Hi! Please introduce Father Merrin to the readers.
FATHER MERRIN is born in 2009, three members have taken part in a Doom Death Metal band called CIRCLE OF HATE. We headed to a more Doom universe quite naturally and after finding our bass player we were able to start to play live and record an EP, All Is Well That Ends In Hell, released in 2014. And after playing everywhere to defend this first release and some problems of line-up, we wanted to record new tracks to break this silence much too long.
Tell us more about split album with CLEGANE.
We had 5 songs ready for recording, 3 of them show an unity and a coherance so we have thought about an EP and this was at this moment that the idea of a split with CLEGANE, a band with which we have shared the same venue and talked about this project, made sense. We have so many common human and musical values with these guys. Make a split album with CLEGANE which we are so close is like to combine the pleasant and the useful. All this has coincided with the arrival of our new guitarist who has learned these 3 tracks with the goal to record them. It took us almost 11 months to make this split between the start of its recording and its release last November but we are very satisfied with the result that allows us to start a new chapter for FATHER MERRIN.
When did you start writing music – and what or who were your early passions and influences?
As part of FATHER MERRIN, some ideas already existed before the birth of the band, ideas that each one had left out because it did not fit in the Doom Death Metal box. With FATHER MERRIN, we quickly decided to try our ideas and see what came out of them, the Possessed Doom Metal we play today was born, a mixture of darkness and primary brutality. Our influences are really multiple both for the music and for the lyrics for which I use a religious vocabulary for the concept but which hides many other things.
What are your main impulses to write metal music?
Everything starts from on idea on guitar or sometimes on bass. With these ideas we release a structure on which my vocals make an unity with, sometimes, few changes on the structure after. I have personnaly the ideas in my head first that I transcribe to the guitar to submit to other members and this is the same concerning my vocals. It comes from a primary impulse in our head.
What do you personally consider to be the incisive moments and pieces in your musical work?
We are very uncompromising on quality so each moment of our musical activity is important for us. This is one of the several reasons that we are too long to release new stuff, 7 tracks in 9 years, even our pace of release is slower than our doomster-heart-rate ! We pay attention to the music, lyrics, arrangements, artwork, we don’t ignore any details of our art because this what it means for us : the expression of our art.
How would you describe and rate the music scene of the city you are currently living in?
We stay in the east of France, near from Nancy where bands like SCARVE, MORTUARY, DEPRAVED, CALDERA, FRACTAL UNIVERSE, PHAZM or BLOCKHEADS were born, so there is a good scene here. But there is a lack of structure and specialy concert halls, even more concerning bands like FATHER MERRIN which play Doom Metal. We are working to change things with our modest means. we have found a band like LYING FIGURES to share our way, this is hard but not impossible.
When it comes to be musician, what are your criteria for quality? What are currently your main challenges and ambitions as a musician?
We must first and foremost be humanly compatible, then sharing a common universe is important. Each band’s member has his favorite bands but few ones can agree. Then we don’t think as musician separately but as a whole with ambitions for the band. We will focus on recording an album better than the split we just released, and that we are progressing each one in the band. We also have the ambition to play shows this year and we wish to be able to catch up the lost time to defend worthily these tracks before releasing something new.
What do you usually start with when working on a new song or lyrics?
As I said above, we start with an idea that comes first in the head then transpose it on the guitar or the bass depending on who comes the idea then working it with the band. It is first a personal expression before it becomes collective one to have the sound and atmosphere of FATHER MERRIN. Concerning the lyrics I do the same, I have images or keywords that come to mind or a line of song and I write the text from these basic ideas. Although I admit to being a little more personal about this aspect because as I said earlier, the lyrics use religious images to express personal things.
Tell us a bit about the selection process for deciding on what to write about, please. What sources will you draw from for research purposes and how much time goes into research, gathering altogether in general?
For the lyrics, it’s the music that gives off an atmosphere, images, words in my head. I use music to write lyrics. Often the music sends back to me feelings that I find in things that I saw, that I read and then I find the personal vision, it is a very important step for the incarnation that I will have to make both in the studio and on stage. When I need information I look for documents dealing with the subject and I always imbibe it by trying to bring out emotions with the idea that it must sound dark and brutally primary like music.
As more and more people are producing and releasing music, there has been an exponential growth in promotion agencies. What’s your perspective on the promo system? In how far do you feel it is possibly undermining musical freedom?
So many bands manage their music distribution and to be known by press and public, promotion agencies are one of the ways. By lack of time, bands unsigned are not often treated by the press. The system is so and we have to learn how to work with or we agree to keep repeating in our garage, these promotional agencies offer us a gateway because most of the reviewers have their favorite agencies, this is this service that we pay above all and it does not bother me more than an influencer on YouTube that places the products of the brands that pay it. On the other side, these agencies don’t have any influence on the writing process like a label could do. And as for any other actors of the scene, some work with passion, others with a marketing search.
Metal scene has changed considerably over the past century. What, do you feel, could – or should – be new forms and formats for music? And, should we save old-school spirit or just go forward together with musical ‘evolution’ (‘degradation’)?
It is not necessary to choose, there are more choices before there were only the vinyls then there were the tapes then the CD, the digital and even the streaming and now the fashion of the vinyl and even of the tape is back. As long as we have a choice, it’s a step forward. The old-school spirit does not only lie in the physical format of the music, it is also the way to live it, as an art and not as a marketing product. The music you buy or are going to see on stage must bring you emotions, nothing else, no desire to take a picture of your LP to pose with or film the entirety of a concert to show that you was there, the important thing is to live the present moment and what you live with the music that passes in your ears. The artist gets naked through his music so imagine if while you undress the other person starts to film, to take pictures … well OK the example is perhaps not well chosen … but you understood the idea, no?
Music-sharing sites and blogs as well as a flood of releases in general are killing music. What’s your view on this topic?
I don’t know if it’s very different from the tape trading and fanzines that were in the 80s. Previously, 1 person bought an album and everyone around him recorded it on tape, it was like that. Everything has grown, everything is going faster, that’s for sure, but what makes a person do not find abnormal to have access to music without paying anything is to have made a product and no longer a work, the fact that intermediaries have been outrageously fed on the backs of fans but they have managed to find other ways to continue to do so. On the other hand, it has somewhat demystified the underground scene, the stories around our favorite musicians no longer exist, everything is published, told, reported and the legends that there are around the birth of Black Metal in the Nordic countries could not no longer form today. This is a vast subject because it is obvious that the multiplication of the bands made reduce the event aspect of an output of an album but once again, it is up to everyone to be in agreement with his way of living his musical passion.
Please recommend two bands to our readers which you feel deserve their attention.
Very hard choice because I have more than 2 bands in my head. I will not talk about international known bands and I will talk about PRESUMPTION. We have shared many stages with them and they play a Doom Metal that we really like. Then, I can talk about BARABBAS, we have played with them too and both have really kindly members. You don’t have a global vision of the Doom Metal scene in France but the deal was on two bands only… I could also open my answer to other styles…
What are your plans for near future?
We would like to play on stage and not only in France so if some organizers appreciate our music, they don’t hesitate to contact us, we study all proposals. Then we continue to work on the new songs. Our guitarist is very prolific and excellent ideas have already emerged with those of our bassist and mine. We would also like to test these songs on stage because it is often our justice of the peace to know which tracks we will record.
Thank you, see you next time!
Thanks to you and Seek & Destroy for giving us the voice. Don’t hesitate to listen to our music, make your opinion et we wish to see you soon on stage where we will lead a new mass. Stay possessed !