I’m not the biggest fan of all the social network sites out there but I do use them. Which is how I’ve come upon MORGENGRAU. Don’t ask me why I haven’t paid more attention to what Erika does before but from now on I’ll keep a sharp eye on her work. Anders Ekdahl ©2011
From what I understand you’ve been quite busy in the metal scene. Can you tell me a bit about all your endeavours?
-Greetings Anders & Battle Helm readers! I’ve been involved in metal music one way or another for more years than I wish to put in print. Up until Morgengrau, I spent most of my time as a vocalist or working behind the scenes as a designer and record label person. Morgengrau came to life about 18 months ago and is my first endeavor as a guitarist/vocalist. It had been a lifelong dream of mine to play guitar in a metal band, but my most natural talent is singing, hence my tenures with Autumn Tears (Neoclassical, 1995-2001) and Ignitor (classic metal, 2003-2007). I still sing classic metal in Bracaglia as well as in Drifter, my Iron Maiden tribute band, but I’m now finally giving my much loved death metal a shot. So far, it’s going really well, better than I expected to be quite honest.
Is it possible for you to pick one style of metal and stick to it or are you like me a metalhead into everything metal?
-Not really. I have too many different moods, and each needs its own music. My preference is black, death and some speed. In the mid-2000s I went through this really intense power metal phase around the time I joined Ignitor. It wasn?t really me, so I dropped it pretty quick, and I still need to get rid of all those embarrassing Freedom Call CDs, haha. Harsh and raw, or thunderous and downtuned – that’s my calling. Triptykon, Winterwolf, Immolation, Asphyx, old Burzum, Marduk, Emperor and
Darkthrone… I cannot stand prog, goregrind or any of that new, undefinable garbage played by skinny kids with shaggy hair and pink studded belts. Intolerable.
Metal has been through a rollercoaster ride over the decades. What era do you view as the most influential and important?
-Each era has its own critical importance but for me, the late 80s surge of death metal takes precedence. As a teenager growing up in Buffalo NY, I was living at the epicenter of the explosion. Bands like Cannibal Corpse, Malevolent Creation, and Baphomet were playing all the time. All the acts which have since become legends played through – Obituary, Morbid Angel, Deicide, Death Angel, Sepultura and many more. There were tons of fans, many of whom are still active in the metal scene to this day. It was a fantastic time and I’m proud to have been a part of it. I feel like those of us who were young adults in the 80s are the first true generation of lifelong metal heads. We’re proof positive that this is indeed a legitimate, lasting culture and way of life.
In using your name as a band name doesn’t that open up for internal ego battles?
-I think of “Erika Morgengrau” similarly to “Erik Watain.” We all know Watain isn’t Erik’s last name, but it embodies his essence. Morgengrau is a dark, mysterious word which echoes my internal self. However, it goes without saying that Morgengrau isn’t just me; it’s also my bandmates Nick,
Reba and Jacob. Without them, Morgengrau would merely be a faint glimmer on the edge of fitful sleep. There is no ego in this band – we are a unit. While I write most of the material at present, it still has to pass approval of the others. Unless you are an artistic genius, which I am most certainly not, then you need the input of others to craft good songs. Morgengrau is about four friends making music and playing brutal shows, not bolstering somebody’s fragile ego.
Today even the smallest of metal band with limited originality can be signed if they generated enough buzz on any given social media. How does that make you as a struggling metal musician feel like? Any feelings of envy?
-The trick is not to struggle. All four of us know we’re not going to ever live off this. We’re either in school or already working in lucrative, non-music careers. That is very freeing. I know many people who do live off their music; they’re very poor. Many of them are perfectly happy. Some are not. That life of want and poverty is not for me. I did that when I was a kid, and it was no way to live. Yes, having non-music careers means we’ll never be able to tour extensively, but that’s okay. Except for perhaps Jacob, who is by far the most intense of us, nobody really wants to spend weeks crammed in a van eating microwave burritos at truck stops, not showering and sleeping on each other. We see how hard that is our on friends. So, in short, there is no envy. Better to invest that energy in ourselves,
to further our own ends. Let’s also not forget that the definition of
success is subjective. Success for Morgengrau is someone coming up after a show, saying, “I really liked that song, it was killer!” It’s about a pit spontaneously erupting during a performance. It’s about the light in the crowds’ eyes that says they are feeling the dark energy we are creating. The fact that we have as many supporters as we already do with only two shows under our collective belt blows my mind.
With so many bands competing for attention what do you do in order to stand out and be counted? How far would you go in order to gain attention?
-Following along on my answer above, I’m not worried about having to do Herculean things to stand out and be counted. People will notice us because we are serious and focused. If we make quality music and play high energy shows, the word will spread. We will make good choices: play with
sensible lineups; record properly, carefully and well; conduct ourselves with maturity and honor. I’ll head off the inevitable curiosity about a band with female members – there will never be sexy girl Morgengrau pictures. Nobody’s getting up on stage and showing a tit, wearing a skirt,
or spiky heels. I am so apocalyptically tired of bands presenting as four metal looking dudes and one really dolled up chick. Leave your prom dress at home, please! This band is military fatigues, boots, leather vests and bullet belts. It’s about sweat and tangled hair and sometimes blood. It’s about tactics.
In promoting your band what would you say gives the best response? Any social medias that are more lucrative to use than others?
-Internet trends are so fickle – one day a site is popular and the next it’s banished from everyone’s consciousness. We use Facebook, Reverbnation and YouTube right now. Merch will go on BandCamp. When Facebook is usurped by the next popular social media site, we’ll adopt that. It’s a simple matter of placing the info in front of the target audience and being quick to respond once everyone begins migrating to the next platform. As I mentioned earlier, providing easy access to the music is also critical. The support Scion is giving Immolation is a great example. They are funding recordings and touring so the band can give away free CDs and price shows at a very reasonable cover. Very clever. Good for Scion need to lower their overall retained revenue, fabulous for Immolation who doesn’t have to watch people slap down money for beers then look glumly at
the merch table and utter the infuriating phrase “I can’t afford a CD cause I just bought this beer.” It seems to be working – their new EP. Providence is everywhere, with lots of people talking about it.We need to face the truth – the days of paying for music are coming to an end – why pay for it when you can download for free, especially in this soft economy? Folks would rather fuel their addictions (alcohol, cigarettes) than spend $10 on a CD. Just accept it. Find other ways to make revenue – as in carefully planned, quality merch – and adjust your expectations accordingly!
Do you see digital downloading killing metal or is it only positive that you can listen to music instantly after buying it?
-Digital media is the future. It’s essential to find a way to make downloading a positive element. With plastics production eating up oil, we need to let go of wanting something physical in regards to music. Don’t get me wrong – I love my CDs and albums. I have thousands. But what do I do with them? I rip them to digital and put them in iTunes and never look at the physical again. If I need to see the artwork, I’ll Google it rather than dig through my giant CD pile. Does this mean Morgengrau will only
publish music digitally? No – we’ll release physical CDs with real art, as metal people are some of the few who still do cherish that tangible item. We’ll also put it up for free download because for every 1 kid who has $10 for a physical CD at a show, there’s 10 more just waiting for that search string of “[bandname] [album name] blogspot” to hit paydirt. Paying for underground music nowadays is more honor system rather than a requirement. Fans understand – they know you invested money in CDs/shirts/merch so to effectively support they buy a little something when they go to a show. My
goal is to make sure the music is available to whomever wants to hear it, with the idea those people will come see us when we play and then provide them with a selection of patches, shirts, hardcopy CDs and other merch items to further word about the band.
What is the local metal scene like in your town? If my memory serves me right some pretty cool bands have made it out of there and onto the international scene
-It’s an interesting time to be answering this question. We have a decent scene here in Central and South Texas – quite a few good bands, a goodly amount of fans of all ages, and five large cities within easy driving distance (Austin, San Antonio, Houston, Fort Worth, Dallas). At any given show you’ll find a multigenerational crowd spanning 18 to 45 years of age. We’ve got an unfortunate black eye right now due to the recent Goregrowler’s Ball which, while a success in regards to a great lineup and
fantastic performances, turned into a financial disaster. The repercussions spread very quickly and have affected upcoming shows with out of town bands dropping off bills like flies. I can?t say I blame them – with the economy driving up transport costs and folks having to choose between gas money to get to work versus gas money to get to a show, it’s a real gamble as to whether the turnout will be great or terrible. It’s a shame because we have a lot of great musicians here in Texas – Absu, Averse Sefira, Divine Eve, Helstar, Rigor Mortis, Warbeast, Birth AD, Imprecation, Hod, Blaspherion… Texas is a really metal place. Everyone from Europe who visits always seems to enjoy the vibe, especially in Austin.
When can we expect to see more from Morgengrau other than some videos on Facebook?
-By Spring 2012 at the latest. We’ve now written enough quality material that it’s time to schedule recording. It’s been slow as two of us are in school, one just graduated and I work a corporate job that takes quite a bit of my time and energy. It’s important to us that our first release is the best it can be, especially since combined we have a total of 55 years of experience in metal! We have no excuse for failure. In the meantime, search Morgengrau Metal on Youtube or look up us at:
Reverbnation: http://www.reverbnation.com/morgengrau Thank you Anders and BattleHelm for the interview!