author MY date 24/08/06

"After all being in a band and being so close to the same people is kind of like a marriage so when some one decides to leave the "family" it feels almost like a divorce." says Mikkel Sandager, the voice of Mercenary. They probably lived the most unexpected divorce with their bass player/ vocalist Henrik "Kral" Andersen's leaving the band in the middle of the songwriting of their new album "The Hours That Remain". "The Hours That Remain" hit the stores just three days ago, 21st of August, but it has already been accepted as one of the best albums this year. So keep on reading the interview below to learn more about Mercenary's divorce and the newborn child.

RF.Net: Hey Mikkel!! Let's start the interview with Kral's leaving the band. After getting the great news of Mercenary's making the new album, the fans were shocked by Kral's departure. Then came the official statement but the reasons for his leaving were never clearly mentioned. Actually I know you're not gonna tell me the exact reasons but at least I want to try my chance; why did Kral leave the band?

Mikkel: Well it was a mixture of things that led to his decision. It was a mixture of economy (metal is not the business to be in if you wanna make a lot of money!), being away from his family and simply having been trying to make it with the band for 15 years. I think that he simply got tired of trying and trying you know?

RF.Net: In one of your interviews, I read your saying that Kral was bored with the band so that can be one of the reasons of his departure. But the thing is; Kral formed Mercenary 15 years ago, worked so hard and now the band's having the best days of it's career but Kral left it and started a new project. If he's that bored with the music industry, why has he started a new project? Don't you think it is a bit weird?

Mikkel: Well first of all I never said that Kral was bored with the band. That must be a misquote. I don´t think he got tired of the musicindustry as such I simply think that he had enough of the hectic life of never being home and having zero money :-)

RF.Net: Even if you were the lead singer of the band, you know generally singers take the frontman duties, Kral was the band's frontman and the most popular member. Did you have any worries about the frontman leaving the band, the reaction from the fans, how they would welcome the new guy, the new album, maybe the new sound?

Mikkel: Of course every one in the band worried about what the future would bring but within the band there is no difference in member status. It doesn´t matter if you have been a member for 6 months or 5 years. Everyone is equally important. So in regards to the worrying I am pretty sure I speak for everyone when I say that our main concern was if I would be able to pull off the melody bits and the lyrics. Whether I succeeded or not I will leave up to the fans. In regards to the reaction from the fans everyone in the band knew that people would be shocked but then again this is and has been for some time a 6 piece band. It takes 6 people to create the mercenary sound and thus we always had faith in our selves and the overall sound of the album. You know you can´t really think too much about reactions when you run a band. You have to do what you have to do and if the people like it cool and if they don´t it´s up to them you know?

RF.Net: And another point of view for this frontman thing is; Actually we don't truely know how the works are done in Mercenary but the guy who seemed to be doing the most left the band and then you were supposed to do more and more work. Has it ever made you worried?

Mikkel: As I just said this is a 6 piece band and everyone takes an equal amount of work. We really can´t control how everything looks from the outside.

RF.Net: And you welcomed Rene Pedersen to the family. Was it hard to find the new guy, did you listen to many applications and what made you think that Rene is the true musician?

Mikkel: Well we listened to some both from within DK and from abroad as well. We had a lot of cool applications but in the end we decided that Rene was the ideal singer/bassplayer for us plus the fact that he lived near by and we knew him a bit beforehand was a plus. That said I can tell you that Rene fits the band totally and really has a powerful voice; both clean and shouting. So he is definitively the right guy.

RF.Net: And for the production, you again worked with Jacob Hansen in his Hansen Studios. It's like Jacob convinced you that there were no other producers!! :o)) Seriously how is it working with him, you must be feeling yourselves at home in his studio, right?

Mikkel: Yeah exactly! That´s one of the reasons we keep on coming back there. We really know him very well, he is a really cool and very very funny guy to be around and in my oppinion he is the best producer for Mercenary right now. I really have 100% faith in his abilities from album to album and so far he always seem to exceed all of our expectations.

RF.Net: A few months ago, I interviewed Jacob Hansen and asked him about Mercenary's new album and he answered "Mikkel sang all the vocals on this album, and hearing him shout like Kral - I mean exactly like Kral - was uncanny at times!" Actually it suprised me too. Now that Kral is not in the band, why did you choose not to change the sound, especially for vocals, why did you try to sing just like Kral?

Mikkel: It wasn´t so much that I was trying to sound like Kral as I was trying to make the Mercenary trademark sound. Mercenary has developed a very unique vocalsound I think and it would be a crime not to continue down that trail. With that said I do feel that the new album is quite different in regards to the vocals. There is much more clean singing on this one and I also gave the screaming bits more room.

RF.Net: I heard the album title, The Hours That Remain, was a phrase that Jakob read in a book. Is there also a link between the book theme and the album concept? Actually, is there a concept on the album?

Mikkel: It is not a concept album. With that said I feel that the lyrics all deal with some of the same elements that all fits under the title of the album. But the album is not a direct reference to the book if that´s what you mean.

RF.Net: Mercenary was talking about the dreams on the previous album and on the new one, "the hours that remain", the title can be positive or negative either. So, which hours are you talking about, the good-old ones or the ones that we don't even want to remember?

Mikkel: Depends on my state of mind I guess.

RF.Net: Actually I am not sure if it's exactly true but; Are some of the songs in the album about Kral's departure?

Mikkel: Well Kral decided to quit the band in the middle of the song writing process so I guess it´s not that big a surprise that I wrote about it. After all I write about the things that affect me mentally and emotionally and this affected me a great deal. After all being in a band and being so close to the same people is kind of like a marriage so when some one decides to leave the "family" it feels almost like a divorce.

RF.Net: You said " "Redefine Me" and "Lost Reality" that make me feel the most..." I wonder what is that special with these songs?

Mikkel: I think I said that different songs affect me on different times and at the time of that particular interview it was those two. But I guess the reason why these two song affect me so much is because they both in their own way deal with saying goodbye to something farmiliar and finding your self being forced to create some sort of new reality for your self. To redefine your self so to speak.

RF.Net: You did a guest appearance for one song on Maroon and Illdisposed's latest album which adds the songs a different taste, great results i think. Are you good friends with these guys or where did the ideas come from? And are there any new projects on the way?

Mikkel: On both accounts I wasn´t too familiar with the guys in the bands and they simply asked me if I was interested in trying some vocal parts. In both cases the bands turned out to be great guys and I have nothing but the biggest respect for both. Great and fun bunch of guys. I have nothing coming up right now as I have to dedicate all my time to Mercenary right now.

RF.Net: Something paying my attention: Yes the band's had some line-up changes during the years but it's like you're working like a family, at least for the albums, working with the same producer for years and also Travis Smith is the one first to mention when it comes to the Mercanary covers. So you all seem like a big family...

Mikkel: Yeah as I said it really is like a big family that you have all over the world. That is also the case with all the bands that we know all around the world. You know it´s like if you haven´t seen someone in 2 years and then if you meet them on a festival or on a tour it´s like you never left. Really cool.

RF.Net: I guess last year's Nevermore tour is one of the most important things in Mercenary's career. Kral seemed to be the biggest Nevermore fan ever and they are also on your favorite bands' list. So I really want to hear one of the great memories from the tour, of course if you don't mind to tell, please :o)

Mikkel: Well actually one of the coolest things ever was to actually meet them in real life. Damn I was almost shaking when Warrel and Shepard walked in to our dressing room. But they were all really awesome guys and we had a lot of great times with them. I guess one of the coolest things was when Smythe and Loomis played "Inside 4 Walls" with us on stage in Schwitzerland.

RF.Net: In our latest interview, I asked Kral who he wanted to tour with , he said Nevermore and you toured with Nevermore. Give luck a chance; who do you want to tour with? :o))

Mikkel: he he hmm I would love to tour with Soilwork, Fates Warning or maybe even Iron Maiden.

RF.Net: Thank you for your time Mikkel, I hope everything will be awesome for Mercenary, may the force be with all of you always! Any last comments?

Mikkel: Thanks so much for the interest in the band and your continued support and may the force be with you too :0))

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