EXUMER Interview with Mem Von Stein
XM: Let’s start off by getting our readers up to date on what the band has been up to so far this year.
Mem: Well, this year we just started rehearsing the new live set, since we had a one year long “time out”, from playing live and I have been mad busy with doing press/promo. It’s been quite a ride since we have gotten signed to Metal Blade and it’s now becoming even more intense...
XM: ‘Fire & Damnation’ is the latest release to come from Exumer. What was it like getting back in to the studio? Did you do anything differently?
Mem: It was totally different because the last time we recorded an EXUMER album was in 1987. Everything has changed, or at least we as individuals have, our musicianship (for the better), studio technology and the recording/mixing process as a whole since this band actually lives on 2 continents. We had to track in phases and the mixing process took 3 months of with a lot of A/Bing the material or mixes via sending them to all key members. In the end it was all worth it though and the only thing that counts is end result, which we are more than happy with!
XM: How did the idea for the new album come about?
Mem: I suppose you mean the title (?), but the concept around the title and the album is centered on us as a band and what we had been going through in the past 27 years. The title reflects the way we feel and that we have to through fire to keep the band going, only to be damned coming out on the other side. It’s more a state of mind than anything else and it conjures up some perfect “METAL” imagery.
XM: What can you tell us about the lyrical content for the album?
Mem: The lyrics are important to me since I write them but I don’t want to write lyrics that don’t have a “metal” feel to them. It’s not easy to come up with strong imagery and not sound too academic. I always try to write lyrics that have either strong images or good stories behind them. The lyrics for The Weakest Limb were inspired by a psychological/medical condition that is called; Body Integrity Identity Disorder (BIID), formerly known as Amputee Identity Disorder where a person has a desire to cut off a body part because he or she feels that the body part feels alien and should not be on his/her body. I was totally fascinated by the topic after reading several articles and watching some documentaries on the subject. Tribal Furies is a song about the wars that are being fought in the Middle East in places like Syria, where societies are very much still governed in that way.
XM: Did the song writing come easily this time around? What was the process like?
Mem: The process of writing this album went in steps; we started getting ideas as early as 2008, continued to write through 2009/10, while we were touring and finally took off from playing live in 2011, to complete writing and rehearsing/recording in 2011. We scheduled a 3-week rehearsal session in spring of this year, prior to entering the studio for recording, in order to play and finish writing the new songs in the rehearsal room. This way we sounded like a cohesive unit when went on to record the tracks in the studio and the material got a total “band/rehearsal room” vibe.
XM: You chose to work with Waldemar Sorychta on the album, what sparked the interest in working with him?
Mem: His work on the latest SODOM album, to be as honest as possible with you but of course we knew his previous work as well and knew that he would be able to bring out the best EXUMER out of us, without losing the band’s spirit/vibe. And he did, at least we think so. He definitely brought out good performances out of all of us and was very helpful in the tracking process overall. It’s just really reassuring to have someone with a lot of experience behind the board, who knows how important this next record in the band’s future really is. That was just a good feeling to know about the level of Waldemar’s commitment to the project and likewise his engineer’s commitment.
XM: How did the band hook up with Metal Blade? Did they find you or where you looking for them?
Mem: I have been friends with the guys at the European office since 2000, and they were actually involved of bringing EXUMER to Wacken in 2001, for a one-off reunion show. It was quite normal to send them the new album and see what they had to say about it. We had a few other offers but ultimately MB was and is the only logical choice for us. We are an international act and we need a label that can represent us globally. Metal Blade is that label.
XM: What have been the high and low points of your career with Exumer?
Mem: The lowest points for me personally were to find out that the band quit in 1990/91. The highest points are the never-ending and loyal support from our fans and them showing up at our shows no matter how long we have been gone. It’s actually quite amazing but I would say headlining Thrasho de Mayo in 2009, in front of a completely sold out and INSANE crowed of very “educated” , thrashers is easy one of the highest points of our career.
XM: If you could have been involved in the writing, recording or production of any album which would it be and why?
Mem: “Hell Awaits”, my favourite Slayer album! I would have loved to get the production approach behind that album because it doesn’t sound like anything else they have ever recorded. It sounds so eerie and strange, I just don’t know why...
XM: What are your opinions or views on the way that Metal has evolved since the 80’s?
Mem: I think the advent of the internet and the connectivity of fans and bands played a huge role in how Metal has evolved since the 1980s. A lot more people are involved in playing in bands, blogging or in any form one could imagine. I think that is a good thing, it resembles a little the DIY spirit of the 1980s tape trader and fanzine days. However, I also think a lot of the mystique is also gone. I didn’t know what kind of ordinary lives my heroes from back in the day were leading. Especially bands like Venom or Mercyful Fate. Now you get updates via twitter when a band member takes a dump in the tour bus. Kind of lame and not exciting whatsoever but that is the way it is so I deal with it...
XM: What’s the last concert you attended as a fan in the audience?
Mem: Motorhead and Clutch in 2011, in NYC.
XM: As you’ve gotten older have your ideas softened up a bit?
Mem: I don’t think we have gotten softer with our music but definitely wiser with our decision making processes. I guess it’s about personal change, growth and evolution. I hope I’m still hard with my delivery when I perform...
XM: Are any of yours or band member’s families also in music? Any formal lessons to master your crafts?
Mem: No, it is just me and the only lessons I received were tennis lessons from age 8-11, however, I never utilized them so... JK, no one in my family has the musical gene except my maternal uncle who used to be a highly talented pianist. However, my grandfather who was lieutenant colonel in the Turkish Air Force, did not think that my uncle needed to become a professional pianist after my uncle’s piano teacher offered to recommend him to a free ride at one of the most prestigious music schools in the country at the time. So, my grandpa pulled the plug and my uncle became a painter instead, to the horror of my grandfather. Life...
XM: What does 2012 have in store for Exumer? What are you most looking forward to this year?
Mem: Lots of touring, starting with a few warm up shows in Europe, followed by a South American tour and then hopefully a few dates in the U.S. in the fall. So, yes, we will keep busy after taking an entire year off from touring last year.
XM: Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions with us at X-Plosive Metal. Any last words?
Mem: Thank you for having us and most important thanks to our fans who have been faithful throughout our 27 year long career, in the end all of this means nothing without them!