EMQ’s With Mortalus
Hi everyone! Welcome to another EMQs interview, this time with USA Heavy/ Trash Metal band, Mortalus. huge thanks to them for taking part.
What is your name, what do you play and can you tell us a little bit about the history of the band?
Mortalus is equal parts classic and modern, heavy and melodic, power and finesse, focused and loose. We take our craft very seriously, but by the time the album closes, the listener will know that we still like to have a little fun while we are at it. Michelle Gann shreds guitar and covers lead vocal duties. Bryan Bedgood lays down the groove with the bass and backing vocals. Patrick Mahoney fills out the drums and everything percussion.
Our band is celebrating 10 years this year. It has been a very heavy and epic journey.
How did you come up with your band name?
Patrick is the founding member of the band. In the very early days, there were several friends and family that helped to come up with something that was unique, impactful, and heavy.
What Country / Region are you from and what is the Metal / Rock scene like there?
We are from the southern United States, based our of Little Rock, Arkansas. The metal in our area is currently entering a renaissance phase. There are lots of new bands on the scene that are inventive and exciting our ears!
What is your latest release?
Our sophomore LP, which is out on February 24, 2023, is a showcase of all everything metal. It has been a whirlwind since the last album was released. Impactful events such as a global pandemic, political and worldwide turmoil, addiction, inequality and prejudice, losing family members, decayed friendships, and re-evaluation of one’s own perspective all went into the making of We Are Human.
Who have been your greatest influences?
Metallica…because it’s Metallica! Bur really, there are so many influences for each band member.
Michelle: Iron Maiden, Evergrey, Pink Floyd and Ozzy. I also grew up with a lot of 70’s and 80’s classic rock (The Police, Toto, Journey, Styx, Kansas, Foreigner…. I could go on forever). Those epic melodies really made an impression on me. Because of those bands, I really can’t write a song without some type of catchy melody in it.
Bryan: Toto to Testament, Chicago to Candlemass, White Lion to Black Sabbath, Night Ranger to Nevermore, Kansas to Kamelot, SRV to EVH… you get the point. I draw influence from all sorts of musical inspiration, especially as a multi-instrumentalist. For Mortalus, more specific influences would be Iron Maiden, Billy Sheehan, Mike Porcaro, Michael Anthony, John Myung, Steve DiGiorgio, and of course Dave Willems.
Patrick: I grew up in New Orleans and was surrounded by Jazz, Funk, and early pioneers of doom and sludge metal. However, I was most influenced by thrash in the 80s and crossovers such as Agnostic Front and Dirty Rotten Imbeciles. Most notably though, my playing style is a little Kenny Aronoff for groove, Nick Menza for fantastic footwork and interesting fills, and Dave Lombardo for complex single strokes.
What first got you into music?
Patrick – I came from a very musical family. Nearly every aunt, uncle, grandparents, and both parents were musicians. Music was part of everyday life whether it was on vinyl, 8 track, or cassette. There was always something interesting on in the background. Irma Thomas, Kenny Rodgers, Men at Work, and Pat Bentar were some of what was on in the car or blasting through the home stereo. I first took an interest in piano, but my passion was the drums. Thankfully I had very accommodating parents and siblings that tolerated the thunder that came from my adolescent bedroom as I learned to play and further developed my craft.
Michelle – I came from a musical household. My dad is an amazing vocalist, and he was in rock bands for much of my early childhood. I was shy though and would only sing privately in my room until I was about 18 or 19. I started playing guitar at age 15 because I started getting into metal. A couple of my good friends had guitars and it looked like fun. I just thought, “I bet I could do that too.”
Bryan – As a youngster, my Mom would have the radio on and I would always gravitate towards the Chicago songs, like 25 Or 6 To 4, Beginnings, etc. I picked up trumpet because of Chicago, Dizzy Gillespie, and Doc Severinsen. Then the ‘80s happened (yes, I’m in my 50’s), and it was all downhill from there!! Def Leppard, Ratt, Cinderella, Whitesnake, you name it. Then I’d add in some Metallica, Ozzy, Overkill, all the Shrapnel Records shred stuff, etc. My favourite album of all time is still Toto IV, 40 years running.
If you could collaborate with a current band or musician who would it be?
Miley Cyrus. She seems like she would be a lot of fun to work with. You never know what would be coming up next and is super collaborative and creative!
If you could play any festival in the world, which would you choose and why?
Download – because Donnington…… the history of it all, from Monsters Of Rock to the current Download. Such legendary line-ups since 1980. To just be a small part of that would be super rad!
What’s the weirdest gift you have ever received from a fan?
We appreciate all gifts! We have never received anything too weird or too “out there”.
If you had one message for your fans, what would it be?
Keep an open mind and an open heart, but don’t apologize for your love of metal. Metal fans are truly everywhere you would never know unless you play it loud, talk about it, and take pride in sharing your passion with those around you. You never know who you might inspire. Make the world a better place, one chug at a time
If you could bring one rock star back from the dead, who would it be?
David Bowie. He was everything and had no boundaries. He pushed through gender conformity, cultural norms, and continued to reinvent himself, his bands, and his art.
What do you enjoy the most about being a musician? And what do you hate?
The creative process and experimentation. When a song finally comes together…it’s all running smooth and we’re all locked in. It is a feeling nearly impossible to top. Pure magic!
If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
The money hungry big machines of music. The amount of music that is released commercially is so small. There are so many emerging and existing artists that are out that continue to push the bounds of simple notes. Too band some of the smaller local and regional acts don’t get more exposure and airplay to see how these artists could mature.
Name one of your all-time favourite albums?
Master of Puppets by Metallica. It is the perfect blend of harmony, speed, and thrash.
What’s best? Vinyl, Cassettes, CDs, or Downloads?
We all like physical media. Vinyl has made a huge comeback and sounds stellar on modern and vintage turntables. However, we love CD’s… they are portable, are crystal clear, and cheap to produce. We are thankful for streaming and all forms of electronic / downloaded media. It makes sharing our music so much easier and in the ears of a wider audience.
What’s the best gig that you have played to date?
Thrashing Through the Snow (December 2019) at the Revolution Room in Little Rock. This was a fundraiser show featuring some stellar acts to raise money for our local Food Bank. Hundreds thrashed the night away and we were able to raise lots of money and canned food for the Arkansas Food Bank.
If you weren’t a musician, what else would you be doing?
Not having as much fun, that’s for sure. We all have different interests from painting, building cars and motorcycles, spending time with our families or recording new projects.
Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?
Freddie Mercury, Robin Williams, Babe Ruth, Cher, Marilyn Monroe. This would be such an eclectic group…the stories and humour alone! Can you imagine the topics!
What’s next for the band?
World domination, of course!! Seriously though, we are lining up tour dates in the US as we speak. We are hoping to line up European dates in 2024. Along the way, inspiration will strike and writing for the next record will begin.
What Social Media / Website links do you use to get your music out to people?
Please see below:
Time for a very British question now. As an alternative to the humble sandwich, is the correct name for a round piece of bread common in the UK either a Bap, a Barm (or Barm Cake), a Batch, a Bun, a Cob, a Muffin, a Roll or a Tea Cake?
Like the “pop / soft drink / cola / Coke / soda pop” name debate in different parts of the USA……
Thank you for your time. Is there anything else that you would like to add?
Go buy our new album, We Are Human, and thrash to Mortaus!
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