Port Elizabeth, a relatively isolated city on the South African south-east coast, seldom wins the attention it deserves for what contribution it’s community offers to local metal and alternative music. Of course, the first myth we will be busting is the fact that: yes, Port Elizabeth actually does have a small but bustling underground scene of it’s own! We have decided to focus on this via the brooding and contemplative Mezzanine Floor, who are soon to grace us with an appearance at M4A‘s WinterFest’15 festivities at The Assembly in Cape Town on 08 August.
This five piece may be remembered by many as one of the finalists in Johannesburg at last year’s Wacken Metal Battle, such is their skill and prowess on stage. Although, many there had mistaken Mezzanine Floor for a Cape Town band, since they had to make the 780Km journey from their own city to compete in the Cape Town heats as their nearest point of entry; an initial journey which then took them a further 1082Km to boldly compete at the South African finals.
“The Wacken Metal Battle was our last appearance in Cape Town. We’ve been dying to get back and play.” ~ Dylan van der Merwe (lead guitar/backing vocals, Mezzanine Floor)
Dylan explained that the year since then has been occupied with not only a slew of gigs local to their home city, but the absence from other cities is owing mostly to the band having spent their time preparing a second album to follow up after their 2013 release of Feed The Machine.
“We’ve recently completed writing and rehearsing our latest album. It’ll consist of ten tracks, with most of them following the Mezzanine Floor tradition of pushing close on the ten minute mark.” ~ Dylan van der Merwe
Dylan went on to describe how the as yet untitled album will play out like the chapters in a book. Lyrics are cryptic, yet directly meaningful, and arrangements are quite complex; being heavy where they need to be, but otherwise gentle and psychedelic in other areas.
“There are moments of pure beauty which at some points have reduced each of us to tears. It is very exciting and we cannot wait to release these songs.” ~ Dylan van der Merwe
In getting back to the myth-busting, we tackled the mysterious issue of the band’s name Mezzanine Floor, which in many cases is not understood.
“We anticipated that this would be the case, but in terms of what we were going for musically and theme-wise, it was just the perfect fit. In Palladian architecture of the middle ages, the ‘mezzanine floor’ referred to the level in theatre reserved for servants. It is a direct link to the theme of dichotomy expressed fully in our debut album; you would have the royalty and the elite in attendance as well as the poor, and for it function all parts needed to be present. Hence, the title: Feed The Machine.” ~ Dylan van der Merwe
Dylan jokes at how it is not, in fact, as sometimes suggested by the uninitiated as “a reference to a type of laminate flooring”. The final myth is to figure out what genre Mezzanine Floor can be accurately described as, if any. With influences drawing primarily from metal, tastes of band members reflect in the music and ranging to include classic rock, psychedelic and even prog.
“Our approach from the beginning was to focus on the grandiose; to create music that was visually and audibly pleasing. As mentioned, Feed The Machine focused on the theory of dichotomy, with the spattering of heavy and soft; touching on themes that were romantic and heartfelt, yet twisted and brutal; love through the eyes of a killer; life and death; good and evil. It was purposefully sparse and gloomy to bring about emphasis with the introduction of the various twists and turns; definitely quite dark which it needed to be for the running theme.” ~ Dylan van der Merwe
The new material to be showcased at WinterFest’15 has been described as more upbeat in feel, and although much busier, still maintaining Mezzanine Floor‘s dark and brooding signature.
“It just feels like the natural evolution of our sound without losing nay of the trademark elements whilst staying true to the concept as a whole.” ~ Dylan van der Merwe