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Interview with Satyr from "The Underground Scene" E'zine (Worcester, MA, USA, Club "The Palladium" 17 April 2004)
How did you guys get together and come up with the name Satyricon?
I started the band in 1992. In late 1991 I joined an Oslo band with a few talented people with no leadership I guess, and no clear vision. Those guys who didn't quite have what it took, they just disappeared as time went by, and the ones who were left we took the name Satyricon, decided that we wanted to do Black Metal, and you know, black, death, thrash, you know, kind of reaching in too many directions I guess, and then Frost joined in November 1992 I guess, and it's been basically me and him as the core of the band ever since.
Your album "Volcano" was just released in America this week, how would you compare it with previous albums?
Well all Satyricon records are really different from each other, especially in the way that, production wise and stuff like that, and I always try, being a musician is very much about entertaining yourself. You get bored doing the same thing over and over again, but obviously Satyricon has a certain style that is a very dark kind of music and very dynamic, but I think this record is probably overall the darkest album we've ever made. It has a mixture of atmospheric, dark life but also directness and aggression, and that is a hard combination to achieve actually, but I think that we managed and that's why I like the record so much.
You released it through System Of A Down guitarist Daron Malakian's EatUrMusic label, how did you hook up with him and what has it been like working with him?
We met through a mutual friend Casey Chaos of Amen and he told me that Daron liked Satyricon a lot, and I was going to go see Casey in Los Angeles, and we're obviously from Oslo, Norway so I went over there and met with the guy and we got along really well and he started talking about, because I was also there to talk with some labels to also get a deal together at the time, because our deal had run out in the states, and then Daron said "you know, Satyricon is the type of shit I would like to do with EatUrMusic, and I love "Volcano" and I said well, why can't you? And he said because of the people at Columbia Records. He's a sublabel of Columbia and they would never understand this and I said I know, but we're on Capitol in Europe, and they, you know (laughter), and they do it. So he said "Really? Well I'll give them a call" and a couple days later he said "well everyone at Columbia is totally into it, fuck, I want to do this." So I said that's cool, so we just had the lawyers do all the paperwork and that shit, and we talked about how we wanted to do things and our visions for the band in America and stuff like that. I like Daron a lot, he's a very strong character and he, I think he's got strong artistic visions on behalf of Satyricon and he's just a big fan and that's cool.
"Volcano" actually won a Grammy award in Norway, how cool was that?
Actually what was cooler for me is that we won a couple of Alarm Awards, which the Norwegian Indie awards, which is very much like by musicians for musicians, and it's a more respectful, credible thing, but with the Grammy's and all that, that's for the record company, a big commercial value and all that I guess, so that way it's cool, but I wasn't even there.
You're out now on your North American tour with Morbid Angel and Suffocation, how has it been so far?
It's been, you know this the fifth show we did tonight, so we're just getting started, and you know, we're facing a lot of technical difficulties, like 15 minute change overs, like everything and I'm so fucking stressed out and my drummer Frost being denied a visa waver by US authorities and having this guy (points at Trym) from Zyklon and Emporor stepping in very last minute, but you know he's a great drummer and we're just working on getting our shit together. But the reception is really good, like we saw tonight we got a great reception, but I just want to get rid of all the technical shit that is bothering us. I hate that, I really do. It pisses me off.
Yeah, that was actually my next question, I heard you guys had some trouble getting into the US, what happened there? Is it really as strict as I've heard? I've never left the country.
It's really strict and it's really unfair in the way that, the problem is that the Department of Homeland Securities obviously don't have that many rules and regulations to stick by. It's very much up to each individual to look at your application, so there are cases of Norwegian Black Metallers who have done three or four years of time for burning down a church who go to the United States and tour with a visa and a work permit all the time, and you have my drummer who did a five month sentence for a bar fight and can't get into the country, so it doesn't make sense you know? And the problem is that the decisions they make are irreversible, and it's like they just play God, and the letter, it's more of a formality when they turn you down, they send you a letter, it said "you are advised not to seek entry into the United States for at least another two years" and we're like why? Is everything going to be ok in two years? I don't know.
Damn, that really sucks.
Yeah, we had lawyers and all kinds of machinery pushing, trying to make this happen, but I just, I don't know what the problem is because we're professionals, and we're here to do our job, to play live and it's not like he's a fucking terrorist, he's a drummer.
Well I know it doesn't mean much but on behalf of America I am sorry you had to go through this.
Any other tours lined up after this?
Joey Jordison of Slipknot wants to take the band out, and I think if that was to happen I think it would be a great thing for Satyricon to come out and play for even more people, and I think their fans would be very receptive for Black Metal music and we'll see if that happens. There are many prospects in that vein and we also definitely want to do a full Satyricon headlining tour, so we'll get to play our full show and everything, but we'll tour as much as we can in 2004, but it's also a question of tour support and stuff like that. It's really expensive to bring all this machinery over from Oslo, Norway, and to travel around in this big country.
For a long time Europe dominated the metal scene, but over the past two years there have been a lot of American bands coming up like Shadows Fall and Lamb Of God, what are your thoughts on the new wave of American metal bands?
I am not so familiar with it, I mean obviously I know all the bands you mentioned like Shadows Fall, Lamb Of God, Hatebreed and all that stuff, and the fact is that I haven't listened too much. I guess what's strange about it is that a lot of the bands that are big in America, they're not very big in Europe. I saw Metallica three times in December and I know Larkin, the drummer in Godsmack, so I never heard of Godsmack before but I wanted to see Godsmack too because I know their drummer, and I'm telling you, in Scandinavia, no one knows who they are, and I don't think they're that big in the rest of Europe either but from what I understand they are like a multi-platinum selling, huge band.
Yeah, they've gone triple platinum on a couple of their albums. Yeah, I think they are playing like 45 miles west of here tonight, or maybe that was last night.
Oh they did?
Yeah, I don't know, I know they just played around here this past week. They're actually from Boston and they're really, really big here.
And I mean that's the kind of stuff that we're not familiar with in Europe, and I just know that there are a lot of big bands here and I know the names, but a lot of the stuff I've never even heard, but I guess that's what we're seeing with Black Metal. Black Metal has been big in Europe for some time now, and now America is ready for it and that's sort of where we come into the picture because I think there have been a few entry level Black Metal that has caused the interest that we're now seeing, because it's definitely on the rise, and then for me I feel like the timing is ideal for Satyricon as far as being able to shape the direction of the rising Black Metal scene in America by being able to bring our stuff here as we are one of the veterans of the genre and spearheading the development of Black Metal, I think we can help contribute to the rising Black Metal scene in America.
Is there anywhere you are looking forward to seeing on this tour?
I am looking forward to playing in New York tomorrow, because we've only played in America once, we did a couple weeks, you know? And I remember playing in New York was cool and they were really into it, so I am hoping they will be tomorrow, and obviously there are a lot of people that we work with that are situated in New York that have never seen us play live before, and we definitely want to play in front of all these people and impress them. And Los Angeles too, because I have a lot of friends in Los Angeles and also a lot of people that have never seen us and it's going to be very cool to be able to show Satyricon live to all these people that haven't seen us that I know.
So from all of your travels all over the world on tour, do you have a favorite city that you've been able to see?
I don't know, I mean I understood your question, but I want to say it's weird how when you travel around it's just like, like this morning sitting in the bus and looking out the window and I said to the bus driver "where the fuck are we?" And he said "Massachusetts, we just entered the state of Massachusetts, why do you ask?" And I said "because it looks like Norway." Like the trees and the surroundings of where we were driving at that very moment reminded me of Norway and I looked and thought it could be somewhere in Norway, so you have a lot of experiences like that, and when you go back and we've driven through like the mountains of Northern Spain and shit like that, that's cool just to watch out the window, and every time we go by there I want to just listen to music and just watch the landscape, but as far as favorite cities to play in, Milan, Satyricon has a really strong standing in Italy, especially in Milan, and they are beyond belief passionate about it, it's like a religion to them, and I love that. Being a band from Oslo and being a big band from Norway, for us to play in our hometown is great, it means a lot to us and we always get a really good reception, so I really love playing Oslo.
If you were going to cook me a Norwegian dinner made of your favorite Norwegian food, what would you cook for me?
Well I am a lousy cook (laughter) so I guess I couldn't make you anything, but there's a few dishes in Norway that are highly unusual shit, like sheep's brain, so if someone told me how to make it for you I would probably want to give you something exotic like that. I think I would rather instead of making you a meal from Norway I would like to show you some cool places in Norway.
What would be your first pick of places I would need to see if I traveled to Norway?
I think for just architecture and style, a place called Buskerud (I think that's what he said) it's like traveling into another time zone or like just going hundreds of years back in time, or another county called Sogn og Fjordane which is like you don't believe it, it's not for real. You go there and you see the mountains and the fjords and the valleys and the first time I was there was maybe six or seven years ago and fuck, it looks like someone came up with an idea and they built a dream landscape, you're just like "is this for real?" It's just some place, Norway has a very dramatic landscape in certain counties which are breathtaking.
Who would you say some of your influences are?
Musically, my influences are my own mind and soul and that's the best answer I can give, because I don't listen to other bands when making music. I'm making music based on my experiences as a song writer and trying to make what I like listening to, and I think the reason why Satyricon is a band that is doing well is because we don't sound like a band that is inspired by other bands, we have our own style.
What would your dream tour be?
Well can I include bands that don't play live or bands that don't exist anymore?
Yes, of course.
Well then I think my dream tour would be two legendary Black Metal bands, Darkthrone and Bathory and Celtic Frost from Switzerland and Satyricon, a four band bill. I think that would be my all time dream tour.
What do you do to keep busy on the road?
Talk with people like you, play shows, that's just what it's about. That's just what it's all about, you do interviews… playing is not only about the actual, when you are on stage, it's just getting prepared and the whole thing after, I don't know, I feel like as far as playing the show it's everything before, during and after is just so time consuming, and it takes so much out of me energy-wise that the rest of the time I don't go much site seeing, I just try to save my energy. Sometimes if I come to a place where I know there is something I really, really want to see, but I don't go looking for stuff, like maybe there is something interesting here. But whenever I go to Paris I always make it to the catacombs, it's like a subterranean graveyard and it's insane, and I always want to see that even though I've been there several times, and when I go to Milan I like to go to the castle or the torture museum, stuff like that is very interesting, and I like to check out just certain, like the first time we played New York I obviously wanted to go see the World Trade Center and stuff like that, it's just one of those things you're supposed to check out, but for me it's very much about maybe reading a good book or listening to music or just sleeping and trying to save your energy.
What keeps you motivated on the days you're sick and just don't feel like playing?
Those moments where I realize why I am doing it. For example, recording the video for "Fuel For Hatred" with Jonas Åkerlund, which is one of the worlds best video directors, having worked with Ozzy Osbourne, Metallica, Prodigy and all the things that he's done, I'm just a big fan of his work and I get to work with him, and it was just 10 times better then I could ever imagine, and I thought it was going to be great and it was just like, and the moments like that where everything is working and you're just making great stuff together I just say "this is why I am doing this." And every once in a while, you have moments like that, or you know, we when we play, like the last song we played today is just a Black Metal classic and the whole middle section of the crowd will sing the guitar melody so loud that it's like I can't hear the guitars because they're singing, and then you're just like goose bumps and what the fuck, I'm paralyzed, and those are the moments that fuel and just gives you energy, and I guess when you feel like this sucks and why the fuck am I doing this and is it worth it with all this shit that you face all the time, and you just have to focus on the good moments and the moments that make you realize "this is why I am doing this." This is great.
How would you sell your album "Volcano" to someone who has never heard of Satyricon before?
I would describe it as a very atmospheric record, very dark, but also as I said earlier in the interview with a lot of directness and aggression and power, and it's definitely, I think of Black Metal being a very extreme version of rock music, and I think in "Volcano", you can definitely tell that Black Metal is a very extreme version of rock music, because that is the foundation, and we move on from there. So that gives you a little bit of an idea about it, but the best thing is always listening to the music instead of trying to explain it.
Any last comments?
Since Satyricon is so new to so many people, we made a tailor made website now for the American market, and it is pretty much just Satyricon.no is our official website, but we haven't had so much background information about the band since most people know us in Europe, but this is more tailor made for the American market, so that is the best source for the best and most correct information for what Satyricon is all about.
Thanks to Satyr for taking the time to do the interview and to Jensen at Adrenaline PR for setting it up. Satryicon's album "Volcano" is in stores now.
Taken from: The Underground Scene
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