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Mournful Congregation is one of the most respected names on the Doom scene; the Australian band has built up its reputation with melodic, dark and profound Funeral Doom albums.

Interview with Mournful Congregation.
Mournful Congregation is one of the most respected names on the Doom scene; the Australian band has built up its reputation with melodic, dark and profound Funeral Doom albums.
The interview was led with drummer Adrian Bickle.

Interview made by Antonin Dubois for the webzine Cryptic Madness (http://www.crypticmadness.com/) in march 2010.

Hi Mournful Congregation ! First, thanks for accepting this interview.
A little more than one year after the release of The June Frost and its unanime excellent reception, what do you think about it ?

Hello and thanks you for the interview. Yes, it’s been just over a year since The June Frost came out and it’s been quite a busy time for the band. I think with most albums, when you look back a year or so later you always think ‘we could have done this or I could have done that’ but that’s part of it all, you learn from these experiences and use it as a way of making the next album even better. Overall we created what we set out to create on that record and we’re most pleased with the outcome and the response.

As I said in my review of The June Frost on Cryptic Madness, I had to listen to it many and many times before really enjoying it; that wasn’t really the casee with The Monad Of Creation which I had immediately loved. Do you think that it's a more sophisticated album ? That it is more difficult to understand its music ?

I’d definitely say that The June Frost is more of a journey, 60 minutes spent travelling through the mood that lies at the heart of an Australian winter. So I think the immediacy that’s present on The Monad of Creation is quite different and perhaps that’s why it takes some time to truly ‘feel’ The June Frost. I wouldn’t really consider it a question of sophistication even though I’d like to think that we grew a great deal as a band in the 4 years between releases. They are just like different siblings with their individual characteristics but at the same time a common essence that binds them. I’d just be more inclined to say that The June Frost requires a certain degree of patience, it’s a deep and moody record.

I think that it's not quite the antithesis of your precedent album (as we can think so with the white cover, instead of the black one of The Monad Of Creation), but its prolongation, with common points but also with big differences. Has The Monad Of Creation had an influence on The June Frost's composition ?

A lot of it has to do with natural evolution. We’ve known for a long time now the direction in which we wished to take this band and so, for us, The June Frost was the natural progression from its predecessor. One didn’t so much influence the other, it all flows from the same developing stream. The Monad of Creation is where we were at in 2005, The June Frost is where we were at in 2009.

In what state of mind did you compose it ?

Hmm, I don’t even pretend to know the state of mind Damon is in when he composes the various components that come together to form a Mournful Congregation release. I’d rather not know, it keeps a certain magic to it all.

A last question specially about The June Frost. I'm not sure, but I think that before its release you had’nt done any merchandising, but since january 2009 there are Mournful Congregation's shirts, patches... Why was merchandising not important a few years ago and why is it more important now ? For you, is it a satisfaction to see people wearing Mournful Congregation's shirts or is it just a way to earn money to produce your next full-length, play live, etc ?

Actually we’ve had shirts available since as far back as 1997. We’d only released a few designs in limited numbers but they are definitely out there. Even with a fair amount of demand we only released the two designs with The June Frost which were replicated on the patches... so I don’t see us becoming the Cradle of Filth of doom with loads of different shirts flooding the market. Yes, it’s nice in some way to see people representing the band and it certainly helps in terms of exposure but at the same time we aren’t reliant in any way on merchandise as a means of playing live or touring and it doesn’t dictate anything to do with the studio budget etc.

I read on our forum that Ostra Records will release your next full-length in 2011, just two years after The June Frost which was itself released four years after The Monad of Creation. How did you find inspiration in only two years ?

True, we plan to begin recording later this year after our Japanese tour. I think these days we focus a lot of time and energy on the band whereas in the past we basically did MC related stuff when we had the time to because we were all also very busy with other bands. Since the release of The Monad of Creation a lot of momentum has been built and the band has really taken on a life of its own so to release something a couple of years after The June Frost doesn’t seem unrealistic at all. All of the music has been composed and at this point in time we’re just working on the overall arrangements.

2010 is the 17th anniversary of Mournful Congregation. How do you see past, present and future ?

We were kids when this began with the intent of creating the most extreme form of emotionally charged doom. So much has changed over those years in our respective lives but I think that ambition in terms of MC is still the same. Through all of the formative years we’ve reached a point now where we have a very clear idea of where the band is at and where we are looking to take it. The next album will be an indication of this direction.

How would you define Mournful Congregation ?

I would be more inclined to say that Mournful Congregation defines us.

Together with sadness and despair, I think that the third « feeling » of Mournful Congregation could be a religious one, very solemn. Do you agree ?

I tend to have an aversion to the term ‘religion’. Still, I think you are correct, there is definitely a sombre spiritual aspect to the music. It’s an underlying moody component that’s always had a presence in the band.

According to you, how important are of the lyrics ?

The lyrics are quite significant because they are really a reflection of the atmosphere within the music. I think the most important thing is for them to be complimentary to the music, to tie in well with the sounds and to assist in creating a particular landscape.

What are your influences (musical and non-musical) ?

I can only speak for myself here... musically I’ve always been influenced by a wide variety of artists, pretty much everything from classical through to progressive rock and the most extreme forms of metal. As a drummer my greatest initial influences were guys like Sean Reinert, Terry Bozzio, Virgil Donati, to name just a few. Outside of music... hmm, I love reading and travelling, martial arts. I also really enjoy my solitude, it’s important for me to retreat from humanity on a regular basis.

I know that you have other projects (bands, labels, etc). Can you tell us more about it ?

Damon plays in a couple of other bands, STARGAZER and CAULDRON BLACK RAM. He also runs The Cave Distro. Justin plays in BLACK ORCHID. I’ve got another project happening which involves members of Nazxul/Bethlehem/Ataraxie but I’m not saying much about that at this stage – all will be revealed in time.

How is the Doom Metal scene in Australia nowadays?

There is no ‘scene’ as such. There are a few bands with doom type elements to their music but it’s generally quite limited.

And, to end up this little chat, what are your favorite French Doom Metal bands ?

Ataraxie and Fatum Elisum – both fantastic bands.

Thanks again for accepting this interview with Cryptic Madness ! I hope to listen to a new Mournful Congregation's album soon and to see you live very soon !

Many thanks for this, much appreciated. Yes, we’d very much like to return to France as soon as possible – hopefully we’ll be there after the release of the next album. A tremendous place and we have some great friends there. All the best !

Visit the Mournful Congregation bandpage.

Interviewed on 2010-03-15 by Antonin Dubois.
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