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Morphia

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It's been four years since Morphia surprised The Netherlands with their album Unfulfilled Dreams. Since that release a lot happened with this formation. The line-up was expanded with a new vocalist and a new bass player. And behind the scenes they worked hard on their follow-up CD. Now, finally, they present the follow-up entitled Frozen Dust. It's time to get to know the band and their new singer, Jasper Pieterson.

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Discography: Poison Minded (1997), Unfulfilled Dreams (1998), Frozen Dust (2002). Available through: Fear Dark. Official website: Morphia. Interview by: mpo. Date: March 8th 2002, interview in two sessions.

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Morphia. FLTR: Bert, Roger, Ernst-Jan, Erik, Peter, Jasper, Martin.

According to me Morphia exists for about ten years now. You are part of the band since the last one and a half year. What can you tell about the history of the band?

Well, ten years is a bit too long. When I'm right, Morphia exists since 1995. It was started by Martin & Roger (Koedoot), the guitarists, and Werner (Wensink), our former singer and bass player.

And what have they been doing over the years?

In those years they started making doom/death metal. They had various drummers. And after a year Ernst-Jan (Lemmen, drummer) joined them. And later on Bert (Bonestroo, sound engineer) joined as well. Before that they had recorded the demo Poison Minded. And when Bert joined them, the demo CD was furbished up, sound wise. And then Peter (van Tulder, keyboard player) was added to the band and so they became more symphonic. In January 1999 Unfulfilled Dreams came out. And shortly after that Werner left the band which led to a situation without a singer and bassist for a while. In the meanwhile they were busy working on the CD that is out now. Early 2000 Erik (van Tulder) joined the band as the new bassist and in September 2000 I was added to the band as the singer.

It strikes me on the albums that sound engineer Bert Bonestroo is considered as a full member of the band. How important is he to Morphia, you reckon?

He's very important, actually. As he's the person who knows how the sound needs to be. Especially when playing live he's the one who mixes the sound into the crowd. He knows just how it needs to sound like so he can get the sound to the crowd best. And with our last CD recordings we did the vocals on our own. And he was our sound engineer on that occasion. The producer.

So he's of such importance that you consider him as a full member.

He's a full member of the band, yeah. Live he's the one who translates our sound to the crowd. So, to us, he's part of us.

You are in the band since September 2000. How did you get involved?

Before I joined the band I knew the band already. I had the CD Unfulfilled Dreams. I ordered a CD through our distributor Fear Dark every now and then. With an order I got a flyer saying that Morphia was looking for a new singer. Even though I had no experience, as it comes to singing, I had something like "do something crazy, just give it a go!". I phoned them and made an appointment to do audition. In the meanwhile, between that phone call and the audition, I worked hard on some songs. On the audition I sang these along. And it felt good. That way I got into the band.

How did you start as a singer? Did you do it before joining Morphia or was it totally new because of the flyer?

Well, metal music wasn't a new thing to me. I've been listening to metal for a long time. But I only sang or grunted along with the music in my sleeping room. When I got the flyer, I started practising more seriously. I had no experience and thus I got into the band.

Who are your examples as a singer? Do you listen to other singers to hear how they are doing it?

No, definitely not. I have no examples. I just do it the way it feels best.

It's quite a heavy way of singing. Was that hard on your vocal cords to do as it was entirely new for you at that time?

I have no difficulties with it. It went alright. When I joined the band, I was quite simple in my grunting. It was quite deep and fat but nothing more than that. And now, one and a half year later, I have developed my grunting a lot and I also do screams and everything in between.

How do you like singing in the band?

To be honest it's a wish come true. I've always wanted playing in a metal band and when it finally happened, it was amazing! Especially live. It's giving you a kick when you're on stage. And now the new CD's out it's even better!

Another new member is Erik van Tulder. I've heard that he learned playing bass especially for the band. What can you tell about him?

When Werner left the band, Erik bought quite happily a bass guitar and learned playing it. With a lot of help from his brother who's our keyboardist, he learned it. That way he found his way into the band.

The first album you and Erik worked on, is the new one Frozen Dust which came out exactly a week ago. What do you think of it yourself?

I think it's great! It's always been a wish for me to play in a metal band and especially to record a CD. And it's a wonderful feeling when you pick up a disc that's in the stores and that I've made with the rest.

A kind of proud feeling...

Yes, certainly. Absolutely!

You did everything by yourselves on the new album. That is, the band wrote and played the songs. The band produced the album and did the artwork. Why did you choose to do everything by yourself? Is it only to save money or to have full control or ...

We're a band on our own. And because of that we're really enthusiastic about the thing we do. We are really enthusiastic about the band. And as it comes to the writing of songs, you have to play them yourself. So, the best way you can put your own feelings into it is by yourself. And it's also nicer, to my idea, to do it yourself rather than someone else doing it for you. As it comes to the release of the CD... We want to go on. And when you don't have a label you can wait but we just did it on our own. If it's a matter of keeping it under our own control, I don't know. It gives us, I think, even a better and prouder feeling so we can say: "Look, this is what we could do together, and we didn't need someone else to do it." As it comes to the booklet I think we're talented enough to put something together. In that sense we made use of our own means.

The album was recorded in the Harrow Studio. But the vocals were recorded in a different studio in Apeldoorn. Why did you choose another studio for the vocals?

Well, a different studio... We recorded it in our drummers home. He has a cellar, a sound proof room. It was my first CD without any experience and because of that it gives you more peace if you can do it on your own. When you're in the studio you're continuously doing the vocals which gives a lot of stress. By doing it by myself, we created more peace so we could do it in a more relaxed kind of way while we had some more time as well. We had the means to do it this way. So, why not use them if you can get a better result?

And did you mix it in your own studio or did you do it at Harrow's?

The final mix we did at Harrow's.

The music was written by the entire band. In how far is your influence on the music traceable on the CD? So, what did you actually contribute to the music on the album?

What I personally contributed... When writing songs one of us comes up with a basis for a song. He writes all parts. And then we start learning to play it and everyone gets their own ideas. This way we start working on the song and so we get a song together with influences from all of us. As it comes to influences from me... I think they are mainly vocally. As I have most knowledge of the vocals at the moment, my influences are there mostly. And besides that I had some small ideas music wise. But to point out what exactly my influence is, is pretty hard.

So, who writes most music in the band and has most influence?

Actually, Martin, Roger and Peter are the ones who write the songs. And that's the basis of a song. In the rehearsal room we work on the songs and everyone adds his own ideas. Thus we develop the song into what it becomes. Then a song is of all of us.

Jasper Pieterson

Doom metal is a music with melancholic feelings. What do you have with doom metal?

Well, I can find a lot in metal. As it comes to doom metal I think it's great to be relaxed. It's a relaxed kind of metal. You can put a lot of feeling into it. And I think it has more to say than the faster kind of metal where everything goes as fast and hard as possible. That's a good point for us, that we can put a lot of emotion into it.

Is this also the kind of music you listen to at home?

Yeah. I regularly listen to stuff that's harder and faster than this. But the main part of what I listen to is the doom and symphonic metal.

Doom metal is especially a kind of music for depressive and melancholic moods. You contribute to the band music wise and lyrically. In how far are your contributions result of a mood? And by what is your mood influenced?

You mean how we get our lyrics?

For example. What influences your mood so you start writing the things you write?

Well, inspiration for the lyrics can come from different directions. I'm not the only one who writes lyrics. As you can see in the booklet, the pictures mention who wrote a certain lyric. Two and a half song was written by me. It depends on where the inspiration comes from. Sometimes I feel great and then I start writing from that starting point. Sometimes I don't feel great and then I start writing from that starting point. It's also possible that I hear or see something that gives me inspiration for a lyric.

I'm thinking of Forced To Obey especially. It's quite an oppressing text. Does that come from your own experiences or is it something that you've heard from someone else?

That originates from my job. I work as a medical assistant in a psychiatric hospital through which I have to deal with these kind of things. In our lyrics we often look for things that are overlooked, things that are not covered a lot.

In how far is this music typical for your character, you reckon?

That's a difficult question. I myself am quite a happy person. But in the band we utter all kinds of emotions. It doesn't necessarily have to be depressive. It's far from the person that I am. It's a way to manifest.

Frozen Dust was recorded independently. However, the logo of Fear Dark is on the CD. What's the exact relationship with Fear Dark?

Fear Dark is our distributor and mainly that's it.

Fear Dark is a label that works with Christian oriented kind of bands mainly. How does the band think of that?

As far as we know from Fear Dark, is that Fear Dark is a non-Christian label that seeks the positive things. This means they often deal with Christian bands, that's true. How we think of it... We have no problems with it. We aren't a Christian band. Some of our members are Christians and some of us are not Christians. But we go for the making of music and we try to be, as a band, positive. We respect people who do believe and we respect people who don't believe. That's no point for us.

So, you try to be neutral?

In that sense we are neutral. But there are some guys in the band who are Christians and who write lyrics which leads to some Christian influences in the lyrics. You can't pick that up from the texts directly but between the lines it's possible.

Another question now. In the past you did a few concerts here and there like the show with After Forever last fall and a concert at the Fear Dark Festival last weekend. Do you have plans to do a full tour or are you waiting for a bigger band to pick you up as a support act?

We have no actual plans. We want to play together as much as possible. We think it's great to be on stage. We try to get gigs pretty hard and if we can make a tour that would be perfect. But if there's a band who wants to pick us up, I think we should talk about it.

You did do some gigs with some big names. Like I said, After Forever, and in the past a couple of other great bands that are well known and that tour.

Yeah, that's right. Last year we did a show with Mortification, in the summer. As it comes to touring it depends on what comes. You can't tell beforehand. I think we all would love to do something like that. But it just have to happen.

And are you going to do some concerts in the near future because of the new record?

That's definitely what we want to. At this moment we only have a show coming up on the 30th of March in de Escape in Veenendaal. But we're negotiating with some other venues as well.

I've heard that you might play in the Baroeg in Rotterdam.

Yeah, that's almost certain. I think that's on the 18th of April. But it's not fixed at the moment. As soon as it is, it will be mentioned on our site. We are negotiating with people from Leipzig to do a show there. And maybe we can make a tour of it.

What are the future plans of Morphia? Sign a deal with a bigger label?

That's the same story as with touring. If it's possible and it's sensible for us then it won't surprise me if we do.

But, are you actively working on it, getting in touch with the bigger labels?

Partially, right now. We do it to some extent. We're not very actively seeking.

What are your expectations then as to what the new CD will do for the band?

Honestly, I have no idea. I hope a lot! But, again, I have no experience in this at all. To me, I'm only a layman. I hope it will do a lot. The feedback I've either heard or read is enthusiastic.

Frozen Dust album cover

Frozen Dust contains ten tracks. Could you introduce each song?

Flashback is an instrumental song. It's something you need to listen to, to see what it does to you. It's quite relaxed. You should put it on real loud in the darkness of your living room or your sleeping room and then it's a song that will help you to relax. At least, it's something that relaxes me. Musically it's done well. It's just what the title says: Flashback. It sounds like short bits put together that return.

The Sun is a song that Peter wrote. One of the first songs from this CD we did live. It's a song about love and the comparison with the sun is made.

The Forest is a song that Roger wrote in which he compares a walk through the forest with life and everything you will face in life. At the start and at the end we used both a grunt as a scream and we mixed it in such way that it's sounds like a wind which gives a real remarkable effect.

Wicklow Mountains is one of the more cheerful songs from the CD. It was written by Peter. It's one of the easier accessible songs from the CD. At the end there's a part that also indicates something really relaxed which you can find back in the text.

Frozen Dust is a song that Martin wrote. It took him quite a while. And after all it's been worth the while. Each night we did our rehearsal we asked him: "Are you progressing with it?" And then it took some more time. Frozen Dust is a song with a great musical construction. It starts quite mellow and becomes heavier all the while.

When Silence Fell is one of my favorites. It's a song that's quite heavy to sing. We can't do it live the way it's on the CD as the sentences overlap each other. It's a combination of grunts and screams. According to me it's one of the better songs.

Again is also one of the first songs we did live. It's a song that hits hard.

Long Lost is a song that deals with a person who lost his own ego. It's a deeper kind of text. And the music is quite good. It has a lot of mellow moments, and then it's quite hard and then, all of a sudden, mellow again. It's also the only song in which we used an acoustic guitar.

Forced To Obey, we talked about shortly. It's quite a heavy song with quite a heavy content as well that's derived from my job.

Emptiness is the song that Roger and I wrote together and it deals about the loss of loved ones and the empty spots they leave in your heart. We did this one live for the first time last Saturday. It's quite a heavy one. It contains a lot of text in which you can put a lot of emotion.

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