Mar De Grises interview (01/2011)
|Conducted by:||BitterCOld (e-mail)|
Mar De Grises
Mar De Grises - Streams Inwards, but Speaking Outwards. Special thanks to Alejandro for taking the time to respond to my questions.
So you have been around a decade now… can you share some of what drew you together as a band as well as the origin of the name?
There was nothing out of the common in what drew us together in the beginning I guess. We were a group of college mates who shared similar musical tastes and some points of view regarding vision of life. In those days we just wanted to make a band and doom metal was the metal genre we shared the most, so we started a doom metal band with the purpose of just playing in a band and maybe fulfilling a need of communication and channeling of feelings.
As for the band name, Mar De Grises means "Sea of Grey." From our perspective it can refer to the grey general color that a big cosmopolitan city can have, city were you get most of the inspiration behind your creation. In another hand, it can refer to an emotional state that wanders around nothing apparently concrete; not white, not black, kind of rationally undecipherable. I think that state can be most interesting at the time of creating, as you don't really know what are you creating until you have it created, so you connect with the most unconscious and inner world, the one that speaks directly through emotion. Those are some of our own interpretations but we like the fact that the name can have many others.
Doom seems to have a small following even in a metal stronghold like Europe… so what is the doom scene - and metal scene in general - like in Chile?
In the Chilean scene we have tons of metal bands, but people often don't have enough time or money to dedicate to a band in a more professional way. This is why it is very common that many bands unfortunately stay only as a good idea and nothing else. The root of the problem resides more in economic than musical issues because I think good potential is present in every aspect. Art is not easy here, it is almost impossible to stay alive just creating whatever you create, in this case, in terms of music. There are still other issues to resolve as a country, poverty and the huge social gap between social classes being the major ones so unfortunately there is still no time for paying art the price it deserves generally speaking; of course there are people who can have the means to do so.
But despite all this, In Chile there is some kind of small scene or "brotherhood" (I would say in Europe also) of doom fans who stick just to doom and many times just to "true doom". This seems to happen with fans of what is called "true"; I see, for instance, many loyal followers of Black/War Metal here who act and maintain a more active and identifiable scene within a scene, just as followers of the so called true doom. I myself don't give a damn what is true or what is whatever because I think boundaries are just too gradual and diffuse.
On the other hand, I understand that compulsive labeling in the end gives place to many components that provide shape and the required energy that metal has to have in order to exist as a robust movement/industry and, of course, a scene.
Who were some of your initial influences?
Well, we all have different answers to this question. Many things can and have been influences but speaking about initial bands and musical influences I would say maybe In The Woods…, My Dying Bride or Neurosis are the bands that we all share in terms of influence and discovering this kind of music.
Would you care to talk about any challenges facing MdG in the early years - and is there any particular moment that stands out as a "triumph" for the band?
Yes, many. What you consider an achievement or triumph will of course depend on what are your goals as a band. Recording our demo (just a simple rehearsal that turned out to be better than expected so we decided to release it as an official demo) signing to Firebox; releasing The Tatterdemalion Express album; touring across Europe in a small van with an evens smaller budget; releasing the Draining the Waterheart album; touring across Europe again this time along with great bands including Saturnus (a band we all have always liked) and sharing stage with many bands whose music we grew with; knowing and traveling across our country showing our music; signing to Season of Mist; releasing the Streams Inwards album; touring across Europe with Swallow the Sun and Solstafir, this time in better and very good conditions, etc. Those have definitely been milestones in our career, but the most important thing has been the possibility to reach many distant and different locations, cultures, hearts and souls just through the language of music, creation and emotion.
What went in to the development of the band from a fledgling outfit in a nontraditional location to the point where one of the most respected labels in metal is putting out your music?
Good question. As said before, we just started with the purpose of playing in a band and with no further pretensions (but of course dreams of different kind of achievements were always present) but things began to gradually work in a very structured way. Suddenly we were having the opportunity and possibility of being part of an international record label, touring across Europe, having people in every corner of the world telling us that they like our music. What I want to express is, that without even noticing, things were working in a way we didn't expect. It is not that we planned everything so as things were working we were also learning, setting and dreaming about different an unexpected goals, all at the same time. And things are still the same… We are still working towards many goals without thinking too much on reaching them, but on the process of reaching them. Many goals have been accomplished; we are quite satisfied for that, but there is still a long road ahead in terms of growing as a band, a road that we enjoy just by itself and has turned into one of the most important things in our lives, if not the most.
So here you are, having completed a European tour with the well-known Swallow The Sun, as well as another fantastic and unique act in Solstafir. What's going through your collective minds? Any stop a particular favorite of yours?
It was an awesome tour. We had a wonderful experience. And Solstafir and Swallow the Sun are indeed great and intense bands, recorded and live, as well as very nice people. As for favourite stops, it is difficult to choose. Prague is one of the most beautiful cities I have been in; we had very good experiences with Slovakian people and fans, which were very nice. Spain in general has a special think because of the common language; Belgian and Czech beer are the best beer we have ever tasted. French fans in general were very supportive maybe because the fact of our label being French, so we have had more coverage there; Polish girls are gorgeous… And many specific fans telling us how they connect with our music, irrespective of where they are from… feeling their feedback. We'll cherish all this experiences forever.
How is playing abroad different from playing in front of the home crowd? And while there are undoubtedly some differences from crowds on opposite sides of the ocean, are there any similarities (beyond the metal) that you've noticed?
Comparing the Chilean audience with the European in general, main difference is that European people are maybe colder in shape; they seem to pay more deep attention to the music instead of just headbanging. Here in Chile, the audience goes crazier. This is just a general impression though, because of course both types of behavior are seen in both audiences and I think that over the last years, general attitude of both audiences tends to resemble each other more than it used to. The reason behind is that over the last several years, the number of foreign bands that have come to Chile has increased significantly; for instance, 12 or 15 years ago, we just had 2 or 3 foreign metal bands coming per year, and just big bands.
That has changed, so has the attitude of the audience; they are getting almost as "spoiled" as the European audience (haha!) due to the diverse possibilities and alternatives of concerts that they have always had. So the Chilean crowds, in general, are not as crazy as used to be; instead they seem to pay more deep attention now, as European crowds. Anyway, when support exists, we can feel it in the shows irrespective of the type of attitude of the fans.
Streams Inwards was a fantastic release and seems to have received good reviews from the various media I've checked out (and from your humble interrogator as well) - what went in to the process and is the "critical" response a good pay off for your efforts? How 'bout fan response?
Thank you for your words! Yes, good acceptance is indeed an important driver; not always or necessarily the most important one but very important anyway, and the general perspective has been quite favorable in that regard. We are very pleased for that. And due to the fact that there are some changes mostly in form (essence is more or less the same I think) in our music in the last album, there is always the possibility that some would say that our music has become more commercial or less elaborate. But I think that looking and walking forward and exploring does not necessarily imply forgetting what you left behind. But you know, when you open a door there is always another one closing and there's nothing to do about it. But still, I've seen that fans in general have perceived this in a positive way.
Incidentally I've reviewed three releases from Seasons of Mist this year, the new Watain, Kylesa, and of course, "Streams Inwards." All three seem to have album art based upon a circle as the center point of the cover. Odd coincidence, isn't it? What was the inspiration behind it or the significance of the art?
Strange coincidence indeed! But don't you know circles are in, just as words that include the letter "x" in song/band titles, the word "architect" or the "post" prefix for labeling metal.
No, seriously, the artwork is always intended to stay aligned with all the concepts that we find are present behind the title and/or lyrics; specific to this album, to the concepts and ideas mentioned before. It was done by Jérôme Cros, who did a nice work and understood the idea I think, idea that relates to the intention of, the rational attempt of, providing a fully consistent package in terms of the message to all human senses. Weather we achieved that or not is another subject…haha…and of course listener/seer could reach a much more accurate appreciation regarding that.
The last 10-12 years have lead to a variety of changes in both technology and industry. File sharing and downloading seem a double-edged sword for aspiring bands. Care to weigh in on it from your perspective?
I think that's a big subject matter with many, many possible paths to take. In one hand, I think technology and globalization are important factors the last years that are changing increasingly fast the parameters and paradigms behind this subject. It seems something predictable, but if you compare the speed behind changes in communication over the last years everything points to big changes that are constantly evolving to unpredictability; in other words, I think anything can happen in terms of communication the next years, therefore in the means for spreading your music and everything related to that aspect of music and metal. Sometimes you tend to evaluate things in this regard and reach an idea but everything is so fast that it is very difficult to reach some kind of concrete idea of what will happen and what is really, really happening apart from the fact that everything is changing very fast. Specifically, file sharing and downloading is indeed a double edged sword; that's something concrete, but due to all this, I think it is no use thinking about what's happening; I think this is the time to go beyond that and figure out and try to give birth to a really new and fresh way to do things.
Hypothetical time! You're stranded on a deserted island. You have an mp3 player of infinite battery life… but alas! It can only hold 10 albums. What would be on yours?
Difficult to choose because the list won't necessarily include the strictly favourite albums, but a varied list useful to please every type of mood… Well, I think it would be:
Ved Buens Ende… - Written in Waters;
Morbid Angel- Covenant;
Death - Individual Thought Patterns;
Gorguts - Obscura;
Jimmy Eat World - Bleed American;
Tiamat - Wildhoney;
Beethoven's Seventh Symphony (any professional conductor or philharmonic);
Pink Floyd - Atom Heart Mother;
Nobuo Uematsu - Final Fantasy Soundtracks;
Mötley Crüe - Shout at the Devil.
And well, I wouldn't be able to speak exactly for the lists of the guys, but I'll mention some of the albums that would probably be included if we integrate the lists of all five of us in one mp3 player or try to make one list for all:
Neurosis - A Sun that Never Sets;
The Dillinger Escape Plan - Calculating Infinity;
Katatonia - Last Fair Deal Gone Down;
Deftones - White Pony;
My Dying Bride - The Angel and the Dark River;
Albums/recordings of In The Woods…, Carcass, Enslaved, The Cranberries, Soundgarden, Hatebreed, Klimt 1918, Arvo Pärt, Fausto Romitteli, Victor Jara (Chilean folk singer), Poema Arcanus (Chilean high quality doom band), Anathema…
Thank you very much for your time!
Many thanks to you! Metal Storm have supported us since our very beginning and for had we are sincerely grateful. Till the next one! Cheers!
||Posted on 11.01.2011 by BitterCOld has been officially reviewing albums for MetalStorm since 2009.|
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