Interview: Mories (Gnaw Their Tongues, Aderlating, etc)
Maurice “Mories” de Jong is a power greater than himself. He’s been recording music since the 90’s, and his band cache is still growing. With a genre-defying and library-filling discography to his name, Mories’s boundless creativity puts him at the forefront of the still growing movement of serial creators in metal. With Abyss of Longing Throats, Mories’s first full-length work under the Gnaw Their Tongues moniker in three years, we see him take his recently-revived pet project to new heights.
Full disclosure: I’ve worked with Mories to a small extent a few years ago with a personal project, but that is not addressed in this interview. Figured I’d break objectivity somehow. Feel free to judge me, the interviewer, accordingly.
Read my lengthy discussion with Mories and have an exclusive listen to Abyss of Longing Throats below.
After a lengthy hiatus, especially given the prolific nature of Gnaw Their Tongues, it has sort of "emerged from the cocoon" with a clearer, but still equally as complex sound. What brought about this stylistic shift? Was it a planned, gestational change or more punctuated?
I think my increased interest in the production/engineering side of music led to a clearer sound. At this point in my music making career, I'm more interested in notes instead of distortion if that makes sense. A overblown production can have an emotional impact, but so can notes. These days, I'm all about the notes.
With the shift in emphasis from the blown out, suffocating sound of your earlier works up until the hiatus (which was archived in the Collected Atrocities compilation earlier this year), did this change the way you viewed Gnaw Their Tongues? Or is it something broader which defines Gnaw Their Tongues for you?
I try not to overthink Gnaw Their Tongues 'cause thinking about what GTT should be tends to block creativity. After doing this for nearly 10 years I think I forgot what the initial idea behind gtt was: to have no idea. Just try to do music on a very instinctive level. Sort of composing with my subconscious. To let energy / ideas flow freely from deep within (sound like a hippie hahaha). A little before the break I took in 2011 I was thinking too much about an 'audience,’ album flow, release schedules, interviews etc. totally blocking creativity. There was just nothing coming out of me anymore music wise. To return to your question: I lost sight of what I wanted with GTT, in the end I just did some tracks after the break. They are all over the place style-wise but I think thats what GTT should be. As long as it has the right mood.
When you refer to instinct and the subconscious, are you referring to an improvisation-based approach, or is it more calculated?
I do improvise. I keep pieces I like, other times it can mean to go with the first idea or thought that comes along... Just compose and record at almost the same time. [It can also mean] Not thinking about what you are doing; only looking back at what you have done after a piece is finished. I will often edit stuff later more in a calculated way. But the initial process of composing is instinctive. Of course experience makes this process easier. Sometimes I fail horribly… other times I really like what I’ve done.
Though I might have guessed at an improvised approach with previous works, I never would have pegged Abyss of Longing Throats's intricate sound as improvised at all.
Moving forward, I've noticed Abyss… happened to be the first Gnaw Their Tongues album in which it is unquestionably clear that the driving instrument is the bass guitar (which is further evidenced by live photos). Of course, you've been using the bass as a primary melodic instrument in black metal for some time, dating back to your Astral project in 1993. What first drove you to utilize the bass in this way? How does the bass guitar's sound palette lend itself to Gnaw Their Tongues instead of, say, a "standard" guitar?
Yeah, the bass parts of “The Holy Body” are partially improvised. So are parts of “And They Will Be Cast Out Into Utter Darkness”. “Abyss Of Longing Throats” and “Up Into The Heavens Down Into The Circles Of Hell,” not so much. The bass part is simple: Necromantia. I was such a fan and was so intrigued by their exclusive use of bass, I thought: 'This going to my thing.’ I almost use bass as a guitar, but there's something so 'evil' or 'disturbing' about an over-distorted bass. The idea was always to have samples / keys fill out the 'guitar' frequencies. Of course, I've used guitar too. The last song on [Abyss of Longing Throats] (“Up Into The Heavens Down Into The Circles Of Hell”) is a more traditional guitar based black metal-ish track.
Your mention of the concept of "evil" is actually the perfect segue into a question I've been meaning to ask for a long time. Religious fanaticism and Judeo-Christian metaphysics have always seemed to have a sort of foothold in Gnaw Their Tongues, as evidenced by lengthy samples (see: halfway through "Abyss of Longing Throats") and an almost biblical diction in song/album titles ("Spit At Me And Wreak Havoc On My Flesh," "I Am The Lord And There Is No Other; I Make The Light, I Create Darkness," "The Holy Body," the list goes on). It is obvious that, at least conceptually, religion and Gnaw Their Tongues are intertwined, but without published lyrics it is difficult to see the degree of entanglement. Could you offer some insight as to the connection between Gnaw Their Tongues and your frequent allusory use of religious themes?
I'm Atheist, totally not spiritual, but those stories, especially the Old Testament, have a certain appeal to me. There's an atmosphere that radiates from those stories that I find suitable for Gnaw Their Tongues. Grotesque, horror, tyrannical, maniacal, fanatical etc. Lots of times I will twist the meaning of said stories or turn them around.
Are there any particular stories to which you find yourself returning and blaspheming for Gnaw Their Tongues and your other various projects, or do you keep your base of inspiration varied?
Revelations is my favorite, but I keep finding new bits and pieces every time I have a look.
Speaking of Revelations, I've heard the first few shows you've played as Gnaw Their Tongues have been nothing short of revelatory. It took you decade to finally perform live - why the wait? Are you pleased with how your live performances have been?
I always said I would never play live, then we did that collaborative show with Alkerdeel in 2014. That was a big trigger for me to decide to play live as Gnaw Their Tongues. Then I got asked to do MDF and Apex [Fest] and I just could refuse. I don’t think I will ever get those chances again so I just thought, 'Fuck it… let so this'. Not all shows have been to my complete satisfaction due to sound problems. The last one we did (Rock Valley in Italy) went great, though!
Given the complex layers in your music, especially on Abyss of Longing Throats, I was surprised to see that you kept the live band lineup to a minimum, just yourself and your Aderlating bandmate Eric Ejispaart. Though videos provide more than enough evidence that this live manifestation doesn't need to be fleshed out, is the two piece lineup limiting in any way? Is there any chance of fleshing it out?
With the two person line-up, we cover all the basics of the GTT sound: bass, samples/keys and vocals. Drums are programmed just like most the recorded tracks. A live drummer would certainly add something interesting, I guess. I just can't find a suitable person where we live. I can 'hire' somebody, but that wouldn't feel right. Ideally, I would need someone who connects with the music and with [me] on a personal level. If Eric is unavailable, my girlfriend helps me out.
In what direction do you see Gnaw Their Tongues moving next? Will we have to endure another three year wait before another proper full length?
At this point I have no plans made for new material yet, and I have no idea about what direction GTT will take. I don’t think it will take another 3 years.