MERCENARY - Learning To Kral Page 2
by Martin Popoff

To go along with the slamming, doomy, yet still seductively melodic new sound is the concept wrapped up in the title and Travis Smith's cover art. "The concept behind the title has two different meanings. It could be the hours that remain before everything goes to hell (laughs). But it can also be a positive thing, the hours that remain before positive thing happens. So we just liked that idea, that mood, so to speak. Lyrically, there isn't a central theme, although the lyrics are much more introverted this time around. Kral had a tendency to write things like describing certain dreams he had. And my lyrics are based more around my personal feelings and thoughts. Of course there are three or four songs on this album that deal with the fact that Kral left the band, and they describe my frustrations around this issue, because I felt left all alone, and I had to deal with this thing. There's Redefine Me, and My Secret Window and Lost Reality that deal with that issue. Actually, if there is somebody who I am inspired by lyric-wise, it would be Ray Alder from Fates Warning, who also writes introverted lyrics. But in terms of writing, I actually just turn up every day in the rehearsal room when the guys are writing the music, and I get inspiration from the guys jamming the riffs, and hearing a song come together - I get melody ideas from that as well. It's a process that is pretty closely connected to the writing of the songs."

Mikkel's soaring vocals have definitely become the new trademark of the band, but there were a few bumps along the way. "For me personally, it was a pretty technical feat to master the art of growling, because I hadn't really done that before. And I sort of blew my voice. I did all the growling on the album in two days, and I had no voice for ten days after that. That was a first and a last for me. I will be doing the screaming and the clean vocals, but now we have a guy to do all the growling," this being bassist and vocalist Rene Pedersen, although to reiterate, all of the vocals on the album are courtesy of Sandager.

"Because of the band, we're all pretty much dependent on having flexible jobs," says Mikkel, asked about making ends meet in metal. "I myself am a freelance consultant for unemployed people, and when I'm not doing that, I'm temping as a schoolteacher, at a graduate school. Mike is working at a kindergarten, and Martin has a job in a warehouse. And my brother is also a schoolteacher. Basically we have to have flexible jobs. People have to understand we have to leave for a month. It's a pretty hard puzzle."

Leaving for a month - or more - is definitely on Mikkel's mind. "We have to focus on touring - the goal for the band, at least this time around, is to have at least one North American tour. We really want to get over there and tour - now (laughs). We're pretty impatient on that one. Because we all thought we would tour there on 11 Dreams, but it didn't happen unfortunately. And right now we're hoping we have one European tour, and then one American tour - that's a goal we have as a band."

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