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Misery Index Interview

A Conversation with Guitarist/Vocalist Mark Kloeppel


Misery Index Guitarist/Vocalist Mark Kloeppel

Misery Index Guitarist/Vocalist Mark Kloeppel

Season Of Mist
Updated February 17, 2013
The Baltimore death metal/grind band Misery Index have released their first live album, Live In Munich. Guitarist/vocalist Mark Kloeppel gives us the scoop on their latest release and other Misery Index related subjects.

Chad Bowar: Why was this the right time to release the first Misery Index live album?
Mark Kloeppel: Is there a right time? I don't know. It's between full-lengths, so that's a good thing. The making of this thing kind of just fell together; pretty DIY and spontaneous. I'll delve into that later.

How did you decide on the Munich show as the one to release? Did you record other shows on that tour?
We did not record any other shows. Basically, our friend Dennis at Clintworks offered to record the show for free. We get a lot of offers like this from a lot of up and coming engineers. We said yes to this one, which we typically don’t do. The show itself wasn’t our best performance, but Dennis’ capture of Pete Robertson’s mix (Cannibal Corpse, Bad Brains) came out really great. The tightness of the performance really surprised us, because, among other factors, we really couldn’t hear each other in the monitors that night. So, it was totally spontaneous…like a photograph.

That’s why it’s special, and that’s why we released it. That release is our DIY punk ethos shining through. We put it out, because we are in this position of being a fairly popular underground deathgrind band. And in the metal world, we only see super-polished, cookie-cutter, show-no-weakness-or-vulnerability, recordings that are ProTools-fixed to death. All the life is being edited out of metal recordings. So think of this as our response to that. A purely live and spontaneous recording that captures us tearing the place apart.

Did you do your usual set during the Munich show, or something different because you knew it would be an album?
It was the set we played most nights on that particular tour. As I said before, this release had no plan. It was totally spontaneous, and we love that aspect.

Any plans for a DVD release of the Munich show?
Well, since this thing was spontaneous, we didn’t really have cameras set up aside from fan footage thrown up on the internet. We do want to do a live DVD, but we really want it to be produced properly. We want to give fans the “full Monty” so-to-speak when it comes to that: proper backstage footage, interviews, band history, song meanings, multi-angle footage, and, most importantly, a full headlining set. We were support for our friends in Cannibal Corpse and Behemoth that evening, so it was a support style set.

How did you come to sign with Season Of Mist for this release?
We had already made plans with them to release the next album. However, when it comes to releases like these, we usually release it ourselves or through smaller labels; sort of to maintain a presence in the underground and give die-hards something special. We were pretty stoked about everything that went into this release, and thought it deserved some widespread distribution. So, for those reasons, and as a sign of good faith to the great folks over at Season of Mist, we gave it to them to release.

What’s the status of your next studio album?
We currently have a Dropbox full of ProTools sessions of full-songs, song ideas, intro, samples, interludes, etc. Content is not a problem. We are sorting through a lot of “out-of-the-box” ideas that will work for our sound. We have some pretty interesting riffs that our fans will be excited about. We could pretty easily write a continuation of our last record and show a very slight progression. But, we all have a lot of different influences, and wanted to broaden our sound a bit. The last record sounds very complete. We want this record to reference a grander scheme.

As far as recording, we have our options lined up. These things will be revealed as agreements and time frames are finalized.

There aren’t any tour dates listed on your website. Will you be doing any touring this year?
Yes. We will be making announcements shortly. We are currently booked for some European festivals and club shows, and we will be heading to a plethora of far-flung places. Of course, we have some exciting tours lined up to accompany the record release. Live performance will be secondary to our recording and writing schedule. We are just fitting fun events in as we complete the record.

What has been your most memorable Misery Index live show?
That’s hard to say, as there has been quite a few. One of my most memorable tours was the Steers and Beers Tour with From a Second Story Window, Cattle Decapitation, Job for a Cowboy and Animosity. During that run, we got the whole package to go camping in Idaho along the Snake River. There was beer-drinking, river swimming, campfire, just a ton of fun. People should try to schedule fun stuff like that every day on tour.

I’ve played over 800 shows with Misery Index, so it’s hard to pick just one. If I had to pull one out of a hat, I’d say it would be this show we did at With Full Force. We played very late, like 3am or something. I really expected no one to be there late. I figured people would’ve retired to beer drinking in the tent farm by then. But no, there were about 5000 people packed in the club tent…just raging. It was a really fun set. Lots of crowd surfing and energy, especially considering it had been raining a cold almost the whole fest. The sun was just peaking over the horizon at the end of our set, and I congratulated the crowd on making it to daybreak. I’ll never forget it.

What’s the craziest thing that’s happened to you on the road?
On this one particular run, we got stuck with a (crappy) bus company that has since cleaned up their act. Bus after bus was breaking down, or had no heat, or something…always something. On top of that, the company had the bus pull over twice to extort money out of us. They wanted some payment right now, instead of at the end (as is usual). At one point the fourth or fifth bus (can’t remember) broke down at a truck stop in France. The bus company said they wouldn’t come fix the bus unless we paid for the rest of tour in full, which is pure extortion.

Luckily, there was a hotel at this truck stop. So, we all got rooms, and agreed we were not giving that bus company a cent more. We had a couple rental vans delivered, packed up the tour package and gear, went to Paris, played the show, drove ourselves overnight to Trier, played that show, and met up with a bus from another company. We had set up the other bus company through our agent at the time, and Trier was as close as they could get to us. They were occupied up until that date. Between the unpaid bill, and what we paid for the vans, the tour package spent about 5000 Euros to fix the whole problem. So, it wasn’t a huge loss. But…man…was that stressful.

What’s the most unusual venue you’ve played?
We’ve played everything from basements to boats. We recently played a ferry boat with Cannibal Corpse in NYC that circles the Statue of Liberty. That was probably the weirdest gig we’ve played. We showed up to the boat at 2pm. It was 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and there was nobody there and no PA for hours. There was also no heat or backstage. The backstage was a kitchen, and the heat couldn’t turn on until the boat was running.

We had to leave the bus outside of town due to there being inadequate parking. Cannibal were not pleased at the situation. The show went really well though, and it’s pretty cool seeing Manhattan from the water as you scream in a microphone.

How did you get started in music?
I’ve always been a musical kid. We had a piano in the house growing up that I used to beat on. No formal lessons though. My friend Andy Huskey got me into metal at around 11 years old, and I was hooked. We both started playing our instruments at the same time, so we could be like our metal icons: me on guitar, and he on drums. We had a pretty successful regional band during my teenage years, and we were naturally good at song writing.

That all ended when I moved away for University. I played with different bands during college. Most notable of those bands is Cast the Stone. That band also featured Derek Engemann who now plays bass in Cattle Decapitation, and Jesse Schobel from Strong Intention. I'm still great friends with those guys. We even got Andy to do vocals on our last EP. We will probably get together and write some more music in the future.

Anyways, I was out of college for a few months when Adam Jarvis gave me the call that Misery Index needed a guitarist/vocalist. Adam and I had played in the local scene in different bands before he got the Misery gig, so we were aware of each others’ ability. I auditioned, got the gig, and my first tour ever was with Suffocation and Behemoth in the States. The rest is history.

Who were some guitarists who influenced and inspired you?
In the metal realm, I’d have to say Dan Swano, Dimebag (Diamond) Darrell Lance Abbott, Ihsahn, and James Hetfield. There are others, but these are the primary guys. I like them all for the same few reasons. They are great song and riff writers, and they’re style is distinctly individual.

What was the first metal concert you attended?
Pantera on the Far Beyond Driven Tour. It was 1995, and I was thirteen. Andy came with me and my mom drove us to the venue and attended the show with us: perfect combination of totally awesome and totally lame.

What was your first band, and what kind of music did they play?
The teenage band I talked about before was called Hostile Aggression. We played groove oriented metal. Going back and listening to it now, it sounds a lot like was has become modern hardcore with out the cookie cutter parts. Just good riffs and grooves and unique song writing. We were really good. The recording speaks for itself. We recorded a whole album live in the studio in about 8 hours…mixed and done. It still sounds great.

Do you have a day job outside the band?
Yeah, I do grant writing, editing work, web editing, social media strategy for nonprofit organizations, guitar lessons…just odds and ends. I’m good at a lot different stuff. I’m kind of all over the place.

Seen any good movies or DVDs lately?
No, man, no! My friend Jeff Grindstopher from Sick Drummer were just talking about this. Every new movie that has come out in the past five years looks like you are watching an hour long preview for a movie that never comes out; while utilizing seizure-inducing camera work to make up for the lack of plot, interesting shots, or character development. Thumbs down since the ‘80s!

What’s currently in heavy rotation on your MP3 player?
Infestdead - Jesusatan, Depresy - A Grand Magnificence, Dying Fetus - Reign Supreme, Cattle Decapitation - Monolith of Inhumanity, Fulgora, Pig Destroyer - Book Burner, Swano’s Odyssey EP, and, of course, Hank Sr.

Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
I play in an old school Sepultura cover band on the side called Clenched Fist. Also, check out Adam’s other band Fulgora and my side project Cast the Stone.

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