Mordant Rapture June 2018 Interview

Mordant Rapture - The Abnegation cover art

Mordant Rapture’s complex debut EP The Abnegation is set to be released July 13th on their new record label The Artisan Era.  The band further explained their upcoming release, the musician life, being freshly signed upon many other things. Enjoy!


TMR: What’s the meaning behind your band name? And any inspiration behind it?

Ben: In short  “Mordant Rapture” is kind of a play on saying kill yourself. For example if a person is being over worked or over stressed and they jokingly say “ just kill me now” it’d be a Mordant Rapture. The Rapture would be the instant 180 change to a nice calm stress free environment, the Mordant side is ,well, you’re dead. 

Kent: One idea that resonates with me about the band name is sort of an existentialist one, in which a rapturous event (whether in the biblical sense or psychologically/spiritually within individual experience) with is imbued with cynicism and sarcasm, never wholly allowing a pure redemption or escape, because the reality is this: the human condition is so problematic, so layered with contradiction and complexity, and is permanently anchored to the darkest shadows of our own bloody history, that the promise of salvation through a transcendence of the physical world has been emptied of its power. As a species, our capacity for love and potential for unspeakable horrors seem irreconcilable, and I feel that it is at this site of conflict that we are grounded to a grander narrative, one in which any attempt at “rapture” would be in vain and comically absurd given our circumstances. Choosing to live, then, is an act of significant bravery, as opposed to suicide, which seems to be the logical option, except that the release that death brings is anything but rapturous. 

Rod: Being the last member to join I sorta made my own sense of the name, for me it’s like having a hard critical sense of pious views, this longing for redemption through a rapture to absolve one’s moral conduct is maddening to me because it will never happen. You have to create paradise here for yourself so that when the rapture does happen either metaphorical or literal you’ll know that you’re life wasn’t squandered waiting on fabled tales. 

TMR: What are the lyrical themes for The Abnegation?

Rod: There are many themes throughout that we all discussed during the writing process and from that I wrote this short story that encompasses everything throughout the EP.  To put it as briefly as I can, within this religious community an expecting couple want to leave the confines of this strict sect for a better life for their new “dawn”. Track one is the man dealing with the nightmares that plague his conscience and having to put fears aside for the one he loves to make a better life for his family but still worries of what might happen once he and his wife leave. Track two is him taking action but is caught and fails and this feeling of being withered away sets in. Track three speaks for itself “A Plea Above Ashes”. Track four takes the point of view of the wife being put through this kangaroo court and trail by a reactive community for her dissent and being punished for their failed apostasy. Finally the last track is more or less the aftermath and just how important indoctrination is to the community’s survival but secular stigmas are destined to repeat, a cyclical reign of torment. 

Kent: So one thing I can’t help but do is to take an approach to things that make use of my background in English literature, and I’m guilty of bombarding Ben and Rod with literary theory and analysis. The story that Rod created for the concept behind the EP immediately struck me as allegorical; the couple embodies all kinds of representations of conflict within a larger social order in which the dissenter is punished for going against the grain. Consciousness is still one of the most mysterious things about our reality, and yet we wonder why when we try to control the masses, variations and exceptions occur. How we handle these chaotic factors point to even bigger problems of trying to understand and predict human behaviors, and we stand to lose more and more of our humanity every time we make mistakes and allow things to go horribly wrong. 

TMR: How did your band form?

Ben: It actually all started with Byron Leon, currently in Enigma (amazing band). He asked me to join a project he had started with David Arnold (awesome drummer). David was involved in another project with Kent at the time called “Octoclops”. From there Me and David began writing material and Kent originally joined in on bass and we had Ryan Mcnatt (also now in Enigma) on second guitar. The material was much different back then, actually it sounded nothing like current Mordant Rapture. As time went on Byron and Ryan formed Enigma, David moved out of the country, Kent, Myself, and our previous vocalist Richard Slate decided to push forward and continue creating. The sound continued to grow and change as we wrote more and more. Rodrigo originally joined on bass and eventually replaced Richard on vocals after Richard had to step back from the project. Then the three us decided to write all new material to put together this ep. The song that kinda was the turning point for us direction-wise is “Natal trophies”, the closer of the ep. It’s the oldest song but that was the turning point for us to push forward with the symphonic tech death sound. In the pre production phase, our recording engineer Cody Funtes (Rapture Recordings) got us in touch with Josh Miller to record the drums for this EP. 

TMR: Enigma is absolutely fantastic you’re right! What do you guys like to do when not involved in music?

Ben: I like to masturbate myself into naps. I also like to eat till I fall asleep mid bite. Those two urges are always at war, it’s really ugly when they end in a tie. Seriously tho video games, spending time with my dog, waiting for Berserk to finally wrap up, painting/collecting Warhammer 40k models and picking things up and putting them down at the gym. Replaying all the souls borne games. 

Rod: Video games and movies mostly theses days but I really like creative writing and screenwriting.  I’ve outlined a three to four season tv show, wrote some fan fiction; I’m a total sucker for writing a backstory to that guy in the background in tv and movies, like what’s this guy’s deal haha

Kent: I read a lot and cook a lot, which leads me to eat like crazy and spend too much time reading on the toilet. I try to get in a movie and some video game time between shits. 

TMR: Who are your biggest influences that made you become a musician?

Ben: When I first was learning guitar all the big nu metal guys where my biggest influences. System of a down, Korn, mudvayne, slipknot ect. I started learning all my favorite songs from them by ear, I remember thinking I was pretty hot shit when I figured out “chop suey” by SOAD. Little did I know, I wasn’t very hot shit at all. Later down the line bands like Spawn of possession would come along and ruin any confidence I had as a player. So I started learning stuff from much more technical bands. Time went on, I grew as player then eventually a game called “Bloodborne” came out and really got me interested in big scores and symphonies. Around that time I also found out about “Fleshgod apocalypse”. I always liked when bands incorporated classical instruments but the first time I heard fleshgod I remember thinking “I’ve wanted to hear this my whole life” and really started to heavily incorporate symphonic elements into my writing. 

Rod: Ihsahn of Emperor and Jon of Dissection are two big ones for me I mean just listen to “Anthems” and “Lights Bane” that level of creativity is what everyone should strive for. 

Kent: I remember the first time I heard Nine Inch Nails and was blown away by what Trent Reznor was doing. NIN threw on amazing performances and Reznor’s lyrics were unlike anything I had come across before, so this really struck a chord with me, so to speak. Upon learning more about the main driving force of creativity behind this fascinating project, I tried writing sections that were much more layered. It wasn’t until I started listening to Emperor, however, that I felt the fire of creativity light under my ass. I had been in several bands but discovering Emperor’s “Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk” compelled me to be in projects that exhibited a mixture of aggression, technical skill, and compositional complexity. 

TMR: What’s your favorite memory as a musician (past or present)?

Rod: Recording studio for sure. We had so much fun with Cody at Rapture Recordings 

Kent: One time, I played a set at a local dive bar in downtown San Jose around the Halloween of 2014. We dressed up as cheap hookers and changed our name to “Curbside Nasties” for the night. Maybe it was the extra support I felt from wearing a bra but that was one of our most solid live sets as we killed it on stage.

The night was all good times: head banging in wigs to the other bands as they tore it up on stage, beer, laughing at Ryan Mcnatt when a random lady stopped by to help ease his struggle of getting his blouse on right, arguing with a drunk chick about the best place to buy pink wigs, a wild after-party…that whole night still stands out in my mind because it reminds me of the camaraderie of playing music live and the shenanigans that come with the territory. We can’t take life too seriously all the time, and it is in those moments where I look down and think “what am I doing? I’m just making noise by whacking away at some metal strings stretched across a plank of wood and magnets!” that I then realize I’m extremely lucky to be able to devote my time, my very being, to something that is simultaneously absurd and necessary for our souls, like making music. 

Ben: The Curb side nasties is hard to top. I guess outside of drunken stories, my favorite memory is the year I got my Ibanez k7 for Christmas. I literally slept next to that guitar for a week after getting it. Still have it too, that one is getting buried with me. 

TMR: Any shows you guys are planning?

Rod: Hopefully soon we can get more session members for touring but for now we’re looking at doing a “ Live at Rapture” play through at the end of the month, so be on the look out for that! 

Ben: We are all road hungry and ready, and as soon as we can find the right people we are hitting the pavement. 

TMR: What was everyone’s path to becoming a musician? 

Rod: Covering songs and learning how song structures and harmonies worked. I vividly remember learning how to play songs by ear and that seemed so much more rewarding to me. Most tabs that I printed out back then were usually incomplete or wrong, but in hindsight I’m glad because that pushed me to develop a better ear for certain notes. 

Kent: The father of a kid that lived down the street from me (and who showed me Metallica when I was like, 12 or 13,) was a hobbyist musician that had guitars, synths, and a decent computer–things I didn’t have access to at the time–so I went over to his house almost everyday to learn guitar and try laying down some song ideas. By my 14th birthday, my parents were sick of me begging for a guitar so they bought me a Fender Stratocaster that I still own to this day. I immediately jumped into playing with bands and self-learning chords, scales, covers, everything and anything that I could come across. But it really wasn’t until my early twenties that I became a much more active musician after landing a job at Guitar Center and networking with so many more sick metal players than I ever thought I could meet in one place. Those were very formative years for me musically, expanding and diversifying my arsenal of licks and theory well beyond what I was used to. I also got more into technology around then, seeing how powerful programs Toontrack’s Superior Drummer and Kontact worked within your preferred DAW to give musician’s even more creative power by a substantial degree. 

Ben: This makes question makes me feel old haha. I actually got introduced to guitar completely by chance. In 6th grade I didn’t fill out my elective form and was put into a mariachi class, and that’s really the first time I picked up a guitar. As far as influences to metal I grew up during the big boom of new, excuse me, NÜ metal. I got into Korn in 4th grade, thats when issues came out and falling away from me was the gateway. I remember thinking “Here to stay” by Korn was the peak of heavy, and it won’t ever be topped. Then Slipknot came along with “Iowa.” I eventually got an electric guitar one year and started learning songs by ear and I just kept going deeper down the rabbit hole as I got older and eventually found my way to death and black metal. Spawn of possession ruined a lot of bands for me, in a good way of course.

TMR: Who did your EP artwork? It’s stunning!

Rod: Nathan Lee was commissioned to work on it, I agree it’s really cool lookin’! 

Mordant Rapture band photo

TMR: The Artisan Era is one of the best labels in the business right now and have some of the youngest and most potent bands……how does it feel to be with such a great and potent label? It’s amazing how much talent and potential there is for a label that has barely made a name for themselves in a handful of years! Do you guys feel the need to live up to some sort of expectation following your signing or you just gonna go out and kick ass and take names regardless?

Rod: Sorta feels like those underdog stories you hear about, we are beyond honored to be apart of the family that like you said has only been around of handful of years and now is now synonymous with quality. The only expectation is that we are happy with the next one–that’s what we did with our EP and look where that got us haha I hope people can just listen to what we make and decide for themselves “yeah I like this,” then self reflect and form an honest opinion. 

Ben: During the recording process of this EP me and the guys would listen to Inferi, Virulent Depravity and Equipoise on the way to the studio a lot and talk about how crazy it would be to get signed to the same label. And it actually happened! It’s very surreal in the best of ways. They are my favorite label and to get the privilege to be a part of their roster is more then I could ever ask for. All that I want to do now is make them proud. 

Kent: It took awhile for it to sink in that we got signed onto such an amazing label with just an EP! But I keep reminding myself that we’ve been grinding for years and it shows in this release. The most exciting thing for me now is that now that we have established our sound by lots of trial-and-error and tempering through fire, we are not only much more efficient song writers now but also at the top of our game on our respective instruments. With The Artisan Era’s support, we’re able to bring you true next-level shit, because “The Abnegation” EP is just us getting started! 

TMR: What is everyone’s favorite set of lyrics from the EP?

 Kent: the chorus of “Quell the Voiceless”: 

“All the crimes divine that were left behind, 

left a scar through time. 

Narrowed by the blind swelling further, 

bound by what was mine, 

found left drowned in bitter wine” 

Rod: “Unsightly” as a whole but only because they are the longest set of lyrics, this always changes until the next song comes on but if I had to pick any particular part it might be: 

“Is the prospect of truth enough to keep awake 

Or has that yearn for deceit now sealed your fate 

Convenient narrative ellipsis or a somnambulant state?”

taken from “Quell The Voiceless”. 

TMR: Death Metal or Black Metal?

Rod: Blackened Death Metal 

Kent: Deathened Black Metal

Ben: if a band member didn’t kill another band member I wont listen to it. Jk if its good, its good. 

TMR: Congratulations on a great debut EP! Link anything you guys do outside of the band here. Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions!

Rod: thanks! We appreciate your interest in speaking with us.

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