Having been totally taken in by MORBIKON “Ov Mournful Twilight” since its release this fall, Hellbound contributor Danielle Griscti was excited to speak with Phil “Land Phil” Hall (Municipal Waste, Cannabis Corpse, Iron Reagan) about it.
Read the interview below, and listen to “Ov Mournful Twilight” on Bandcamp here via Tankcrimes Records.
Hellbound (HB) : … what’s going on for you, this Friday night?
Phil Hall (PH) : … Valiant Thorr, I’m playing on bass with them – we’re on tour at the moment.
HB : You did everything for this video, that was the first thing that came out – the plot seems to be a bit of a cliffhanger – are you planning on doing more of this?
PH : Yeah, the animation project started in 2020, obviously I found myself with a little extra time, so I began the process of learning [animation] – and, it turned into this sort of black metal project that is Morbikon, and learning the process of animation and learning how to set up scenes and learning how to create these animations was definitely challenging at first, but now that I’ve been doing it a while the process has gotten a little bit quicker and a little – efficient, I’ve gotten a little better at it with all the time I’ve spent on it.
That first cartoon turned out pretty well, it was my very first foray into animation but I am working on a sequel video, and I’m about halfway done with it, that one’s definitely turning out a lot better in my opinion. It’s a good process to be able to create animations for my music because I can create whatever I want for my videos, I don’t have to hire any actors, I don’t have to set up lights, I can just create whatever I want, as long as I can draw it (laughs) so I’m only limited by my own imagination with it. So I think in the future there will be a lot of great things coming from this animation.
HB : Things that influenced this feeling for you, old-school animation, anything you look back to?
PH : Saturday morning cartoons as a kid, and in the 90’s MTV had a lot of alternative animation with Liquid Television, Beavis & Butthead, there was even weirder stuff like Too Much Coffee Man, Æon Flux, things like that – so of course animation was definitely part of growing up, I never fathomed that creating my own animation would ever be a thing that’s even feasible for me, but with these new programs coming out these days, they make it a bit easier, more efficient for you.
I wouldn’t say – you still have to sit there and draw, but you can do certain things to save time, like cut-out animation – I would compare it most to South Park, it’s not like they sit there and draw Cartman every single time. You can reuse certain animations and things like that, and once you get used to that concept you can really start designing scenes and start setting up things to be able to reuse certain elements, like maybe a background tree or something here and there, things you would never notice or care about, but it definitely saves a little bit of time when creating these scenes. These are things I had to learn about, and also things about just creating the story, I’ve never done anything like that before, definitely very challenging to get into for sure.
HB : Would you describe this as being a passion project? Like you said you could hire people to do videos, but you’re putting in a lot of effort here, this seems really fresh for you even though you’ve been in other bands- would you describe it that way?
PH : I definitely put a lot of my own thought and creativity into this project, by no means do I think of it as something frivolous at all, it’s something I’ve put a lot of effort into and I really love it, and I love black metal as well.
This is something that I’d love to turn into a live band, take it on the road in the future. Now that touring is a thing again I’m busy again with Municipal Waste, so things have slowed down a little bit but I do find myself with time off, and I use all the time I can to continue creating these animations.
I’ve just kind of gotten used to waking up in the morning and working on it for a couple hours each day, and just keeping that ball rolling, so hopefully – it may take years, but I wanna create a video for every single song on the album (HB: heck yeah!) (laughs), it’ll definitely be one of the most intensely time-consuming things I’ve ever done, but I think the end result will be very impressive.
HB : I was going to ask, do you want to tour as Morbikon? I see the lineup, you’ve borrowed Dave from Municipal Waste for the drums – so any plans for that?
PH : Yeah, Dave Witte is definitely a major part of the project, he and I have been playing in a band together for about 17 years with Municipal Waste, so we just are brothers at this point, we know how to work and play together. So he definitely will be a part of the live band, and I’ve begun the process of finding other great musicians to take over on live guitars. I think I’ll be able to put together a really solid band, once we do play live, and I’m excited about it.
HB : Me too! You touched on another question I had which was, do you want to play the bass or guitar?
PH: I think with this project I could do either – and I would love to play guitar, but the other side of my brain says, why not find guitarists that are just like, absolutely way better than I could ever fathom, to play in the band, and I can just handle bass, take some of the pressure off (laughs) so I think I might do that, find guitar players that are just the greatest that I can find to handle guitars, that way we can have an amazing live band for sure.
HB : there’s some great solos of the album, I’m sure you would be tempted –
PH : I’m tempted to go either way, because I’m sure there would be people interested in seeing me play these guitar parts live, so – I’m considering it, I’m getting there.
HB : How did you meet Matthias Lillmåns (Finntroll, …And Oceans) and what about his vocals made you choose him for Morbikon?
PH : We were looking for a vocalist at the time and we had written the vocal parts, with my writing partner Quotidius. We had written these parts, and we were looking for somebody to perform them, we had actually tried out several different vocalists, and I saw that Finntroll had released a cartoon video, and I was interested in it because I was working on my own cartoon video at the time so – I was definitely very impressed with his vocals, it was basically exactly the same way that we had recorded them for the demos, and it dawned on me I should try this guy, he’s obviously a professional, when I hit him up he got right back to me, he said he was interested, and actually he had the Tony Foresta hot sauce right in front of him!
Once he found out that Dave Witte was performing drums, he was very interested, so he got the vocals that we had written and the lyrics and performed them, and he mostly did what we had written but he also elaborated and added his own input here and there, I think he did a fantastic job with his performance on the album, and I thank him a lot – and also having his name as part of the project, helped people become interested – not someone you would expect to collaborate with members of Municipal Waste.
HB : that definitely got me – and I got drawn in by the cover art, the colours, everything –
PH : The cover art definitely turned out very well, that’s Par Olofsson who also worked with Cannabis Corpse, he’s a guy that I can trust to create epic artwork, what he delivered looks very classic to me, I was going for a very 90’s black metal aesthetic, he delivered it well, exactly the kind of vibe I was going for.
HB : What are some of the black metal bands that are related to this feeling for you?
PH : When I was a freshman in middle school I bought the Lords of Chaos book. Of course this is pre internet – in fact, I didn’t even have a computer so for me to find out about bands and stuff, it took a little more research, when I bought the book I found out about Mayhem, all these other bands, even King Diamond. A lot of bands I discovered because of that book, that would definitely be the fathers of black metal, Emperor, Immortal. Mayhem – “De Mysteriis…” had a lasting effect on me, the style of riffing, the atmospheres that are created. I’m also a big fan of Satyricon, I think they do a great job of writing catchy black metal that can hold your interest, you know I just wanted to make the music entertaining and I don’t want it to get boring at all, my main goal with my music is to keep it entertaining the entire time, keep the listener through different peaks and valleys, hopefully I’ve been able to achieve that with this album.
HB : the third song, longest one, the first time I heard it I turned it the hell up and thought ‘I could easily be in a room full of people losing their shit to this’
PH : That’s a good example of what we’re trying to achieve with Morbikon, having brutal parts and melodic big epic parts, trying to offset the two things, keep it entertaining.
HB : So when you do put together the band and go on a Morbikon tour, where do you think you’ll get a great live response?
PH : Well, I’ll say Toronto! (yeah!) and our home, and Tankcrimes Records, the company that puts out Morbikon, is an Oakland based record label so I bet we’ll have a good reaction there as well.
HB : Awesome! Phil thank you so much –