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Mar De Grises

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Conor Fynes View Drop Down
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    Posted: January 19 2011 at 15:09

As one of the premier acts in death/doom metal today, as well as part of one of the fastest growing scenes in metal today, post-metal ensemble Mar De Grises are sure to be a force to be reckoned with in the time to come. With three full-length albums under their belts, Alejandro Arce (the drummer) was kind enough to do a correspondence at the end of their European tour.

What’s the story behind the formation of Mar De Grises?

Nothing out of the common I guess. A group of college mates who shared similar musical tastes and some points of view regarding vision of life. In those days we just wanted to make a band and doom metal was the metal genre we shared the most, so we started a doom metal band with the purpose of just playing in a band and maybe fulfilling a need of communication and channelling of feelings. But things began to gradually work in a very structured way and suddenly we were having the opportunity and possibility of being part of an international record label, touring across Europe, having people in every corner of the world telling us that they like our music. What I want to express, is that without even noticing, things were working in a way we didn’t expect. It is not that we planned everything, so as things were working, we were also learning, setting and dreaming about different an unexpected goals, all at the same time. And things are still the same...we are still working towards many goals without thinking too much on reaching them, but on the process of reaching them. 


What was it like trying to start a metal band in Chile?

We just started the band without giving, at first, much thinking to that; we just wanted to play. But when trying to achieve more concrete goals in music in our country is not easy.  Although we have many potential and good metal here, Chile is not a country known for its metals scene or its metal bands, so many of the things we have been achieving since we started with the band are new not only to us but also new around here so every step we take is over a base of new and sometimes uncertain paths. That means that every achievement that can define our place in the metal scene is felt and „touched“ by ourselves with some delay. Having this in mind, we just stick to do what we think is right and to work in a structured  and honest way and put efforts on achieving each album we release as a bigger milestone than the precious one, despite the real size of the milestone.  I think our position in the metal scene is one that has some „exotic“ features sort to speak that can be a hurdle or serve as an aid as well, depending on the way to address them. Signing to Season of Mist, touring in Europe, etc are important concrete achievements that can define our place in the scene, but there is still a lot more to go.


How would you describe your sound to someone new to your band’s music?

It depends if it is someone new not only to our music but also to metal or extreme music, or someone who is familiar with it. Actually I have an answer for occasions in which job peers, grand parents, relatives you see occasionally, etc ask you this question; it is not that you will tell them: “look, we play something like progressive-melodic-experimental-death-doom, with some post-rock and electronica elements”. If they are not into metal in some way, they won’t understand the hell you are talking and sometimes when pretending they are interested in what you do they will try to understand and you will enter into an endless and useless spiral of explanation… To avoid that, I just say: “it is something like Pink Floyd but heavier, noisier and with monster voices”. It is a definition I’ve improved over the years.  Well, if it is someone who is familiar with all this, the “progressive-melodic-experimental-death-doom, with some post-rock and electronica elements” definition can maybe be appropriate although I’m no good with names.  I think we just play a melodic and very emotional kind of metal.


Why did you choose this particular sound to express yourselves with?

No particular reason really. As said, we just play what we feel like or what emotion “tells” us to play, communicate or create.


What inspires the lyrical content behind Mar De Grises?

Anything. We don’t put any concrete limits to the contents of our lyrics. We don’t have any rules for this, but if there was one, it would be that lyrics just have to be honest, come from deep inside, and mean something important, whatever it is, to whoever wrote them. That way we make sure there is a powerful and intense message, whatever it is, that complements the music and can be interpreted and received in any personal way.


The band has come to be known for its epic and experimental style of doom metal. What can you say about the songwriting/composition process of Mar De Grises?

Although there are in fact some specific or defined steps behind the composition process, the essence of it is quite similar to the one behind de lyrics, described before. Maybe the epic and experimental adjectives you mention can apply precisely due to the emotional and open characteristic that our music or composition process can have. Juan and Rodrigo M are the main song creators in the band. They write the main part of every song, record them , show them and we start rehearsing them as many times as possible in order to let the input of everyone to the songs in terms of musical arrangements appear naturally.


What are your thoughts and recollections on...

Well, each album can be addressed from many, many perspectives and this could be a very long answer haha, but as we have spoken about the musical and compositional aspects, I’ll stick to non musical considerations:

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The Tatterdemalion Express:

It was one of our first important achievements as a band. It was the first concrete thing that made us realize that many things were really possible and they were not as far as sometimes we can consider them to be, having in mind, mostly, the fact that we are very far from were the main metal movement/industry is. This album had a general acceptance quite better than we expected, so it was one step after which we started to see tings in a wider perspective.

Draining The Waterheart:

It was a higher challenge that TTE because we were more conscious on what we were doing now in terms of growing as a band (not just the musical aspect) and, in relation to that, we had to somehow prove that the first album was not just a stroke of luck, although that doesn’t affected very much the process of making music because the approach was quite the same. Happily this album also had a great acceptance, regardless of many issues regarding sound and other aspects that can always be improved.

...and the new record, Streams Inwards?

This album presents a more mature approach in every aspect, although the composition approach still hasn’t changed that much. In order to avoid many problems we had on previous recordings, this time we worked with an external producer (Igor Leiva, Poema Arcanus) and every process was followed in a quite more structured and orderly way. This album somehow consolidates our name as a strong name within the worldwide metal or doom scene, but of course there is still a long road ahead.


Besides the work with Mar De Grises, what are the members of the band up to?

Well, we all have our different jobs and interests; some of them are related to music and some are not. Rodrigo M. has a couple of side projects called Bisonte and Natisú, both of them quite experimental and interesting. He is also a professional composer and teaches in a well known music college in Santiago. Juan is also a professional composer and music teacher and works in that. He also plays the guitar (actually I think he is more a guitarist over keyboardist) and has some very interesting side projects: Astorvoltaires (one man project), Fosa Comvn (old school doom death) and Bauda (folkish post rock doom). Sergio is a Sound Engineer and is currently finishing civil engineering at the university. Rodrigo G. is a commercial engineer with management interests and I’m a professional translator and interpreter. I also play in a death metal band called Target, which also has some experimental touches. But apart from all these activities, Mar de Grises is the main and most important activity in our lives.


As a musician, what are some of your favourite metal and progressive artists?

We all enjoy many types of music, but in relation to metal and progressive music, I’ll try to summarize the likes of the five of us: Neurosis, In the Woods…, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Pink Floyd, Deftones, King Crimson, Katatonia, Enslaved, Gorguts, Poema Arcanus (Chilean high quality doom), Ulver, Anathema, At the Gates, Carcass, Morbid Angel, My Dying Bride, Hatebreed, Ved Buens Ende…, Sepultura, Machine Head, etc, etc.


What are your views on the current metal scene, both in Chile and around the world?

Many things can be said about this. Significant aspects nowadays both for the worldwide and the Chilean scene are globalization, communication changes, etc, which constitute an important factor the last years that is changing increasingly fast the parameters and paradigms behind what can be seen as a scene. It seems something predictable, but if you compare the speed behind changes in communication over the last years everything points to big changes that are constantly evolving to unpredictability; in other words, I think anything can happen in terms of communication the next years, therefore in the means for spreading your music and everything related to that aspect of the scene. As for the music itself, well, mixtures give birth to mixtures every day, so the only thing clear to me is that accuracy behind the music labeling factor is increasingly reducing. I know “names” are required for communicating and surviving, but let’s enjoy some not knowing.


What’s in store for the future of Mar De Grises?

We just arrived from our third European tour, with Swallow the Sun and Solstafir, so for now we are taking some weeks to rest (well, some of us are back on our jobs, so whether arriving from a tour means “restimg” (or vice versa) can be a very subjective matter haha) and we will continue with the promotion of Streams Inwards in our country and start planning a possible next European tour this time hopefully including some big festivals. And of course, continue with the music making process, which never actually stops for too much.


Any final words or remarks?

Thank you for your support and interest in what we do, it is nice to know that it is appreciated not only by metal ears but also more experimental or progressive! And thanks to anyone who got interested on reading these words! Cheers! 


A big thank you to Mar De Grises for their time and insights!

The band's PA profile can be found here.

Edited by Conor Fynes - January 21 2011 at 17:04
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Easy Livin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 20 2011 at 03:07
Well done Conor, nice interview!
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