Exclusive Interview: Mark My Way talk “Thin The Herd”!

Following our review earlier this week of the debut full length album from Belgian Metallic Hardcore act Mark My Way (comprising drummer Gillian Coussens, bassist Rutger Vermeulen, vocalist Lennart Breine, guitarists Lennert De Clercq and Niek Van de Capelle) entitled “Thin The Herd” which was released just yesterday, we got speaking to them about the album, the Belgian Metal scene and their history in this exclusive interview.

How does it feel to be releasing your debut album after 8 years and a trio of EPs together? It feels great. We feel like Thin The Herd is the highlight of our work so far, in which we’ve put a massive amount of effort. We’re proud to be able to deliver the coherent package that is our music, artwork and message. When creating Thin The Herd, we’ve pushed ourselves to the limit and believe to have put ourselves onto a new level. However, this could not have been realized without the support of the producers, our labels and many others. Ever since the start, we’ve always stayed true to a D.I.Y. approach as to producing our music and everything around it. In 8 years of Mark My Way, we’ve continuously worked on developing a more mature sound, which explains the releases of a demo and two EP’s  before the first full album. Now, the time for ‘Thin The Herd’ is right.

What was it like working with both Frederic Malfait of Deconsecrate and Brad Boatright of Audiosiege? Did you find having such a heavy hitting pair on board inspiring? That has been a very nice experience. We’ve also worked with Arjan Bogaert from Barefootstudio to record the drums. Frederic is a wonderful guy to work with, since we know him personally and he’s able to translate our ideas excellently when recording. We could always count on his honesty during recording, which definitely helped us in the process. Also, Brad Boatright from Audiosiege is an established value in the heavy production world (e.g. Converge, Oathbreaker, Defeater), so we were very confident about the mastering for our record. And we really feel it turned out great.

You’ve said that being the best version of yourselves is part of the theme of the album as a whole. Do you consider “Thin The Herd” a concept album and was it written with that in mind or did it just happen to be after the dust settled? Lennart (lead vocalist): “The music and lyric writing for Thin The Herd happened simultaneously. During writing, the main idea behind the album was still to be captured. Comparing lyrics from the first couple of finished songs, I’ve found some common traits, which gave me further inspiration. The lyrics are based on how I experience life, which is particularly focused on personal and societal issues, and how I perceive and approach these. This incites reflection on my own actions and those from others, giving me the insight and energy to become that bigger person. This is the underlying message of Thin The Herd.”

Part of Mark My Way’s sound is to have rapped or spoken word vocal lines in some of the tracks. Have you ever been asked to drop that element by any outsiders such as labels or management or to incorporate some clean singing? We’ve never received any request to drop this element or to introduce clean vocal lines. The rap influences in our music can be explained by the background in hip hop of our lead vocalist. Since the first demo, the combination of spoken word vocals and grunts partly define our sound, so we wouldn’t want to change that. This approach comes naturally and feels comfortable. We are aware of the fact that this might scare off a certain crowd, but then again, some love it, some don’t. 

Thin The Herd” sounds raw and unpolished, which is part of its appeal and charm. How did you go about accomplishing the live feel to the record? From the experience of our previous releases, we’ve managed to determine how we want to sound, harmonizing metallic with hardcore elements. We’ve definitely tried to capture the live energy on the record, though cleaned up a bit. An asset to this is that the drums were live recorded. In addition, for Frederic, having seen Mark My Way perform live a whole lot of times and having some years of producing experience, it was clear how to approach the recordings in his studio. 

What is the scene like in Belgium? Are there any Belgian Metal bands that you think are hidden gems the World should know about? In West-Flanders, there is the H8000-scene, a reference to the postal codes in this area. Throughout the 90’s and 00’s, this movement has evolved from a pure hardcore scene to something larger, embracing hardcore and metal sub-genres. This way, heavy music in general has been kept alive and represented by different generations. A handful of old school bands certainly worth mentioning are Liar, Congress and Spirit of Youth. For our generation, it were bands like First Alliance, Fatal Recoil, The Boss etc. who had a crucial impact. They have inspired younger bands such as Headshot, Minded Fury, In Clover and of course ourselves to start making own music. Today, many Flemish people still get together in for example “de Vort’n Vis” (Ypres) or “de Verlichte Geest” (Roeselare) out of a common love for (local) heavy music.

Thin The Herd” by Mark My Way is out now via Dust & Bones Records

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