You're a quite new band that was formed in 2009, initially as a two-piece that turned into an almost full-fledged band later on. As most of our readers won't be familiar with you guys could you give us a history of Morito Ergo Sum?
Sure! In early 2009 I came with the idea of making a doom metal band that should be a little different. I started to compose, in a very basic way, some riffs and melodies that would become some of the band's songs. Then I started to look for members, and that took a lot of time and energy! I spent a whole year testing different musicians and line-ups. At one point I had a full band, but the musicians that were playing with me at that point had a very different musical background, and because of that the songs started to sound way too different from what I had in mind. I decided it was time to stop everything and start over! I invited two of the guys that where playing in Morito Ergo Sum back then to leave the band and form another group, which is called Blood Of My Soul.
Then I got in touch with Walter (Basile), who had contacted me a few months earlier regarding the drummer position, that was already occupied at the time. I asked if he was still interested in doing a test and he accepted promptly. The thing is that Walter, who is Italian, was living in Sweden for a short period of time, and he was still trying to figure out if he was going to definitively move here or not (later he decided to move for good), so he had no drum-kit, no cymbals, no pedals, nothing that we could use to do a test. While we were trying to figure out how to fix this problem, he showed me his YouTube channel, were he uploaded a few covers as a vocalist. Some of those covers were just for fun, but others were really good, especially his interpretation for Bathory's 'Man Of Iron'. I listened to that and thought - “hmmm, this guys has an interesting voice!”, so I asked if he would be interested in try out as a vocalist. He accepted the challenge and a few months later we recorded the “I die, therefore I am” demo, with me on guitars and bass, and Walter on the vocals and drums programming. That demo was made with the sole intention to help us find other members, but for our surprise it got an incredibly good response from Doom Metal fans and from reviewers! So in a couple of moths we found Pablo Magallanes, who is our talented lead guitarist, and a bassist called Alexander Teklemariam, who was later substituted by our actual bassist, the super experienced Harry Virtanen. This is the line-up that recorded our recently released EP 'Moonchild'.
So is the line-up complete now or do you still need additional members? You also work with a session violinist; can you tell a bit more about her as well?
The line-up is not complete, unfortunately! Walter (vocals) played the drums in the EP, but we still need at least a fifth member! The thing is that is almost impossible to find musicians to play doom metal in Sweden! I know this comes as a surprise for people from other countries, since Sweden is known as the home land of some of the most influential and successful doom bands in the world! But things are not as they used to be ten or fifteen years ago, and now the interest for this style here is really, really low... Everybody wants to play death, black or thrash metal, but when it comes to slow things down, no one is interested, or the ones that are interested don't have the ability to play this style, or are already too busy playing in three-four other different bands at the same time! This affects us especially regarding drummers. I tested quite a lot of drummers in these two and a half years since I formed the band, but not all of them had the skills to play slow... Even very experienced drummers, who would play with absolute perfection some ”thrashy” grooves or blast beats had problems when the bpm would go under 120!
Another challenge we faced was the violinist. For the demo we had a country/bluegrass violinist to record the demo for us. It worked ok, but not perfect, obviously... When the pre-production for the EP began, we started to search frantically for someone to record the violin for us. We found this guy in Stockholm who was into metal and totally loved the band, but he was way too young and inexperienced, we worked about two months with him and even took him to a record session that was supposed to be in the EP, but the results were not up to our standards, so we decided not to use him. I then contacted about ten other different violinists, all over the world, but all they did was keep me waiting for samples of them playing our melodies that never came, or some were way too complicated to work with. All of this was happening while Mike Wead was waiting for the violin tracks so he could do the final mix and mastering, time was running out! In an act of desperation I said “fuck this, I'll ask for help for the guys from My Dying Bride! No! I will contact Martin Powell, The Man itself, and see if he is up for the job, otherwise there will be no violins in 'Moonchild'!” Said and done, Martin cordially answered my email, but the timing was wrong and he couldn't record for us. Instead he recommended Elle Torry. Elle is a great violinist and guitarist from England. She accepted the job instantly, and did it in a very professional and efficient way! I cannot thank her enough for the great work she did! The whole process of contacting her, send her the midi files with the violin melodies, then receiving the tracks brilliantly recorded took less than one week!
You decided to play a somewhat remarkable style of doom metal, when that's even possible in a genre like this. I'd say it's based in doom/death musically but due to the vocals it's more epic. So I was wondering how you came to this idea and what bands inspired you to come up with your sound and style?
Yeah, the idea was really to take the doom/death, and even some funeral doom, and use only clean vocals. No growls at all! As I said before, I wanted to do something a little different. I noticed that the vast majority of the new doom bands out there were only copying the doom/death style of the well established groups. But there was this niche for bands playing really slow but only with clean vocals, but there were basically no new bands doing that, apart from a handful of them. I also wanted the old school feeling to it. At that time I was listening a lot to the newer phase of My Dying Bride, so that was obviously the main inspiration, and I don't try to hide that. But it was not the only one! I would also name Celtic Frost and Tryptikon as very strong influences also.
Compared to the first release I thought your latest effort, the 'Moonchild' EP, was a huge step forwards, both in production as well as songwriting. Let's start with the production first. You worked with legendary Mike Wead. Tell us a bit about this cooperation and your time in the studio?
Thanks! To have someone like Mike working for us was a real honor! The first idea was just to have him to make the mixing and mastering, but he seemed to like the band enough to offer us a really good deal and be also the sound technician during the whole recording process. This being a self released production, the budget was pretty tight, so we had only four days in the studio to record everything. Because this is such a new line-up, and none of us had recorded together before, we were a little apprehensive how things would work and if we would have enough time. Mike is an extremely laid back person, so that helped to create a good atmosphere in the studio, and was always assuring us that, even if we didn't finish everything in time he would make this thing work.
He was also very patient with us, and he kept his cool even after ten-eleven hours sitting everyday in front of the mixing desk. Those four days would usually begin with loads of coffee and end with a few beers, while during the breaks Mike would tell us some cool stories like the ones he had on tour with King Diamond! As for the songwriting, the big step forward was the fact I had Pablo and Walter helping me add the nice details to the songs. Otherwise it was not a big difference for me, I just kept the same style of composing. Plus, some of those songs, like 'Behind These Tears' and 'This Selfish Act' were already almost fully composed by the time we released the demo in 2010. We just made a few small improvements during the pre-production for the EP so they would sound even better! And the fact that we have such a talented guitarist as Pablo Magallanes definitively helped a lot to make our songs richer!
Next to the use of violins and clean vocals, one of the most striking parts on 'Moonchild' are the guitars. They sound brilliant. Anything special you did or was the fact you worked with Mike Wead an important factor?
Well, blame it on Mike for that sound! For the rhythm guitars we used the same low cost guitar I used to record 'I Die, Therefore I Am', the only difference being that I bought a new and better pickup for it. So indeed, it was working with Mike Wead that made all the difference! One thing I asked Mike was that I wanted a kind of simple and old school warmth to our sound, so for the guitars we used a Peavey JSX with the microphone in front of the speaker and that's it! Then Mike magically adjusted a few knobs and the guitar sounded awesome! I remember saying to Mike “please don't change the sound of the guitars during the mix, leave them like they are!” and I think that's one of the secrets... you know, sometimes simpler is better! It also helped the fact that our bass player, Harry Virtanen, is Mike Wead's guitar technician when he is on tour with King Diamond/Mercyful Fate, so they worked like a team there, and that guitar sound came up in a matter of minutes.
The EP is called 'Moonchild', based on the song with the same name you recorded which is a King Crimson cover. This cover version is done tastefully, but could you explain why you chose this songs and even name the EP after this song?
Since I was a kid I always wanted to play a King Crimson cover, but I never had the right band to do it. I think 'In the court of the Crimson King' is one of the best albums of all time, so when I started thinking about a cover, that was one of the first options I started to work with. That is a very dark and depressive album, so I kinda knew I would find something interesting there for us. I first wanted to do a cover of the song 'Epitaph', but the version I came up with was way too epic, and I think Morito Ergo Sum's sound is more melodic and depressive. Then when I tried out 'Moonchild', it sounded perfect! Greg Lake's voice in that song is really similar to Walter's voice, so I knew I had the perfect song to cover from the very first day!
As for naming the EP after this song, that was not the original idea. I had another title for the EP (which I cannot reveal because I intend to use it in the future) that was something related with mourning, and I had even the artwork done by the time we were about o enter the studio. Then, one day I open the internet, and see the same painting I was going to use being used on the cover of the new Funeral album 'To Mourn Is A Virtue'! Yes, I was going to use that exact same image, but well, they got the idea first... hahahaha! So it was an easy choice to use the King Crimson cover as a title, since is such a good song from such a good band.
I think that this release should gain some interest in your music, so what are the future plans of Morito Ergo Sum? Any plans fro new material already? Any plans to perform live too?
Really nice to hear that coming from you! Right now we are trying to see how far this EP will lead us. It was quite a substantial investment from our pockets, so if we can sell all the 200 copies we did, it will be a really big incentive for us to work on a new release in 2012! There are already a few ideas for new songs around, but I am too busy trying to promote the EP by myself so there is nothing concrete yet. I could say that the thing we really want most right now is to perform live, but we are still missing one member, and the way things work in Sweden regarding doom metal musicians, I think that will take a while to happen. We are working on it, still on the search for someone out there to join us. We are working on that, and we even have some plans that involve moving some things internally in the band so we can fix this issue...
I think I have touched all important subjects. Anything you might want to add?
First of all I want to thank you Pim, for all the support you have showed us so far. You might remember that you even tried to help us to find a violinist, and I really appreciate that, specially coming from you! Officium Triste is a great band, one of the best classic doom/death groups out there, and I am really looking forward to hear the new The11th Hour album with your vocals in it! (Thanks! – PB) Secondly, thanks also to Lords of Metal for giving us the space to talk a little bit about Morito Ergo Sum! And last but not least, a big thanks to all the people who had been giving us all the nice messages, as well the ones who have bought our EP! That is a huge sign of support for independent bands like us!