Interview: Miłosz (Vocals/Guitar) and Billy (Drums) of Morne (Written)

Boston, Massachusetts’ Morne have been delighting listeners for over 15-years with their genre-defying, heavy, and emotive music. Their latest album ‘Engraved with Pain’ has been widely regarded as one of their best albums to date and their live shows are a sight to behold.

On June 30th, 2024, and as main support to grindcore act, Wormrot, they arrived in London and delivered a masterclass in heavy melancholic metal. You can read a review of that show here.

A few hours before they took to the stage though, we sat down and spoke with vocalist/guitarist Miłosz Gassan and drummer Billy Knockenhauer.

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Hi Miłosz, Hi Billy. How are you both?

Billy: Excellent.
Miłosz: Yeah. Tired, but good.

How was the trip in? London isn’t the easiest place to travel into and get around in.

Miłosz: Yeah, it was great. It’s actually our first time in London since 2011. We’ve toured Europe many times in between, but I don’t know, it just hasn’t worked out.

You’ve been on this tour for a little while now, which has included festivals like Hellfest and Funeral Fest. How has it been?

Miłosz: The tour has been pretty intense because we got invited to do Hellfest, and instead of just flying in, playing one festival and flying out, we wanted to do like an ‘in and out’ tour in some odd places because we are coming back again in October, and then we’re going to play the usual suspects, the usual venues. On this one, we have a couple of long drives, but it has been good. We are tired, but that’s the life.

That’s the life.

Miłosz: We’re glad to be back and playing again after so many years of everything just being weird. You know what I mean?

It still feels weird. But even though things are back to normal to a certain degree, it does still feel like it’s a lot of effort coming to this country. Considering the roadblocks that are in your way when it comes to touring in general, but the UK has extra ones because of Brexit, has your experience coming over here been pretty straightforward?

Miłosz: So easy. We went from Calais to Dover, showed them passports. They sent them back, said ‘hello and thank you’. That’s it. It was super easy. I was actually surprised that they didn’t hassle us. They didn’t ask questions. It was just very friendly.

Billy: Very smooth, very professional.

Fantastic. I’m glad it was so easy. So, Hellfest. Talk to me about experience. Obviously, one of the biggest festivals in the entire world. Was it fun?

Billy: It was super fun. We were there in 2011, so it’s been 13 years, and it was a very different festival back then. So yeah, awesome experience. Very smooth in, smooth out.

Miłosz: We got to play to 10 to 15,000 people, full house, everything. People looked like they were really happy.

Billy: We had a great slot.

Miłosz: We had a great slot, too. We didn’t play against any band with a similar style of music, which was good. They were nice to us. Everything was friendly. Everyone was friendly.

Billy: There was great energy going around.

How about Funeral Fest, which as of this interview being conducted, was yesterday. How was that?

Miłosz: It was good, but strange at the same time. We were way up there. Even people from the area over there, they were like, what are we doing here? What is this place? It was like the middle of nowhere, end of the road, pretty much. However, show was great. We played to some people that didn’t know us, and that’s a bonus. Then we went to a hotel and drove all day to be here.

Billy: I was particularly looking forward to Funeral Fest too as our friends in Extinction of Mankind played and it was cool to see them and hang out.

It’s always nice when you get an opportunity to hang out like that. It’s rare, right? Obviously, you’re touring all the time. You’re in other parts of the world. You don’t always get to actually hang out with friends and other bands. Playing Europe is a big, bloody deal, but it requires a lot of effort. How important is it for you guys to play Europe these days? Do you consider it a must when it comes to planning tours?

Miłosz: On our level, we are a little guy, we are like nobodies pretty much, a little band, Europe always has this passion for music, good hospitality, and people actually care. I think the States are getting there, but they are not there yet. We were always like – Hey, if we have to take time off from work, from our families and all that stuff, let’s just go to Europe.

We’ve never really did any big tours in the States. We have done stuff on the East Coast, West Coast, and a few months ago, we did a little Midwest and Northeast, but that’s about it. A week here, week there. We never done four weeks of full touring or whatever. However, we have done four full tours in Europe, and this is the fifth one, a little one, but we are coming back again.

Also we have the new album out and the label, we deal with the European office, so they were like – okay, guys, so let’s do the tour here in Europe. It just makes sense.

Billy: It always seems to make sense to do European tours. It feels, anyway, harder to tour in the States. Like Miłosz said, it is, I think, catching up to the touring experience though. We did two weeks in March or February into March, and that was great. That’s probably the longest stretch we’ve done in the States in a long time. We’ll do a weekend here or there; we’ll go up to Canada. But as far as long tours, it just never seems to make sense.

Do you think Europe just gets you better? Understands you and your style of music better?

Billy: I think that could be an element of it, too. We do seem to have a pretty solid fan base over here.

Germany seems to always be begging you to come play.

Billy: It’s a big place, though.

Miłosz: Last year, we played this festival in Hamburg, Germany, and it was just like a fly-in situation. They’ve asked us to play a couple of times, but there is always something in the way. Then after COVID, they said – hey, guys, I’m going to buy you tickets, hook you up, just please come play. So we just went in and played our best. We did that with Roadburn in 2019 too.

Billy: Yeah, and I mean, those experiences are also really, really humbling for us too.

Miłosz: Somebody actually wants you that much, that they’re willing to spend $3,000 on plane tickets and all that stuff and pay you money and give you hospitality. That’s really something.

That’s incredible. Feels like a lot of pressure on you to be at your best though.

Billy: We’re always at our best!

Talking about being at your best then. What do you want from London? What would guarantee you leave London tonight, satisfied?

Billy: It’ll be great to see some people at the show. It’ll be great to feel the energy of people enjoying themselves. The one person who walks up to me at the end of the night saying they were really moved by our set because they never heard us before, something like that. That’s what makes or breaks some nights. You know what I mean? Just that one person.

It’s been about seven months since the release of ‘Engraved with Pain’. The dust is beginning to settle on it. Are you quite satisfied with the positive response that it has had?

Miłosz: I mean, so far, the feedback is pretty good. It’s Metal Blade, and we are in this odd spot on the label because they release a lot of bigger bands and different styles of music. We like to do unusual things, but when we started to talk to them, they told us that they’ve seen us before so it wasn’t like they just they signed some random band. They knew us and they wanted us.

We were like – yeah, it’s a big label, so let’s see what happens. Let’s do this. We’ll investigate. We’ll see what happens later. If we stay with the label or they kick us out, because you know how it is. At the end of the day, it’s a business. They have to make their money back, but they’ve been so good to us and really seems like they care.

Billy: That’s a bit relieving in a sense, too, because making this whole record was whole new territory for us since we also recorded it in a completely new studio than we had recorded anything else previously. Everything else we had recorded prior to this one was recorded at this studio in Boston called New Alliance. This time we changed studios and we went to God City and recorded with Kurt Ballou. I couldn’t be happier with the way that everything came out.

Miłosz: It was so nice working with him.

When you look back and reflect on the entire process, beginning to end, the creation of the album, what are some of your favourite memories?

Billy: I mean, this was a hard one, man. A lot of this material was written in a very dark and turbulent time. The whole process was different, too. For a while, we weren’t even practising together.

Miłosz: Also, it’s a relatively short album for us. It’s a single album, four songs, so we needed to pay attention to what we were putting on the record. We had more riffs, but we needed a couple of final touches on it to be satisfied, but everything worked out pretty well. I’m super happy with the production of this album and the songs. But every band says that about their new album. They always say his is the best one. Best one yet. You guys need to hear it.

However, after a couple of months, they normally then start to go – well, we could have done that better. We could have done this better, and so on.

The next one is the best one ever.

Miłosz: Yeah, but this is our fifth album.

It is a spectacular release. It might only be four tracks long, but each one is incredibly intricate, incredibly detailed, and incredibly moving. The reasons why there’s been such a positive response, and why there’s consistently a positive response around you as a group. Can you put your finger on why you have such a beloved fan base?

Miłosz: You would have to ask them.

We do it for ourselves. That’s the main reason. We don’t do it to satisfy some scene or some group of people. We never really fit anywhere because people call us post-metal, post-this, post-that, this, and that. What does it even mean? People compare us to bands that we’ve never heard them. It’s like – okay, cool. I’ve never really thought about doing this for a specific scene. It’s just what we do, and if people like it, that’s a bonus.

Billy: If people can connect with it, then that’s a positive. We have our vision, we have our story to tell. If that resonates in people or it doesn’t, that’s really neither here nor there.

Miłosz: Sometimes we get an email, a message or whatever, and they say – hey, thank you for your music. It really helped me through some dark times in my life. It really helped me. Getting a message like that, this is like, that’s it. That’s what I do. Through our music, if we could help someone to figure things out for themselves, then hey, that’s us.

It is simply phenomenal. How do you process getting a message like that, though?

Billy: I can understand it. There’s plenty of music out there that’s got me through the dark days. You know what I mean? Again, it’s humbling to receive that sentiment, to make that connection with somebody you’ve never even met before.

Miłosz: Yeah, you connect to music. If it’s like this, this way, when you help someone, when your music is a medication for someone and makes them better, then that was worth the hassle.

But it’s also a medication for you as well, creating it, right?

Billy: Hey, man, helping you helps me. You know what I mean? We let it out, they absorb it. Everyone is happy.


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  • Carl Fisher

    Owner/Administrator/Editor/Writer/Interviewer/YouTuber - you name it, I do it. I love gaming, horror movies, and all forms of heavy metal and rock. I'm also a Discworld super-fan and love talking all things Terry Pratchett. Do you wanna party? It's party time!