Entrevistas a músicos que ayudaron a forjar al metal extremo/Interviews with musicians that helped to build the extreme metal

jueves, 27 de noviembre de 2008

Interview with Mem (EXUMER)

(Interviewer: Martín)

Exumer is back, alive and well!. I was really excited with the idea of interviewing Mem. Here we have the answers of the founder of this awesome band...

Martín: Mem, thank you very much for taking the time to answer these questions. To start the interview, let’s talk about the present. How did become the idea of reunite the band?

Mem: We were getting so much mail over the years and it really did not stop after we played the reunion show at Wacken in 2001. I was playing with the idea of putting the band back together for a while but then in 2007, Paul came to stay with me in New Yor City over Halloween. We connected in such a profound way that it brought back my initial thoughts about reforming the band. I had recorded the Second Sun Descends full-length and actually was mentally prepared to give it another try with Exumer. Paul is a technical genius and works for Apple in Hawaii and so he suggested we could work via the internet in three different places, me in New York City, Paul on Hawaii and Ray (Mensh, guitar) in Germany. Ray got onboard almost immediately after I had introduced the idea and so everything kind of fell in place.

Martín: It is very unusual that in the current line up are at the same time two vocalists that sung on the first and second album, I mean, you and Paul (Arakari). Would to like to mention something special about this unique situation?

Mem: Paul, Ray and I have been friends for over 23 years at this point. This is the only way I could imagine bringing Exumer back this time around. We did Wacken in 2001, for a one-off show but this is not a reunion, this is actually the full-on, functional band. We never lost touch or our friendship after I left the band in 1986. Paul, Ray and Bernie (Siedler, guitar), remained my friends until today. We are family, not just some guys who met last year and started jamming. So, you are right it is quite a special situation for a band to come back with two singers, but this is part of our history and our most definitely present situation.

Martín: It seems that old school thrash bands are coming back again and again, and I cellebrate this. In the case of EXUMER, which is the main objective for this new era of the group?

Mem: The main objective is to come back and record the best third album a band can possibly record after putting out their last album 22 years ago. The same goes with the live shows, we only want to play the most furious shows that you can imagine. There are so many fans who were either born in the 1980s or after, and who have never seen the band play live. Just go on you tube or some other medium and you will find a lot of people wondering if they could ever see Exumer live. Now they can…

Martín: In America a lot of bands like Merciless Death emerged playing a very aggresive style of thrash and we are talking about very young guys that perhaps are not born or have 3 years old when “Possessed By Fire” was released. By the way, this band have mentioned Exumer as an strong influence and Dan Holder (Guitarrist) has a tatoo of Exumer in his shoulder. How does it feel being an influential thrash band for the new generations?

Mem: We never thought that this could ever happen when we first started but I guess it’s the same when we started. We listened to Venom, Slayer and a lot of Exodus, those were our influences. The only difference was that they were not much older than we were at the time and that thrash metal was at its beginning. Anyway, I am honored and very moved that anyone can quote us as their influence. I tip my hat off to the new generation for keeping this music alive and not forgetting their roots at the same time.

Martín: Mem, let’s talk about the old times. You are the founder of the band. Could you tell me how was the process to find the members, and get a contract to record “Possessed By Fire”?

Mem: I met Ray at a Slayer show where we both worked as part of the local road crew. I wanted to start a band and he looked amazing, AND he played guitar. So, I approached him and we met at my dad’s garage for rehearsals. He brought Paul in as a rhythm guitarist and I brought Syke (Bornetto, Drums). However, Paul went to High School and his parents would not let him come to rehearse with us 4 x per week, so we asked Bernie to join. Paul left on good terms and we recorded a demo, the “Mortal in Black”, tape. We played a few shows after and got picked up by a label after playing only two shows. Finally, we went to Berlin to record “Possessed By Fire”.

Martín: For me, “Possessed By Fire” is one of my favorite ten albums of old school thrash of all times. It is incredibly killer, the drums, the riffs, your voice. Which bands or influences had in mind when you recorded this masterpiece?

Mem: We were influenced by Exodus, Slayer and all the bands from the time that meant anything to anyone else who was also around back then. I mean we all listened to the same music, thrash and metal in general was loved by everyone with the same intensity. I remember that I loved thrash, hardcore, punk and metal. I think that is the reason why thrash felt so honest, we were not preoccupied with labels. Everything went as long as it was true; what is difference between Priest’s “Rapid Fire” or a Venom track? Or a song by Agnostic Front or Bathory? All very aggressive music by honest bands! So, maybe that is why our music came out so urgent and pressing, because we fed off that energy without analyzing what style it is but how good.

Martín: I read that when “Rising From The Sea” was released, the critics didn’t receive it in the same way as the first album. Do you believe that the main reason was the change of the bass/vocalist or there were other factors for this reaction. For me it is also a great album.

Mem: I think that happened because of a few reasons. One, a new singer and a tendency towards a heavy Slayer influence. The first album was more of a mix of all the bands we liked at the time. Then, there were metal politics and really just that some of the songs on Rising were not as thought out as they were on Possessed. The sound was also not as forceful and that is because the band changed producers. So, I think in the end it’s a matter of preference. Both albums are important for the band’s image and are part of our history.

Martín: You have played in Brazil in the eighties, very near from my country, Argentina. Would you like to share some memories of that shows? My CD of “Possessed/Rising” is a brazilian edition (Rock Machine, 1998) and got a great picture with the band posing in the stage with a flag made by a fan.

Mem: Paul was singing on that tour, not me, but I know that everyone was absolutely blown away by Brazil and the fans. Sepultura opened for us back then and I remember it being one of the best times for Exumer. We would love to come back and play for the rest of South America, including your country, Argentina. This time with both singers!

Martín: Talking about technology in music, in which way you believe that things like Pro Tools or stuff like that help to get a better product in a band of thrash metal? Or you believe in a raw, genuine take at the studio?

Mem: I think people/bands should use what they think sounds the best for them. Either way, if you produce music one way or another, the result should always be something that you like and can be proud of! Whatever you prefer!

Martín: What do you think about this wave of downloading and mp3 thing?. Feel free to say whatever you like.

Mem: In one way it’s like the tape-trading from the early days, in another it is preventing bands from making profit so that they can go on and deliver new material. Here is what I do: I download music and then buy the album, especially if it is from a band I like/respect. It has gotten to the point where everything is transparent, easy to access and without any mystique. I was not able to get any demo at any given time when I was 14 years old. I had to write people via mail and trade tapes. I was wondering what Venom was up to and was not able to go online to see them on their tour bus after the show they just played in some city in the world. The magic is a bit GONE, but so are the stupid rock star attitudes. No I take that back, it’s just a bit less pretentious, that’s all. I rather have it more difficult and full of magic though!

Martín: Do you like any newer band of metal?. What do you think of bands like Lamb Of God, Killswitch Engage or Mastodon?. Do you prefer more the traditional way of doing metal?

Mem: I like Lamb Of God, and Mastodon but I prefer the old records from the eighties. Music cannot stop though and it has to evolve and change. Those bands represent what is going on now and they are honest. So, I wish them the best of luck and I am glad that they are around.

Martín: Would you like to mention your ten favorite albums of all times, including any kind of genre?


Exodus: Bonded by Blood.
Slayer: Hell Awaits.
Venom: Black Metal.
Possessed: Seven Churches.
Mercyful Fate: ALL!
Megadeth: Killing is my Business… and business is good!
Cro Mags: Age of quarrel/Best Wishes.
Dead Kennedys: Fresh fruit for rotting vegetables.
All by Thin Lizzy and all by Curtis Mayfield.
Early Frank Zappa, all eighties metal, punk and Hardcore!

Martín: Well Mem, it was an honour for me make this interview. Good luck with the new version of Exumer. To finish the interview would you like to say anything in special to the fans that are reading these?

Mem: Thank you and thank everyone who supported us past, present and future. There is no us without you! Keep thrash alive and stay true to what you believe, that is the only way I know how to live….

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