Few months ago I was writing a review about the new Mournful Congregation new album “The Incubus Of Karma”. The album was great and I think it will be nominated among the best doom metal releases of the year. Recently, I had the opportunity to ask some questions to the band members. I had the pleasure talking to Damon Good and Justin Hartwig.
Greetings and thank you for granting this interview!
Q-Seven years have passed since the last Mournful Congregation album. You worked a lot for this album. Which part took you the most time? Songwriting, lyrics? Or it is a complex work for each of you?
DAMON – The songwriting took the longest I would say, as to bring every song to the point of completion took well over 6 years. But everything took a long time to come about on this album. The lyrics were slowly written over the span of probably the same amount of years, and the recording and mixing spanned over a year and a half. I’m sure we could have pushed things along quicker in hindsight, but we really did not want to push anything on this album.
JUSTIN – We were able to really focus in on every part of this album as we gave ourselves no deadline. Once the song writing was complete & demos were recorded, I was able to send Damon video demos of my solo ideas before recording them. We were quite happy with some of the demo recordings as we didn’t rush the process. We even left some solo ideas from the demos on the final recording as the feel was just right. I didn’t mind having this sort of freedom to express ideas but sometimes pressure can bare great results too.
Q- Tell us a bit about the story behind this album and about the artwork. What makes it different from the previous one? What do you bring new with “The Incubus of Karma” What is the album’s message ?
DAMON – Despite what I myself might say about it, anyone can tell the differences to any previous albums quite immediately, especially when they have an actual physical copy that is. It has its own energy and feel about it, its own weight. Whilst at the same time, there is a lot about it that is very typically a Mournful Congregation album. This is a fine balance to master I think, and an important one too. There were some main themes that influenced the general concepts explored, which when taken as a whole, really did compliment each other and produce a somewhat cohesive narrative to this album. You could think of it as a deep and long meditation, a deep and long trance, a deep and long journey toward human enlightenment, all wrapped and entwined in the web of karma. This is also why The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam appealed to us. I feel that encapsulates the same deep and long journey.
Q– Do you already think about the next album?
DAMON – Yes, we have a lot of material already written, in varying stages of completion, for the next album. We have always been this way. It would not feel right to rip out an album if we did not have many years worth of writing to draw upon. This allows us to pick and choose the strongest and most consistent material to form a strong and unique narrative for each album.
JUSTIN – It’s always exciting working on new material but completing the Incubus of Karma was our main focus. I have a feeling that the new material Damon has penned thus far will challenge band member & listener alike!
Q- What are your musical influences? Do you have any favourite bands?
DAMON – Iron Maiden, King Diamond, Judas Priest, Accept, Tom Waits, Nick Cave, Frank Zappa, King Crimson. Mostly the earlier efforts of all these bands. These are my personal favourites, not necessarily the bands that influenced Mournful directly.
JUSTIN – I draw influence from many different artists & genres along with nature itself. I was first introduced to doom metal through the Peaceville Three (Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride & Anathema), which I am still strongly influenced by. Outside of metal, I am inspired by guitar players like Gary Moore, Jimmy Page & David Gilmour. I grew up listening to a lot of classical music (Bach, Beethoven & Chopin), which would no doubt inform me musically to this day.
Q-You have never been to Romania before. Would you be interested to play in a local festival or show?
DAMON – Yes! Of course! Who would not want to perform in Romania? You have such a rich history!
JUSTIN – Hopefully we can promote the new album well into 2019. We would love to play shows in places like Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria & Greece if given the opportunity.
Q- Will you promote this album in the next live gigs?
DAMON – Yes, we will be playing in the US in July. Migration Fest plus a couple other exclusive shows. And also Madrid is the Dark Fest in December and a small European tour with Ophis.
JUSTIN – I look forward to performing some of the more challenging songs from the new album soon. I have a feeling Whispering Spiritscapes will be a live favourite as soon as we introduce it to the set.
Q-Why did you choose the Persian quatrains as source of inspiration for your lyrics?
DAMON – The tome presented itself to me by chance as I was going through my Grandmother’s library. The slightly obscure nature of the title stood out to me at first, and once I read it, and then read Yogananda’s commentary upon it, it inspired me to utilize some of it’s passages. It is better poetry than I myself could ever write, and speaks the same sentiments I myself might have wished to portray. So why not set some music to it after 500 years?
Q-Do you have any message for fans in Romania?
DAMON – Be merciful to your fellow man, for they know not what they do.
JUSTIN – Thanks to everyone in Romania who has supported us over the years. It will be an honour to bring our music to your amazing country when we are finally given the chance.
Q-Do you prefer better concerts within a festival or individual shows?
DAMON – Both can be equally rewarding. I don’t really have a preference. Depends on the situation.
JUSTIN – I personally enjoy playing individual shows more but some of our best performances have been at festivals. There is a different sort of energy at a festival, which can lead to an incredible show.
Q-What kind of challenges do you come across when composing and recording new music?
DAMON – There are many. Trying not to repeat yourself, finding new and interesting ways to present similar sentiments time and time again. Trying to capture the raw initial feelings and emotions in a studio. Trying to get the most impact out of every section of music composed in the studio.
JUSTIN – The challenge for me is about finding the right expression within my solos & to always serve the song. I am very conscious of the note choice in my parts but I am deeply motivated by the feel as well. Playing the music that we do allows us to think deeply on the smallest of nuances.
Thank you very much for the interview!