One of the albums which certainly made a strong and lingering impression this year has been Mortui Vivos Docent from The Pete Flesh Deathtrip, and it should be said that since we posted are review of it a few weeks ago the release has continued to persuade and seduce with its darkest fearful creative journey and surpass what we originally said about it. The solo project of Pete Flesh (ex- Deceiver, Thrown, Maze of Torment), The Pete Flesh Deathtrip is a project which brings fresh venom and breath to death cored extreme metal. Taking the opportunity to find out much more about the album and the man himself, Pete explained about how he creates his music, what drives his thoughts, and how he is doubtful he could return to being just part of a band.
Hi Pete and thank you for taking time out to talk with us.
No problem, grateful for the support.
Before we look at and talk about your new album Mortui Vivos Docent can we ask about your background? What sparked firstly your interest in music, inspirations etc. and in metal in particular?
I remember the first time I heard and saw pics of WASP. I had heard and listened to bands like Deep Purple, Kiss etc. But this was something different, I fell for the rawness. The same goes with the first time I heard Bathory or Tormentor. To be creative has always been in my nature since I was a kid. Then when I tried the guitar I have simply not stopped doing songs since. And that has been more important to me, to find new ways to do songs than actually trying to be the next Yngvie Malmsteen; just trying to find different atmospheres and expressions towards different experiences through life.
Did you take music lessons when young or was it a sudden discovery of a passion to play that emerged and led you to developing alone?
I took 3 lessons then I quit, just because I thought it was more satisfying doing my own stuff. Something I regret today. But I have my own style which you can hear directly when I play.
Is there a particular instrument and style you have a greater passion for and enjoy exploring the most?
Well, I must say the guitar as I write most of the songs on that instrument, even if I don´t see myself as a pure guitar player. I also like to play other instruments to explore different ways to create a song. On every album I try at least to have some songs that have the roots from other instruments, like bass or piano. I also like to explore and develop in the rhythm sections for every album, some details here and there.
You played in Maze of Torment, Embryo, Thrown, and Deceiver before starting up solo project Flesh. What was the spark or trigger that led you to go down that road creatively emotionally?
I think it was the fact that I always think in terms of song-writing, that I get the whole picture and not just some riffs here and there. Sometimes it would get frustrating to have this whole idea to a song, but the out-come would maybe be 70%. Some would maybe say that I´m an egotist, but I see myself like someone with strong ideas, ideas where all dedication is needed to get the songs rightful form… And my ideas mostly have no thinking at all towards any success, genre or what other people would think, and that often fails when you are in a band. I´m really proud of my past, and there is a lot of great stuff released, like the debut album of Maze of Torment or the last one with Deceiver.
Was it a bigger step in reality to have a whole project in your hands and imagination than you envisaged or a natural and fluid evolution for your music?
It was hard to make a decision to leave Maze of Torment, the band was my dedication for 12 years. That was the first step towards where I am today. Then I had some years where I tried out different stuff, did the project Thrown etc. But all that was needed in the evolution. There was no bigger problem for me regarding emotions to put down Deceiver and Thrown, I did most of the music and work anyway. It was harder for me to come to the conclusion that I should only focus on one thing and that all of my ideas and expressions can be gathered at one place, like in The Pete Flesh Deathtrip. Today now it´s done and I think back I only see everything as natural steps.
Is there a big personal aspect to your own music lyrically and musically, your songs a reflection of your inside thoughts on things and you see and come across?
Yes, it is. Everything I do must have full dedication towards all reflections and expressions I create through songs. Sometimes it has failed because of studio, members or producer choices, that the ideas not always have been understood. But you go through all that, everyone does to get experiences. The experiences then either make you give up or simply get you stronger in what you believe in and what you want to do.
What inspires your lyrical side predominantly?
The dead and death in general; its surroundings and the topics that have been created because of it. Just like the music, this comes natural for me.
You renamed the band to The Pete Flesh Deathtrip from simply Flesh, was this forced upon you as I read somewhere or down to a deliberate intent?
No, not forced but “recommended”. But the main reason was that I only was going to create music for this now and I wanted something more personal. If I had wanted to continue just under the name Flesh, I think there would not have been any bigger problem. Flesh and The Pete Flesh Deathtrip is the same thing for me, the idea is still the same and I even use the old Flesh logo in the inner-sleeve of the new album, just to show people.
As we mentioned earlier Mortui Vivos Docent is your new very recently album, your fourth. How has your music and imagination on the album evolved from those early days of Flesh and across all releases?
If you compare to the first one, “Dödsångest”, I would say that it still has the same formulas, but developed. I had for example never, and I mean never, done vocals before that one. And you can hear it, but it has the same kind of dedication like today. “Temple of Whores” and “Worship the Soul of Disgust” I see as progression albums. Lots of stuff going on in my personal life and other music stuff. If you would take the best of those 2 albums and record it in the same studio as the new one it would become a killer album. Sometimes I play with that thought.
Do you deliberately explore certain aspects and ideas or each release or an artist that lets the music naturally evolve itself and thus each release?
I would say that the seeds to my creations come from the same place, only that I try to develop and explore different stuff in different views from each release. I try to do songs that capture the essence from what I feel at that right moment. I can´t erase my past and influences that have built up the person I am, I will always have stuff that marks my way of playing and how I do songs. But I will always try to find those small details that keep it interesting for me, to create and explore new territories.
There was a five year gap between Mortui Vivos Docent and its predecessor Worship the Soul of Disgust. Any particular reason for that extended gap, and how much of that time was involved in the creation of the new album?
Lots of personal stuff that was going on in my life, elements that had to be sorted out. I was still doing music, but I was in this state of mind that everything had to have its time. I had at that point created music, manic, for over 20 years. I had to take that time to find again that “innocent” feeling, when everything was new and you had not recorded any album yet. This has only been good for me; I have a better way today to see the structures in things. The next album will for sure not take this long; the inspiration is there, more than ever.
As with your previous albums you used session musicians on the album, notably Micke Broberg for some of the vocals and Andreas Jonsson (Tyrant, The Black, Vinertand) for drums. Was this approach always the intention from day one and if you ever expanded the band line-up do you think it would unbalance or in some way diminish the current potency of your music?
No, the idea to use them was not there from the beginning, it was a progress that grew through the process. First my idea was to play the drums myself. When I put that news out on MySpace I got a mail from Andreas directly -”I like Flesh too much to let you play the drums, you are not good enough. At least I can´t be worse”. And he was more than right. I was just trying to isolate myself totally from any impact from any other. Flingan that had played on the previous albums had stopped playing and it felt hopeless finding a new session drummer. That Andreas came into the picture was the best thing that could happen for me. He understood the concept of everything and when he recorded the drums in the studio it was pure energy. Micke came into the picture when more or less all songs were done. I had this idea that it would be good with some contrasts in the vocals as there was a lot of it in the music. You know, I only have this kind of vocal style, and sometimes I hear stuff in my head when I do the songs that I can´t really manage vocally. First it was only going to be on one track, then there were two, and suddenly it was half of the album. All this came naturally through the progress of writing lyrics and what I wanted out of the songs. He also wrote some lyrics. Both Andreas and Micke did brilliant work, and to tell the truth, I never thought that there were people out there that I could work this good with, I´m grateful. There will never be any other full-time members in T.P.F.D.T than myself. The reason is simple. This is a solo project and I want to always have the doors open for new ideas. Maybe Andreas and Micke are on the next album as well, maybe not. All depends on how songs etc. progress under the process. Also, even if they are included on the next recording I maybe have this idea that is totally out of their taste, like using an Opera singer as just an example. As a band and full time members you could refuse that. So, this will continue as a solo project.
How do you approach your songwriting generally and how has that changed over the years if at all?
I wait till the inspiration comes to me. Sometimes I tease myself and wait longer then it just explodes. Anyone that can play little guitar are able to fix that fat sound and just do riffs. The riffing part is not hard for me, the hard part is to find the riffs, ideas, structures etc. that in the end will express something and that you can feel dedicated to, simply to create a good song. Also when I start the process in writing a whole album it´s not just about doing single songs, I try slowly to get a picture of a whole album, the expression and atmospheres to it all. I want to have a dynamic to it all. I would say that I in the early days was a bit more stressful in the writing process of a whole album, there are good songs and the structure is there, but to hold it through a whole album has failed sometimes. To put it simple, I know better what I want and how I want to express it today.
When you bring in musicians to help bring your songs to life in the studio are they finished and sealed compositions before them or is there still a little room for ideas to be offered and considered?
All the songs are already there, but that doesn´t take away the room for ideas. For example, Andreas did a lot of drum parts that maybe were not was my idea from the beginning, all cred to that. Also on the trax where Micke had done the lyrics he had a lot of say. I had said the parts where the verse, chorus etc. would be, but the expressions in the words, the type of vocals is his and all cred to that. I notice pretty fast that these guys understood the concept to it all, so to collaborate through different ideas was no problem for me. I would never take away their great impact on this album and say that it´s all mine. The only important thing for me is making the album I had in my head and make it good, and they contributed to that. And I must mention the producer Peter Bjärgö (Arcana, Crypt of Kerberos, Tyrant), his role has been as important. I had tons of ideas that he was able to fulfil, like piano stuff, samples etc. so all cred to him as well.
Do you think having spent the past decade writing and creating alone that returning to a band set up would be a struggle for you creatively, losing the sole control etc.?
I have thought about it sometimes, to form something and rehearse like a band. But after 10 seconds of thinking I realize who I am and know that I will be manic about it; I can´t play in a band just for the fun of it. The closest to a band I ever will get, at least it feels like it right now, is if I put T.P.F.D.T into a live situation, but first I must find a second guitarist.
Did you have a core idea or intent when writing Mortui Vivos Docent?
That this would be the most honest and personal album that I had done; to get back to that feeling when I wrote for the first Maze of Torment album. A mixture between that and when I did “The Suicide Kings Occult” with Thrown (one album project where I also plays drums). Simply finding the core to the reason why I crave and are addicted to making music. It all sounds bloody boring and ambitious, it´s only fucking Metal…..well, not to me.
Written over the long period mentioned how much did songs change and evolve from their original conception on the album or are you a person who can leave things alone once a song is ‘finished’?
No song is done until the mastering is finished. For me a song is a breathing thing, it´s a creation, something that follows me during the whole day and night. Most of my social life is gone because I choose this way of life instead, to write. But when the drums are done the big frame, structure is of course done. But then you are able to “colour” the songs in so many ways. I try to go in with small details if I feel like a song will fail. One of the tracks on the new album “The Suicide End”, that a lot seems to like, was a struggle for me. The idea was clear in my head, I heard what I wanted, but it wasn’t there. Everyone had played everything right, the vocals was right and had the right expression and atmosphere, but there was something missing. When Peter and I mixed the album I was fucking furious. For me this song was destroyed, maybe not for someone else, but for me, that millimetre detail that would put the song in its rightful place was not there, and the song was bloody important to me. Then I just tried to turn up the vocals one small step after trying to mix the guitars, drums etc. different, and there it was. For me it was like day and night in differences. Maybe it sounds stupid and obvious for someone else, that it should not have been too hard to notice it directly. But everyone that has a whole writing process in the head also knows that it’s easy to get a bit blind during the mixing process. Tons of things to keep track of to find that special thing that makes the song.
Is there a part of moment of the album which gives you the biggest tingle or thrill inside, something which is the purest part of Pete Flesh?
Yes, the thing that I just mentioned. Can´t describe that feeling when it turned out exactly as I wanted. Of course a lot of other stuff did as well, but with fewer struggles; the chorus of “Recycle my Death”, the verses in “Burning Darkness”. This is just to mention something, because there is a lot of stuff that I worked really hard with trying to capture. But those two things and the verse in “God of the Crawling Whore”, that is pure Pete Flesh. Other things that give me the thrill, Micke’s and Ia´s brilliant vocals in “Bleed” and his chorus lines in “The Eternal Dawn”. Just brilliant.
Will you be taking the new release into the live arena and if so do you have a regular group of musicians to call on to help?
Nothing is settled yet, there is a lot of work making it happen. But if it would happen I of course want Micke and Andreas to follow. Micke is a skilled musician, so he can also handle the bass. Then I only need to find a second guitar player to work with. This is a process, like an album, that I want to think everything through carefully.
Once more thank you for allowing us to explore your music and creativity.
No problem at all. Thank you for questions that prove your interest for my music.
Any last thoughts you would like to share?
Check out the review for Mortui Vivos Docent@ http://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2013/07/25/the-pete-flesh-deathtrip-mortui-vivos-docent/
The RingMaster Review 28/08/2013
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