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Interview with Satyr from "Apostasia" magazine by AnneMarie Bowman
Black Metal music. Cold and grim, aggressive and extreme. As a genre of music, modern Black Metal is having its ten-year anniversary. As we move towards a new millenium, one wonders in what direction Black Metal can go. Can it, on the one hand, keep its extreme essence, while on the other hand be modern and different. Most Black Metal bands are going for the majestic paganism thing or are still doing the hail Satan thing. This was not an option for Satyricon. As the year 2000 loomed overhead, Satyr and Frost were looking to take charge, and set a new standard for Black Metal. Colder, grimmer, dirtier, more aggressive, more extreme than anything done before. To lead Black Metal into the twenty-first century and beyond.
Is Satyricon now just you and Frost?
Yes it is.
Did you use studio musicians to record "Rebel Extravaganza" or did you two do it yourself?
We did it ourselves. We had some guest musicians but we didn't bring them in because we needed them to play anything specific. We just needed them to play an odd part here and there. Basically, we did it ourselves.
I understand you are going on tour soon. What about touring musicians?
We are going to do one off shows right now. In December, we are going to do a couple festivals, and in January we are going to do a full European tour. It was supposed to happen in October, but it had to be postponed. After the European tour, we hope to do America. The touring musicians are completely different people than the ones in the studio. We have not worked with them in the past. Except for the girl who plays keyboards for us, she started working with us for the festivals we did this summer, and will continue to play with us on a live basis in the future. The three other guys are totally new to us, and will be part of our live band.
It seems like your EP "Intermezzo II", and now your album "Rebel Extravaganza" has come out back to back. At least here in the states, it has only been a couple of months between the two releases. Is the reason for releasing the EP to give people a taste of what was to come with the album?
We recorded the EP in January, and it came out May 10 in Europe. The album we recorded in March, and it will not be out until October 19. So there is a little time between them. The EP was meant to be a teaser, but as it turned out it is not, because the album sounds so different from the CD. I guess in a way that was the intention. The mini CD shows a different side of Satyricon. I like working with mini CD's. It is a very dynamic format. It allows you to do things on the side, which is a bit different from what you do on albums. On albums, it is important for me to keep the continued feelings throughout the album. On Mini CD's you can have a cover song, an experimental song, a live track, or a re-recording of an old tune. Whatever you want to do. That's what I like about them, doing different things. When it comes to the album, I want to keep that continuous feeling.
"Intermezzo II" definitely has an experimental feel to it. I also think that "Rebel Extravaganza" has a bit of a different feel from your last full-length album. Many of the more established Black Metal acts are experimenting a bit more with their sound these days. Would you agree with that for Satyricon? Is it because of maturing, or maybe wanting to take it to another level?
It is definitely about taking to another level. I do not see "Rebel Extravaganza" as being experimental, I see it as being a very modern Black Metal album. The problem with Black Metal in 1999 in Europe is that it is so extremely outdated. There will be a lot of people bitching about that. It is very important that the established bands like Satyricon take some responsibility and try to do something with it. I feel what we have done is not only a challenge for ourselves, but also a challenge for our fans. I hope it will be an album that will set new standards in Black Metal. I think it will. Everybody in Europe is crazy about the album, so it seems to be making quite an impact already.
That's is kind of the answer I was looking for. I guess when I said experimental, I meant very right on time, very modern. It seems like the important Black Metal bands, the ones who have been around for a while are putting out albums like this. I wanted to get into your head as to reasoning of why you think this is happening right now, at this time. Is it because the Black Metal scene has become saturated, stale?
The established bands are going to lead the scene into the future. That is why we need to take responsibility. We need to show them the way.
What is the deal you made with Nuclear Blast? Why not release it on Moonfog like before?
It is on Moonfog really. Moonfog is releasing it in Scandinavia, and we made a licensing deal with Nuclear Blast for the rest of the world. I have to say I find the roster on Nuclear Blast far from my liking. However, they have showed in the past with other bands that they have the ability to really make the records available. They get the bands the recognition they deserve. We are hoping they do the same for Satyricon. It was a choice of working with them or Century Media. I hope they will prove themselves worthy. I think we have delivered the goods, and now it is up to them what they do with it.
Do you still have total artistic freedom?
Yes, of course. That is one thing. We totally respect the people at Nuclear Blast and feel they are able to do a good job for us. One thing is for sure; that they do understand very well is that we have been around, doing this Black Metal thing long before they knew what it was. We told them on a very early basis forget about giving us any advice or telling us how this is supposed to be. We know how this works. Let us take care of the music. You just do your thing. We are pretty clear on that, so there is no problem.
Have you had any run ins with them about freedom of expression? The reason I am asking this is that I heard a rumor that they did not agree with how you expressed some of your beliefs.
It would be easier to comment if you were more specific about the rumor that you heard.
I heard that some of the people in the German office were uncomfortable with some comments you made that could have been taken as neo-nazism.
We never had any conflicts with them about anything like that. They know very well that Satyricon are a total non-political band with no sympathies either on the left or on right wing.
Are German labels extremely sensitive to that whole thing?
It has never been a problem for us. They know we are in this for the music and nothing else.
You were supposed to play the Milwaukee Metalfest but did not make it. You mentioned you wanted to do an American tour. Do you think you will be allowed into this country to do a tour?
Well, if Emperor could, we can, that's for sure.
Do you care to tell us the main reason why you could not make it over here?
The main thing was that with those kinds of situations it takes a little more time. There's more paperwork involved. You have to go through the whole bureaucracy mill. There is no problem because people understand you are coming over to play and do a job. We have been invited to play, and that is what we want to do. The bureaucrats know nothing dangerous is going to happen. They just have their rules they have to follow and they have to stick by them. These things take time. Unfortunately, we had to suffer because of it this time. We really spent a lot of time getting all the papers sorted out, passports and blah blah blah, all that shit. It even cost me a lot of money personally to fix all these things. Now it was not worth anything. However, I don't think there will be a problem next time, it will be easier. Now we have time. The inquiry to play at Milwaukee came at a late stage. We were given six weeks to sort it out and you normally need like ten weeks to do it. I understand what you mean, everybody thinks that we couldn't come over because we murdered a lot of people or something. That is not the case. It is just a simple case of running out of time. It is nothing about things that happened years ago. They don't try to stop you from coming into the country, but they do take things that happened in the past into consideration. It just takes time. If Emperor made it in, everybody will make it in!
I am glad you wanted to clear that up. It was just a simple case of bureaucracy and paperwork. Now since you have set the wheels in motion, it should be easier next time. Are you planning on coming over here to tour?
When they issue the paper work, they need to know for example exactly when the tour is starting, when it is ending. Exactly where we are playing, things like that. Unfortunately, those things you do not really know until a little bit before you go. It's too bad it has to be so detailed, but that is the way it is. They have to be difficult. We tried to change them, but we cannot. We will just have to play by their rules.
Why do you feel it is important for Satyricon to come to America to tour?
Well, I'm arrogant enough to say that this Black Metal album we have done now is so very good it not only deserves to be recognized as a good Black Metal album, it deserves to be recognized as a milestone. Those things don't happen on their own. You have to promote the album and make sure people know about it. America is such a huge country, so it is even more important to do the touring part there. Obviously, it is a growing market with a growing interest in this kind of music. We want to be a part of it as it is starting. On the other hand, I'm a bit skeptical. I know the whole story about the standard of the clubs in America. From what I understand, they are a bit disgraceful, and that is unfortunate. However, we will see. I hope we can support a band that is very established in America. That way we could perform under slightly better conditions.
If you had to make a choice, what band would that be?
We were in the discussions for Mercyful Fate, the tour they are doing right now. We could not do it unfortunately. Of course when you tour with a bigger band you risk the fact that they are going to fuck up the sound-check, and they are going to make sure you suck in order for them to shine. Oh the other hand, you get better traveling conditions, and get to play in better clubs with better sound systems. If you travel with a band that is confident of their own qualities and strengths, they don't try to fuck up the support bands.
Is the "Mother North" video available in North American format?
I don't think so. We are not planning to release it that way either. We are going to start working on a new video in a few weeks. I am hoping we can release that one on both European and North American formats. It is going to be a longer video. Looks like it's going to be more of a Satyricon documentary kind of thing. With some music videos, some new stuff, and behind the scenes kind of stuff.
What has inspired you in the last couple of years that has caused you to create this album, "Rebel Extravaganza", which you feel so strongly about.
Inspiration is not really a subject, it is just what I really wanted to do in the end. I wanted to do the kind of things I've done because I felt strongly for them. I do not think anything inspired me, it's just the way it became. What I felt strongly for was breaking down the barriers and moving the whole thing into new extremities. That has always been the policy of Satyricon, to be one step ahead of the pack. To bring into it new dimensions. To go where other bands have not been before. That is what we have done with "Rebel Extravaganza". I understand you have not seen the booklet, because you have a promo. That is very unfortunate, because you would understand it very well, what I am talking about. You would get to see the total package. The booklet is not your ordinary CD booklet. It's more like a small piece of art. I hope that you can see it when it is out.
Well, just from the new photos I've seen, it seems your image have moved away from a standard corpse-painted Black Metal one to a cosmic otherworldly type one. Therefore, I was trying to get into your head as to what has influenced you to move into this direction.
What we tried to do is be a little bit more aggressive and grim. More extreme and in your face than anything done before. We wanted to do it in a Satyricon fashion, which means different from what you usually see with other bands. I spoke to this other American guy, and he said that he enjoyed the stuff a lot, and he interpreted it in the way that I was talking about. He said that people would probably say "Oh, this is weird, I don't understand it". That is exactly what I thought myself, but it is turning out to be the opposite. We've done many interviews, and it seems that everybody is totally stoked by the whole thing, the music, the photography, and the booklet art. They understand this is the new thing. You need to renew yourself, and make it more extreme. That is what Black Metal is about. It is about extremity. If you take the extremity out of Black Metal, then it is just something ordinary and uninteresting.
I don't see it as weird. I see it as you taking steps to really find yourselves, and move away from the ordinary, to the extraordinary. I also see it as a growth or maturation.
I would have to say maturation into something that is more extreme. Unfortunately, there is something that happens to bands that move on. They just become more normal. That is so boring. If you take the edge out of Black Metal, is just becomes regular Metal. Then it is not interesting for me. We tried instead of going normal, to do something more extreme then we have ever done before. In a way, that nobody else has done before. That was kind of the intention to have it come out like that. Very extreme, but very different. Individual, with character.
As for the lyrics on "Rebel Extravaganza", is there anything that people should take an extra look at? Anything that is profound, or has a special meaning for you, that you would like to share?
The most important thing is that people read them. Most of the lyrics raise a lot of questions. The main point there is, is to not give the answers, but to raise the questions. Then to challenge people to come up with the answers themselves. The lyrics are done in a way that they are supposed to cause movement in people. I think that is one of the most interesting things about written words, whether it is poetry, books or whatever. That it be informative, but also raise questions, to make you start thinking. One time a guy came up with an interpretation to the song "A Moment Of Clarity" which is on the EP. His interpretations were completely wrong, and he asked me, "why do you say that?" I said,"that's not what I'm saying." He asked me, "Well, what are you saying?" So then, I explained it to him. In a case like that, where someone is so wrong, I will explain it to him or her, if they ask me. However, usually I like people to think for themselves.
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