The Whipping Post presents...
Mortification Interview - Added 05/25/06
THE WHIPPING POST: First off I want to thank you Steve for taking the time to do this interview. How is your health now a days? I believe it’s been about ten years now since you first found out about your leukemia. Do you still have a lot of ill effects from it?
STEVE ROWE: Generally I am very well. I am a partial paraplegic following my time with cancer. I still can walk ok & stand on stage which is good because I was facing life in a wheelchair. I walk with a cane. I keep very fit going to the gym 2 or 3 times a week for hard training and compete in seated discus, shot put & javelin throwing. I competed at last years Australian National Track & Field championships & will also throw at this years Australian Transplant Games. I was a diagnosed with leukemia Sept. '96 & had the bone marrow transplant Feb. '97.
TWP: Since you came back with Triumph of Mercy, this is now the six full length Mortification has released along with a live album and a compilation. Despite your past sickness and numerous lineup changes, how do you manage to keep going at such a strong pace? Is it much more demanding now than it was before?
SR: It is more demanding. especially touring is very difficult. But we just keep going and I think this lineup is a strong one. I think
Erasing.. turned out really well.
TWP: You have just released a brand new album, Erasing the Goblin. How is the album being received so far by your fans and by the media?
SR: It is all very positive. With the Rowe Productions limited edition 500 numbered copies we sold 496 in 7 weeks; all retail sales through soundmass.com. The 4 CDs on auction are fetching a good price so this has helped paying expenses. I have not really heard any negatives about the album & people are really getting into the lyrics. I have had a number of e-mails from people really well effected by the title track.
TWP: Were you guys satisfied with how the album turned out or were there some things that you wished you could’ve done differently?
SR: It turned out perfectly. But we spent alot of time on it.
TWP: Is there a particular song that sticks out to you on this release? Something that has special meaning to you either musically or lyrically?
SR: Musically I really like "The Dead Shall be Judged" & "Escape the Blasphemous Tabernacle." Lyrically I really like "Humanitarian" and "Erasing the goblin."
TWP: What are some of your goals with this new album? Do you plan to tour any in support of it?
SR: We hope to tour all through Central, Latin & South America. May be doing one Festival in PA July next year '07.
TWP: Speaking of live shows, how demanding is it on you to play live shows. Obviously you aren’t out there stage diving and such, but can you still handle playing live shows with no problem?
SR: I handle it but with alot of problems. I get through with God's help.
TWP: On Erasing the Goblin, you decided to go back and pursue a heavier direction that you actually kinda started hinting at with “Apocalyptic Terror” on your Relentless album. In a past interview, if I’m remembering correctly, I think you had said that you were through with using death-styled vocals. What made you change your mind and now that you have a new album that uses a great deal of growled vocals, is it something you feel was a good decision?
SR: I enjoy doing the more
thrash orientated vocals, but many of the new songs lent themselves strongly to the more growl style. We just need to see how the song writing
progresses with each album. There is still a good balance of different vocal styles even though
Erasing is generally heavier.
TWP: You’ve been doing Mortification for what seems like about 15 to 20 years now…or close to it. Obviously this is what you feel God has led you to do. What do you see in the future for Mortification? Has God told you anything about how much longer you may be doing this or any specific plans He still has for you and the band?
SR: Mort has been going 16 years. It was just what my hand found to do & so I have done it with all my might. (Ecc Chap 9 V 10). I will probably do this till the day I go home.
TWP: You have now worked with Mick Jelinic for three albums. How has he impacted the band? What particular style influences does he bring the most into the sound of the band?
SR: He is an awesome guitar player. Really into 80's guitar
heroes like Malmsteen, Vai, Satriani, Marty Friedman. This gives us that great power
metal element that I like so much. He is a solid guy & great friend also.
TWP: You also have signed on a new drummer in Damien Percy. How has that worked out so far, and do you see the three of you sticking together for the long haul?
SR: I hope this lineup stays together because musically we gel and we have a good mix of personalities. The other guys are quieter so allows me to be loud and outrageous a bit more. It is hard having more than one crazy person in the band. So everybody is keen & now we have pro management & a new album deal with MCM Music; things will start going up once again.
TWP: How are some of the past members of Mortification doing now a days…Jayson Sherlock, Mick Carlisle, Phil Gibson, etc? Are any of them involved with any musical projects?
SR: Lincoln plays in a popular mainstream act called The Eternal. Don't know what Sherlock & Carlisle are doing. Phil has a band called 3XFire. Lincoln plays in that band also. 3XFire is a real full on Christian hardcore band.
TWP: You’ve been very outspoken in the past about Christian metal and how you think that many bands out there have watered down the message of the Gospel. This has garnered you much criticism, as I’m sure you are aware. Does this discourage you in any way and do you feel like this criticism is unwarranted?
SR: Yes the
criticism is unwarranted because it is either Christian music or not. I think it is to easy to get a quick following in the Christian market without taking on the
responsibility of what that means. I want to play in the mainstream also & have done so successfully. But I
realize that Christian people, especially teens, need something solid to follow.
The "Christian" music scene just gets more and more flakey by the day & has basically become a "positive New Age scene". Most of the bands could be Buddhist considering their refusal to sing about Jesus & salvation. I don't deal with this stupid idea. I came back to Christ in '84 through the ministry of Rez band. then toured with Whitecross & Leviticus in the 80's. I saw people like Scott Wenzel lead many people to Christ. My life has been hugely impacted by Ulf Christianson of Jerusalem. I met him in '96 & shared a stage with him in '02. these guys are the real deal. If you want to sing about your road trip & your stupid girlfriends, go & play in the mainstream. This is just my opinion & I don't care what people think about it.
TWP: If you had to pick a handful of bands that you really admire what they are doing at this point in time, both musically and lyrically…who would they be?
TWP: Through all your years of making music and through all the ups and downs of your career in music both with your own bands and with running a record label, what is the one thing that God has taught you that sticks out the most?
SR: Overcome adversity and never give up.
TWP: You guys recently re-released the Grind Planets video on DVD. What made you decide to do this, and in retrospect, is it something you are glad you were able to do?
SR: Yes it was great to get Grind Planets out on DVD. Live Planetarium will be next & then EnVideon. The fans are loving it.
TWP: Of all the Mortification albums, which one is your absolute favorite (regardless of how many copies sold) and why?
SR: Erasing the goblin because it is the
latest album. All artists like their new material. Post Momentary was a highlight. Very
satisfying album at the time.
TWP: Since we’re on the topic of favorites, this may be even more difficult, but what is your all-time favorite Mortification song and why?
SR: "Standing at the
Door of Death" because I love playing it live & the crowd goes off!
"Grind Planetarium" is a classic.
TWP: What do you see in store for the next Mortification offering? Have you already began work on it and what changes can we expect since you guys are definitely not ones to get too comfortable with any one style?
SR: ????????? I can't keep up with
TWP: What do you think of fellow Australians, Virgin Black? They obviously got a good boost early in their career with their appearance on the Rowe Productions compilation, Falling on Deaf Ears. They are now set to release three albums at the same time on The End Records. Do you keep in touch with the band much at all and how do you view what they’ve been able to accomplish musically (including touring with popular secular acts such as Opeth) and still stand firm for what they believe in?
SR: I have never heard their music except for the
compilation. Don't like goth. Don't like the corpse paint thing. Rowan & Sam are lovely people.
TWP: I actually got to meet you at a concert you played in 1996 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. I believe the other bands on the bill were Iron Faith and Golgotha. I went with my brother-in-law who immediately became a Mortification fan and bought two or three of your albums at the show. Anyways…at the merchandise table you told me who was behind the Horde album and you also said that a second Horde album was in the works. What ever became of that and why did it never see the light of day? Or were you just spreading nasty rumors?
SR: I would love to release another Horde album but that is all up to Jayson. If he does not want to do it then it just stays one album. Also how could he follow something that
classic? I think it is the funniest album I ever heard. The song titles are incredible!
TWP: Steve, I want to thank you one more time for taking time out to do this interview. I pray God’s blessing on whatever else you do with Mortification. Do you have any final comments that you’d like to make?
SR: God Rulz!!!!!