Nov 012002
 
Mentallo and the Fixer

Mentallo and the FixerChain D.L.K.: What, besides the obvious religious influence, inspired "Vengeance is Mine"? And how would you rate your progress in style since "Love is the Law" and "Alghorythm?"
MatF: Well how have I progressed, hmmmm well I always have the attitude that I will compose with whatever I have at the given time, I only compose when I feel the urge, even if its done on a cheesy keyboard or even an acoustic guitar. And just to let people know that the change in direction right after “Burnt Beyond Recognition” was due to me not having my studio set up, better yet being, in lack of some equipment and various other factors. I felt I needed to do something that compared production wise to Burnt Beyond Recognition- I was missing a lot because Dwayne and I split up the equipment and at that time I was really going through a lot mentally, my sisters suicide which really ate at me for a long time- I had a hard time forgiving myself for that one because I blamed myself for it on so many levels- it was really messed up because it happened about a week after Dwayne and I came home half way through one of our tours, the one which was cancelled mid way through, which was really screwed up.
I find it quite odd because, really we have always had religious connotations in our songs, whether it is the art or in the music, prior to Burnt Beyond Recognition, most of the religious connotations were sheer sarcasm to Dwayne and myself, or we just thought the references sounded cool. But as most people now know I went through some sort of convergence, which was a small part in Dwayne & I splitting up. Dwayne did not really like the idea of my references swaying in the opposite direction from before, as I’m sure some fans did not like it either, but I never blatantly have come out and told anyone how to live their lives. It’s really hard to write about dismal situations when it starts to affect you firsthand. It does not take a genius to know the world is going to shit in so many ways, and rather than letting it get the best of me and letting all of it consume me, I found that I had to look for something brighter-
I recall on several occasions where whether it be critics or fans, our music seemed apocalyptic or had an end of the world attitude behind it, but that there was always this glimmer of hope within the lining of the song, mostly expressed through the music.
To me “Algorythum” was like a live jam session, something I had always wanted to do, not necessarily for Mentallo, but because of the circumstances I decided to make it a Mentallo release- There was little sequencing involved due to the fact that I did not even have a functioning computer at the time, this is the big drawback to being an electronic musician, you depend on technology to a great extent. This is when I really decided to start playing live a lot more.
And Well “Love Is The Law” was me not wanting to repeat a live jam session again so I did most of that pretty much on a cheap laptop and added some live elements, but I really was in a stressful situation and I really felt rushed and well I did not even recieve an advance from my record company so without money being fronted to me for a recording project it really suffered but that’s the way the cards feel, I have no regrets because there are moments that are personal to me there, but I experimented a lot and got a little neurotic, hell I remember a friend and I listed to the final master and laughed because it was way out there, really we were laughing hysterically. I remember my record company said it would kill my career as a musician and I’m thinking "what career my wife supports me, you do’ not. Hell, I’ve already managed to get into Keyboard magazine 3 times, that was the highlight for me. Funny thing is Jim Aikin editor in chief at Keynoard thought our Return to Grimpen ward was sonically better than Jennifer Lopez’s album and she recorded that in a multi million-dollar studio, we recorded ours in a bedroom haha.
When someone tells me they enjoy my music, I’m still in awe. It does not stroke my ego, it just makes me feel that someone has related to something I have created and made it his or her own.
Mentallo and the Fixer liveChain D.L.K.: Is Mainesthai still a project or has it faded away over the last few years?
MatF: Sad to say Mainesthai has seemed to have faded away, Mike the vocalist was practically on every tour we ever did though, he was a live keyboardist as well, and it also gave me a break vocally during our performance when we did Mainesthai songs live which was most of the time- We had always planned to do another release, its just that things seemed to get in the way of things, Mike was moving around a lot, he lives a very fast life style, he moved to the Virgin Islands for a while, then to New York City, then to LA and that definitely put a dent in things, then he recently moved back to Austin, but I was in the middle of working on new Mentallo material and other things. Mike and I talk a lot. He just moved back to Manhattan. I was hoping he could perform at the encore show here in Austin, but due to circumstances that is out of the question. Dwayne & I played a couple of Mainesthai tracks in Dallas, so I put vocals on them.
Chain D.L.K.: How did the side project Shimri come to life, and what inspired it?
MatF: Well I am always working on music when I feel inspired, and I can not let that kind of time escape me, because I would then be wasting valuable inspiration but as for the Shimri project, well that was all about learning new software actually- It was more about sonics than expression. It was about creating a pallet of sounds and rhythms. Soundscapes in essence. I was in an up mood when creating most of the material. It was not about creating anything dark or negative. It does definitely have its aggro moments but it is on a different level. It’s more about movement and structure as well. I was never to keen on structure, which was always Dwayne’s thing. So I was in essence doing things I had not always cared to put a lot of effort into. Some of my most meaningful and heartfelt songs had no apparent structure to them. Like Legion of Lepers for instance, the programming of the musical notes did not take any time, maybe an evening and then by the end of the programming I just sort of told myself, I have to capture the mood so I manually do everything even the sequencer program, flip through the various musical parts when I feel its time and that’s why some of the old songs came out so long- but I did also do many structured tracks like Battered states of Euphoria for instance. For me it almost seems easier to structure something where I do not have to put words over it. Lyrics are not my strong point. They are really something I do not look forward doing.
Mentallo and the Fixer liveChain D.L.K.: Is a new CD in progress or are you taking a break to gather yourself for the next one?
MatF: Yeah a new CD is in progress, it has been in the making for the past year, have been very meticulous about this one- I really like how it is coming out, I just told myself, that I’m not going to release it until I feel it is fully finished without feeling rushed- I want to be able to listen to it 6 months after I have finished it and say that’s exactly how I wanted it, a musician can be his own worst critic at times, there are many Mentally songs where I hear then and say I would have done something differently. So I do not want those things popping into my head when I hear it. I can tell you this much: it will be quite epic, things are coming together quite well. There is a huge thought process put into the whole spectrum of things concerning these pieces I am working on
Chain D.L.K.: For Dwayne, how does it feel to be back in the group, and how did his departure affect you artistically versus when he was in the group?
MatF: Well Dwayne is only back in the group for the live aspect and as a technician when his services are needed. Dwayne is busy with his 2 currently recording projects. One featuring Scott Berens on vocals, the name of the duo is called Reign of Roses and the act will be featured at the Austin Encore performance event this Sept 2002. I feel odd actually playing live without Dwayne onstage, Dwayne is a perfectionist when it comes to the live shows from everything down to how the sound system is wired and set up- he can be quite a dictator when it comes to that but I feel he knows what he is doing so I leave that in his hands because I know the job will be done right.
Did his departure affect the group, well yes and no, yes in the fact that we split up the equipment, and I did not fight, yeah that’s the

M&tF live!
M&tF live!
M&tF live!
M&tF live!
M&tF live!
M&tF live!

right word, fight for choice pieces of equipment. I would rather have a brother than a business arrangement, and I realize that even if I did not have any equipment I would still have my gift of composition and being an artist. I’m not saying Dwayne & I were brothers or anything but we did bicker and bitch a lot, sibling rivalry I would guess. So I would rather have a bro than deal with a grudge. Especially after everything Dwayne and I and our family have been through.
Chain D.L.K.: What is your opinion of the newer electronic music and the scene these days?
Mentallo and the FixerMatF: Hmmm I really do not have one about it for a number of reasons, I’m not here to criticize other peoples music, I’ve been on the other end and did not like what I always heard about what was being said about my music although everyone has the right to express as they feel- honestly I stopped listening to a lot of electronic music many years back- that probably started around the time of where angels fear to tread, so many years back- so I feel I really do not have the authority to judge what is coming out musically- I’ve heard some of it in passing through friends and some of what I’ve heard is really really good, its definitely not what I would call industrial, more along the lines of pop but that does not mean that it is a bad thing. Pop is just a short term for popular music- I can say this much at least from what I have gotten out of it is at least it does not seems to offer you a chock full of problems. I think that’s why the scene changed overnight in a sense, people are just getting sick of all the negative, you get more out of watching the nightly news, really watching CNN is more creepy than anything industrial that is coming out. My aspect is that even though much of the industrial music that came out in the 80’s was confrontational or even activist, it was just informing us of problems that were not always in the mainstream media and there is nothing wrong with that, information is the key, but without offering any solutions it makes things seem quite bleak- hell to me writing a song has never really changed the way the world runs, really, people usually change due to an example set before them not a song, if it were that easy to change people by a song well then. It took me a long time to realize I could not change others, I can only change myself and learn to let the negative go because it only consumes you and then to realize that the system will always be corrupt, because people are imperfect, they give in to their misgivings- but as well music can influence you to a degree, that is if you let it consume you.
Chain D.L.K.: Any words of advice?
MatF: Stay true to yourself, you can teach an old dog new tricks-if you choose to do music, do it first and foremost for the love of it, honestly because once your on a label your judgment can get clouded and you many other factors come into play. The one I hear all the time is "do another angels" where angels fear to tread that is. But that is easier said than done, at that given point in my life I felt those songs personally and I would not choose to go back to that dark place where I once was, I have moved beyond that, besides I feel I have to much integrity to do that.

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[interviewed by Shaun Hamilton proofreading by Erica Breyer] [proofreading by Erica Breyer]