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"Mourning Dawn's 15-year history of extreme Black/Doom recently took a new turn with the release of this year's concept EP 'Waste'. Since the band's founder Laurent is a regular visitor the site, and always happy to let us know what's going on with the band, we thought we finally ought to prevail upon him to give us a full interview..."

Interview with Mourning Dawn.

Talking to us today: Laurent 'Pokemonslaughter', Mourning Dawn founder and mastermind. (Photo: John Gallardo).

(1) Hello Laurent, and thanks very much for agreeing to be interviewed for Doom-Metal.com. Could we start with a bit of an introduction of yourself to our readers?

Hi Mike. Well, I'm a doom METAL fan since the mid '90s. I first started writing reviews for the French webzine Guts of Darkness in the early '00s, then started my own band Mourning Dawn in 2002, which is still active until now, and we just released a conceptual EP recently. Otherwise, I played in Inborn Suffering for like 8 years, Funeralium for 2 years, and just started a new international band called Wastes. All about extreme doom stuff as you can see. Sounds like a job interview ahah!

(2) Mourning Dawn has been around for a good while now. The earliest release I've got is a 2003 CD of 'The Freezing Hand Of Reason' EP, which is credited as a solo work with a band to back it up with live work. How did you get the project started?

It was really naive in the beginning. Just imagine a young teenager lost in southern France, wanting to create dark stuff in the way he couldn’t find in the bands he was listening to back then. As I was truly alone in my small town listening to metal stuff, I decided to start everything on my own. I then moved to Paris for university, and met some people. I first started a death/thrash band, and then decided to try to play some Mourning Dawn stuff, and then came our first gig proposal, in 2007 if I'm correct.

Early days: Mourning Dawn live in Paris, 2007.

(3) And before that, were you involved in anything musically? Did you have any formal schooling, or was it a self-taught background?

Totally self taught! I consider myself as a really bad guitarist, but my level seems sufficient to me, to create what I want to do. I indeed followed some classical guitar courses, but it wasn’t really of any help to play blackened doom stuff. I quickly discovered that I was quite bad at soloing etc, so I decided to surround myself with the right people who know how to handle their instruments in a better way than me. Basically, I create everything, and play everything on the demos, then we work on it at our practice room. Before being in the doom scene, I played in a death thrash band called Agonizer with various people from the Parisian extreme scene. And Im still trying to forget this really bad band I joined while in college, playing French rock covers hehe...

(4) I'm a little curious - according to several sources, including our bandpage, the band could have ended up being called Pokemonslaughter. How true is that? And is there a story behind that name?

Ahah! No never. It came from an old story when I was 16 or 17. It was all about that pokemon mania. I have a little brother who was a child back then. There was some battle between our rooms. Me putting things like Sepultura or Napalm Death, and him putting his only cd: the pokemon one. Hence the nickname. But it was only a nickname used as a reviewers one. But people connected it to my band, “hey its pokemonslaughter’s band” I guess. Not really doom, but well I cant help it.

(5) That earliest material seems pretty much entirely Black Metal; later albums from the 2007 self-titled full-length could be tagged as more typically Black/Doom. It's still a label I sometimes have difficulty reconciling - the aesthetics of Black Metal and Doom are often at complete odds to each other. Would you agree with that, and more importantly, how do you make them work together?

I didn’t really think about it. Im not really listening to the DSBM scene, which I'm often connected with. At the real beginning, I just wanted to play something harsh and depressed. Slow tempos and bleak guitars. But I don’t get why it would be that complicated to mix together. Im not a black metal fan, but the extremism of both styles seem to fit together for me. One in terms of ideology and rawness of the sound, the other one for the atmosphere. But that would lead us to the endless debate which would try to find a definition for what is "doom" all about?

Mourning Dawn - 'From The Torrent And The Fountain':

(6) Although the 'Mourning Dawn' full-length was the first 'band' recording, it - and most of the later albums - still carry a credit for all music being composed and played by yourself. Do the band ever join you in the studio, or have input into any of the albums?

I compose, and we work everything at our practice room, but I still keep the final word. Yes, it's definitely not a democratic band, contrary to what we did with Inborn Suffering. Now that I'm relocated in the south of France again, we work a lot through the internet. The world has changed a lot since the internet era, and, if you play with involved people, you don't really need to practice every week. I remember a friend teling me that Marduk (!!) never rehearse, they just gather themselves 3 weeks before a tour, and they rehearse intensively and that's all! But overall, I'm just lucky enough to have great people playing with me, accepting the way I work, and serious enough to be able to work from a distance. I can tell you it's not easy to find!

(7) Funnily enough, Stu at Aesthetic Death giving me a copy of the 'For The Fallen' vinyl release was what convinced me to buy another record deck, my first since I abandoned LPs in the early '90s. What's your preference for musical media, both as an artist and a listener: analogue, digital, download?

I'm still a huge physical format buyer. Like Stu hehe, but my collection is smaller than his. I should have like 2000 CDs etc... I don’t know why now, maybe its just a collectionist trip. I like to choose what I want to listen to, with a real thing in my hands, watching the cover, reading lyrics when I think they’re interesting (not often in the metal world ahah), like a lot of old school fans. But I understand that in 2017, people prefer youtube, bandcamp etc... Its so easy, fast to get... and free. But im still wondering how you can really enjoy, or understand, an album when you’re in the subway with your bad earphones, or in front of your computer while facebooking or checking youporn ahah. Music has been like fast food. More band, more albums, more trends, everything is going so fast now. I'm not interested in that. Thats why I prefer to buy physical things, and enjoy a packaging which adds a lot of things to the music. But I bet you’re like me héhé.

Discography: 'Mourning Dawn' (Demo, 2002), 'Straight To The Past...' (Demo, 2003), 'The Freezing Hand Of Reason' (EP, 2003), 'Mourning Dawn' (2007), 'For The Fallen...' (2009), 'Schatten Aus Der... Bethlehem/A Tribute to Dictius Te Necare' (Split, 2009), 'Les Sacrifiés' (2014), 'Waste' (EP, 2017).

(8) Speaking of 'For The Fallen': although war is always a popular Metal theme, World War I isn't that frequently visited. It always seems somehow lost between the fantastic romanticisation of older conflicts and the more accessible views of living-memory ones. What made you want to explore it?

I was young and obsessed with WW1. My grandfather had lotsa stuff about that. People fought for different reasons than now. This whole youth sacrificed. It was the end of an era, the first jump to the new era we’re living now. The first step for WW2. For me, everything started from there. And yet, people still tried to keep their stylish way of living, which fascinated me. Things have changed now...

(9) It was a long wait after that for 'Les Sacrifiés'. Was there any particular reason? And, out of curiosity, where did the first track on the bonus disc originally come from?

We had troubles with the label, which totally ripped us off. He promised us a lot of things that never happened, including a one year delay... Otherwise the album was ready like 3 years after “For the fallen”... the first track ? If you're talking about "Scorned silence", its just a bonus song taken from "les sacrifiés" recording sessions. But I think you're talking about the Paradise Lost cover right ? In that case, I just can't remember why we have done this, probably because it is the only band we all like. There was no real purpose behind that, just to pay tribute to a band that all influenced us back in the '90s, even if our music has not a lot to connect with what they're doing now...

(10) And so, we now have the latest release, 'Waste'. What sparked off the 'overlaying' concept, and how difficult was it to compose and create the two tracks that would jointly form the third?

It was composed during a tough moment of my life. I was a bit high hehe and started to compose a new song for the next album. Then I tried to compose something that could be overlayed, just for fun. It was just two riffs or something. Then I thought it would be a challenge to go further and make a full EP with that idea. I knew some bands tried, but it wasn’t two metal songs that could be really played alone. That was the tricky part: to make songs that could be interesting, played alone or overlayed. There were a lot of parts where it was a nightmare... For the rest, it was all about harmonies and ideas/inspiration, including the lyrics.

The band, 2015: Fabien (Guitars), Vincent (Bass), Laurent (Guitars, Vocals) and Nicolas (Drums). Fabien has since left and been replaced by Ataraxie's Fred.

(11) What's the reasoning behind describing it as an EP? They're normally viewed as both short, and without the same level of integration as a full-length - but surely 'Waste' is complete enough, and more than long enough, to qualify as an album?

It's not an album. It's a concept. For me an album is more about "songs" gathered... I wanted to use more industrial things, to go further into new sounds. You know the kind of trip where you just “enjoy” (if I can say so...) making it. It's like breathing. I'm a huge Godflesh fan and I think you can hear it, but I never had the chance to include this influence in my music... Basically, it's just two songs. Anyway, I couldn’t consider it as an album, as it's a really different thing than what Mourning Dawn is used to playing.

(12) We recently reviewed 'Waste' (and, actually, it's currently our Album of the month). It's always nice to give people the chance to respond 'on the record' to reviews, so are there any comments you'd like to make on that, good or bad?

As you know, I'm checking from time to time the doom-metal.com forum. Thanks a lot for the review anyway. Its always great when people discuss about your release. But I try to stay away now from debates etc. It seems people really enjoyed the EP, despite not a lot really got the concept (not on your forum, luckily) ahah Which is really annoying. How could people miss that?! So, after the 4th review telling it's really repetitive, and the songs sound all the same, I chose to stay silent hehe....

Mourning Dawn - 'A Childish Thought':

(13) How do you feel the band has evolved over the years? What have been the high points along the way; and are there any releases you feel stand out for you, personally?

I'm not the best person to answer about the evolution... quite a paradox I know. I'm just doing my stuff with my own influences. All I can say is that things will probably change after the release of our 4th album. I kinda feel Ive said everything with that style of music. But who knows what will happen? The highest point? Well, probably the release of our first album. I didn’t think it would work that well, but with perspective I realize there were just a few bands in that style, and still now. I'm personally really satisfied with “les sacrifiés” which really touched the emotions I wanted to share with the listeners. You know, we dont sell a lot, we don't play a lot, but I'm always surprised that despite all of that, people seem to know us, or even some bands refer to us as an influence...

(14) What sort of live schedule do you keep - how often does the band play or tour? And how much do you enjoy being on stage?

I don’t really like to play gigs, although I did some with MD or Inborn Suffering (even Funeralium). Not that I don’t like the live playing thing, its always a pleasure, but the whole thing around: driving, crashing at bad places, waiting and waiting, drinking bad beers, waiting, being tired, waiting ahah. I'm a lazy asshole aren’t I? But we are organizing a tour in Asia, and Im very excited about that, more for the experience than enduring 10 or 12 gigs. I'm going to spit blood really quickly aha. Now that I'm living 800km away from the band, we don't really play, it's a pain in the ass for me. Touring still seems interesting but the conditions are always terrible, so I prefer to stay with my guitars and compose stuff in my studio.Music is an art, and I always considered that a song is living while you're composing it, once it's done, it's sort of half dead. Some musicians think they make it alive again while playing it live, but for me once an album is done, I just want to create another one. Thats how I do.

(15) On another note, you're credited as a past member of Funeralium, though not listed on any of their recordings: what was the story with that? Might you ever work with them again?

We’re still close friends. But at that time I had 3 bands, and not enough time to handle everything. I did some arrangements on some songs you could listen to on their 2nd album. What is funny is that Fred replaced me in Funeralium (and I replaced him before!), and now Fred is playing with Mourning Dawn. Its a small small wooorld...

(16) You were also part of the excellent Inborn Suffering, now sadly disbanded. How was that experience? Was it just too much work to keep going, given how many other bands everyone also belonged to?

We were... tired. The band had a weird way of working. A lot of tensions inside the band, it was hard for everyone to find his own place. We all liked different things, I was the extremist one. But the other ones wanted to go into sounds that displeased me etc etc... Hence the “regression to nothingness” album which is a really interesting mosaic of various influences. I'm still friends with them and we share a beer from time to time. We talked about doing something together again, but I'm personally involved in way too many things for now. But I promised to try to compose something. So, again, who knows what will happen?

(17) Perhaps it's a little cheeky to be asking, but having heard the teaser, what can we expect from the full experience of the forthcoming Wastes release? It's already acquired an "all-star Doom supergroup" expectation, rather like Inborn Suffering did - is that a good or a bad thing?

Being late answering this interview, as usual, this album has now been released. Well, "into the void of human vacuity" was initially composed as a Mourning Dawn song. But after a really destructive night, I composed some things which I didn’t remember the day after, and it ended up being a 45 minute long song, really extreme doom stuff, and it didn’t really sound like Mourning Dawn. So I decided to put all the doom inside me, into that. About the all star thing, it wasn’t really meant to be. I just asked some friends if they wanted to participate. All those I contacted were super excited about that. It's funny how things worked really well with that album. Completely different than MD things. For me, its definitely a good thing, as I just surrounded myself with people that could add the things I want for this album, especially Nadine, who I recruited for the female vocals, she definitely did a great job considering the conditions of the recording hehe

Mourning Dawn - 'God Damn The Sun' (Live 2016):

(18) Do you have any short- or longer-term plans for Mourning Dawn? Do you have any particular vision for where you'd like to take the band, or any idea how would you like it to be spoken of, looking back from sometime in the future?

Lotsa things. A split EP with an obscure Canadian band, showing 3 new songs, the recording of our 4th album, a tour in Asia. After that I'll probably take a break and decide which direction I would choose for the band. I somehow want to get away from traditional metal, and explore some dirtier paths, but still keeping our depressed atmospheres, that's for sure. You know, I know the band is not gonna have a great success, we’re too extreme for that. We already have a solid reputation and built a small name, but what's the next step? I've no clue.

(19) So, what else occupies your time outside of music? Is there anything you'd particularly like to be doing, given a free hand to indulge?

I'm trying to work on a book, which is really challenging. My writing skills are bad but I'm trying to improve myself, and I sometimes feel music is not enough to express what I want to do. But I'm not going to attempt suicide like Jon Nödtveidt ahah. Well, it's not in my plan anyway, but it could be great to sell more albums. Otherwise, I'm travelling a lot and working in the medical field, so it takes a lot of time, but you only live once so I'm trying to enjoy it to the fullest. Maybe that's why I hate that much the DSBM scene. Whiney stuff for whiney people.

(20) To close, I hope we've explored Mourning Dawn pretty thoroughly, both past and present, but if there is anything you'd like to add, the last words are yours.

Thank you Mike. Both for the interview and the support. I'm following doom metal since like 2004, and it's a great thing that you keep the website alive.

(-) Then it only remains for me to thank you again for your time and participation, and hope we'll be hearing from you for many years to come, both musically and on the site forum!

Click HERE to discuss this interview on the doom-metal forum.

Visit the Mourning Dawn bandpage.

Interviewed on 2017-08-21 by Mike Liassides.
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