Being a huge fan of the Australian scene I keep on my quest interviewing many Aussy bands. This time we'll deal with one of the most famous from the 80's, as they unleashed one of the most impressive Thrash Metal release in 1987, "Mayhemic Destruction". This band is MORTAL SIN and their first album was reviewed as the next competitor to Metallica in the European Metal press. In 2006, I was at Wacken and saw that those Australian dudes would play under the Wet Tent. So, I packed my beers in my denim jacket ran in this awful tent and went to the front line. When the band entered the scene they simply blown me away. Fuck, I felt like travelling back in the 80's, their songs were so powerful, so ripping. I bands my head til the end. After the show I said to myself "fuck I need them in Franang". So, here we are, read on answers from Mat (Vocals)
MORTAL SIN was born in 1985. How did the band members meet ? At the beginning, were you only playing for your dedication to Metal or did you have already a goal in mind ?
Back in 1985, of course we had been listening to lots of Metal from overseas and when Thrash Metal started coming out, we all felt that this was the style of music we had been waiting for. It was just a matter of getting some musicians together so we could form our own band, so we could play this style of music too.

I think drummer Wayne Campbell previously played in a band called Wizzard, what was the style of this band and was there any release under this name ?

Wizzard were playing Iron Maiden style of music, which was heavy and cool, but when I went along to audition they didn’t like my growly voice – that’s why we decided to form our own band and took the guitarist (Keith Krstin) from Wizzard as well to form Mortal Sin.

MORTAL SIN and Hobb’s Angel Of Death are often mentioned as the first Australian Thrash Metal bands. What are your feelings been considered as pioneers ? Were there other interesting Thrash Metal bands in the Australian underground back then ?
Back in 1985 there were no other Thrash bands in Australia. Once we had started playing by early 1986, there were several bands who had got started after us like Slaughterlord, Death Mission, Tyrus (Peter Hobb’s first band), Addictive and several others

You recorded a demo in ’86 that became you first LP in ’87. Why did you take this decision ? Financially, it seems you financially fear releasing a self-financed album… Did the first printing sell quickly ?
Well our first decision was to go and record our songs as a demo so we could send the demo overseas to hopefully get a record contract, but when we finished recording the songs we thought they sounded really cool and then we thought we would just go out and make our own record instead. We thought that being so far away in Australia we probably wouldn’t have much chance of getting some European or American labels interested in us because they might not have even know about the Thrash scene here. So after we got the record made we sent hundreds of copies to all the underground magazines and some record stores in the United Kingdom, in the hope that someone might take some notice of MORTAL SIN. We printed up 2000 records in the first printing and they sold within about a month. Then we printed up another 2000 records and they sold straight away. It was this time that Phonogram in the UK called us and said they wanted to sign us, and they bought the whole next pressing of 2000 records to release over in the UK while we waited for them to re-release it.

How did you get in touch with Vertigo that re-released the "Mayhemic Destruction" LP ? How many albums was the deal ? Do you think they did a good promotional job, have you any figures about sales ?
We sent one of our records over to Shades Record shop in London because we always saw their ads in Kerrang and Metal Forces magazines. The day the record arrived the staff put the record on in the shop to have a listen. They liked what they heard, and somehow a record label guy from Phonogram records was in the shop and heard the album. He asked was it the new Metallica album !!, and the staff said that it was a new band from Australia called MORTAL SIN. Next thing we knew we got a call from London and found out Phonogram Records wanted to sign us. At first we felt they did a good promotion job, but we really wanted to play in Europe and the record company said it was too early to play in Europe yet, which disappointed us. I think the record sales for both albums was around the 350,000 to 400,000 mark
"Mayhemic Destruction" is considered as a classic Thrash Metal album. Are you proud of that achievement ? I saw some reviews comparing it to early Slayer material…
Of course we are proud ! We love playing songs off the album live, and every fan demands that we play "Mayhemic Destruction" and "Lebanon" when we play. The album often gets rated amongst some of the greatest albums of Thrash ever made which is pretty fucking cool.

In spite of being a very good band playing a solid Thrash, MORTAL SIN suffered from an unstable line-up. What were the reasons ? Do you think you could have gone further with a better line up ?
We have always had good line ups in the band but the problem is always pressure or personalities amongst the band. Most people join a band because they think it’s a great way to pick up girls and get into drugs. MORTAL SIN wanted success and there was a lot of pressure right from the start when all the press was saying we were gonna be the next Metallica or whatever. We set a high standard and sometimes the musicians cracked under the pressure. Keith was the first to go in 1987 when he kept fucking up songs at a show at Selinas in Sydney. He was a great musician but got very nervous at shows and he got the sack after that show and we got Mick Burke from Slaughterlord. Wayne was next to go in 1989 when he was having a lot of personal problems and we felt it was best for MORTAL SIN if we let him go. Steve Hughes from Slaughterlord took his place. Straight away Steve was causing some problems in the band and there were some fights among the band when we played our first tour in Europe in 1990, and this is was caused me to leave the band when we got back to Australia that year. Most bands will tell you that trying to keep a stable line up and having a great bunch of guys who all have the same passion for the band is the most difficult thing for a band. Having five people in the band who all want to make something out of the music is important. We can always say we have a great line up and a great bunch of guys in the band, but it only takes one thing to change the happiness in the band. A lot of bands struggle and when this happens it becomes very tough for everyone. If you have family or girlfriends and you go on the road for a long time and sometimes people can’t cope with being away, the pressure starts, and unless you can deal with it, the harmony will suffer. The line ups that we have had probably would not have made any difference of whether we could have made it bigger or not, the success of a band depends a lot on the record company, management, agents and the songs that you make, just as much as the harmony within.

In ’89, you recorded your second LP "Face Of Despair". Was the response as good as "Mayhemic Destruction" ?
You know a lot of people love this album more today then when it first came out ! I think that’s a good thing, because maybe people didn’t understand it back in 1989. I personally feel it was a better album then "Mayhemic Destruction", but the two albums were so different that it’s hard to compare the two. "Mayhemic Destruction" was raw in production and "Face of Despair" was very polished. There were more layers to "Face of Despair" which might take the listener time to hear, whereas "Mayhemic Destruction" hits you straight away with catchy songs.

You opened for METALLICA during their Australian tour for "And Justice For All". which bands did you play with for the European and American tours ? What are your memories of these gigs ? How was the relationship between both bands ? James Newsted had just joined Metallica back then, did you feel he was really part of the band as he took place of Cliff Burton ?
The Metallica tour is one of legend in Australia. People still talk about that tour like it was yesterday ! We had a great time on tour with them and we got on really well with the band. I met up with Kirk back in 2005 when Metallica came back to Australia for the Big Day Out Festival and he said he loved it in Australia and has fond memories of the first tour here. When we played Europe the first time we played with Testament. One week after that we played with Faith No More in the UK, and then we went over to America to play about 6 shows. Biohazard was one of the bands we played with over there, but mostly we played our own showcase shows. I can’t really answer the question about Jason Newstead from his point of view, but I can tell you that when Metallica came back to Australia in 1993, myself and Wayne Campbell and a few mates hooked up with Jason in the Garden of the hotel they were staying at and we partied til about 10am in the morning, singing songs and playing guitar, which was really cool. Jason was an awesome dude !

You left Thrash Metal for traditional Heavy Metal with ’91 third LP "Every Dog Has Its Day". Why did you do this change ? By the way could you explain this strange cover, it's like dog ripping a Metal album cover or so ?
I had left the band before this, so I can’t really answer this question, but I guess it might have had something to do with the style of the new singer Steve Sly and the new musicians.

A few months after the release of the LP, the band broke up. What disappointed you to the point you ended the band ?
I left the band as soon as we got back from Europe in 1990. I was upset over the way Steve Hughes had treated me and my wife while we were on tour, and how he was trying to take over everything. The musical direction was not going the way I wanted it to, but you gotta remember that 1991 & 1992 was the era when Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Chili Peppers, Nirvana and all that type of music pretty much took over everything, so Thrash was not the flavour of the month anymore.

MORTAL SIN did a first return in 1996 with an EP, but it seems it wasn’t as successful as you expected and the band made a second sleeping… Was it hard at this time ?
Realistically "Revolution of the Mind" was recorded just so we could have some product out while we were waiting to write some new songs. We put two new songs on the album along with some never before released stuff. It was taking the band quite some time to come up with some new material as we had two completely new guitarists in the band. As any band would understand, having to replace both guitarists can completely change your identity, so we had to be careful on how we wrote any new songs. Unfortunately for MORTAL SIN, the new line up was not gelling well when it came to writing songs, although the live show was always excellent. In 1996, MORTAL SIN found it difficult to drum up any interest in what we had recorded, so we took some time out.

You returned with a second EP in 2004 and this time, it seems MORTAL SIN is here to stay. Do you think that it is the end of hard times ? How was the feed back for the ep ?
Ha Ha, I think it will always be hard times for MORTAL SIN ! I have personally felt that MORTAL SIN has always had something great to offer, we continue to write some great music, and our live show is always energetic and electric. What we need now is a little help from a record company and some management who can drive the wheel for a while so we can just concentrate on what we do best – playing live.

Recently you played all the "Mayhemic Destruction" album on stage. How were the shows ? Didn't you a plan releasing a live DVD ?
We played one show in February where we did the complete "Mayhemic Destruction" album from start to finish, and yes we had planned to record it for a DVD, however, the audio got damaged and was not able to be recovered, so we had to postpone the idea. We hope to do the show again sometime soon and re-record it for a DVD release next year. A lot of people who watched the show said it was an amazing experience to hear all the songs together for the first time.

I've to congratulate you for the show you did under the Wet Tent at Wacken this year (2006), I was on the front line and you blew me away. Your Metal was so fucking powerful that I felt like returning in the 80's, but how was Wacken from your side ? Which bands did you enjoy ?
Wacken was a dream come true for MORTAL SIN. We had split up before the very first Wacken in 1990, so it has taken us 17 years to finally make it to Wacken and I’m sure as you would agree we made it worthwhile ! All the reviews we have read have been fantastic and we played an excellent show. The response from the fans was incredible. We enjoyed the whole week we were there and it was a great Metal atmosphere. We have told everyone in Australia that they must visit Wacken at least once in their lifetime as it really is an amazing experience !

Can you speak about the future comeback album ?
We are just about to start recording the album now – by the time you read this we will probably be finished recording. As yet we are undecided about the name but all that will be decided shortly. The tracks we will be recording are: "Out of the Darkness", "Before the Bough Breaks", "Tears of Redemption (Lebanon Part Two)", "Say Your Prayers", "Eye in the Sky", "Rise or Fall", "Deadman Walking", "Lost Within" and "Broken Promises".

You called your band MORTAL SIN, but what is this famous sin which brings death ?
Back in 1985, all the names of the bands we had heard of were all so heavy – Metallica, Anthrax, Megadeth, Death Angel etc…., so we wanted a name that was gonna sound just as heavy. MORTAL SIN sounded great to us and we felt it was a name that would stand proud along with all the thrash bands of 1985.

I was wondering if you were into AC/DC and Rose Tattoo in the early 80's because I read an int' with Dave Evans and he sates the Aussy scene was extremely huge in the 70's…
The first show I ever saw when I was 14 was AC/DC and Rose tattoo in the mid 70’s, and after that I was SOLD ! We had a great scene over here back then and also through the 1980’s in Australia. The 1990’s was not so great because a lot of venues shut down because of poker machines and fire restrictions.

What is you view now on the Australian Metal scene ? I fucking love it now and I think that combos such as Atomizer, D666, Gospel Of The Horns, Razor Of Occam brought the 80's feeling in a modern way, do you agree ?
I think the Australian scene is very healthy now. Australian bands are not scared to pack their bags and head off overseas to play shows. Even though we are still a million miles away (it’s a 24hr flight to Europe), I think the combination of lots of touring bands coming to Australia and lots of Aussie bands touring in Europe and America, I think we finally have lots of people taking notice. It would be great to have a bunch of Australian bands touring together on the same show in Europe to let everyone know who good our scene is getting !

Thanks for answering the questions… The last words are yours…
Thanks fellas, hope you enjoyed the interview, hopefully we’ll be back in Europe playing some more shows after we finish the album, early 2007 !


Franang zine 10/10/06