone with technical skills, but also the right musical and social chemistry. Odd (Ebbesen) and Patrick (Scantlebury), who picked up after Odd, each brought their own unique style/touch to our music, and were really hard to replace. But we were lucky to find Richard, who has both the skills (tons of ‘em) and the musical sense to complete the band. Changing label also takes time, and we eventually ended up signing with Dark Essence Records. Being on a Norwegian label makes the communication run smoother and more directly it seems. (Same language and geographical proximity seems to be an advantage) These are some of the obvious and practical reasons for the long delay, but there is also truth in the phrase ‘time flies’ I guess. Anyway, glad to hear you say it was worth the wait. It feels good to have new music out there again.
There are all great elements of MM, but on first few listens, I had an impression, with all respect, somebody is having a peaceful life. ;D
Hehe, that’s interesting. (Don’t think we’ve heard that one before.) I guess maybe the album has a more loose vibe to it. We recorded without clicktracks, and did a lot of takes with the whole band playing in the same room. Just like rehearsal or playing live. I think it gave us a certain relaxed confidence that hopefully leaked into the album. -Maybe that’s what gave you the ‘peaceful life’-impression? ;D
Later on, I realized, elements of anger, tasty yelling and raw-dark Rock’n’Roll are still there. However, in more grown up form!
Yes, aggression and darkness are still very much present in our music, but we like to explore the whole spectre. And yes we are older, so the angry stuff maybe takes on a different form now than when we were twenty. You summed it up quite nicely, and it’s a fine compliment I think, so thank you!
To be honest, when I prepare now for interviews, I give it much more time and at least dozen listens. Can we also say, new album took you longer because you simply care even more? I am now doing my best to finalize my diary/book about the days I spent in Serbia from the age 14-18 (Czech rock kid, hated by everybody for not only Rock’n’Roll, but because of NATO bombing + all experiences of growing up in a wild environment). I’m working on it for about eight years, because I simply care…
A lot of different factors made the release of this album drag out, but yes, when you really care about what you’re doing, you want to make sure you gave it your very best, and didn’t take any short cuts. The best of luck with your book! I can imagine those were some rough years.
Please tell us a bit about how did the songwriting go? I was so glad to see all typical MM elements as unique guitar enhancements, backing vocals, double vocals and mood changes…
Our songwriting has become quite a democratic process over the years, and we don’t really have one strict formula for making songs. Riffs, melodic phrases or rhythmic patterns can come from any one of us, and when put through the ‘Madder Mortem-grinder’ it comes out on the other side sounding like us. Haha, that sounds kind of silly, but it feels that way to me sometimes. Other times it’s just hard work, and trying endless variations before landing a final track. BP and Agnete are both great at keeping the essence or the purpose if you like, of the song in sight. And many of the ‘classic’ MM-tunes comes from their often arrow-strait musical vision.
Please give us more details on song structure, as you stayed loyal to your diverse arrangements.
Yes, diverse arrangements are some of the main MM-characteristics. We really enjoy contrast and opposites in music, but in the end it has to feel like a coherent piece of music, for us to be happy with it. We try not to fall into the ‘riff-bonanza’-trap.
Glad to also see, everything is in the right place, even during a strict test of TV show, where we can hear every note to its core. Can’t hide anything! ;D Great job.
Well, thank you very much!
I must also compliment you on a great production. Again done “in-house” as I can see and naturally some months of time were spent here as well…
Yeah, BP did a really great job producing and mixing. To keep the ears fresh, and as objective as possible, after playing and singing your heart out on the album is no small feat. I can’t answer for BP, but you’d kind of have to split yourself in half, I imagine. Trying to hear the music like someone from the outside, while being extremely personally involved. After much work he came up with something that to me sounded like a magic formula (forgive me, BP for this hair-raising simplification), and the album ended up sounding awesome. The mastering was done by Peter in de Betou at Tailor Made, who did a great job maintaining the dynamics, and the organic sound.
Great artwork by Christian Ruud. But to be honest, it surprised me to see other work of Christian, as it is usually more abstract. In the case of Red In Tooth And Claw, great color – my favorite type of red and you could actually feel the animal’s hair. In a summary, Madder Mortem can still bite! ;D
Yeah, the artwork he has done for us before has been more elaborate and abstract (with details and creative elements that still blow my mind when I look at the old booklets and covers), while this is more concrete. We wanted this album to have more of a ‘in your face’ vibe, and I think Christians cover communicates that in a great way. – You can almost hear the dog growl. J
Any plans for merchandising? Few years ago, me and my friend, we had to make our own Madder Mortem t-shirts. Simple white t-shirt with a logo, but it was always so important for us during your Brutal Assault shows! ;D
You made your own t-shirts? That’s so cool. It makes me proud, but it’s a shame if it was hard to get any of the official merch. More and new merchandise is part of our and our labels plans for the times ahead. So hopefully we’ll have some new shirts and stuff available soon.
Could you mention few points regarding great lyrics? Were the issues and life lessons personal or a spectrum collected from friends and other surroundings?
Well, I’m sorry you got stuck with the drummer on this question, but I have authorization from Agnete to give some of my thoughts. 😉 From what I understand a lot of her inspiration comes from the music itself. What kind of words or story can be drawn from the mood or the feeling in this riff, or in that sequence of chords? It’s never just words slammed on top of the music, and it really helps tying the songs together. She also finds inspiration for lyrics observing other people and looking at the world, I think. Fallow Season for example, can be heard as a harsh comment to where the world, and we all, seem to be heading, and All The Giants Are Dead is a downright political song. Much of the lyrics on RITAC is actually quite political I think. And there’s the personal place where Agnete draws from. Her experiences, hopes, dreams and nightmares. I would never dream of speaking on her behalf on these topics, but I think many would agree that some of her most powerful lyrics come from this landscape.
Last question, any chance you will play on Hellfest 2017?
We would love to come to Hellfest, and we are working towards getting out there and do more concerts and festivals. We can’t make any promises, but as the saying goes: If they book us, we will come!
All the best