With a mission statement of “Keep it heavy, keep it real, keep it metal” the old school metal assault of Toronto’s Mortal Fear has returned to the arena to take on all contenders. Originally the band began back in 1985 with vocalist Ken Munro and guitarist Steve Turrer playing sludgy, doomy type metal songs. By 1987 bassist Pete Turrer, (Steve’s younger brother) and drummer John Currie had joined the fold bringing with them a more technical approach to the music based on their Rush and Yes influences. Mortal Fear became known in the Torontoarea and made a reputation for themselves playing only original material. Two years later it was all over as they had begun to grow apart and decided to disband and move on to various other projects. Steve Turrer recorded with another popular Toronto based band, Savage Steel and Ken Munro with The Blacklist while Pete Turrer went on to play in Frantic Waltz and Marshall Birch and the Swampmonster along side Steve Turrer in both of those bands.
In 2012 all four original members of Mortal Fear got together for a jam session, sparking the chemistry alive once again they decided to reform. Recording a CD in 2012 they were set to begin supporting the release with live shows when drummer John Currie decided to depart the band for personal reasons. After extensive searching a new drummer, Steve Scott, was selected and inducted into the tribe.
I’ve mentioned Mortal Fear previously in a couple of other reviews (DWaRfS & Diemonds / Back to Back Nights With Coney Hatch), and have become more and more of a fan every time that I’ve seen them. These guys are impressive delivering an assault of old school, Judas Priest-like, heavy metal.
My third outing with their old school heavy metal assault was back in early January when they set the stage for a Canadian heavy metal show including Hamilton Ontario’s Varga and Toronto’s Entropy. While all three bands delivered some great metal it was Mortal Fear that stole the show for me. Arriving shortly before the night was to begin, I had the opportunity to acquire myself their self titled début CD and briefly meet drummer Steve Scott, vocalist Ken Munro and bassist Pete Turrer. It was here that Steve Scott informed me that they had only performed three shows prior to tonight, the only one I’d missed was their opening slot for Anvil! Mortal attacked the stage
|Kate Injecting the Fear!|
promptly at 9pm, ripping through their entire eight song CD, some of the highlights being “Left to Die” and “Inject the Fear” (fan recorded video). The latter song has been getting airplay through on-line college radio. Two songs into the set and friends were nodding heads, looking suitably impressed and a bit shocked, agreeing with me on how great Mortal Fear sounded live. I had said to fellow Decibel Geek writer Kate Campbell prior to the show “don’t be late, you won’t want to miss Mortal Fear”. Well, she was late, but only missed about half of Mortal’s set coming in on the song “Folly of the Priest”. The first words out of her mouth were “Holy shit that guy can sing!” Pay attention to me people, I told you not to miss Mortal Fear! I for one have “Injected the Fear”, Mortal Fear that is…will you join me?
Vocalist Ken Munro and guitarist Steve Turrer took the time to give me a call recently and chat about all things Mortal Fear. The energy was high and I could tell the love these guys have for the music through their tones of voice.
The Meister: Why don’t we start out with the history of the band, tell me how Mortal Fear came together.
Mortal Fear (Steve): It basically started right at the end of high school. We had a lot of time hanging out in the cafeteria and me and Ken were in a classical guitar course at school and we just played rock songs in the caf. We just started writing songs at school and after we finished school we just said we have no future plans right now so why don’t we just try to write some songs and see what happens. That’s basically how it started, we would work day jobs and write a few originals, the main thing back then was just trying to get a set down of 8 or 10 songs so we could play a gig.
The Meister: Did you guys have many shows back then?
Mortal Fear (Steve): We only had 4 or 5, I mean real gigs like bar gigs, but we played in basements and stuff in front of people and everything. That’s where we got our feel for what we actually wanted to do. And then we kinda disbanded and went our separate ways, but we never stopped playing music in different bands. Me, myself as the guitar player never clicked in a cover band. For some reason I tried playing in cover bands and it just didn’t feel right. It didn’t feel like this is why I started guitar to start playing Angus Young. I knew right away, right from day one that I wanted to write my own stuff, whatever that is. Kinda the opposite from what everyone else does, most learn everybody else’s music first.
The Meister: True. Most bands start out doing covers to get themselves known a little bit and get themselves a gig
before they can start to slip their originals into a set.
Mortal Fear (Steve): Yeah, for sure. But what I found with a lot of people that do that, it might be good for your ear training and might make you learn guitar better because you’re learning from a professional song but by the time you do that and you start writing your own stuff, you always think, oh geez, I sound like this band or this guy. And a lot of my friends lost interest in music because of that, they were great at cover songs, but they couldn’t write an original song. I was the opposite, I was terrible at learning cover songs. It was hard to get it to sound like the artist intended it to sound.
The Meister: It’s never gonna sound the same as the original artist, right. So you’re always holding yourself up to that.
Mortal Fear (Steve): Ya, and I was always disappointed, so I would get frustrated within 20 min or half an hour and we’d just create a song on our own. And that’s how it started and Ken said “screw it, screw what the rest of the world is doing, let’s just write our own songs”. But it’s so hard to get known writing your own stuff. You can’t get any exposure, especially back then with no internet. Because of the internet and things like Facebook there’s people contacting us from as far away as the Philippines, that’s really cool.
The Meister: The internet has changed the landscape for sure good and bad. It’s a lot easier to get your music out there, but harder to make money as everyone just downloads it.
|Ken & Steve|
Mortal Fear (Steve): Exactly, we’ve never ever made money playing music. We’re still working guys and everything. We just do this for the enjoyment of doing it. If down the road something would happen and we would get some killer gigs and make some money that would be a bonus, but we’re not doing it for the money at all. We’re just doing it to write our own music.
The Meister: That’s what makes it so good. I think that shows through, you guys are doing it for the love of it, you’re not compromising yourselves. You’re not bending with what needs to be done for a hit, you’re doing what you want.
Mortal Fear (Steve): Exactly! Those days of “oh I wanna be a rock star” and all that, that’s totally out the window. We missed the boat to do that already. If something would happen in the future that would be great, you’re never too old for music. It’s in you ’till the day you die. Even the old jazz musicians and country musicians do it right till the very end. Rock and roll and heavy metal, you might have your prime years of doing it and then you slip off but I mean we never got to our prime years so, our prime years are now and we’re late 40’s! We’ll just ride it out and see what happens.
The Meister: As long you guys are all having fun that’s the main thing, right.
Mortal Fear (Steve): That’s the main thing, if it wasn’t fun we wouldn’t bother with it. It’s like what you said, you’ve seen us three times and with this lineup we’ve only played four gigs and every gig is getting better. Like I mean we’re starting to feel more comfortable on stage. Our next gig is not for like three months….
The Meister: Opening for Y&T right?
Mortal Fear (Steve): Yeah opening for Y&T, so we’re going to work on new material between now and then. On that CD we did a couple years ago we only have eight songs on it so now we’re working on new material.
The Meister: With that first CD are those songs that you wrote for that or are they from the back catalog from when you first started in the late 80’s?
Mortal Fear: Basically it’s a mixture of everything, I think two songs on there are brand new songs and the rest of them were older songs but we ripped them apart and added a lot of new parts. We’ve got tons of brand new stuff now that we’re working on it’s just a matter of getting it down together with the whole band now. So from now until the end of June we’re strictly just working on new songs and so hopefully by late fall early winter we can go in and record them.
The Meister: So what was it that brought Mortal Fear back together?
Mortal Fear (Ken): It was weird, just one of those summer nights where our original drummer came over and we were just shooting the shit and decided to jam just for the hell of it. And it just sounded good. We did that for three or four weekends just carving out songs and it felt really good so we said let’s just keep doing this. So we just kept playing and then we recorded the CD and our original drummer decided to leave as he was busy with work and his life and couldn’t devote the time to it. So we found Steve Scott for our new drummer and we just kept going….all by a fluke that we got together for a few beers and decided to play that day.
|Peter Turrer & Ken|
The Meister: Well, thanks for calling today guys and I’ll see you at Y&T on April 11th at Rockpile West, but don’t expect a review out of that one as it’s the day after my birthday so I’
ll still be partying….(laughs). Anything else you’d like to say?
Mortal Fear (Steve): Maybe we’ll get a cake (laughing). Just that basically we’re an older band, but really a new band and from this day forward we’re working on brand new material. Our next 8 or 10 songs that we will record will probably be heavier than the first CD. We’re just gonna try to keep it as real and as heavy and as metal as possible.
The Meister (“LIKE” The Meister on Facebook)