By Martin Beckmann
Mares of Thrace is a Doom Metal duo from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, consisting of Therese Lanz on guitar and vocals and Casey Rodgers on drums. Formed in 2009, the band has been making waves in the metal scene with their unique blend of sludge, doom, and avant-garde metal.
Mares of Thrace's sound is characterized by Lanz's intricate guitar riffs, which seamlessly blend heavy, distorted tones with complex melodic lines, and Rodgers' powerful and dynamic drumming, which drives the band's music forward with relentless energy. Lanz's vocals range from piercing screams to haunting melodies, adding an extra layer of intensity to the band's already powerful sound.
Over the years, Mares of Thrace has released a series of acclaimed albums, including "The Moulting" (2010), "The Pilgrimage" (2012), and "The Exile" (2022). The band's music has been praised for its originality, creativity, and technical proficiency, and has earned them a devoted following among fans of heavy music.
On June 12th, Art Riot Promotions will be welcoming them back to Fargo after over a decade since they last visited. I was lucky enough to chat with Therese about the upcoming show, the band’s past and future and much more.
HPR: How did Mares of Thrace form?
Therese Lanz: That's an intense question. It started off in 2009, if you can believe that, how quickly time moved. My best friend and I had our bass player quit to become like a normal person to have a normal career and have kids, which is, I think a phase that kind of comes in waves. All musicians have experienced that, at least a couple of band members dropped out to do that. So we were like, well, what if we just kept going just the two of us, it seems like an absurd idea, but you know, I like absurd ideas. At the time we were playing sort of like hardcore.. So I thought, well, how about I tune down and I just play really slow. And it worked really well And people seem to be pretty interested. But mostly, it was just really fun. So we just kept doing it. And the challenge was basically, just make the grossest and evilest riff I possibly could.
HPR: I enjoy that ethos, it makes me chuckle, but it's also what I like to listen to in my music, so it hits home for me. I've seen your music described as everything all over the board, from doom metal to sludge, I even saw nu-metal. How did you develop your sound and what inspired you to incorporate different genres?
TL: My tastes are all over the map, like my influences, it's probably fairly easy to tell, are pretty doomy. If anything, I always love it when people hear or see us and immediately go, you're a noise rock band. Because, personally, I feel I owe more of an allegiance to noise rock than I do to metal. I mean, I like metal, obviously but like the whole 90s AmRep catalog was very formative for me. But then it's like a grab bag, I like hardcore and I like some black metal and so on and so forth.
HPR: Over the life of the band you've gotten really lucky and toured with a lot of good bands, like High on Fire and Ken Mode and bands like that. Do you have any quick tour stories or anything like that from any of those cool tours that you've been on?
TL: We have not toured with High on Fire. I wish we had.
HPR: Haven’t you played with High on Fire? You might have played with them on a festival or something. The computer tricked me, the computer thinks you did tour with them, so you could just say you did.
TL: Haha well I actually really do have a wholesome tour story for you . This was from our September tour with Ken Mode and Vile Creature, which we added to our resume of awesome bands that we've toured with.
HPR: I love Vile Creature. It's one of my favorite bands right now. I just love that, like you said, evil, dirty, gross, sound. That kind of sound is my favorite.
TL: They are one of my faves too. And this is actually, I feel like having come back to music after a hiatus, this is like a new era of my life because I discovered that if I like a band I can just ask them to go on tour with us.
I asked KW from Vile Creature hey, you guys have never been out west, do you want to come tour with us? And they said yes! Ken Mode just kind of invited themselves, but they're just the sweetest, most wonderful people. So anyway, the whole story is as of the last night of our mini tour together, the three of us we all got hotel rooms at the Leduc Sheraton.
That's the Alberta Sheraton and after the show it was probably like 2:30 in the morning and we were like okay, let's go party on the last night. Let's do the classic rock and roll thing and go back to our hotel rooms and have the classic rock and roll last-night-of-tour hotel party. So we did, we got back to the hotel room and we were all very tired and realized that this was the most sober hotel party that has ever happened in history.
There was not a single alcoholic drink or joint to be found. Three pretty extreme heavy bands, and we were like eating chips and eating gummies but not weed gummies and it was one of the most fun times I've ever had in my life of playing in a band.
HPR: That's another level of that growth when you can happily sit in a room just eating regular gummies and munching chips sober!
TL: Yeah, I mean, also the company helps for sure. Some people use drinks to endure your presence. That wasn’t the group that needs that kind of blunting of reality.
HPR: Ken Mode has been around forever. Have you toured with them prior to that tour? Or was that the first time?
TL: We did. I was actually their fill-in bass player on a tour long ago.. They're old, dear friends of mine. We did another short stint with them but that was ages and ages ago, I think that was in like 2010.
HPR:I always tell people who haven't seen Ken Mode that their vocalist is terrifying when he's on stage. When you talk to him, he's just like a nice guy but on stage he’s just got this look in his eye that's just kind of terrifying.
TL: Totally. They must pass through there fairly regularly, because they're just right near you.
HPR: You played here in Fargo in 2011 with Sleeping in Gethsemane, any memories from that? I was at that show.
TL: Yes, actually, Brandon from Sleeping in Gethsemane took us for brunch. I don't remember the name of the restaurant, but it was amazing. I had one of the best eggs Benedict I've ever had in my life. So that's definitely my Fargo memory – it’s the incredible eggs Benedict.
HPR: There was a big gap between “The Exile” and the album prior. How would you say your music has evolved since that last release, And where do you see it going in the future
TL: It’s kind of weird, like I had never intended for this band to really become a band again. In 2017, after my drummer retired to go and have a real person job, I decided I needed to go have a grown up job too. So I went to acquire one and it actually worked out really well. I was like, Okay, what's the only other thing that I like sort of as much as music, which is video games so I became a game developer.
Then after a couple moves, because that's a very full-time, very competitive, demanding career. I was like, okay, I have to play music or I'll explode– like I will keel over dead. So this was in 2017, I just sat down and wrote a bunch of riffs.
I was like okay, what the hell, maybe I'll see if Steff wants to play on these and she said yes and then later, she said no, so I sent the songs to another old bandmate from our hometown and long standing friend of mine.
He said, I can just jump on these and I can do all the production myself and we can just like shove it out into the universe and nothing will come of that because we were living on different sides of the country at the time.
I was like sure, what the hell, this will never get played live and our label probably won't even want to touch this because I am not really interested in playing live anymore.. and then none of that is how anything actually worked out.
The label wanted to put it out and so I ended up moving back here and we got into the jam space and within the first 20 seconds of playing with another human being, I was like, I was a fool for giving this up and this is what I'm gonna keep doing until I die.
HPR: That is awesome to be able to have that little pause to go to real life and figure out that maybe it isn't the way to go and that music needs part of you. I was actually going to ask you about the video game stuff because I read an interview from a long time ago, maybe 2012? In that one, you said you were going to school to work in the video game industry. So you just told me you did graduate. Do you still do that, or is that now on the back-burner?
TL: I do, maybe that was a piece you read in a Little Decibel sidebar?
HPR: Probably, I read everything I think you've ever done just to make sure that I asked at least one original question.
TL: I appreciate that because that sort of due diligence is not always done. I mean, we all end up answering the same questions because people are often curious about the same things.
But anyway, yes, I do. At the beginning of my career, I actually kind of took the opposite trajectory of most people's. Most people start off at little no name indie studios and then if they're lucky, they go to bigger studios. I started off at about as big a studio as you can get. I interned on Mortal Kombat. And then my first job was at Ubisoft.
HPR: Wow. So you went to big ones right away?
TL: Yeah, and if anything, the taste of working at those places left such a bad taste in my mouth that I started working for the tiniest studios possible, completely by choice. That's what I do now. I've achieved a good balance now where I can just do it on a contract basis on my terms.
HPR: What is the coolest game you've worked on? Which one is the one you're the proudest of?
TL: I'm proud of all of them for different reasons. When I lived in Chicago for a while and when I was filling out a form applying for health insurance online, I had to tell the phone agent my employer, so I told him NetherRealm and immediately he said, Oh, by the way, I've already pre-ordered.
I love bragging rights. Like bragging rights are awesome. But in terms of what I am actually like proud of, is the one I'm working on right now I'm quite proud of it. It's for a tiny little studio here in Canada, it's an AR game. Kind of similar to Pokemon Go but it's about invisible sky creatures and fighting climate change.
HPR: I have to ask you this because most of people I work with are nerds, and they had read something that said that your tattoos are related to Dungeons and Dragons, so I'll get fired if I don't ask you. What is your preferred class? And if you play modules, which I don't know what that is, which is your favorite?
TL: Which is my favorite class? Gonna have to follow that up with the nerdy follow up that nerdy question. Which edition?
HPR : Oh my gosh, I'm not nerdy enough to know.
TL: I'll assume the fifth edition.
HPR: Fifth Edition yeah, you just out-nerded them.
TL: Fifth edition D&D I'm gonna say the rogue. I just like being like a sneaky, stabby, lock picker.
HPR: Sounds like fun. Sneaky Stabby is my cat's middle name. I can dig it.
TL: Modules. I absolutely have never played a module in my life. I like to homebrew, if you need a nerd translation of what that is, basically a module is a prepackaged scenario that's like all written. All the plot hooks, and all of the monsters and encounters are already mapped out for you. Then the Dungeon Master just runs the players through it. Then homebrewing is when you don't rely on a premade story, you just make up your own.
HPR: Okay, so you just kind of make up your own story, that sounds cooler. I completely agree. A lot more creative.
TL: It's kind of like playing covers. And I mean, that's fine. And like lots of people enjoy it and get their start doing it, but I just need to be creating something even if it sucks.
HPR: Yeah, I am kind of on the same page as that. I would like to create my own sucky thing instead of using somebody else's great thing.
TL: Totally, I'd rather write my own shitty songs than do a cover of an awesome song.
HPR: Which one is your favorite of all your songs?
TL: It is on the record that we haven't released yet.
HPR: Oh, so it's in the chamber?
TL: Well, so many people were like, please don't make us wait ten years for another one. I was really touched that anybody still gives a shit after all this time, like I'm still continually humbled and amazed and super grateful. So Casey and I, the new drummer, we got to write together and we pretty much have a whole record written already.
HPR: What advice do you give to aspiring musicians who are just getting started to kind of keep their heads above water?
Therese: You really want to know what your goals are. I think that's the most important thing, and sometimes the most effective way to get to a goal is to find somebody who's doing the thing that you would like to do, and ask them how they did it. In terms of like, just sort of general purpose advice, My mom has a saying that sticks in my head for some reason. Keep your eye on the donut. And in this context, for me it means, the music is sometimes its own reward. It's always a reward, but sometimes it's the only reward. Sometimes that’s gotta be enough.
HPR: I like that. That is good advice. One more thing, did you design the poster artwork? I've been contacted by a few band dudes in Fargo asking who did that poster, so if you're looking to make some extra money in the Fargo poster/flier-making industry, all you have to do is talk to a couple of people and I think you’re going to be the poster impresario of North Dakota.
TL: Well then, that's my new career goal.
IF YOU GO
Mares of Thrace, Hanging Wound, and Idiot Man Child
The Aquarium, 226 Broadway upstairs, Downtown Fargo
June 12, 2023
August 24th 2023
June 20th 2023
May 27th 2023
May 21st 2023
April 29th 2023
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