PN staffer Sam Houlden spoke to Fuming Mouth’s Marc Whelan in the hours leading up to the new Fuming Mouth album(Last Day of Sun)’s release about the complex development of the record and what it has resulted in.
So, the new album is out in just a few days and it’s fair to say the process of recording it was more than a little unusual. The record started life as a full narrative-driven apocalyptic concept album I believe, but then it underwent some subtle changes when you received your diagnosis, is that right?
MW: Absolutely. It was fiction that became non fiction. I was trapped in my hospital room with no visitors, no where to go, for long periods of time. All of that bled into the album.
The actual sonics of the album are pretty striking. Big shout to you and Kurt Ballou on that front! The HM2 brings the ever-present buzzsaw vibe, but the low-end of the record is utterly immense, especially in the doomier passages. Was that something you were conscious of, given the subject matter of the record?
MW: Yes. I knew we wanted to do our own thing and not just rip off the Sunlight Studio sound. That’s where we paid attention to low end, we paid attention to the bass, and we turned the guitar amp gain up which made our tone not just cutting but thick.
The presence of clean vocals on the record is something that people may not necessarily have expected, but to my ears, add a more overt emotive weight to the record in places. Was that the intention or did it just feel like an organic fit when it came to writing or recording?
MW: It was really organic. We’ve had clean vocals since 2018. Songs like Distant Voice, The Spirit’s Chain, Half Life, Beyond the Tomb, Half Life and more have all had clean vocals. We’d play live with clean vocals before that too. Those are fake fans or not fans at all, just observers. So we put it right in their face this time for them to listen.
Another difficult aspect of the record’s journey into being was the passing of Mariusz Lewandowski. His artwork adorned the cover of the debut and also the Beyond The Tomb EP, so to many people there will always be a link between your work and his. Did you know Mariusz well?
MW: I worked with him in over a hundred emails back and forth while he painted The Grand Descent. We went through every emotion together. Tired, Excited, Focused, Confused, Happy, everything. He was supposed to paint Last Day of Sun. It broke my heart when he died but I think the illustration by Khaos Diktator Design for Last Day of Sun is the perfect depiction of what happened since The Grand Descent. All the color got sucked out of my life.
It might be a bit of a cliche to say that great art is often forged from pain, but there are the hallmarks throughout the record. Both in the form of fury, but also a more melancholic and occasionally lovelorn ambience than is sometimes associated with death metal. Is a wider emotional spectrum something you’re interested in working in?
MW: We’re an extreme band and that includes being extreme with our emotions. We always want to go the furthers when a song is at its angriest or it’s saddest. We wanted to make a record that didn’t beat the same idea to death and that emotional approach is how we did it.
Given where you are today, I can imagine you’re super keen to get out and play these songs live and I’ve seen some of the tour dates announced recently. What songs are you most looking forward to playing and experiencing the crowd’s reactions?
MW: Out of Time is becoming a song that is such an experience between us and the crowd. It’s the longest song we have but it feels like so much shorter. We just played Kill the Disease for the first time last night and playing the bolt thrower harmonies in the slow part really made me feel like we’re finally doing justice to our influences.
Thanks so much for your time, Marc *(ITS MARK)*. The record is killer and I hope it all goes great for you and the band from here on out. Is there anyone you want to shout out or any messages you want to share with the readers?
MW: Don’t quit. Don’t give up. Things will get better. Don’t care about what other people think of you. Don’t try and fit in because people are going to make fun of you. And if you’re going through mental health or health issues get help.