We have always been astonished by the release rhythm kept byMories within all his projects. Little did we know the last few years were «kind of slow», according to the man behind Gnaw Their Tongues and so many other sources of awesomeness within today’s extreme music. While the project just released “Abyss Of Longing Throats” this year, perhaps the biggest talking point amongst fans is that they are finally playing live, something that seemed completely impossible a mere few years ago.
In a few days, it will be precisely Gnaw Their Tongues to bring to an end the 2015 edition of Amplifest with what we can dare predict it will be the most extreme show in the festival’s history. Between anticipating the occasion, discussing the new record and briefly talking about the myriad of other projects the Dutch-based musician is currently involved, points of interest are a’plenty in this conversation where if we already knew how good of a musician he is, we now appreciate just how refreshingly humble he is.
The first time I saw you live you were doing a show with Aderlating and at the end of the night I went to ask you if you’d ever play live with Gnaw Their Tongues. From your answer, you sounded very convinced that it would never happen. Yet, here we are. What changed your mind, was it playing the collaboration with Alkerdeel live with them?
[laughs] I know. Yeah, those shows with Alkerdeel, playing them I realised that I will never have opportunities like I get with Gnaw Their Tongues. No one is going to ask Aderlating to the US, you know? I decided to do it and see what happens.
Last April you then played your first Gnaw Their Tongues show at Roadburn. Were you nervous beforehand?
Yes, sure. [laughs] I’m always a little bit nervous, but with Gnaw Their Tongues I was extra nervous because the expectation of people is much higher than with Aderlating or Seirom.
Were you happy with how that first show?
No, not really. The band change was too quick, we had to do everything really quick and there was no sound check. You were there, right? Could you hear the vocals?
A bit drowned by the instruments, but yes.
[laughs] Yeah, I think the atmosphere was okay but the sound was really poor. I should have sound checked but there was no time. I always say « stuff happens, you win some, you lose some».
So did you have a better experience with the shows in the US?
No, the first show in the US was really bad, also because of sound problems – I couldn’t hear myself. Then we did a show in New York, the sound was good there, and after that we played in Italy in July and that was the best show [laughs] Maybe tonight it’s going to be better.
Having quite a big discography to choose from, how did you select the songs to be part of that first setlist?
I just picked songs I thought I could do live with a minimal setup. I had in mind what I was going to do and then I picked the songs to go with that setup. We played a new track from the new record and an outro that is also new, specially made for the shows.
In terms of live formation, do you intend to stick with you and Eric [Aderlating]?
I don’t know. Tonight Eric‘s not here, so my girlfriend is helping me. [laughs] I’m kind of looking for a drummer but I cannot find one in my neighborhood. I want someone I can connect with personally, because you spend a lot of time together, and musically. A lot of people in my area don’t like my music or they can’t drum the stuff I want, it’s a big problem. But for now it’s okay.
Since your first shows, you released “Abyss Of Longing Throats”. Will that affect the live setlist?
No, because I’ve made one setlist. [laughs] It’s very difficult. Actually I made the setlist shorter. I don’t like long sets, with Aderlating we play 30 minutes, with Gnaw Their Tongues we play 45.
Any particular reason why you prefer shorter sets?
Personally I don’t like long sets. Even with my favourite bands I get bored after 30 minutes. I get bored with my own stuff, I don’t want to play it for two hours.
How did you manage to listen to your own compilation then, that thing was two hours long!
Speaking of “Abyss Of Longing Throats”, its predecessor was made of older material so perhaps it’s not too surprising to see you return to some more diverse writing and expansive sounds such as the ones in “L’arrivée De La Terne Mort Triomphante”.
“Eschatological Scatology” is just left over songs. On the regular albums, I always seem to scratch the fast songs and all those are on “Eschatological Scatology”.
However it does seem to have some sort of aesthetical coherence, did you have to tweak them in order to make them fit together?
No, no, no, I mastered just for the level, maybe I remixed one or two songs but nothing more. “L’arrivée De La Terne Mort Triomphante” was a special, concept EP, all big choirs, slow and grand feelings. I think the new one has more in common with “For All Slaves… A Song Of False Hope”, because it has sounds all over the place, a noise song, a normal black metal song.
Was there something particular you wanted to achieve with the new record?
No. Around 2011 I had some kind of writer’s block and so I just had a pause from Gnaw Their Tongues and I did some Seirom stuff.
And Cloak Of Altering and…
[laughs] Everything! Except Gnaw Their Tongues. Then in 2012/2013 I slowly began composing – no idea, no concept, just writing. That’s how it came, I had no concept before, just went with the flow and then this came out. I have a couple of left over songs that I don’t know yet what I’m going to do with them, maybe some compilation.
It does however seem to be one of your best-produced records, with all the details present in the music coming to the forefront much more defined than in the past.
I spent a lot of time on details. Before they were also there, but then they got obscured by bad production decisions. [laughs] Or stubborn things like «Fuck, I’m gonna put reverb here, it may obscure the sounds but I like it». This time I went for clear notes, the best production I can get and what I think sounds the best. That’s why you can hear a lot more details but the older stuff had the same amount of details I think.
It also seems to me that the black metal elements are rather sparse on this record.
Well, the title song is pure black metal, just with bass and no guitar, and the last song is also black metal. I don’t know, it’s always an element. It’s also not a conscious decision, they are just songs I wrote and those I think are the best I put them on the album.
One of the things that Gnaw Their Tongues has been known for is the use of samples in songs. What is it about them that makes you use them so often?
I think samples can give a lift to music, add instant atmosphere to a boring riff, you just add a priest rambling and get instant atmosphere. [laughs] I used them a lot but now I’ve done it so it’s not as interesting anymore. I think I always liked samples in other people’s music, so I tried myself and it worked really good.
When choosing them, what was the kind of stuff that you looked for?
Always nasty and horrible. [laughs] When I first started Gnaw Their Tongues I was a completely different person than I am now. At the time I really had the need to do really horrible stuff. I don’t know, I’m not gonna over analyse myself, but at the time I would fine a tape describing an autopsy and think it was the best thing ever, just to shock people and get attention.
Not like what you do now is all soft and happy or anything.
No, I don’t know. I get bored easily and now I try to do something different. No more people cutting off penises. [laughs] Now it’s just someone with a rat in their mouth, a little bit more subtle. That works as well, you don’t have to be in people’s faces all the time.
Regarding the lyrical themes, can you describe us how you approach their writing?
Most of the stuff is just improvised on the spot. Not only the music but the lyrics as well. I have ideas, I think about them for a long time and then it’s just phrases coming out on the spot. It’s not really important because no one will understand it.
So when we see you live will those lines be the same as those on the album?
No. [laughs] Sometimes, sometimes not. With Aderlating, I love how it’s all improvising. We have nothing, just «we are going to do this jam for 10 minutes». Improv is what I like the most. I cannot see me doing the same shit every night, it’s just not me. I should have been a jazz musician and just improvise all the fucking evening.
That makes sense, as both sets I’ve seen from Aderlating were completely different amongst themselves and from the records as well.
Sometimes it’s really bad, sometimes I’m really into it. The worst thing that can happen is if me myself is not into it, you know. If there’s some drone and I’m thinking «oh my god this takes forever», then it’s going to be a bad night. It’s how things go.
Is the live improvised nature more controlled with Gnaw Their Tongues?
It’s more controlled with my bass playing, but what she or Eric do, they have guidelines like «shit here», «shit there». [laughs] This is how I like it. I could never be in a band and do everything the same. I’ve done it before but still I’d get accused for just fooling around. [laughs] I just tried something different every time.
Moving back to “Dyodyo Asema”, the short collaboration you did with Alkerdeel last year. Can you tell us a bit about how that came to be?
We had been in contact since 2009, we kept contact via myspace, traded demos, t-shirts. Then there was the anniversary ofConSouling Sounds, where we both were and they asked me if I wanted to do a collaboration with Alkerdeel for the anniversary.
And how did you guys go about the writing of the song?
I think they had a sketch, I wrote an intro, then we just bounced ideas back and forth and they recorded their part, sent it to me, I added my stuff around it and mixed it.
Was it similar with the writing for the upcoming collaboration with Dragged Into Sunlight?
That one is different. They recorded like half an hour of riffs riffs riffs, then I cut them up, re-arranged them and sent them back. Then they re did the drums and send it back to me. A lot of files swapping, I would add some elements, they would add vocals. We just swapped stuff between us until we were happy and then they mixed it. I’m not sure, but I think they mixed it themselves and thenJustin Broadrick mastered it. It’s really heavy. [laughs]
So you’re happy with it?
Yeah. It’s really grim and heavy. [laughs] I think people are gonna like it.
Will it ever go live?
Maybe, I hope so.
Could you see yourself doing other collaborations down the line?
If the right people ask me.
So it was never the case of you going to ask someone to do one?
No, never, they always ask me. I like collaborations but it still doesn’t feel like 100% me. All my music is just me, maybe a little bit of Eric sometimes but mostly it’s just me. Maybe I have to get used to doing collaborations, I don’t know. But I don’t seek them. If the guy from Godflesh asks me, of course. [laughs] If the Sunn O)))guys ask me, «eh, let’s do it». I’m gonna meet him [Stephen O’Malley] at Amplifest, going to do a talk with him and Kurt Ballou. José [Carlos Santos, the moderator] asked me and I was like «hum, I don’t know». I feel like I’m out of my place there, with this fucking big legendary guys while I’m just me, you know? And both are very vocal and good with words. I saw this two hours special of Stephen O’Malley, some kind of music college where they ask people to give lectures, it’s on youtube somewhere. He can talk.
Speaking of Amplifest, what are you looking forward to seeing there?
I actually haven’t looked at the lineup that much. I wanna see whatStephen O’Malley does of course. [At this point his girlfriend whispers «Altar Of Plagues»] Altar Of Plagues is something I want to see! She knows it better than me. Converge as well, butAltar Of Plagues is the one I want to see the most, because I really liked that last record. The one before was just standard atmospheric black metal, while this one is much more industrial and weird. Ah, Full Of Hell, we saw them in Maryland, that was good. There’s also a mystery act, so I want to know what that is about.
It’s actually the first year that it’s going to be an international band filling that spot.
International? Hmm. [laughs] You know, in Holland you get really spoiled by all the acts and festivals and so.
You kind of only need Roadburn for that.
Yeah, I think Amplifest is like the Portuguese equivalent toRoadburn.
Switching gears again. You have been mostly known for writing really harsh music and while that trend continues the last few years saw you starting Seirom and It Only Gets Worse, both manifestly less noisy than your usual stuff. How did this sudden shift happen?
Seirom was just purely because I was bored and had that writer’s block. I just thought about doing something completely different, just for doing that. Then It Only Gets Worse just happened becauseMatt [Finney] asked me to do something together.
I read recently that the way you guys do it is that Matt sends you his poems and then you write the music with the texts in mind. Given how you usually work alone, how is it to have to write having someone else’s words in mind?
I don’t know, easy? [laughs] It just came really naturally, I like what he does, just a couple of words and it’s so grim and dirty. It connects very well with me so it’s easy to do something, you know? If it was a struggle I don’t think I would do it. I’ve also done a lot of electronic music in the 90’s before Gnaw Their Tongues so it’s really nice to just be doing it again.
So it’s a sort of a return to those sounds for you.
If you spend five years doing drum n bass then you get the techniques of producing it and I can use those in It Only Gets Worse, like compressors and drum machines. I incorporate those things in Gnaw Their Tongues as well.
Are there other projects you have where these skills come in handy?
Yeah, with Cloak Of Altering a lot. I just tend to blend everything.
Besides Cloak Of Altering, with which you recently released “Plague Beasts”, you also had De Magia Veterum. What’s the status there?
It’s gone, it’s dead. Have you heard the last one, “The Deification”?
It just can’t go any further without becoming pure chaos. It’s almost improvised and that is as far as I can take this.
But Cloak Of Altering is still active, right?
Yeah, there’s a new album coming out. It’s just my sci-fi fantasies [laughs] I’m a fan and this is how I indulge in my kind of sci-fi. At least that’s how I see it.
Wasn’t Cloak Of Altering the band you stated as pushing along the lines drawn by bands like Emperor and Dodheimsgard?
Yeah, I’m a really big Dodheimsgard fan. I have an idea like «I’m gonna do experimental avant-garde black metal» and then it just turns out completely different. In the late 90’s I did Ophiuchus andCloak Of Altering was the continuation of that project, in my head at least, but it came out completely different.
And it still changed quite a bit from “The Night Comes Illuminated With Death” until now.
Yeah, the first record was almost symphonic melodic black metal and the second one is very electronic. The new one is a lot better produce and I think the electronic elements are more balanced with the black metal elements. It’s coming out, I don’t know exactly when, this year.
You always release a lot of stuff every year.
Well, this year has been busy, but 2012, 2013 and 2014 were very slow for me, a couple of Seirom stuff, a Gnaw Their Tongues EP.
I also wanted to talk to you about your recent raw black metal project, Pyriphlegethon.
Ah, that was quick. I had an idea, went to the studio and recorded some drums. I spent a week-long listening to old Rotting Christdemos and old Samael and thought «oh fuck, it’s my youth». I just recorded some tracks and put it out. Maybe it’s a one-off thing, maybe not. It’s just me living out my metal fantasies. Now Iron Bonehead wants to release the full length [“Night Of Consecration”]. It’s personal for me, old school. I like it. When I recorded I just had these two crappy microphones when I went into the studio, recorded the drums first and composed later. No plan, everything on the spot, just that old feeling of late 80’s and early 90’s. Then the Iron Bonehead guy said he didn’t hear those sounds, but I hear it.
That was something I was meaning to ask you. When the first demo was released on Bandcamp you described it as «pure pre 1990 black metal worship». What pre 1990 black metal did you have in mind?
All non-standard black metal in those days, well everything was non-standard because there wasn’t really black metal in the late 80’s but stuff like Master’s Hammer, Samael, Rotting Christ,Necromancer. Actually the Norwegian stuff came later, you know? I was also a big fan of that stuff, but what I grew up with was Samael, you know that early Samael stuff, very primitive almost likeHellhammer, nothing like they do now. That was the stuff I grew up with, besides Iron Maiden and Slayer. [laughs]
So, is it something you’ll see yourself playing live at some point?
If I can find the right guys, but it’s not a desire. If I get bored withGnaw Their Tongues or something, never say never. Maybe when I’m really old and want to hang around with old guys and play old metal. [laughs] That could be a possibility.
What about something like Cloak Of Altering?
I don’t know, never say never but there is no desire. It’s just fine the way it is. I live out my sci-fi fantasies, release it and if people want to hear it that’s cool.
To bring this conversation to an end, can you tell us a bit about your short term plans for new releases?
There’s the Cloak Of Altering coming up, there’s the It Only Gets Worse full length coming up, the collaboration with Dragged Into Sunlight. I have some plans for Seirom but for 2016. There’s also the box release of “Eschatological Scatalogy” coming throughInfinite Fog Productions. They’re from Russia and mostly do dark ambient things. In the box, there’s going to be the cd and a cassette with other songs. It’s gonna be interesting.