Maurice de Jong is so prolific he could make Non Serviam seem unproductive. Though probably most well known through his terrifying experimental black metal noise project Gnaw Their Tongues, Maurice has been making music for over 30 years and has had (and continues to have) too many musical projects to mention, but we can name a few more: Cloak of Altering, Golden Ashes and The Sombre just for example.
Aware that Maurice always has something going on, I contacted him a few months back for an interview. Though he agreed, my subsequent questions got lost in the ether for a while. This brief disclaimer is just so you don’t wonder why I’m asking him about albums that came out months ago. I decided to keep my original questions as they were. I hope this dash of temporal surrealism will add to rather than detract from the interview. Maurice talked about a number of his musical projects and gave some insight into his music making. I was delighted to learn more, I hope you’ll enjoy the interview.
It’s hard these days to get through a conversation without mentioning Covid, so let’s get it out of the way. How much have you been affected this past year with work and music and whatever else you’ve wanted to do?
Maurice: Workwise I work at home now since the first lock down. And it’s a blessing. I was already not too happy with my job, but working at home is somewhat better. Plus I have two small children, so I get to spend so much more time with them which is a good thing. Of course I don’t play live as much as I used to, but again, with kids, I already was planning on doing less shows and traveling. So, as funny as it might sound, Covid is actually a blessing for my personal life.
I read you saying that from a production point of view you try to recreate an 80s or 90s Metal sound in your music. What is it that really grabs you from this era and what’s gone wrong since then?
Maurice: It’s simply the sound I grew up with. The older I get the more I realize that the stuff that really sticks with you is the stuff you grow up on. I like the imperfections, I like the Naivety of that era. Everything is all perfect, click track’ed and pro-tool’ed into something soulless and boring these days.
Many of your recordings have been solo projects, but you’ve had plenty of collaborations too. What are the pros and cons for you of making music alone or with others?
Maurice: The pro’s: I can do whatever I want. I have a certain vision of how I want things to sound and rarely does that come in fruition when other people are involved. In fact, almost after every collaboration I swear I won’t do it again. There’s always some compromise and I don’t do comprise that well. Of course there are projects where the approach is different: I go into those with an open mind. ‘Lets see what happens’. And those will turn into shit but sometimes also into something really nice. To me there are no real cons working on my own.
Gnaw Their Tongues is a fascinating project. You have these frankly terrifying recordings, combined with striking artwork and some of the most inspired (and often distressing) album and track titles. Is the horror of Gnaw Their Tongues a statement on the atrocities committed by humankind, or is it more about an inner experience?
Maurice: It used to be me just screaming at the world. A way of expressing that worked really well for me. Then it evolved into something more of a statement. Over time I really changed. I’m not that dark person I was back in 2004. So the need for me to do GTT has somewhat diminished. And I’ve done so much already. But there are some small GTT projects coming up.
You have a new Grand Celestial Nightmare album “Forbidden Knowledge and Ancient Wisdom” due out in March this year. How would you characterise this project to the uninitiated?
Maurice: It’s inspired by nineties symphonic black metal mixed with that typical Greek black metal sound. Both types of black metal I like very much. It also contains a lot of heavy metal influences. That album is out and It’s doing great.
You’ve already shared the track “Splendid Euphoria Of Murdering Ravens” from your planned next Cloak of Altering release [Sheathed Swords Drip With Poisonous Honey]. What’s the latest on when that might come out and what can people expect from the new album?
Maurice: The album is out and it seems to be doing great. All the reviews have been great. I think it’s the best COA album to date. The whole of COA is heavily inspired by Dodheimsgard’s 666 international album. That combination of madness, industrial electronic sounds and harsh black metal. I tried to make this album as mad as possible but also as musical as possible. I’ve worked very hard on the arrangements and on getting all parts ‘hooks’.
You’ve mentioned before your interest in science fiction. Are there any sci-fi movies or books that have had a particular influence on projects like Cloak of Altering?
Maurice: Nothing in particular. But I grew up with 80’s sci fi movies and of course all the classics. I like the combination of sci-fi and horror. With the 2015 COA album ‘Manifestation’ I tried to conjure the atmosphere of the original ALIEN trilogy and EVENT HORIZON.
How do you feel about this era of streaming music, both as a listener and a music maker, and has it helped to get your music to a wider audience, or has it been more negative with people now less often buying music?
Maurice: Well, I personally find streaming music so boring and soulless. You should see my office ..it’s all tapes, cds and lps. It’s nice to check new stuff out online. But I like to buy the music I like.
As anyone who follows your music knows, you’re very prolific. What other upcoming releases are there on the horizon that you’d like to mention?
Maurice: I got a bunch of dungeon synth related stuff coming out. Plus a new Grand Celestial Nightmare in 2022. There are two GTT split albums planned too for 2022.
interview by Tom Boatman
Thanks to Maurice for his time. You can check out all of Maurice’s latest projects and releases on the Gnaw Their Tongues bandcamp page and follow him on the links below to stay up to date with what’s coming up next.
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