NY’s Viking death metallers Last Legion released their sophomore album Muspelheim back in January and if you missed out here’s your “should’ve had a V8” moment. It’s Scandinavian death metal fused with furious riffs and tons of Norse folklore that is even bigger and heavier than the album artwork eludes to. Plus, there’s ties to acting amongst the band but more on that later. Bottom line; this album rips from start to finish and it should be in your ears immediately, if it isn’t already. Behind the album’s release we had the opportunity to speak with bassist Rich Mollo and guitarist Dubek Kim to ask them our set of Profile questions and they were extremely generous with their answers. Head inside to see what they had to say and by all means support the band via the links contained within.
How did you first get into playing music, and have you achieved the level of success that you hoped for?
Rich Mollo: I was 12 years old and jamming in my basement with a couple of buddies making some noise that we thought was pretty awesome music. I was originally the singer, but I got frustrated that we couldn’t find anyone that played bass guitar to come jam with us and complete the band. So, I took the bull by the horns, went down to the local Sam Ash store and had mom & dad throw down some cash to buy me a bass guitar and amplifier. After that, I totally immersed myself in the instrument. Fast forward many years later as a grown man, I simply wanted to play some local bars and have some fun playing out with the guys. I wasn’t really seeking “rock-star status” at the time. One thing led to another, I ended up in some pretty decent bands and somehow this bassist thing got kinda serious. Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to play on some pretty awesome stages for some great audiences, opened for many major acts that I once idolized, and worked with a lot of amazing musicians along the way. So, from the perspective of my original goals, I would say that yes, I have definitely achieved and surpassed what I had hoped for. But I’d certainly love to take it even further, if possible.
Dubek Kim: I just wanted to get out the house more. So yes.
What’s the most you have ever debased yourself to get your band onto a show, into a magazine or otherwise promoted, covered, and praised? (If you don’t have a story, please tell us any funny/embarrassing story.)
RM: I once pimped myself out to be raffled off at an album release party. It was basically a “win a date with the bass player” raffle. Luckily for me, an actual female was picked and it turned out that she was fairly easy on the eyes. But I was sweating it out there for a bit, not knowing how that would turn out. Pretty embarrassing now in retrospect.
DK: This is really hard to talk about, but sometimes if I’m on Instagram, I will click ‘like’ on pictures that I don’t even think are any good at all. Some of them I would say are even terrible… really piss-poor quality. And yet I will still click ‘like’ if the person who posted it has more followers or is much cooler than me. Once in a while I’ll get a ‘like’ back, which I guess makes it all worth it. Or not. Probably not.
What do you see as some of the great things happening in metal and what are some of the worst things happening inside the scene right now?
RM: I’m constantly amazed at how many excellent bands there are out there. Even on the local level, there are bands that are so super creative and talented. Which is very encouraging in this age of DIY music with minimal industry support. And there are still a lot of young kids latching on to this music and putting their own spin on it. On the negative side, it seems that the local scene is really suffering these days. So many people would rather stay home and jerk around on their computer than to go out to a show and hear some new bands and interact with other humans. Venues are closing at an alarming rate and the options for bands to perform on good shows are becoming very limited.
DK: Yeah, modern digital recording along with the internet and social media changed everything. It’s become so easy to do everything from home. You can see or hear anything you want on your phone or computer with a few clicks. But consuming music this way, you miss out on the magic of holding an album in your hands, reading the liner notes, staring at the artwork and listening to it start to finish. And a video on your phone will never capture the experience of actually being in the room with a band and a crowd of people at a live performance. It’s a tradeoff, and it is frustrating.
It seems that now everyone has a passion for some cause and that those people are very open about displaying their passions. This is probably a very, very good (and progressive) thing socially. What are some of the most important issues (social/political/humorous/etc.) for you and how do you insert those issues into your music?
RM: Oh man, don’t get me started on political causes. I have some very passionate views about what’s going on in the world right now. But honestly, the band tends to put all our views and personal causes aside when we enter our music space. Last Legion play songs of Viking battles and Norse mythology, so we prefer to immerse ourselves specifically in that mindset when making music.
DK: Agreed. The five of us come from such varied backgrounds, we all have our own separate views on this world we live in. We would murder each other if we had to consolidate them into some sort of unified political message. That’s not what this band is about. Big Jay writes the lyrics, the rest of us focus on jamming out the music in as tight and brutal a fashion as possible.
What, or who, got you into metal and how old were you? How did your family take the news?
RM: My first introduction to metal was when I discovered my uncle’s record collection out back in the garage, around 12 years old I think. The first record that really caught my eye was Black Sabbath’s “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.” Initially, the satanic imagery of the cover art was the thing that really piqued my curiosity. But when I heard the music on that disc, it totally blew my mind. That was it, I was completely hooked at that point. My parents were always very supportive of my musical pursuits, so heavy metal was never really a negative issue for them. However, at that time, there was no extreme death metal yet like Cannibal Corpse – that stuff might have possibly put them over the edge.
DK: My step-sister first introduced me to the Twisted Sister Stay Hungry album, maybe when I was 7 or 8. I begged my mom to buy me the cassette, and she reluctantly agreed. The cover was just so evil and brutal looking, Dee Snider eating the giant bloody bone. There were a couple tracks that I was too scared to listen to and I would fast forward past them. I’m sure if I heard them now I would laugh at how tame they are, but back then it was terrifying. My mom hated it so much, haha. Sorry, Mom.
What advice do you have for aspiring music critics and outlets out there? How can we all better serve the genre in the eyes of a hard-working musician?
RM: I would say that it’s important to keep in mind that most bands nowadays are extremely strapped for cash because it’s so hard to make any money from music. They may not have access to a label, PR person, etc. to help them get heard. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t have a really solid musical product. So, I would hope that you would keep an open mind and give everyone an equal shot at access. You may find some really great independent gems out there. Your readers will appreciate you even more nowadays, because it’s harder and harder to find out about new, upcoming artists. You play an essential and vital role for both musicians and fans.
DK: I think all local and unknown bands are struggling to attain legitimacy. If you are writing about a band that you are actually digging, anything you could say that leads to this end and conveys genuine enthusiasm while doing so would obviously be a big positive. I read a couple reviews for the ‘Muspelheim’ album that described little details about particular songs with such zest. I was like, ‘Right on! This guy gets it!’
What’s your goal? You guys thinking world domination? Maybe saving a continent? Maybe invading one? Any interest in starting a cult? Do you guys have day jobs or hobbies you want to share? Whatever it is, please let us know.
RM: You put forth a few good ideas there. Last Legion and our Viking minions would certainly love to invade a continent. That would make for some pretty epic storytelling for our next album. I already portray a cult member on television, so I think I have that one covered. When I’m not rocking the bass with Last Legion, I also do some work as an actor. I currently portray a cult member on the show THE PATH, a Hulu original series. I also played a henchman on the show GOTHAM in Season 1. And if you look carefully, you may see me pop up randomly in lots of other movies and tv shows.
DK: Right now I am just trying to survive parenthood. The goal is making it to the end of each day without losing my mind. That, and world domination.
When you’re not obsessing over your own material, what are some of your favorite albums to listen to currently? (Feel free to include non-metal)
RM: As far as metal goes, the guys in the band recently turned me on to the band REBELLION and their History of Vikings trilogy. Pretty awesome stuff! So those 3 CD’s are in my car now on constant repeat. Highly recommended listening! In the non-metal realm, I’ve been listening to Charlie Haden & Pat Metheny’s “Beyond the Missouri Sky” quite a bit. That album is such a masterpiece and really takes me away to another place emotionally. Its amazing to me how they can take the listener on such an elaborate musical journey with only two acoustic instruments. And I’ve also been rolling thru all the Italian classics sung by Dean Martin on Spotify, for when I’m in the mood to just chill and do some sing along.
DK: I drift back and forth between genres depending on the season, what is going on around me, or just whatever show I’ve been to that made an impression. Right now I’m digging this Pagan Black Metal band from New Jersey called Windfaerer. Ridiculously powerful live show, powerful songs. Just awesome. One of those bands that I feel like should be way more well known than they are.
What is the 12-month outlook for you or your band? Any specific events on the horizon that the masses should be aware of?
RM: 2018 is looking really positive for the Legion. We just released a killer album and music video which is getting a ton of positive feedback. Our song “Arsenal” will be included in a scene of a feature film called “Tully” starring Charlize Theron, which comes out in April. We plan on doing another video for that one, once we can scrape together the cash for it. We plan on keeping very busy with live shows as well. We hope to get out on the road later this summer for a tour and hit some new markets that we haven’t been able to reach yet. We love playing live, there’s nothing better. Oh, and we are working on a potential third album now as well. One song from it has already made its way into our live set. We’ll see how far we can take this thing. The future is unknown for sure, but we will definitely keep forging onward regardless.
Summarize your band in exactly one word. (Disclosure: If you include additional words, we will select our favorite for the final publication.)
Many thanks to Rich, Dubek and Last Legion for their time!