This interview with the bass player Lionel Moser of Ipsum was done through e-mail by Sam Chronic in May 2003.

First off, lets start off with your new album that has just been released: "Mystic Evilution". Tell us a little about the album and the writing process involved in making the album.
Mystic Evilution” is our second album and the line-up that has recorded it is pretty different from the one that did “Behind The Mask”: only Sarah, our guitar player, has actually taken a part to both records. From then on, you can guess the two releases will have quite a different sound. I think “Behind The Mask” is a good album in many regards –I may be more or less impartial on that issue, I haven’t played on it- but I felt the new one in a way sounds more professional, not only in the “technical” recording process, but also as far as the writing work is concerned. It is rather compact because we have tried to avoid making too much “ambient” parts and to concentrate on some really heavy hi-gain guitar feelings. Nevertheless I think it also comprises some very melodic feeling (any hardcore black metal fan should hate us, sorry)… From the first chronicles we had, we heard it sounds black / pagan / Swedish death-metal / sheer heavy metal (not as far as the vocals are concerned anyway)-like; you can tick the wrong definitions and figure it out from then on….

As for the writing work, Sarah, Laurent (guitars) or myself usually come to the local with a rhythm guitar line that seems to sound interesting, and we have some beers or whisky and work on it with the whole band until it makes a complete track… I wrote three of “Mystic’s” texts and Laurent and Michelle (vocals) did two each.

What is your favorite track(s) off the album?
That’s a hard question cause I all like them in a different way and I’m so much involved in it that I can hardly be fair… I very much enjoy the album’s two first issues, “New Model Inferno” and “Porteur de Lumière” (that you may translate as “Lightbearer”), for example. I especially enjoy the latter’s lyrics (sorry, it’s in French), even though it is not everybody’s opinion in the band…

You are new to the group but how would you say the bands sound has change or evolved since the last album "Behind the Mask"?
On a musical plan, I think it sounds more professional and we somehow play in a more aggressive way… The old track reminds me a bit of bands like Moonspell or the old Samael, but now we play faster tunes and have no keyboards anymore… On the other hand, it’s true there’s no really radical change; we keep on playing rather melodic black / dark-metal… Yeah, it’s an evolution, not a revolution.

Ipsum has been around since 1998 but still has yet to make a big name for itself. Do you feel that the new album will get the band some much-deserved attention?
I hope so, but it’s always hard to tell!! Up to now, we have had a mostly good feedback, but it will also be dependent upon our touring, the promotion we’ll manage to do and our distribution, I guess… And the kids, of course!! It’s true the band has been formed in 1998 under the name of “Black Magic”, but there was nothing really seriously done before the end of 1999, I think… And 2001 was a kind of “wasted year” for the band due to problems of line-up… But we’re working a hell of a lot to make up for all those years!!

What (Besides having 2 females) do you feel is a distinguishing feature that makes Ipsum different than the other bands in the genre?
I really don’t know. We don’t really try to be different, or let’s say we don’t ask ourselves this question. We only try to make good and, above all, sincere music. Do you know “Ipsum” means “oneself” in Latin? So we’re trying as hard as possible to be ourselves. We don’t really care for other bands.

Has corpse paint or spikes ever been a part of the show for the band?
No, I don’t really like this kind of stuff…Let’s say it was really great when there were all these bands at the beginning of the nineties like Immortal, Emperor, Dark Funeral, Mayhem or Darkthrone coming from Scandinavia with spikes and paints… It really suited the hate, coldness and despair their music conveyed… But I dislike these new bands that try and ape them ten years later… All the more since most of these giants I have quoted above have left these gimmicks after two or three albums… We’re trying to have a great show but I would say that corpse paints and spikes are old-fashioned, if it was a fashion issue, which it isn’t…

How do you feel about the development of metal these days with bands going to a more electronic infused sound?
It can really be great!… I really appreciate the likes of Rammstein, Marilyn Manson or Nine Inch Nails… I’m sure there are shitty electro-metal bands, of course, but I don’t listen to them!! But I can assume Ipsum will never do this kind of stuff, even though Michelle and I like this electro sound… But Sarah and Yvan (drums) hate that, and, moreover, it really doesn’t fit with our band’s “concept”! Maybe I’ll work that out one of these days with a side-project, if I can find the right musicians.

Tell us a little bit about your musical background and your inspirations.
I think Sarah has always played with Ipsum, or Black Magic, that was our band’s first name. She’s really involved in true-black or death metal stuff, like Abigor, Satyricon, the old Morbid Angel or Death… In fact, I’m sure she hasn’t ever listened to any cd released after 1995!!

Yvan has played with a bunch of bands –Shreds Of Flesh, The Age Of Innocence- as drummer/singer/guitarist before he came to Switzerland to play with us…He’s a black metal fan, like all of us, but also listen to more doom or atmospheric sounding bands like Opeth, Katatonia, Anathema or Shape Of Despair…

Michelle –I think Ipsum is her first serious band experience- is Immortal’s ultimate fan (even their more recent issues; I can’t understand that)! She also enjoys other black metal bands, like Dimmu Borgir or Behemoth, death-metal bands, and some more mainstream music, as I said before.

Laurent has been playing for several years with the grind-death metal band Exulceration before he joined Ipsum –they had a record deal and toured throughout Europe, but they unfortunately ended up by splitting up. He mostly listens to mainstream metal bands like Cradle Of Filth, Dimmu Borgir, Marilyn Manson or Rammstein … He also plays in an instrumental hard rock band named Shoutless with Carcariass’s guitarist, but I think it is in fact an excuse to smoke pounds of weed and drink gallons of beer, hehe…

I’ve been playing in underground bands for years. I released one album with the death-black metal band Weeping Birth a few years ago and played with an underground death metal band named Yog-Sothoth before I joined Ipsum… I listen to scores of different music… Extreme metal (Emperor, Nile…), mainstream stuff (Marilyn, In Flames…), stoner rock (Black Sabbath, QOTSA –I’ve got a stoner side-project), atmospheric music (Anathema, Nine Inch Nails), motion pictures music (Howard Shore, Morricone), classical (Wagner, Chostakovitch…) so I won’t list them…

There are not that many bands that are making a buzz from Switzerland. What is the scene like there and what are some bands for everyone to look out for?
Well, there’s no really organized scene down there, but there are a few good bands, the most known of them being Samael… Try to get hold of albums from Ever Since, Your Own Decay, Requiem, Unlight, Mirrorthrone or Unholy Matrimony if you can find them… You’ll then have a good idea of Switzerland’s best metal bands!! You should have heard of old quite important bands like Celtic Frost, Hellhammer or Coroner but they have split up a long time ago… The problem is, it’s very difficult to find places where to play live here, so we must go abroad and it’s not always easy to organize a big tour…

I imagine Switzerland as a mountainous region full of beautiful blonde haired women that ski and an endless supply of Ricola cough drops.... Am I pretty close to the right picture?
Yeah man, you’re always close to the mountains here that’s beautiful… As for skiing I really don’t know since I broke my leg twice trying to brag on the snow cause I’m a stupid drunkard… Yeah they’re not all blonde but there’s a load of beauty down there for sure… As for Ricola drops you will never manage to make me drink anything without alcohol in it so forget about it… More seriously, that’s a quite country where there isn’t any big city; yep we’re real woodmen / girls like Ted Nugent (you should see me running completely drunk in the forest with my gun shooting everything that moves)!!

Speaking of women.... Ipsum has two female members. Sarah the guitarist and Michelle the vocalist. Do you feel that having a female perspective puts a different spin on the content of the songs whether it is lyrically or musically?
Not really, in fact. As far as creation is concerned, I don’t feel there’s any real difference between man and women… There are differences between individuals, not sexes… You would never tell Sarah is a girl by simply listening to her playing the guitar… Any girl could “physically” play what I’m doing on my bass (Michelle was in fact Ipsum’s very first bassist)…It might be a bit different as far as the vocals are concerned, but we noticed Michelle’s voice could be -and was as a matter of fact- often mistaken for a man’s. Lyrically, there could be some differences if we directly wrote about love or sex but it’s not the case… Well, I think so; I may not have understood all the lyrics… Look, I must always remember Michelle –a girl- will have to sing what I’m writing, so I can not talk about fucking Pamela Anderson or anybody else cause she would fucking kill me!! (It could be fun, in fact)…

Have any of the band members dated each other at any point?
It sometimes happened with the first line-up, I assume… But not with any of the current members, unless they’re concealing things from me…Yeah yeah that’s right I fancy Sarah looked at Michelle in a strange way at the latest rehearsal but don’t put it on your website…

How does Michelle keep her voice strong with the intensity of the vocals she performs?
She’s a real drunkard. Try to make gallons of beer flow through your throat and you’ll see how you can scream!! More seriously, I don’t really know, she tries not to scream for hours in a row but to keep all her power for short and intense performance, I think…

Are there any strong religious or political beliefs within the band and it's members?
Well, I would say no, but I had this feeling songs like “Silent Skies” or “L’Oeuvre au Noir” are in fact atheist acts of faith or the negation of every existing religion, from paganism to new age… Well, I’m exaggerating a bit, as always, but this rage people have to consider their wishes or fantasies as reality is here clearly questioned… But I wouldn’t indulge in the same fanatic pattern, and atheism is for us only a hypothesis… Except for our guitar player Laurent that seems to be really involved in the pseudo-mystic Satanism circus…

As for political beliefs, it definitely doesn’t fall within the band’s competence… Swiss politics is interesting, but not very dramatic: fancy us writing metal lyrics about the Swiss welfare system… Yep, international politics can also be thrilling, but it really doesn’t suit Ipsum’s concept…Besides, I don’t think the other guys and girls are so much interested in that…

Hopefully you have heard of the TV show "Survivor". Lets say Ipsum is on Survivor and all of the band members are stranded on a desert island...who is the last one standing?
That’s really hard to tell: I know from experience Laurent can feed on spiders and Yvan is a bit of a boy scout –he’s at least able to break our balls with ecological theories- so they both have their chances, but I think Sarah and I are the only one able to push people down into a crocodile’s den for a bottle of beer, so it would be between her and me… The first to finish his whisky’s supply would lose, I suppose… So it would be her in the end, I guess…

If you could be any animal what would you be and why?
Michelle recently told me blue whales had two metres long cocks… But I must be realistic, I would be something like a lice or a crab… A little ugly scratching bitch you can never get rid of… I would suit me perfectly….

There is nothing better here in the United States than Jack Daniels and Coke. What is your favorite drink?
USA’s gifts to the world are Jackass, Jack Daniel’s and Morbid Angel… As for Coke, I’m not so sure; I’m waiting for Coca-Cola to put booze in it, in fact… But you should come down to Europe one of these days; we have an interesting variety of beers too… By the way, what’s the situation like in the States as far as beer is concerned? Do you have a lot of special brews?

Yeah…. tons of beers and microbreweries. Some big ones are Sweetwater (From my hometown-who even makes a beer called “420”), Pete’s Wicked Ale, Sierra Nevada, Abita (who makes Turbo Dog and Purple Haze) Sam Adams and of course my favorite Bud Light…. which also makes a great chaser while drinking whisky!

What lies ahead for Ipsum in the future and is there a tour planned?
There’s no tour planned for the time being unfortunately… We will try hard to get a decent contract with a label that would make us tour a bit, but we’re still looking for it up to now… We have already begin writing the next album, it sounds much heavier and faster than “Mystic”, but we’re trying hard to keep a couple of melodies in it…

Give me some words of encouragement or a phrase that you like to use.
French is our mother tongue: “Moi j’aime bien”, meaning, “I like that” (in every possible meanings)… I know, it’s not very smart but it’s four a.m. and I’ve finished a whole bottle of Jack answering your questions… Thanks for your support, your webzine kills, Tartarean rules!!!

To close things out is there anything you would like to say to all the people out there?
Yeah, we won’t have any extensive distribution in the states but you should be able to get “Mystic Evilution” at House of Death Records (www.houseofdeathrecords.com) if you’re interested in having it. If you still can’t get it, feel free to contact us (www.ipsum.ch, “contact section”) and we’ll see together what we can’t do… Hope we’ll see us one of these days, thanks again!!

Thanks for spending some of your time here with us and good luck to the band, as well as yourself in the future-we hope to hear a lot more from you guys!

Links of interest:

Adipocere Records
House Of Death Records