It wasn't really on purpose. I joined in 1995 so I can only really tell my part of the story but I think the major reason was another lineup had trouble in the early years. There were a lot of members coming and going and it was hard to find serious and dedicated people. When I joined we also had some trouble with that. When I joined we did the first recordings that I participated on immediately afterward and once we had released that, we started writing material for the first album. We recorded it about a year later. From my perspective it went rather fast I think in spite of the lineup issues from the first couple of years.
I see you guys have had another lineup issue with Kral leaving. Have you found somebody to replace him?
Yeah, we have. After we finished recording the album, we started looking for a new guy and we actually managed to find a guy who lived no more than five miles away from our rehearsal studio. That was quite a coincidence really. He's been in some local demo bands and we knew that he was a pretty good singer but we didn't know that he could also play the bass. When we found out we arranged a rehearsal with him and everything just clicked. We did some six shows with him in May and June and then the record came down so he's just been thrown into the role very quickly and it turned out really well. I guess he has what it takes to be in the band.
The last record you guys put out was called 11 Dreams. You guys have just completed a new record called The Hours That Remain. How does the new record differ from the last record you guys put out?
I think a major difference lies in the process of creating the albums. 11 Dreams was created over a very long time. We went heavier with the last one so we really wanted to spend a lot of time writing as much as possible on that record as we could and make absolutely sure that the production was as good as it could be. We put a lot of our private money into that project and for the new record we had the deal in place with Century Media and we were very happy about them. Basically we wrote the album in three months time and then went directly into the studio because everything was scheduled a long time before we actually had to record the album. They really put a lot of pressure on us to be able to write the music in such a short time after we got home from the Nevermore tour in October of last year. The album is more compact and the songs are probably more similar to each other whereas on 11 Dreams, the songs are a bit different. Very diverse. I think you can tell that these songs are written within the same amount of time and I think it gives the album some sort of coherence.
Do you prefer being able to take a certain amount of time to make a record or do you work well under pressure?
Actually it turned out really well to work on a very strict deadline. We really had to put a serious effort into writing the album and it made us really realize that we had to take our job very seriously and work very hard together. It really I think made the band a lot stronger.
I talk with various bands and it seems like every band has its own kind of formula for writing records. Maybe in one band everyone is together the whole time or in another band it's only one guy. When you guys work on a record, how do you go about doing it?
The way we've always been doing it is to more or less have a couple of guys to start putting together riffs with the drummer and then gradually building it up from there. That's what we did on 11 Dreams basically with me and Kral putting together the riffs with Mike our drummer. This time around Kral had more or less told us that he would not be a part of the writing of the album and eventually he left the band. It was me and Martin, our new guitar player. He joined just before we released 11 Dreams. It was me and Martin and then Mike who put together the basic structures of the songs but this time around there was a difference because we bought our own home recording studio, bought a computer, and bought a lot of microphones and other necessary stuff. We were working together in one room putting together the song structures and the riffing and trying different things out. As soon as we got a working sketch together Mikkel, our singer, and his brother Morten who plays keyboards would start working on vocal lines and keyboard arrangements. I think that worked out really well because you wouldn't have five guys with five different opinions all at once. You'd be divided into two different processes. I think that's a really good working formula because it's definitely the best I've tried so far.
Was it a little bit odd not to be working with Kral this time around?
Yeah, it was and actually for a long time we thought we he was going to join us again at some point. It was kind of odd and there were actually a few rehearsals where he showed up and we tried some of his material and worked on that. We noticed that he didn't really have his heart into it and he didn't have too much time to be at the rehearsals and after a while he told us that he didn't think that he would want to be a part of this anymore. Of course there was quite a hard period and also a very uncertain period where we didn't know what was going to happen. We didn't know really how we should deal with the whole situation but gradually we just decided that we would make the best of it and Mikkel would have to do all the singing on the album. He and his brother Morten would just have to do that bit of writing the vocal lines together. That really put Mikkel in that new role whereas previously Kral had written nearly all of the lyrics and most of the vocal lines. I think that this obstacle was something that made us do our best and become all the more stronger because of it.
Right because you had to rise to a challenge there. It seems like bands are like families and when you lose a family member it's like somebody died.
It's also very strange for me because I've been playing with Kral for 10 years in the band and he's the only remaining founding member. It was sort of weird and a lot of people had been saying that they did not expect the band to be able to go on because he was the person for the band. We wanted to go on and so we just had to deal with it one day at a time.
The new generation of Mercenary.
On your new record what three songs do you feel represents your band where it's at now?
I think the opener, "Redefine Me", is representative of our new style. It has the typical Mercenary chorus I think. Catchy and perhaps a bit sing along. I'd also say the song "Simplicity Demand" I think is very representative of the slightly new direction for us. It's a bit more in your face and perhaps a bit purer layers of stuff going on all at once. Just simpler but stronger ideas I think. It's one of my favorites. The final song I would recommend is "Lost Reality". That's a traditional and very long Mercenary song. It's seven or eight minutes and it's similar to "Firesoul" off of 11 Dreams which was one of my favorite songs on that album. It's quite long and epic and has long breaks mixed in with something new going on. Yeah, that would be my three recommended songs.
This fall you guys will be playing at ProgPower. So what other touring plans do you have in the works for this new record?
Actually right now we don't have anything else. We're trying to set up as many concerts in Denmark as possible in the fall to promote the album here. Then of course we want to tour Europe sometime this year hopefully. The problem is that there's not a lot of really good tours as options right now. We're looking into different possibilities. We would really like to do a U.S. tour but the thing is Mikkel is becoming a father in just a month's time from now. That's really good for him but that means it would be a really bad time to do a U.S. tour just after ProgPower. We decided to wait and give him a bit of paternity leave. Of course we hope to be able to do some more U.S. gigs but that will have to be another time. Hopefully in the fall but more likely in the spring. Let's see what happens. I'm sure we'll do our best to be out and represent this album as much live as possible.
I definitely look forward to seeing you guys.
I hope you will.
I hope I will too. I'll keep my fingers crossed on that one. Any other thoughts or comments?
I hope people will check this album out. I think it's slightly different from the last album but I'm sure it has everything it takes to satisfy people who like the band.