Stephen King once wrote, “Sooner or later, everything old is new again.” Within the world of the creative arts, that’s one of the most true maxims in all of music. Musicians take inspiration where they can find it and mold it to fit their own unique interests and needs. Unless you were alive centuries ago (hello vampire readers!), you’re going to be drawing from whatever well of creativity came before you and sparked your interest in the first place. Taking what you love, what excites you about a style of music or a band, and using that as inspiration to make something in that same vein but totally your own is part of the fun of creating sonic art.
Mortify, which formed in Japan in 2017, has been doing just that. Heavily influenced by grindcore staples and Swedish death metal, the band has put out one EP and one LP full of original tunes heavily inspired by classics of both genres. Fans of either style should find a ton to love in Mortify’s releases, which is a good thing too since the band has no intention of slowing down any time soon. I talked with vocalist Adam Jennings (also of Disrotted and Sick/Tired) about the band’s origins, inspirations, and plans for the future.
I always like to start with getting the origin story of the band so how did you guys meet and decide to form a band? Who came up with the name?
Adam: Thanks for the interview! The seeds of abysmal torment were planted back in 2014 when my doom band Disrotted came in contact with Ryohei from su19b. We set up a small tour and did a split CD together for Obliteration Records. After the trip, I decided to move to Japan from Chicago, IL. Ryohei and I decided to try making some music while I was here, and that was back in 2017. (It’s) 2022, we are still going strong.
How did you get into grindcore in the first place? What appeals to you about the genre and who are some of your main influences?
Adam: I discovered grindcore at a young age. I think it was probably the summer of 1996 or so, when I was 11. Then in 2000, I started a small cassette label and started making tons of penpals from around the globe. From those tape trading days and early on, some bands that made a lasting impression were Napalm Death, Dahmer, Repulsion, Warsore, Ulcerrhoea, Depresy Mouse, Rot, Le Scrawl, Extreme Smoke 57…bands like that.
As a vocalist, how did you figure out you had a talent for this style of vocals? Extreme metal has such harsh vocals that it’s definitely not a thing anyone can do!
Adam: It is something I am more comfortable with. The only difference is now as I get older, I am not doing so many of the high vocals like I did in Sick/Tired or Disrotted. I am enjoying playing with different styles to replace those high vocals now with Mortify, and also experimenting with overdubs more but not overdoing it.
What’s the lyric writing process like for the band? Who comes up with them and do you have any particular inspirations that you turn to? What themes do you look to explore in a Mortify song?
Adam: Movies and shows like Creepshow and Tales from the Crypt and Twilight Zone here. We are a gore band, but it is done in a tongue-in-cheek sorta way. I like gore but I cannot do a straight up LDOH style presentation. I like campy, old gore with a sense of humor and I hope it comes through with Mortify.
I’m assuming, based on your lyrics and art, that you guys are big horror fans. What appeals to you about the genre and what are some of your favorites (books, movies, games, etc.)?
Adam: I grew up in the ’80s with young parents, so I remember growing up at age three or four and already watching Monster Squad, Halloween, Night of the Living Dead, Nightmare on Elm Street…so at this point, it is something that is a deep part of my life.
What’s the process like for the music writing side of the band? Is there a set process and has that changed at all over the years?
Adam: Ryohei and Tak write most of the music and send me demos to learn. I do occasionally write a song or present an idea though too. It is a pretty simple writing formula, but has worked well for us. I am allowed to have full control of the lyrics, and presentation of what I think Mortify should be. Bless Impetigo for the endless years of inspiration.
You guys have a cool sound that’s definitely grindcore but, like you say on your Bandcamp, that also has a bit of Swedeath thrown in. How would you describe the Mortify sound?
Adam: I think you nailed it. While personally I prefer the older American style of lo-fi grindcore, we also give a nod to the ’90s Swedish scene in guitar tone, equipment, and song writing too. But we are not doing what many other bands are doing which is merely rip off Entombed and Dismember. I think we have a unique sound, while still being able to give a nod of thanks to those that came before us.
What was the writing/recording process like for your first full-length, Stench of Swedish Buzzsaw? How do you feel about the final product? To me, it’s a blast of a record and is packed with a ton of great, short songs.
Adam: Same as mentioned before, but we spent a good year or so playing those songs live and in the studio so once we recorded it it was exactly as we wanted it to be. I am happy we took a long time molding that album into what it became, which is a total slab of Swedish buzzsaw chopping spree puke grind.
Who does your album artwork and how much direction do you give them? They are all really cool looking horror pieces!
Adam: Our friend from Switzerland, Huere, who plays in Insomnia Isterica, does all of our artwork. At this point, he is an unofficial member of this band. We have our sound down, but the artwork brings it all together and is an incredible marriage of nausea and sickness. We provide some ideas, and he just knocks it out of the park every time.
What’s the extreme metal scene like over there in Japan? Has the local scene shaped the band at all? Are there any other bands you could recommend to our readers to check out if they dig your sound?
Adam: It is a small but dedicated scene here in Tokyo and Japan. There are many wonderful bands, which only make you have to play at your best every time. Some bands everyone should know (are) Butcher ABC, Gate, 324, Disgunder, Fight it Out, Self Deconstruction, Malformed Gentlemen….the list goes on and on.
How affected was the band by the COVID pandemic in terms of recording music and playing live?
Adam: COVID has fucked everything up. The shows have continued at the live house venues, but the vibe is so much different for so many reasons, as you can imagine. We cannot travel and our friends are still not allowed in the country after a few years due to harsh border control rules. We are hoping next year things will begin to look more optimistic.
Lastly, what’s next for Mortify? What are your goals for the future of the band?
Adam: Thanks so much for the interview! We have a new 7-inch out on 625 that is a split with HARM and we have a new CD EP coming out this summer, too. Then I think we will begin working on a new LP. Cheers and thanks to all the egg sucking ghouls from around the globe for the support. See you in the grave!