Even though this Australian bunch had released their debut album "Mayhemic Destruction" through a major label back in the 80s, they weren’t able to make it really big within the Thrash Metal genre anyway… Who knows for what reasons. But if you compare the quality of their classic releases with all the crap that gets released nowadays you will easily agree that MORTAL SIN without a doubt had delivered some fine material in their heydays… Our highly motivated Hungarian maniac "Lacy" got in touch with original vocalist Mat Maurer and re-lived the history of MORTAL SIN with him again and all the classic pics were supplied by Laurent (thanx tons man!). Enjoy!
Greetings Mat! How are you man? Would you tell us a few words about you? What do you do nowadays?
”At the moment I am doing many things – I have a job working in the Entertainment industry and also writing songs for the next MORTAL SIN album.”
Because MORTAL SIN is comparatively unknown in Hungary, I would interrogate you about the band, is that all right?
”We once did an interview in 1987 for a magazine called Hungarica Metallica!!I Still have the magazine in my band room. The band was formed in 1985 and split up in 1990, reformed in 1996 for two more years, then Wayne & myself decided to call it quits until we could find the right musicians for the band. In 2000 we began a new quest to find two of the best guitarists we could find. It took us nearly three years and we now have Mick Sultana and Joe Buttigieg who both played in the Thrash band ADDICTIVE who recorded two albums.”
The group was established by you and drummer Wayne Campbell. Your meeting was quite interesting. Do you remember about it? How did the other members join the band? Did you know each other?
”Yeah, we met on a train during a huge thunderstorm and a bolt of lightning stopped the train! We spoke about being in bands and decided we both liked the same style of music, so we said we would meet up at the rehearsal studio of Wayne’s band WIZZARD. Here I met the band and tried out to be the singer, but Wayne, myself and guitarist Keith decided we could do something heavier and went on to form our own band MORTAL SIN. We auditioned for another guitarist and a bass player and the rest they say is history.”
Which bands have had an effect on you? I ask, because at the time you were compared to METALLICA. I think you like / liked the "Master Of Puppets" album…
”Yes METALLICA have definitely had an effect on us all, but we were also influenced by SLAYER, KREATOR, BLACK SABBATH, LED ZEPPELIN and in general lots of music that came before us. You can listen to all the early METALLICA albums and still enjoy them very much, that’s why METALLICA are the best!!"
Was Thrash Metal popular in Australia? How was the Australian scene at the time?
”When we started in 1985 there was no Thrash scene. The Metal scene was mostly cock rock bands or Hardrock – MORTAL SIN and SLAUGHTER LORD were the only Thrash bands or the bands who started the Thrash genre in Australia.”
Were you in contact with the European bands or scene? Did you have European friends? Did you take part in the underground tapetradeing?
”In the early days we did not have the internet to write to people – we had to send letters and wait… and wait… and wait… Sometimes you were not sure you would even get a reply or you thought your tapes would not arrive to their destination! We used to trade tapes a lot and we used to buy t-shirts from the addresses off the back of the albums. It was very hard in 1985-86, but we managed to break through and get some people interested in us from overseas. Australia is so far away from everywhere else!!!!"
Another cool Thrash Metal act in Australia was SLAUGHTER LORD, but they were more brutal, faster and heavier than you. Were you friends? Did you play often together? Did you like SLAUGHTER LORD?
”Yes, the boys from Slaughter Lord used to live in the same apartment block one floor above me. We were all friends and in fact when we needed a new guitarist after sacking Keith Krstin, Mick Burke from Slaughter Lord joined the band. And when we sacked Wayne Campbell in 1990, we also got Slaughter Lord drummer Steve Hughes.”
SLAUGHTER LORD was a cult band, they have recorded only demos, but no album (well, there IS a CD on Invictus Productions, which features the band’s classic material – Frank). Why didn’t they get at a contract with a label? Why and when did SLAUGHTER LORD split up?
”I have no idea why they did not get a deal, but they have since produced their first release on CD. I can’t remember when the band split up – maybe it was in 1987 when Mick Burke joined MORTAL SIN but I’m really not sure.”
Back to MORTAL SIN. What did your name mean? To what did your name refer?
”In the mid 80s every band was looking to try and get the heaviest name! We thought MORTAL SIN was the heaviest name we could think of and we liked the name so it stuck. The logo is very good too.”
By the British Kerrang! magazine you were tabbed as a next big thing. By what did you obtain this acknowledgement / honour? Were you popular in Australia?
”I guess the British press were looking for a band that was going to be the next METALLICA and since I sounded a lot like James Hetfield, maybe that’s why they said that, I don’t know. Yes we were popular in Australia but we were more popular in Germany for some reason. Many people including Kerrang thought the "Mayhemic Destruction” album was very good.”
How many demos did you record? In what kind of reception were your demos? Which songs were on the demos?
”Mayhemic Destruction” was meant to be our first demo, so we didn’t really record any demos. We just decided to record the demo as an album and send it to all the record companies and that’s why we ended up getting a record deal, because in those days not many bands recorded their own albums with their own money.”
Your debut was "Mayhemic destruction" (1987). Please, tell us about the songs and lyrics! I mean, this album isn’t well-known, but very good songs are on it…
”The album is actually very well known in many parts – the songs were written mostly in late 1985 and early 1986. Keith, Paul and myself were the major writers and Wayne wrote some of the lyrics. Some of the lyrics were fairly satanic but we didn’t really believe in the satanism thing we just thought it was fun to be rebellious.”
What kind of results did you get on the album in Europe and in theStates? How many songs are originally on the record? I have read on a website, the album consists of 12 songs, but on my tape are only 8.
”The album went really well in Europe, but it didn’t get released in America – only on import. The album only consists of 8 songs – ‘The Curse’, ‘Women ‘n Leather’, ‘Lebanon’, ‘Liar’ on side "Heavy" and ‘Blood Death Hatred’, ‘Mortal Slaughter’, ‘Into The Fire’ and ‘Mayhemic Destruction’ on side "Death". Some Italian record label released the original "Mayhemic Destruction" as a split CD with another band LETHAL but this is not official.”
"Mayhemic Destruction" was released independently. Was it hard to get a label contract in Australia? In your opinion, was the album successful?
”It was originally released on our own label – Mega Metal Productions. We produced and paid for the record out of our own money, so we didn’t have to sign to a local label. But when we signed to Phonogram, the Australian label Polygram also signed us.”
Your second release was "Face Of Despair" (1989), which was released by Polydor. How did you get to Polydor? Were other labels also interested in signing you?
”Polydor (Phonogram Records UK) signed us after hearing "Mayhemic Destruction.” There were a couple of other labels that were interested in MORTAL SIN, but we decided to go with the English company. In hindsight we probably would have been better off to sign with a smaller record label who could concentrate more on the band for touring etc.”
On "Face Of Despair" the influence of Metallica is still very much present as well. What are the differences and similarities between "Mayhemic Destruction" and "Face Of Despair"?
”Face Of Despair” was more technical and more progressive. The song structures were more complex and the songs were a little more catchy. Some people said ”Mayhemic Destruction” was a better album, but the band has always felt that ”Face Of Despair” was better. Even now we listen to the songs of "Face Of Despair” and we see how difficult they were to teach our new guitarists. The production was always going to be better on "Face Of DespaIr” because we really only spent about 40 hrs recording "Mayhemic Destruction”, but three weeks recording "Face Of Despair"."
On the second record Mick Burke played on guitar instead of Keith Krstin. What happened with Keith?
”Keith was sacked from the band because he kept fucking up the songs when we played live shows and made it embarrassing for us. Mick learnt all the songs in three weeks and began playing about mid 1987.”
After the release of "Face Of Despair" you went on tour in Europe. Please tell us about your gigs in Europe! Where and with which bands did you play?
”We first went to USA to do promotions for one week in January 1990 and then flew to England for some shows with the mighty TESTAMENT. Those guys rocked big time! We played one show at the Hammersmith Odeon and then went to Holland and Germany. A few days after the last show with TESTAMENT we began a tour with FAITH NO MORE and did shows all around England, Scotland and Wales. After that we went back to America and played about six shows. One show in New York we played with BIOHAZARD and when we played in San Fransisco James Hetfield and Jason Newstead from METALLICA came to watch us play.”
The next release of MORTAL SIN was "Rebellious Youth" (1991). On this album nobody from the original line up played except Andy Eftichiou. Why did you leave the band? What’s your opinion about this release? Was there a change of style in the band because of that?
”I left the band in 1990 when we came home from overseas because of the way myself and my wife were treated by the drummer Steve Hughes and also because when we came back to Australia I felt the band should have played some really big shows, but the rest of the band wanted to play small hotels again, so I decided to leave. I haven’t ever listened to the album so I cannot make an opinion of it, but I saw them live and I definitely did not like the singer – I thought he did not have a very powerful voice and I thought our earlier songs definitely needed a powerful voice. I think that band was more Power Metal than Thrash Metal.”
A long silence followed in the career of MORTAL SIN… What did you do during that long time? Did you split up?
”Yes, we did split up until 1996 when Wayne, myself and Andy reformed the band. Paul played a couple of shows with us but he lived too far away to be able to keep playing so we got two other guitarists Troy Scerri and Anthony Hoffman.”
When did you decide to reform MORTAL SIN?
”1996 was when we first decided to reform the band.”
The fourth album of you was "Revolution Of The Mind" (1997). On this album Andy, Wayne Campbell and yourself as well as the two new guitarists Troy Scerri and Anthony Hoffman played. How did they join the band? Why did the original guitarists not take part in the reunion? Can we speak about a reunion? Why did you change the logo?
”Anthony was the guitarist in Wayne’s other band GRUNGEON, so he was a good friend of Wayne and a good guitarist and said he would be the guitarist if we wanted him. Troy was also in a band with Wayne from 1990 (WHITE TRASH) and he also was a very good guitarist. Paul was back in the band but only for two shows because he lived nearly 1000km away from the rest of us. The other guitarist Mick was not around anywhere so that’s why he did not play in the band when we reformed. We changed the logo because someone drew a new one and we liked it, but we now realise that the old one is the best one by far!”
Is this an official release or a sampler, a collection? Did you write some new stuff at the time?
”Revolution Of The Mind” was just a small release for our local fans. We decided we could not play some shows if we did not have any product out and we only had two new songs, so we recorded the two new songs and added some old songs re-recorded and some songs that did not make it onto any of the earlier records. Again we released the record on our own label Mega Metal Productions.”
Did you split up again after the release of "Revolution Of The Mind"? Can you tell us about the former MORTAL SIN members?
”We kind of split up but we always knew we would do something again when we could find the right guitarists who could write big songs. In 1997 the Olympics were coming to Australia for 2000 and I began writing a magazine for my own business about collectables and also wrote two books for the Olympics about Olympic pins!! When the Olympics were over we decided to look for some guitarists. Paul Carwana is living in Queensland (1000km away) and Mick Burke gave up guitar after an electricution accident that damaged his neck and nerves.”
What kind of bands do you listen to nowadays? What do you do in your free-time? Please tell us about nowadays Australian scene!
”My most favourite band is DREAM THEATER, then METALLICA, then QUEEN, then YES and JOURNEY. I like to listen to progressive rock and some old Thrash like TESTAMENT, DEATH ANGEL, EXODUS and MORDRED.”
In your opinion, did METALLICA sell out? With the "black album" they became very popular. What do you think about the "black album" and about the career of METALLICA, after the "black album"? Do you still like METALLICA?
”Yes I still love METALLICA – I met up with Kirk and James when they recently came to Australia. They are still the same guys they were in 1989 when they came to Australia then. I don’t think they sold out because when you are around for so long you have to keep experimenting with your music and you write what you like and hope that your fans will like it too. If the fans want you to play the same music forever everyone would sound like STATUS QUO and ACDC. The black album was a brilliant career move. Every band wants and needs to make money to survive and METALLICA did what they needed to do to sustain their longevity. They will probably be around for many more years still and they will continue to get more new fans.”
I think Thrash Metal is and was always underground, a part of the underground scene. What’s your opinion about it?
”I think Thrash is more mainstream now. If anything Black and Death Metal are the underground now what Thrash was in the 90s. Thrash now has become more popular because of METALLICA and ANTHRAX and SLAYER, but Death and Black Metal will never become radio friendly like Thrash so it will probably stay underground (unfortunately).”
What does Thrash Metal mean to you? Is there still a Thrash movement nowadays? What do you say about the fact that some classic bands of the 80s (for example EXODUS, NASTY SAVAGE, NUCLEAR ASSAULT, ASSASSIN, DEATH ANGEL) are back again?
”I think Thrash is back because the Nu Metal movement came in and got all the rock fans into Metal but they then found harder and heavier and faster Metal which they prefer to the Nu Metal. All the old Thrash fans found out that all new Metal was never as good as the old Metal!!!!!"
The compulsory question: will MORTAL SIN reform? Will you release a brandnew album? Do you often think about the old days?
”MORTAL SIN are currently writing new songs for another album called "Far From Extinction" which we hope to record at the end of this year. We are also releasing a DVD of a show we played in March in Australia and it should be released in July. Do I ever think of the old days?? You can never forget the old days especially when you played shows with bands like METALLICA and TESTAMENT!”
Mat, thank you for your patience and your answers. Please close the interview!
”A special thanks to all our fans in Hungary. When we next come over to play in Europe please someone tell us to play in Hungary!! Also look out for our new album and our new DVD."