Mnemic interview with Mircea Gabriel Eftemie: "If you don't keep up with the music business, it can become very cutthroat"

13/07/2012 @ 11:34
In the increasing trend of today's extreme metal towards djent, Mnemic are to be considered veterans on the genre. The Danes insist in their «future fusion metal» and, having just released their fifth album, we just had to contact their mastermind, Mircea Gabriel Eftemie, in order to learn more around the creation of "Mnemesis", their recent lineup changes, and also their relations with Metallica.

Hello from Greece and magazine! My name is Vagelis. What are the band’s current whereabouts?
The band is pretty much situated in Denmark at the moment. The singer, which is French just moved there, and the rest of the band except for the bassplayer live there as well. We are pretty much all situated in Copenhagen, and the bassplayer is Italian and lives in the northern part of Italy. It's not that bad actually, when you think of it, since there are 4 nationalities in the band.

I believe this is the first time we talk, so would you share a short bio with us?
In short, we have existed for almost 10 years by now, and the story is quite long. Five albums released, toured with Metallica and a bunch of other prominent bands, and the rest you can google.

MnemicSo, "Mnemesis" is your fifth album, nine years past your debut. How far would you say you’ve gone since "Mechanical Spin Phenomena"?
We’ve pretty much tried everything we hoped for and dreamed of, except for one single thing - making a living off of it. In time many things have happened, we did lots of great tours, played many great festivals, met our idols, and experienced what every band desires. We’ve tasted success, but were never successful in terms of being able to sustain our selves from the business. Since the first album, members have come and gone and we’ve all grown older, but we all have a balanced way of living as being in the band and being able to still play music, record and tour.

I’ve seen that you often refer to your sound as ‘future fusion metal’. Is this description still accurate in "Mnemesis"?
This description has never ever been accurate. Initially we where inspired by three bands, which were Meshuggah, Fear Factory and SYL. From those bands we got inspired to go our own way, sort of. If you look at those bands, a band like Meshuggah got inspired by Anthrax, which was thrash at the time being. Almost the same with Fear Factory, which combined pop melodies in their mechanical way of playing. We took some of those elements from those bands, the polyrhythmics and melodies and started playing this type of music. I wouldn't say we invented a new style, but rehashed some of those thrash inspirations with melodies. I am not sure, how much I can go back and analyze everything, it’s quite hard. I’d say everyone steals from each other, and everything gets recycled some way or another.

MnemicDuring 2011, the 3/5 of Mnemic left the band, due to various reasons and differences, as I understand. Was each one of them due to happen, so to speak, or was the whole thing a chain reaction of some kind?
Well, the old members didn't just leave from one day to another. It was a transition process that actually almost took one year. The first one that left was the bassplayer, then the drummer, then the guitarist. So we kind of replaced them one after the other. Guillaume and I wanted to make a new album, but apparently there were complications and difficulties that made it impossible to continue with the old line up, therefore we needed an infusion of brand new energy, and we were actually always in the process of fulfilling that vision, which was to make a new album.

Since then you have welcomed three new members. Can you introduce each of them to us?
Victor Salomonsen, I would say he was a natural fit, because he contributed always with positive energy on the personal side of things. On the other hand as far as being a musician he could easily adapt to any style of music. I mean when we started composing songs for the album, he could come up with some riffs that reminded very much of the old material. That had to of course be refreshed somehow, and the result is what you can hear on the new album. We decided to go with him because he had the skills, the passion and brought in the good vibes in the band. It was the same with Brian Larsen who used to play with Victor in their own band, named Vira. They where both really cool guys, and we got to know them in the Danish scene, so they were a perfect fit. Simone Bertozzi is the new Italian bassplayer. We got to know him April 2011 when we did a small Italian tour. He seemed to be the perfect fit, he again on the personal side was very nice, funny and most of all a good bassplayer with skills on and off stage.

MnemicDoes this change in the lineup also mark an equally important change in the band’s direction, or did it only happen as a facelift, so to speak?
Both yes and no. Live is definitely a facelift, but also meant in a positive way. The live shows are more energetic that they used to be, due to the new members. It is also a change in the bands direction, which is healthy, if we want to keep up with today’s standards in music - somehow these guys always know the latest developments in the music scene. I am too old to follow that nowadays...

Did the new members have any affection on the new material?
The new lineup has also contributed with their inputs to how they would interpret the sound of Mnemic. I mean both Victor and Brian have been fans of the bands first two albums, which made it easy for us in the end to exchange ideas and converge the compositions. Simone wrote an entire song for the album which we all loved, Victor and I wrote the majority of the songs, Guillaume worked with Victor as well, and Brian came with inputs to drum patterns, so you could say it was a very collaborative and democratic process. Compared to the old albums, the core of the music was composed always by Brian, Rune and myself.

MnemicA characterization that follows you around the last few years (as I can imagine) says that Mnemic is ‘one of Metallica’s favourite bands’. Also, you’ve been an opening act for Metallica in Denmark. Exactly how big has all this been regarding your career? Has it opened a new window for you?
The biggest thing was the personal satisfaction it gave us to play with them, to get to know them and to share the stage with them. It was something that was so high up in the clouds that I never dreamt of, till the day it happened. It didn't do much for us actually. It's a good thing to have on your CV, but nowadays, if you don't keep up with the music business it can become very cutthroat. I mean, our old agent who used to book us, has taken on bands that sell less than us, just to the fact that they tour more, in shitty conditions. It's the way the cookie crumbles nowadays. As far as Metallica - we would love to play with them again, but it looks again that they are taking top selling artists such as Gojira, Mastodon etc, and that is only because those bands have the right managers that know how to work all their way to the top. On the other side, those bands sell much more albums than we do, so it’s obvious that Metallica are choosing them instead. It’s also business after all.

Have you developed any actual relations with them?
Yes, but just business related.

MnemicLet’s get back to the album, shall we? As you might know, nemesis is a Greek word that is translated to ‘divine retribution’. What does the title actually stand for? Is Mnemic targeting someone specifically through it?
It's a metaphor for the demise of humanity, more or less. We’ve built technology, and technology will destroy us. It's the usual dystopian sci-fi storytelling that we’ve created for this album.

You have worked with Tue Madsen since almost ...forever. To what extend does he contribute to the band’s sound? Haven’t you ever considered of trying something new with your style?
We always try to make things different, not to repeat ourselves, but merely to evolve. Tue is like a sixth member of the band, he always collaborates with us and is just as critical as the rest of us. Since he also comes outside of the band, his opinions are valued much more in the end. This time around we didn't try many things, it was more of a ‘plug and play’ kind of process. We just told him to make it heavy and clear in the sound and that was about it.

You have toured in the past across Europe as headliners, you have been a part of tours in the US as well, and later this year you will travel to Australia for the first time in your career. Is there any chance for us Greeks to watch you perform in our country?
We are working on it, and hopefully later this year we will come to Greece. We would love to play Greece, since we have never been there unfortunately.

In a few words, I’d like your comment for each of the following Danish bands / musicians. Starting with King Diamond / Mercyful Fate:
I always remember seeing posters of King Diamond in magazines, and thought he looked so cool, so shocking - but I was never into King Diamond, it was more Mercyful Fate.

"Terror Squad" great album, and all respect to the guys for still playing and staying true to their roots. Their last album is very solid.

Mnemic...Pretty Maids:
My first encounter with heavy metal I think, I borrowed "Future World" at the library, and thought was very good. I was probably 13 at that point.

No comment.

I used to play in this band - great guys from the North.

...and last (but not least), Lars Ulrich:
All respect to the coolest guy in the metal music business.

That was all from me guys, thanks a lot for you time! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you very much for the interview, hope to see you soon in Greece for a show and some beers!