After a little bit of phone pong, Terror Australis finally catches up with longtime Mortal Sin bassist Andy Eftichiou ahead of the bands upcoming show in Canberra in a couple of weeks.
He's an excited bassist too, as the band is just about to release a new album – its sixth full lengther, the eagerly awaited 'Psychology Of Death' - just about a week after the Canberra show (it comes out on September 23rd to be precise).
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Given that the band is over a quarter of a century old, isn't he getting a bit long in the tooth for pre-album excitement?
"Never. It's a piece of art, like any other, you know? When you work to create something, when you take time over it – and this one has taken some time, nearly a year – then of course you are excited to get it out, and to hear what people think of it."
You've been involved in Mortal Sin since the band's inception. Where would you place this new album in the band's canon? Is it a thrash Metal record, or perhaps something a little more progressive?
"Well, we've gone back to our roots I think. I know a lot of bands say that, but I really think we have. It's a thrash Metal record. Why would we not want to make music like that?"
Why indeed. Is the new material going down well live?
"We've been playing a couple of songs at shows in the last few months, and people seem to be liking them. We started to introduce them when we supported Overkill in Australia last year."
So you'll be working a few into the Canberra show?
"Oh yes, probably about four new songs in Canberra. But you play it by ear. Sometimes you get the feeling a crowd just wants to hear older stuff... but yes I think we'll play around four new songs at the Canberra show."
Of course it's understandable that the fans want to hear some old numbers – the bands 1985 debut, 'Mayhemic Destruction', is something of a thrash Metal classic, and they've added some marvelously solid old school thrash to their repertoire in the intervening twenty five years, but it's very important for the Mortal Sin to keep creating new material.
Given that you've already said the intention with 'Psychology Of Death' was to go back to the sound of the mid eighties, how hard was it for the band as it is now (only vocalist Mat Maurer and Eftichiou remain from 'the old days') to write in that style?
"Well, you are right in some ways but this line up, apart from one guitarist who joined last year, is the longest running lineup we've had. The guys know what me and Mat do, so not too hard."
But that 'one guitarist', Ryan Huthnance, wasn't even born when 'Mayhemic Destruction' was released! Surely that presented a few stylistic problems?
"Ha ha! You're so right. When we were looking for guitarists at first we thought well, we'll be wanting a guy over thirty, an old thrasher, you know? And he came in, he was nineteen at the time. We didn't think we would even give him an audition. He asked us to give him a chance, so we did, and he was a fantastic player!"
And now the young pup is churning out the retro riffage like an old pro?
"Yeah, he is. He really is."
And he'll get a chance to really learn from some old masters when the band heads over to Europe later in the year. You really seem to have landed on your feet getting on the Thrash Fest Classics package tour?
"Well, it took a lot of negotiating! When we actually signed a deal over in Germany (the album will be handled in Europe by Noiseart Records) it turned out that our record label were the booking agents for the tour, a real one stop shop. Finally they said do you want to do the tour? Of course we said yes!"
Of course they said yes. The tour, which slogs through Europe for a solid month in the depths of the Northern winter, sees Mortal Sin joining such metal luminaries as Sepultura, Exodus, Destruction and Heathen on what must surely be one of the bills of the year?
"It's fantastic. Twenty four dates without a day off, so you need to control your drinking!"
I bet Mat is pleased?
"Ha! Yes. My only regret about it is that there are no dates in England. We want to get back to England."
It's quite a long tour isn't it? Most tours don't last a whole month these days.
"It is. I think the biggest run of shows we've ever done was when we supported Overkill in Europe, but that was only fourteen shows."
The world now, as we often say in the pages of Terror Australis, is truly a global village. Any fool can set himself up on MySpace or Facebook and bring his music to the masses. Just how hard was it to get Mayhemic Destruction to the masses worldwide in 1985?
"I often think about that, and sometimes I think we were just lucky, you know? We recorded a demo in three days, and we just thought fuck it, let's get this out there. So we just posted loads of tapes out, and one of those went to (legendary fanzine) Metal Forces. The editor there was a guy called Bernard Doe. He passed it on to a few people, one of whom worked at Phonogram records, who suggested they put the album out."
I remember viewing you as something of a novelty back then. As a young English thrasher most of the stuff I was listening to was American or German, with the odd British thrash outfit like Onslaught for variety. You really were exotic.
"Ha ha, I guess they worked a bit of a Crocodile Dundee there."
At least your record wasn't vacuum sealed in fake vomit, like the Vio-Lence album!
So after all this time there's no end in sight to the Mortal Sin story? Surely you must have felt like jacking it in every now and then?
"No. Never. Not even in the dark days. Music is a passion. You don't just throw that away."
So one or two more MS albums still to come?
"I hope so. We've already started writing new songs. After the Canberra show we have that month of shows in Europe and then its Christmas. The time goes quickly. We already have festivals lined up in Europe next (Northern) Summer, and then I hope we'll be able to sit down and think about a new album."