After the pretty well received EP, your debut album is to be released into the world. Are you happy with the final result, or (being kind of a perfectionist is my guess) are there already things you would have liked differently?
Yes! I’m happy with the result of these recordings. We worked on it for almost a year, recording alone that is. From going in to the studio to start recording drums to sending out the masters was close to eleven months. Prior, the writing process took, I guess, a year as well. But now that the album has been released like a week or two, I’ve been getting great responses from all kinds of people. Not the just the critics or press. You can say the album is being very well received, and I wouldn’t change a thing about it. Not yet, ask me again in a year or two, then I probably will.
To me personally the debut album is slightly less poppy, and more angry and noisy than the EP. Is that impression right, is there a reason for it, and how would you describe the progression from the EP to this album?
Interesting. I’m not too sure about this one being less poppy actually. I do think there’s more extremes. Some stuff’s a lot more aggressive and some songs more poppy maybe. With the EP. `A Laughing Matter’ I put out in 2013, there were only four songs and I didn’t want to take any risks, musically. I was kinda on the safe side. With this one being a full length, I had more freedom, or at least I took the freedom, to take things a step further. Also since this is my debut album I really wanted to show more sides of what I do, or what I want to do in the future. I hope it never gets noisy. Noise is useless to me. I hope I’ll manage to make the next album even more pop, better songs, better melodies, better arrangements, and more diverse in instrumentation.
What can you tell us about the development in writing and recording; I mean the first demo was almost done by one person (except the drums), the EP was for the biggest part in hands of one man, how were things done with this debut album?
Still mostly in the hands of one man, haha… No, I mean the first demo `Dump’ was just really me finding a form to make music. I have always been in bands of course, like everybody, but it never seemed to really work out. I started out playing drums when I was fourteen. In a punk band. Then switched to guitars when I was sixteen or so. Last band I played in before I became Mxrcxl I played bass. So finally, at 26 I decided my own songs were good enough. And my singing was good enough. I started recording tons of songs, and picked the two I thought were best at the time. So these home recordings became the first demo. I was so afraid of people’s reactions, but it was very well received. When I formed a real band we recorded the EP in 2013 and now the full length debut album. Not much has changed really, regarding song writing and recording process, except that we spent far more time in the studio recording. Really taking our time to get all the sounds right. What it comes down to is, I bring pretty detailed demos to the rehearsal room and we start playing them. When we track them in the studio everybody does their thing and afterwards I put a million extra tracks to it. We basically lay down basic tracks, and then I work on it ‘till I think it’s finished. That’s the way it works for me. One thing that has changed significantly though is the approach in this project. There are more people involved now. Like I said more time in the studio for the recording itself, as well as the mixing. We moved all our gear to a small studio space we rented for four months Just to find a quieter work place, it was quite intense.
Was the forming of a band just because it is necessary to perform the songs live, or is this also from the point of view of creating music as a team? Also, having one main person in charge of the process, kind of excludes the songs existing from jams. Your music is actually pretty suitable for jams (both in the studio and especially on stage) in my opinion. What's your opinion about that?
Starting the band was really out of necessity to be able to perform live. For now, I don’t want to create music with other musicians. I feel like I have had it in me for a long time to be doing what I do. I don’t think I need other people’s input really. I know it should enrich me, but it doesn’t, for now. It’s distracting even. Lots of people mistake it for being arrogant, but it’s not. I don’t think of myself as a genius with a master plan, I’m just the next guy who writes songs. And I think they’re good. It works for me at this point in time. My ideas of songs are super detailed when I start demoing, and I clearly see how they should be completed. With other musicians interfering, for me that could ruin it, ‘cause everybody would want to put their stamp on it, you know?
How did you get this band together anyway?
Well lots of my friends are musicians as well, so after the release of my demo `Dump’ in 2011 I just gave them a call to see if they were interested in playing in my band. Most of them weren’t, haha... But luckily my long-time friend Mark wanted to play guitar, and Jasper joined us on keys. Soon thereafter we found a drummer named Lion and we started playing shows and recorded the EP. But of course you know how it goes with bands… so after some changes, we now have a new drummer and guitarist (Yoeri and Tijmen) with whom we recorded the album.
I kind of compare your work to Frank Zappa in a strange kind of way. Being a multi-instrumentalist as the one in charge, being pretty stubborn in musical approach and not wanting to be placed in one certain direction. Frank Zappa was a phenomenal creative brain, but also a perfectionist and hard to work with. How do you consider yourself to be in that perspective?
Thanks! I’ll take that as a compliment obviously. Maybe you’d better ask the guys in the band, but I don’t think I’m hard to work with actually…. I hope… Well maybe I am, I don’t know. Like I said, a lot of people just assume I’m an asshole because I run things like this. You can’t put yourself on the cover if you play loud stuff, you know? I don’t care. The flipside of this is that there’s a real relaxed atmosphere when we play. There’s no egos, no debating on compositions, we just play the songs like I demoed them. All the guys in the band are super creative and have their own musical projects as well. I guess that takes the pressure off a bit. However In the end I do things my way, I have a veto so to speak, and if you don’t like it, just leave. Apparently it works. It’s something I need to create, I want to take responsibility when it sucks. It’s not about commercial accomplishment obviously, and it’s some deep desire to be doing what I do and I want to do this for a long time, with or without whoever is involved.
Without wanting to place you in some segment; what would you consider to be your main sources of inspiration for your music?
Actually, that is kind of a difficult question for me to answer, simply ‘cause there’s so much. I grew up listening to all kinds of heavy stuff, death metal, black metal, hardcore, punk, grunge, as long as it was loud. Looking back, Life of Agony, Deftones, Faith No More, Therapy? and Type O Negative have always been among my favorite bands. So pretty melodic, commercial stuff. But that’s ok with me, I don’t mind being commercial. People, in general, need to know where to put product. Right? I’m still working on that.
But influential these days? Everything from Elton John to the Dillinger Escape Plan, and from Pet Shop Boys to The Number Twelve Looks Like You. And I like musicals, or some jazzy stuff like Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra. I like the compositions, the arrangements. I don’t find that in metal, I obviously enjoy metal but it’s hardly ever an inspiration anymore. These days I listen to a lot of old pop actually, Dusty Springfield for example, or old film music… even some easy listening shit I can really enjoy, Mantovani, haha, I like it, it’s good stuff really...
Some musical and graphical approaches of your work make me suspect some kind of art educational background. What can you tell us about that?
Not really, not educational that is. I’m autodidact. In almost everything. I do love art though, it’s all about art. Art is entwined with my music. I love theatre, classic and modern. So yeah… And I want the graphics to look good, you know? The music may be rough, punky or grungy, I want the art work super tight. Like a piece of art in itself. And I think it turned out great. The designers at Hats and Tales in Rotterdam did a great job. In time, I would like the whole show to be like, more theatrical. Like Jane’s Addiction does, with dancers and freaks… that would be awesome, right!
Personally I was very pleased with your work being released on vinyl. Why did you actually prefer to release your album on vinyl?
Actually I wanted to release my EP `A Laughing Matter’ on vinyl as well, like on a 7 or 10”, but I was on a super tight budget back then. This one, being my debut album and all, it just had to be vinyl. Cd doesn’t really do it for me, you know. So now it’s just vinyl or digital download. Maybe when the records are sold out I’ll consider re-releasing the album on CD.
Thanks for your time. As a final question; is there anything else you want to share with our readers, any message or hot gossip?
Mxrcxl, pronounced as Marcèl! Come see us live, you’ll like it! I’ll buy you a beer if you don’t. You’d be lying if you say you don’t… or maybe you won’t, then I’ll buy you a beer…. Oh whatever man... peace out, and fuck you. I love you! Go away, no stay!!!