Interview with Necro Deathmort (Yes We Asked About That Name)

Ugh, sometimes real life gets in our underground way Goddamn it anyway.  But enough of that, you don’t even need details, you all need another one of our fine, detailed, and informative interviews, and we’re not joking around.  Typically, we only ask questions of what we consider to be the finest acts that we review, stuff that breaks boundaries, or rather makes its own and hides away in an awesome underground, totally elite fortress.  Of all the bands we’ve listened to in the past year, perhaps the most diverse has been Necro Deathmort, who have their hand in practically every possible genre.  Part of the fun of being first exposed to them was getting past that name, which drew forth great laughter from within our viscera.  All expectations were low, but that was quickly put to rest once we got into their music, and then expanded past our single album feast to all of their other work.  Suffice to say, we needed to know more, so we talked with Matthew Rozeik, who’s half of the band, to find out.

Deaf Sparrow – How did Necro Deathmort begin as a project? It’s known that you have a rather extensive background in music, including some work in film, so feel free to talk about any influences.  How did you get into music in the first place? That’s always our interesting “opener” for these things.

Necro Deathmort –  AJ and I met in 2005 and we pretty much started jamming immediately as we had a lot of common musical ground, both of us having backgrounds in making electronic music and playing in rock bands. We both played in a 3-piece psychedelic doom band for a while, but like the music, it was going nowhere slowly. One day we started jamming just using a guitar and a keyboard through copious amounts of distortion and we hit on a few sounds that we really liked. We recorded every jam we did, and soon enough material was piling up. We put a ‘best of’ compilation together of our most finished-sounding material and that became our début album. After a while we decided to send it out to see if anyone wanted to put it on a blog for free as a curiosity, and when Daz from Distraction heard it he was adamant he wanted to release it as a ‘proper’ album, so that’s exactly what he did.

DS – Okay, that name, seriously, where did it come from? No offense, but as mentioned in the review we did of EP2 it just sounds so primitive in comparison to your sound!  So we were superficially curious about that one, just had to know.

NDM – We didn’t think of this project as a ‘band’ originally, so we just gave it a stupid name and didn’t look back. We thought it was funny to take the piss out of bands called things like Bestial Goatslaughter and Nunmolestor.

To be honest, when we started we were making incredibly primitive music – the first track from ‘Volume.1’ is actually taken from the first jam we ever did and that was just me playing a keyboard through a distortion pedal while AJ messed about with the sound on a computer. We used to make really harsh noisy music, but it’s grown into something different now. In hindsight, we should have called it something fashionable like ‘Blood Owl’ and hidden our identities and all that stuff, but we didn’t even think we’d be playing other people our music, let alone touring and releasing records. We’re stuck with it now, and lots of people call us NDM, probably to avoid the embarrassment of saying our name out loud. Bands with ‘clever’ names are often shite though, it’s always better to have a name that’s worse than your music – I mean, is Radiohead really a good band name?

DS – Ha, well you definitely have that classic, “brutal” sound to the name for sure, and it’s sad to realize now that Nun Molestor is actually a band…  Anyway, so aside from the name let’s talk about sound.  In terms of music how do you guys approach your work? It’s very diverse, which we quickly discovered listening to your other releases after drooling during EP2. You’ve got nearly everything going on stretching back to stuff you did in 2009 for Christ’s sake. Probably the most diverse band we’ve ever heard.

NDM – AJ and I listen to a lot of music that doesn’t resemble the music we make, so we are constantly inspired. We also inspire each other, which is probably the thing that really fires the band the most – we send each other ideas on a weekly basis, and we jam a hell of a lot, so we are not afraid to try things out and fail in the process. We’ll sit through an hour of analogue synth jams and maybe 3 minutes will jump out and make us both say ‘that’s a track’.

Being diverse and unpredictable as a band is so unfashionable now: music has to be predictable and safe or people get confused and soil their pants. Back in the ancient days of lore, before everybody was so painfully self-conscious, it was pretty normal to have influences and interests outside your own ‘scene’. If The Melvins or Aphex Twin formed today, nobody would give a shit about them, as they have no image and they generally do what the fuck they want from record-to-record. Music is so compartmentalized now and everything has a genre to slot neatly into. Look at the one dimensional genres that exist in America alone: Brostep? Chillwave? It’s fucking stupid. Nothing gets old faster than a new sound, especially now that there are no secrets with music production any more. If people find us hard to define, then I take that as a complement.

DS – And you’re probably right, that’s probably the only way to really go these days to get attention, either be mind-blowingly unusual, and probably snuff yourself out in a single album, or continuously confront and grow.  So about EP2, pretty sure we read somewhere it’s part of an intended series, can you talk about this more if that’s the case?  Because we want to drool some more. What’s the overall direction for the series, if that’s the case?

NDM – We did the EP series as an intended trilogy, the intent of which was to explore a specific vibe for each release. Our only regret is calling them ‘EPs’, as I think much of the press dismissed them as a stop-gap until our next ‘proper’ album. EP1 was a mixture of lots of electronic styles, and EP2 was darker and heavier, with a more metallic slant. EP3 is coming out later this year and is totally different from either record: it’s pretty much an electronic krautrock/pop record, and is definitely our most ‘accessible-sounding’ record yet. We’re actually thrilled with the way it came out, and even though we know some people will hate it, we think it’s an important record for us. We have lots of ideas for records that we’re definitely going to make that will stretch the boundaries of what we do even more: we even discussed doing an acoustic record at some point, simply because we’ve never done one before.

DS –  EP2 has an approach with some heavy, obvious doom elements to it, though with more of a developed sound beyond the confines of that genre. What was your goal with it in relationship to your answer above or aside from it?

NDM – We were very inspired by a few sci-fi films for that record, as well as the theme of underwater exploration, so we felt it had to convey the feeling of being dragged down into an abyss and feelings of isolation and paranoia, which is obviously a doom-as-fuck concept. We also felt like it was time we did another heavy record, as it had been over two years since we wrote anything with guitars, and we were ready to come back to it with fresh ears.

DS – How about the artwork?  The visual element of your releases is very clear, so we were curious about the artist and intention, especially the relationship to the album as a whole.  Thoughts?

NDM – Thomas Neulinger has been working with us since 2012 and we don’t see that changing any time soon as we have a great working relationship. I love the sleeve he did for EP2, it’s so understated and yet it suits the music perfectly. The idea was to convey the feeling of things that are half-seen. We knew the sleeve would be blue before we’d even finished writing all the songs.

DS – Can you give us some more details on EP3 as you conceive it currently? It sounds like it’s pretty much done, so very curious about it based on what you said, especially the art if you have an idea what it will be like.

NDM – EP3 was finished in June, but ridiculous pressing turnaround times have meant that it’s not being released until December. It’s a very different-sounding record to our previous work. It’s definitely a lot less dark than much of our previous work, and has more of a focus on melody, and concise composition. It’s quite uplifting, which probably isn’t the first word that comes to mind when you think of our band! We’ve probably lost a few fans along the way who just wanted to hear us make heavy records, but we’ve done that already, so there isn’t really any challenge in retreading old ground. I’m not saying we’ll never do another heavy record: we’ve already recorded some songs that I’d consider to be our most intense, but we are interested in stretching the boundaries of what we do and I think as a music fan, that’s what I personally want to hear a band do. The artwork is by Thomas Neulinger again, who has done most of our sleeves and it’s quite abstract, so difficult for me to talk about. It’s very bright and colourful, which is something we feel reflects the nature of the music.

DS – Okay, now something else entirely.  Considering how much you guys have pushed boundaries, have to know, how do you guys fit into your scene over there? Really curious about that considering how diverse your sound is, you could probably fit in almost any venue at almost any show.  Or the complete opposite of that, facing utter rejection on all sides hahaha.

NDM – To be brutally honest, that’s probably one of the things that hinders us. People like to be able to describe things quickly and efficiently now, and bands who neatly slot into a scene do better than the ones with some ambiguity to them. We’ve never fitted into the metal scene fully, but at the same time we don’t fit into any electronic scenes either. We sort of exist in a weird unpopular limbo.

DS – Interesting.  Thus why online presence can be so important these days.  So how about that?  What’s support like for your music outside of your own area?  Any touring plans or how has that gone for you if you’ve done some already?

NDM – We’re just recently sorted out a UK tour with Dead Fader in October. The UK is turning into a barren wasteland, with venues closing left right and centre. For somewhere with such a vibrant music scene, playing in the UK can actually be a bit of a drag, people seem so much more open-minded in Europe. We played a metal festival in Portugal recently and people with Venom and Discharge patches on their jacket were into what we did. That would be hard to imagine happening in the UK…

Our fans are awesome, and for the most part they have followed us with all the different records we’ve made. They seem to be evenly scattered across the world too, probably 2/3 of all the merch we sell is to people in other countries. Meeting people at shows is probably one of the most fun things about being in this band. We’ve made friends with a few people who started off as fans originally, but we obviously have so much in common that it’s almost inevitable that we’d get on really well. It would actually be really disappointing if we met a fan who turned out to be a total dick!

DS – What you say about the UK scene is interesting, because it sounds like it mirrors the states. Do you know of any reasons for this downfall? Here it always seems to be bad promoters, false fans, irritating Facebook event systems, etc. Europe, on the other hand, always seems to be the mecca for many underground genres and we’ve heard quite a bit about awesome promoters doing what they should be doing. So what’s the deal in the UK? That was the original land of the oi!

NDM – In the UK, we have a hell of a lot of interesting bands springing up all the time and I think our music scene is one of the most fertile in the world, especially for punk and metal. At the same time, there is very little funding for the arts, particularly under our Conservative government, and venues are constantly closing or being sold to property developers who can make more money turning them into luxury flats or offices. Audiences can seem quite jaded, especially in the larger cities, so show attendance can often be quite low compared with places where there isn’t so much going on. For that reason, we are always trying to play to new audiences in places that we’ve never visited before. I don’t think Europe is intrinsically different, but at the same time there is probably a more cultural and historic respect for the arts, and venues and festivals often get government funding, which would never happen in the UK. I’m not sure there was ever a halcyon day for the music scene though, it’s generally best to look forwards and not try to be too nostalgic, as every new generation of musician faces different challenges to the last.

DS – Well, you’ve both made it clear you can face basically any challenge with everything you’ve done.  Looking forward to EP3.  Thanks for taking the time to talk to us and all the interesting responses.

NDM – Cheers!


Interview Conducted by Stanley Stepanic