Vocalist Ken Munro
E-mail Interview Conducted by: Lady Kat Chaos
OCZ: Hails! Thanks for taken your time out for this interview. Since this is your first interview with Obscure Chaos Zine, and some readers might not know much about you, I'll start with some background questions...First of all, where did the band name Mortal Fear come from?
Ken Munro: Hey Kat..thanks for taking the time to check out Mortal Fear…I think Steve and I were bouncing the name around back in about 1985 while having a few beers..we came with Mortal this, Mortal that, Fear this and that and we just put the two words together and went “hey, that’s not bad” so we kinda stuck with it ever since..We tried other band names Like Uranium, Rikkturr but Mortal is what we kept coming back to so we just went with it…
OCZ: Have you ever thought about changing your band name since there are other bands using it?
Ken: No we never ever decided to change the name and we do realize that there are other bands with the same name but we’ve had it for over 25 years now so I think we’ll stick with it..if it becomes a legal issue then we’ll deal with it at that time..but for now Mortal Fear is what it is..
OCZ: Mortal Fear began in 1985, with you on vocals and guitarist Steve Turrer, you started playing sludgy, doomy-type metal songs with a Black Sabbath vibe but with riffing in the realms of Judas Priest and then two years later in 1987, new changes began when two new members joined, Steve's younger brother Pete Turrer on bass and John Currie on drums. With a new line up you began adding more of a techinical approach and Mortal Fear's sound started to shape and develop with more Thrash Metal roots. Mortal Fear had a great reputation in the Toronto area but within two years you decided to disband at your peek. What was the reason you ended it?
Ken: We did a handful of live shows back in the day and we were all working jobs trying to make endsmeet and I think around August 1987 I was working in a woodworking shop which I was subjected to sawdust 8 hrs a day, and it did nothing for my voice and at the time I felt that the band was clicking rather well and I felt I was holding the band back due to throat issues so I told them at that time that in January 1988 would be my final show…there were no ill feelings and I did what I could to help find a suitable replacement..so I left on good terms. They tried several different singers over the year but I guess in the end they decided to pack it in and work on other projects..so that’s where Mortal sorta dried up for 20 years or so.
OCZ: After the split Steve Turrer recorded with Savage Steel, played in Frantic Waltz and Marshall Birch and the Swampmonster as well as Pete Turrer, and you recorded with The Blacklist. Where all of you still good friends during these years? And where there moments when you felt something was missing in your life?
Ken: I went on and did the marriage thing and raised some kids but Steve and Pete went on to play in other bands and did some recording but in the back of my mind I figured and hoped Mortal Fear would re-unite and get back to what we enjoyed doing. I tried to get it together in 2008 but different schedules prevented that from happening at that time. We all remained close friends during this time so we all knew where the others were.
OCZ: In Jan of 2012, all four original members of Mortal Fear had a jam session. The chemistry must have felt as if you never ended the band. In your words what was that first moment like?
Ken: Steve, Peter and drummer John were jamming in Steve’s garage the summer of 2011 and they said pop over for a couple beers, so I hoped on my bike and headed over…they were playing “Folly of the Priest” an old Mortal tune so I jumped on the mic and carved it up, a bit rusty but you could see the smiles on our faces that it felt good…about 5 months later, we were all jamming in my basement as a 4 pc original Mortal Fear metal band….we were back where we belonged.
OCZ: How long after the jam did you all decide you wanted reform or did you just want to do a few reunion shows together?
Ken: At first we weren't even talking about doing some gigs, it was more of a “ lets get in the studio and record these tunes before we die” sorta thing lol…so the gigs weren't even in the equation at that time.
OCZ: What are you doing differently this time around?
Ken: Back in the day we used to jam 3-4 times a week, but since the 4 of us live in different cities we could only jam once a week but come prepared to jam when we do get there..that was stipulated before hand…not to waste anyones time .
OCZ: Once disbanded Thrash acts are still making comebacks, plus there's a whole new division of younger Thrash Metal acts who are creating an intense sting in the scene. What do you think about the future of this genre? Is Thrash is back to stay forever?
Ken: Thrash was and is always going to be there..it’s huge in the metal industry, and it never ever went away…when a 15 yr kid learning guitar can pick it up and Thrash a bit of Slayer you know he/she is on the right track…
OCZ: In your opinion, is the thrash metal of today as good as the 80's stuff? Are you also following the new thrash bands?
Ken: I think thrash is as good as back in the day, ya cant just bash away at 3 power chords and consider yer-self to be thrash..it does take skill and practice believe it or not…and we all follow thrash just as much as we did when we were listening to old school Venom, Slayer, Testament etc…it’s all good…
OCZ: You play old school thrash metal with power/progressive metal vocals, what possessed you to play these styles?
Ken: I originally played bass in Mortal and our singer back then quit as his ego was way to big for any band lol…so I decided to sing and see what happens. As I cant sing thrashy I ended up singing with the clean vocals we have on the CD…it kinda worked well and sounded different than the thrash bands that were out there at the time. We always got a good reception from the crowds we played in front of.
OCZ: You listened a lot to bands like earlier days of Metallica, Slayer, Judas Priest and Black Sabbath, the time, is very natural for you to start playing in that vein. What new flavors will you bring to the Thrash Metal scene that hasn't been done before?
Ken: If you listen to the cd its very clean, clear, you can hear all the guitar, bass and vocal tracks and I don’t think we’ll bring anything new but rather we’re bringing old school heavy metal back to it’s original debut as I like to call it “NEW WAVE OF BRITISH HEAVY METAL”..believe it or not I get quite a few people reminding us of old school metal…we all like thrash but once in a while we like to hear someone actually singing…so that’s what we do..
OCZ: You began to recording your debut self titled CD in the fall of 2012. How long did it take you to write this release? Where did you record it?
Ken: We entered the studio in July 2012 and finished mastering I believe in Nov 2012…we recorded in a small town in Ontario called “Erin” ESCARPEMENT SOUND STUDIOS, with Brian Hewson doing the engineering and we self produced.
OCZ: While listening to your release, do you feel that you have held back on your vocals and high octave screams during your song, “Left To Die”?
Ken: Not sure what high parts in this song your referring too, however sometimes on a song I may change it up a bit live but that’s something that you figure out over time.. In the studio I may try a vocal pattern and later on down the road I may change it for the live version as in the studio it may not have come to me at that particular time…as long as I’m in key I suppose lol
OCZ: It has a heavier edge with slow moments it seemed as if it wanted to burst out instead of keeping it slow. What inspired you to create your sound and lyrics of this song?
Ken: Steve and Pete take care of the music and I kinda throw in the vocals based on how I hear the song, Left to Die is based on serial killers from around the USA and that’s where I put pen to paper and that’s how it came out..or as I call it, “ a happy lil love song about serial killers” lol
OCZ: You did also did video for "Left To Die" from the newest album . Tell me about the video: why did you choose this song, who filmed and edited it?
Ken: Left to die live comes over very well to the crowd, its up tempo and 3 minutes of in your face. The video was basically shot from people in the audience and they had no objections to us using it for the video, Pete did all the work of cleaning it up and adding shit so it was cheap but effective, think I turned out rather well.
OCZ: Two of my favorite tracks off your release are "Vitims of War” and “The Hidden Dark” in your own word what are each of these songs written about?
Ken: Victims of War was based on the original Gulf war at the time as I remember sitting watching CNN and the missiles flying so that’s where that song started and as for The Hidden Dark that was based on the occult and superstitions and I just went with it..its not rocket science but that track just barrels from start to finish…evil indeed
OCZ: Which two tracks would be your favorites off your self-title debut?
Ken: ..we’ve been playing these songs for years now and it kinda gets to ya after a while but I really have no favorites to be honest, I do like singing “Inject the Fear” as its one of our slow n heavy sabbathy riffs but I do like “Left to Die” as it just kills live..and we’re a live band for sure.
OCZ: Would you say you exceeded your expectations as far as your debut is concerned?
Ken: Like every band out there, when they release a new album its always better than the last, I’d like to think that we learned a lot in the studio what we can do or cant do next time but ya can always do better, but I think we’re content with how it came out and the money and time we put in.
OCZ: Where can one purchase your debut?
Ken: You can buy this off our MORTAL FEAR web page or contact us through FACEBOOK and we can get the CD out to ya asap.
OCZ: You began writing new material for the next album? What world events (current/historical) have been inspiring you for newer songs and when are you planning on heading back to the the studio?
Ken: We have about 30 songs that we can pick through and can tweek it here and there and get ready for studio, but we got a new drummer Steve Scott so it will take some time for him to pick these up and and get studio ready so we have a ways to go before recording. In a perfect world we’d like to be back in the studio in the fall of 2014 if all goes well..but we’ll see where are creative writing and practices take us this year. I general stay away from current events as its all about people killing people which is always good for newspaper I suppose..sometime for me to find a topic I just start talking about something and take it from there…like in “Out To Destroy “we were talking about space aliens at that time and that’s how the song came about and it kinda just ran away with itself…
OCZ: Have you run into any obstacles during the creative process for these new songs?
Ken: No obstacles at all.
OCZ: What do you do when you feel uninspired or are just in an uncreative mood?
Ken: I usually just walk away from pen and paper while doing lyrics , like I said we only jam once a week so I can walk away and come back tomorrow and try again, however I do always have pen and paper with me at work so if a line or lyric comes to me I simply write it down for later lol
OCZ: Who is the main filter that controls what will eventually be accepted and which songs getrejected?
Ken: Everything that we do whether vocals, music has to pass my myself and Steve Turrer before it makes it to CD..even the cover art..which was basic anyway….
OCZ: Have you taken any vocal training?
Ken: No vocal training apart from the shower or listening and singing in the car..what you hear on the cd is raw and somewhat untouched vocals…I have very little effects on my voice.
OCZ: Who are some of your favorite vocalist from your childhood and now?
Ken: Well ya gotta love Rob Halford and what he’s done for metal and vocalists..he’s the god of metal for sure..but I do listen to a lot of music over and above of heavy metal….Dio, Bruce Dickenson and even Lemmy lol
OCZ: When did you sign to Hound Music are you content with them at the moment? Did you send some of your material over to them and that's how you won their interest toward Mortal Fear?
Ken: Hound Music found us I believe if I can remember, they heard us through the net and Peter the bass player did most of the correspondence so we let him take the reigns on them..great bunch of guys over in England which is where there located. Hoping to get over there as soon as possible and show the British Metal heads what we do..
OCZ: How is the club scene in Canada? Do you have enough clubs and venues that book Metal bands? Is something already in the works regarding playing in other countries?
Ken: The club scene here in Toronto Canada is actually pretty good, we have several clubs which we can and have played in and it seems that metal is making its way back loud, proud and heavy..it never went away just laid low for a while but its back with a vengeance. We just did a metal apocalypse show with Varga and Entropy and it was probably one of the best club metal shows I’ve ever had the joy of playing…3 great band playing great metal..it was truly memorable…\m/
OCZ: I am sure all of you have different life situations; families, work, studies and stuff. Is there anything that might prevent you from doing an extensive tour, something that might last 3-4 weeks or longer?
Ken: When we all started this we knew that a tour will take us away from our work and families and we all have the support from them so taking a leave of absence from work wont hinder our love for playing live and thrashing it out Mortal Fear style…that’s how we roll..
OCZ: What was the most obscure or chaotic thing that happen to you as a band?
Ken: ...drinking and waking up somewhere ya know ya didn't start at..and saying…”who the hell are you” in the morning..but best not go there lol
OCZ: Thanks for the interview. Any last words . . . .
Ken: Wait till our new cd comes out, its gonna be heavier, faster and meaner and if yer in the area of one of our shows come check us out…mortal fear thanks you all for listening and supporting metal…KEEP IT REAL, KEEP IT HEAVY KEEP IT METAL \M/ MF.