with Ollie Pearson (vocals), Dom Finbow (Guitar) and Chris Chantler (Drums)
2nd November 2013
@ Damnation Festival, Leeds
Interview by Caitlin Smith
Interview Photos by Michelle Murphy
It’s been 13 years of nightmares and torment from doom metal trio MOSS and they’re not letting up just yet. With the release of Horrible Night only six months before and appearances at two upcoming UK festivals, these guys are back, bring spreading their message of doom, misery and madness to anyone willing to listen. Appearing at Damnation Festival, Metal Rules took the opportunity to decode their message of misery, horror and health and safety.
Horrible Night sees a change stylistically for you guys, there’s more groove and clean vocals, almost ELECTRIC WIZARD-esque, what happened to make you deicide you wanted to go in a new direction?
Ollie: We just started coming up with those kinds of songs. The first song we came up with for that album was in that direction and we were like, this is cool, lets go for it. For quite a long time I’ve been wanting to do clean vocals in the band so it just fit, it just felt right.
Chris: It’s more memorable I think, which is important. It’s just a question of writing riffs, obviously they’re [Dom Finbow’s] riffs. Was there a deliberate ‘I should make these catchier’?
Dom: I wouldn’t say catchy but I was deliberately trying to make them shorter, and just less fucking boring. I’m not a teenager anymore and I don’t want to play a 35-minute song that’s got 1 riff!
Ollie: It’s nice to branch out; it was a natural evolution.
Chris: It was. It was clear from the very early stages that it was going to be that different. When you start a riff off it’s obviously really slow, fairly heavy. It wasn’t really that much of a leap it seemed in rehearsal and obviously as we tightened it up and arranged it went that way. It wasn’t forced; we didn’t force it. I mean obviously we have a slightly different…
Ollie: It’s enough; it’s enough of that.
Chris: Is it?
Chris: This is interesting, this. The way we work, people need to know about it.
Did you feel like you were stuck in a niche and wanted to get out?
Ollie: With what we were doing previously, the really slow songs with just 2 riffs, there’s only so far you can go with that. I mean, we did feel like we had hit a wall so we had to look at our own influences a bit more and gain some more inspiration.
Chris: I wouldn’t say we were stuck in a niche, it’s just we did it, its done. Lets try something else but keep our sound.
So did it become menchanical? Like you just threw it out?
Ollie: I wouldn’t say throw it out; it’s just done.
Dom: The next thing I did was different, that’s how it was done.
Ollie: It was a natural progression, it wasn’t anything forced. We didn’t sit there and think ‘right we need to write catchy songs or we need to do short songs’; it just kind of evolved that way. The EP we did between Sub Templum and Horrible Night was going more in that direction, it was a very slow evolution really into what we do now.
Chris: I mean we’re still in a niche; we’ll never really escape it. It’s not hugely versatile. That’s all we can do I think.
What inspires you to write such slow and depressing music?
Ollie: Just everyday life, you know.
Chris: Hatred, resentment, bitterness, fury.
Ollie: I’m not particularly a miserable person but you know, its just everyday life, horror films were into, books we’re reading. Those are the things that inspire me.
Chris: Disgust, rejection.
Just general badness?
Chris: Yeah all of these things. They’ve got to come out somehow.
Your albums always seem horror and occult inspired. Is that something that has always interested you?
Ollie: Yeah always, since a really long time ago. I mean I grew up in the 80s and there was Hammer Horror films on TV all of the time. It’s something I’ve always just been attracted to and interested in. Dark music, dark art, just the unknown and weird things.
Chris: I think that’s an instinct, for all of us from the earliest ages. Can’t really analyze it when you’re 4 years old and you’re drawn to horror imagery and horrible things. Just the way we were born I think.
Ollie: Yeah some people are like that and some people aren’t I think.
Chris: We’re never got to follow or be big football fans, it’s just the darker side.
Ollie: It’s just weird things, that’s how it is.
The new album cover is fantastic, who created it?
Ollie: This guy Reuben Sawyer: young, American. I found his art on the Internet a few years back and really loved it, I thought it fitted perfectly for what we wanted, I got in contact and he was well up for it. He was already into the band and he was really happy to do something for us. I sent him the record and he drew it all while listening to it, so it all gels together.
Do you have a writing ritual or does it just come to you?
Chris: I suppose we do really, I suppose we do. You got the riffs, you bring it into a room and I drum to them. Sometime [Ollie] turns up, jamming it out and works out what to sing.
Ollie: My bit’s always the last bit.
Chris: This time really was in isolation. Neither of us knew what the hell he was going to do until we’d recorded it all. We’re like ‘what the hell are you gonna do’ ‘oh I don’t know’. So all of the riffs and the drums were nailed down first.
Ollie: I like to write my lyrics as a reaction to the music you know, so I like the music all finished before and I sit there and get the vibe from it and find something to fit it.
So you not only take a lot of horror inspiration, but you’re inspired by the music as well.
Ollie: Yeah, yeah, we inspire ourselves! We’re our own biggest influence in a way.
Doom has really taken off in the UK recently. Do you listen to other metal bands or do you stay out of the scene?
Ollie: I don’t really listen to a lot of what’s going on these days. I like a lot of old stuff, a lot of 70s and 60s stuff and some early 80s, but I also like electric wizard. I’ve always liked electric wizard. Other doom bands in the UK, I don’t really keep in touch with it.
Chris: I think the thing I need these days, I need the band to have aged about 20 years before I start listening. I’m always catching up because there is so much! 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago, it’s just catching up with that. I tend to think, ‘I’ll check that out in 15 to 20 years.’ There’s just so much, so much stuff.
So you’re all Hampshire guys. Do you think the nearby English countryside has had an influence on you?
Ollie: That was really where we got our name from, you know, MOSS. There’s a lot of moss where we are. The New Forest and Hampshire it’s very mossy. That was always an inspiration when we started the band. When we started out we used to sit in Dom’s shed and just get stoned, he lived out in the countryside. Yeah it was always there, always there to inspire us.
Chris: Again it’s from an early age. When it starts to take root you cant really analyze it or explain it. It’s always been there; it’s always been present. The woods. The looming woods. We’ve been driving through it all our lives, walking through it all our lives. Yeah it comes out in some way but I can’t really analyze how. It’s natural, intrinsic.
So what’s next for MOSS?
Ollie: Play the show tonight! Yeah but after that… we have a date next year in Bristol, this Temples festival, which looks pretty cool. That’s sort of the only next concrete plans that we have.
Chris: We have Finland.
Ollie: Oh yeah. We’re playing Finland next week, but once that’s all said and done we’re probably looking to get back into the studios next year, record an EP or something. Something to put out next year, something fresh. Hopefully a few more gigs as well.
Chris: Two tracks, that’s all we need.
Two tracks, whole album?
Chris: No, no! Two tracks, 4 or 5 minutes, something like that. Never done that before.
Is there anything you would like to say to our readers?
Chris: Take your litter home with you….that’s crucial. Take care on stairs.
Ollie: Have a good time all the time.
Chris: Yeah, yeah, but don’t go mad. Be safer. Basic health and safety. Indicate, when you’re on a motorway. If you want to change lanes. Indicate.