Raul (Memento Mori) Interview
Memento Mori is a Spain based label/mailorder that focuses on old school Death Metal, Doom Metal and anything in between. In the past year, there have been some great releases from bands like Morbidity, Horrified, Austerymn, Disrupted and more. I spoke to label owner Raul Sampedro about how he got into metal, the metal scene in Spain and upcoming releases from his label.
How did you get into metal? What was the first metal concert you attended?
I was like 10 years old, back in 1982, and my father used to play this compilation tape (one of those “best of ” compilation tapes) on the car’s stereo. The tape featured many songs, but there were 4 of them that got stuck in my head for whatever reason: Kiss’ “Love It Loud”, AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell”, The Ramones’ “Do You Remember Rock’n’ Roll Radio?” and Status Quo’s “Whatever You Want”. That was the kickstart of my journey into Hard-Rock, Heavy Metal and Punk-Rock. Months later I started hanging about with a guy that was some 5 years older than me and it was him who’d burn lots of tapes for me, from bands such as Judas Priest, Rainbow, G.B.H., Metallica, Saxon, Manowar, Sex Pistols, Accept, Helix, Alcatrazz, Dead Kennedys, Black Sabbath, Tokyo Blade, Venom, Motörhead… The rest is history.
The first international Metal concert that I ever attended was Metallica + Metal Church, back in January 1987. Prior to that one, I had only attended shows featuring Spanish bands on the bill, such as Baron Rojo, Ñu, Sobredosis, Panzer…
Tell us how you started your label.
I had previously worked for other labels/distros in the past and I even ran a tiny label/mailorder called Acoustic Trauma Releases back in 2004-2005. But I had to fold that label/mailorder by late 2005 due to financial issues, right before moving to Finland (I lived there for almost 1 ½ years), and I guess I always wanted to restart the project whenever the odds would allow to. That happened back in 2010. Memento Mori started as a simple distro/mailorder, but soon after I felt an urge to turn it onto a label/mailorder, and put out my own releases and trade them with fellow underground labels out there. The first two Memento Mori releases (Ataraxy “Curse of the Requiem Mass” MCD and Centinex “Subconscious Lobotomy” reissue CD) saw the light of day in October 2010, and we’ve put out a total of 41 releases up to this day.
What has been your most memorable release so far and why?
Each and every Memento Mori release is like a son to me. Would a loving and unbiased father be able to point out one of his children as his favourite? All our releases are equally especial to me regardless any other consideration.
What qualities do you look for when signing a band?
I want to work with down-to-earth, humble people without any kind of rockstar attitude and an ego to feed. Other than that they also have to play the kind of stuff that I like to support through the label (Death Metal, Doom Metal, Thrash Metal and anything in between those genres) and meet a certain criteria regarding the, so to speak, “maturity” of their music. What I mean by this is, we don’t put out demos, so the band’s got to be seasoned enough as to be ready to go full-length.
Have you been part of a band? What instrument do you play?
I used to growl in a Death Metal band called Sacrophobia circa 1990-1992. Got to play live five times with them and recorded a demo titled “Only Death Is Irreversible” (Drowned Productions, 1991). Soon after leaving the band in 1992, I joined Postmortem. Thrash Metal in the Bay Area tradition was the game with them, but they wanted to give their music a more brutal edge and offered me a slot as the new vocalist. If memory serves, I only spent a couple of months with them, just practising at the rehearsal room, so no recording was made and I never got to play live with them. No more bands for me ever since.
Spain is not a country known for its metal scene. What are the Spanish bands you recommend we check out?
Well, those into classic 80’s Heavy Metal should check out the early works of Barón Rojo and Ángeles Del Infierno. Those two bands, along with Obús and Panzer, were probably the most notorious bands over here some 30 years ago. Regarding old Death Metal bands (1988-1995), I’d recommend to check out Feretrum, Suffocation / Intoxication, Obscure, Human Waste, Unbounded Terror, and also Aggressor (Thrash/Death Metal) and In Torment (Funeral Doom/Death Metal). And talking current bands, I’d recommend to check out Ataraxy, Bokluk, Graveyard, Oniricous, Banished From Inferno, Decapitated Christ, Necroven, Onirophagus, Karonte and Deprive. All of them play Death Metal. I’m sure there’s some remarkable bands into other genres, but I’m not really familiar with their music, so you guys got some homework to do.
Looking back at the past 5 years, would you change anything about your record label?
Not really. I’m quite happy with our output, the bands and people I work with, and the fans’ response. Sales and exposure could be much better, of course, but we’d need a much larger budget for promotion (not likely to happen anytime soon), or start putting out other forms of extreme -or pseudo-extreme- music that are “en vogue” these days (which is even less likely to ever happen as I’ll always stick to my own personal taste), or start doing vinyl (not really into a format that’s essentially a luxury item due to manufacturing prices and postage rates). We’ll keep struggling to survive in this trendy scene against all odds and I’ll die with my boots on if necessary.
What are your thoughts on physical format VS digital format of music? Which do you prefer and why?
I’ve never ever downloaded a single song (let alone an album), with the exception of demos and promos sent by bands for me to consider a possible signing, so make a wild guess what I think about digital music. A music album, or a book for that matter, is something that I need to touch. Simple as that. That’s why we don’t even offer downloads of our releases. I shiver in disgust at the mere thought of charging a single cent for a sheer computer file. To each his own, though. I’m just entitled to my own opinion and principles.
2014 was a great year for you with releases from bands like Morbidity, Horrified and others. What are your plans for the rest of 2015? Releases that we should look out for?
So far this year, we put out the debut full-length CD’s from Deprive, Austerymn and Disrupted, the sophomore full-length CD from Insepulto, the Transgressor reissue CD and the Misery early discography compilation CD. Coming out in a couple of weeks from today, there’s the Coffincraft debut full-length CD and a repress of the Burial reissue CD that we put out back in 2012. And then later in the year, we’ll put out the Praise The Flame, Dementia 13 and Abyssus debut full-length CD’s, and an Aldebaran compilation CD. And 2016 will also be a busy year at Memento Mori HQ’s. In fact the whole year schedule is close to be fully booked by now. I recommend all the readers to stay tuned via the website (www.memento-mori.es), the Facebook page (www.facebook.com/memento.mori.label) or even send e-mail to email@example.com and request to be added to our mailing list. Thanks for the intie. In Death, In Doom…
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