Your new album ‘Church of the Malfunctioned’ just hit market for which Electrozombies published a review of course. It’s quite an interesting title open for interpretation – would you give our readers some insights on this?
Marc: “Religion has always been something that was inflicted on me through life, and I’ve seen the devastation, cruelty and conflict it produces. It’s an obvious theme for bands on the dark scene but I wanted to put my slant on it. Religion for me is all about oppression and closed doors for anyone that doesn’t follow societies norms and isn’t willing to be ruled under its thumb.
I realised since being part of the dark scene that we are all often viewed with dismay by religion, because we don’t fit its mould or stereotypes. Men in make-up, dark imagery, transient sexuality all this adds up to us being seen as ‘malfunctioned’ by religion.
Yet when we played at last years M’era Luna I just felt a real sense of belonging to a family, we all shared the same interests and lifestyle and in a way had our own church where dark music was our god. That idea appealed to me and that’s how we got the title to the album.”
How did you experience working on this album? Did it come easily, which points were challenging?
Marc: “We started with a completely blank page both musically and lyrically. I was worried that I’d perhaps run out of things to write about as it came not long after the ‘Beautiful Suicide’ double album but the page soon started to fill up.
I’d just recently lost my mum so I was very much in an emotional space and strangely that actually helped me write much better. I knew I wanted to dedicate a couple of songs to her and the very first track ‘The Last Sunrays in June’ is about my mum June.
The album starts with her actual breaths which I’d recorded a few days before she passed. I knew there and then when I made the decision to record her that they would be on the album and they actually start and end the album as it felt she was very much with me throughout the writing and recording process.”
Compared to your last album ‘Beautiful Suicide’ your new work is darker, less chorus-focused – how come?
Marc: “The catchy choruses are still there but the sound is very much a step in the darker and harder direction. That was something we’d wanted to do since the release of the first album, maybe as a direct result of being more involved in the scene and performing at all the major festivals we seemed drawn to the harder stuff.
Musically as well, we lost a band member after the last album who brought a more 80’s synth orientation to the sound, whereas Scot was given more of a free rein musically for the new one and his influences definitely lie with a harder industrial sound. My 80’s credentials are still intact and Oliver’s interest in more experimental sounds got featured more this time. It was a lot easier writing and recording with the three of us this time and we all got to be much more hands on with the recording hence why it got finished a lot quicker than the first. “
What are your favourite 3 on the new album and why?
Marc: “‘The Last Sunrays in June’ as it was a therapeutic release after my mum passed away. I was really pleased with ‘Kill The Conspiracy’ as it marked a definite change in sound and having Chris L from ‘Agonoize’ guest vocal on it definitely gave us the more aggro Industrial credentials I was looking for. ‘World In The Gutter’ is my other favourite, lyrically it’s the most current of the tracks, reflecting the catastrophe that is Trump, fake news, lying politicians, global warming, trophy killers and endangered species, greedy corporations and the general state of the planet… a lot of issues close to my heart are in that track, I track I jokingly liken to MJ’s ‘Earth Song’!”
Tell us something about the artwork – it looks pretty classical-goth, combined with en-vogue hand lettering. That got me confused.
Marc: “I have a book all about the Edwardian periods obsession with death and funerals that I absolutely loved the look of. We took some style references from that and I handed my ideas over to my graphic guy and longtime friend Ryan Hunt who recreated them for me.
I knew I wanted the artwork to be heavy on the gothic side, and predominantly black. We were lucky to have an awesome collection of photographs from a photographer called GOD! Yes, you read that right, he’s a London based photographer called GOD Photography who does some of the darkest imagery I know and works a lot with Sex Gang Children so his dark credentials were perfect.“
Up until now Massive Ego had very irregular intervals of releasing music. What made you produce the new record so shortly after the last? Were the, in my opinion, hugely successful live shows a trigger or is there a totally different reason to it?
Marc: “Prior to the first release on Out Of Line four years ago the band line-up was always in a state of flux, and to be honest there wasn’t much of a live band at that stage, it was just me trying to keep it afloat. Once we signed to the label we found our feet, our line-up and finally found some attention from the public I’d been craving for the 20 previous years.
The first album was critically well received and led to lots of great live experiences and responses from fans. It was only natural we wanted to get straight back into writing another one after the great response.
The new album was pretty much written and recorded from scratch in just over a year. We were down to a 3 piece but that seemed to fuel us forward faster and we had a real sense of direction and we knew we had to do better than the first album as we had a lot to prove.
I’ve found my feet lyrically now and I’m enjoying being able to translate my thoughts and opinions into songs. I regret very much the early years of the band where I didn’t write and relied on covers and was extremely naive. That was artistically draining at the time and led me down some dodgy musical associations and into the hands of some rather shady labels.”
You covered ‘Military Fashion Show’ – a tribute to the old roots as a cover band? Why did you choose especially this Dancefloor Classic? Why did you keep so close to the original?
Marc: “We’d just met Steve Naghavi at the OOL Weekender backstage and he was a really nice guy and we spent a fair bit of time with him. I’d always been aware of ‘And One‘ obviously and that being their biggest hit was a pretty obvious choice but not one I’d have initially thought to cover personally but after that weekend Scot got a synth hook up on his laptop whilst travelling home from the weekender and he started working on it and it became a full track. I heard it and thought I’d give the vocals a stab and it seemed to work out ok.
We had to keep very close to the original due to licensing rights in Germany which stipulate it can’t be changed too much, but I think we’ve rocked it up a fair bit and given it a lick of the Massive Ego sound.”
Which tracks are your favourite to perform live and why?
Marc: “Off the last album definitely crowd ‘Hands In The Air’ pleasers like ‘For The Blood In Your Veins’, ‘Haters Gonna Hate’ and the big ballad ‘Low Life’, but the new album sees ‘My Religion Is Dark’ and ‘Malfunctioning Me’ coming through strong. They’re all still new and finding their feet live as the audience gets to know them from listening to the album at home, so my favourites will no doubt change over time.”
Talking of your shows: Marc, I noticed, you changed your Make-up from lots of white to adding a half-sided ornament. Is it just style and fun or do you follow a certain philosophy in these regards?
Marc: “We had a definite look in mind when we did the album cover shoot and followed that look through to the recent single video and live shows. We call it ‘lace face’ and myself and Olly originated the idea and then spoke with our make-up artist Zara Lipstixx who helped bring it to life.
I like to have theme cycles for albums and indeed this album is seeing the use of purple and the lace face idea a lot. We adapt it over time depending on time constraints for gigs and availability of Zara, but all three of us are adept act applying our make-up and have done throughout the 20 years of the bands history.
For me being an 80’s kid, image has always gone hand in hand with music and packaging of CDs and merchandise is as important as the music and something I get a lot of enjoyment out of creating.”
What was the most intense, funniest, most mind-blowing experience you’ve had while touring?
Marc: “Just the fact we’re now travelling to gigs on a night-liner, sleeping over night on the coach from city to city with the guys from ‘Blutengel‘ and playing in big venues to sold out shows that’s pretty mind blowing for me. This is our second support tour for them and we’ve become good friends as well as label mates so travelling in close confides together is not so much of an issue now. After 20 odd years in the pop wilderness playing to smaller venues being able to play in huge German halls to massive crowds is a dream come true and a great life reward.”
What’s your personal creative hotspot? Do you have rituals, environments or triggers to support the creative process?
Marc: “I wrote ‘I Idolize You’ our first club hit in a caravan whilst on holiday in the UK so I’ve always had a love of caravans as a space to write in, especially on a rainy day when the sound from the plastic roof can become deafening.
I haven’t had the chance to revisit a caravan for the new albums writing process but have a nice working flow now at home in my bedroom with my Mac, Garageband and a cheap condenser microphone.
I like to write alone as the lyrics flow better when I have time to shape them. Scot sends me a rough basic backing and I’ll sit for a while and start adding in the verses and chorus and we send the file back and forth through the wonders of the internet till we start shaping the track into a full demo.
We then like to get all the demos together and take them to a bigger studio and produce them with a producer. For the new album we had Kyle from the UK Industrial band ‘Auger’ produce us. I’d heard their debut album and really liked the freshness of its sound, the fact that they were young and ambitious.
I think I see myself a lot in Kyle and he proved so easy going to work with. His home studio, Studio Under The stairs, although exactly that… under some stairs and not huge really got us a great big sound and packed a punch. At a time when I wasn’t feeling so confident and had some self doubts about the music Kyle’s easy going nature really helped bring me out vocally in the studio and I valued his input as a vocal producer and his understanding musically of what we were trying to achieve.
We spend 10 days solid at his studio recording which in itself was a new way of working for us but it’s something I hope to do again on the next album as you get in the zone from start to finish.”
You don’t shrink away from socially and politically motivated themes, i.e. in ‘Gentrification’. Do you feel a responsibility to put a finger where others refuse to look?
Marc: “Me and Olly are very active with animal activism in the UK, being both vegan we do a fair bit of grass roots local protesting against Greyhound racing, and can be found most Saturday’s outside the Brighton & Hove Greyhound Stadium protesting this cruel sport whenever we’re not touring. We’re very passionate about animal welfare and have been know to sport slogan tees on stage.
Lyrically it’s a subject I’ve been able to touch on in a few songs. The new album is of course very outspoken about not only organised religion but the corrupt state of politics.
I’m not the sort of artist that could easily write a whimsical love song but I get great joy out of sinking my teeth into a full blooded subject. I like to write about what effects me and what I see around me, and from personal experiences.
I really do think the World is in the gutter right now and with the corrupt self serving rabble we have leading us right now I don’t see any happy endings for our planet sadly.”
Do you think that Goth/dark music should get more political these days?
Marc: “It’s a personal thing writing lyrics, I’d never want to dictate to other artists what they should be writing about. I think most current scene acts are pretty on the ball all ready with pointing out the failings of the system.”
The dark music scene is alive and kickin’: What are your favourite band/artist discoveries that you also would recommend to Electrozombies and its readers?.
Marc: “Musically I like ‘Priest‘, they feel like a kindred spirit in someways with their 80s vibe, although I’d like to see some non mask action from them next, what lies beneath and all that. I’d like to think a full face of intricately applied make-up rather than an off the shelf S&M sex mask!
I love ‘The Horrorist‘ aka Oliver Chesler who remixed one of the tracks on the new album, I’d like to do some vocals with him at some point.
Same goes for Chris Pohl, he honoured us with a guest vocal on the last album and we’ve chatted about a possible cover together on a ‘Blutengel track’, I hope that happens.
‘Solar Fake‘ are constantly good and I love Svens writing.”
What are your favourite bands throughout the years and what does connect you to them?
Marc: “‘Duran Duran‘, always and forever more. They’ve been an amalgamation of style, image and music done well for most of my life. There would be no Massive Ego were it not for them.
Marc: “I don’t know if I’d be missing anything as I’m vegan and could probably find everything I needed to survive from mother nature right there on the island.”
Surprise – you got rescued! Who’s the first person you’d call and what would you tell him/her?
Marc: “My old mate Paul Wallis…I’d say ‘Have you heard?’ (it’s an in-joke)”
Let’s head on in time: what do you hope the future holds for Massive Ego and what can your fans expect in the next say – 5 years?
Marc: “I’d hope another couple of albums at least and to be doing our own tours I guess. I’d hope we were still together as the three of us especially given the previous track record of band members of this band.
I want to be able to do more videos for tracks but of course that costs money we don’t really have at the moment, but as a very visual person, that is high on my priority list. I want to be able to work with many different visionaries and collaborate. I like injecting other peoples ideas into the mix to keep things fresh.
I’m up for doing some more guest vocal work and I’d like to do some more writing on the Androidgyny project I started last year with a guy called Richee.”
Your last words to our audience?
Marc: “Be kind to animals. Care enough to go out and protest if it’s something you feel strongly about because things don’t change unless the people rise up and make the powers that be listen. “
Thank you very much for your precious time to have this interview with us.