“You can’t be TRVE all the time!”
Danish blackened hardcore quintet MØL tore up the PX3 stage on Saturday with one of the most insane and energetic sets of this year’s ArcTanGent Festival. And yet by the time we sat down to chat with them after their set, they were already calm and collected! Here’s what they had to say…
There’s this new subgenre term called “Blackgaze” that keeps cropping up, describing bands that combine black metal and shoegaze, which we’ve seen being attached to MØL. What do you think of the term… Do you think it fits your sound or is it just a silly buzzword?
MØL*: It fits the sound, but we wouldn’t necessarily consider ourselves black metal. It’s just metalgaze sort of… We still have a lot of elements of it, the high pitched vocals, the aggressiveness as well. The vocals do death metal stuff as well, and stuff you wouldn’t usually put in black metal. We don’t stick to a formula. It’s not just black metal or shoegaze.
MØL are one of the few international bands signed to Holy Roar, how did this unison come about?
We’ve always been fans of Holy Roar, and we followed the bands they put out. We just thought fuck it, and sent it to Alex [Fitzpatrick, label manager]. I know the man gets like 100 emails a day, but we got a reply and he loved the album. I think Alex actually shared a track from the second EP, on Twitter or Instagram, so when we finished ‘Jord’ and were ready to release it, we contacted him. They fit the profile really well of a small DIY label. We are huge fans ourselves. So instead of sending emails to a bunch of labels and a few Danish labels, it was much better fitted for us to go on Holy Roar. They really believe in the music as well. It’s really nice when the label has your back…
They really get behind every band that they sign.
Exactly! And they have opinions! It’s good to have opinions. You can pat a lot of people on the back in this whole industry, but we really like that they have strong opinions about what we do, and have good requirements.
MØL hail from Denmark. Do you feel that your sound owes anything to the vast legacy of Scandinavian metal, or do you feel like you’re moving away from the Scandinavian sound? Because we hear influences of American metal and hardcore…
We don’t feel like we owe anyone anything!
But of course, we grew up listening to a lot of Norwegian black metal. But as a whole, as a band, we are combining all these elements from hardcore, shoegaze and more melodic kind of things. I guess it’s in there somewhere… Some of us came from hardcore, some of us from death metal. We all listen to very different kinds of music from Norwegian black metal, to pop-punk, to progressive and math rock. It’s a question a lot of people have asked. It is a big part of a lot of Scandinavian musicians that they develop from that kind of scene. But there is a big gap between playing Norwegian black metal and what we play.
MØL are more distinct. Sometimes you can just tell if a band comes from Scandinavia…
There’s something about the differentiation of how you describe yourself as belonging to a scene. Culture is something that comes into play in metal so much. That’s the main reason why people ask that question. We like to bend genres. It’s so lovely to see people coming to our shows who like shoegaze. The diversity of what our music can provide, mixing cultures and people… It’s not like it’s our goal, but we are very different people as well. That’s one of the key things to why bands with multiple genre influences really have an effect on how to make groups bond.
You could really see that in the crowd today! So what’s the scene like in Denmark and what brought you guys together?
First of all, the scene is very small. If you are looking for lots of diversity it’s very hard. You can almost count on one hand how many bands for each genre there are that are active around the country. So all these different bands around us are from completely different genres. We have like two deathcore bands in Denmark that we know of. So it’s a really small scene, but vibrant and growing. We spoke with Alex about it, he mentioned that in the UK scene, a black metal band will play with a black metal band… A hardcore band will play with a hardcore band… But in Denmark you have to combine these things much more. We played a couple of shows with Cabal, and will play more shows with them in the fall. They play hardcore, deathcore, something completely else. You have to adapt a bit more when the scene is so small. It’s also healthy for a lot of the audience, because they end up listening to something else. You can’t be TRVE all the time! We really respect that people commit themselves to a culture. Iron Maiden is a culture. What has developed out of the whole Iron Maiden family is a community. It’s a culture thing. Nowadays the market is so over-saturated, we have so many streaming services, everything is out there. But we get to hear a lot more music.
On MØL’s debut album ‘Jord’, what were the main lyrical inspirations? Was it a very personal journey, or were their influences coming from outside music, such as film and literature?
Kim Song [Sternkopf, vocals]: I’ll try and keep this short, the other guys hate me for it [giggles]. I went through a time in my life where I had a lot of things going and I kind of burned out. So it was kind of like a mental pause, I had a sick leave for half a year. I went through this phase of writing the lyrics for this album, and it’s a reminder that we’re not going to stay here for long. We’re going to die someday and end up in the earth. Keeping focus on what is important, that’s one of the main themes on the whole album.
We could definitely tell it was coming from a personal place, and that is what makes ‘Jord’ so emotive…
Kim Song: That doesn’t mean that I revisit it every time, but sometimes it does create a space with the audience where I share something kind of… Private! It’s weird, but it’s really cool that a phase that I went through turned into something really good.
What are some of your favourite places to visit in the UK, other than ArcTanGent of course?
This is our second time here. We toured back in May and we loved it. Of course, Holy Roar was a great part of that. The fans here are so, so amazing and really dedicated.
Do you have any good festival survival tips?
Check all your gear, all the time! Don’t forget your passport! Our plane was delayed for two hours yesterday. One of us couldn’t find their passport so that delayed us even more. We finally got here to ArcTanGent half an hour before we had to play, on just five hours sleep. And then we found out we were missing a bag of cymbals! No drumsticks or nothing. But that’s the kind of stuff you have to deal with. You’ve got to be open minded, take everything as it comes and roll with the punches! We heard Alcest forgot all of their gear!
MØL are touring the UK with Ghost Bath later in the year, and after that what are your next moves? Have you thought about the next record yet?
Definitely! We are really itching to write some new stuff. Touring is fun and great and all that, but the creative process is where it’s most fun!
Interview conducted by Chris “Frenchie” French, Ross Baker and special guest Marie Mutl.
Live photo credit: Robert Tilbury Photography
Interview photo credit: Ian Percival @trashmonkeypics
‘Jord’ is out now on Holy Roar Records.
Early bird tickets for ArcTanGent 2019 are on sale now!
*[Editors note: We interviewed all five band members of MØL and we have presented their interview answers mostly in the form of a collective response, rather than their individual answers. We would like to apologise to MØL and the readers about this, but listening back to our audio tapes in retrospect made it difficult to piece together exactly which band member was answering what. This problem came from talking to five people we had only just met, and our unfamiliarity of hearing accents that we aren’t accustomed to. We did have a strong idea of who was answering what, but didn’t have the confidence to say exactly who answered each response, unless where stated. We still think the interview reads well and is presented accurately to the answers that the band members gave to us.]