DATE OF INTERVIEW:
6th August 2015
ART LIBOON; DANNY WHITE
METAL DISCOVERY: I gather all your old releases have been remastered for reissue at some point…
ART: Yeah, ‘In This Life’ has… [Art shouts across the room to Danny White]… Dan, you wanna answer that question?
(Danny White on his elation at the success of Mordred's reunion)
"All of it has been pretty much icing for me. I had no idea any of this was gonna happen."
Art Liboon and Danny White backstage at the Academy 3 in Manchester, UK, 6th August 2015
Photograph copyright © 2015 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
Interview & Photography by Mark Holmes
Official Mordred Facebook:
Fool's Game (1989)
Albums & EPs
Official Mordred Twitter:
In This Life (1991)
Thanks to Judith Fisher for arranging the interview and to the band's tour manager, Amy Rainbow, for sorting stuff on the day.
The Next Room (1994)
Official Mordred Website:
[Danny wanders over and sits down next to Art]
ART: This is the man who took care of it all.
MD: So you’ve remastered some of the old Mordred material for reissue?
DANNY: Yeah, we did, we have some of them here for sale, but just a limited amount. We’ve got some things that are kind of happening behind the scenes right now, but I don’t think I could probably talk about it. It’s kind of exciting but I don’t want to mojo it.
MD: Do you have copies of the old stuff available on the merch stand tonight then?
DANNY: Yeah, ‘In This Life’ remastered… it should be at the merch stand.
MD: How much better does it sound than the original, then?
DANNY: Five times, or something like that.
MD: Right, I’m going to pick up a copy then!
MD: Where do you stand on rights, out of interest? Didn’t UMG acquire the entire Noise Records back catalogue a few years ago?
DANNY: Right, so it’s changed hands so many times, it was tough for me to keep track when I was trying to get back in touch with them. It started with Noise, then it went to Sanctuary, then it got sold to Universal, and then BMG… and, now, something is happening right now that…
MD: …that you can’t talk about!
MD: Are you planning to reissue everything you previously released?
DANNY: That would be great.
MD: Your old albums seem to change hands for a lot of money on eBay and sites like that…
ART: I don’t see that. [To Danny] Do you see stuff like that?
DANNY: I see stuff like that.
MD: Do you see that as a massive compliment that people are willing to pay so much, or do you begrudge the fact that people are having to pay a lot of money?
ART: That people are paying that much or people charging that much?! [Laughs]
MD: Well, people are charging that much because people are willing to pay it. Things are only worth what people are willing to pay for them, I guess.
ART: That’s true.
DANNY: It’s quite surprising.
MD: But people can turn up to a Mordred show now and get a remastered version cheaper!
DANNY: For the time being.
MD: Unless people prefer the old sound.
DANNY: Well, yeah, sure, sure. Although it sounds markedly improved to my ears.
MD: Many people regard ‘In This Life’ as your masterwork, but I’ve always held ‘Vision’ in higher regard. What do you regard as your best work all these years on?
ART: I like the diversity of ‘In This Life’. I think that was probably more popular because it was really the first thing where we showed that we were breaking through a few genres, rather than what was on ‘Fool’s Game’. ‘Vision’ was definitely, for me, a smooth change from that into more experimentation.
DANNY: I like the production value on ‘Vision’, it’s better to my ears. But I agree with him. I think that most of the ground-breaking stuff happened on ‘In This Life’, we were just further exploring that on ‘Vision’.
MD: So you think that people are right to regard ‘In This Life’ as your seminal album?
DANNY: Yeah, in terms of what wasn’t happening at the time and that kind of like being a new thing. And, yeah, from that respect.
MD: An old interview I read with Gannon from 2009, he said that Scott left after ‘Vision’ due to a difference of opinion in musical direction between the music the band wanted to make and what Noise Records expected from Mordred after you’d sent them some demos, and Scott didn’t want to compromise in any small way. Is that why he left?
DANNY: That was part of it. It was just an irreconcilable differences thing for a while. It was just like, I don’t know… a marriage! [Laughs]
MD: Do you have any regrets, looking back now?
DANNY: No, everything happens for a reason.
ART: He didn’t want to do what we wanted to do, and we wanted to do what we wanted to do! [Laughs]
DANNY: And, for me, we were young and, when you’re younger, you’re maybe a little more bullheaded about your way of doing things. I think we’re all a little bit more into listening to each other now and being a little more open and communicating.
MD: Older and wiser!
DANNY: Hopefully a little more wiser, yeah!
MD: I still really like ‘The Next Room’…
DANNY: Me too.
MD: I think it holds its own today…
DANNY: There’s some good stuff on there.
ART: That was right at the time when Noise Records also became Modern Music or something like that, then it was sold off and it ended. They didn’t have a great deal of budget. They pulled the rug on one of our tours; the one tour we had for that record. And, so, we couldn’t really sustain at all at that point, so that was our death.
MD: Have you considered including any tracks from ‘The Next Room’ in your live sets, or will that never happen because Scott wasn’t on that record?
ART: We’re doing a version of ‘Crash’, but we’re doing the version we used to play with Scott when he was in the band, partially recording that record.
MD: How did you go about choosing a setlist when you toured last year; were there certain favourite tracks amongst band members that you wanted to include, and songs you thought you had to play as well?
DANNY: I don’t know, it kind of just came together. We pretty much just hashed it out and figured these were the songs we wanted to do, and just went through all of them and somebody was like, “oh, I don’t wanna play that anymore, I can’t do it”… we were a little quicker to defer to people’s wishes this time around and compromise a little bit.
MD: I saw some setlists online from last year and ‘West County Hospital’ wasn’t in there but I gather you’re playing that now?
DANNY: Yeah, people were asking for it so we decided to put it back in. Scotty was up for it because that’s his baby.
MD: Oh yeah, a very personal song for him.
ART: For me, personally, when we played that song before, live, it seemed so much like we were going through the motions of copying the record but, now, when we’ve been playing it at practice and playing together as a band, we seem to be nailing it the way that we want to nail it, as opposed to playing the song for the sake of just playing it. We’re playing it for real now.
MD: Revisiting all the old Mordred stuff, have your songs held any surprises for you… maybe in terms of how you used to play something, and how you’d want to play it now, as I’m guessing you’ve developed as musicians over the last two decades?
DANNY: Playing-wise, muscle memory, man. It all just came back to me. I’m pretty much playing it the same way I was then. Yeah, I’m not thinking of any new ways to do stuff. I’m gonna save that for the new material.
MD: How about you, with your bass?
ART: I think I’ve developed some new techniques to play stuff that I wasn’t able to play before as tightly, but that’s only a few parts; everything else I play the same.
MD: Has the reunion lived up to your expectations so far, and do you feel the same passion and buzz onstage now as when you originally played all the material live?
DANNY: All of it has been pretty much icing for me. I had no idea any of this was gonna happen. I went out to California with a buddy of mine to go hang out and play with some guys I knew from high school, and then we just ended up jamming and then, all of a sudden, it just started happening. So, anything that happens at this point is icing for me.
MD: [To Art] How about yourself?
ART: Yeah, it’s been great to play with the guys again and hear the sound I haven’t heard loud; I like to hear music in our practice room. Fantastic.
MD: My final question then, what does the future hold for Mordred? Are you back for the long haul or just taking it year by year at the moment?
ART: Writing! We’re writing and we’re gonna see how it goes. We have a bunch of material that you’ll probably hear tonight. And, if we’re successful at keeping the Mordred mandate happening, which we probably will be…
DANNY: I’m feeling like I’m moving back…
MD: So it feels like a more permanent thing...
DANNY: Yeah, I’m feeling like it’s probably needed to move back to Cali.
MD: Lovely. Well, thank you so much for your time, appreciated.
ART: Yeah, thank you.
DANNY: Thank you.