Interview: We got to sit down with Joe McGylnn lead singer with Man Must Die.

Words Letty Sharp:

Man Must Die are an extreme metal band from Glasgow, Scotland. The band are getting ready for the release of their 5th album, ‘The Pain Behind It All’, which is out the 17th of February. I got to chat with vocalist Joe McGylnn over zoom and ask him a few questions.

LS- When I first heard the band’s name, I thought it was great. Where did it come from? 

JG- and it would say, Alan the guitar player that came up with it and I believe he was watching that it was like a one of those like courtroom you know real life courtroom things and one of the family members shouted at the person that was basically going it was on trial, ‘That man should die, that man must die’, and it just kind of stopped from there and I just came up with it and they couldn’t find a better one, so we just rolled with it.  

LS- You’re gearing up for the release of your 5th album, ‘The Pain Behind It All’, where did the title come from? 

JG- Well for a start the whole album is a painful, horrible experience and because of the circumstances you know. When we recorded it everyone was in isolation because it was during lockdown so it was a very stressful you know so I just figured that that captured the vibe of the whole album really and obviously like the lyrical content and stuff like that was a little bit more kind of introspective type stuff not so much looking out the way more looking at myself kind of thing you know because I write the lyrics in Man Must Die so yeah it was it just seemed like a fitting title for what was a horrible experience [laughs] 

LS- Wasn’t a positive recording process then. 

JG- No. Not at all, no [laughs] 

LS- Was it all done over zoom or? 

JG- It was during lockdown so we couldn’t go anywhere near anyone so basically, I kind of for the new album at least I wrote most of the new album myself and so you know, I would get Alan to send me riffs if he had any riffs or whatever and then I would take my riffs and then I would sit in the house you know lights off in front of the computer with my guitar kind of try to you know put songs together song structures and stuff like that and so that’s yeah that’s kind of how that that happened it was it I mean the other albums were similar it was done in a similar way obviously with this one because everything the recording part of this one normally you would go to an actual recording studio once you demoed the songs then you would go on record somewhere else well, I had to record all my vocals in my house up in my loft, so that was an interesting experience I would never want to do again.  

LS- You’re not one of the ones to trade in the traditional recording experience.  

JG- In some ways it’s good, but in a lot of ways it’s bad because you’re in the studio you know you have someone listening to you and listening to the takes that you do so therefore, they can tell you or that was a good take or no you need to do that again but obviously I didn’t have that and none of the guys had that, we were all exactly the same we all recorded the recorded our own parts on our own so, for me personally you know I didn’t know, I started to second guess myself constantly so normally if I did, I take somebody like the producer would say, ‘right that’s good Joe. Right, let’s move on let’s do the next part’. I was constantly doing things and then going back and listening to it and thinking, ‘is that right? Could I do this better?’, so it was just very laborious and that was a I was agonizing actually, it was and I was not a pleasant experience. 

LS- Sounds like a stressful experience. 

JG- That’s an understatement. 

LS- One of my favourites of the album is, ‘Patterns In The Chaos’, is there a story behind that song? 

JG- I mean that that one’s kind of I suppose it’s a little bit ambiguous my lyrics usually tend to be a little bit more on the noise you know like say you know past albums anyway you can usually tell what I’m singing about with that one it was a little bit more like a stream of consciousness which was different for me so I looking back on it after writing it I suppose it kind of, I struggle with OCD and anxiety and stuff like that so I think it was maybe a subconscious sort of weird me talking about that if that makes any sense well that’s what I take from it but obviously if you listen to it you take something else from it then that’s completely cool as well. 

LS- Even the title like pattern in the chaos it sounds like something like you know OCD if you get me. 

JG- Yeah totally. 

LS- For our readers, who haven’t heard of you guys before, how would you describe your music? 

JG- Alright well, if you go on the internet then you know, this does my head, you’ll hear Man Must Die technical death metal, but we don’t and haven’t classed ourselves as technical death metal band I don’t know, extreme metal like you know, that’s the only thing that I can really think of that that kinda captures what we sound like because there’s a lot of different elements in the band, you know it’s not just death metal. There’s a lot of hardcore and a lot thrash metal there’s you know there’s you know there’s even stuff like Dillinger Escape Plan, Converge type influences as well like noise core and stuff like that so it’s kind of hard. I would just say extreme metal, but you know if it’s pretty in your face so if you say extreme, people will expect it to be in your face.  

LS- You get exactly what’s on the tin. Who would your biggest musical influence be? 

JG- Me personally? 

LS- Yeah, or you can speak on the guy’s behalf as well if you want.  

JG- Me personally, Freddie Mercury [laughs]. No genuinely, Freddie Mercury. Queen have been my favourite band since the 80s so, you know he’s an inspirational guy you know talented guy, fucking amazing songwriter, an amazing performer, so I always looked to Freddie for some inspiration. But as far as metal goes it’s all over the place. I mean I think we’ve been doing this so long now that we don’t really look at other bands for any sort of inspiration, we just know what we do, and we do it so you know, do you know what I mean like when you’re a new band I think you know it’s very obvious, you know, when you’re trying to find your sound, you steal from all your favourite bands. We stopped doing that, I think we just kind of sound like us you know.  

LS- Fair enough, it’s good to branch out just from metal. 

JG- Yeah, absolutely. 

LS- The guttural vocals that you do are absolutely amazing. How do you keep your voice in shape? 

JG- I have no idea I don’t know, it’s just I guess I’ve just been doing it for that long, but you know my throat is used to it sort of thing but yeah, it’s just when I open my mouth and shout, I say shout people say scream I go I think I just shout so it’s just, that’s what comes out naturally [laughs]  

LS- If you could collaborate with any musician dead or alive. Who would it be? 

JG- Obviously would be Freddie Mercury [laughs] I’d love to hear that would be a laugh. Trying to think who now I mean he makes sense to do what we do; you know maybe Bill Steer from Carcass I would like to do something with him you know if he could do like a guitar solo so if Bill’s listening to this which he won’t be but if he is yeah, cause Bill’s one of my favourite guitar players so if you know I’d like to have him play on a song or something because I think he’s when the most underrated metal guitarist, not just death metal but metal guitarists, in general, the guys amazing. 

LS- Good choices. So, how would you describe your creative process for writing a song? 

JG- it all starts with riff always and then it’s just a case of you know sometimes, I’ll have like just one riff, and I’ll record it and I’ll just play it and I’ll look over and over and over again which is sounds fucking maddening to most people, but it is maddening but I’ll just keep listening to it even though I’m doing the dishes I’m doing something in the house and then my brain usually without even thinking about it after listening to it and I look kind of knows what needs to come next sort of thing if that makes any sense. So, that so then I get an idea right, okay I think this is this is the right direction going so I’ll go up I’ll try and work out a riff that will suit the thing I hear in my head and then it really just kind of evolves like that and until we get the finished song and but yeah, I mean. And the vocals always come last, so I always get the music and then once I have the music nailed I basically scat vocal patterns in my head again I just get like a cool motif if you like, and then what I do is I get the patterns nailed and then I start to write the lyrics to suit the vocal patterns.  

LS- That’s a straightforward recording process, like layering. You guys have been going since 2002, that will be 21 years in May, what do you think has attributed to you guys going on for so long? 

JG- well, there’s only two original members [laughs] me and Alan the guitar player. I don’t know, me and Alan have just always been the main songwriters In Man Must Die, right from the first album. So we had the same line-up for the first two albums with the John and the guy called Danny on bass and then for our third album, John left, and we got another guy in to play on the, ‘No Tolerance [For Imperfection]’, album but Danny still played bass on that and after that life got in the way Danny couldn’t do it anymore that sort of thing and then me and Alan just kind of kind of soldiered on you know it’s always it’s always been us that you know like I said kind of wrote everything you know so we didn’t really how do I put this without sounding shite, it didn’t really affect us when we lost anybody per se because nobody not really, because we didn’t ask them to contribute it’s just that they didn’t and so me and Alan were always the ones that were left to it so I think it’s just been me and Alan kinda trying to keep it going all this time and here we are. 

LS- Your efforts have definitely paid off 21 years is pretty impressive. 

JG- It’s just under half my life, so it’s pretty insane.  

LS- The song, ‘Enabler’, is so angry. Where is all of this aggression coming from? 

JG- Life [laughs] what can I say I mean I use these songs as a way I exercise a lot of frustration and you know and personal issues and stuff like that so that’s probably you know I think most of the mistake’s stuff really angry anyway, in general, it’s not angry it’s kind of almost kind of lamenting all you know there’s definitely, you know I think that’s something that makes us different from a lot of death metal bands is that we don’t sing about the typical things that I quote death metal band would sing about like the fantasy stuff like war and cutting people up and all that stupid shit. That’s all very well and good if you like doing that have no problem the other bands doing that but that’s definitely nothing that I’m interested in coming from the vocal and lyrical point of view plus that I come more from the hardcore punk side of things and so a lot of that’s a lot of you know things like social commentary and a lot of you know Minor Threat talking about you know values and stuff like that, you know personal values, things like that so that’s definitely where I come from more than the death metal side of things.  

LS- That’s cool to have a different side of perspective because it gives you a different point of view to uh write songs about. 

JG- Yeah, definitely, absolutely. 

LS- Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to start a band in 2023? 

JG- Be very good at social media because that’s a massive part of it now, and obviously when we started there was no there wasn’t really any of that, there wasn’t any social media I don’t even think Facebook because I think that’s how fucking old we are. But yeah, it’s a different world now you know it used to be you would do a demo shop the demo about to record labels you know if a record label got interested you know they would give you a callback and things like that but now everything’s all we do with streams and how many streams you have, and record labels are looking at that rather than you know just sending them a demo or whatever so that would be the only thing I would say is you really need to will have to work social media because that is definitely there the way you push your band nowadays. I hate doing it but unfortunately, I need to do it [laughs] because I need to go with it, I need to roll with the times you know but yeah, it’s a young man’s game all that shit.  

LS- Yeah because it evolved from myspace bands now to TikTok artists. 

JG- Yeah absolutely, I mean when we started Myspace had just started like literally I think it’s only been on the goal for maybe less than a year something like and so you know we kind of we were just at the start of that so that you know that did a lot for us at the time actually that put our name you know and a lot of people’s faces that wouldn’t have found this otherwise you know so a lot of ways it was great that you know we had that platform at that time and but obviously it’s like you’re saying is things you know years and years progressed on its yeah it’s TikTok and all that kind of stuff and half the time I don’t even know what the fuck I’m doing with any of it you know, but it’s like it says it’s that’s the way things are now,so suppose you roll with it. 

LS- Joe, thank you so much for joining me for our little chat.  

JG- Thank you, cheers.  

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