From Hard Rock To Mörti Viventi: The Story of Adrian Heathershaw And The Day The Dead Returned.

Flash back to the 1980’s. Many of us know this as the “golden age” of heavy metal and rightfully so. Iron Maiden were selling out arenas, thrash was quickly establishing itself as a popular sub-genre with a new band popping up just about every time the minute hand on the clock moved, and death metal was starting to emerge as the next “big thing.” In the middle of all of this a young boy by the name of Adrian Heathershaw was just starting his musical journey. Flash forward to modern times and Heathershaw is best known for his work in Mörti Viventi, a one piece thrash metal band that has been turning heads since releasing their – or rather his – debut album, “The Day The Dead Returned…” But before he was turning heads and wrecking necks as Mörti Viventi, Heathershaw was just a kid discovering what music was. “Thinking back to when I was as child my mum would listen to ‘Bat Out Of Hell’ by Meat Loaf, some Bruce Sprinsteen and some Bon Jovi.” Heathershaw recalls in a recent interview with Global Thrash Assault. “I liked the rock sound, it had something about it, a certain attitude that was different to a lot of popular music around at the times.”

Although Springsteen and Bon Jovi may seem like peculiar beginnings for any metal head, Heathershaw’s journey would soon take a turn that would lead him down a much heavier road. “Where it really started for me though was when I heard on tape ‘Appetite For Destruction’ by Guns ‘n’ Roses via my older brother” Heathershaw reminisces. “Guns ‘n’ Roses was the heaviest thing I’d ever heard until I stumbled across Metallica just after the ‘Black Album’ was released. I was obsessed with both bands at the times, it was all about Guns ‘n’ Roses and Metallica for me.”

“Getting into the back catalogue of Metallica, the fast stuff really had me hooked. The live version of ‘Whiplash’ off ‘Binge & Purge’ in San Diego was the first time I’d heard that particular song. Incredible! That fast chugging on the guitar was like nothing I’d ever heard before. A friend and I used to headbang to that until our necks couldn’t take anymore.”

A few years after discovering Guns ‘n’ Roses and Metallica Heathershaw attended the Donington Festival in 1995. “It was life changing” says Heathershaw of the festival. “I began craving for something even heavier, faster, darker, more evil.” Pretty soon Heathershaw found himself listening to bands we’re all familiar with: Megadeth, Slayer, Sepultura, Mercyful Fate & King Diamond. “(They were) amazing times back then” Heathershaw recalls “discovering new (old) music. Each time being blown away!”

With his musical journey well underway, Heathershaw began his journey as a musician at the age of 13 when he started playing around on a friends guitar. “I took some lessons at school, half an hour once a week playing a mix of blues and some rock too” Heathershaw recalls “This helped me understand the basics and some theory.”

“Every spare minute I sat in my bedroom on the guitar!” Heathershaw continues ” I played bass later on when I joined a local band that needed a bass player. Drumming wise, I played on a couple of old demos I recorded on my 4-track recorder for a band I was in after college and I once recorded a Misfits cover with me on drums, bass, guitar and vocals but that’s about the limit for me.”

Eventually Heathershaw began playing in bands and at the age of 16 he joined his first band with some friends from school. “We had more of a hard rock sound overall” says Heathershaw of his first band. “Ultimately, it was musical differences that brought that band to an end after a good couple of years of gigging.” Although things didn’t work out with his first band, Heathershaw was far from done playing in bands. “I played bass guitar in another band after that, we were playing death/thrash.” However much like the first band he was in, things didn’t work out. “That band had various problems and we called it a day recording the first album.”

It was during this time that Heathershaw began learning more about how to record and mix an album on his own. “I’ve had the idea of Mörti Viventi in my mind for as long as I can remember” Heathershaw says “Some of the guitar riffs on the album I’ve had since I was a lot younger than I am now. The same goes for some of the lyric ideas too.” Eventually Heathershaw had his full of trying to find the right people to work with and rather than continue with the tireless search of finding like-minded musicians he set off on his own. “Whichever band I’ve played with, Mörti Viventi was always in the background, behind the scenes and taking shape a little bit at a time” Heathershaw recalls. “I had originally thought of this project as a band but with the problem of finding band members and believing I could do it all myself, I just kind of said “fuck it, I’ll do it all myself” I added some more RAM to my PC, bought a recording interface, and spent a lot of time on the Andy Sneap forum and took it from there.”

Of course deciding to write and record an album entirely on your own is easier said than done. So how does one exactly go about writing an album entirely on their own? “Most of the time it will start with a guitar riff” says Heathershaw. “I’ll be jamming away randomly and something will come out that I like and I’ll keep that idea, either record it or hopefully remember it. Once I have a few ideas I can see what works with what.”

Of course there’s more to writing an album than just noodling around on a guitar during your free time as Heathershaw explains:

“Whenever I’m writing a song I’ll go over and over and over song ideas in my head until I get a feel for the whole thing with drums and some vocal melodies over the top. Some songs can hang around in my head for months or weeks at about 80% complete so that usually means I have the riffs, some lyrics, a song title and an idea of what drums are going to go on top. At this point I’ll start to record the song, just rough tracks though alongside a click-track, and when it is pretty much written and complete I will record all the parts again but this time with the intention of them being the final takes that will make the album.”

With the album written it was onto the recording process and although Heathershaw had prior experience behind the controls, recording “The Day The Dead Returned…” was once again easier said than done. “I recorded an E.P. for Death Valley Piledriver before this album” says Heathershaw of his previous recording experience. “I really enjoyed doing that and it gave me some experience in recording and mixing. That was the first proper piece I’ve recorded and mixed but ‘The Day The Dead Returned…’ was the first album I’ve recorded on my own.”

So what exactly were some of the obstacles Heathershaw faced while recording “The Day The Dead Returned…”? “Technical difficulties included two power supplies dying on me, a graphics card that started causing my PC to not boot up and blue screen randomly during recording sessions, a dead stick of RAM, Windows corrupted on more than once occasion too, and I think that was caused as a result of some of the other problems with the hardware.” So was all that computer trouble worth it? “I should’ve done it a long time ago, but better late than never!” says Heathershaw.

After listening to the finished result of all that writing, recording, re-recording, rebooting, and assumably hair pulling, I too wish Heathershaw released “The Day The Dead Returned…” much sooner than he did. With many bands today worrying more about playing fast than anything else, Mörti Viventi is a breathe of fresh air in an often times stagnate scene. “There’s nothing wrong with writing an album that’s a hundred miles an hour all the way through or where some of the songs get lost in others” Heathershaw explains, “I wanted this album to have more variety than that.” I can’t imagine Heathershaw not being happy with the end result. If there’s one thing “The Day The Dead Returned…” has it’s variety. From the chugging riffs on “Hell on Earth” to the near 14 minute instrumental “The Arrival Of The Anti-God” to the neck snapping main riff on “Maniac/Face The Shape” “The Day The Dead Returned…” hits the mark in just about every sense. In fact if you add up all the mind-bending leads and fantastic drumming on this album and factor in all the ridiculously good riffs and zombie lyrics you have an album that actually exceeds the mark and raises the bar to a level that most bands today can only dreaming of reaching. “I like things to be fast, heavy, coherent and have feeling” explains Heathershaw. “There’s some really great music out there nowadays and with the internet it’s easily accessible but with so much out there you have to sometimes sound a bit different to grab people’s attention.”

So how have the fans been responding to “The Day The Dead Returned…”? Better than anticipated according to Heathershaw. “I honestly didn’t think I’d get as much of a response as I have so far. I was happy enough just to get the music out there for people to listen to and have some cool artwork to go with it. Now, I’m lucky enough to have UKEM Records put out a short run of CDs, do digital distribution and some t-shirts too. I’ve seen the Facebook page grow to about 700 plus likes in recent months which is incredible and I hope that continues. It’s great that the music is getting around which is what it is all about!”

With one album under his belt and a growing fan base what’s next for Heathershaw and Mörti Viventi? “I’d really like to take it live at some point” Heathershaw says. “I’m not exactly sure when that will happen though. For the moment I’m keeping it as a one man project but that could change tomorrow, who knows?” As for as new music Heathershaw insists “The Day The Dead Returned…” is not the last we’ll be hearing of Mörti Viventi. “I have a couple of tracks half written and a title for the follow up which I’m not going to give away just yet! It will be heavy, thrashy and who knows, maybe there’ll be some zombies too!”

Let’s hope Heathershaw can give us a new Mörti Viventi album soon but any new material would be better late than never, and in the case of Heathershaw and Mörti Viventi that’s just fine by me!

Mörti Viventi – The Day The Dead Returned…

Be sure to check out Mörti Viventi on Facebook and don’t forget to purchase “The Day The Dead Returned…” on either BandCamp or iTunes!

 

 

 

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