Interview with Satyr from "Into Obscurity" E'zine by Death Metal Dan

The new album "Rebel Extravaganza" seems more brutal than songs I've heard on previous releases. Did you set out with the idea to make it this heavy or was this just a natural progression for the band?

Both really. It was both intentional and natural. I would say that the reason why it became so aggressive is not only because it was a natural direction to go for the band since we had pretty much taken that whole atmospheric thing to the extent we thought we were capable of but also that we needed, in a way for ourselves, to react towards what is dominating our scene today and being good examples. Yea, it was both natural and intentional.

After "Intermezzo II" was released, a lot of people were expecting the new album to be industrial. That is definitely not the case.

That is because people are fucking stupid. As arrogant as that may sound, it's the honest truth.

I agree. People tend to look into things too much sometimes.

James Hetfield of Metallica said something on a Norwegian radio interview which I listened to in the car on my way home from the studio one day which was pretty interesting. He just said "People have too much time on their hands, that's the problem," he kept saying. They think too much. He elaborated by talking about people commenting on his hair or the color of his guitar and shit like that. And if you look at other music genres you can say that, in rock music or especially in electronic music, this is a very common thing to do, to use singles and mini CDs and soundtracks and compilation albums to do different things, qualities that you represent that don't necessarily fit into the totality of an album. Madonna is an artist that I don't like at all, but I know what she's up to and she does pop music and she does singles and all that and then she has DJs remix her songs and make them sound techno-like and I doubt that any of her fans take that as a sign that Madonna is going techno. Whereas in black metal, if you do something a little bit different on a mini CD or something, the people just go "That's it. They've changed the whole thing... forever." I've given up on that.

Is there any reason for the drastic image change on the new CD or is that something just for press photos, etc.?

To us, it's not so drastic because you have to think of the fact that the last full length album we did where we worked extensively with the sign and the imagery and photography and all that, that was "Nemesis Divina" in 1996. "Rebel Extravaganza" came out this Autumn so we're talking about a long time, three and a half years, between the making of those albums and in such a long time things are bound to progress. So to us, this was not something we suddenly decided, this was like a process that has been ongoing all the time. Even if you look at "Nemesis Divina" you can see that the corpse paint is not the typical corpse paint. It is in a way because it's black and white, but I remember back then we were just saying to the makeup artist "Try to make it as anti-King Diamond style as possible." We just grow more and more sick of that whole thing. We wanted to be extreme, we don't want to look like a normal death metal band from Florida. We wanted to be extreme, but extreme in a different way. That's kind of the policy of Satyricon. That's probably why the pictures came out like they did.

How is Nuclear Blast America treating you? Are you happy with what they are doing for you?

Nuclear Blast America, yes. Don't know about Nuclear Blast Germany though. I'm happy with the way we've been treated by Nuclear Blast America.

Do you have any American tour plans?

Yes. We have actually been discussing in the last few days sort of a festival tour that we're supposed to headline in February in America. It is not settled yet but we have kind of been asked by Nuclear Blast America if we wanted to do it and we said yes and that's where we are. The idea is to play in this place called Worcester?

Massachusetts? (editor's note: I believe that he is referring to the New England Metal and Hardcore Festival that they held for the first time last year, but I am not certain)

Uh huh. As well as Toronto, Montreal, New York, Philadelphia... so that's the idea and that's from the 10th of February. I hope that will happen. We want to come play. We are also doing a few warm up shows in Europe now in December. That will be the first shows for our new lineup and then we are doing our own club tour with us as headliners in January in Europe and then coming back and doing a few warmup shows in Scandinavia and then hopefully doing this America thing. And after that, I don't know what we we're going to do, but I was hoping we could go out as first support to a somewhat bigger band in order to play in front of people that we normally wouldn't get the chance to play for because when we do this headliner tour, we are not out there to get new fans or make money or whatever. What we are out there to do is play for the loyal fans of Satyricon who are inviting us to come and play. That's kind of our idea and we present our idea to all our fans in the best possible way. That's what we like, but after that, I really want to support a larger band like Slayer or something would be great. We'll see.

I've heard you have a certain dislike for the States.

It's more like a culture problem. I've been in the States, just visiting and I thought Louisiana was very nice. It's a country without history and it's a county where you mix basically everything from the worst to the best and put it all into one big cauldron and just stir it around... that's pretty much America. You have to think of the fact that Americans are really Indians. Those are the Americans. All these other people that are there are either Asian people or Europeans or Africans or whatever it may be, so what is a real American? It almost doesn't exist anymore. Therefore, it is pretty natural that there is no culture there either. And obviously Christianity is quite dominating in America, same way as in Norway, and that's something which I totally resent of course. Do you understand what I'm saying about being an American?

Completely. We all immigrated here, or our forefathers did, with the exception of the few Native Americans.

I think that is also part of the problem with the crime and all that. You look here in Norway, crime is not a problem in Norway, especially compared to a country like America, apart from Oslo. Oslo is starting to lose identity and that is probably why you have a lot of crime. You have so many Swedish people there, and Norwegian people and German people and Pakistan people and Indian people and African people and it doesn't have any soul anymore, it's just a big mess and it's losing it's roots. It is a bit sad, but it's just the way the world is developing so there is not much we can do about it. Probably the saddest thing about America, in that manner, is that it's... I have a funny story... the photographer we worked with on "Rebel Extravaganza" when he went to New Orleans, where I have just been, a cab driver wanted to show him a building that was over 200 years old! I've got a house just 500 meters from where I live that is 300 years old. We have buildings that are 2000 years old. It's sad though but that's why I dislike America. America has a lot of nice nature. That has to be said too to the credit of America.

It is elementary to say that metal is constantly evolving. I'm sure when Iron Maiden was huge not many people expected bands to be wearing corpse paint, having keyboards and playing with such ferocity. Where do you see metal and especially Satyricon, going in the new millenium?

I don't know. I honestly don't know. Of course I've been thinking about it and I'll try to give you a glimpse into my thoughts but it is hard to say because metal today is very different from metal in the 1980's. On the other hand, it is such an extremely conservative genre and that in itself is giving me a hint that it is not going to go super fast into the millenium with a lot of progression and all that. To me, the most important to me is that it moves forward and not backward. Things that make me want to lay down and die are when people are picking up on the old cheesy 1980's heavy metal stuff again now. I don't know how that is in America, but in Germany and Sweden, they are picking up on that stuff. These things are what make me feel happy that the 1980's are over because we don't have the cheesy bands anymore. Now, the people are picking up on it again. I just don't get it and I'm thinking to myself "Are they serious? Do they mean this? Are they being ironic?" but they are not. They are damn serious. They really mean it and I can't believe it. I honestly can't understand how someone can get something from listening to that. As long as we can stay away from that, I don't care. It has to be progressive, but to say what direction it will be going is really hard. Maybe more technologic maybe. There will probably be a lot of changes on sound. That's probably something people haven't thought much about. Sound will be different because the recording equipment which bands have been recording with in the 1970's, 1980's and 1990's is not that different. I mean sure, you have better compressors than you did back then and you have better tape machines and all that, but it's basically the same. But what's coming now with all this computer recording which is more or less taking over for the tape machines. That's definitely going to affect the sound of albums that are going to come out in the next ten years because the way you record on those computers, it definitely doesnt sound the same as recording on tape machines.

Do you think bands that are trying too hard to find a unique identity are just going to end up irritating their fans? I mean bands like Arcturus and the like (editor's note: I love Arcturus, I was just asking a question so please don't jump down my throat. I wasn't trashing anyone).

I don't feel that is the case with ourselves. I feel Satyricon has identity and I feel that we are different so it doesn't necessarily have to be the case. I know what you mean with a band like Arcturus. I don't know how Satyricon is looked upon in America, but Satyricon has a lot of respect and credibility in Europe, especially in Scandinavia, and I think that most of the reason, apart from being one of the first bands to come out of this scene in the 1990's, is that we don't care what people say and I think that is very important. When people say to me "You have to remember that you wouldn't have been where you are today if it wouldn't have been for the fans" it's like fuck that it's not true at all. Did they make the music or did we make the music? We made the music and we spent hours and hours in the studio and the rehearsal room and it's us that work our asses off in order to get where we are at. There is no German kid or Swedish kid or American kid that has made Satyricon what it is. We have always one what we wanted and we have no interest in what other people might think about the direction we go in and I think with a band like Arcturus, that may be the case too. Maybe it can come through as irritating and all that for fans but I think a band like them, they are just doing what pleases them and they are not really that interested in what other people think about that because they do what makes them happy. It's as simple as that.

What other bands/genres do the members of Satyricon listen to?

Frost listens pretty much to black metal and nothing else. He also likes a lot of dark music which isn't black metal but the rest is basically black metal. Especially he likes the old stuff. I tend to be a little more open minded I guess. I like black metal, I like all sorts of metal music really apart from power metal, and I like a lot of electronic music, I like classical music, I like a lot of music. I have a very varied and open minded taste. I think it's important in order to enjoy some music to have a quite varied taste because if you only like black metal there is just so and so much quality within that genre. It's a bit limited.

How do you feel about black metal's recent rise in popularity since you've been around back when it was a much smaller genre?

I like it. There will always be some unfortunate things happening when you get a rise in popularity. There will be lots of individuals and companies and bands that will jump on the bandwagon in order to join the new trend and such things cause situations or things that I don't like, but we do this music because we love doing it and we obviously want to share it with all the people as long as they are interested so if the interest is growing I like that. I think it's a good thing and I'd rather have people listening to Darkthrone than Rage Against The Machine.

On the Moonfog webpage, in the section about banning mp3s, it says that when a band puts out a CD, they are basically earning what is comparable to minimum wage. You are in a few bands as well as running a small label, does that generate enough income to survive or do you struggle?

I could make a living by only Satyricon, but it would be a bad life. Yea, I am comfortable and that is the thing with most people I know. The guys in Emperor for example, or the guys in Darkthrone or other bands that I know in Norway, they probably could live from what they make by music, but it would make a poor living, so most people do have regular jobs in addition to their music in order to make a comfortable living. With mp3s, it is so ridiculous. I listen to the arguments of underground people all the time saying that mp3s are such a good thing. It's not a good thing at all. What it eventually will do is bury the underground. It's not a problem for major companies because they generate so much income. Like in Denmark, they are making a big fuss now that the larger companies have lost about 3% of their income due to mp3s in Denmark in the last year, which is nothing but what they are afraid of is that it will be 6% next year and then 10% and then 15% and all that. For a small label like Moonfog, with relatively small bands, we have seen it in the bigger picture. If we were to lose, lets say, 10-15% of our income, it would be hard times. It's so simple, I don't see why people can't understand. Production costs, every day that goes there is a new studio raising it's prices. Studios that we started to work with like 5 or 6 years ago, they used to cost $500 a day, now they cost $1000 a day. To do a photo shoot back then would cost like $1000, today it's more like $3000. Everything is just getting more expensive while the price of a CD doesn't increase. It's a quite delicate balance you've got there and if you come to the point where people start to download your music and you don't make a penny from it, on the otherhand you still have the same production costs, it's going to be very difficult to run an underground label or an underground band.


Taken from: Into Obscurity
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