Man Must Die

author EW date 17/02/10

Recently gracing one of London's many stages was a trio of death metal bands who brought their varying brands of extremity to the capital for the evening, notably including Decapitated for whom this was their first tour since a debilitating coach crash while on the road in late 2007. You can read my thoughts on the show here, while on the night I also embraced the opportunity to interview Alan McFarland, guitarist of Man Must Die, the opening band on the bill, about their last album, "No Tolerance For Imperfection" and many other things. Read on below.

RF.net: You're on the last date of the tour tonight with Decapitated, how's the tour been so far? It's been you guys, Decapitated and Kataklysm the whole way right?
MMD: There's been some support bands along the way but mostly its just been us three bands and its been awesome, really really good. Good crowds all around, we've all pulled a crowd but London's been the weakest for us so far; I guess it's a Kataklysm and Decapitated crowd tonight, which is cool, but there's not been one really bad show.

RF.net: The others been good guys to hand around with?

MMD: Yeh they're top guys, a right good laugh. Lots of things going backstage...tonight there's an inflatable cock going on stage, don't know if you saw that but that’s been the highlight of the tour bus. I've started teaching the Decapitated guys some Scottish which has been awesome hearing their accents!

RF.net: How have the Decapitated guys been in a more personal sense cos of obviously what's happened to them?
MMD: I've got to know them really well. Vogg's been professional, he's a very nice guy and there to do a job and he does it to the best of his ability cos he's a fantastic guitarist. The new guys he’s got in the band, the new drummer, Karim is going to be one of the best drummers in death metal cos he's phenomenal. The bass player, Heinrich, who used to play with Vesania, is awesome and the vocalist Rafal, he's new and its his first ever tour, as it is with the drummer, and he'll get better as he goes on. He's coming round to death metal and he hasn't come round from a death metal background so it's kinda new for him.

RF.net: It's really pleasing on a personal level to see them going again as I saw them a couple of times with the old line-up and what they went through was horrible.

MMD: Yes it was horrific and horrendous. There's been some talk about it but Vogg's obviously coming to terms with it.

RF.net: I see you've got loads of touring coming up - the Machine Head/ Hatebreed tour and the Thrash & Burn tour too - so this must be a big period for Man Must Die?
MMD: This is the third album we've released and the other two were no way near as strong and they never came out the way we wanted them to come out. For this new one we changed drummers and put everything into it, worked with a good producer and finally got what you could call a 'product' in the music business. If you don't have a 'product' you've nothing.

RF.net: You've got a lot of competition now as well...

MMD: Oh there's competition yeh but finally we've got this product where I feel our CD can stand alongside anyone. Now we've got that product people are seeing us as a serious band now, getting us onto tours and that’s why all this stuff is coming together. Robb Flynn heard the CD and he's right into it, which is crazy, and he asked to do the Machine Head tour.

RF.net: I guess this is the big break then in terms of spreading your name...

MMD: Definitely and there's also talks with someone coming up about managers which is a pretty big deal as it'll finally get us to the US as well as we're also planning on doing a headline tour some point after the summer.

RF.net: Have you toured the US before?

MMD: No, we've played one festival in the US but haven't toured it.

RF.net: The death metal world is a very crowded one as you know but what do you think sets Man Must Die apart from your contemporaries?
MMD: To be honest I don't think the death metal world is crowded. The deathcore market is crowded but that’s not death metal now is it. The art of riffs is lost, and the art of lyrics and lyrical placement in songs is lost and its just a case of "raa raa" screaming.

RF.net: I've also noticed a trend for a lot of retro bands of late playing off the influence of Morbid Angel and Incantation and the likes.

MMD: Yeh there's a lot of bands starting again and noone wants to hear that either. To go back to what you were asking that’s what sets us apart...we listen to Morbid Angel, Suffocation, Carcass, Cryptopsy, all these bands are who influenced our mind but not the riffs and what we write. It's more the anger element and that’s what gives us our passion and set us up different as everyone is listening to different styles of music. People playing the Morbid Angel-type bands are listening to the old-school whereas we are listening to newer elements and that's what makes Man Must Die that little bit different.

RF.net: I saw in the lyrics to "No Tolerance For Imperfection" you had a few deviations from the standard lyrical subjects. You have mentioned of cultural ills like celebrity culture, plastic surgery and animal rights/fur issues for example. Why did you include that kind of stuff?
MMD: Because it's real. For "Kill It, Skin It, Wear It" I was watching a program called the same thing and it gave me the fucking rage watching this program, and it's something like that to get me that angry and it made me want to write "Kill It..." and that's where that came from. Joe writes 99% of the lyrics apart from "Kill It..." obviously and he writes from what he sees, what he feels, what gives him the rage. "No Tolerance" is kind of the plastic surgery thing where people are told the way to look in magazines, like "if you don't look like this you're some kind of mutant".

RF.net: Its interesting to hear that in a DM context as bands rarely sing about it...

MMD: Indeed. We have a song about depression as well, "This Day is Black", which is about a time Joe had an illness like that. Joe grew up in a rough area of Glasgow so he's seen a lot of things and got plenty of ammunition to put in his lyrics, with no bullshit.

RF.net: Is there any other topics the band have approached?

MMD: On our older albums we've got some stuff about the culture we're from, like Biohazard! But no, there's lots of stuff about people who are really fake and that pisses us off. Really its all personal stuff for people to read the lyrics and relate, and lots of people have got back to us to say how they really related to how they were feeling.

RF.net: In relation to this, do I take the album title as a furtherance to that theme, as listening to the title track it suggests a standpoint for album and what its about?
MMD: Its' not a concept album nor is the whole album about one thing like plastic surgery, just the title track is about that, whereas 'no tolerance for imperfection' can mean a lot of things which is why it was chosen - it's hard-hitting. When we recorded that album we accepted nothing less than perfection, in what we believe with what we can do and that’s exactly what happened, we were pushed to the limit and everything is bang on perfect.

RF.net: To turn to some of the cliché questions, what were some of the key influences on you forming Man Must Die?
MMD: In 2002 back when I started Man Must Die I handpicked the guys who wanted to be in the band. I was playing in a band that was more melodic thrash and I wanted to do something extreme and we eventually recorded these four songs [on the 2003 "The Season of Evil" demo]. At the time I was, and still am, well into Carcass, Cryptopsy, as well as Suffocation, early Kataklysm and then gradually as we've done the albums our influences have become more each other. On this last album there's not been any bands we were influenced by cos we've got to the stage where we just influence each other which is the perfect place to be as it means you're writing something that is coming from your own souls.

RF.net: You've had quite a stable line-up which must've helped?

MMD: Yes we changed drummers for the new album cos the old drummer wasn't quite ready for that step up so we really had to make the change then for someone who could help us make it that bit more 'real' with the different kind of blasts and styles.

RF.net: D'you keep up these days with what's going on in the metal world?
MMD: No, there's nothing out there right now that interests. I find that I'm going back listening to the old stuff as there is nothing out that's amazing y'know? The last thing I heard that I really liked was the Aborted album, "Archaic Abbatoir", but now the stuff that I like to hear is in MMD which is shame cos I like to hear a really good band.

RF.net: The works of Man Must Die are easily the heaviest stuff I've heard come across from a Scottish band, and so I ask is there much of a scene up there? Many other bands you've shared gigs and such like with growing up?

MMD: The reason you mentioned never having heard of many other Scottish bands is cos Scotland's never really been much of a hotbed for picking up Scottish fans. For years I played in a band called Confusion Corporation back in the mid-90s and we were one of the biggest UGDM bands in the UK but back then nobody was signing that and so if you were Scottish you were fucked. We had bands like Gorerotted opening for us, earthtone9, Raging Speedhorn, all played before us so when we came round to playing MMD we were that bit older and wiser and knew exactly what we needed to be doing. Now we're the only UK band signed to Relapse which is a really good thing and that's generated a lot of respect.

RF.net: What's the ultimate goal in the career path for Man Must Die?
MMD: What we wana do is move up to that second band rather than being that third band, not a headliner just yet. Don't get me wrong we can still do a headliner tour now but on a much smaller scale than the likes of tonight, but what we wana do is get onto more tours, be more of a pull-in band which takes time. The new album is the one doing it for us and is why we're getting these tours so our ambition has gotta be 'Headline band, Man Must Die, then the third band'.

RF.net: Otherwise you can get stuck in a rut just being a local support band, with British people not expecting you to make any waves further afield.

MMD: That’s it, you have to be wise and I've learned a lot from guys like Maurizio of Kataklysm. Learning what to do, sometimes you've gotta say no to people even if they're paying good money in order to build up hype.

RF.net: There's something to be said about bands that play every gig isn't there?

MMD: Yep, and we're not going to be one of those bands like Annotations of an Autopsy or Trigger the Bloodshed who are playing all the time, even though it's been good for them obviously.

RF.net: Has there been any development made on the follow-up to "No Tolerance..." yet?
MMD: We've got a lot of stuff sitting there in bits n' pieces but nothing yet in full songs, hopefully we'll begin putting it together after the Machine Head tour. Of course we must try and top "No Tolerance", make that our ambition moving forward.

RF.net: You should be learning a bit from the amount of touring too, seeing what works live and what doesn't.

MMD: Yeh that’s been a big help. Even guys in bigger bands are always learning, just look at Decapitated and they're new drummer who looks after himself, doesn't drink, doesn't eat anything stupid and is in his bed every night!

RF.net: Any festivals plans this summer, as a fan or as a band?
MMD: No none as a fan actually, but we're playing Hammerfest which we've never done before, in Wales. Think we'll possibly be playing the London Deathfest though that's not definite yet and we're really trying to push on to get onto some other festivals abroad.

RF.net: Any last words or future updates to end the interview on?
MMD: This year's gonna be big for us definitely as there's going to be some things happening in the next few months which will hopefully move us up that level. Thats all we can do. We'll do what we do which is write extreme music and write it as real as we can, giving 100% for those who've come to see you and trying to impress those who haven't.

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