“It’s only going to get weirder”
– Matthias Vogels
Vocalist/guitarist Matthias Vogels (pictured, far left) of local experimental black metal quartet Murmur, takes it as a compliment when people call his band weird. And Vogels proclaims they will only get weirder on their next release.
Originally formed in 2006 in Wisconsin, Murmur’s debut album, Mainlining the Lugubrious was ultimately released in 2010 after a two-year delay due to record label issues. During the downtime, the band went through several lineup changes and a change of scenery. After moving to Chicago, Vogels ended up living on Nachtmystium vocalist Blake Judd‘s couch. This friendship opened the door for the two bands to do a two-song split in 2011. After another hiatus, Murmur has re-emerged to bring its finest and most eccentric representation of the band to date with its self-titled sophomore album (released last month on Season of Mist).
Mosh: How does the new album differ from your debut?
Matthias Vogels: The new one really reflects everything I wanted to do as a musician. The first album, I didn’t have much of a challenge to work with. At the time, I was really into the depressive black metal stuff. I’ve always been into prog rock and avant-garde stuff, but at the time I just really wanted to make an ugly black metal album. After that, I really wanted to push it and go as far as I possibly could and play what I really enjoy, which is ’70s prog rock, jazz fusion and some Zeuhl (a progressive rock sub-genre) stuff from the seventies from France. I just wanted to go as weird as possible and do whatever I wanted to do. I didn’t care what people were going to think. I just wanted to put every style that I like into my music.
Mosh: You did a two-song split with Nachtmystium in 2011. How did this come about?
MV: When I first moved to Chicago, I lived with (Nachtmystium vocalist) Blake Judd and moved into his place as a roommate. I met him a year before that through the music scene and got to be pretty close. I needed a place to stay and I stayed at his place for about 10 months. One day he asked if I wanted to do a split EP and of course I said yes. I played the synthesizer live with them once and I played bass for them a few times live when they needed someone to play. I was already familiar with the band and I was already close to them. They were looking for someone to do a split with and there I was in the next room! So it worked out perfectly and it was better for us as far as exposure.
Mosh: You also create the band’s artwork?
MV: I did the first cover as well as the new one. The three-headed bull illustration on the cover sort of ties in with some of the themes that we got going on with this new one. We also had a t-shirt design from last year but I’m going to try and get a T-shirt design for this new album. It might not be the artwork of the cover itself, but maybe a new design of my own.
Mosh: The use of a Fender Rhodes organ adds to the band’s prog vibe, as on the Pink Floyd-ish instrumental “Recuerdos.”
MV: We had awesome access to cool instruments in the studio. That’s how the Rhodes got in there. I was totally going for the ’70s prog/fusion thing. I don’t know if Pink Floyd was exactly on my mind, but I think it just turned out that way. I’ve always been into bands like Return To Forever and Tony Williams; fusion stuff from the ’70s. That was really going through my mind at the time, so I had to throw a fusion song on the album for the hell of it.
Mosh: The hairy, heavy-laden bonus cover track of King Crimson’s “Larks’ Tongues in Aspic Part II” fits your style well. What made you want to cover this song?
MV: It was actually a toss-up between that and a Billy Cobham (Miles Davis, John McLaughlin composer/drummer) song that we had worked up. We didn’t quite get to where we wanted to on the Cobham song, but we really nailed it on the King Crimson song. We rehearsed it a few times and decided we had to do it because it’s one of my favorite Crimson songs. Some other bands have already done “Red,” and “One More Red Nightmare.” I don’t think I’ve heard any other bands cover “Larks’ Tongue” and I wanted to make sure it was something that people haven’t heard covered before and also something that any Crimson fan would know right away when they heard it.
Mosh: The Byzantine Monk-like chanting on tracks “Zeta II Reticuli” parts 1 and 2 are a nice touch. What were you going for on these songs?
MV: Alex (Perkolup, bass) and I did most of the vocals for that song. It has some heavy influences from bands like Magma, Dün, and a band called Eskaton. If you ever hear those albums from those bands, you’ll hear exactly where we got our influences from. That’s what we were going for before we even started. We said, ‘this is going to be our Zeuhl song, and this is going to be our Magma-esque song.’
Mosh: What type of atmosphere were you trying to create on some of the longer, more expansive songs, such as on the 11 and a half minute “Al-Malik”?
MV: It’s interesting how we put it all together. A lot of those songs were at first, two or three, or even four different songs. It took us about two years to put all these songs together. We had a lot of songs and they ended up being lumped together into one giant song. What we were going for atmosphere wise was to have that ’70s prog rock sound. But I also wanted it to be dirty and dark.
Mosh: What’s next for the band?
MV: With this album, I would like for it to reach as big of an audience as possible. I’ve never really done anything this big before where more than five or ten of my friends are going to hear it! (laughs). It’d be cool to get something I made out there in the world. Going forward, we’re just going to get weirder and weirder.
MOSH-WORTHY: Disfiguring the Goddess Deprive (Independent), Shrapnel The Virus Conspires (Candlelight Records), Violate Burn The Memory (Geenger Records), Napalm Strike Aiming Down the Sights (Masters of Metal Productions).
MOSH-WORTHY… LIVE: Malevolent Creation (Cobra Lounge, 02/01), Amon Amarth/Enslaved/Skeletonwitch (House of Blues, 02/07), Manowar (Concord Music Hall, 02/08), Metal Church (Reggie’s, 02/26).
MENTION-WORTHY: Suicide Silences‘ deceased vocalist Mitch Lucker is being honored on a CD/DVD called Ending Is The Beginning: The Mitch Lucker Memorial Show (released Feb. 18 on Century Media). Some big-name metal guest vocalists were joined by Lucker’s band mates to create a blistering set of Suicide Silence renditions that was captured on audio and video. For metal-hungry fans who thrive on seeking out new heavy music, check out darkport.org. The site offers downloads from a plethora of bands from all over the world with direct links to each band’s personal webpage, Facebook, or (yes) MySpace page.
– Kelley Simms