Rich Mumford tells the story of Malediction – Part II
The Millennium Cotillion, the band’s full length studio debut was recorded in 1996. What do you recall of the recording sessions?
It was a very rewarding time, probably my best studio experience ever. I used to love being in the studio and when we went into the studio to record the album I was super well prepared. I had a really good idea of how I wanted each song to sound and was able to communicate that to the other guys if there was something specific I had in mind. I think that it was only the drums and a few vocal things where I needed to say anything. We were all very much on the same page back then when it came to how we wanted to sound, certainly myself and the two Marks, anyway.
The first mix of the album completed in June 1996 was a bit polite sounding, it lacked balls, so we went back into the studio for a couple of days in November 1996 and made a few changes and remixed it. Overall, at the time we were very happy with it. There’s some great Malediction moments on there.
Can you tell us some informations about the album? How did it sound like, what were the songs like, were you satisfied with the result etc.?
It was really, really progressive. Long songs, acoustic passages, lots of keyboards and atmospherics. It was still Death Metal though, but the brutality had been reigned in considerably by that stage. In retrospect I now think it was rather too progressive and there’s a song or two on there that seems to be long for the sake of it rather than having sufficient ideas to justify the length. The stand-out songs on it for me are Sky Written Rapture, Elegaic Verses and Infusoria Humanis. I’m pretty sure those can be found on YouTube if anyone has a pressing desire to hear them.
If we did the album today, it would be very different. Mark (McGowan) has been talking about a new more concise version of Shores of the Ageless, which was probably the worst offender when it came to being long just for the sake of it. I thought it was too long at the time, but just didn’t feel able to say anything about it.
Due to the collapse of the label the material remained unreleased to this day. Didn’t you think about to release it as a self-financed album? Or would you say that you couldn’t afford to release it?
I think Mark (McGowan) maybe thought about releasing it at one time when he had his label (Deviation Records) going. We also at one point tried to get it released by now defunct Golden Lake Productions which was the label run by the guys from Serenade. I have mixed feelings about releasing it now as it’s what we sounded like in 1996 and it really just doesn’t relate to what I want to do now.
Releasing it now would only make sense if we had already put something new out and make it clear that “that was how we sounded in 1996, this is what we sound like now” type of thing.
Were you sad, disappointed, because the album haven’t been released?
Yeah. But it was just another day in the office for Malediction, we were used to stuff not going to plan by then I think. I’m just glad we did it. At the end of the day, for me music is about trying to please myself and I was very happy with the album for a long time which is more than I can say for much of the rest of our output. If people hear the stuff and like it, that’s great, it’s a bonus for me.
It might well have generated some interest had it been released in 1996 or 1997, now people would just think we were ripping off all the bands that have done similar things since then. It felt quite radical to me at the time we recorded it. We felt like we took a lot of risks, that was the ethic of the session – “how can we push this further”. We talked about Celtic Frost a lot during the recording and Into the Pandemonium in particular. We wanted to push the genre really hard in the same way CF did. I mean, there’s an ambient electronic trance track on there (Dreamland), there’s a Doom Metal song (My Deciduous Eyes), there’s a flamenco acoustic guitar piece (A Halo of Flies), fretless bass noodlings (Solis Maledictus), a heavy orchestral piece (Infusoria Humanis), there’s influences from eastern music all over it. A lot of bases were covered, it’s a diverse recording.
Shortly after the recording of the LP, in late 1996, the band split. What have all of you done after the demise of the group? Did you remain in touch with each other?
Shaun and Mark Fox went on to do some stuff with Embittered the crust/punk band. In recent years, I’ve done some other stuff, mainly playing bass in Godthrymm and Monstrance. At the moment I’m in talks to do a couple of European shows on bass in 2020 with a legendary UK crust band. I’ve also helped my friends in the UK Death Metal band Austerymn out a couple of times playing bass live with them. I’ve been trying to do music again for the last few years with varying levels of success really.
Shaun currently lives in the USA and Alastair lives in Denmark. The rest of us are still in the UK. We’re all still in touch, all still friends. Me and Mark McGowan are currently busy writing some new Malediction material hopefully for a 2020 release of some kind, maybe a 7” and digital, we’ll see.
In your opinion, how much did the scene change at this point? I mean, several trends appeared, such as grunge, pop/punk (Californian punk), nu metal, the comeback of traditional Heavy Metal…
Things just progressed as they always do. That’s music for you, it’ll do that… I like a load of modern bands. I’m not one of those people stuck in the past with that “no good music came out after 1989” type attitude. I think Doom Metal in particular seems to be very healthy currently and there are some superb modern bands like Khemmis, Dautha, Sorcerer (admittedly a reformed old band, but still), Below. As far as modern Death Metal goes, I went to see Nile, Hate Eternal and Vitriol a couple of weeks ago. All bands were great, but Vitriol were superb. Good music is still out there, metal is now just a huge genre with all kinds of style and influences and fusions with other musical styles.
The business of music has, of course, changed and not for the better. It’s now virtually impossible to make serious money out of music, bands have to adapt to that. For me music was something that I wanted to do out of love for it rather than financial gain. It would be incredible to be able to do it for a living, but that’s a dream for most of us.
What kind of motivations, goals did you have to reform the band in April 2000? Was it easy to persuade the other members taking part in the band again?
I wanted to try and just do something that I could tolerate. I was so dissatisfied with a lot of the stuff we put out, I just wanted to do something that I felt was up to scratch. Mark Fox jumped straight onboard with it, Mark McGowan wanted to do it, but wasn’t really able to do so because of where he was in his life at the time. I think he made it to one rehearsal in the end. It was a magic moment when we were able to play together again in the same room though. If we had been able to build momentum, it would have been incredible. It just kind of fizzled out because we weren’t able to achieve that critical mass you need in a band to be able to push forwards. The drummer we had at the time was really not suited to our music, or any music in my opinion. He was highly unstable and was the sort of person who would not take personal responsibility for his own practice regimen or even for any of his actions as a whole.
Two years ago Dark Blasphemies Records released the Chronology of Distortion compilation. How did this material come into being? From where did the idea come to release this album?
Over the years a few people had got in touch with me to do a CD compilation of our stuff and I was really against the idea. As I’ve said, I was unhappy with a lot of the material and saw no reason to put it out there again. I would have been more inclined to do a whole discography release with everything including the unreleased album, but people were only interested in the first two 7”s we did, which I hated (especially the first one).
Anyway, Dave from Dark Blasphemies contacted me and I mentioned it to the two Marks and they were in favour, so we agreed to do it. Dave was another one only interested in those two 7”s, but I told him I wanted to just focus on the best material from the 1990 to 1994 period which would mean unreleased re-recordings and remixes as well as the actual tracks that were released. To me, the 7”s exist, if you want to hear them, visit eBay, there’s always copies available on there. If we were to do this CD, it had to be different, had to be a special edition with detailed notes, pictures, artwork, that kind of thing.
Why was it limited to 500 copies? All of the copies are sold out?
No idea. I guess the label thought that was the optimal number they could sell. We still have copies available.
In your opinion, did it help to draw newer/younger fans attention to the band?
No, I don’t think so. A collection of old recordings wouldn’t be the way to do that. It wasn’t well promoted at all, so I don’t see how it would do so.
If your album would have been released around ’90/’91 could have been Malediction as big as Paradise Lost, Anathema, Carcass or Bolt Thrower?
I really have no idea mate, who knows? We were booked to record twice with Dan Swano at Unisound in 1993 or 1994, but cancelled twice due to lack of funds from the label at that time (GWB). Who knows what that album would have sounded like? It would probably been the optimal time for a Malediction pure Death Metal album.
Are there any Malediction tunes that never saw the light to this day or all of your songs were already released?
There’s a few that were scrapped and some of the riffs showed up in later songs. We recorded a new song, Winter White, Ocean Black in 2001 but we had to abandon the recording due to issues with the drummer I talked about previously. Both myself and Mark McGowan have lots of riff ideas from back in the day, so if we manage to get our shit together enough to do some new Malediction, you’ll certainly be hearing them.
What can you tell us about your future plans in terms of touring, live performances, recording an album etc.?
The current plan is just to try and get some new songs finished and get them released. I don’t think it will be worth putting out on CD, but vinyl is a must these days, so it might be a 7” or something like that. I think albums are really quite pointless these days for small scale artists, so the goal would be to release a couple of new songs on a regular basis. Playing live? Who knows. Never say never I guess.
Rich, thanks a lot for your answers! Anything to say for the Hungarian readers that I forgot to mention?
Thank you so much for the interview and the interest in the band! If any of your readers want to get in touch, we can be found on Facebook @MaledictionUK and on Twitter @MaledictionUKDM.