DATE OF INTERVIEW:
14th March 2010
METAL DISCOVERY: I guess this would be more a question for Tom but you’ve always incorporated a lot of jazz parts in your music - does that derive from influences in the metal genre with bands like Cynic and Atheist, or does it root back to stuff like John McLaughlin who originally pioneered the jazz/rock fusion sound?
JULIE KISS: Well, to be honest, Tom has a really wide range of influences in terms of bands. He actually studied jazz guitar for a year, and he likes bands like Pat Metheny Group and…christ…I’m trying to think of some jazz guitar players…[laughs]…but, basically, he loves jazz and, when he writes, he likes to write whatever is on his mind, whatever feelings are coming through. Sometimes, and obviously, his influences are going to come through this way, and it just comes naturally for him to play jazz after really heavy riffs. So it’s just how it happens with us.
(Julie Kiss on To-Mera's sporadic misfortune)
"...we’ve decided this is the To-Mera curse! The curse of choosing an ancient Egyptian name for our band!"
Julie Kiss in The World's End pub, Camden, London, UK, 14th March 2010
Photograph copyright © 2010 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
Interview & Photography by Mark Holmes
Official To-Mera Website:
Official To-Mera MySpace:
Albums & EPs
Earthbound EP (2009)
MD: Do you regard To-Mera as primarily a metal band or a band of disparate music with some metal influences?
JK: I think we’ve always thought of ourselves as a metal band. Yeah, definitely. I think you just have to in this genre to survive. You have to have the metal spirit! [laughs] We don’t confine ourselves to metal but, I think, if we had to say that we were metal then I would say yes, we are, but we just like to have a very open minded approach to it.
MD: Of course. I think…was it three years ago you played Headway in Holland?
MD: Yeah, I reviewed that and I think yourself or Tom admitted it wasn’t your best show.
JK: It was horrible! I still think about that gig and I just….ughhh!
MD: That’s probably why you just shuddered when I mentioned Headway!
JK: Yes! [laughs]
MD: You seemed to have a period of bad luck around that time where you had the Within Temptation fiasco of them soundchecking backstage at a festival while you played and at the big Dream Theatre gig I heard you had some sound problems. You seemed to have a run of bad gigs…
JK: I know, we’ve decided this is the To-Mera curse! The curse of choosing an ancient Egyptian name for our band! [laughs] This is what we get!
MD: Do you still get lots of bad luck these days? Well, like tonight!
JK: Yeah, exactly. In Europe, we’ve done some really fun gigs and pretty much since the gigs you’ve just mentioned we’ve done some really good gigs. We’ve toured down in Spain with Ebony Ark which was really lovely; we really enjoyed ourselves. The sound was great, people were great. The way they treat musicians is so different. We’ve played in Holland since, as well, with Stream of Passion.
MD: Where was that in Holland?
JK: It was in Maastricht. It was a really good gig as well, we really enjoyed ourselves. Where else? We’ve played in France - again, really enjoyable gig.
MD: It says in one of your MySpace blogs that you’re trying to arrange some dates in mainland Europe for this summer and I think you hint at some dates in the States as well. Any progress in booking those?
JK: Yeah, the European dates are coming along. We’re probably going back to France again, potentially Holland or Belgium, and as for going over to the US…actually, it was a Mexican gig, a festival. Again, we just seem to have really bad luck with overseas festivals.
MD: So don’t go! Don’t play any more festivals!
MD: That’s bad advice, isn’t it?! You’ve had some pretty cool support slots over the years - Pain of Salvation, Emperor, Dream Theater. Hypothetically, what would be your ideal support slot if you could support any band?
JK: I think we’ve done it.
MD: Transatlantic are here in May - could you not get Mike Portnoy to put in a good word with the promoter?!
JK: [laughs] I don’t think they’re going to have a support band. I think they’re just going to play a really long show. We’re gonna be there though. For us, I think the biggest thing was first, of course, Dream Theatre; second, Pain of Salvation was a dream come true. Very good!
MD: If you could choose to collaborate with any musician or band, who would it be and why?
JK: Collaborate with…hmmm…I’ve been asked this question once before and I always find it really difficult because I just love working with Tom and the guys so much. I don’t think too much who else I’d like to work with. I guess, again, you could say Daniel Gildenlöw from Pain of Salvation, but I don’t think I have to explain that one! [laughs]
MD: No, not at all. A musical genius.
JK: Yeah, he is a genius.
MD: He is. Apart from ProgPower 2005 in Holland when they headlined the festival and came on two hours late. Everyone was so knackered! They couldn’t get the projections to synch with the click track.
JK: He’s a perfectionist so if it’s not right then he’s not having it.
MD: No, but they didn’t bother sound checking over that two hour delay so when they came on there was no sound through the monitors, his vocals were out of tune, etc. It was good in the end though.
JK: Exactly, this is it. Bad sound can just destroy a band, and that is what I find so absolutely frustrating. We just seem to have such bad luck so many times. When we have perfect sound, and a good monitor guy, and good sound man, and good venue, and good equipment, we just come off stage and think that was worth it; that was worth coming here, and travelling here for, and doing this business for. But the bad gigs…they just destroy me.
MD: If it’s any consolation, then tonight was better than Headway! Did you think it was better?
JK: Probably better than Headway, for the simple reason that we’re all better musicians than we were back then. We have some different musicians as well.
MD: You seemed a lot more together as a band too.
JK: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. The band is completely different than it was back at Headway. I think we’re all progressing individually as well. I think you will have to come to a few other shows so you can witness us at our best! [laughs]
MD: Finally, for anybody reading this who hasn’t bothered checking out To-Mera before, what closing words would you like to say to make them run out and buy all your albums and go to all your gigs? Kind of like a selling point for your band. You’ve just dissed your band for the last half an hour saying about your bad sounds and whatever, so…!
JK: [laughs] Yes, sometimes we have a really good sound, and then we are amazing! [laughs] Well, I think it’s certainly the kind of band…you certainly have to be the kind of listener who doesn’t like being bored and likes being challenged. If you do, you can go and check us out! [laughs]
MD: Okay, that’s a cool answer. That’s about it, so thank you very much indeed.
JK: Thank you.