The band’s first full length album, “Hush,” is due to be released on June 24th, and the first single from the album, “Chaos Machine,” is now out. We could not resist the opportunity to say hell to band members Alex Nasla and Johnny Ray.

Before the interview, a tiny bit of background!

What started out as a simple recording project of vocalist and composer Johnny Ray and drummer Jason Berlin (son of famous bassist Jeff Berlin) in Tampa, Florida, in 2017, became a journey of self-discovery, soon attracting kindred spirits until the band was complete with all-rounder Alex Nasla (ex Witherfall, producer, vocalist and keyboardist), Italian musician and composer Francesco Pinter (guitar), lead vocalist Eliana Blanchard​ and guitarist Phillip Colacecchi.

After the release of their  experimental debut EP “Theosis” in 2018, in which the band embarked on a journey to discover their true sound and a message of their own, The Mourning are now ready to present their first full-length album, “Hush.” 

“Hush” presents a heavier emphasis on guitars, including the use of slap guitar, grooving riffs, angelic classical guitar, face-melting guitar solos and much more!

They underline: “On this album, we also took the harmonies to the next level with the soulful vocals of Eliana Blanchard, giving the songs a much richer harmonic sound and unique sonic identity.” 

The striking energy between the contrasting voices elevates the experience beyond the one-dimensional atmosphere of the typical, inviting the listener to join the band on their turbulent voyage, on which they combine the cold precision of progressive metal with raw emotional energy: “We are trying to give listeners insight with the backdrop of a virtuous soundscape that opens the mind to new ideas, concepts, and inner growth. Some albums take your hand on their journey – Hush takes you on an introspective journey of your own.”
And one thing is absolutely clear: This is only the beginning of a grand journey for The Mourning!


So here we are, and we began noting the gap between the EP in 2018 and the album due for June 2024. What caused the delay?

Johnny: I can explain that! As soon as I finished the ‘EP’, I was writing new material within a couple of months of its release. Some of that material will be heard on “Hush.” We recorded that material in November 2018 in the studio we worked in, and it seemed to take over a year to get the album mixed and mastered. Then, when it came in, we weren’t entirely happy with it, and I wasn’t really happy with the vocals as it seemed to give me a lisp on my s’ which I definitely do not have! 

Alex: It’s true, they seemed to take away the s’ sound.

Johnny: That took us into 2019 and the early part of 2020, and along came COVID. However, pre-COVID, I went on a cruise ship, and it was the ‘tons of metal,’ and I met Alex there. 

Alex: That brought me into the picture.

Johnny: And at the time, I asked Alex, about six months after the cruise, if he would mix and master the album. He took a long time too, as he was busy, but he did an amazing job, as you can hear! So we waited until the end of COVID, and then Alex and I talked about putting everything together. Alex loved the material, and we were talking about his keyboard playing and whether he would join us. It’s interesting that when  we release the videos, you will see different line-ups, the mountain video, for example, was recorded in March 2019. 

Alex: And adding to this, filming all the music videos took about a year, as we did six music videos. We are releasing six singles, and each single has a music video to go with it. It took time. One of the guitar players lives in Italy, and I live in California, so it’s not as if we can all just head off to film, it takes planning time. I filmed and directed four of the six videos myself, and it took me about a year to film and edit them all. When I took the songs to mix and master, it took almost a year just for me to get the tracks, and in the end, I didn’t even get them all. I had to re-record some of the keyboard tracks, as they weren’t found. It was a bit messy, but we figured it out and made it work. We spent so much time with the preparation that we wanted all the ducks in a row before we released them.

One question we wanted to touch on was the perspective side of production, a question we fired at Alex. Without naming any specific famous bands, sometimes when they self-produce, there is a strong feeling that they need someone with an outside perspective to channel their creativity and bring out the best. So how did Alex retain that objectivity as a band member?

Alex: It can be difficult, but remember, I have been producing music for a long time. Also, I produced the majority of the album before I joined the band, I was brought in to produce initially. I think part of the reason for me joining was not just because I liked the music and the people, but because I felt we all had a good understanding of the overall vision. I believed I could see Johnny’s vision when he wrote the music and what he was going for. I also think Johnny appreciated the way I picked up that vision and was able to mould it into music that the average listener would connect to. Producing is not just mixing and mastering, parts were changed and cut.

Johnny: Alex is able to separate and make hard decisions. We cut big parts out of songs.

Alex: There was one song where it really hurt me to cut. It was in one of the singles, “The Mountain,” and there was a minute and a half long neo-soul section with Eliana singing, and she did an incredible job. But that part had really nothing to do with the rest of the song, it almost seemed to stop the song dead in its tracks. In a bubble, that part was very cool, but in the song, it made the song not work, so it had to go. I had to present my case to the band.

Johnny: I was accepting, but some other members were opposed. One of the ones who actually accepted it the easiest was Eliana.

Alex: It sucks in a way, as apart from “My Own Hell,” it was her only pure solo part. I do feel bad about it, but I have been producing bands for over ten years, and I feel pretty confident in my ability to separate the two. Some of the band members in these big bands that self produce are not producing bands for a living.

Johnny: Our dynamic is also very different from some of these huge bands that do things in house. The way everything is in “Hush” and our next album that will come out, I do the core writing and then I distribute it to the band. So everybody can place their spin and two cents on it. If you write and produce your material, then I guess you can fall in love with the songs and be unable to separate them.

Alex: That is the most difficult part of the entire production, trying to keep your objectivity. When you are in the band and write the songs, you naturally feel precious about your music, and you can get clouded with the decision making.

Johnny: Personally, I do fall in love with my songs, but not to where I can’t make changes. To me, it is about getting the message of the song out because that is what the band is about, the growth of your soul, and I feel the music. The reason I write songs, is to get these ideas out there in a sad world. That is what the name is about, “The Mourning.” It is lamenting the world. I want to bring back some light and some truth. I am fine with cutting some of a song if it helps the core of the idea.

The EP was certainly more keyboard led compared to the album, so there must have been a decision to change direction a bit? Also, on the EP, there is this totally manic song, like a musical ‘Joker’ called ‘Heartbeat’ – what was going on there?

Alex: Both Johnny and I are keyboard players.

Johnny: I started the band, and the way I do my writing is all keyboard. I do play guitar too, but I am better on the keyboard. So I did the writing that way. I did love the EP, but I also knew for the next album I wanted it to be more guitar driven because that is what I listen to. At the time of writing “Theosis,” I was into Steven Wilson and Porcupine Tree, and I was pulling those influences. Then I got to my metal roots after that, and I wanted the next album to be more guitar driven. I still write the way that I wrote then for “Hush,” but I found this tool that changed the game for my writing. It is a guitar synth called “Odin II,” so I can play the keyboard, but it sounds like a guitar.  It basically mimics the sound a guitarist would play. So that is what happened there. 

Alex: As far as “Heartbeat,” it is very theatrical, for sure.

Johnny:  I don’t know what happened to me there! We do still do that live. Even now, I think we would still pull “Heartbeat” and “Theosis” from the EP. 

One of the great things about the vinyl era was the cover art. You used to be able to hold the album, admire the artwork on the sleeves, and look at the lyrics inside. We do admire the cover for “Theosis” with that robot man, and the cover for the album looks interesting too. Who comes up with the art ideas?

Johnny: Moving forward, it will be a matter of collective decision. But the EP cover and the cover for “Hush” were my ideas. “Theosis” was a man who represented the saying, ‘the longest distance in the world is the distance between your brain and your heart.’ So it shows a maze for his brain as he is confused, and in his heart, he has the universe, the light in his heart. But he can’t make the connection between his brain and his heart. Each single has its own art work, of course, but for “Hush,” I hired an amazing artist called Sam Shearan (he also did the cover art for Kill Devil Hill’s “Seas of Oblivion”). He is well known, as he does a lot of band art work. I pretty much gave him free reign. I told him what each song was about and the idea behind the whole work. He did an amazing job.

The harmony vocals were very interesting on the single, and for the broader album. It is quite unusual outside of country music to have a male/female vocal in the rock world. Harmony singing itself isn’t, but male/female harmony in prog rock music is rare. 

Alex: The entire album is essentially like that, and the new album will be even more focused on the dual vocals. The thing that we envision is that this makes the band almost unique within the genre of music we create. We have the two lead vocalists, and the album sound is based around those harmonies. Actually, in some songs, there is a low bass vocal harmony as well. It was a way for us to present the music in a unique way, it works with the music and the message. I mixed it in that way. When I was doing the mix, there are vocal harmonies throughout, but there are points where Johnny sings alone. I did wonder about a more traditional feel where the harmony is in the background, but I decided to reach what Johnny envisioned for the music and present something unique to the listener.

Johnny: The band started out with just me on the vocals. As time went on, I felt it would be cool to have a male and female dual vocal, as it is seldom seen. In the power metal world and in country music, as you said, you do, but not in prog. 

The video for “Chaos Machine” is also notable for the use of silhouette images that blend in and out. It is so hard to make videos that stand out from the crowd, but this one certainly does.

Alex: We were trying to think of something different, and then my friend suggested doing things on a white background, which we do use on the next single. But the silhouette idea was executed on this one—not exactly how we envisioned it (which was gradual blending), but it is something we are happy with for sure.

A quick fun question to end on is the last album the guys listened to and whether they enjoyed it?

Alex: I just listened to an album on a flight back from Japan, and I definitely enjoyed it. It is an album from my friends; its called “Clear Cold Beyond,” by the Finnish band Sonata Antartica; and it was awesome. I’m friends with the keyboard player, and he used some of my sounds!  

Johnny: I just came across a band called Diamond Construct, and they are new metal, I enjoyed it a lot. 

And to close, which musician or band that you have never seen would you have most liked to catch live?

Alex: The Beatles, early years!

Johnny: Queen, I would want to see them in their early career, “Somebody to Love” time.

We wish the guys well and will review the album in June.

You can stream their music here.

As a finishing point, to keep us improving the magazine, we really do need your support, and if you can go to the ‘Support Us’ button and buy us a coffee, it helps us feel appreciated and keep improving the magazine. We also have our merchandise shop, Lorraine, looking great in the gear! Read on, check out our many great features and reviews, and do bookmark us on your pages!

The band’s Website is here

By Mark C. Chambers


Lorraine Foley

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.