A massive interview with Massive Ego

Marc Massive from Massive Ego

About passion, tracks covered and never giving up

Marc from Massive Ego allowed us a little glimpse of the band but also of their private selves, of their new album 'Church Of The Malfunctioned', the past, the future, god and caravans.

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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'!"

Massive Ego - Church For The Malfunctioned

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."

Massive Ego´s new lookWhat’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. 

Early form­at­ive years saw me drawn to the ‘80s gender bend­ers’ espe­cially 'Dead Or Alive'. I loved 'Japan',' Depeche Mode' to name a few."

Now let’s get imaginative with the quick island scenario: You plan a vacation on an island – would it be a tropical or a northern island?

Marc: "It wouldn’t be trop­ic­al as I wilt in sunlight."

On the way your ship is destroyed by a storm and you get stranded on a deserted little island. Not much is left, but your music player survives. Which tracks are definitely on it? Please name 10.

What’s the food you’d be missing most?

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.

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