Pestilence, Perdition & Panaesthesia
CoC Interviews Shawn Hache from Vancouver's Mitochondrion
by: Johnathan A. Carbon
Mitochondrion is a blackened death outfit with a peculiar taste for abstract. In this interview, Johnathan Carbon sits down with vocalist and guitarist Shawn Hache to discuss art history, the Canadian metal scene and, of course, danceable synthpop.

CoC: What was the writing and recording for _Parasignosis_ like?

Shawn Hache: Chaotic, unplanned, and somehow completely organic. It was a nightmare. The torturous sounds that emanate from that album almost reflect the painful process it took to capture them. Our drummer had been out of the country four months prior to writing the bulk of the album. When we reassembled, we were driven with more determination than ever. The songs were loosely there, but in a month's time we had properly arranged the album as the world now knows it. In the album notes we write that it was recorded over "several permutations between Victoria and Vancouver" or something of the sort; this is no word of a lie. Almost every step was rendered in a different space.

CoC: How does the new record differ from (or complement) your 2008 release _Archaeaeon_?

SH: It is a completely more focused entity. The last record was a collection of songs hell bent on exposing the warped filth we had to offer, but there was no cohesive message or theme really. _Parasignosis_ takes the framework and starting point that _Archaeaeon_ initiated and takes it to the ultimate. We had found our vision with _Archaeaeon_ and we came closer to properly executing it with this one... our best is still yet to manifest, I'm sure.

CoC: Your band seems very well read. Was there any one book, writer or school of thought which influenced your albums?

SH: More than that, the band and its themes are a synthesis of several different books, writers, schools of thought, dreams, interpretations, opinions, influences, etc. Sometimes these are completely contradictory and incongruent, but somehow we manage to combine things in an uncanny way. It seems to be what we do best. We are all into very different things, but where they overlap is where we find our common ground, and ultimately our voice.

CoC: If you had to pick a historic art movement which would represent your music conceptually or philosophically, what would you choose?

SH: Well, unfortunately my limited knowledge of art history can only yield a few comparisons. I guess the insanity that spawned from the Absurdists and Dadaist give us the fearlessness to juxtapose certain ideas that may not traditionally seem to go together, just because it sounds good to us. Of course the Surrealists certainly have a place when referring to our more psychedelic passages. Or, the grandiosity of Romanticism in its awe toward the sublime can be found in some of our sound. But, c'mon, this all sounds really inflated, and more than anything is me grasping at straws trying to remember my education. <laughs> Like I said earlier, it is really hard to pin down a single defining characteristic or unifying influence. I would actually be very interested to see what others would have to say who are better versed in this field.

CoC: What are your thoughts on the larger metal scene in the western Canadian region? How open is it to surrounding areas? Is Seattle or Olympia close enough to play in with any regular basis? Do you have any contact with their eco-black metal scene?

SH: Our focus is pretty narrow in regard to the immediate area... our close friends and collaborators include Gyibaaw, Weapon, Antediluvian, Begrime Exemious, Funeral Circle, etc. Outside of these few in the Vancouver and Edmonton / Calgary metal scenes, there aren't too many bands that we share similar approaches to. For a Canadian band to play in the States is a colossal headache, so clearly that doesn't happen often for us. And no, we are not in direct contact with any of the "eco-black metal" bands. If anything, this tag makes me roll my eyes. However, I greatly admire the apparent Heathen activity that exists between the Olympia and Portland area, evident in such bands as Agalloch, Waldteufel, Fauna, Hail, Blood of the Black Owl, and more.

CoC: Have you had the oppurtunity to play with many of your labelmates (Agalloch, Stargazer, Slough Feg, Portal)?

SH: There was only the show in Seattle with us, Aldebaran, and the inexorable Portal! At that point our involvement with Profound Lore was still in the formative stages, but it was a fantastic time nonetheless. The band was one of the original reasons why PLR was on our radar in the first place: not only were they Canadian based, but also willing to release completely otherworldly music. We hope for many more interactions with the incredible roster of bands we share a label with!

CoC: I came across a previous band called Havoc which listed you and Nick Yanchuk as members. Do they wear ski masks on stage or just their promotional photography? They seem to be fixated on Satanism and terrorism in the cosmic sense. Did Havoc have any influence on Mitochondrion?

SH: Havoc was a black metal band that existed at the same time in the early days of Mitochondrion. They slowly morphed from a young unfocused BM project into a very militant and steadfast Satanic force! Yanchuk and I were briefly apart of them when they sought new musicians, but distance and other commitments prevented this from taking place. The promo photos were done in haste, as nothing really materialized beyond that (regarding the "full line-up"). Although, a few very powerful rehearsals occurred in conjunction with Ross Bay terrorism! To this day we are still associated with its members who may or may not be continuing the project. At this point they are involved with bands like Gloria Diaboli and the soon to be well known (I'm sure) Pestkruez.

CoC: I would like you to recommend an album from your personal library -- but the rules are it has to be a record which is generally upbeat and something you could conceivably dance to.

SH: Actually a lot easier for me to do than you would imagine! I am (and so are the other two to an extent) a huge fan of neofolk and martial music. So with that in mind, I urge everyone to listen to Derniere Volonte's _Devant le Miroir_... which is by far the best military synth pop imaginable. Accessible but totally nihilistic. Affable but completely totalitarian! No, this is not a joke!

CoC: What is next for Mitochondrion?

SH: The gears of the machine are ever in motion. Conjurations are rendering forth as we speak. We will continue to write and (d)evolve into further depths of malignancy. In the mean time, we hope to spread the _Parasignosis_ plague through as many live shows as possible through festivals and short tours. Be on the lookout for the _Parasignosis_ LP mid 2011. Negotiations are also underway for the long awaited, much anticipated (but only conceptualized and spoken of) _Archaeaeon_ DLP release and CD re-release. Expect more artistic madness from N. Yanchuk on those and a complete remaster. At the same time, exclusive merch will come in the wake of all those releases. Much activity is a-brewing in 2011. As always, prepare!

(article submitted 27/1/2011)


ALBUMS
1/27/2011 J Carbon 8.5 Mitochondrion - Parasignosis
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