In Mourning are a quiet achieving band, upon the release of their debut Shrouded Divine, the group were often labelled as the heir to Opeth’s throne. While the band have delivered consistently awesome music since that, they have tended to avoid the spotlight and heavy touring cycles; it’s not always practical to become the next Opeth. Recently, The Sonic Sensory chatted with Pierre Stam about their wonderful new album Afterglow, and the realities of mixing family and work with writing and touring.
Afterglow in some ways picks up where ‘The Weight of Oceans’ left off story wise, yet it marks a shift sonically, can you please explain how this eventuated?
The story is a continuation of The Weight of Oceans, so Afterglow takes off right where the previous album ends. The music this time is a bit more complex and maybe a bit more organic sounding in a way with, not so much editing done to get a more appropriate sound of what the band actually sounds like playing together. Even though it is not recorded live together as a whole band I think that we captured that feeling in a better way this time.
The technical aspects of the recording sound so balanced, the mixing work of Jonas Martinsson in particular is meticulous, how did you find this process working with him, and what sort of input does the band have in those processes?
Well we did most of the guitar and bass recording ourselves in our rehearsal space with help from guitar sound master and amp builder Henric Hermansson. Help from Henric with amps and Jonas Martinsson with microphones and recording. For the drums we used a studio in Falun with Jonas at the control board. The band was very much involved in the mixing and mastering process this time, and that was a really lengthy process. Maybe the band was a bit too involved in this, too much different sound ideals made it a bit of a tricky thing, but in the end we got a really good result I think.
Traditionally bass in heavy music is buried so deep in the mix, I feel that this trend is changing though and bass can be seen a critical element in the song writing process and the finished product; as opposed to just following a simplistic version the guitar. On Afterglow, you are really contributing to that change, is this something your are conscious of during the writing stages?
First of all, I think it’s a lot about how you look at bass as a part of the music. Almost all of my inspiration when it comes to bass playing comes from classic rock and progressive rock, where bass almost always is a crucial part of the song. I think that the most important thing is to build a solid foundation to the song, locking the bass together with the drums to create a solid rhythm section. Then I try to play in a way that benefits the songs and helps to highlight the drum patterns.
Melody is clearly a crucial element for ‘In Mourning’. When writing a song do these parts flow naturally, or do you have to write those sections separately and then weave them into the mix?
Melody has always been something very important in our music. Sometimes it starts with a melody sometimes with a riff and adding a melody on top later on, but we always try to have strong melodies that grabs the listener’s attention.
Are the themes/concept covered on the last two albums metaphoric and representative of real life and personal events?
It is a mythological story but you can absolutely connect it to real life in metaphoric ways. For example, the man trying to conquer the ocean could be a man trying to take control over his life in a society that controls him and the feeling of being a brick in something big that you have no control over. Like modern society where we more and more forget what life should really be about.
The concept is abundant with environmental images, the ocean, sun, sky etc. How conscious are ‘In Mourning’ of environmental issues in particular climate change. Our Sun really could die at some point.
It differs a bit between the members of the band I think, but we all live close to nature and I think that we are quite aware and try do our best to be environment-friendly.
How involved are the band in the current scene within Europe and beyond, do you mix with other bands between tours?
Not so much involved I think, but we have friends in other bands of course. We all have families and children now so there is not so very much time to go to clubs and gigs.
Speaking of other bands, what are you guys listening to at the moment, any favourites for 2016 or any underground bands that we should be looking into?
I have been listening a lot to Mastodon lately and also City Boy have been spinning on the turntable on a daily basis for a while. I’m not a big fan of modern metal so I don’t have much to recommend in that genre. I can strongly recommend to check out a band called Les Big Byrd, they play some kind of space rock/post-rock music and are a really exciting Swedish band. Oh, and also Tribulation, a fantastic metal act that you should check out.
I hear Luc Lemay (Gorguts) is a wood turner while he is not writing/recording and touring with Gorguts, do ‘In Mourning’ work day jobs outside of writing, recording and touring?
We all have day jobs beside the band. I work in a microbiology laboratory, Björn is a medical secretary, Tobias works with surface treatment in a factory, Daniel works with book-binding and Tim drives a timber truck for work.
What are your touring plans for the remainder of 2016?
We have some festivals this summer and we’re working on some other gigs as well. We’re not able to do so much touring with our family lives and day jobs, but we try to fit in as much gigs as we can handle to pull off and that’s the way it has to be at this point of our lives.