With so many cool bands out there to check out I offer you some minor guidance by introducing you to MORTANIUS. Anders Ekdahl ©2018
You have one of these names that do not really tell what kind of metal you play. How hard was it to come up with the name?
Lucas: It was hard to come up with the name. Many names I thought up were already taken or didn’t sound cool enough. It wasn’t until I played Blood Omen for PlayStation and met the character named Mortanius that I found a cool sounding name that also hadn’t been used by another band.
How do you introduce the band to people that are new to your music?
Lucas: I usually show them the song “Facing the Truth” since it gives the listener a good idea of our general sound and vibe within an easily digestible 5-minute track.
We all carry baggage with us that affects us in one way or another but what would you say have been the single greatest influence on your sound?
Lucas: Baggage? That sounds like a heavy question. I guess if you want to go deep, the single greatest influence on the band’s sound would be the fact that I have been a lonely weirdo most of my life. For whatever reason, ever since I was a child I would often sit away from the crowd, wrapped up in my own thoughts and imagination, and I think it is that personality trait that led me to take interest in the movies, bands, video games, books, and art that lead me to create the music that I do today.
What is the scene like in your area? Is it important that there is some sort of local scene for a band to develop or can a band still exist in a vacuum of no scene/no bands?
Lucas: I don’t interact with the scene in my area that much these days because most of the bands around where I live are hardcore or death metal bands. Mortanius doesn’t fit in with those kinds of bands at all, so there is little room for cross-pollination between fanbases. I believe local scenes are important for spreading the word about bands when they are young and growing, but only when the band fits in with what is popular with that particular local scene. If the band doesn’t fit that mold, then the local scene can’t or won’t do a whole lot to grow the band, and the band must reach outside the local area for support. That’s why the internet is so great.
Something I have often wondered about is if you feel that you are part of something bigger and greater when you play in a band, that you are part of a movement sort of?
Lucas: I dont feel like I am part of a movement by playing in a band, but I do feel like I am a part of something greater than myself in another way. By composing and recording music for others to hear, I am creating art that will exist for eternity that will hopefully be enjoyed by other humans. It is through my participation in the creation of this eternally existing piece of art that is experienced by other people that I feel that I am a part of something greater than myself.
Jesse: When I play in a band I believe that you are part of something bigger and greater because similar to a sport, you are part of a team and it is great to have teammates and friends to trust and rely on. It makes you feel like you are part of a bigger picture.
When you play the sort of music you play I guess you cannot have birds and bees on the cover of your album? What is a great album cover for you?
Lucas: I will always prefer paintings and photography over tacky and soulless photoshop art and CGI. I particularly have a fondness for the style of late 80s-early 90s photography used on album covers like Demons Down by House of Lords, Symphony X’s debut, The Dark Chapter by Michael Romeo, and The Graveyard by King Diamond. There is just something very atmospheric to me about the way backdrops and sets were used for photography back then. The fact that they were photographs of real objects within real space, but utilized flat backdrops for skies and inanimate models to represent living things created a sense of distorted reality that really created a unique vibe. I also really enjoy the simplicity of the shot compositions, featuring either one or just a few elements as the central focus on each piece of cover art.
Jesse: I don’t completely agree with the idea that metal bands should be pigeonholed into having darker or more epic themes in their album art. Scurrilous by Protest the Hero uses very colorful album art that depicts a woman in the forest with animals, and while it doesn’t necessarily completely represent the sound of the music, it means something to the band. I think the meaning that the art holds to the band is much more important than what the general public expects of a genre to use as art.
That said, Scurrilous is what I would call great album art.
What is your opinion on digital versus physical? Is digital killing music?
Lucas: I always will think that buying physical albums is better than downloading. It’s just a more magical and personal experience to own a cd with the case and liner notes. I think digital is both killing and growing music. The widespread use of digital downloads has greatly reduced the earnings that musicians can make from music, but at the same time, it has opened the doors for so many bands to be exposed to listeners that would have never heard of them otherwise.
Jesse: I personally prefer physical media over digital media in all forms, not just music. I wholeheartedly believe that digital music kills the music industry. When you’re able to devalue a product so much by having an endless stock of it (it takes no time to copy an mp3), the music itself becomes inherently worthless. I only buy digital if the artist does not make have CDs available for purchase, and then even then I feel quite awful about it. In this day and age, I believe that it’s so difficult for musicians to succeed because digital music has devalued the worth of musicians. While with art, you can still get someone to buy something you made with your own hands, most people aren’t going to buy a tape you made in your basement or a physical representation of music that doesn’t have a digital backup. The fact that someone can have your work by simply downloading a file on the computer is extremely frustrating. This also drives people to spend less money on the music itself and results in bands having to sell tickets to shows and creating merchandise like t-shirts just to make ends meet. I think if the state of digital music was altered, musicians could see more success and would be able to rely less on touring. For Lucas and I, it is difficult to play shows because we are just a singer and a bass player. While a majority of musical success is built on touring, it would be difficult for us to be successful in a music scene simply by recording and producing music.
What kind of live scene is there for bands like yours?
Lucas: In Pennsylvania, USA… not much. Prog/power metal probably couldn’t be less popular in the area we live in. Outside of the USA in places like Japan and Europe, the genre fares much better, so hopefully, we can play in places like those someday.
When you play live is it a happening or do you see it more as a party?
Lucas: When Mortanius plays live I would say it is more of a happening than a party. We play catchy music that’s fun, but it’s certainly not party music that a group of fat guys in metal band shirts at a bar would drink to and shout the along to the choruses of.
What would you like to see the future bring?
Lucas: Getting a solid and dedicated lineup and finally being able to tour the states and then overseas.