Like most Americans in the mid to late 90’s, we found out about most overseas bands when we bought a magazine like Rock Sound, Metal Hammer or Kerrang and got the free cd with it. Kill II This had a song called Faith Rape on a compilation and I was reading the review the journalist was comparing this band to Pantera, Fear Factory and Machine Head and going all insane about this cd called Deviate. So, I got my copy and took it out of the plastic and the second it started, I could not stop playing it. At the time I was writing for a site called Cactus Juice and I did not call this the best cd of the year like the other critics, I called this the metal bible. You could not be a metal head and not own this record. As great as this cd was, my fucking god was Trinity a monster. I have tried for years to land someone from this band to the site to talk to us. Did I see Mark Mynett being the one to talk to us? To be honest 90 percent of the interviews I land I never see coming. Did I see Mark Mynett answering these questions? Well to steal a quote from Mark, I guess this is truly the N.E.W.S. Enjoy readers…..
1. Mark, this is an honor thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us. The obvious first question would be what was the first singer, song or band to inspire you to pursuit music?
Hey James, firstly I wanted to say thank you for this opportunity to contribute to wickedchannel.com, which is a really fantastic site.
My very first experience that led me to pursuing music was at the age of 12, when my dad took me to see Thin Lizzy on the Renegade tour in 1981. To say that the gig was a religious experience is putting it mildly. I got a guitar for my 13th birthday, and it was all downhill from there! Perhaps it was due to me having never been to a proper live gig before, but I just can’t even find the words to describe what an amazing live act Thin Lizzy was.
2. Prior to Kill II This, you paid your dues in the industry. You were in bands with Danny Foxx, signed to labels like Noise. So, you sort of had a feel for the machine. China Beach, Sacrasanct and even Zianoiz, do you look back at time in your life with fondness or regret? If you could do it all over again, what would you do different?
Without a shadow of a doubt I look back at my time in the music industry with great fondness. I had some incredible, incredible times and experiences. If I could do it all over again, I would definitely have invested more time earlier on getting to understand how the music industry works. It wasn’t till later in life, in my mid-20s, that I actively read books and studied how promoters and agents and managers work, all the way through to publishing, collection societies (PRS, ASCAP etc.) independent labels and major record labels. I had been so naive previously. Strangely enough, I also read a book by an author called Dale Carnegie, called ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’…it was really valuable. That actually had a profound impact on me as it had a lot of suggestions how to deal with people from a business perspective. I also think that I would’ve taken a lot more time to work out which members I wanted to be in a band with. Over the years I made some disastrous decisions.
3. Was Kill II This born out of your frustration for both the industry and how things were going in your life?
Kill II This was born out of being inspired by the latest bands who had really taken metal to a whole new level. I mean; Machine Head’s ‘Burn my Eyes’ was just a complete shock to the system. At that time, I just wanted to do music that had the same power and impact.
4. Before we get started on the music, let’s be honest. I am a fan and fans know, there always seems to be some tension in the past lineups of this band. Everyone will draw their own conclusions. What is your conclusion? Why did it seem that every new record we had a new lineup or at least a few new members? Are you the bad guy or because this was your baby, are you the scapegoat from some unfair statements?
Yeah, no doubts about it I was the bad guy. I am quite happy to admit that, due to my dedication to the band, I did develop quite dismissive attitude towards some of the other members that were in the band. This was due to a number of reasons. I was incredibly gung-ho about the touring aspect. I didn’t care whether we would tour in the back of a transit van in winter sleeping on top of the equipment (which we did on many, many tours round Europe). When band members started whining or complaining I would be fairly pigheaded about the whole thing, ‘because, personally, I just loved it. I didn’t care about home comforts, being out on tour were exactly where I wanted to be. On reflection I really should’ve been a little more sympathetic about the other member’s feelings and attitudes towards everything.
Also, after Jeff Singer left the band, immediately following the recording of the Deviate album, I made the decision that I would get much younger members into the band with the idea that hopefully; they would be as dedicated to touring as I was. On reflection, this was quite a big mistake. The reason being that I couldn’t write music with these members – they just seem to be on a different page for me with their musical influences. For example, Ben Calvert was just the most awesome drummer, just incredible. However, we really didn’t gel well together when writing material. That meant that I had to be fairly insistent about the beats he played on the Trinity album. This was far from an ideal situation. As far as whether I am the scapegoat of some unfair statements, I guess it would depend what those statements were.
5. Mark you know people talk. Rumors get started and people air things at times. You have taken your fair share of shots. What do you think is the biggest misconception that people have of you?
That is a tough one; I am not sure what the biggest misconception is that people have of me. I am a confident person, so perhaps it is mistaking my confidence for arrogance.
6. Another Cross II Bare comes out and seems to get a little talk here and there. Then we get this monster called Deviate. Magazine critics were praising the cd, comparisons were made and you guys seemed to be the second coming. Were you personally ready for what was going on? Looking back, did you feel that maybe people were unfair to the debut that it should have been a bigger deal?
Actually no, I don’t believe that people should have made a bigger deal of the debut album at all. On reflection, the truth is that I agree with a lot of the criticism that the album received. Namely that it was too generic. It was too derivative of Machine Head and Pantera etc., and didn’t really have anything original to offer. There were some interesting elements on the album, and I think there were some great songs. But really, it was only laying the foundation, enabling the band to develop into what became ‘Deviate’.
7. Speaking of music critics and fans, let’s be fair. Not everyone will like everything. Did you read all the press your band got? Also, did the bad stuff get to you?
Yes, I definitely read all the press that was going on at the time. You have to take the good with the bad. If you are able to get enthused by great reviews, equally you have to take the bad reviews on the chin. Deviate was incredibly well received by the press. In fact I can’t remember the review getting less than 7/10 or equivalent, and actually can’t remember a single bad review (although I am sure they will be out there!). However the Trinity album was a different matter. It was actually a really hard album to make whereas Deviate was just really natural it just flowed. So there were quite a few negative reviews with Trinity particularly those that didn’t like specific songs. That’s fine, Deviate was a hard album to follow up.
8. With Deviate you go in the studio with three new musicians. Was there any pressure on you? I mean, obviously the follow up to Another Cross was a huge departure from what people got with the debut. What was your mindset at this time? Also was there tension in the studio with you working with three young relatively unknown musicians?
Actually, that is a common misconception about Deviate. Due to the album photos featuring Ben Calvert, most people assume that he drummed on the album. However Jeff Singer played on the album, who obviously was also the drummer on Another Cross to Bear. In fact Jeff is the original member who formed Kill II This with me (from the embers of China Beach). So, we had had a huge amount of time together gelling as a unit and fine-tuning the Deviate album. Caroline played on the album though. As far as Matt goes though he just slipped in to the Deviate album incredibly. I had poached him from another band called Swampdiva, and although many of the songs off Deviate had already been written when Matt joined, he really printed his influence on the vocal performance. For example his Alice in Chains influences worked perfectly on Faithrape. He was a great vocalist – great guy.
9. Earlier we talked about fans and critics, Deviate got you huge word of mouth from the magazines. Why do you think that did not translate into bigger sales? Did Visible Noise get behind the band?
Yes, Visible Noise was behind the band, I am really not sure why it didn’t translate into sales. I think a video would certainly have helped.
10. From there, we get the follow up Trinity. Was following up Deviate hard? I mean, you have the media’s attention and expectations have to be high.
Yes expectations were actually really high concerning the follow-up to Deviate. We entered the studio too soon…we really did not have the Trinity album sufficiently together in order to start recording. Long story, but on we really should have spent more time on the writing of the album.
11. How did working with Fear Factory’s Burton C Bell come about? What was the experience like?
Yes, working with Burton was absolutely great. I got to know the guy who ran the Fear Factory fan club strangely enough, who was a really big fan of Kill II This. I therefore got to meet Fear Factory hang out with them and I asked Burton about whether he was interested in providing backing vocals. He is a really, really great guy I have a lot of respect and a lot of time for him – a really genuine person. So touring with Fear Factory was just a perfect support slot for us particularly with the electronic/cyber metal feel of both bands.
12. Looking back on the two albums, Deviate and Trinity, are you happy with how they turned out?
Looking back on Deviate and Trinity I was very happy with the way Deviate came out, Trinity, not so much. I just don’t feel it has the same warmth or vibe, it feels a little bit more cold and digital than Deviate…to my ears anyway. However, this might be more to do with my memories of making the album and how much of a struggle it was. However, the new singer in Kill II This, Simon Gordon, who I was in City of God with, takes me to task with my opinions here; he really rates Trinity. I suppose other people feel the way the same way having met people who actually prefer Trinity to Deviate.
(Ed-I want to also chime in…Trinity is an amazing record. I know fans hold Deviate in such high praise, but to say Trinity is not just as great is absurd)
13. Mark, I am begging you on this one. Everyone loves a good story. You have toured with a who’s who of people, and I know you are not afraid to speak up. Who were the best people to tour with? Also what singers or bands was a pain in the ass to deal with?
Ha, great question. Probably some of my favorite memories were from the very first proper tour I did which was with Saxon on their UK Dogs of War tour. As always we rented a transit van and were sleeping on top of the equipment. For the first week of the tour Saxon had convinced us that we needed to help them with shipping some of their equipment from venue to venue. This was our first tour, so we thought it was normal, and was all like ‘yeah, we’re more than happy to help’. So we ended up carrying round three or four ampeg cabs and seven or eight marshall cabs…but there was actually plenty of room for them in their truck…pretty funny on reflection! So including our sound engineer, there were five of us sleeping on top of the equipment, and each of us had to roll across the equipment to sleep at night because there was only about a foot space between the equipment and the roof. So if somebody needed to take a leak in the middle of the night everybody else more or less had to get out as well. They also had us taking down the PA every night for the first week until they told us it was only a joke. We ended up drinking tequila on their tour bus with them one night and their lighting engineer and pyro crew were letting off pyro outside the tour bus and car alarms are going off in a half mile radius around us. I was amazed the police didn’t turn up. We woke up the next morning and about 10 rolls of duct tape had been used to tape up the whole of the van round and round front to back, so we couldn’t get out. We had to force our way out of the van, which tore off all the rental vans paintwork off in the process, as did removing the rest of the duct tape.
Some memories are not so great. Slipknot was letting us crash on their hotel room floors after the last night of the tour. That shows just how awesome those guys are – no attitude in the slightest, just the most down-to-earth friendliest guys you could ever wish to meet. Anyway, having been given a free bar at the last venue of the tour, I was in a fairly advanced state of refreshment and we were on the tour bus with them on the way to the hotel when I suddenly projectile vomited over a certain member of the band, who shall remain nameless. Embarrassing…and then some.
But without doubt the funniest story of all my years touring involved a certain lighting engineer in a van on his way to Wales. He had never been there before, and was told that you need a passport to get through the border. Of course, there is no such border. He took the whole thing really seriously, and agreed to hide in one of the lighting rig flight cases so that he could get through the border. The local crew at the venue got to hear about this, and wound him up even further by telling him that he would never get out the country, because they always search the vans on the way out for exports. He got so worried that he handed himself in the local police station. Hilarious.
14. A few years pass by and now you have yet another new line up to Kill II This and you release mass.(down)-sin.(drone). Again, the music takes another drastic direction. Were you happy with this record? Do you feel the critics and fans were fair to this lineup and record?
Actually, let’s be honest, mass down sin drone was not that great a record. I wanted to do something really experimental and something quite different from Deviate and Trinity and I don’t think it really worked. However there were a few great tracks on there and personally one of my favorite Kill II This songs ever is Wintergreen off that album. I Love that track.
15. I have to ask is there a chance if Caroline Campbell or Matt Pollock ever called you on the phone that you would be open to work with them again. I mean Deviate is almost 20 years old, you have to have something planned for it?
No doubt about it I would definitely work with Caroline and Matt again. However I spoke with Matt about this possibility a good few years ago and he just wasn’t interested. Fair play – he has a career and he is a family man now. All the best to him – great bloke, we had some amazing times together.
16. Let’s talk about the end of Kill II This, was this something that was planned for a long time? Did you feel at the time you accomplished all you could at the time? Did the band end on fair terms at least?
The end of Kill II This really came about as we had taken the band as far is it could go. We had peaked and then we were on our way down again. I think it would’ve been different if Mass Down Sin Drone had been a stronger album. But it wasn’t. Yes, at the time the band did end on good terms. We had also just finished a really successful tour with Machine Head. I got to play Davidian with Machine Head on the last night of the tour, without doubt one of the best five minutes of my life. Robb handed me his guitar, he sung and I played guitar – an awesome memory!
17. Let’s talk about City of God. What made you want to be in another band? Were you happy with the band and this record?
City of God was really enjoyable project. It featured a lot of material intended for Kill II This, but we decided to release it as a new band. I love the vocal performance on this album and I think there are some really texturally interesting songs, like the title track ‘A New Spiritual Mountain’.
18. I remember reading an article on some website, that you quit music in what 2006 or 2007. You wanted to be a teacher. What made you want to make this decision? Were you that frustrated with the industry?
I’m not sure about that article, but I certainly didn’t quit music. I actually became a university lecturer teaching music technology and production. It is just the most perfect job for me, as you may know I got into music production around the time Kill II This was coming to an end. I have recently completed the worlds very first PhD in ‘Contemporary Metal Music Production’, and in fact in about six weeks’ time I will have finished the world’s first book on the subject https://www.routledge.com/products/9781138809321, which is getting released in March 2016.
19. So, recently I have found out that Kill II This seems to be working on a few new songs. The obvious questions are, is there going to be a full release record and will there be a tour?
Yes, you are absolutely right Kill II This have reformed. We headlined a festival in Belgium last year La fiestas Du Rock, and are working on new songs. So yes we will definitely be playing more live shows and it would be really great to record another full release.
20. Looking back on your whole experience in the music industry, if you had to sum up the journey in one sentence what would it be?
Looking back on my whole experience in the music industry I would sum up in one sentence as ‘The best years of my life – I did everything that I wanted to and more.’