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Mortification - A journey through time (Steve Rowe) - Online Jan 2007


Hi Steve. It’s truly a great honor for me to do this interview with you. When I bought “Scrolls Of The Megilloth” 14 years ago, I didn’t even dream about having a little chat with Steve Rowe himself. Pity that it’s just via email.

Hi. It is good to talk with you also. Thank you for the interview.

 

I’m a huge fan of the early days of MORTIFICATON. Starting with “Post Momentary Affliction” I wasn’t really up-to-date with what’s going on with the band, cause I didn’t agree with the style changes you, unfortuneately, made. So, before we talk about the new record “Erasing The Goblin”, let’s talk about the past first.

Nonetheless, I’m glad you made it through cancer. I don’t know much about it, though. On the “Conquer The World”-DVD one can see you walk with a cane and you can’t move like you used to. That’s why you use a very light bass, so you can stand on stage. Are you really well now? Tell me about your health.

Following Leukaemia I had a bone marrow transplant and then got cancer in the spine. This is what caused the partial Paraplegia. I am an L4 Paraplegic. It is a great miracle that I can walk and still play. My eyesight is also badly affected but it is great to be still making music after being given 2 hours to live twice.

 

Your VHS-tape “Grind Planets” is legendary. I really like it. The clips are very good and the scenes in-between are mostly ok. You notice it’s all fake, though. But I’m still very disappointed in the “Making Of”. You don’t learn much about “Scrolls Of The Megilloth”! Why didn’t you use this opportunity and make a bigger thing out of it? You could’ve deleted the “Grind Planets On Tour”-clips then – but not the tourbus, this one is hilarious!

All the footage that we got recording “Scrolls...” was used on that video which is now on DVD. My brother in law just came to the studio one day and did some short video. We never really thought about documenting any of the recording sessions. But we have little bits from some of the albums. The re-issue of “Live Planetarium ‘93” on DVD has some bonus footage with us recording “Post Momentary Affliction”.

 

Of course, I was really happy to read about the re-release on DVD last year. Where did you hide this awesome shoot of the Melbourne show all these years? You should’ve released it a long time ago. Even though the sound and video is just on a bootleg level, these are the original and true MORTIFICATION. The “Conquer The World”-DVD can’t keep up with that.

I have quite a few concerts just on video cam. Sometimes we like just to see how we played. This show was special because it was at The Arthouse here in Melbourne. Kind of The Melbourne Australia version of CBGB's.

 

Have you thought about playing the complete “Scrolls Of The Megilloth”-album on the next tour? SLAYER (“Reign In Blood”) and METALLICA (“Master Of Puppets”) did it and it would be a very good reason to go to the concert – not just for me.

We have 13 very good albums all for different reasons. I like to play the set from all the albums. Maybe we could do it if we still had the same lineup. But “Scrolls...” was 6 line-ups back. Kind of like could SODOM ever do the entire “Agent Orange” album after so many line-up changes? I don't think they could.

 

I also have to say, it’s a pity I haven’t heard about the “Mortification”-album earlier. I always thought “Break The Curse” was the debut and I wondered on which record “Until The End”, “The Destroyer Beholds” and “Satan’s Doom” were released. Finally, six months ago I found the album in the version with the original-cover and immediately bought it. Now, I no longer have to play the VHS or DVD to hear awesome songs like “Satan’s Doom” and “Until The End”.

How come, a drummer like Jayson Sherlock is able to write an ingenious piece like “Ancient Prophesy”? I still don’t get it! Is there a guitar-player hidden in this guy?

Jayson Sherlock wrote some of the early songs on bass guitar. He also played a couple of guitar solos on “Scrolls...”. He is a very talented musician.

 

Before I forget: Is it really your real voice on “Scrolls Of The Megilloth”? I mean, “grind baritone of extreme reality” and stuff, cause you never sounded like that again. Till now, when you sing “Razorback” you sound a lot like you used to in the early days. And I like it!

Yes, it is always really me doing vocals on every album. Jayson and Michael did a few backup vocals on the self-titled album and “Scrolls...”.

 

All right, now we hit the theme! Who or what is the Goblin?

The Goblin represents sin in everybody’ life.

 

The lyrics of the new record, about what did you write? Tell me to each song.

”Razorback” is about bands who have no thought about the young audience taking their lyrics seriously. Also how we have a thick skin to people hating us because we sing about Christianity. After all every band has a message. What about some more positive stuff?

 

”Erasing...” is about killing sin in your life that could destroy you.

 

”The Dead Shall Be Judged” is about how we all one day stand before god and give account for our life.

 

”Escape The Blasphemous Tabernacle” is about coming out of evil and into the light.

 

”Your Time” asks people to listen and they will hear god asking them to find the truth before they die.

 

”Forged In Stone” tells about the foundations of faith in our lives.

 

”Way Truth Life” is about the truth of New Testament Christianity.

 

”Humanitarian” is my favorite song. My family and I support a child in a poor country through Compassion International. For just $20 Euro per month we can feed, cloth and send our sponsor child to school. He also gets to play soccer and sing in a choir. If everyone in the Western World sponsored a child through Compassion or World Vision or The Red Cross we would change the world. But most people in the Western World are too greedy to help the very poor countries.

 

”Short Circuit” is about a friend of Damien’ who kept trying to commit suicide but failed every time. Suicide is a sad way to treat the gift of life when many of us have to fight to stay alive.

 

”Servants Of The Supreme Message” speaks for itself in the title itself.

 

And again, MORTIFICATION has got a new line-up. How come you change musicians so often? The most constanly line-ups (Michael Carlisle, Jayson Sherlock, 1991-1993 / Lincoln Bowen, Keith Bannister, 1996-2000 – whereat Michael and Lincoln stayed a year longer in each case) broke up years ago.

People have moved on for various reasons. Work commitments, family priorities, not really understanding the direction of the band. We are all friends. A big extended happy MORTIFICATION family. I just keep going with new people who have come along. I like the chance to reinvent the band. It’s a new challenge and no 2 albums sound the same which I think is very interesting listening. Fans know to expect something new and fresh.

 

Like I said, I wasn’t interested in MORTIFICATION musically since 1993, starting with “Post Momentary Affliction”. Sure, I pre-listened into this one, “lood World“, “rimative Rhythm Machine“, “EnVision EvAngelene“ and “Triumph Of Mercy“ but it wasn’t what I was looking for. “Hammer Of God” contains some good songs after all (“Metal Crusade“, “Martyrs“, “Hammer Of God“) and it was also acceptable for the bonus tracks “God Rulz” (I like the original title “The Majestic Infiltration Of Order” better!) and the “Medley” (feat. “Lymphosarcoma“ und “The Destroyer Beholds“). However, “The Silver Cord Is Severed“ was a complete disappointment! Only the opener “Metal Blessing” is admissible, but I didn’t like your singing that much. Earlier, you sung much better!

On “The Silver Cord Is Severed” I had a drummer who was 20 years younger than me. I was 36 and Adam just 16. With Lincoln really into Hardcore at the time it gave me a chance to create an album for a younger audience. I think “Silver Cord...” is in my top 5 with “Post Momentary...”, “Erasing...”, “EnVision...” and “Scrolls...”. We toured the world on this album and it had the most number of domestic releases for any album. Australia, South Africa, Germany, USA, Mexico and Brazil. That is a lot of different countries with big releases. Adam did not really understand the older style of “Relentless” and left following Lincoln's departure. I think we all need to have an open mind to an artist’s musical adventures. Except CELTIC FROSTs “Cold Lake” of course. That was one big disaster.

 

“Relentless” and “Brain Cleaner” were released behind my back and I’ve never heard of “Erasing The Goblin” as well. Not until I visited your inofficial website (www.mortification.de) anyway, which, sorry Steve, is way better than the official one!

My Rowe Productions site is simply an info site really. soundmass.com runs all my stuff these days as my eyesight is very bad. Mortification.de are great fans and supporters of the band.

 

Anyway, there I read about the new album and I didn’t want to hear it at all, never, cause I already gave up on MORTIFICATION. But then, your new record label sends the promo to us at “The Metal Observer” and my chief editor gave it to me. First, I was not in the mood to do this review, but when I played it for the first time and “Razorback” came out of the speakers it blew me away. I never thought of listening to such an awesome song on a new MORTIFICATION album again. Couldn’t you do it without Mick Jelinic? Or was it your intention returning to the musically roots of the band as well? Or was it still Mick’s idea? After all he’s a band member for 4 years now.

No, I wanted to go back beyond our roots and do an 80's style Extreme Metal album. Mick and Damien are the right people to do this with. I had a Power Metal band in the 80's called LIGHTFORCE. I was just the bassist. LIGHTFORCE had a lot of Thrash elements. I wanted to do that plus the Death Metal vocals. Damien's song “Short Circuit” reminded me of LIGHTFORCE and I really wanted to do a song with old-school Punk vocals. This was the perfect song.

 

By the way, why did you have two guitar-players on board with “Relentless”? Unthinkable, MORTIFICATION a quartet!?

Reinvention is a great thing. But I love the power trio idea.

 

I like the mixture of fast Death- and more calmer Doom Metal, whereupon I do like the fast ones better. Was the mixture intention or coincidence?

I like mixing the fast and slow. As I said I think “Humanitarian” is a ripper. Sounds even heavier played slower than the album.

 

Who’s actually singing “Short Circuit”? Is it you? If yes, respect! I would’ve never expected that. If no, who’s singing?

Yes, “Short Circuit” is sung by myself. I did all the vocals on “Erasing...”.

 

In my opinion, “Way Truth Life” is an extended version of “Turn”. Can we expect more of those in the future?

Don't think we will be doing much Grind stuff. Too noisy. I like melody and power over chromatic noise.

 

But I enjoy the riff-based stuff like “Razorback” and “Escape The Blasphemous Tabernacle” much more. “Forged In Stone” is a kick-ass song as well. But “Terminate Damnation” is still my all-time-favorite.

What happened to your hairstyle? Sick and tired of long hair or a consequence of your illness? Do you let your hair grow again? You look better with it...

The illness effected the quality of my hair after it all fell out, but I am growing it somewhat to see if it looks ok. If not I will cut it again. See how it goes.

 

I find if very cool that your drummers name is Damien. I mean, DEICIDEs Glen Benton would never play with a guy named Christian and you have Satan’s son in the band!

I have known a lot of Christian people named Damien. Can't help what your parents call you.

 

What about the future of MORTIFICATION and the tour-schedule for 2006/2007?

Look to be touring in Central, Latin & South America in November.

 

Finally two obligatory questions:

What do you think of “The Metal Observer”?

Never seen “The Metal Observer” but thank you for the interview.

 

Do you want to say anything else to your fans and our readers?

Keep an open mind and don't be blinded by lies.

 

Ok, Steve, thank you very much for your time and your answers. I’m really glad I could do this interview with you and maybe we’ll see each other on the next tour.

Cheers.

Discography: 


1990: Break The Curse (CD, Nuclear Blast)
1991: Mortification (CD, Intense)
1992: Scrolls Of The Megilloth (Single, Nuclear Blast)
1992: Scrolls Of The Megilloth (CD, Nuclear Blast)
1993: Nuclear Blast Sample 4 way Split (Split, Nuclear Blast)
1993: Live Planetarium (Live CD, Intense)
1993: Post Momentary Affliction (CD, Nuclear Blast)
1994: Mortification/Tourniquet-Collector's Edition CD Single (Split, Intense)
1994: Blood World (CD, Intense)
1995: Primitive Rhythm Machine (CD, Intense)
1996: The Best of Five Years (CD, Intense)
1996: Hard & Heavy From Down Under (Split, Rowe)
1996: Noah Sat Down And Listened To The Mortification Live EP While Having A Coffee (EP, Rowe)
1996: Live Without Fear (Live CD, Rowe)
1996: EnVision EvAngeline (CD, Nuclear Blast)
1998: Triumph Of Mercy (CD, Metal Blade)
1999: 10 Years Live Not Dead (Live CD, Metal Blade)
1999: Hammer Of God (CD, Metal Blade)
2001: The Silver Cord Is Severed (CD, Nuclear Blast)
2002: Power, Pain & Passion - Ten Years 1990 - 2000 (CD, Rowe)
2002: Relentless (CD, Rowe)
2004: Brain Cleaner (CD, Rowe)
2005: Grind Planets (DVD, Soundmass)
2006: Live Planetarium (DVD, Rowe)
2006: Erasing The Goblin (CD, Rowe)

Chris Kraemer



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