Hello Andy! Great to have you again and this time on behalf of the sixth album ‘Embers Of A Dying World’. How are you doing? Let us have a fine update of things...
We are very well, thank you! Excited for people to hear the new music, so can’t wait to get it out there and get back on the road.
First of all: you will be on the tiptoe of expectations to get ready for the 70,000 Tons of Metal cruise. What expectations and feelings does it awake in you?
I expect a crazy few days of drunken mayhem ahead. We’ve always wanted to play this festival and are thrilled to be involved. What better way to kick off the release of a new album than playing a gig on a luxury cruise-ship in international waters?! I don’t know what lunatic decided that was a good idea, but we’re on board for the ride!
By now you are getting a bit more used to travelling I guess, since I see you did some nice touring for previous album ‘Dawn Of The 5th Era’. When we talked last time you were about to embark to Japan and in 2016 you did seven shows in Asia. What are your memories on those happenings?
Asia was incredible as it always is, but this time we had the privilege to travel to China too which was a first for us. Even now, not many bands make it out there, so it was a really cool thing to do. Amazing shows and amazing people. I heard lots of horror stories before going, that we might be shut down or turned away at the door for being Satanists. When I asked the tour manager in China about this, he simply said, “You can say Fuck, you can even say Fuck God…just don’t say fuck the government”. I’d also add that most of my memories are of the 40+ degree heat on that whole tour, and also some questionable food such as “1000 year-old egg”! Honestly, I would definitely recommend that any band gets out there and tours China because the fans are worth making the journey for.
Another tour was in company with Onslaught. What about this experience? Was that Onslaught crowd not too brutal minded only?
Yeah that was a great few weeks also, everyone got on well with the guys in Onslaught (who are actually from my home town in Bristol, UK which was a coincidence!). At the beginning of the tour I was a little worried that our styles would clash and that we didn’t really belong on a “thrash metal” tour. But we had our fans, they had theirs and both parties seemed to respect each other and enjoy all the bands on the tour. It was a strange tour because at the end everyone actually seemed really sad to go home, which is quite rare when you’ve been living in a bus for three weeks with over twenty people!
Andy, I know that you are the main song writer. Was it an easy or a hard process this time? When did you start writing new songs for ‘Embers Of A Dying World’ and can you give more details about this writing process?
It’s always a hard process there’s no doubt about that. The time it takes to put any of these albums is crazy. I think this one came in two stages. I wrote about half the album and it was very difficult and I almost gave up on the songs I had written, because I couldn’t finish them. I really struggled to make new music in our style without it sounding too similar to older songs/albums and it drove me a bit mad. I think it was the summer of 2015 that I flew to Finland to play a festival there. Once I had got together again with the band and played a live show all the inspiration just came back to me and I felt I could carry on writing again. From that point onwards I think it was about another nine months before the album was written, so you can tell how long it takes to put something like this together. The writing process is the same as ever, I just write the best music I can, send it to Ville, he tells me what he thinks and we go from there. I do think this album brought a new dilemma to the table for me. It wasn’t just “how can I write an MPE album” anymore, it was “how can I write an MPE album for a third time and make it sound fresh and interesting, but still better than what I’ve written before”.
What can you tell about the lyrical contents? Did Ville write them all?
Ville did most of the lyrics and I chipped in to help towards the end of the process.
Hum… when I read the album title I instantly thought about the lyrics of ‘Embers Fire’ of Paradise Lost. Any comments on that? :-)
Haha, to be honest, no I don’t. The album title was discussed for a while and we thought it reflected some themes from the album, but also sounded awesome so that’s why we went with that.
You have lost another second guitarist… When and why did Kevin leave? Did it cause any problems in playing live or recording?
That’s for Kevin to say, it was personal reasons and I won’t speak for him. There is no problems between us and we’re all friends, he just didn’t want to carry on with the band and that’s cool. We’ve since recruited Tomy Laisto as a session guitarist for tours and he should know how to play because he used to actually be in the band.
Are you going to replace him or continue as four piece? How will you solve that in live situations?
I think for now the last thing we want to do is keep recruiting permanent members and keep losing them, so for now things are working ok with session players.
I have the impression that the orchestral arrangements have increased on this album. Do you agree on that? Tell me something about the musical development on this CD in the eyes of the creators…
I agree that one element of our sound has stood out a little more on the new album. The orchestra stuff has always been a part of our music, it’s just evolved more on this album and come into the foreground a bit more with some more complex variations. I personally think it adds a lot to the music, but there’s no real reason for it, it was just a question of what more can I put into the mix. We really gave our mixing engineer some problems in that sense!
We have the song ‘Death Is The Beginning’, in my opinion one of the highlights. Was it time for a band hymn? How did this come into being?
I think I recall Ville telling me to write a slower song when I was struggling to come up with anything new. One thing I think this album does better than the previous ones is offer more variety. There’s a lot of so called “mid-tempo” stuff, but also fast songs and then this much slower paced one. I guess it’s our “ballad” haha.
We hear female vocals in that song. What can you tell about guest appearances at the album?
From the moment I joined and began songwriting for MPE I always had the idea that I wanted to use a female vocalist for at least one song. I don’t think Ville was too keen on the idea at the time and it never really materialized until this album. When I wrote what would become, ‘Death Is The Beginning’, it just made sense and everything fell into place. The female vocalist is Christina Marie from my hometown in the UK. Other guest appearances on the album include guitar solos from Paul Wardingham and a 16-year-old guitarist called Matt Powell who I began producing a couple of years ago.
Last time you were in heaven about the cooperation with Thomas ‘Plec’ Johansson. What about working with him and staying in Sweden this time?
More of the same! We started right where we left off haha. The week Ville and I spent with Plec mixing the new album was honestly one of the most rewarding, fulfilling and hilarious weeks of my life. To see all the hard work you’ve put in finally pay off and get to just sit back and watch it all come together is such an unbelievable experience. Plec is one of a kind, totally crazy, as you can see in our studio diaries… but by far the best producer/engineer I’ve had the pleasure of working with and just a really decent guy. I wouldn’t want our music in anyone else’s hands.
’Monster In Me’ happened to be your first music video for the previous album. I remember it was a long day and night for you and your girl friend. Now we have the clip for ‘Reclaim The Sun’. Please tell us about your adventures to create this one?
It wasn’t easy to arrange. We’re not the biggest band in the world, so our budget didn’t really allow us much freedom to make a video. Everyone has jobs and family commitments and we really only had two weekends that we make something happen before it was too late and we would have nothing. We tried contacting lots of film makers but everything was pretty much out of budget, when you consider that we would have to fly the whole band to one place, or fly me to Finland. In the end, we were saved by Dan Sanchez who shot us the video in the UK.
Some words about the artwork and artist Eliran Kantor would be nice…
I absolutely love what Eliran did with this, the guy is a genius. We gave some guidelines on what we imagined would make a good album title and he drew up a similar sketch to the finished product. Ville wanted to make sure we included our ‘Death’ mascot in the picture as we’ve had for the last three albums. I think it’s the best yet for us.
What are the plans for the near future after the 70,000 Tons of Metal cruise?
After the cruise, if we are still alive, it is to try and fly home in one piece. From there, we hope to tour the world as much as possible. I can’t say any more on that yet, but we are hoping to line up some good tours and maybe get back out to Asia again this year if possible. As for the more distant future, who knows… we can only keep putting out our best music and hope people catch on and continue to support us!
If there is anything you like to add, feel free to do so…
Thanks to all the readers and fans for all your support, it means a hell of a lot to a band like us and we need all the help we can get to get our voices heard. Enjoy the new album and hopefully we can come play to you in 2017!