The following interview was done by Pat M....
It seems that in the "History" section of your website, most of the
emphasis is on your photography rather than the music aspect of your 'zine.
Could you explain the history of how and why you decided to interview and
review the bands that you do and how their music is significant to the
central themes of MTA?
Well, music has and is a very big part of our lives. It often plays before, during and after any artistic work we do. The spirit of black/death metal and related genres is very revolutionary, free-spirited and bold, much akin to how we wish to express ourselves with our work.
What ultimately determined that MTA would be a webzine rather than a
traditional paper zine?
Ultimately, there were several reasons. One being we couldn't really showcase our photography without spending a lot of money for something glossy/color. A grainy black and white photocopy wouldn't convey the aesthetics desired. Two being we didn't know much about the whole print publication distribution, and we wanted to reach as many people as we could. Although it is much, much easier using the internet method for a webzine, I believe it robs it of some of the feeling. The internet/PC environment is rather impersonal to me. So, although we didn't wish to publish Mourning the Ancient on the Net, it was the only alternative at that point in our lives. We've still wanted to bring the publication to paper format over the years, but its been a matter of priorities. We've always had other projects which we found to be more worthy of our time and energies.
Could you explain the editing and proofreading process a bit? How difficult
is it to obtain interviews, especially with bands such as Nifelheim and Spear
of Longinus, who are not from the US?
Since we don't use webpage making programs for Mourning the Ancient, the work is sometimes tedious. So, most of the html code is hand written in Microsoft Word. It's not really too difficult to obtain interviews with the internet, since most bands by now have webpages and email accounts. Some of the bands we've done interviews with are sometimes set up from people we know who know the band personally. Such as the Nifelheim interview, which was done by a friend from the States who knows the band and was visiting Sweden at the time. The black/death genre is a pretty tight network of people, so it's not too hard to contact any given person.
What are the advantages to a webzine as opposed to the traditional format?
What are the disadvantages?
Perhaps one of the primary advantages of a webzine is it can be updated at any time. It is obviously also much less costly. You can also reach a much broader range of people with a lot less effort. The disadvantages, like I mentioned before, I feel it is a lot less personal. Paper 'zines you can also take with you and read wherever you go, and always have a copy for reference down the road.
What are your main expenses in running a webzine?
Time is perhaps the primary and most valuable cost in doing a webzine. Of course you have your monthly web host charges and your yearly domain name costs as well. But, the time spent in doing a quality publication is by far the greatest expense. To do an underground magazine or webzine in this genre of music you really have to love what your doing, if not it would be a very negative and unrewarding experience.
What role do you feel that the photography and poetry play in making MTA
what it is and what do you believe to be its appeal to your readership?
Maybe not so much the poetry, but a good deal of people seem to enjoy our photography. I think it has a unique appeal in that there is really nothing else quite like it on the web or otherwise. Not only is Mourning the Ancient a tool for us to express ourselves, but also for the many musicians we interview. We tend to try to ask questions in our interviews which most other 'zines do not. We concentrate more on the individual, outside of the world of music. I don't so much care when or why the band was formed or what equipment was used in the recording process. To me those details are boring and too technical, yet, still important in a biographical sense. I think people find appeal in many facets of what we do, and it differs a lot from person to person.
MTA holds a solid philosophy of free thought and speech. Have you ever
gotten any negative commentary from other zine editors, band members or just
emails in general over the views of such individuals as Hendrik Mobus or
Griffiths of SOL?
Surprisingly, no we really haven't. What is interesting though about the subject is it is almost expected to get negative criticism regarding interviews with people who express a political view, yet totally unexpected to receive criticism when a person expresses an entirely hate-filled, nihilistic point of view. One can express a desire for anti-social things such as human sacrifice, death, torture, murder, etc.. and be totally accepted by the whole as nothing too extreme. Yet, when one expresses a view of being proud of his/her race or their past accomplishments then that is seen as somehow extreme or even more extreme for that matter. An example of this would be how Darker Than Black Records of Germany and a handful of other labels would be continually raided and their CDs confiscated because of their political leanings, yet bands in the same genre and locale express their desire for mass human annihilation and that's perfectly OK with the system. It's quite a double standard.
Could you explain the artistic layout of MTA, and who is responsible for
the overall look of the website?
We're both responsible for the look and feel of the website. We design it in a way that we ourselves would like to view it if we had just stumbled across it for the first time.
Is there any way of determining the size of your readership?
That's kind of difficult to determine, but in the few years we've been on-line we've gotten over a hundred thousand visitors from over eighty different countries. That's not really to important to me though. Out of the legions of people I've met over the years only a small percentage have I actually enjoyed our meeting. I'm not much of a people person, and as the years pass this only seems to grow. Surprisingly, there seems to be a lot of money and fame oriented people in the underground music scene. I wholly resent those types, they contaminate the art.
Could you tell me a bit about your continued dedication and enthusiasm for
underground music and the attitudes which keep MTA going strong?
Every so often the music scene goes through a lull of worthy activity and creativity until it reinvents itself. I believe this has happened in the past few years, broadly speaking. During this time we don't receive a lot of material which we enjoy enough to interview many bands or purchase a lot of new material to review. So, recently we've been concentrating on other projects. We've recently recorded a CD under the name Primitive Supremacy to be released soon on Elegy Records. We also are concentrating on new photography and our film. Since we haven't ever made any money from what we do it makes things a lot easier to carry on. We continue to do it for the same reasons we did it in the beginning: A love of the music and to give worthy underground musicians a forum to express their thoughts and ideas.
How many contributing writers does MTA have at any given time? Besides
Mike and yourself, who would you say are the most frequent contributors?
The majority of the material is done by us two. Although in the past Kevin from Realms of Darkness contributed reviews. Additionally, a few articles have been contributed by various people.
What do you believe to be the most important '80s thrash record and why?
One of the most important thrash bands from the 80's for me might be Slayer, if you could consider them 'thrash.' From Show no Mercy to Seasons in the Abyss they produced many excellent and influential works. So personally speaking, of a more mainstream band, they would have to be my choice.
Thank you very much for your time and patience. I greatly
appreciate your help in the completion of this project and wish you the best
of luck and success in the future. Keep up the great articles and band
features and know that you will always have a loyal reader in me. Also, I
have a radio show on the UVM radio station from 4 to 6 PM on Saturdays called
the Grindbox if you're interested. You can check it out on www.uvm.edu/~wruv.
Hails - Pat M
Thanks to you Pat for your support and interest. Raise the hammer high and await the Sunless Dawn!
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