In August Relapse Records issued the third CD No Tolerance For Imperfection from the Scottish death metal band Man Must Die. The CD showed a different and more mature side of the four-piece. That amongst other things woke my interest. Some weeks ago I asked guitarist Alan McFarland some questions. It proved to be an interesting and elaborate conversation about the song-writing, the recording of No Tolerance For Imperfection and many, many other issues.

Alan McFarland interviewed by PSL

How are things going in Glasgow right now?
Things are ok, we just got back from playing in Portugal at the Bracara Extreme Fest last night, and now we turn our attention to hitting the studio to start writing for the next album, which we are all looking forward to getting our teeth into.

In early August you put out your third album No Tolerance For Imperfection. In terms of the music, what has changed compared to The Human Condition?
We think a lot has changed, we have a new drummer in place which has really spiced things up a huge deal, and with us using Scott Atkins who is a great producer we really managed to get exactly what we wanted to get down on No Tolerance For Imperfection. We really wanted to push the extremities of what Man Must Die are all about, in terms of brutality and melodic styles, but also focusing on writing something that is true and fresh whilst keeping the classic style of song writing as apparent as possible, whish is really important to us.

Do you feel that No Tolerance For Imperfection shows a more mature side of Man Must Die and is it something you have worked on?
We didn't have to work on being more mature, No Tolerance For Imperfection is our third album and every band should be naturally progressing and maturing by that time so its entirely a natural process, and one that we are happy about as for us No Tolerance For Imperfection shows a more focused and mature side to Man Must Die, we had touches of what direction we were going in with the first two albums but we really feel we have found what Man Must Die is on this album.

How do you go about writing the music? Do you think of when writing the songs that there need to be a little of this and that for it to be interesting and fun to play?
You know, it's a difficult question to answer as it comes so naturally, which makes the process difficult to explain. Really a song will start with some riff ideas, usually two or three that go well together and we sit down and piece it all together, its al done with the view of creating something that gets our blood pumping, we write music that we want to hear and really just hope that others feel what we are doing. The way we wrote No Tolerance For Imperfection was basically Joe, Dan and myself writing the album at home with a drum machine as we had parted ways with our old drummer, so we decided to write the album then find a replacement, which we done and handed Matt the new CD and he learnt it and added his own touches, was a very simple process and very effective.

Have your preferences in terms of music changed compared to when the four of you started the band?
Yes and no, we still love what we did back then, as for us metal never leaves you, the stuff that influenced me as a guitarist will always be a part of who I am and what i write. Don't get me wrong, new influences can come and go and add to what you do, but we now find that we influence each other in the band and less and less we are influenced with what bands we listen to.

Has it changed anything in regards to the song-writing that Matt Holland joined the band?
Yes, it will now when we start writing the next album as we have so much more options available to us, Matt is a great professional and isn't happy with himself if he doesn't give 100% so that will transpire onto the next album, just like it did with No Tolerance For Imperfection.

You recorded No Tolerance For Imperfection in Grindstone Studio. What made you choose Scott Atkins and his studio?
We chose Scott for a few reasons, but the main one was that he is a great producer, we heard a demo he had done with one of our friends bands and it sounded immense, so we thought we would give him a go, also because he was much closer to us in terms of distance compared to some of the US producers we talked to. Scott will easily be one of the biggest and best in the UK in the coming years, he also was asked by Colin Richardson to work with him on the latest Behemoth CD. Scott will be great and we hope to work with him again.

Do you think you got the production you were looking for?
I would say yes, we would have liked to have a little more natural sound with the drums, but it would have taken a lot more time and money to get absolute perfection of what we wanted, but we are delighted with how it turned out. It's by far the most clear, precise and powerful album we have done to date and a lot of that is down to Scott, he pushed us in every way to get the best out of each of us.

The lyrics, are they inspired by everyday life?
Yes, most of the lyrics are influenced by the daily live we live and the things we have to witness and live through, some of the lyrics even touch on subjects like depression, on "This Day is Black". The fur trade, on "Kill It Skin It Wear It" and things like the plastic surgery trade, kids trying to make themselves look like their favourite movie stars etc., on "No Tolerance For Imperfection". The lyrics will always be about personal experiences or views on what's happening around is as its very important to us that people can connect with us on the lyrical side of things and our vocalist Joe really puts his heart and soul into what we sing about and that's very evident live.

Do you think the lyrics and song-titles are a central part of the music? A lot of bands seem not to spend much time on coming up with good lyrics/song-titles.
Yes, I agree many bands don't, but we see it as a wasted opportunity to make things interesting with your band and to even get points across or just to make people aware that everyone on this planet goes through the same things, and people in bands are no different. The lyrical side to Man Must Die is equally important as the music and always will be. I don't see the point in working so hard to get the music you want to create as perfect as you can then to sing about hacking people up, or sleeping with corpses [laughs]. I guess, each to their own.

When you're not playing music what do you all do for a living?
We all have small jobs that can be left if need be, at this level you have to have a flexible life, so if a tour opportunity comes up you can take it, I teach guitar, Joe works in a gym, Dan works as a maintenance worker on a holiday park and Mat is a chef.

On your MySpace page you write that No Tolerance For Imperfection is the album you always wanted to make. What are your goals from now on?
The goals are always to keep things fresh and energetic, and try and bring in new styles of musical diversity. We must always try to do better than the last album.

Besides the UK dates in November, do you have any other tour plans?
Yes we have a UK tour in February 2010 with Decapitated and Kataklysm which should be great and we also have a full European tour lined up for April 2010 which will take us to countries we haven't played before like Denmark, Hungary, Slovenia etc., once it's all confirmed it will be posted on our MySpace page, which should be in the coming weeks.

How does 2010 look for Man Must Die?
Its looking to be busy which is exactly how we want it to be, we have some tours in the pipeline and we want to write the next CD, so yeah it should hopefully be a cool year for Man Must Die, and we hope to share some of the fun with some of your readers if we manage to play locally.

Anything you'd like to add to conclude this interview?
Thanks for the interview bro, and i hope to meet you sometime at one of our shows and everyone who can make it, we plan to get ourselves everywhere next year so come along and have some beers with us and rock out. Stay cool.

© 2 0 0 3  -  2 0 1 2   w w w . s u p r e m e b r u t a l i t y . n e t