Not many death metal bands before you ever had the aspirations or were capable to translate some of the bizarre dental vocabulary into the death metal setting. Does the fact that you named the band Hyperdontia have something to do with the way you earn your living and your professional background or is it maybe a tribute to the gripping fear you presumably experience every time you need to visit a dentist as a patient?
Mustafa Gürcalioglu: When we first decided to form the band, we didn’t have the idea of shaping a concept around the name Hyperdontia. Once we finished recording and realized we needed a name, we’ve chosen this one among the several alternatives David has provided, agreeing that this name was exactly what we needed, which is briefly the story behind it.
Many of the songs on Nexus Of Teeth, as well as the album title itself, dealt with teeth in one way or another. Was it difficult to squeeze in so many teeth innuendos within the otherwise pretty straight-forward death metal lyrics?
Mustafa Gürcalioglu: It wasn’t too challenging. Materials overlapping with the musical structure that has emerged once the instrumental writing of the album was done, and with the name, were used in some parts. In fact, we didn’t necessarily have the obsession that it should be related to teeth when we first started with the concept. In general the materials we had came out this way when we were finalizing the album.
It is probably fair to say that Paolo Girardi, primarily known for his morbid, explicit and quite realistic depictions of violence, perversion and depravity, went outside of his comfort zone while making the front cover of Nexus Of Teeth. Stuffing imaginary oral cavities with the numerous teeth, eyes and whatnot, in a pretty abstract manner, probably isn’t something he would deem his bread and butter. Do you remember what exactly were the instructions you gave him before he got down to work and what was your first reaction when he presented you with the final outcome? When you look at that cover now, do you like what you see?
Mustafa Gürcalioglu: Paolo was the first name that came to my mind to create a showcase that would do justice to this album when we finished writing. I had previously worked with him on artworks for my other band, Decaying Purity, and we were very pleased with the work he had created. When you look at it, yes, the idea we wanted to be reflected on the cover was a concept you haven’t encountered much in Paolo’s previous works. To be honest, this got me even more excited. Since I was a big fan of the details in his work, I had no doubt he would reflect the details of the ideas we had morbidly. We gave him the album name and explained the details we wanted on the cover. The story we gave him is exactly what you see on the cover. Intermingled oral cavities forming a spiral, a lot of deformed teeth, inflammations, etc. We wanted it to be as disturbing as possible, as if you could smell the scene when you look at it. When he showed us the final result, the general reaction was you sick wrestler, that’s it! (laughs)
Excreted From The Flesh EP came out on the 16th of March, precisely ten months after A Vessel Forlorn compilation, literally to the day. Does the fact that only three new songs were featured on those two releases mean that from now on you are going to put out only a teaspoon worth of material every nine to twelve months, instead of pilling the songs up for the second full-length? Is the follow-up to Nexus Of Teeth something that you are even seriously considering at this point, given how much easier and less time-consuming is to put out these smaller format releases every now and then?
Mustafa Gürcalioglu: It wasn’t intentional to have them released as EPs. A Vessel Forlorn was going to be used on a split. We were hoping to have it out by our USA west coast tour in May of 2019, but the other bands on the split were not able to complete their songs in the time frame due to various reasons, so we wanted to release the song under a compilation. Abhorrence Veil was not released in a CD format before. We were thinking the recordings from our first Istanbul show could be used for a release, so we’ve decided to add them as well. In the end I think it is a good compilation in terms of product presentation and the content. As for Excreted From The Flesh EP, it was going to be a single in another split at first, but since the plans didn’t work out, it made sense to add another song and release them as a 7”. We don’t necessarily have a definitive decision to move forward with smaller format presentations from this point forward. A 7” today, a 12” and a full-length next year, maybe even a split this year etc. I think we prefer to release them right away as we create them.
Professor Poirier With A Dissected Cadaver, the painting by the French doctor and painter Georges Chicotot, turned out to be a perfect fit for this EP, an appropriate visual counterpart to the EP title and the overall vibe of the music on it. Who and when brought that piece of art to your attention and was the EP title determined before or after you got familiar with that painting? Did you first come up with the EP title and then discover the painting while searching for something that would visually correspond with it or was it the other way around?
Mustafa Gürcalioglu: I came across this distinguished painting by chance, I think it was the summer of 2019. As I got more familiar with Georges Chicotot’s work, I thought we should definitely use it for a Hyperdontia release. I shared this with the other members, they really liked it and we decided to prepare the EP corresponding with the painting. The lyrics and other visuals on the EP presentation were designed around it. I guess you can say this time we did it the other way around.
Could you say something about the frame of mind you were in during the writing process for that EP? What were you listening, what were you thinking about, how did you want those two songs to sound like? Now that the EP is out, are you satisfied with the material and do you feel that you have accomplished what you set out to accomplish with it?
Mustafa Gürcalioglu: My mood varies as I work on the songs. To be honest, I have never been the one to analyze this was my mood when I wrote this song or I was feeling this and that when I wrote that song. I personally don’t prefer to formulate what I do and explain the recipe for it. I prefer if the musicians I follow up on and like don’t do it either. In my case, there is no clear definition anyway. I am in favor of the listener visualizing and imagining the creative processes, interactions etc. of these materials. If I were to comment on the material that came out on this EP, yes, I am quite satisfied with the resulting work as a whole, the musical structure, the concept, the presentation etc.
Compared to Nexus Of Teeth material, the song A Vessel Forlorn seemed like a bit of a departure from how Hyperdontia songs are usually structured. It felt overall slower and more spread out, like there was a bit more space to breathe in that song, definitely not as dense as your typical Hyperdontia track, if such a thing even exists. Then again, the two tracks on this EP feel like a return to the norm. Would you agree with this assessment?
Mustafa Gürcalioglu: If we have to do a comparison, yes, I agree with you. When you compare it with the album, Vessel is not only aggressive, but also has more depth. Low tempo parts and the solos are a bit more gripping. But I think the songs on the last EP are a bit closer to the Vessel’s structure. Of course you should consider the sounds when you are comparing products to each other. The timbers can feel a little different. But in general I don’t think they are all too different in presence. I mean, they all have unique forms but I don’t think they would be incompatible if we gathered them all in one album.
Speaking of A Vessel Forlorn, one thing that compilation proved is that Abhorrence Veil material still holds up remarkably well, considering that the live recording of Internal Incineration sounds just as good as the live recording of Majesty, if not better. Still, even though those three songs feel nothing like a beginner’s effort in terms of the songwriting, one could argue that the sound quality on that EP leaves a thing or two to be desired. Have you ever considered to re-record those songs and give them a proper treatment production-wise? How do you feel about Abhorrence Veil material today, do you also feel that those songs are up to par with your newer stuff, or only slightly inferior in the worst case?
Mustafa Gürcalioglu: Abhorrence Veil will always have a special place for me. Because, for me, this has been the one product I have coddled the least, including my other bands. The songs were all written in one day, and the band recorded them without even rehearsing together. It was a first for me. As for the sound, I actually like the sound of the Abhorrence better than the album. Although there isn’t a radical difference, I think it has a stronger, deeper timbre. We’ve never considered recording it again, I don’t think we ever will. It is good as it is. I am pretty sure if we were to reevaluate it, the result would not satisfy us equally. There is no big gap between the new materials, but I am not in favor of comparing them in pluses and minuses. We should enjoy them each in their own way, if we can.
As a quartet comprised of two Turks and two Danes, would you say that Hyperdontia is a Turkish or a Danish band? Do you even find it important to have something like that firmly established? Also, considering that there’s no shortage of quality musicians in Turkey, wasn’t it easier to assemble a group of local like-minded individuals instead of doing things the hard way and putting together a band whose members reside in two fairly distant countries and cannot actually rehearse or build the chemistry by spending a lot of time together? Would you say that the band productivity and consistency is somewhat hindered by such a significant physical distance?
Mustafa Gürcalioglu: The quartet is actually comprised of two Turks, one Polish and one Dane. It has been like that since the beginning, for a short period there were two Danes. But they all live in Copenhagen apart from me. What I want to say is, this is neither a Danish death metal band, nor a Turkish death metal band. It is a death metal band consisted of members who enjoy working together, even if it is done remotely. We don’t need to be defined under a flag.
Physical distance has never been much of a problem for us to be honest. Everyone in the group knows what to do and is equipped in every aspect of death metal. There are musicians I work with and continue to create music together in Turkey. For those who are not familiar, I work with these musicians in my other death metal bands Decaying Purity, Engulfed and Diabolizer. The style of death metal is different in each of my bands though. For Hyperdontia, after our bassist Malik, who I have played with in other bands, moved to Copenhagen, we started with the idea that if there is someone who wants to make music with him and us, we can try something like this. I think we have already shown people that distance or where you live doesn’t have much effect on productivity.
Mathias and Tuna play in a few other noteworthy Danish death metal bands like Sulphurous, Taphos and Phrenelith. Sulphurous in particular has a very distinct sound that isn’t that far removed from the sound of Hyperdontia, with their debut Dolorous Death Knell being quite a solid release. Did you enjoy that one and what are some of your favourite Danish death metal albums from the last couple of years? Are the Sulphurous guys working on anything new?
Mustafa Gürcalioglu: Sulphurous’ Dolorous Death Knell is a great album. I really enjoy Mathias and Tuna’s performances on that album. I think they are working on new materials. Taphos and Phrenelith have released great albums. But my favorite era for Danish death metal is the late ’90s and early ’00s. Bands like Iniquity, Exmortem, Panzerchrist made really tight albums during that period, and I still devour them with the same appetite.
Speaking of Tuna, unlike many of the modern death metal drummers, he has that fundamentally important human feel quality about his playing. The sound of his drums is warm and organic and his style very visceral and intuitive. How much of the impact your riffs have is owed to his drumming? Do you feel that you two have found that common ground musically where you bring out the best out of each other?
Mustafa Gürcalioglu: I enjoy making music with Tuna a lot. His contributions to the songs have always been positive. He can interpret the drum structure I give him in a completely different way than I had envisioned and, to be honest, I prefer his ideas better. At the moment we have a great chemistry and we enjoy creating together.
When you look back at all the development stages you went through as a guitarist, which musicians were the most responsible for shaping your style and identity both as a player and composer? Who are some of the musicians whose personalities you can hear delicately echo through Hyperdontia riffs?
Mustafa Gürcalioglu: Rather than instrumentalists themselves, their bands, general tune and their style were more influential in my progress. It would be simply a bit dry to say I was influenced by this and that person. But if I had to give names, Trey Azagthoth, Robert Vigna, Jack Owen and Doug Cerrito are some of the names I have been following with great pleasure in terms of their style.
With regard to the previous question, would you say that you, as a songwriter, are already so firmly set in your ways that everything you write has, by definition, that certain trademark quality? In other words, is there such a thing as a typical Hyperdontia riff?
Mustafa Gürcalioglu: As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t like to formulize and define the work I do. If I had to describe Hyperdontia I would only say we are a well blended death metal band.
Understanding the past is the mandatory requirement to predict the future, as the saying has it. In that regard, if you were to anticipate the direction Hyperdontia’s sound is going to progress and delve further into, how would you do that, knowing all the small metamorphosis it has already gone through?
Mustafa Gürcalioglu: I don’t think there will be radical changes structurally. Of course I don’t like keep serving the same thing over and over again, but when I feel like I will put forward a new material and whatever material is giving me pleasure once I start creating, it will pull us in that direction. We have to experience it at that moment.
Would you subscribe to the notion that once a band releases a record, the songs on that record start their own lives in a way and don’t belong to the band anymore, but to all the people who listen to them and interpret them in their own way?
Mustafa Gürcalioglu: I partially agree with that. Just like in the previous questions, I prefer the listener to interpret, define and formulize the final product rather than the person that had created it. These should take form in people’s heads. They shouldn’t be easy food recipes.
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