The line-up and the history of the German band MEKONG DELTA was
to be the best kept secret in the world. At the end of 1985 an idea was
born to start a studio project with German metal musicians. It was
supposed to outshine all independent releases musically. The fear that
German musicians may not be accepted, led to the decision to keep
everything about the band a secret. The name Zardoz was rejected,
followed by the acceptance of the name “Mekong Delta”, named after a
riverbed in Vietnam. The entire project was started by Ralf Hubert,
sound-engineer of Warlock, Steeler and Living Death, and owner of the
In the mid-nineties, the band ceases to exist and some ten years later,
the musicians re-unite. In 2007 the album ‘Lurking Fear’ is released and
it appears, followed by the album ‘Wanderer On The Edge Of Time’ in
2010. Only recently, the album ‘In A Mirror Darkly’ was recorded and so
we decided to put a number of questions to
Martin and Erik.
It’s been a couple of years since you reformed, so can
you give us a little update about what’s been happening since then?
To me, it’s been a great experience with Mekong Delta ever since I
joined the band. We did 3 records, played festivals and shows in Russia,
Greece, Norway, Denmark, France, Lithuania and many more countries. And
what I’m probably most proud of is the fact, that we had the longest
running stable line-up in the band’s history.
How did you launch into writing material for your album
‘In A Mirror Darkly’, could you tell us about the process?
Usually Ralf writes all the music minus the drum parts before we get
It’s a cool and very special way of
composing. Rather than thinking in terms of guitar or bass parts, he
approaches the compositions like a classical composer. It’s all
different voices, like in an orchestra. Then later, we work out fitting
drum parts and the voices are distributed among guitar and bass.
and when all this is done, I lay down my own vocal lines over the
madness. Then usually Ralf and I share the lyrical duties, et voila.
What were the goals you had in mind when you started to
record ‘In A Mirror Darkly’, any elements you definitely wanted to
include on the album?
The first goal we had ended in an accident. Ralf started composing the
material to another story “Into the Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad.
He had some ideas and we tried some different guitar playing technics.
As more melodies and themes were done we recognized that the main theme
didn't fit anymore. So we had to put the idea on the shelf and started
again with a new feeling for it. Soon we thought about our protagonist
of the “Wanderer...” album, the 'violin player', who hadn't finished his
story yet. Ralf sent me a lot of scores of themes and melodies an we
chose those which sounded best after I recorded them with the guitar.
For Ralf and me the Ouverture-, Janus- and Inside the Outside of the
Inside-themes were the elements we definitely would like to hear on the
What is the part that satisfies you most in comparison to
the older albums?
I think that on “In A Mirror Darkly” we managed to walk that thin line
of playing a lot, but never playing too much. Every note has to be
there. I’m proud of that.
For me it's the dynamics that I really love on that album. It's really
an into the face album but on some points it also has its beautiful and
deep moments, where you tend to get carried away with the melodies, just
to be dragged down to the riffing pit in the next moment.
Since the making of the “Lurking Fear” album I believe that Ralf has
found some kind of essence for his art of composing. The “Wanderer...”
album and “In A Mirror Darkly” are much more complex than the older
albums. But it's much easier to listen to. The songs follow a straight
Could you please describe the implications of the title
‘In A Mirror Darkly’, what does it stand for and is there a special
meaning behind it?
It's meant like a multiversal mirror. It's like looking into a crystal
ball to see what would have happened if some things in history would
have gone in different directions, only that the “darkly” implies that
it's even worse than reality. So it's a dark vision of an even darker
history. In “Mutant Messiah” for example the Messiah doesn't die for the
sins of his followers, he lets them swallow and suffocate on their sins.
Just to get the picture...
Where do you get your inspiration from, can you tell me a
little more about the songs?
As I mentioned before there was the idea of continuing the story of the
“Wanderer”. He approached first on the “Principle of Doubt” album in the
track Shades of doom and still inspires Ralf when he thinks about new
ideas for songs. But the main influence is still the normal way of life
and its failures and some tragic matters of a personal nature.
If someone was only going to read the lyrics and not
listen to the music, what would you hope they would take from them?
Reflection. Not even the most absurd lyrics on this or any Mekong Delta
album are in any way arbitrary. Ralf usually has very deep thoughts
about things and tries to share them. What you get out of the lyrics can
be different from what they mean, but you should think about them. I
remember a time, when I was young and we kids were listening to songs of
Metal bands, we discussed the meanings and tried to expand our horizons,
to understand what the bands wanted to say. And I am not talking about
“Schools out for summer” :-D
But sometimes I feel that most people don't care about
What is the utmost important ingredient for a song
according to you?
Obviously the rhythm…..hahaha. But seriously, it is very important.
Especially the right tempo. Mekong Delta is very different from other
bands….in our case, I would say the “flow” is the most important
element. How we go from one part to another.
A red line. This is what I try on the Mekong stuff. To take the listener
and guide him through the song. I think for a lot of Ralf compositions,
the vocal lines ease the first listen a bit.
The guitars... the guitars... they're so important... the melodies, the
riffings, my Fred-soli... the guitars – please... :-)
How would you describe this album to someone that has
never listened to the band before?
Imagine a very technical Metal band interpreting 70’s Prog mixed with
some heavy classical music.
… and guitars...
What do you think are the most typical differences
between Mekong Delta anno 2014 and Mekong Delta back in the day?
I think Ralf has - for lack of a better word - “matured” as a composer.
On the first albums all the ingredients were already there, but now they
are more “round”. I personally also think that Martin is the best singer
the band has ever had. But that’s a matter of personal taste. The
musicians and the playing in general has always been great with Mekong
Delta, so I hope we are keeping up that level regarding this.
Is there anything looking back that you would have liked
to have done differently, or are you satisfied with the way in which
your albums turned out even all these years later?
I think I can speak for all of us, that we all think that we do know
what we could have done different or better... After all we're satisfied
with the albums we did. But: An artist should never be satisfied with
his work. That would cause a stop in his progress.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and the kinds of
things that motivate you in your writing, your poetry, and your lyrics?
What are you personally into?
What have been the highlights and low points throughout
All my highlights personally have to do with the musical side of my
career and my few low points had to do with the business side of it.
Regarding Mekong Delta, one of my best memories will always be our first
“real” show together. After a few days of intense rehearsing we flew to
Athens and brought the band back to life. That was a magical night.
I can say that my family is the biggest inspiration for me. The most
important step I took was to follow Ralf in 1993 and be a professional
musician. Of course Mekong Delta is responsible for the highlights in my
musical career and I agree with Alex that the business side results in
the low points. But in my whole life, the highs and the lows are the
best motivations which I use to write my songs and lyrics.
What is your opinion on the metal scene these days? What
do you think of the overload of bands at the moment and is there
anything missing in the scene?
There is a lot of bands and also a lot of great bands, at least
regarding their abilities. But what I’m missing a bit is originality. A
lot of bands sound pretty much alike. And I guess that’s one of the main
things about Mekong Delta. No other band on this planet sounds like us.
Also, at least to my taste, most productions nowadays are too “plastic”.
I’m tired of hearing the same drum samples everywhere and how everything
is protooled beyond belief.
Do you regard Mekong Delta as a progressive or thrash
band - musically and/or performance-wise?
To me Mekong Delta is a Progressive band in the original sense of the
word. But if you want to stick to those two terms I would say on the
record we are a Progressive band with a lot of Thrash influences and
live we are a Thrash band with a lot of Prog. Live, the energy just
Jep, so right...
What makes Mekong Delta different from the other metal
bands out there?
Just about everything, from the way Ralf composes to the arrangements to
the lyrics etc. It’s so unique and that’s what I love about it most.
What can we expect from Mekong Delta in the near future?
Any touring plans?
No real plans but we're looking forward to fill some slots on festivals
in Europe. It'll start with a festival in the Czech Republic in summer.
But more safe is the fact that we've already started to work on the next
album. A classical instrumental composition...
Anything you want to say to our readers, here is your
Thank you Netherlands for being a bastion for Metal in general but
especially for Progressive Metal. The Dutch audience is intelligent and
thoughtful and I always love playing there.
Thank you for your time. Please have a look at our homepage because our
webmaster Devoraz is a Dutch man, too.
Thanks a lot and see you on the road..
Thanks for your time,
Martin LeMar - Vocals
Ralph Hubert - Bass
Erik Adam H. Grösch - Guitars
Benedikt Zimniak - Guitars
Alex Landenburg – Drums
Wolfgang Borgmann - Vocals
Douglas Lee - Vocals
Leszek "Leo" Szpigiel - Vocals
Jochen Schröder - Guitars
Reiner Kelch - Guitars
Frank Fricke - Guitars
Georg Syrmbos - Guitars
Uwe Baltrusch - Guitars
Peter Lake - Guitars
Peavy Wagner - Bass
Jörg Michael - Drums
Uli Kusch - Drums
Peter Haas - Drums
1987 - Mekong Delta
1988 - The Music of Erich Zann
1989 - The Principle of Doubt
1990 - Dances of Death (and other walking shadows)
1992 - Kaleidoscope
1994 - Visions Fugitives
1996 - Pictures at an Exhibition
2007 - Lurking Fear
2010 - Wanderer on the Edge of Time
2014 - In A Mirror Darkly