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Rodrigo Morris (Mar de Grises): The biggest impact is there in Europe

Rodrigo Morris (Mar de Grises): The biggest impact is there in Europe
BANDS : Mar de Grises

I have never had the opportunity of listening any Mar de Grises song until this year, when I accidentally ran into Streams Inwards. As I enjoyed this album very much, I started digging and discovered that Chile has produced more than a few bands that sound more than ok.
The next step was to contact Mar de Grises directly, in order to find other interesting information directly from the source.

Metalfan: Hello and welcome to Since this is our first discussion, please provide our readers with a short history of Mar de Grises.
Rodrigo Morris: Well, Mar de Grises was born on the year 2000 approximately, we were friends on the university and we decided on our early stage to make a “doom metal” band, or something related to that for a start, so we started composing our first songs and those are the songs that are actually on our demo currently re-released as “First River Regards” which had a very good reception, so after this we decided to take things more seriously. We achieved a contract with Firebox Records (Finland) under which we released two albums: “The Tatterdemalion Express” and “Draining the Waterheart”. This year, we have signed with Season of Mist and have released our third album “Streams Inwards” with an upcoming European tour on December, our third tour in Europe.

Metalfan: What can you tell me about the metal scene in Chile?
Rodrigo Morris: Chile maybe is more a “rock” country than a big metal industry, the scene is rather small, I mean the real scene, not all the people who listen to metal in Chile, and most of the things happen in Santiago because of the geographical situation that we have (the shape of the country); this is a centralized country  (in Santiago, our capital city, more or less in the middle of the country) so it is kind of hard to make a lot of shows in other cities or tours in Chile. I believe that there are good musicians, good ideas, but we are still growing and we need more communication and interest from the rest of the world but we and more people are working step by step on this.

Metalfan: Your country does not have such an important tradition in metal. Thinking about the beginning of your band, do you remember the things that convinced you to make a metal band?
Rodrigo Morris: Actually there is a tradition in Chile, we had for example “Pentagram” on the beginning, a band that even At the Gates said that was a big influence to them. Other great bands that have existed in Chile are “Criminal” (currently in Europe), Undercroft, Coprofago, Poema Arcanus, and for us this last band have influenced us in the beginning;  obviously we listened to Anathema, My Dying Bride and the regular doomy stuff, but I think that the real big influence was here, from great bands such as Poema Arcanus.

Metalfan: What can you tell our readers about your first two studio albums, The Tatterdemalion Express and Draining the Waterheart?
Rodrigo Galvez: The two albums were released by Firebox Records, TTE was our first album, including some songs from our demo and maybe it is our darkest album... 4 years from this we changed a person in the band and Juan Escobar entered, we released then Draining the Waterheart and some people considered this album as the best till the moment on our history. This album explored more on the progressive and post rock/metal side, always keeping the emotionality from the demo and first album. Two years later, just some months ago, we released our third album, Streams Inwards, and we are still getting the image of the impact that it can provoke.

Metalfan: How did you manage to sign a record deal with Season of Mist? Are you happy with the terms of your deal? Does the record label do a good job promoting your band and your albums?
Rodrigo Morris: Our bassist, Rodrigo Galvez, did a great job when talking to Season of Mist. We showed them our material and they liked it so they were willing to take a shot with us. As you know, Season of Mist has a broader promotion for their bands so we are still witnessing what´s happening on this side, but clearly we are happy with all the promotion that´s taking place and maybe we can´t measure the reality of this from our -very far and separated from all- country.

Rodrigo Galvez

Metalfan: Since your record label is in Europe and our continent has one of the best metal scenes worldwide, weren’t you tempted in leaving Chile for Europe? Or for, let’s say, North America?
Rodrigo Morris: In some moments we have talked a lot of this, maybe we still have to see what’s going to happen with this new contract, but it is hard to move 5 people to another country; not everybody has the same plans for life or even not the same enthusiasm on this. It’s tempting but very hard to achieve, we will have to wait some time to make a final decision on this.

Metalfan: From what I know, you are quite famous on the American continent. Where did your music make the biggest impact?
Rodrigo Morris: Hahaha maybe not as famous as you think. We are quite a small band here in Chile, as a told you before, the metal scene is rather small. We have traveled more in Europe than here in South America or Chile. The biggest impact is there in Europe, here we have our die-hard fans and a lot of people that follow us, but all the promotion, sales, etc are taking place mostly in Europe.

Metalfan: I have had the chance to listen all of your albums. Their atmosphere is dark, depressing, melancholic and almost fatalistic. Where does this come from? Are you sad persons? What is your opinion on the world we all live in?
Rodrigo Morris: Well it is kind of hard to answer that, maybe I can state that we are not “sad” people, we are people like everybody, drifting between happiness, sadness, love, hate, etc… And this is what we want to put in our music.  The albums can sound dark and melancholic, but more than this, we want our music to sound emotionally intense and we discovered a way for this in the aesthetic that we use. I have to say that the term “fatalist” is present maybe on the first album, but then we didn’t want to communicate that, in fact our last album speaks more on the spiritual side and in a very positive position about life.
On the last question you make, personally I can´t answer completely to that; it is too big, I found the world sometimes beautiful, sometimes big and magic but maybe I have more troubles with the people that live in this crystalline place.

Metalfan: Now let us come close to our days and to your latest album. How has been the feedback and for the publications so far?
Rodrigo Morris: Very good! The media has treated us very well so far, good reviews and a lot of interviews and for the people, we got a lot of good comments and emotions from this album, nothing to say, just very happy.

Metalfan: What can you tell us about the lyrical concept of Streams Inwards, starting with the booklet, the cover and the lyrics?
Rodrigo Galvez: The booklet and all artwork design were in charge of Jérôme Cros (Rotting Christ, Destroyer 666, Gnostic, The Old Dead Tree, etc). We tried to do something different as previous works, creating some symbols and elements to grab the essence of album. We wanted to show some kind of symbol that reflected an idea of energy, something nourishing our connection between our most intense feelings and our surroundings, with a simple but intriguing looking. Of course the idea was to maintain also some of the “stylistic touch” of the previous artworks, staying away from some typical elements such as devil monsters, crosses, blood, total darker images, and all those stuff that is maybe not too related to our lyrics. About album concept and lyrical topics, “Streams Inwards” means kind of a metaphor that describes the idea that our emotions are connected between us and the world that surrounds us. It is about how all the elements around us build and nourish our most sincere emotions – the good things, bad, hate, love, whatever- are connected.  Is something about connecting your thinking and natural sides as human, with a kind of more spiritual experience. With ‘'Draining the Waterheart', the story was about a similar process: the liberation of these same streams, our most pure feelings as humans; with ‘Streams Inwards’, the idea is to show maybe the opposite process and in a broader way, wherein the mix of these simple and transcendent elements of our lives define our most pure nature, to feel and create.

Metalfan: Your latest studio album has got the highest mark in our publication, so we expect some interest in it from our readers. In order to help them understand it better, could you please describe each track on the album in a few words?
Rodrigo Galvez: Sure. Well, the album starts with Starmaker, which is one of older songs of the album. Here we tried to pack a mix of some new ideas with the classic touch of the band with kind of new structures; more direct probably and as a result we have a more fluent and clear emotional approach. It sounds a bit different to the typical packaging of the old stuff of the band, but in the final result it proposes the same I think. It’s about a pure and intense moment of music and emotions. The same happens with the general musical elements and structures for next songs Shining Human Skins, The Bell and the Solar Gust, and Sensing the New Orbit, but each of them with their own elements and musical arrangements, proper to the moment and role in the overall album story. Spectral Ocean has a role of nexus in this story, it proposes maybe a peaceful, contemplative and thoughtful mood after the first part of the album, where many and different emotions come quickly. That is the reason to put more introspective and romantic sounds right after it, with a song like Catatonic North, a moment of calm in the album. Later, Knotted Delirium and A Sea of Dead Comets lead us to the darkest and introspective moment; there is a more complex and intense exploration of what we are as humans.
Streams Inwards, just as our previous works, doesn’t have a general formula about musical structures and arrangements; each song has some special characteristics because each song is a different moment in the whole story.
The bonus track of this album, called Aphelion Aura, refers to all these same elements. It is kind of long Outro to the album, but even more, it is an invitation to a special journey or trip, to a sonorous film, where, one more time, we changed the general shape of our composition and mixed all the elements of the album, adding some more new ideas, but keeping the general feeling and touch that Mar de Grises compositions have.

Metalfan: What does Mar de Grises really mean and how did you come to this name?
Rodrigo Morris: It doesn’t mean anything too specific, for some of us means our surroundings, for others a picture, a landscape or some emotion, the representation of the name is open, that was the idea when we choose this name, it came from a poem that I did, but it get another dimensions when we worked it together as a band concept, something to add is that the creation of this name comes from the emotion, not something over-thinked, so the meaning of this can´t be expressed totally with words.

Metalfan: Listening to your music, I could not help noticing some influences, such as Katatonia, Novembre and even Anathema. What are your musical and non-musical influences?
Rodrigo Morris: You can relate our music to some bands of course, we actually like the bands you mention but our music specter is broader. We listen from death metal to pop and contemporary music and some things that we are in to right now could be Ihsahn, Gorguts, Victor Jara (Chilean folk composer), Erik Mongrain, Ulver, Fausto Romitelli, and a lot more! We try to get influenced from metal and non-metal sources. And for the non-musical influences this could be the spiritual, cosmic reality, things of our lives, problems.... anything that provokes strong reactions in us.

Metalfan: Do you manage to live out of music or do you have to keep regular jobs? If you do, how do you convince your bosses to leave work when you have a long tour?
Rodrigo Galvez: Some of us have a regular job, others are university students. No one lives just from Mar de Grises. Juan and Rodrigo M. are professional musicians so they have a related job, including musical production, engineering, or teaching... In fact, Rodrigo M. is a teacher in one of the most recognized musical institutes here in Chile. Alejandro has a job related to linguistics, I don’t know what it is exactly haha, but it is a full time job. Sergio and me, we are still university students. Sergio is a sound engineer, and now he is trying with industrial civil engineering. And me, just a couple of months ago I finished my studies on business. We all have the same problem in relation to the band, which is that sometimes we don’t have enough time for the band, even for composing or recording. It is sometimes difficult to have some hours together, so as you can imagine, the only way for touring is stopping our studies, or leaving the job, and trying to get a new one after the tour. It is hard, but well, it’s the only way for us.

Metalfan: What is, in your opinion, your biggest accomplishment as a musician and as a person?
Rodrigo Morris: As the musicians we are, I think a big accomplishment is to be able to show to the world our emotions; be able to record an album of this type of music, something that is not popular, is dark and expressive, and getting feedback (positive feedback) from every corners of the world is one thing that we treasure in the deepest of our hearts. There have been some amazing things that had happened with people who have traveled a lot to see our shows, words from people and specially an extensive letter from a girl telling us her emotions and what our music meant to her. I guess that completes us more as people giving something to the world than musicians making sounds.

Metalfan: From what I know, starting with the 1st of December you will have an important European tour. Are you excited? Is it your first time in Europe? What are your expectations?
Rodrigo Morris: Of Course!! We are very excited but this isn´t our first tour there, we had two eurotours back then, one with each album, but these tour is biggest that we are going to make so far, for this we have more promotion, more history and the fact that we are touring with two great bands is a good thing, we hope that everything works fine and the people enjoy our shows and our music, we are putting all of our energy on this so we are not going to disappoint anybody.

Metalfan: I know you are going to play together with Swallow the Sun and Solstafir. Despite the stylistic resemblance, your bands come from different corners of the world. What do you know about these bands?
Rodrigo Galvez: We were label mates with Swallow the Sun in the Finnish company Firebox Records. Those were the first steps for both bands. So I know them since their first demo release about 8 years ago hehe. Today they are one of the most important references on doom metal I think. They have many good release and they are working with one of the most important labels like Spinefarm-Universal, and well, all that means a good and professional work about all the issues related to this. And of course, it means also that their music is good and effective. So all my respect to Swallow the Sun, it will be a pleasure to be touring with them, for sure.
About Sólstafir, I must recognize that one of the most impressive bands that I saw in the last months was this Icelandic quartet. Their music is original, interesting, and intense. And their live performances kick asses with a honest attitude. I’m pretty sure that this tour will be great for the bands, and I’m sure that at the end of the concert most of the fans of each band will be pleased about this tour lineup.

Rodrigo Morris

Metalfan: What do you do in your spare time? Do you have the time to go to movies, to read books, to go to concerts? If yes, please tell us what were the last movie, book and concert that really impressed you.
Rodrigo Morris: Lately we don’t have too much time haha, with all the things that we have to do for the band and our personal lives. We are overwhelmed with activity, but yes, we like to go to the movies and for me, maybe the last movie that impressed me, but it is not a new movie... is “The Fountain”, what a great fucking movie! And a concert, it could be Bjork, that girl is from other planet. For the other guys I can´t answer, I know that Rodrigo Galvez went to Hellfest among other concerts, and saw a lot of great stuff, he told me that Alice in Chains in Glasgow was awesome.

Metalfan: If we happen to meat in a record store and I had money to buy only one CD, how would you convince me to buy the latest Mar de Grises album?
Rodrigo Morris: You are buying a band that has made history in their country, breaking all myths... Achieving a contract with a major metal label and not because their music is commercial, but because it has always been true and a reflection of their people as emotional people. And as other people have named us... a jewel from the heart of Los Andes.

Metalfan: I saw you are pretty active on the internet. One question comes to mind though: what is your impression about spreading music on the internet and the free circulation of the mp3 files?
Rodrigo Morris: I guess at this moment it is pointless to say that mp3 shouldn´t be on the net and everybody has to buy cds, that´s not happening and that´s not going to change. Obviously if you buy the cd you get a more complete work of art and a better understanding of the meaning of the album and also you help the band to work on more music and achieving better productions. That’s maybe what the mp3 does not do, but what it does is that it takes your music and spreads it over the net, which means a lot of promotion and you can choose if you buy the cd (hopefully you will do that haha). I cannot say if it is wrong or right, the world changes, nothing to do about it.

Metalfan: I would like you to tell our readers what you think they should know about your homeland, Chile.
Rodrigo Morris: Well Chile is a very special country; as we say it is at the end of the world in many ways. We are trapped by the Pacific Ocean and on the other side by Los Andes mountain chain so basically it is very hard and expensive to get out of this country. On the other hand, this makes a kind of exotic feeling on the things that happen here, and our listeners recognize this (sadly we are not aware of this). Chile is a country that is separated from the world, and maybe this could be a good thing.

Metalfan: What are your future plans?
Rodrigo Morris: Hopefully to continue making music, achieving a new album and more tours and great shows, we are still living the things that our third album is generating so we have talk a lot about our future plans. Something interesting is going to come out very soon.

Metalfan: Good bye and thank you very much for making this interview. Please say something to the Romanian metalfans.
Rodrigo Morris: Thanks to you and all the readers who pay attention to what we do, hopefully we are going to meet in a show and have a couple of beers or any kind of alcoholic beverage and share some words. Listen to our music, it comes from true feelings and if you like it, buy the album. Cheers!!

Autor: Sake
   November 16, 2010  | 0 Comments  | 9700 Views « BACK

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