Interview with Marc Grewe (Morgoth, Insidious Disease)
Interview by Estelle on the 25th of September 2014
Hi Marc, first of all thank you very much for doing this interview! Firstly I would like to ask, in which period do you think Morgoth was on the highlight of its career, creativity or composing capability?
It’s hard to say, of course in the very early stage when we were really young and all that new metal influenced us very much, when the first death metal bands showed up and also bands like Bathory that inspired us to form our own band back in 1987. We had a lot of creativity even the early days, then it took us to the ‘Cursed’ album, and after that creativity was getting into different directions too, because to us it got boring to “cover ourselves” so we tried something different. Industrial bands influenced us and that lead us to ‘Odium’, and after that to ‘Feel Sorry for the Fanatic’ which was even more drastic – a lot of people don’t like that album, but on a creativity base I would say it’s still a creative album. After that we kind of lost the belief in it and we had a pause for a long time; but now the creativity is back, we are writing and we have written new stuff and the new album is almost ready, we’re going to record it in November.
Which industrial bands do you think of when you say they influenced you?
Godflesh for example, also a band like Atari Teenage Riot, or some early Ministry stuff.
You talked about people not liking ‘Feel Sorry for the Fanatic’ – personally, do you care about fans’ opinions on the album? Do you or would you ever regret releasing it?
No no, we don’t regret anything. It’s just that at that certain point of time it was exactly what we were able to do and what we wanted to do. At that time fans were disappointed becuase it wasn’t something they expected from us, it was different – but we don’t regret anything. Of course we listen to the fans, but on the other hand we are not a band that would say “people expect something from us so we’ll do it”, we basically just do the stuff that we want to do.
Back in those days there wasn’t really a death metal scene in Germany, we can say you were one of the pioneers of the genre in your country. How did the crowd firstly react to this brutal style of music and appearance back in the day?
When we showed up, there was no internet and there was a lot of tape trading going on. The reaction was actually really good. It was a small scene, there wasn’t too many people who were into that certain extreme style of music, the shows we booked were all ‘do it yourself’ kind of shows. Most of the shows were great, even if they were way smaller than nowadays. Nowadays we play in venues like this (Arena, Wien) which can give place to 800-2000 people, and back in the day it was only maybe 150 or 200 people coming to the shows. But they were also very into that stuff, and then those fans developed the scene by getting the message that there is an extreme style of music. Especially Germany was really thrash influenced – Kreator, Sodom, Destruction; these kinds of bands – so it was something new to the thrash scene as well. Some people wanted to get even more into the extreme style and they liked what came out of Morgoth in the early days.
This is your first proper tour for 17 years. What are the things which are new for you after being ‘Isolated’ (haha) from this kind of lifestlye for a long time?
There is nothing new on the tour, it’s like the same as our last tour. Of course it’s great to be on the road with Bolt Thrower – I’ve been on the road with Bolt Thrower before with my other band called Power of Expression, it’s more of a hardcore band, we’ve been touring with Bolt Thrower back then. When I got the call from the guys if we wanted to join them on the tour, it was a great honour and of course I knew that this tour would be great for us. It’s a perfect timing for us as well because we just have new songs written, we have a 7″ out (‘God is Evil’), it’s like a collector’s item, and in February-March the album (‘Ungod’) will be out. We’re going to play two new songs tonight as well.
And can we expect the same style on ‘Ungod’ as on the single ‘God is Evil’?
Pretty much, yes. I mean, I hope the songs that we are going to record will be even more brutal, but let’s see.
In what aspect is it different to release or work on an album in our days than how it was when you were working on the last one, ‘Feel Sorry …’?
We recorded the ‘Feel Sorry …’ album in a huge studio and now we went back to a smaller one because the budget isn’t there anymore for bands to record, and also the recording equipment is way more affordable than back in the nineties. A mixing board for example, that was hundreds or thousands of Euros sometimes, and nowadays you can get a good mixing board for half of the price.
The studio we found now is a studio where we come from, where we grew up. We are from the countryside and before that we always recorded in a studio in the city, and this time we chose going back to the roots and going back to our own hometown and record there. I think it’s even sounding better than in the nineties. The sound is more massive, and we have two new members in the band which is also a reason why it does sound differently.
I read that you only had 2 days to record ‘God is Evil’ this year. How did you manage to work so quickly together?
We practiced a lot before and knew what we wanted to sound like. We actually recorded three songs but only two made it on the record. We had one day for recording and one day for mixing which is a very short period of time. I hope it’s going to be like that for the album as well.
We started to record the album last year, the first recordings were already done in the studio where we are now, we booked the studio to check it out if they were able to record our songs. We wrote the first tracks last year, in the summer of 2013. We actually went to that studio just to rehearse there, we recorded stuff but it never meant to be on an album, we just recorded those for us. Anyway, we’re glad we’re here, the studio is good and we have the basis for upcoming tracks. Then the guitar players wrote riffs and they attached it to riffs from before, so it all went kind of naturally.
What advice would you give to your younger self who just started to write the ‘Pits of Utumno’ demo or the first EP ‘Resurrection Absurd’?
… (thinks) It’s hard to say, but well when we were really young and recorded that early stuff, we didn’t have a clue about anything about studios. The old one was a really shitty studio, nowadays you probably wouldn’t go into a studio like that anymore – but you know, as I already mentioned we are from the countryside, there was no internet, we didn’t have any connections, there was only us five in our world that were interested in metal, we didn’t know anybody else because there was no scene existing then, especially where we lived. So we just looked into the Rock Hard magazine and there was some advertisement for little studios sometimes, and we picked one which wasn’t too far away. It was a basement of a guy and he didn’t have a clue about how to record this brutal sound, he never heard that before and I’m sure he didn’t like it (laughs). But hey, he had to record it.
So, I guess nowadays I would just go to a better studio and spend a bit more money on good equipment.
… That’s a question that actually a lot of people ask, but there is also a long story to it: why we took so long to come back.
We are close friends too, we know each other since we were 9-10 years old, and when the band got to an end in 1998, it was a bad split for us. There was a shitty tour we did, something was always wrong, it was long and totally shit, so it was a bad ending for the band. And nobody said we were ending the band, it was never spoken out as a sentence, but everybody was just so sure that it was like “that’s it, no more”. But back then, after that, after 3-4-5-6 years, we all in the band had the feeling like we would probably like to do some gigs more, maybe another album… But we knew that two other members of the former band wouldn’t be into it – and we accepted that too. Harry the guitar player and myself, we are two of the founding members, and the other guy Sebastian came into the band in 1990, so we are the three of the old core of Morgoth. We said “us three wanna do it”, then it was a democratic decision, 3 against 2, and they said “okay, we don’t care, you can do it” and that was also clear – but we are still friends with them anyway.
This wasn’t really a question right now, but well if you want me to say a question that would somehow embarrass me, that would totally not be something I would answer. (laughs)
Okay Marc, thank you very much for your time and for being awesome! Looking forward to the show and also the new album.
Thanks for the support Estelle, enjoy the show!