Alex Gutierrez (Mortillery)
Canadian thrashers Mortillery were on tour in Europe a few months back. We caught up with guitarist Alex Gutierrez for a few questions.
HBI: Hi Alex, thanks a lot for taking the time to talk to us. How’s the tour (Division of Blood with Suicidal Angels, Skull Fist & Evil Invaders) been so far?
AG: Pretty good. We’ve just started the tour – this is our fourth show. The tour’s been going on for almost a month with Crysix doing the first half and we’re doing the second half. So far so good, we’re having a blast.
HBI: Is this your first major tour in Europe?
AG: Second time actually! We came here first about three years ago with Flotsam & Jetsam, Legion of the Damned and Sepultura. That was huge! Can you imagine that? First tour with Sepultura?!
HBI: First tour ever, or first tour in Europe?
AG: We’d toured Canada before, which was like 5 shows in 10 days – really small, and that was just Western Canada. Our first real tour was with Sepultura in Europe!
HBI: And this is a real tour – you are playing a show every day.
AG: Yep, no days off. Quite intense.
HBI: What have the crowds been like? The setup and everything around you…
AG: Everything’s been amazing. The first show was in Weinheim in Germany. It was incredible. The first show is always weird – you are nervous and you gotta get to know the crew and the other bands, so we were a little nervous, but the people went crazy for us! We did good on merch. Tonight (Dornbirn, AT) was another really good night as well.
HBI: For our readers who may not know a lot about Mortillery, can you tell us a little about your influences, where you come from (musically) etc?
AG: We started about 8 years ago. When we started, we were very punk influenced. Everyone who listens to thrash must know that there is a lot of punk involved. That’s how it started with us. We were listening to bands like Toxic Holocaust, Evile – all the good thrash metal. It was very meant to be this successful. In 8 years, we have three albums, all with Napalm Records; it has been amazing. We started off jamming in a basement, next thing you know, you are signing a record deal and next thing after that, you’re touring Europe! It’s weird, man! Everyone in the band has different influences. Our singer (Cara McCutchen) listens to a lot of Skid Row and things like that – you can tell by the way she sings, a lot of Sebastian Bach in her voice. She likes Helloween a lot. Miranda (Wolfe), the bass player and I like a lot of punk stuff, and we brought a lot of that kind of music – GBH, Broken Bones, Discharge and things like that. Our drummer (Kevin Gaudet) is a rock guy; probably the widest open in his music style, and our guitar player Kent (Quinlan) is more into guitar – he like things which are very guitar specific, like Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath. We put all our influences together and it comes out thrash metal.
HBI: Mortillery have a new album out titled Shapeshifter. Tell me more about the album and the progression over the years.
AG: We have three records and you can see the progression of the band through them. The first one is very punk rock, very raw. Short songs, straight to the point and fast. The second, we went a little more melodic and the third record – this new one Shapeshifter – is a combination of everything we’ve every liked and listened to. This new one is the one that has the most influences from each member.
HBI: Tell me more about songwriting over the three Mortillery albums.
AG: I used to a do a lot of the writing myself before, so it sounded very me, but now everyone is more comfortable and open in the band, so the music sounds like everybody, which is what I like and it’s not just me doing it. Maybe that’s what it takes at the start – you need one person to guide, but now everyone takes a part and that’s good. A lot of songs, I do about 75% of the writing – it’s just ideas and riffs, and I’ll show it to Miranda and Kent, and if they like it, we take it forward. Kent maybe brings a chorus, and we work on it a bit. Then we show it to the drummer, who takes it forward. Every time a new person learns the song, a little bit gets changed – this verse can be longer, this chorus can be shorter etc. We build the song and once it is fully written musically, Cara records it and three days later, she comes back with lyrics. It works so well!
HBI: How often do you actually get out on tour?
We don’t tour as much because we all have full time jobs. Canada is kind of expensive – we gotta pay rent and stuff like that. We don’t tour as much as we would like to. Cities are too far away and we don’t always get guarantees for the shows. We might drive to Vancouver which is a 12 hour drive but no guarantee of pay, so they pay you what they can. Just to put it in perspective – it costs about 600 CAD to drive from Edmonton to Vancouver and back, and we may get paid probably 200 CAD. It is pretty tough. But having said that, a lot of bands still do it. Drive to Vancouver and Newfoundland – you have to do it and you need to go out. Every time we play a new city, we hear people say, “I like you and I never knew you were playing tonight,” and then they buy the CD and the merch. You just gotta get out on the road. I’d rather be tired, hungry and hungover than bored on my coach watching TV. I’d much rather be on the road.
HBI: You’re a Canadian band touring Europe. Where else have you played and where else would you like to play? What about India?
AG: Austria is one of our favourite places because of how beautiful it is. Reminds us a lot of British Columbia. We played at Backstage Munich yesterday and that was great as well. We played at Portugal and Spain last tour which was great – I love being near the beach. I’m from Latin America – El Salvador – and I love the beach, so when we went to Portugal and Spain, it was great. Honestly we would like to play everywhere, but it is a little hard for us since we are self-managed. We have a good relationship with RTN Touring because of Napalm Records but we aren’t managed by them. It’s not very easy for us to work out schedules with five of us in the band with full time jobs, and to be able to afford it. We would like to do the States next, and of course, South America. Thrash and South America goes so well. I hear all the stories. Eventually, the plan is to everywhere.
HBI: What’s next for Mortillery?
Next thing is a bit of a downer. We’re going to take a break. We’re all tired and broke. Our singer is getting married, our guitar-player is travelling across Australia. It’s not going to last very long though. Everytime we talk about a break, after a couple of weeks, we’re all itching to get back. But we are all looking forward to getting back home and taking a break.
HBI: Alex, thanks a lot for talking to us. Enjoy the rest of your tour and see you around, maybe back in Europe or in India!
AG: Thanks, cheers!
All pictures from Mortillery’s website.