From what I understand you celebrate some sort of anniversary this year. What is that about?
-We celebrated ten years of existence in 2015 but some people don’t realize that the band was a continuation from an earlier band called Ashen Mortality which began in 1993. We changed the name, dropped the old songs and continued with three members from AM. Some early MSW songs were songs I had written for AM which we performed at the end of that band. The last gig with AM was the exact same line-up as MSW at the very beginning. At the time it felt like a brand new band because some key elements were changed and AM was something I did with my ex wife although she was absent from some gigs. With MSW I wanted a fresh start and things felt different straight away. We have had many line-up changes but have retained the overall feel of the band. To mark ten years of MSW we released a compilation called An Unbroken Threnody which came out early last year.
Your latest release. What can you tell us about it? What made you decide to do it?
-We have two new releases; an experimental album called Invitation to Imperfection on Opa Loka in Germany and a re-release of Damnatio Memoriae which was originally released in 2015 but was released on a label which did nothing with it. The re-release on Italy’s Minotauro Records is far better, as in addition to the full album, it features three album tracks with new additions as bonus tracks. This time it has been released on a label that wants to push it and get it heard at last. The original release received many good reviews but was unavailable anywhere in the end. We couldn’t even get any copies.
Do you notice that there anticipation for you to release an album? Have you built a large enough following for people to eagerly await a new album?
-We hope some people eagerly await our releases and we do get some nice feedback. Whether this will translate to physical sales is always an unknown in this day and age. We do have a following and a few very dedicated fans but the band is still underground and will quite probably remain that way. This isn’t a problem for us and as long as we have some support we are happy. Our main aim is to be able to continue the band and keep making new music.
When you started the band did you do so with a clear intent of what kind of music you wanted to play? Does it feel like you’ve carved your own niche today?
-The band started as Ashen Mortality had been, as a doom/death band. We had been a slightly later addition to the UK scene than the bigger bands playing that style but emerged before things had moved away from death/doom. We were very influenced by other UK bands of that style at the time such as Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride along with American trad doom bands like Trouble and The Obsessed. When we restarted with MSW, we wanted a slightly broader framework and from the start were free to add or incorporate any style we wanted. We started as a more straightforward death/ doom band but we did acoustic songs too which was similar to AM. Along the way we broadened somewhat and have released a solely acoustic album, two experimental albums and a lot of experimentation in our metal songs too with influences from 70s Rock, black metal and goth. To me, Celtic Frost led the way in experimenting freely within an extreme style of music and Into The Pandemonium remains a favourite.
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?
-To some extent. We have friends in other bands and it is great that this sort of music is still being played even though it is far from fashionable. Most of the time we just concentrate on what we are doing, with songwriting, rehearsing and occasional gigs.
When you play the sort of music you play do you feel that you can have whatever you like as art work for the cover of your album? What is a great album cover to you?
-Yes we see a piece of art and think it will be ideal for what we want or get someone we trust to design the cover. Some covers are from our own photographs, many have been designed by Matthew Vickerstaff, one by Juha Vuorma, one by Rex Zachary and one is from a photo by Holger Karas. I am very proud of all the cover art of this band and we have got to work with very talented and professional artists as well as contributing our own work from time to time.
For me the iconic covers from the past are things such as Tubular Bells, Zep 4, the more enigmatic covers.
I have a great fear that the change in how people consume music today will eventually kill music as we know it. What is your opinion on digital verses physical? Is digital killing music?
-It is an issue and has affected us a lot. For years we were able to cover costs with the band, though we have never made a penny from our music. These days you sell very slowly and in smaller numbers and it can take a long time to be able to afford the next recording.
Is the era of great arena tours as thing of yester? What kind live scene is there for bands like yours? What does the touring circuit look like today?
-Arena tours isn’t something that has ever affected us! For MSW gigs are sporadic. We tend to just do a few decent gigs these days rather than play a lot of shows to a tiny crowd as that way is just demoralising and involves a lot of work to play to no one.
When you play live is it a happening or do you see it more as a party?
-It is something we have to work hard on. We aren’t getting younger and for me a gig is exhausting, but very enjoyable. Afterwards you generally have time to relax and have a drink or ten.
What would you like to see the future bring?
-We would like to get started on the next metal album soon. The songs are written, the rehearsals are going well and we are about half way to being able to afford the recording fees. We need to sell a few more CDs to get there; everything we sell on Bandcamp goes towards this goal. We are also planning a live recording which we hope to do in the Summer or Autumn.
Thanks for the interview!