Lunatic's Serenade

Inject the Fear:
An interview with Mortal Fear

Mortal Fear first exploded onto the Canadian Metal scene in 1985. Founding members of this Toronto Metal act were Ken Munro (vocals) and Steve Turrer (guitar). The year 1987 saw the arrival of members Pete Turrer (bass) and John Currie (Drums) adding a new level of technical complexity to what would now be considered a Classic Metal sound. Influences included such acts as Judas Priest and Black Sabbath as well as Metallica and Slayer, the latter still considered to be underground at the time.

Mortal Fear have always been about writing and performing their own material, not an easy thing to do in the 80’s when cover bands were the preferred choice of entertainment by local club owners. Despite their breakup in 1989, the members of Mortal Fear soldiered on to form new bands or join others. This kept them sharp and connected to the pulse of the Metal scene.

As luck or perhaps fate would have it, Mortal Fear have reformed in recent years and their music is heavier than ever! HMS had the privilege of talking to Ken Munro about the band’s return, and what exciting prospects are in store for Mortal Fear!

HMS: Your bio mentions that Mortal Fear reformed in 2012. What was the motivation to reform the band?

Ken Munro: Yes, we started talking in late summer of 2011. Steve, Pete and drummer John were just gonna jam in Steve’s garage one Saturday afternoon and they asked me to drop in for some beers. So I jumped on my bike, headed over and listened to one of the instrumentals they had worked on and indeed it sounded pretty heavy. I jumped up on vocals to do “Folly of the Priest” which was a fairly easy tune to remember and play. After about 25 years of not playing it, it actually sounded pretty good! We continued to play it and get it a bit tighter and thought why don’t we grab a rehearsal studio in a week or so and see where we can take this. After about 4 jams, and running through about 5-6 tunes from the past, we decided to bring all the equipment and jam in my basement and get a set down. By that point, a couple months later in 2012, we said “Let’s get these tunes down on CD.” That’s basically how we got it all together.

HMS: Is the metal scene today a lot more different than it was years ago when Mortal Fear first appeared on it?

Ken Munro: I think metal itself has always been here in one form or another but, with the help of the internet, music is always available anytime and we don’t have to wait for that CD to hit the stores anymore. It’s much easier to get your music out to a wider audience now. We have contact from fans all the way from the Philippines etc. Totally awesome! The music seems to be the same.

HMS: You undoubtedly have a solid following of older metal fans that remember when Mortal Fear first hit the scene. Are you guys attracting a younger generation of metal fans too?

Ken Munro: Yeah we have our old crowd from years past that have jumped back up on the bandwagon again. In our city not a whole lot of metal being played in the clubs but it is definitely getting better and stronger. But once again absolutely the younger crowd is coming to our shows and buying the CD and shirts and actually doing a bit of cheering, which is always nice to hear. Even better when they come up, shake your hand and say to you “That was a cool show!” We get that a lot so it makes our job so much easier and enjoyable.

HMS: I know Mortal Fear lists some pretty fundamental old school metal acts as having an influence on their music, such as Sabbath, Judas Priest, early Metallica and Slayer. Have you guys picked up any new influences since you reformed, or are you still very true to your classic metal roots?

Ken Munro: Old school metal will always be our story, from the names you mentioned and even new metal bands. We don’t usually listen to any band and say “Lets make this a Sabbathy kinda song.” We just write music, put some lyrics to it, fine-tune and crank it. I’m an old school Saxon fan so that’s where my heart lies, but crank me a good SLAYER and I’m thrashin' lol!

"I think metal itself has always been here in one form or another..."

HMS: I loved your debut CD, and I’ve read you’ve got a new album in the works. I know you probably don’t want to give too much away, but what can we expect from Mortal Fear’s new material? Will it be as heavy as your previous tracks?

Ken Munro: Yeah we decided to take 3 months off from playing live to write tracks for the new album and so far we seem to be keeping the old school way. But it’s gonna be a bit harder, faster and more on the evil dark side. With my vocals it gives it that old school metal sound, case in point the one song I can mention called “Take my Soul” is evil indeed but a powerhouse killer! So looking forward to playing this one live soon. If all goes well we hope to hit the studio in the fall for a 2015 release.

HMS: Tell us a bit about the songwriting process for Mortal Fear. Are there primary songwriters in the band or do you guys just jam it out and come up with songs through a group effort?

Ken Munro: Mostly Steve (guitar) and Pete (bass) write the music at home and they bring the riffs to jam. Once we get the drums flowing how we would like, I come up with a topic, put pen to paper and just give’r hell! I must mention that our original drummer decided to leave the band just after recording the first CD. So we hooked up with our current basher Steve Scott who comes with a ton of live experience and he’s fit in rather nicely. But basically it’s guitar, bass and then my lyrics. Usually within a couple jams the new tune is playable, then comes the fine-tuning. Simple shit lol!

HMS: Dan Fila mentioned, in one of our previous interviews, that Toronto metal bands didn’t come together to promote their music the way bands in other cities have – citing the grunge movement in Seattle as an example of successful group promotion. The result was that the Toronto metal scene never really took off as much as it could have. Is it different today? Are metal bands in Toronto more united than they were back in the 80’s and 90’s?

Ken Munro: Dan hit the nail right on the head, it seemed to me back in the day it was each individual band playing for themselves and not getting together and working as a metal team (for lack of a better term). Metal has always been somewhat underground but due to the internet we can contact clubs quicker, get our music out faster and have the support of fans show up. Look at all the bands from the 80-90’s reforming and doing tours. It’s awesome! Give the new metalheads a taste of what old school metal did back then. We actually did a show Jan 4, 2014 with Varga and Toronto band Entropy. It was just a killer evening of metal! Gerry from Entropy contacted us, and Varga, to do a metal show for our area. No bullshit. No egos. Just fuckin’ metal, and there has been plenty of reviews and great comments all around. It just killed!! If ya get a chance to see Varga or Entropy then GO! You wont be disappointed. I’ll be there!

HMS: Our live show correspondent, Allan “Krazy Kanuk” Clements was at your January show at the Rockpile with Varga and Entropy. He said you guys blew the roof off of the place! Will Mortal Fear be playing any more gigs around the GTA in the near future?

Ken Munro: Yeah, got to meet Al, definitely Krazy! We went on at 9pm and just went no holds barred and killed our 40 min set, got off and drank for the rest of the evening. Varga and Entropy were fantastic and all a great bunch of guys. We would definitely share the same stage with them again. If ya missed it, you suck LOL! We have one scheduled gig for now because we’re writing, but on April 11th at The Rockpile West we have the pleasure of opening for Y&T. As for other shows, currently none booked but like I said we’re concentrating on writing for now and will see what comes up in the future.

HMS: Thanks so much Ken for taking the time to answer questions for Horror Metal Sounds!

Ken Munro: Thanks guys for checkin’ out Mortal Fear and hope to see you all on the road \m/ Cheers!

You can listen to Mortal Fear’s CD here. Read more about Mortal Fear on their website.

Richard Leggatt, HMS

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