Sunday, March 14, 2010

Why did we sign Mortiis?

Question: Hi! Why did you sign Mortiis? I love his music, but I think it was quite unusual at the time because he was still into his "dark dungeon music" period, which means totally out of what one would expect from Earache. If he were playing his current industrial/gothic/rock tunes back then I'd understand you signing him. But the way it was, it made me wonder why you did it! Thanks!

Tiago Cattani
Porto Alegre, Brazil. From:

Answer: Yes, I agree, at the time of signing, Mortiis wasn't making the typical Industrial/Gothic Rock which is his trademark nowadays, back then he was making lo-fi, extremely depressive 'dark dungeon music' as he called it.

It's hard to explain why we sign any bands, its a complicated process, mostly based on hunches and our personal tastes at the label, at the time. It goes without saying, we obviously thought his creative talents would sell a lot of records, and for a while, he did.

Earache likes to sign bands who are number one in a field of one, and Mortiis certainly fit the bill in the early days. Our Uk label manager/A&R manager Dan Tobin had struck up a friendship with him in his early DIY days,and we were amazed at the amount of energy he put into creating his own unique fantasy world, not many musicians have such dedication to their craft.We love to work with intense and creative individuals- so it made sense for us to work with him.

Being an ex-founding member of Emperor gave the him instant credibility within the scene. As well as releasing numerous well-received 12inchers and albums on a wholly DIY basis, his attention to detail in creating such an imaginary world for his fans- a mix of the Fantastical and Folklore- was breathtaking. He poured his whole persona into creating the character 'Mortiis', a fact which we loved.

Also relevant was the fact that our PR girl at the time had been in an underground UK gothic band in the 90's so his music and persona was not that alien to us. She now runs PR for Virgin Records.

I'd say Havard is possibly one of the most creative musicians which we have ever worked with at Earache. He also had an ambitious side -as an example, when we signed Mortiis he declared that had wrtten a book and needed a publisher -how many musicians say that? We eventually released his "Secrets of My Kingdom" as a leather bound tome which sold out and is now highly collectable.

Oh- and the outrageous masks of course.

First releases under the deal were re-issues of his past catalog, which marked the end of a previous era. Mortiis refers to his catalog in clearly defined "Eras". For 2001's 'The Smell of Rain' Mortiis upped the ante and created a classic gothic-rock-pop record, which was well received by the German Gothic community, which is by far the largest in Europe, and so sold reasonably well.

Mortiis continued his upward momentum before the next album by charting with a genuine UK hit single for 'The Grudge'.

Ironically as he morphed from a solo musician into a proper gigging live unit playing more of an Industrialised rock he opted to ditch the masks, which marked the end of another Mortiis Era.

By the final album under the deal his record sales were showing decline, so we parted ways. Mortiis appears to have reverted to his DIY roots for new material, and is expected to release his new album "The Great Deceiver' sometime this year.

Heres the clip for Parasite God,which Director Pete Bridgewater filmed in the scorching heat of Death Valley,and also in a disused church in North London:


Lewis said...

mortiis was even the subject of a section of a british documentry on censorship in the music business. Where they had Dan from Earache talking about mortiis and jack osbourne pretending he knew anything about black metal. Anyone remember that?

Anonymous said...

Didn't Mortis play a gig or something once and the heat from a light melted one of his pointy ears?

2kvlt4u said...

Mortiis was an avante, groundbreaking artist like Carcass, ND, Godflesh, Dub War, Johnny Violent, etc. I didnt dig the Stargate but everything else is great.