Deep in the veins of New York lies a hidden musical gem known as Menegroth, the Thousand Caves — which has birthed some of the world’s most technical, innovative and mysterious music to grace the ears of homosapiens all across the globe. If you’re a fan of odd time signatures, dissonant intervals and unorthodox musical intricacies, chances are you’ve come across the works of Colin Marston at one point or another.
With an extensive resume of performing with bands such as Gorguts, Krallice and Behold… the Arctopus to producing records such as Artificial Brain’s “Labyrinth Constellation” and Mitochondrion’s “Antinumerology,” Marston’s attention to detail and engineering expertise has led to him to being one of the most sought-out producers in metal, alongside other far-reaching genres of that ilk.
On this edition of “Lunar Interviews,” wormharvester, Mal Rojo and JayPapes sit down with the industry veteran in Marston at his studio in Queens, N.Y. to discuss a plethora of topics including his initial foray in metal, his interesting travel stories and his life philosophies (plus what kind of groceries he gets!).
“Menegroth is just a name lifted from a [J.R.R.] Tolkien book,” Marston prefaced on the etymology of his studio’s name. “Not ‘The Lord of the Rings’ or ‘The Hobbit,’ but ‘The Silmarillion…’ Almost read more like a history or an epic poem — more in the style of a ‘Beowulf’ or ‘Gilgamesh’ or the Bible than like an adventure story.”
“It’s a series of short stories and histories about the origins of this mythic world [he] created. Menegroth was one of the ancient cities of the elves. Menegroth, the Thousand Caves is the full title and, uh, the ‘Thousand Caves’ was named just because of how confusing this studio is in terms of the layout and the number of hallways and doors and rooms,” he added.
Marston then opened up about his role in Gorguts — a band he previously was a fan of prior to joining — while also noting his roles in bands such as Krallice, Dysrhythmia and Behold… the Arctopus.
“The bands that I’ve had for the longest are Behold… the Arctopus, started in 2001 in New York; Dysrhythmia, which started in Philadelphia and when I met those guys, they were there and that’s where I grew up. I joined in 2004 after already being in New York so the rest of the guys relocated here in the next couple years after that,” he noted.
“In 2007, we started Krallice, although it started more as a recording project and then sort of, over the next year, evolved into a band that had a bass player and played shows and stuff. The same year [or] 2008, Kevin [Hufnagel] from Dysrhythmia and I joined Gorguts and we’ve been doing that ever since.”
Marston then spoke on his beginnings in music, noting his involvement in the scene played a role in recording other bands.
“I started playing music and recording right at the same time,” he said. “When I first started playing guitar, I think within a year or two I was borrowing a 4-track and messing around with making my own recordings. Eventually I was able to borrow a computer recording setup and get into that a few years later.”
“I think my musical creative process has always, sort of, gone hand-in-hand with recording and making my own recordings. There’s only been two times in my entire life that I’ve recorded with somebody else. Every single other recording I’ve done for myself, and for other people obviously, I’ve done. That’s just how I came into music — was through both angles simultaneously.”
“[Stravinsky’s ‘The Rite of Spring’] was something I remember because it was played for my music class at school. I don’t remember how old I was, but I was pretty damn young [when] the music teacher putting that on me being like, ‘Okay, this is really grabbing me. Like, this is intense,’” said Marston.
“In high school, I remember discovering the [Béla] Bartók string quartets and borrowing them from the library at school… After that I think it was Penderecki, which I heard the “Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima” probably when I was 16 or 17. A lot of the stuff that really impacted me was in the same four or five year span. That was the most intense, emotional music I think I’ve ever heard at that point.”
“I think yes and no. I didn’t feel any pressure in the way that I drove myself crazy, but I definitely felt it,” he noted. Being a fan of the band before joining, I think I felt some sort of a responsibility that whatever I wrote in terms of bass lines and the one song that I wrote everything for, I did feel a responsibility for it to have a continuity with the records that came before.”
“I maybe limited myself in terms of the kinds of things I was writing on bass due to the way I perceived the style of the previous bass players in the band. So sure, I did feel pressure for it to be Gorguts in the way that I had in my head. For ‘Pleiades’ [Dust],’ I didn’t feel that at all,” he continued.
With roots in Valley Stream, N.Y. — like Lunar Space — and LS member wormharvester taking his pseudonym from track 4 of Artificial Brain’s “Labyrinth Constellation,” we made sure to ask Marston what it was like to work with the Long Island-based tech-death outfit.
“I love working with those guys. Not only are they super fun dudes to hang out with and have a good sense of humor, but obviously killer musicians. They really have their shit together,” Marston continued before telling a story on guitarist Dan [Gargiulo’s] approach towards recording.
Amidst all the talks of recording, travel stories and living in NYC (all of which is entailed in the hour-long interview available now), we opted to dive deeper into the mind of Menegroth’s own and discover what he truly feels about life and the world we live in today.
“The inanity of countries and borders and ‘Us being different from you’ and how little sense it makes for it to be true… It just makes me absolutely furious with the political state of the world. And then you go and you just hang out with the people and you’re just like, ‘We’re all the same! We just like Morbid Angel and Metallica,’” Marston lamented.
“People want the same basic things everywhere and it’s just gotten really confused with the compartmentalization of every aspect of modern culture,” Marston wisely noted.
Check out our full interview with Colin Marston via Lunar Space to get the inside scoop on who the man, the myth and the legend that Mr. Marston really is.
Don’t forget to check out Menegroth’s official website for more details on the studio as well as bookings/rates for mixing and mastering!
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