Misery Index – interview
Hi, what`s up? What about your feelings after the Obscene Extreme 2010? Did you enjoy this event?:)
We had a fantastic time, just a very well run festival with an astouding lineup. We saw many old friends and made some new ones, and enjoyed the food and Czech beer. The city where it is located is just the right size, and the area around the fest is full of nature and things to do. We hope to play again sometime.
How was on stage? There was a strong rain and some thunders at night, but for me it was a great atmosphere for your show. It was for sure the best your show I`ve seen.
The rain was a bit of a hassle, but we dealt with it, it was very hot there during the day, so the rain was also somewhat nice to experience at the end of the day. We had fun ripping set, and I am glad you enjoyed it.
You`re after the release a new album „Heirs To Thievery”. What about the reaction of people? Compared to „Traitors” where do you think the biggest difference in the music is nowadays? Did you toy around with the sound and did you get the result you were looking for? Did you feel any kind of pressure with this album?
So far the reaction has been fantastic, we are very happy to get some good words from people all over the world because we put a lot of time and energy into this album. Compared to the previous album “Traitors” I think it represents a natural next step for the band a sort of refining and more precise approach to mixing grind/death metal and punk, which we have been working on for years. We are about 90% happy with it which is all you can ask for, there are always little things you wish you could alter afterwards, but we are content. As far as pressure, we felt only some push to improve ourselves and try and write better songs, which we think we have done.
What’re your personal favorite tracks from the album and why?
I like “the Carrion call” because of the way Mark structured it, just some nice heavy riffs and a blazing fast middle section. Also the lyrics to this one are really special to me as they are the most environmentally conscious and nature-oriented lyrics I have worked on. After that I would say “The Spectator” cause its something new for us, just a straight ahead simple tune that smashes along with very harsh, critical lyrics that are also personal to me, so after that, I like the entire record.
You’ve had your share of difficulties with the line-up. Sparky had to left the band, but I`ve heard you have a new musician for his place, right? Could you tell something about details? Do you feel you’ve gotten a stable line-up by now?
Yeah the new guy in Darrin Morris, he is our friend from back in Maryland and also the guitarist in Mark and Adam’s sideband Criminal Element. He is a great guy, and a great shredder so look forward to his work in the coming dates and on the next album.
Your music is full of hardcore influences. Could say something about what you think it adds to the music? Which hardcore bands are your favourite?
We are into hardcore for sure, mostly the hardcore punk though like Tragedy, His Hero is Gone, From Ashes Rise, Unkind, World Burns to Death, Severed Head of State, as well as some newer bands like Black Breath, Trap Them, and Nails.
Who mostly writes the music and do you write songs all the time or just in periods? Could you describe the typical process of making particular track?
We all contribute to the music, although Mark and Adam are getting most of the credit these days. Its always in the end very much a band function, everyone gets a voice and we all comment and contribute to the shaping of the music. Usually its one guy writing the skeleton form of the song, and then he brings it to Adam, and then the band assists in refining the song.
You`ve a specific, painting pictures of your last albums. Who is an author of them and what could to tell about the concept of them? Do you think the visual aspect of the music shouldn’t be taken lightly?
We wanted covers that presented an unmistakable representation of the lyrics of the title track. We worked closely with artist Orion Landau in developing the concept, and he is very precise in giving our ideas a proper, reified form with the last two albums. He is brilliant!
What do you think about the people who still compare your band with Dying Fetus? Is this irritating you?
Not at all, although at this point, nearly 10 years after, its a bit uncalled for. However, we are both friends and happy to be representing the Maryland death metal scene out here in the global underground.
How big a role do the lyrics play for the band, and music? What do you think, the people pay attention on that? What is your goal in writing political engaged lyrics?
A monsterous role, they are the second only to the music, but very important to the entire concept of Misery Index, we just want to be on stage screaming about something we are very passionate about and means something to us, so we go with real-world lyrics and criticize all the nonsense on this planet that gets us angry. The goal in this is to make the music better, and create something sincere and real at the same time.
Do you read a lyrics of any other bands? Which do you evaluate as the most interesting and why? Have you any lyrics, which changed your life in any part?
I can identify perhaps a few lyricists who are the biggest influence on me. Martin Walkyier of Sabbat (UK) and Skyclad, Jarvis Cocker of Pulp, Todd Burdette of Tragedy/HHIG, and Barney Greenway from Napalm death. An odd lot I know, and there are many more, but these guys are the first that come to mind.
Title of your new album and lyrics wants to show us process and stories about permanent colonial expropriation from perspective of poor, exploited people. Why do you write about this topic and why is it an important thing for you? Would you like to show that America is a state constructed on the base of falsehood and hypocrisy?
I think its an overlooked subject in American history and it is something that many of those in power like to forget, so the history books we give to the schoolkids often omit the ‚bad side’ of our nation’s history, they do not talk about the shameful parts involving exploitation, expulsion, imperialism and genocide, they only talk about the pretty stuff or leave the bad stuff as an afterthought/footnote. So the title track is something of a reminder of sorts. I write about it because its something that gets me angry and that is always good for Misery Index lyrics! I do not think the ENTIRE American history is comprised of falsehood and hypocrisy, I just think the bad sides should also be as well known as the good stuff we always hear about (whatever that might be these days).
Track ‚The Seventh Cavalry’ it’s all about a massacre that happened in the South. Why this theme was inspiration for you and could you explain what concretely was happened there?
Its actually the Wounded Knee Massacre that took place in the North, in North Dakota. Its sort of a microcosmic story within a story of the title theme, about a regiment of the US cavalry that massacred nearly 100 men, women and children of the Lakota Indian tribe and dumped them into mass graves, and afterwards they were awarded medals for what the did by the US Government.
I know that ‘Fed To The Wolves’ is about your personal experience with the school system. Could you tell me something about the indoctrination and manipulations in American school system? Would you agree that school kills the creativity and sensivity?
I understand that the general school system is necessary for the acclamation to society and for socializing and working with others etc. I just found, at least in my experience, a very harshly meritocratic system that more or less was inculcating the values and ethics of the capitalist workplace, over and above the encouragement of free, imaginative thinking. I know at a young age the basics must be covered first, but for those of us who want to choose a different path in life, I think there should be alternatives, and this means for the poor and working class as well, not just the wealthy kids should have options and access. How many potential Einstein’s are languishing in the impoverished cities of the world?
I`ve heard that in America, schools are educating an outstanding individuals especially, treating with neglect less capable people. Am I right? How could you expand on this theme?
Its hard to generalize, but of course the star students get the most attention and the fast track to university, and usually have access to the most resources and a proper learning environment. On the flip side, there are hundreds of thousands of kids who deal with terrible school systems and crumbling communities. This is the uneven nature of development under the hyper-capitalist system in the US.
„The Spectator” tells about the people who gave up their dreams and choose a typical lifestyle. What do you think, what are the main reasons that people don`t want to take a risk, escape from routine and try to live like they dreamed?
The culture in America is very strong and accentuates these materialistic desires from an early age. They are very powerful and potent, as well as attractive, and such a lifestyle is perhaps comfortable for some, but to give up your „real” dreams and desires for a materialistic driven life is a tragedy.
In your lyrics I can find lots of philosophical criticism of capitalism, modernity, politic of big corporations… Could you tell what do you do in your personal life to fight with that? How could we live for not to be in a „corporate claws”?
I try to follow a very harmonious life in terms of what I feel in my spirit, and how I relate to the earth and other humans. I think there is a moderation that works for everything and without resorting to doctrines or rules of oppositional thought, I take each day as a new opportunity to make my own reality. In this regard I live most of my days out as a touring musician and I feel it provides many experiential rewards, even if we just ‚break even’ at the end of the day. In this regard I understand that not everyone can just ‚opt out’ and live outside of the culture, we have families to support and communities to take care of, and we need to chip away at the system that surrounds us, and carve out some semblance of reality that works for us, and its different for everyone, everyone needs to determine whats best for themselves, and the best way to start is to change life in your own backyard first.
„Traitors” was criticizing a Bush-era in America. Could you tell me how do you evaluate an Obama`s politic?
Well, he has a lot of grand ideas, but in Washington DC such thinking gets eaten alive. Reality sets in once a President arrives here and finds a congress that he needs to get anything done is often totally against him. Politics in America is increasingly a charade (as if it was not before) and meaningful change comes very rarely if at all, despite the „hope” that a change with Obama might have initiated.
In the last track from the album: „Day Of The Day” you used the Spanish phrases. What was the goal of that and what does these words means?
Mark wrote the lyrics to that songs along with a friend, its a very personal song for him and I can not really speculate on the goal, although I know he wanted to use the Spanish in a song as it is a world language as well, and its sort of a shout out to our friends south of the border.
Could you tell me what was the reason why did you release „Pulling Out The Nails” compilation? Are you satisfied from response of fans?
Well in recent years we released a lot of material on small labels, splits, 7 inches and eps, and they were for limited runs and are now out of print and hard to find. We decided to collect all the old non-album material in this sense and put it all on one cd to keep it all in print and available for newer fans.
I`ve read you would like to release a split with Italian band Tsubo. It is right? Why with this band? Are you a good friends?
We have been trying, we are backed up with promised splits to several bands, and its getting out of hand, hopefully one day it will happen.
These days every person in the metal/hardcore scene with access to a computer is quick to voice his or her opinions negatively about bands, how do you feel when you see something written negatively about your band?
It does not bother me, you can not please everyone.
How much do you pay attention to what is going on in the underground and grindcore/death metal in general nowadays?
I check some websites and of course we tour with and see lots of new and old bands, so I think I have a good understanding of the underground and always have.
At this point in your career, what would you say is the most important piece of advice that you’ve received?
Before anything else enters the picture, always write and play music that pleases yourself, NOT what you think people want to hear, what labels want to hear, or what you think will make you big. If you are sincere in your art, everything else follows naturally, for better or for worse.
What have been your favourite experiences whilst on tour? How do you keep occupied when your travelling hundreds of miles to the next show?
Seeing sights aside from the show, walking around the city, trying new foods, and seeing the countryside. I do a lot of hiking and birdwatching so that helps out a lot with the waiting around the club, and then when we travel I read.
You`ve seen a lot of interesting places in the world because of touring with your band. Which places, countries impressed you the most and why?
I like Turkey, New Zealand, Finland and Eastern Canada (Newfoundland), they all are special for personal reasons in addition to being interesting and unique places in the world.
When you’re not touring and playing music what do you then do for a living?
I do what I can do to get by and make ends meet.
To vary this thing a bit before we approach the end, d’you have any hobbies, interests, collections etc outside your bands that you can tell us about?
Birdwatching, hiking, camping and writing.
What next do you have planned for the band?
Touring for the next few years, then writing the magnum opus.
Thanx a lot for your time! I`m proud you will be a part on my zine! I hope we will meet soon on your show! Anything you’d like to add to conclude this interview?
Thanks for the interview!