Artist: Mnemic – Tony Jelencovich (Vocals)
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Mnemic is one of those bands that have been kicking off the tours of some really great bands, but since they are often playing first there is the slight chance that you would miss them if you ran late to the gig. I first caught them when they opened for Soilwork & Dark Tranquility and at the time the band was fronted by Michael Bogballe, who while very good at what he did, simply did not take the band to the next Metal level. Shortly after that tour, he would leave the lineup to pursue other interests and the band would bring on Tony Jelencovich to handle the microphone duties. Immediately after this the group was brought on the road with the ever-innovative juggernaut that is Meshuggah. I attended this Meshuggah show with my friend and colleague Peter Pardo, Publisher of Sea Of Tranquility and we found ourselves backstage after Mnemic had finished. Some quick introductions and hellos enabled us to snare some of Tony’s time just minutes after he completed a blistering set of music with the band. Both Peter and I conducted the questions and all of them are provided for the readers. The funny thing about interviews like this is the last minute spontaneity to them. Nothing was scripted it was just talk so don’t over analyze it, just enjoy.
PiercingMetal: ok, so we are hanging out with Tony Jelencovich, lead singer for the band Mnemic, he is the new singer for the band, and he has just walked off the stage after a killer 45 minute set. So is this the first time you have ever played in New York as a singer for a Metal band or have you done this before with another group that we are unaware of.
Jelencovich: Yeah I guess you can say that yes. I have played one show before in my old band, but it was like an invite only showcase at SIR Studio. So you play but it is not necessarily a gig.
PiercingMetal: So how does it feel being the new lead singer for Mnemic for only a couple of months and then immediately jumping on the road for a tour supporting Meshuggah.
Jelencovich: That is really amazing because you know this only became official on the 12th of September that I was the new singer, so everything has been moving along fast.
Sea Of Tranquility: So you’ve only been in the band a month.
Jelencovich: No, no, I only rehearsed for two days with those guys and then had to go straight to Stockholm to take care of my Visa and then straight to Philly and now here I am. This is the tenth show in a row, we like shows every day and there are going to be 43 shows in total.
PiercingMetal: This is not a bad thing for a new singer.
Jelencovich: No, it’s not a bad thing but at the same time it’s a lot of hard work, travel and stuff like that but so much of it is inspiring and I am motivated to do this.
PiercingMetal: Well you sounded very fantastic up there and I want to give time to my colleague Pete who has some questions while we have you here.
Sea Of Tranquility: so what were you doing before you joined the band and how did it come about for you to be a part of Mnemic.
Jelencovich: Well, I’ve been playing in bands since I was like 18 and both of the bands I was a part of had some US Releases but we were never able to tour here. One band called “Transport League” and as to how I got to know the Mnemic guys well I run a Metal club in Gothenburg and this Danish band sent me a demo and I booked them. The show drew about 30 people and they did not even have a deal yet and eventually the group got the deal with Nuclear Blast and we met at one of the Festivals. They stopped at my house for a party while on tour with Machinehead and essentially, we just became friends. Later on Murcia had called me and said he had something important to ask me. It was if I wanted to be the lead singer in the band or for that matter try out. I was pretty sure that I was going to make it but you get that weird feeling that wow you audition and then go straight to touring. I was a little bit nervous even though I had some experience in this.
PiercingMetal: So you pretty much saw Mnemic play at your club and said to yourself that I would like to sing for these guys.
Jelencovich: No. I didn’t actually think that because I had my own thing going on and everything was cool with that but it just such a coincidence that I am in the band in a way. They always liked my stuff that I was doing with the other band.
PiercingMetal: there was one thing me and Pete were discussing about the band, as we had just seen them open up for Soilwork with Dark Tranquility and Hypocrisy – this was a very sick show and while we had enjoyed the Mnemic sound we found that while watching you tonight that the sound has gotten a lot heavier and also a lot darker. The group is now much more in your face so what do you attribute that to or how do you justify the band switching gears a little bit more than they had before you joined.
Jelencovich: Well I am more of a darker and a meaner guy, and I mean Michael is cool but was more of a pretty boy.
Sea Of Tranquility: Didn’t I say that earlier, but it was more of his image didn’t fit the band but when you were on stage it was like, “Wow”, he belongs here.
PiercingMetal: As I stood there doing photos, I was afraid you that he was going to jump offstage and hit me because of the flash (laughter).
Jelencovich: Exactly, I want people to feel like that when I am up there.
PiercingMetal: Well, not the Reporters!
Jelencovich: During the song, the people feel like I want to beat them up and in the breaks it’s a normal feeling but I soon change face again. It’s all about theatre and all about acting.
Sea Of Tranquility: Are you a fan of Tim “Ripper” Owens at all.
Jelencovich: From Judas Priest ?
Sea Of Tranquility: Yes because some of your movements on stage reminded me a little of him during a performance.
Jelencovich: No, no, I mean of course he is a very good singer and I saw him with Judas Priest when they came to Gothenburg and he does his shit good you know. Then I see some pictures of him playing and I am like “shit, that looks a little like me”…..so maybe it’s the looks that we make .
PiercingMetal: Yeah the whole “Mean” thing that you get going on, the kind of singer who makes you afraid to watch him.
Sea Of Tranquility: So what do you attribute to the whole success of the Gothenburg Sound, I mean there is In Flames, Soilwork and Dark Tranquility and Arch Enemy and all these bands. There is just an incredible amount of music coming from this area. Do you think that this style is going to catch on here more in the US. I mean Ozzfest just finished and there were four Swedish bands on the bill.
Jelencovich: If you mean do I have an answer as to why it is like that I don’t know, I mean it’s just how it played out. We do have a very good opportunity to develop if you’re in a band in Sweden. I’m working with a developmental thing/cultural thing and the thing is that we help bands out. They join us, they fill out a form every time they rehearse and every six weeks they send a new form with the details, and we give them $200 US dollars. With this, they can pay their rehearsal and they can pay for strings and whatever stuff they might need to develop and play. So that is a very good thing and this is not anywhere else but in Sweden. At the same time, I don’t know if we have put everything one-step up, but the level and the quality has to be so much better and there is some talent. But at the same time, this Gothenburg sound thing is just something that has been created in Gothenburg. Pretty much, but at the same time to create something that is really special and really new well that hasn’t been done in many years. Meshuggah, is one of those special things, Tool and Rage Against The Machine. People tell me many times, ah well you Swedish do all this stuff really good but at the same time, it isn’t really anything of your own. You are essentially the Japanese of Europe. It is really funny.
PiercingMetal: Have they been listening to too much Britney Spears?
Jelencovich: Britney Spears is also produced in Stockholm. You know that Sweden is the second largest exporter of music after the US.
Sea Of Tranquility: I was interviewing the Swedish Progressive Rock group The flower Kings a few months ago, I am not sure you have heard of them but one of the questions that came up was basically what I asked you and they said some things that mirror your own words, but they also added that in Sweden it is very popular to send your kids off to study music. They said this is really, really big there and seems to explain why there is so much quality music coming from the country. People are not going to school to become computer scientists and engineers but instead are going to school for the arts. This applies to all the styles that we are seeing coming about.
PiercingMetal: Another question for you is not only did you walk into the band a month ago and the band says ok Tony you are now in the band but also let us tell you that we are planning on hitting the road with Meshuggah. What was the thought process going on in your head when they told you that.
Jelencovich: I was very excited about it because these bands are doing good over here. I was also excited because I knew all these guys from before, I know the Meshuggah guys, and I know the Haunted guys. Even the crew and some of their guests as well, so I was very happy. Everybody is very cool on this.
PiercingMetal: How do you like the tour so far?
Jelencovich: Very good, I am very satisfied because we have seen pretty big crowds of between 400 and 800 people.
PiercingMetal: Would you say that you are going over well as the bands new singer? Meaning there is no problem with any of the fans of the band who are holding to the original singer.
Jelencovich: Well, there is always going to be a little of that since I am the second singer. “oh he is not doing this or that right”.
Sea Of Tranquility: Did you sense any of this tonight.
Jelencovich: No, not at all
PiercingMetal: Now New York is a tough crowd to win over sometimes.
Jelencovich: Well, you have shows seven days a week here and the people are very spoiled. It’s the whole big town phenomena.
PiercingMetal: I guess we should let you get on with some of your night but before we go let’s ask about what is in store for the listener on the new Mnemic album.
Jelencovich: Yes, we have a lot of songs ready and we will start recording in February. I think the album will be more dynamic with more of a dynamic vocal. The thing is that I’m not the kind of high-pitched screamer guy that Michael is. I don’t think I can really do all that kind of shit but I certainly can do other stuff .
PiercingMetal: The whole set overall came across as very in your face and in some senses, it was very “Meshuggah-like”. I think this is good because of the heavy, industrialized and progressive sound is doing so well now. Prior to this, where Mnemic did not fit on a bill like this or for that matter with the Soilwork show where you could say, “eh it is ok if they are not on this show, but they are good”, now you see the band coming out as the first line of support for Meshuggah and you find it making a little more sense.
Sea Of Tranquility: I think a lot of people who maybe hadn’t heard of the band before they came to this show would really be impressed by you tonight. We watched as you performed and there were people getting into it.
PiercingMetal: Right, and now you have the chance to reach out to Meshuggah fans because you have a darker style and like you said earlier you are a mean and nasty guy (Tony laughs) who I’m afraid to do the interview with – So in closing what would you like to say to the audiences out there who are listening to Metal and following these kind of bands and so forth.
Jelencovich: I feel 2006 is going to be a very good year, I mean this album is going to be something that Mnemic hasn’t done before. Everything on it is going to show how the band has progressed so much. It’s going to be a blast.
PiercingMetal: OK man, so let’s leave you be to relax and have some beers with the guys, we are going to do the same out in the crowd.
The Meshuggah tour would raise the bar for Metal once again and while shorter than most would like was a great way to see some of the more innovative players in the genre. Mnemic would soon plan for US Touring again as support for Arch Enemy, another group that is causing quite the stir in the Metal world. We will be certain to catch them on this one, and recommend you all do the same.
Editor’s Note: While the reasoning is unclear, not long after the Arch Enemy tour, Tony Jelencovich left the ranks of Mnemic. We enjoyed his being a part of the group and felt he helped make more people aware of their unique brand of Metal. We wish him the best of success in his future endeavors and hope to see him perform again soon.
Official Web site: www.mnemic.com