With origins dating back to 2009 in Calgary, Alberta, the noise-doom duo has been through numerous lineup changes, but the one constant has always been Lanz. After a nearly ten-year break from Mares of Thrace pursuing other career endeavours that sucked up quite a large chunk of her time. Lanz, who is now based out of Atlantic Canada, has recruited her former partner in musical crime Casey Rogers to play bass and sit behind the kit on The Exile. Earlier this week, I was blessed with a fortunate opportunity to interview Mares of Thrace's growling monster and grinding riff machine Thérèse Lanz. Lanz discussed the forthcoming album, The Exile, her career in visual art, what's in store for the remainder of the year for the band, all the way to what she's been listening to the last couple of years.
You'll be releasing your third album, The Exile, on March 25th, once again through your longtime label Sonic Unyon Records. Why did it take nearly a decade to release a new album? Thérèse: Sadly, "full-time touring doom musician" is a career that tends to earn negative money, so I focused on establishing a career in visual art for a while, which meant I had to move cities a bunch and work some 100 hour weeks. Visual art and music are like my two dysfunctional polyamorous lovers, and I'm terrible at giving them both equal time and attention. Also, then COVID happened -these songs were all written in 2017-2018- and the record was finished, alas, in January 2020, which in retrospect is some truly cursed timing. You have always loved to create massive lore and mythology within your last two albums, does that continue on The Exile? And is that how the collaboration with video game writer Jana Sloan van Geest -who wrote on some major video games in the last few years such as Guerrilla Games' Horizon: Zero Dawn and Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed: Origins- came to fruition? T: It certainly does continue! Also, Jana and I have been friends since we were teens; we met on an infamous(ly bad) amateur fantasy art gallery website called Elfwood back in the day. Could you elaborate on what the bigger story The Exile revolves around? T: I don't want to spoil it too much because we created the mini graphic novel in the liner specifically to thank people who buy physical media, but it's a story of a nameless person cursed to wander forever, never able to return home. What navigates you towards creating such heavy story-based albums versus a collection of songs that are separate from each other? T: I just like narrative. Storytelling is part of being human, and historically it's been inseparable from music; so many of the great epic works of poetry and music throughout history are sagas and stories. It's not even something I do consciously; the story just kind of writes itself. Considering Mares of Thrace has had multiple lineup changes since the release of The Pilgrimage, what did bassist and drummer Casey Rogers bring to the table that was different from the previous two albums? T: [Laughs]. The multiple lineup changes are mostly to do with me continually having to move for work; I'm very lucky to have collaborated with quite a few brilliant people. Casey and I have been friends and bandmates for a long time; we played in the political tech-death grind band Exit Strategy together. He's a freak unicorn polymath who's extremely good at every part of being in a band. Honestly, he pretty much saved this record; Stef was supposed to play on it initially, and we recorded some demos together, but she really didn't jive with being in a long-distance band. Casey volunteered to take over, and the rest was probably the most painless co-writing and recording process I've ever experienced. He instinctively knows what I'm trying to "say" when I write a riff.
The artwork for The Exile is absolutely beautiful. That was illustrated by you? T: Yes, thank you! I spent the music hiatus levelling up visual art skills, so hopefully, it was worth it! How does the album artwork fit into the album’s concept? T: Like I said, there's a whole story packed into the liner, and you may only enjoy it if you pick up a physical record [Maniacal laughter]. Hypothetically, let's say you’re on that ship right this second and could go anywhere in the world, where would you steer that ship? T: Jana's on vacation in Madeira right now, and she just sent me some photos, and I'm feeling some extreme envy given that outside my window is late-winter grey sloppy Atlantic Canadian misery. So either Madeira or an uninhabited Scottish island where I can just be a reclusive forest hag in peace. The Exile is the first album that is also both produced and mixed by yourself? T: Yeah, to quote Casey, "Bedrooms are the new million-dollar studios, just ask Billie and Finn." I'm super proud of how it turned out and of what we were able to accomplish ourselves. That said, I really loved working with Sanford Parker on The Pilgrimage, and there are a few other producers I've had my eye on for years -I'm looking at you, Scott Evans at Antisleep Audio! So who knows what the future holds? Is there anything that comes to mind that no one typically asks during interviews that you wish they did and what would the answer to that said question be? T: This is a really basic-bitch question, but no one has asked me what I've had on heavy rotation for the past few years! The answer is: Svalbard, Brutus, King Woman, Oathbreaker, Botfly, Amenra, and Vile Creature. There is more good new shit coming out these days than I can keep up with. Lastly, what should people expect from Mares of Thrace for the remainder of 2022? T: That really depends on the COVID case numbers. If they go down, shows and tours! If they don't, music videos and shitposting. I know everyone's exhausted and desperate to get back to normalcy, especially people who love live music, but I don't want to kill my parents because I inhaled a stranger's mucus in a moshpit. Thanks for taking the time, Theresa. Is there anything else you may want to add before you go? T: Seriously, I feel completely humbled and blessed that so many people are stoked for the new record after all this time. You're all the best, and I can promise that #3 is not going to be the last one.
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