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02/04/2009 – Interview with MASS EXTINCTION

I interviewed CELTIC LEGACY in January and at the same time questions were sent to MASS EXTINCTION, the Irish Thrashers. As fast as Dave Morissey (CELTIC LEGACY) was with sending back the answers, that slow (so to speak) Sam Lambert (drummer of MASS EXTINCTION) was in sending back the answers. But as we all can have busy moments, I'm still grateful for being able to having processed the interview. MASS EXTINCTION (official website) has been around since 2003 and especially their last release, the "Creations Undoing" EP, was something worth listening to and of course having in your collection. You can read my review at this location.

The band recently supported LAMB OF GOD, plan to tour the European mainland with COLDWAR in November and are currently working on their debut full-length. But while awaiting more Thrash, you can find out more about the band, the EP and some other things below. Enjoy and do check these guys out, for they deserve it.

Celtic Legacy logo

How was the band formed? Did you have a certain philosophy in mind?

The band was formed roughly 6 years ago under the name DECAY and then changed to MASS EXTINCTION shortly after that following some lineup changes. As for the philosophy of the band? We generally tend to sway towards the older styles of metal, the late 80s and early 90s. Of course, we don't intend on blindly imitating the sound of that time, but for us that period was when metal was at it's strongest and the quality of songwriting was at it's highest. Essentially, the energy of that era is something we'd like to capture with our music.

Regarding the creative process, is everyone involved or does it always start with the same person(s)?

It depends. As with most bands, the song writing process begins with the guitars, whether it be full songs that Adam and Brian have worked out in their own time, or single riffs that we've ended up jamming out in rehearsal. Once we're happy with the way the drums and bass are sitting we'll tweak things here and there and experiment with different vocal meters. The amount of time we spend composing and arranging a track varies, sometimes we might get a song almost finished in a single session, or it might take us months. Generally, we won't know until after a few months of playing the material whether we are totally happy with it or not.

Let's focus on the newest release, "Creations Undoing", which was a lot to my liking (as you've read in the review ;-)). When did you start working on the EP? And when was everything finished?

We worked on roughly 7-8 songs in the year following "DBAT", and then narrowed it down to 3 which we felt sat well together. We recorded it in the summer of 2007, and then released it in the last quarter of that year. Our launch gig went down really well, and we sold a lot of copies. Since then we've been working on new material and occasionally revisiting the older songs and reworking them if we feel the need.

Creations Undoing coverWhat's the idea behind the cover art? Ancient Greece is indeed no more, despite lots of its monuments having survived throughout the ages. The lyrics deal with - if I interpreted them correctly - with World War II (battle at the beaches) and religion. So, in that respect I can understand the cover, as it has the Parthenon on it (or am I confusing it with another temple?). But anyhow, what's the relation between the elements on the cover and the lyrics?

I suppose, in general, the main thread running through the lyrics is the idea of how catastrophes affect mankind, and our ability to deal with them. With respect to the cover art, we chose the eruption of Vesuvius as we felt it was a fitting example of the subjects we deal with lyrically, and would make for a pretty powerful image.

Speaking of the lyrics, what inspired you?

We draw our lyrical influences from many different places and topics. We generally try not to take the obvious approach that is associated with Thrash bands. Although we have touched on certain subjects that may be viewed as cliché, we like to look at things from a different angle and try not to be too "obvious". A lot of our lyrics have a re-occuring theme based around Man's reaction to situations beyond His control. There is a certain "timeless" quality to these issues, which we feel adds an extra element to what we do and keeps things interesting for us. In short, I wouldn't go expecting us to write a song about "thrashing 'til death" or the like. We'll leave that to other bands.

The EP also contains a VIO-LENCE cover. Is there a reason for choosing specifically that song? And did you have to ask permission to put it on the EP?

The VIO-LENCE cover came about when Ian of Underground Movement asked us if we would contribute a song for the "Thrash and Burn" compilation, which we were more than happy to. We chose "Kill On Command" because it has that vintage, break neck sound that really inspires us...and, no, we didn't ask permission - hope we don't get in trouble for that!

The reviews were all - or most of them - positive to very positive. That of course puts a smile on your face. How much value do you attach to reviews? Are they just a nice read or do you take certain criticism into account?

Well, we've certainly been more than happy with the response to the EP so far. Constructive criticism is always valued, as it can be quite hard to listen to your own music objectively, given the amount of time that you have spent analysing it and rearranging it.

Mass Extinction bandHow are the gigs going? Do you have to beg for gigs or is your schedule easily filled?

Thankfully, we do get regular requests to play on bills around Ireland, and we've had a great time playing some of the irish metal festivals over the past year such as Whiplash, Winterfest and Full Metal Racket. Generally, we gig most when we have something new to promote, whether it be a release or simply new material we want to vent. At the moment though, we are laying low preparing our debut album.

You have supported LAMB OF GOD not too long ago. How was this arrangement settled? Did they approach you or the other way around?

Ha, I'd love to say they approached us, but no, when we found out they were playing we got in touch with the promoter, and luckily managed to bag both of the Irish dates. Both gigs were really enjoyable, and the crowds were fantastic, especially in Belfast. LAMB OF GOD played fantastic as well, incredibly tight and with great stage presence. It was also a great opportunity to play for a different type of crowd than the one we normally would, so we were really happy with the good reception we got.

Any plans to spread some Thrash on the European mainland?

Yes, most often as possible once we've released the debut. We have plans to do a mini tour of Germany in November with COLDWAR, which we're really looking forward to.

How's the work on the debut album going? Will the music be inline with the EP and what can be expected in general?

I think it'd be fair to say the album material is a progression from the "Creation's Undoing" material. It is most definitely still in the thrash vein, but with we're definitely more concious and analytical of our arrangements now, and try our best to diversify the tone and atmosphere of the songs.

Having a label to provide the finances is always useful. Are you in talks with candidates or will Underground Movement be your partner in crime again?

As with most unsigned bands, we'd definitely love to be picked up by a bigger label, and we do hope that our debut will help towards that. Having said that, Underground Movement has been great for us so far, and we're very happy to be involved with the label.

Speaking of Underground Movement: how big is this label? I had never heard of it until I saw the name on the promo Adrian (Lugga Music) sent me.

Underground Movement is a Dublin label/distro with a kind of "DIY" attitude that was started in 2000 by Ian Lawless (ex-COLDWAR) and John Toxic of Toxic Promotions. Along with backing releases like our own, they've released a number of compilations over the past 9 years, namely the "Intoxicated" series. It has to be said that the label has done a lot for the scene since it began, and is definitely showcasing some of the country's best young bands.

Regarding the Irish scene, I have to confess my knowledge is limited: MOURNING BELOVETH, FIRELAND, CELTIC LEGACY, MASS EXTINCTION, CRUACHAN, and that's it. What else is on offer and which genres are represented the most, as far as you know?

Well, although we do have many bands over here where the folk/doom thread runs strong, I'd say it's fair to say there's quite an even spread of bands representing each genre now. In the Thrash vein, there's bands such as VISCERAL ATTACK, VIGILANCE, RAGING CONFLICT and GAMA BOMB. GAMA BOMB have made a serious impact abroad over the last year, and they're really going from strength to strength. We also have a very strong Death Metal scene over here, with bands like MORPHOSIS, ABBADON INCARNATE, COLDWAR, OVEROTH and WARPATH all very active at the moment. The list goes on and on, but, to mention just a few more, Sorrowfall, FOR RUIN and SIROCCO are a few bands who draw from different strains of Metal and have quite a progressive sound.

Mass Extinction bandHow much time does MASS EXTINCTION require from you and is there enough left for hobbies, family or even time to relax and recharge your batteries?

Generally, we rehearse twice a week, and, gigging included, it doesn't really impact our routines too heavily. If we have a few important gigs coming up, we'll rehearse heavily and then maybe take a week or so off when it's done and dusted.

Looking back at 2008, what will you remember the most? (releases, gigs, world events, anything...)

The string of gigs we played at the beginning of the year around Ireland were really enjoyable.....great turnout and great atmosphere. The Cork Winterfest was another highlight. 2009 will definitely be a more memorable year for us, as we're getting close to recording the full length now, so we're all very excited.

That's it for me, so far. Many thanks for taking the time to answer. All the best to you with MASS EXTINCTION and whatever else keeps you occupied. Any final words are yours to add. :-)

Thanks for the interest in MASS EXTINCTION and for the great review! We hope to make it over to mainland ASAP. Cheers. ;)

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