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toroddfuglesteg View Drop Down
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    Posted: November 06 2011 at 11:40

Tim Cooper, Ian Arkley, Melanie Bolton, and Ben Jones

Ashen Mortality is a band which probably never will be included in PA due to being a doom metal band. But they are more or less the forerunner to a My Silent Wake, another band included in PA and which I interviewed last week.

I did an interview with Ashen Mortality back in 1998 for my then webzine and I think the interview is interesting enough to be re-published in PA. 

The interview was with the vocalist Melaine-Sarah Bolton.


Let us start with the beginning. When was Ashen Mortality started ?

Ashen Mortality was formed in 1993 by Ian Arkley and myself. We were joined soon after by bassist Tim Cooper and we three have remained a constant and solid line up throughout the life of the band, despite quite a few changes of drummer. George Ayton, who we consider to be our best drummer to date, joined the band shortly before recording our second album though he has played for us on various occasions prior to that. We recorded our first demo in '93 and our second in '94, which were both met by a great response from the media. In '96 we finally released our first album, some 12 months after it was recorded. This met with a similar encouraging response and in '98 we recorded our second, and by far our most professionally written, recorded and produced album, which is currently picking up reviews etc. in many mainstream magazine and underground fanzines. We have played extensively throughout the U.K. during the life span of the band and in Holland and Germany at various festivals, gigs etc. and have had the opportunity to play with a lot of great bands. More recently we have had a break from playing live shows following the recording of the second album and we are now rehearsing, ready to start up again this summer.

You had a record- deal with Head Not Found. What happen with this deal ?

That seems a long time ago now, at has not been a particularly momentous event in our band history, but as you ask……
Head Not Found were extremely interested at one time in our band and Metallion was of the opinion that we would be the next big thing following the Third And The Mortal. They financed our first album, but then, before hearing it, decided not to release it as they had heard rumours that a couple of our members were Christians and for that reason they wound no want to promote the album. Obviously we found this pretty ridiculous bur were grateful to have come across this problem before this album came out on their label as, firstly, we still have all the material in our possession and own all the copyrights and performing rights so we could still go ahead and put the album out ourselves and, secondly, we would have had a problem working with such a small minded company as we are very much opposed to censorship or repression of music due to the creed, color, sex or personal lives of individuals in a band. Music is what we are interested in , which is why we are in a band and why we create music. We believe that music is either good or it's not and all these other issues shouldn't cloud our judgement or close people's minds to good music. There are people within the music industry who try to make these other issues more important than the music but we're just not interested in that. Some people dedicate so much energy and commitment to this huge battle they think they are waging on people with different beliefs and opinions. It really make me laugh because the only battle that's going on, is inside their heads. They need to stop worrying about other people and get a life themselves. It's fine for them to believe and do whatever it is they do so why so they feel so threatened by each other. Weak and insecure people always fear things which are different to themselves but in reality this world is large enough for all of us and a depth and richness can be found in mixing with and listening to people with all kinds of leanings, thoughts, cultures and beliefs.

What happen after the break up with Head Not Found and up to the release of your MCD "Sleepless Remorse" on Forsaken Records ??

We had quite a few labels interested in us at that same time. A couple we encountered similar problems with but most were cool. It's just that things weren't moving along as fast as we wanted. We suddenly thought about putting it out on our own label. After all, some of the smaller labels interested in us couldn't really offer us more than we could offer ourselves - sometimes less ! So we put it out and quickly found there were many more advantages to be on our own label and we're glad not to be frustrated as many of our mates were on small, useless labels. We sold over 1000 copies of our first album, which we felt was a good start. Our second album has now come out on our own label too and things are looking very promising. We expect to double the last album's sales figures.

You released your debut release through your own label Forsaken Records, but without a web- site. How did you market, promote and distribute this record ?

We didn't have a web site and still don't but we will have one up and running in the next few months. We'll let you know the details once it's completed.
We promoted ourselves mainly through reviews with the fanzines. We gained some excellent reviews (and actually had no bad reviews at all as far as we are aware of) which helped enormously with publishing our band and we had a few people do us favors and put free advertisements in magazines for us. We were played by many radio stations and had a team of independent distributors who helped us out with sales. We were available in the shops in the U.K. through Draconis (R.I.P.) but obviously for this new album we're always looking for bigger and better distribution and promotion.

What is your view on this MCD in hindsight ?

"Sleepless Remorse" was a good place to start. We were pleased with it at the time particular considering the budget, timescales and faciltites we used. But of course you move on and "Your Caress" is something else entirely.

What happen between the release of "Sleepless Remorse" and your new album.

We spent a lot of time after the release of "Sleepless Remorse" writing, rehearsing and perfecting the material for the next album. We played the usual gigs and festivals, but we also had a considerable time of from live performances. Partly due to work on the new album and partly due to a lot going on in all personal lives. We all changed jobs and moved house during this time (all four of us) and I also had a baby which was a huge event for me personally. I think we've matured as a band owing this period both musically and personally and we all the better for it. It's been a positive time.

Please present us to your new album "Your Caress". The recording, lyrics, music, artwork, booklet, line - up etc. etc.

"Your Caress" is probably best described by our promotional add:
"Powerful and beautiful. Sensitive and brutal. Intense and intriguing. Dark atmospheric and heavy grooves layered with menacing vocals, haunting keyboards and fragile female vocals. Ashen Mortality move into another dimension with their unique and evocative blend of gothic doom. Seven new songs of diverse , melancholy metal, making this album a classic culmination of all that is Ashen Mortality"
The album was recorded at DEP International studios where many well known bands record and use Dan Sprigg, who has just finished working on the latest Cradle Of Filth album in the same studio. It was definite an advantage to us. We were able to record "Your Caress" quickly enough to keep within our budget and still attain a production and professional quality we felt extremely pleased with. We spent more time (and money) on packaging this time with an eight page full color booklet which include lyrics, as we had so many requests for lyrics sheets for the last album.

What is your plans for marketing, promotion and distributions of you new album ?

Of course we'll be using all the distributors, magazines, 'zines, shows etc. that we used last time, but we'll definitely be exploring new avenues for the promotion and distribution of the new album. This will include our new website and an attempt to get distribution through a well known international labels as we really need the kind of exposure that would give if we are to attain more than we have already.

How would you compare your two releases ?

I see the second album as a complete progression in every way and I think that's the way it should be. However, "Sleepless Remorse" is still a good album in it's own right and while it could have used the superior production and packaging of "Your Caress", there are still a lot of great songs and interesting ideas on that album and it is still something we're pleased to have recorded.

Ashen Mortality comes from the same city as Black Sabbath. Do you feel that there are any similarities between Ashen Mortality and Black Sabbath ?

Black Sabbath clearly has some degree of influence on the music we write, not least because they are among the favorite bands of each member of Ashen Mortality. However, our influences and inspirations are many and quite diverse so the similarities are limited.

It is my impression that the new Goth Music scene follow the same pattern as the Romantic New Wave scene did 20 years ago with bands like ABC, Duran Duran and Human League. The similarities are striking. The Romantic New Wave scene was a reaction to the Punk music; the new Goth Metal scene is a reaction to the Death Metal scene. What is your view ???

Twenty years ago ?!! I was five years old ! The Romantic New Wave scene is not something I'm knowledgeable about so I'd rather not voice an uninformed opinion !!

Following this question; what do you call Ashen Mortality's music ?

It's always hard to answer that because everyone likes to think they are original and avoids being pigeon holed. But for identificational and informational purposes you do have to think what area you fall into. I guess Ashen Mortality falls into the Doom/Gothic/Death/Progressive Metal categories at various moments. I feel there's parts in our music which could appeal to a broad range of tastes.

What is your future plans ? Any tours ?

 We plan to get back to gigging in the U.K. during the summer. Possibly a mini tour with Serenade and a couple of festivals. In the autumn, plan to go over to Holland, Germany, Belgium etc. for a brief period. We've got a few promotion companies working on that at the moment. Ian and I are already writing for our third album, but there is much work to be done and we won't be recording until next year.

Unfortunate, this did not happen.

A double album with both their albums was released in 2005 

Their bassist Tim Cooper passed away in 2006. Rest In Peace, Tim. 

The complete Ashen Mortality story can be found here

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