Traditional Doomers Misericorde were formed by ex-Year Zero bassist Murray Geddes (aka Muzz) whose history can be traced right back to the late 90’s. Starting out life as a solo project, overtime the passion for all things doom developed in a full live band whose sound envelops the whole feel and vibe of a bygone era and with the release of their debut demo ‘Soundscapes for the Disenchanted’ now circulating in the underground, (if your into the likes of Saint Vitus, Count Raven, & The Obsessed I urge you to track down a copy!) I fired some questions over to Muzz.
Hey Muzz, how’s life treating you over in Yorkshire, good I hope! Right, let’s get the interview kicked into gear by giving the bands current line up and what they do in Misericorde?
Alright Lee, life’s pretty good at the moment thanks, still riding the high from the Doom Metal Inquisition the other weekend.
The current line-up is: Murray on guitar & vocals, Jay on bass & Dave on drums.
For those that are new to the Misericorde name, how would you describe your music and where do you draw your inspiration from?
From what I’ve been told, the best way I can describe our sound is if you could imagine “Morbid Tales” era Celtic Frost playing Hellhound/DC style doom metal. It’s old school, it’s raw, it’s got headbanging riffs, it’s got groove, and it’s heavy. Collectively, we all have a love of the Sabbath (of course), Electric Wizard, Saint Vitus, Sleep, The Obsessed, plus loads of other bands from all sorts of other aspects of metal, punk and rock. The main influences for me, I suppose, would be stuff like old school Frost, Black Sabbath, Winter, Vitus, The Obsessed/Spirit Caravan/The Hidden Hand, Candlemass, Trouble, Hawkwind, Monster Magnet, Discharge, Amebix, Neurosis, etc, etc. stuff I’ve been listening to for years, and that’s just kind of indelibly permeated my brain over the years.
What have you released so far and how can people get hold of copies?
So far, we’ve only got the one demo (“Soundscapes for the Disenchanted” – as reviewed recently by Sloan for the Sleeping Shaman Webzine), if anyone’s interested in getting a copy, they can either email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or have a look at our Myspace site blogs (www.myspace.com/misericordedoom), there’s also a Misericorde thread on the Sleeping Shaman Forum, in the Bands section with all the info on. We’re working on some new tracks with a view to putting something else out later on this year, so watch this space, and we’ve contributed a couple of tracks for a couple of compilation albums that should be seeing the light of day this year.
Why the name Misericorde and where did it come from?
When I first moved over to Yorkshire, about 10 years back, I tried to get a band together or join one, but couldn’t find anything locally that was doing the kind of stuff I was into. I started doing a part time recording course at the local college, and basically started writing stuff for that, as I’d got more stuff written, I started looking at putting mp3’s on sites like MP3.com, and Soundclick, but needed a name for the project. I was reading a something at the time, and came across the term “misericorde”, and I just thought it sounded good, I looked it up, and found out It had a few different meanings, based around the “merciful release” concept from medieval times. I did a bit more digging into band names, but it remained the best one. The solo project became Misericorde.
You were also in the doom band Year Zero who I managed to catch live back in 1994 supporting Count Raven in Bradford, ooh thems were the days, but back to the question, did the time you spent in Year Zero have any reflection on what your doing now in Misericorde?
Blimey, that’s a blast from the past, what a fucking great time that tour was! The guys from Count Raven and Solstice were top blokes, two weeks of pure metal madness! We had some killer gigs on that tour, Bradford and London were the highlights for me, as well as meeting, and playing with, some other great bands like Acrimony, Mourn & Serenity. In a way, I kind of hope that people who remember seeing Year Zero back in the day, will “get” what Misericorde are about. A lot of people had said to us after gigs, that the recordings didn’t represent our live sound that well, that we had a more “punk” edge that didn’t come out on record. When the solo thing became a band, I wanted to try and capture that energy and edge, as well as trying to bring something new to the mix. Griff was (and still is) a great lyricist, so I’ve tried to take some influence from there in my lyrics. The “old school” thing that people have said about Misericorde is very reminiscent of the reviews Year Zero got regularly. I still think that a lot of people just didn’t “get” Year Zero.
And after all this time, are you still in contact with any of the old members and have they heard Misericorde? If yes, what were their thoughts?
Calling them “old members” is a bit harsh Lee! 🙂 I’m still in regular contact with Griff, and I know that he likes what we’re doing, even though he’s moved away from doom. His ongoing solo project is called “Arkazum” (it was called “Father” for a short while), and he’s got a Myspace page up with some great songs (www.myspace.com/arkazum). Lyrically, it’s pure, classic Griff, though I don’t think he’s had much time for it all recently. The last I heard, Mike had been working with Cradle of Filth, after having done a short stint in My Dying Bride after YZ split, and he’s done some roadying for Anathema. I’m not sure if either he or Russ are doing their own music these days, or if they’ve heard what I’m doing.
You originally started Misericorde in 2006, although initially it was a solo project (of sorts) and took you over a year to get a full line up together, why was this?
The history of Misericorde as a band is a bit longer, and a lot more convoluted. I started doing Misericorde as a solo recording project around ’98/’99, while I was looking around for like-minded people to either start or join a band with. It seemed as though these were very barren years for musicians into old school doom metal, from my point of view at least. Around 2000/2001, I briefly joined local band “Iron Void”, who’ve recently reformed, but something didn’t feel right, so I left. In late 2001, I was involved in a near fatal motorbike accident, that saw me hospitalised for 2 months, and then another 3 or 4 years to recover enough to try and get something going again. During that time, I’d not stopped writing, but wasn’t really in a position to be in a band. I’d met Jay online during a period when I was pretty much house-bound after the accident, we had a lot of common influences, he was looking for a band and liked the stuff I’d written, I was looking to get a band sorted, so it just grew from there really. We started looking around for a drummer, and luckily enough Dave contacted us early 2006. We all got together, it worked musically and personally, so Dave officially joined the band in April ’06. One of the biggest hurdles with this band is geography, I’m in South Yorkshire, Jay’s in Liverpool and Dave’s in Chester, so after a few months of rehearsing in Liverpool, we found a place in Manchester that had been recommended to us, which works well for us all. On top of that, Dave works alternate weekends, and I became a Dad, so we can only really get together once a fortnight. Told you it was a convoluted tale.
Your demo ‘Soundscapes for the Disenchanted’ was recorded live over 4 rehearsals, firstly, how did you capture your sound and why did you chose this method over booking into a studio somewhere?
We’d started using a little mini disk player early on, to capture rehearsals, to see how things were sounding/critiquing arrangements etc, etc. and it just sort of developed from there. We’d looked at a few demo studio’s around the North West, and it was going to cost a fair amount, as well as taking a few days solid that we just couldn’t do, for one reason or another. Because I’d done that part-time recording course, I looked into getting a “porta-studio” type affair, that would give us some flexibility when we could record, and how we actually recorded, as well as minimising our costs. One of my all time favourite albums is Hawkwind’s “Space Ritual”, and I’ve always felt that live, and “live” studio recordings have a better “feel” to them. The comments that Year Zero got about the live/recorded sound kind of struck a chord as well, so I wanted to try and capture the “live” sound of the band, rather than trying to clinically separate everything. That’s not what you hear at a gig, so why use that approach to record? It’s more about how the band sounds in a live context than continuously overdubbing and layering in a studio. The ulterior motive behind this demo was to get us some gigs.
Are you happy with the final outcome and what have the reviews/feedback to it been like?
Every time I listen to the demo, I keep thinking “fuck, I’d buy that!”. Obviously, if we’d had more time, the production/recording could have been a bit more polished, and the playing a bit better, but in a way, I think it’s better for the lack of production. It is Misericorde in a “warts and all” setting, “that wobbly groove and punk attitude of yore” as Sloan put it. All the feedback and reviews have been really positive, and the criticisms that we have had, are things we’re aware of, and working on. The great thing is we’ve got a few gigs off the back of the demo, notably, HeavyFest IV and the Doom Metal Inquisition V.
Lets talk about your lyrics, who writes them, where the ideas come from and are there any particular themes they cover?
The ideas for lyrics that I write, tend to come from all over the place. Thoughts, feelings, snippets you read in books or wherever, stuff you hear on the news, etc. Life basically, there’s nothing more doom than some of the mad stuff that’s going off in the world. There are some songs that are more obvious than others, like “Weary” talks about how war and conflict effects the people who have to live around such turmoil, but can also mean the daily shit you have to deal with in order to survive in the modern world. “…And Blood Shall Flow” is about differences of opinion, and how they can escalate out of all proportion. One of our new songs was written by Jay, I think I changed one line to make it work better for me, vocally, but that’s it.
And what process do you use when writing new material?
Sometimes, I’ll come to rehearsal with a “finished” or nearly finished song, and if it’s any good, we’ll work on arranging it into something we’re all happy with, with Jay and Dave adding their own touches. Other times, we’ll throw a few ideas around, and play around with them trying different stuff out, see what works or not, and try to mould it into a song. Some ideas come together really quickly, some take a while to develop and grow. We all add our own little twist to the mixture, but we all have to be happy with where it’s going. And of course, it’s got to be heavy.
With a stable line up in place, have you had chance to play many gigs?
Up to now, we’ve only done a couple of gigs, both at the 1in12 in Bradford, HeavyFest IV and the Doom Metal Inquisition V. Both of them were great experiences, and we’ve met some cool people and bands who really get what we’re trying to do. Hopefully, we’ll get a few more gigs off the back of them, and hopefully start to raise the profile of the band. We’re playing in Doncaster on the 16th August with Iron Void and some metal-core band the promoter booked, that should be interesting if nothing else! I know I’d like to get out there and do a load more gigs.
And how was Heavyfest IV back in May as we unfortunately only managed to catch about the last 5 mins of your set?
And what did you think of that last 5 minutes? HeavyFest was a bit nerve wracking for me at least, I’d not played a gig for something like 11/12 years at that point, since the demise of Year Zero, so I was a little nervous to say the least. But it did feel good to finally get our music “out there”. Playing the Doom Metal Inquisition V was a fantastic experience, not only were there some other superb bands playing, but there were more people out front watching us, and really getting into it. Seeing that kind of thing really does make it all worthwhile, and the whole atmosphere of the day was superb. Thanks to Bri for putting us on the bill at HeavyFest & Rich for putting us on the bill for the Doom Metal Inquisition.
What about record labels? Has there been any interest?
I know that SeaHag from the US want to do a split with us at some point, and Mike from OSSR has said he’d like to release/distribute something in the future, but there’s nothing on the radar as yet. In one respect, I’d kind of like to keep it low key, DIY, but in another, I’d like to get the kind of support a label can bring. It’s a fine line, and one we’ll have to cross when the time comes. Like I said before, we’ve contributed a couple of tracks to a couple of different compilation CD’s that are due out this year, so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens really.
What are your future plans? Any great master plan you can reveal to us?
Future plans for the band at the moment, are to try and get some more gigs, record another demo later this year, work on some new songs, and keep things heavy. Hopefully, more people will get to hear about us, get into what we’re doing, and the word will spread. The ultimate goal would be to get an album out.
Thanks for doing the interview Muzz and please use this space for any final words…
Cheers for asking us to do the interview Lee, and cheers to Sloan for the review as well. Got to say a huge thanks to Jay and Dave for making this band work, and to all those who’ve bought the demo and come along to see us!
More info on Misericorde at: www.myspace.com/misericordedoom
Interviewed by: Lee Edwards