Formed 2015 in Saarbrücken, THE SPIRIT have emerged from the depth of the German extreme metal void to breathe new life into the black/death metal genre. I’ve personally found out about The Spirit once they released “The Cosmic Terror” album and there is such a smooth, perfect execution you’re starting to wonder how they do it. They transform metal into art, without compromises or half measures, but that’s another discussion I won’t start here. We were lucky to catch the frontman M.T to a short chat about Romania, metal scene or the band’s influences.
Hello! Right from the start you have come with such great and well-received materials, causing different feelings to the audience. Was this meant to be a powerful, classic album or there was something missing from metal scene and you thought you should take care of that?
M.T: It was meant to be the best album we could do at that time. There was no pressure or any expectations because nobody knew about The Spirit back then. We didn’t play live or released demos before and we had no label. So, when the songs where done we went to the recording studio and just did it without too much thoughts. Personally, I just wanted to make a great record with great songs, which I would like to hear from another band. As someone who appreciate good music.
Speaking of world metal scene, do you think is it suffering since there seem to be no more big names such as Sepultura, Megadeth or Mayhem? Did the people get used to metal music that they no longer perceive new projects as icons or there are simply no more artists to be added in metal history?
There will be more added, but I guess you won’t have these super big names anymore. I mean larger than life bands like Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath or Slayer. It’s a different time and the music scene has changed a lot in the last two decades.
Has the income issue become too important for artists nowadays? Are the labels record by any means influence or change the metal scene?
I don’t get why so many people have the feeling it is somehow wrong when rock- or metal bands make money with their music. I mean do you go to work and tell your boss, “hey you don’t have to pay me, I make it for free”? Finn McKenty made a good video about this topic called “Why rap is winning and rock is losing”. These are hard times to make a living as a musician. At least if you are not in a very big band. I mean I don’t get it if someone like Gene Simons from Kiss is complaining about low record sales, when he has already made more money than he and his family could ever spend in their lives.
The labels definitely have an influence on the metal scene, even when it´s more and more fading every year. The bigger labels still have the power to push bands and make it possible for them to have a career. Unfortunately, some labels like to sign bands which make pretty shitty music. So, on the festivals you have on the upper half of the bill a lot of bands with way too much playback on stage and more focus on creating a circus than making live music. But that´s just my humble opinion.
Wasn’t the music more authentic when money hasn’t become an issue?
Money is always an issue. It is always for labels and when a band reaches a certain level it will become an issue too. At the latest when a regular job isn’t possible anymore because the band takes too much time but at the same time you need food on the table and money to pay the rent. Of course, there are a lot of bands which release an album only to have a reason to go on tour and make money. That’s the reason why the early records from so many bands are much better than their later outputs.
If you were to visit Romania, what would arouse your curiosity the most? There are so many stories about our country, therefore, what would you want to “taste” for the first time? Is it the traditional food, the brandy (here called tuica) or…the women, who are told to be the most beautiful in Europe?
I have been several times in Romania, but always in cities like Timisoara or Bucharest. Would be nice to visit one day the countryside especially the Carpathians. I remember Tuica, I had some of them in a restaurant when I was in Timisoara and I got pretty drunk.
There are several east European countries who claim to have the most beautiful woman and I don’t want to get caught in the crossfire in this matter. (laughs) But yes, it could be.
Do you think metal music, namely yours, can be educational at some level?
There are bands who are educational or at least try to, but The Spirit isn’t one of them. When I write lyrics, I always do it most times in a way that the idea or the topic behind them is barely recognisable for other people. To describe something, without pointing out the obvious theme, that’s what I like to do. Give those people who are interested in the lyrics some food for thoughts.
There are still many people who believe that post metal or shoegaze influences destroy the true meaning of metal. How do you see this?
There are always people complaining about anything and that will never change. The metal genre would be quite boring if there would be just bands who try to sound like Iron Maiden or Judas Priest. Metal was always about pushing boundaries and not following so called rules. Just look what happened when Death- or Black Metal came up back then. And what should be the true meaning behind Metal? Music is art and art should be free from rules or closed-minded beliefs.
In a world increasingly affected by selfishness and indifference, is there any more passion in art?
Art always comes with passion, you can’t separate those two. But let’s be clear on one thing. I don’t think that everybody who sings/screams in a microphone or plays an instrument is an artist. When you put some colour on paper or draw some line doesn’t make you an artist neither. In my opinion there is much more needed than that.
Also referring to your previous question, let’s take a band like Alcest. What these gentlemen are doing, that’s art in my opinion. They have their own unique style, what separates them from most other bands, and you can hear, feel and see a lot of passion and feeling in everything what they do. And as long as we have artists like that, there will be passion in art.
How does a The Spirit track come together? What is the creative process, or does it vary from song to song?
It’s always the same, I write the music alone at my place. I can’t write music in the rehearsal room with other people around me and sending files back forward via computer like other bands do is not the way music can be written for the Spirit. I need to be alone and I need a lot of time. When I know I must leave in two hours I wouldn’t start working on new music. It is the worst when you are in a good mode and the song writing flows, you come up with great riffs and then you must leave because you have an appointment with the dentist or something like that. Especially when I know that these moments of creativity sometimes don’t happen for weeks or even months.
Inspiration for the music can come from very different things. Just the desire to create a good song, describing a picture I have in mind or just trying to transform a feeling or certain mode into sounds. For example, one and a half years ago my mind was a very dark place and I had a quite tough time. When it was at the worst point, I picked up the guitar and decided to use that negativity and transform it into music. That was the moment when I wrote the main theme for “The Path of Solitude”.
A new The Spirit album is about to get released. If you were in your fans’ shoes, what would you expect from this material?
I would never expect too much, like that you won’t get disappointed. In the beginning of the song writing I wasn’t sure if we could manage to top our debut album. It took several months till the first song was finally done but that helped a lot to get off some pressure and was a good motivational boost. As I have now some more distance to everything, I can say that we probably could top our debut album. We learned a lot from “Sounds from the Vortex” and this experience was very helpful during the song writing. People from outside can judge that much better than me but I can say that I am quite proud what we made with “Cosmic Terror” also knowing the difficulties and challenges we had while creating it.
Have you ever experienced that feeling of impatience when hearing your favorite band is about to release a new song/album? What album were you the most excited about?
As I said before, personally I don’t expect too much from an upcoming record from a band I like, because I got way too many times disappointed. And then it’s even more exciting when I listen for example to Tool’s new album Fear Inoculum for the very first time and it totally blows me away.
I want to ask you about the bands that have been continuous influences for you, but also about new bands and new records that you think are exciting in the metal scene. What do you look at and say “that’s the future of this scene”?
Way too many bands to name them all. First there are the big classic metal bands which probably most people would name too. Then obvious a lot of black- and death metal bands from the late 80s and 90s which had a big impact on me when I was younger and shaped the way I play guitar. Nowadays I listen more Rock and especially Prog-Rock and I guess that has some influence on The Spirit and will maybe even increase in the future, let’s see.
I don’t know what the future of the scene will be, but I guess there is no doubt that Ghost will become even bigger as they already are. Give them another 10 years and they will become one of the biggest bands in Rock/Metal.
If your music would be proposed as a movie soundtrack for the worlds’ current situation, what song would you pick and why?
“Repugnant Human Scum” from our new album. I guess there is no explanation needed.