Words by David C. Obenour
Self Worth had its genesis in a similar environment to what the world of its release would look like. Secluding themselves in a house in the countryside of south France, Jazz Rodríguez and Carla Pérez Vas reimagined the band as they began work for the first time without drummer, Antonio Postius. It was a chance to focus on what they had originally loved in the band and what they have come to love in it.
The resulting album is filled with energy, angst and passion. The songs are angular and adventurous, but still accessible and familiar to the sounds that had come before. Self Worth is the sound of a band who have found, and are celebrating, just that very thing.
A year later the setting is similar, though the spirit is different. Based in Spain, Jazz and Carla, along with bandmates Leia Rodríguez and Victor Pelusa, are all in quarantine. More introspection. More time to imagine and reimagine. Though this time it’s for a different reason.
Off Shelf: Before getting into things, I just want to ask, have you been holding up alright? How has quarantine in Spain been?
Carla Pérez Vas: To be 100% honest, no, not at all. Life has really changed in so many ways and levels and we’re really trying to prioritize mental health and ourselves first. Quarantine in Spain was really hard. We couldn’t leave our house from March till late May, I think, only allowed to go to the supermarket. It was crazy, the cities were empty, everything shot down. At the moment, we’re under a curfew, a weekend lockdown, bars are closed, etc. We really hope things get better and the government’s help those who are in ASAP in need of a home and money to survive…
OS: You wrote the songs for Self Worth after a stay in the mountains in France after parting ways with original drummer, Antonio Postius. Can you talk about the space you were in when you went out for this week away? How did writing come to you this time?
CPV: We stayed for 5 days in a tiny house in Lalanne, the south of France. Our views were; a huge tree, the white Pyrénées and green fields to walk and lay down! Our routine would change depending on the day/how we were feeling but normally we would wake up, have a shower, breakfast and walk around and start writing, chat for a while about what ideas we had, cook lunch and drink some beer, have a tiny break while watching some movies and then playing and writing again till night time. There it was easier for us to stay inspired, also because we love being on our own with no distractions and we love being in the mountains so it was super chill and great!
OS: How do you feel Victor changes the drive of the band? Did his playing change how you approached the songs?
CPV: Victor has a great energy that is contagious. We realized that the process of touring, writing music, recording was smooth and fun with him. He comes from a Hardcore background so you can tell that was added to our sound – we love that – and we can’t wait to play live because we get along very well onstage.
OS: You also shared some behind the scenes footage from the recording of Self Worth in the lead up to its release. Were you at all self conscious in offering this? What was the inspiration for offering this?
CPV: When we went to France we carried our friend’s Hi8 VHS because we love filming and taking photos of our process and nature, etc. We had later on the idea of doing a documentary about the process of our new album Self Worth. It always feels natural to us to capture these experiences as touring so when we grow old there’s proof we weren’t dreaming.
OS: Has not being able to perform these songs live on tour affected your relationship to them as opposed to other albums you were able to go out and directly support?
CPV: We went through a year period without playing in the past so we kind of knew what it was. We still love these songs and they represent us at the moment. We’re engaging with fans through social media more now asking them about the songs and it has been obviously different but we still get that response and we’re happy.
OS: Even going back a few months, things continue to drastically shift around us. Does where the world is now affect your relationship with the songs?
CPV: In a way it does because we wrote Self Worth to perform it onstage, to let those feelings go while playing. Now we feel kinda trapped because nothing seems to move into getting better. We’ve become more aware of how culture is important to society and how badly treated it is by ruling people.
OS: “Apathy” really stands out in the use of space with the stripped down sections and spoken word vocals. Can you talk about how that song came together?
CPV: Since we started thinking about the album this idea of having a song where there was this kind of speech vocals and only drum and bass popped out. We wrote the lyrics – as long as the bible – and little by little like a puzzle we kind of put it all together. When we finished Apathy we looked at each other and realized that it was one of our favorite songs of the new album. We played that song twice and it is a shot of adrenaline onstage!
OS: There’s a really great flow to songs, navigating styles and a range of emotion. Can you talk about how you sequenced the album?
CPV: We always have more or less an idea of how we want the tracklist of our records but with Self Worth we couldn’t figure it out. We had a few ideas but not the whole. So we asked our team, friends and family for help. We love how it turned out.
OS: I also wanted to ask about the cover – it’s a really beautiful shot with striking colors. Can you talk about the direction that went into that shot? What resonated with you about it?
CPV: Christian Colomer and Ricardo Sanfeliu worked together for the cover and press photos. We chose them because they’re great at working with fashion photography and as they were friends of ours it was super easy to share our ideas and understand each other. We wanted a really colorful and alive atmosphere for this album. Our last three albums covers have been in black & white or cold and less-saturated colors and we feel like this album is a new chapter so we wanted that contrast.
OS: In a lot of ways Self Worth seems like a new start for Mourn. What excites you about the band going forward?
CPV: What excites us now is what always excited us, touring and playing live. Sharing that moment with people is what we most enjoy.