see also our CD review here
Mass Down Sin Drome is the latest
CD from England's Kill 2 This, and it left such an impression on us that
we just had to quiz the band on its finer points. Here to slake our curiousities
are Mark Mynett (guitars), Pete Stone (bass), and Phil Bretnall (vocals).
Eric: I try not to ask the most generic interview questions, but in your case, the obvious one is inescapable. Our readers want to know! Or I do, in any case. What is the meaning of your band name?
Mark: The bands name came from the succession of court cases during the late 80's/early 90's where bands such as Ozzy and Priest were taken to court by parents alleging that their music had caused their sons to commit suicide. The whole thing was ridiculous, music gives people a reason to live not a reason to die. Our name was chosen as a sarcastic way of saying that this is music to kill people to. It was chosen to be deliberatively provocative; we want the name of the band alone to cause a reaction in people before they've even heard our music.
Pete: I think it's a good name in that it creates an instant talking point...I think if anyone has a problem with it, they're taking us a bit too seriously!
Eric: I feel that you used keyboards remarkably well in songs such as "Circles" - a lot of metal bands shy away from using keyboard leads, others let the keyboards carry the song. In what way do you decide where the keyboards fit into your compositions?
Mark: Well, on 'Circles, it's actually a string section that we felt complimented the song. We aren't afraid of covering all emotions and moods, we wanted an album that was a real musical journey with highs and lows that would surprise and challenge the listener. As for the listeners, maybe we will appeal to a wider audience as we vary our sound quite radically...I mean you could play Circles to your parents, yet Suburbanality could be played in any metal club!
Eric: Speaking more generally, how do you go about composing songs? Is it an entirely shared process, or do you often have one portion of the band start songs and others contribute as necessary?
Mark: No to be honest there is no typical way a song is structured. It is usual that a vision for a song is focused on, usually resulting from a style of guitar part, or a time-signature/key-signature we want to work with. I think like most songs, they stem from an initial guitar riff of vocal melody line. This is then thrown into a band situation where input from all members eventually shapes the finished song. When we write songs they have to be inspiring...it's just not enough to come up with a single hook or riff. There are so many bands that sound so 2 dimensional these days...we wanted this release to be a musical and emotional journey and I really believe that we have achieved our goal with this album.
Eric: I'm very impressed with your new vocalist, and I think that he has given your sound a lot of depth and range. Did you find it hard to locate a suitable vocalist for your sound? When did you know you'd found the right person?
Mark: We knew within 5 seconds of Phil starting singing at his audition that he was the perfect person for the position. Firstly, Phil has a vocal sound that doesn't automatically compare him to someone else. He has a sound and style of his own. Phil is able to sing with real conviction, but then turn the full throated aggressive roar on at a moments notice. We are delighted with the vocals on the album and live he is an incredible frontman. There is no way we could have created the album that is Mass Down Sin Drone with our previous vocalist.
Eric: What are your thoughts on the quality of the current mainstream metal scene (ie, nu-metal)? Is this a scene you wouldn't mind being a part of (in terms of touring/radio-play/etc.), or do you associate yourself with a different metal sub-group?
Mark: That's the great thing...we don't actually want to fit in with any neat genre or sub-genre, and I like that. Bands that are part of a band-wagon will always go down with it when that particular ship sinks. We're more interested in having a sound and style of our own. I hope in many ways that this is a deeply unfashionable album in that all the bands that are considered 'fashionable' we don't want ANYTHING to do with, as most of them lack the depth and emotional value that I believe Kill 2 This has.. The mainland European scene seems really strong. I think the new Soilwork album 'Figure of 5' is great, I love Dimmu Borgir, Tiamat, Samael, The Gathering etc. As you can see, these are all bands that have had at least 5 albums out and were never a 'flavour of the month' band.
Pete: I hate this whole pigeon-holing thing...we have been called Power Metal, then Nu Metal...even Goth! I'm not really sure what genre we are...we just write the best music that we can.
Phil: I don't think it can be categorized very easily. We're definitely a metal band, but we don't follow a specific formula. We have our own sound but like to challenge people because that's what I want when I listen to an album, it also gives the album more longevity and stops the listener getting bored quickly.
Eric: How do you approach live performances vs. recordings? Do you try to emphasize different aspects of your sound when you're on stage?
Mark: We approach both of them as totally separate entities of expression and performance. There are parts live that simply wouldn't work on album and the other way round. Circles simply would not work for us in a live environment, for example. But live the last verse on 'Winter Green' is sung on it's own, vocal harmonies totally unaccompanied...it's amazing. However that wouldn't have worked on the album.
Eric: What are your favorite current metal
acts? How about older influences/favorites? Feel free to add in any non-metal
inspirations or 'must-listens.'
Mark: Yeah the bands variety of influences goes all the way from Portishead/Massive Attack/Boards of Canada/Air/Morcheeba/Air all the way through to Radiohead through to Dimmu Borgir/The Haunted/At the Gates/Samael etc.
Phil: I have a massive range of music tastes. For example I d.j. progressive dark house so my tastes are massively varied.
Eric: I'm doing my part to get your name spread around here in the US - how well known are you in Europe? Do you find that there's more general appreciation for good metal in the UK and beyond?
Mark: Yeah, we are well known in Europe, particularly in France, which is our biggest market. The U.K. is very fickle and fashion orientated. Bands seem to be very in vogue and deemed to be 'the next big thing' one month, only to be rejected and dismissed 6 months or so later. It's always 'flavour of the month' kinda scenario, it's REALLY frustrating. France has always had the biggest following for Kill 2 This and the reaction in Germany has been a particularly good one for our new album. However the mainland European scene seems really strong. I think the new Soilwork album 'Figure of 5' is great, I love Dimmu Borgir, Tiamat, Samael, The Gathering etc. Mainland Europe seems less interested in fashions and trends and more concerned with bands music. They will like what they like regardless of whether it is considered 'cool' or not.
Eric: Is there any central message in your music that you'd like to get across to listeners? What do you try to accomplish with a CD? (ie, a collection of songs people can get into, a series of interconnected concepts that just happen to be laid out in song format, etc.)
Mark: There's no one message really...each song deals with it's own issue, but a lot of these issues are questioning certain situations in the world in which we live. I sincerely hope that the lyrics are thought provoking for anyone reading them. The lyrics are neither fictitious nor autobiographical. They are about the real world and real issues that I believe effect everyone. For example 'Winter Greens' lyrics came about from a true story about a woman who, after the death her much loved husband, in a moment of inexplicable grief, tried to obtain a exhumation order to have him dug up...using the pretence of the body having some jewellery on it that had been buried by mistake. It turned out to be untrue...she actually just wanted to see him one more time. A very dark subject matter, but at the same time it's a love story! At the end of the day depression is something that links the whole human race....anyone saying they never get depressed is a liar and should be avoided at all costs. The lyrics are normally written when I feel particularly strongly about something. In these instances you have the strongest flow of emotions, which usually inspire good lyrics. Many people have accused me of writing depressing lyrics. I very much disagree. I believe the lyrics are reality based and anyone switching on the evening news will see evidence of this. I cannot relate in any way to bands singing about dungeons and dragons or Satan, in my opinion, there are so many more valuable reality based areas of inspiration to draw from. I feel that the key is to channel negativity into positivism and that is something that I feel that I have achieved with Kill2 This. I am VERY suspicious of mankind's use of technology. In a world where a third of its population is starving, while we're still sending spacecraft into other galaxies, it's hard not to. The bloodshed during the 20th century defies belief. We have everything imaginable to make our lives more comfortable, yet are we actually any happier as a race? The current figures for depression, suicide, homicide, divorce etc. seem to suggest otherwise.
Eric: What can we expect from Kill 2 This in the future? And, do you have any parting words of wisdom to your fans?
Mark: Expect us to continue to write what we believe is innovative music, without losing out to the strength of the song. Hopefully, we will be on tour in the U.S. very soon, as it has been on our priority list just as soon as we found out about the U.S. release.Parting words of wisdom? Try the following!
Confused in the computer age
A scorpion wants to cross a river, and with being unable to swim, asks a frog if he would carry him on his back across the river. The frog tells the scorpion that there is no way, as with being sworn enemies, he felt certain that the scorpion would sting him. The scorpion promises the frog that this is the last thing he would do, as it would mean that he would drown. After a long while, he finally convinces the frog to carry him over the river, by assuring him that one day he would repay the favour twice over. Half way across the river, the frog feels a warm, shooting pain in his back and realises that he has been stung. He screams to the scorpion 'What have you done, now we're both going to die'. To which the scorpion reply's 'I couldn't help it, it's in my nature!'
"Why would a parasite kill the host?"
What a sad contradiction to self preservation this seems to be. For me, the moral of this story is that human nature is programmed to self destruct.
In the 20th century the advances in technology defied belief, yet with the likes of Pol Pot, Stalin and Hitler it was the most systematically cruel and murderous in history. The statistics for the sheer level of bloodshed in these last 100 years are terrifying. It's stunning to see how efficient and effective humans have become at killing each other. Those who run the world's governments and multi national corporations are like ethical midgets sat behind the controls of giant robots, which kill, or maim anything that gets in their way, while permanently scarring the world in which we live. Today's barbarian is incredibly well organized and wears a suit.
The greatest need in the world at this moment is the transformation of the human character. We know more about war than we know of peace and more about killing than we know of living. Mankind has achieved brilliance without wisdom and achieved power without conscience. We landed men on the moon and sent space probes into other galaxies, costing countless billions, while a third of the world starved. I sometimes feel that the whole planet is living under a sword of Damocles hanging by the slenderest of thread, while at the same time wondering how beautiful the world could be without its cursed humanity.
Strange isn't it-we have everything modern living has to offer to make life more comfortable and yet are we any happier as a race? Looking at the current figures for depression, divorce, suicide, homicide etc......things suggest otherwise. We have all these amazing communication devices; mobile phones, e-mail, pagers, internet-yet I sometimes feel that we've lost the art of actually communicating with each other. The accumulating of material goods is at an all time high, but so is the number of people that feel emptiness in their lives. Could it be that there is no sense in the irony of human existence? That we are the highest form of life on earth and yet deep down at the core of our being we're sad because we know what no other animal knows-that one day we must die? Are we searching for meaning and certainty in a universe that has neither? Is the only certainty we have, that death is inevitable, and that our entire solar system shall one day lie in ruins? My personal experience leads me to believe otherwise, and in closing, the following story reflects this hope.
One day a stonemason receives a huge slab of stone nearly 7 feet high and 10 feet long. In this he is going to carve his lifelong ambition- a glorious stallion. On starting work chipping away at this stone, a boy who was passing by on his bike asks the stonemason what he is looking for. To which he reply's 'come back in 3 weeks and you'll see'. When the boy returns he sees an amazing stone sculpture and says to the stonemason 'How did you know it was there?'
To me, the moral of this story is that
the answers and solutions to life's questions and problems are always there,
it's just that we have to find them, even if it means chipping away bit
To learn about their latest release: check out our review of it here, as well as the band webpage at http://www.kill2this.com/