The road to success, or even survival, for any band is a difficult one. For a band like Mnemic, that's never found a way to break through in the United States for a wide assortment of reasons, it can be even that much harder. For every band, from the smallest local band to Metallica or Aerosmith, there always seems to come a point where the band is tested to decide if they should move forward or pack it in.
That time seemingly came for Mnemic following the release of their SONS OF THE SYSTEM release. It was at this point that 3/5 of the band turned over. This left the band's lone original member Mircea Gabriel Eftemie with a decision - continue Mnemic which has always shown the potential but has never broken through on the biggest stage, or call it a day and try something else. According to Eftemie, there really was no decision like this to be made. Mnemic found new members and went about the business of recording their latest release, MNEMESIS. As he explained to PITRIFF recently, the turnover of members did present it's own set of challenges, but never so much so that he ever considered putting an end to Mnemic. Here's the conversation:
PITRIFF - Having a new second guitarist, drummer and bassist for the new album, there had to be a lot that just felt different from previous efforts. How was the recording of MNEMESIS different for you and the band from past efforts?
MIRCEA GABRIEL EFTEMIE (MGE) - This time around we spent pretty much 80-90% of the composition process in my living room. We kind of re-arranged my entire apartment into a studio and brought in Victor's home studio, plus with my studio we sat there for a couple of months and wrote intensively. We have never done that before. Usually on the old efforts, we used to pretty much compose everything in the rehearsal room. This time around, we were a bit under pressure due to a strict deadline we've set up for ourselves. All in all, it was a creative process, and it evolved, and blossomed into the Mnemesis album which we've just released.
PITRIFF - From listening to MNEMESIS, the new line-up does have the traditional sound of the band, but features some new alterations here and there, specifically in the bottom end in my opinion. Was the material different, or is it just the new vibe that Simone and Brian bring to the table for each song?
MGE - The material was, of course, different and the low end which was on the last album was removed this time. It is a combination of things, basically. The new line-up has also contributed with their inputs to how they would interpret the sound of MNEMIC. I mean, both Victor and Brian have been fans of the band's first 2 albums, which made it easy for us in the end to exchange ideas and converge the compositions. Simone wrote an entire song for the album which we all loved. Victor and I wrote the majority of the songs. Guillaume worked with Victor as well, and Brian came with inputs to drum patterns, so you could say it was a very collaborative and democratic process. Compared to the old albums, the core of the music was composted always by Brian, Rune, and myself.
PITRIFF - As the main guitarist, I'm sure you had a great deal of input on the hiring of the second guitarist. What specifically were you looking for when you decided on Victor Ray Salamonsen?
MGE - Well, he could refresh my memory on how to play the old material, haha! I would say he was a natural fit because he contributed always with positive energy on the personal side of things. On the other hand, as far as being a musician, he could easily adapt to any style of music. I mean, when we started composing songs for the album, he could come up with some riffs that reminded very much of the old material. That had to - of course - be refreshed somehow and the result is what you can hear on the new album. We decided to go with him because he had the skills, the passion and brought in the good vibes in the band.
PITRIFF - When your former bandmates left the band, what did you and Guillaume think would be the future of the band? Was there any thoughts of simply ending the band?
MGE - Well, the old members didn't just leave from one day to another. It was a transition process that actually almost took one year. The first one that left was the bass player, then the drummer, then the guitarist. So we kind of replaced them one after the other. Guillaume and I wanted to make a new album, but apparently there where complications and difficulties that made it impossible to continue with the old line-up; therefore we needed an infusion of brand new energy, and we were actually always in the process of fulfilling the vision, which was to make a new album.
PITRIFF - I'm always curious with bands that switch members...when you start playing with the new members, there's obviously subtle nuances to the way the new guys play that are different from what was previously done. Is it difficult to allow the new guys to find their own way instead of pushing them to play things the way they were played previously?
MGE - This is the first and hopefully last time I will be playing with new musicians in MNEMIC. Therefore, from experience, I can only say it was an easy process actually. As mentioned before, they used to be fans of the band, so they knew most of the tracks. It was more of a personal thing to adapt to new people in the band, after playing with the same guys for almost 10 years. That whole period was very though and hard for me, because I underwent many personal things in my life. I had to adapt to a new beginning. It was hard, but I made it, and today I am happy about it.
PITRIFF - MNEMIC has always been a band that's received a lot of positive reviews from US press but has never been able to break into that bigger band level in the US. What is it about the band that you think has held you guys back from going to the next level on the US Metal Scene?
MGE - Well, there are different aspects in this matter. First of all, we lost our singer at a time where we released two very successful albums and still where trying to make it. It was in a period where we had to release our most important album, the one that would either "make it or break it" for us, as some say. We got to a point where we got very arrogant with everything, we had U.S. management, and that album in particular, Passenger, to me, is just built on bad decision making. On the other hand, we don't play catchy accessible music that everyone likes, so you could say that we haven't created a niche and that's another reason for us not breaking through and selling many records. We did tour in the U.S. with prominent bands such as Meshuggah, Soilwork, Arch Enemy, etc., etc., but in order to make it, you need to either have funny looking hair, emo choruses, and be touring 12 months out of the year in a van if you want to make it in the U.S. Actually, maybe you'll make it...
PITRIFF - What is in store for Mnemic for the rest of the year and into next year?
MGE - For the rest of the year: European touring, going to Australia and making a new video with Patric Ullaeus from Revolver Films. We are looking forward to be getting back out on the road and play as much as possible and also to be going to places we haven't been. It's always fun!
PITRIFF - What would be worse for a band and why - to illegally download a band's album, or to steal one of their T-Shirts from the merch booth?
MGE - To steal one of their t-shirts at the merch booth. I don't see downloading as stealing, it's just a phrase that's been coined by the masses, in my opinion. People need to wake up and realize that technology is changing our way of living. Therefore, we have to re-think the business model in the end.
PITRIFF - In three words or less, review MNEMESIS.
MGE - Melodic, Energetic, Great.
PITRIFF - What am I missing that you want people to know?
MGE - I think you've touched on everything! Thanks a bunch!