Mercenary have been through a tough time and line-up changes sometimes mean a change of the musical direction. With Metamorphosis they proofed that musically they haven't changed, but there are still a few questions unanswered... well, now they are answered by Mercenary's bassist and new lead singer René Pedersen who's on tour at the moment.
The last years were a kind of roller coaster ride for you. Touring with Megadeth, then the news about the line-up change... Well, it was more a split of the band... Please enlighten us what happened after the tour!
It was not so much after the tour, it had been happening for a long time.. We wanted different things. Mikkel and Morten where drifting further and further away from the band, and Mikkel began thinking that he had more of a say in the band than others. Especially when it came to the lyrics and vocal lines. Architect Of Lies was chaos to record, and things just went downhill in the band from that point. It actually came to the point where we couldn't be in the bus together without arguing and people getting angry. Slowly the band became a pain in the ass, rather than a passion and a love that we could not live without. So when Mike decided to leave the band Jakob, Martin and I sat down and we all felt that we could not see a future for the band anymore, if we did not make some drastic changes. And so we decided to continue the band without Mikkel and Morten.
Usually a change like this has also legal consequences, sometimes freezes band activities for months... years. Did you have to go through something like that?
No, not at all, we talked it over with Mikkel and Morten, we had talked with them about the issues before and Morten was getting more and more into playing in Pretty Maids, so I actually think it was a big load off his shoulders. As for Mikkel, think is was tougher for him, but he accepted our decision. Had they wanted to make a fuss about it, we would simply have ended the band all together. This was really the only way to keep Mercenary alive.
When did you start to look for new band members?
We knew Morten from the Danish metal scene, I have been playing along side him in another project called Transparent and when Mike told us he was leaving Morten was the first person we actually thought about. So we called him up, and lucky for us he was really happy to join. As for the position of the lead singer we had been talking about me singing for a while. Not as the only singer, but singing clean lines too on the new album, so that was a pretty easy decision also.
Please tell us a bit about the new guy!
Morten is a very mellow and down to earth guy, he jumped right in and I felt like he had been in the band for ages! He is really talented and we are more then happy to welcome him into the Mercenary family.
Usually changing the lead singer is kinda risky, coz the fans might not accept the new one. But you as a band had no chance, when did you guys decide you'll do all vocals now?
Right away actually, the other guys have always been fond of my singing voice (God knows why... ha ha) and they fully believed in me as the lead singer, and being a six piece band for so long, we really needed to feel more as a family again, and Martin, Jakob and I are all on the same page and the chemistry in the band has never been better.
Did you start writing songs while looking for the new members? Or first completed the band?
We began writing the new material before all the line up changes, and that is also where it became very clear that Mikkel and Morten was not on the same page as we where. Mikkel tried to write some vocal lines for a song, but it was miles away from what Jakob and Martin originally intended, and when they approached him with that he became angry and defensive, and did not want to try to change it or anything. We believe that being a band is all about listening to each other, and not taking constructive criticism as a personal attack. The new album is written in a perfect harmony and with love for the music, we had no stupid arguments and no ego's getting in the way of what is really important - and that is the music.
Did the new line-up effect the songwriting?
The new songs are much more focused, and for the first time ever we have actually written an album where everyone in the band loves each and every track. That is a very rare thing.
The title Metamorphosis seems to fit perfectly... The cover shows a phoenix. Summing up the band's last years?
Mercenary has been through a lot, but we have always managed to get back on our feet and this time we are staying there! So yeah, I think the phoenix is a perfect symbolism for the history of Mercenary.
How long did the song writing / recordings take?
We spent 35 days at Hansen Studios recording Metamorphosis, as for the song writing.. It pretty much went on for a year or so starting for real after the departure of Mikkel and Morten.
How important was producer Jacob Hansen for the final result?
Jacob is very important for the sound of Mercenary. He is a big part of the band keeping it's 'Mercenary' vibe from album to album. He has actually been with the band just as long as Jakob haha. You might call him the 5th member! :)
You are no longer at Century Media, you are signed to NoiseArt Records (Europe/Russia) Prosthetic Records (US/Canada). Was the contract fulfilled? Or did you have to look for a new label due to the changes?
We broke off with CM after the line-up changes, they where afraid that we would change the style of the band too much, and due to some bad experiences with some band who lost their singer and then changed style completely they did not feel they could afford to take that risk. I was really happy to be set free from the contract, because I didn't feel like we where a priority for them anymore. When we talked to NoiseArt / Prostethic Records, we really felt a connection we hadn't felt in years. And a change label-wise is just what we needed for this album and for the future of the band. We are really happy with the situation, and Rock The Nation are getting on lots of cool tours and festivals so the future is looking very bright.
Are their any plans to release the album in the rest of the world?
Well, only Asia is left really, so far no plans have been made yet, maybe there will be something later on.
With The Black Brigade you recorded a kind of homage to Megadeth. Seems the shows with them were a great experience? Any stories to tell from the shows with Dave & co.?
It was truly a high point for us, we have grown up with Dave Mustaine and we have the deepest respect for him. We actually had a long talk with him after the last show and all the bad thing we had heard about him just faded really quickly! He was so funny and really, really nice! Told us about the very beginning of Megadeth, and how they toured the U.S. in a van and stuff. Really awesome guy!
How was the release concert?
It was cool, very intimate and cozy. A nice and calm evening together with some great fans.
The album is just in stores and you are already on tour. Was the offer to good to be ignored?
This tour is an amazing package, and the line up draws a lot of different people, so it allows us to reach a lot of new people, which is very important for us. Plus sharing the stage with a re-united Psychotic Waltz, legendary Nevermore and the powerful Symphony X is not all that bad huh?
You already played shows with Nevermore, looking forward to get back on tour with them? What do you think about the package in general?
Hell yeah, Nevermore are cool guys and enjoy their music! have a great deal of respect for those guys. Think it is a very strong package, and love that we are very different from band to band.
Will you do a vlog for your fans?
I will be uploading short video clips from the tour on our YouTube channel and blogging too, you can find the blogs and so on at our Facebook page: www.mercenary.dk/facebook
What about a video clip? Is anything planned?
We have plans to release a video as soon as possible, can't set an exact date yet though.
A few festivals are already confirmed... Can we expect to see Mercenary at more festivals? Any news to share?
Hopefully... as soon as we have any official news, it will bee posted on our social networks.
Anything you want to add? Something I should have asked?
Well, just want to say that we are happy to be back and we are more ready than ever to get out there and show the fans that Mercenary is stronger and more unified than ever! And to all the readers out there! See you on the road! \m/
I have to thank René for his honest answers, but that just matched the impression I got of him when we chit-chat in Dortmund after the show they opened for Megadeth. Metamorphosis is a strong album and I guess with their live performance they will convince more fans every time they enter the stage.