Hands down, Mar De Grises are my favorite band at the moment. I can’t stop playing their latest, epic record “Stream Inwards” and with every spin I find another reason to love it even more. I’m not even that big a fan of doom metal but these guys have created some awe inspiring tracks that really do stir emotions in the listener. Without a shadow of a doubt, Stream Inwards is my favorite album of 2010, beating off some stiff competition. I really can’t recommend the album enough.
So, as I do, i got in contact with the guys and drummer Alejandro Arce, who gives a great interview by the way and comes across as a very intelligent and interesting guy, was kind enough to talk about their new record and other topics:
Hey Alejandro, how are ya?
Hi! Fine here, promoting the new album and preparing for the upcoming European tour on December.
You guys marked a decade as a band by signing with Season’s of Mist. That must have been a great present!
Yes, it’s good to be with Season of Mist. Being in Firebox was a very good experience as well and for approximately seven years we were part of them. Things worked smoothly and it was there were we started to learn how to work in a label and in a more professional way. But the deal was for two albums, so when it ended we decided to aim at a bigger label in order to grow as a band and have more opportunities in terms of promotion, distribution, tours and reaching more people with what we do. And why not aim at a big label like Season of Mist? Although we knew it was going to be difficult (actually they had never signed a South American band before), we tried anyway. Luckily they also got interested and things have worked very well so far. Nice and professional people and company. Being part of them has been a new big step in growing.
Had you guys been talking with an other labels before signing with “Seasons”?
Not that much. As I told you, the idea was to really take a big step, like signing to Season of Mist. If the change was not going to be that big, we would rather stay with Firebox, which is also a very professional label; just another kind of label. But if an important aspect of your goals as a band is growing in terms of reaching more people and having more opportunities in that regard, being in Season of Mist will always be something you would want.
“Stream Inwards” had been getting some great reviews. You guys must be thrilled!
Yes! Things have been going very good with the new album and its acceptance. As long as we know that what we do comes directly and honestly from inside and it fulfils in a way a natural need of communicating and creating, we will always be confident on what we make in that aspect, maybe the most important one. But besides that, of course good acceptance is also a significantly important aspect when you create. And well, although I think the essence in our music remains the same as always, there are some changes mostly in form, provided by changes and evolution in our personal lives. For example, some songs are maybe more straightforward and easier to catch but some still maintain that dense, deep and oppressive atmosphere. I guess this time there’s kind of a “breakdown” in the usual way of telling a story or sonorous journey; somehow, those two ways of telling a story or providing a sonorous journey used to be part of just one overall way in previous albums. So when being aware of those changes, we are also aware that there will be people who like it and people who don’t. There is always a door closing when you open one. But it seems that there are more doors opening than closing so far, and for that we are very pleased. It seems people in general have realized that, although there are some changes in form, the essence has been continual.
This was your first release with a well known label. Did that much extra pressure on you guys?
Not really. Of course there are many kinds of emotions that arise from the signing with a label like Season of Mist, but they are more related to excitement and anxiety after releasing the album, rather than pressure. As I told you, we are confident that we have been doing things in the right way; slowly and gradually, but in the right way. Well, of course there are always some issues that can be improved, and we are working on that as well. We have been learning a lot in Season of Mist and in general.
What are your favorite tracks from Stream Inwards?
That is something that is constantly changing. One concrete example: Starmaker was one of the tracks I liked the least, but after recording it and listening to it, the result is better than I expected and now it is one of my favourites. Something opposed occurred with The Bell and the Solar Gust; I love to play it but the result on the album was not what I expected. I couldn’t explain why though. Still, it is one of my favourites. And Reaching the New Orbit was definitely the track I liked the least but I think vocals (which we placed right before recording) gave to the song very interesting dynamics and a totally different essence. Now I love it. I think it is difficult to rationally choose among things that come directly from you and not into you.
You guys are heading to Europe this December. Excited?
Yes, we are really looking forward to that! And well, I really don’t know what else I can tell you apart from that…haha… It definitely will be a great tour. Swallow the Sun are a great band and I didn’t know Solstafir until a couple of months ago and I think they make a really interesting and original mixture in their music. So I think the tour is very attractive for anyone who likes intense and emotional music. You know, touring across Europe has an extra value to us because we live here in the end of the world (Chile). I love my country and being this far of where the core metal scene is (USA and Europe) is a hurdle, but it also can be a distinctive and exotic feature that can serve as an aid. The key is to know how to address it and show it. But regardless of this, being and touring there has an extra value because it is there where we can feel directly the other side of what we have achieved as a band.
Any countries in Particular your looking forward to visiting?
Well this is our third European tour and personally I look forward to visiting countries we will play in for the first time such as Poland or England. Anyway it is difficult to choose countries in particular because every place we have been to have showed us their support in different aspects. I personally have fallen in love with beautiful cities such as Amsterdam and Prague… and what about the Czech beautiful ladies! Spain has also always been very supportive maybe because the language functioning as a plus. Anyway, it would be impossible to choose… just the fact of being in Europe is something different and special to us, due to what I told you in previous question.
Any chance of you guys coming to Ireland soon?
We have never been to Ireland and unfortunately we won’t be coming during this tour. It is not up to us. But you know we have close friends from Ireland and we have heard many crazy and interesting stories about Ireland and metal there. If it were our decision we would of course choose to include Ireland in the tour. For the next tour we will definitely do it to see you there! Slainte!
Whats the metal scene in Chile like at the minute?
A as Chilean scene we have tons of metal bands, but people often doesn’t have enough time or money to dedicate to a band in a more professional way. This is why it is very common that many bands stay only as a good idea and nothing else. It is a pity, because I think we have a lot of potential. The root of the problem resides more in economic than musical issues because I think good potential is present in every aspect. Art is not easy here, it is almost impossible to stay alive just creating whatever you create, in this case, in terms of music. There are still other issues to resolve as a country, poverty and the huge social gap between social classes being the major ones so unfortunately there is still no time for paying art the price it deserves generally speaking; of course there are people who can have the means to do so. But despite all this, In Chile there is some kind of small scene or “brotherhood” (I would say in Europe also) of doom fans who stick just to Doom and many times just to “true doom”. This seems to happen with fans of what is called “true”; I see, for instance, many loyal followers of Black/War Metal here, (Blasphemy, Sarcofago, etc.), who act and maintain a more active and identifiable scene within a scene, just as followers of the so called true doom. I myself don’t give a damn what is true or what is whatever, because I think boundaries are just too gradual and diffuse. It is strange how labels and that kind of labeling pre-defines what many people will or won’t listen to. I don’t understand that. For me it is all the way round, you just listen to what your emotion feels like to. But on the other hand, I understand that compulsive labeling in the end gives place to many components that provide shape and the required energy that metal has to have in order to exist as a robust movement/industry and, of course, a scene, so I agree with that anyway.
Can you recommend any Chilean bands we should watch out for?
Well, to start, Poema Arcanus, an awesome doom band with some progressive touches. They are one of our favourite bands ever and they are an important influence in our music, as well as good friends of ours. Coprofago is another very good band, something like Meshuggah or Textures with properly arranged fusion jazz elements. Wildes Heer, the best Chilean Black Metal act in my opinion. Astor Voltaires is Juan’s solo project… very good, intense and introspective doom. Bauda, another band were Juan is in, like a folkish avant-garde post rock. Inanna, Animus Mortis, Torturer, Electrozombies, Uaral, Bauda, Godless, Melektaus, Procession, Capilla Ardiente (I did session drums on their EP) are also very good and interesting bands in different metal styles worth checking them out, and well of course I have to mention Target, my other band, some kind of modern and a bit experimental death metal. Nuclear, Six Magics, Dorso, Son in Course, Darkemist, Timecode, Desire of Pain, etc… the list continues…
What does the future hold for Mar De Grises?
We are now planning a special show (in mid October I think) here in Santiago with many special features and invited guests as a celebration of our tenth anniversary. We are planning to give a very long show and play songs that we haven’t played live for many years. And of course rehearsing for promotion of our new album and planning the European tour on December, in which we will probably also include some special features in some shows there as a celebration of our tenth anniversary. And well, most important thing is that as long as it is more than a passion, a need to us, we will continue creating and making intense and honest music.
Thanks for your time Alejandro!
Thanks to you Norman for the opportunity to be part of Tomb of the Opinionated. Cheers!
For more on Mar De Grises, check out their MySpace