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Interview with Satyr from "Metal Warrants" E'zine by John Haseltine (13 December 2004)
Back in the states for their third U.S. tour, I had a chance to catch up with Satyricon front man and founder Satyr in Chicago. Here are a few thoughts that have been swelling as well as a look into the real meaning of Black Metal from one of the foremost experts of the genre.
Well, there's some crazy shit happening here in America.
First off, give us a brief history of the band.
Satyricon is a Black Metal band from Oslo, Norway. Consisting of Frost and myself. We also have a live band with four more people in it. We've been playing together now for quite a few years now, all of us. We've put out five records, the newest one being "Volcano".
How does it feel being back in America doing another tour?
Ah, this is only our third tour here in twelve years of existence, so to the Americans, we're still a fresh band. It's only been our last three records that have had nationwide distribution here in America, so we're going to challenge our position, there's something fresh about that sort of starting all over again. A lot of it sucks too, you know you get used to a certain level of comfort, and then you don't have that anymore, but again it's also interesting to be in the position that we're in to prove ourselves once again.
You guys were very well received the past times through, do you see/feel that your fan base here is growing?
Yes I think it is. Within two years time, I feel we will be where we want to be. But, you need to turn Black Metal into more of a movement. You know Black Metal is a lifestyle to many people in Europe, and that's what we're missing here in America, and I think we see that coming more and more now, and being a part of that here is also exciting. Being here touring, and talking to press and exposing our ideas and take on music. It's a Black Metal philosophy. So I'm enjoying myself.
Last time around, there were many technical difficulties while on tour, do you feel you have them ironed out this time around?
Yes, we're much more careful this time.
The new album "Volcano", has been released on System Of A Down guitarist's label, Eat Ur Music. How did that partnership come about?
Oh, it was just thru coincidences, thru a mutual friend. I explained how I was unhappy with my current situation here in the states. Working with those I worked with. We needed something fresh and new and someone who was going to be ambitious on Satyricon's behalf. I would say that as far as the ambitious, Eat Ur Music has lived up to my expectations, and I'm glad that I've done it, but then again, I also feel that to some degree, that Eat Ur Music is just an imprint and not an actual label and has been quite difficult for us too. But I'm glad that we're given the chance to come here and play.
So "Volcano" has a more rock oriented sound to it. Why is that?
Black Metal comes from that music. That's the way I see it. There is no wrong or right way to play Black Metal. Black Metal in many ways is a feel. Either you have it or you don't. it's not only defined by speed, vocal style, production, lyrics and stuff like that. It's actually defined whether or not you have the feeling. Sort like the blues in many ways. And uh... I don't know. What was your question? I forgot.
Uh, oh, the new album has a more rock oriented sound.
Yea, yea. Okay, and going back to how Black Metal started, a lot of it was just really extreme music, but then again it was based in rock music. And multiplied by a million. As far as extremity goes, but then later on it became more theatrical with a lot of influences from classical music. Satyricon has always had a progressive side to it, but that progressiveness has come more from progressive rock than classical music or traditional Heavy Metal. Ultimately I think we're a rock oriented Black Metal band, with a progressive touch. "Volcano" shows that more then any other record we've ever done.
Was this simply to appeal to a wider audience, or was it just what you wanted to do?
It was what I wanted to do. And that's what I always do. I always say that Black Metal is not a key to a successful living. It's a call and this is what I wanted to do. This is, is, Black Metal is my whole life. This is what I've been doing since I was fifteen years old and I'm now twenty-nine now so, I do what I want to do. Otherwise I'm bored. And if I'm bored, then why do this.
So is Satyricon's music progressing in any particular direction, or more of, here's a new album like it or not?
When I come off this tour, I'm going to have a few weeks off, then I will start working intensely on the new record. I think we're going to, somewhat changing what my perception of a Black Metal song is. Once I figure that out, I feel it will also change other people's perception of how to write a Black Metal song. And that's exciting to me, to have a challenge ahead when working with new music. I think the song structures will be more simple and stripped down, more then they've ever been. Atmospherically, it will probably be the most eerie sounding record that we've done. Well that's what it looks like now anyways.
Well that leads right into the next question. What is your description of what real Black Metal is?
Well we talked about Black Metal feeling, and that to me is real Black Metal. It's like, how do you explain the blues. You can just tell by listening to the music that these guys a for real. They got it all figured out. And they have that sensitivity, and understanding and know how doing what they do. And that to me is what very much defines the real Black Metal. If the band has that know how and that deeper understanding of what they do. Then the darkness and extremity and the edge in their music will come thru sincere, honest and trustworthy.
The European Black Metal scene is very large, unlike here in the states. What's your impression of the Black Metal scene here?
It's really widespread.
Is there any hope for us?
Absolutely. Yes. I think that's the honor we get now. Is to help the scene take shape. I think in many ways we're privileged to get to be here now, because I think we're seeing the birth of a real Black Metal scene. There are a lot of people who like Black Metal here in the states, but they're so widespread, partly because it's a really big country, and also of the lack of availability of records and not many bands touring here consistently, so availability is always getting better and better, more bands come here and tour and that will create a Black Metal scene eventually and will become more and more of a movement. More and more people will be, Black Metal will be a lifestyle to them and not just any other genre of music that they listen to occasionally. It will become their life. But I think it will take probably a few years yet.
Do you feel Black Metal should stay an underground thing, or do you feel it deserves it's day in some sort of mainstream way? Without out compromising the quality of course.
It will always stay an underground thing. I think because the music is so extreme. It's just not accessible to the mainstream because the way it sounds and the stuff that we write about. Also the way we look and all that. But then yea, I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't think what we were doing wasn't worthy of everyone's attention. I do sincerely hope that and I also think that this music we believe so strongly in, that we live for, will reach to a bigger audience.
What did you set out to achieve when you started Satyricon?
I just wanted to do music man. I never had any hopes or dreams of being a star. I just wanted to do what I like doing and I think that's part of what has made Satryicon such a success over in Europe. It's that we have the right motivation. We're here as music lovers, we're not here for the chicks or the fame, or to socialize. We here because we love the music. And I think that sort of focus is helpful to any band.
So you're pleased with the bands progress over the years?
Yes I am.
When asked what some of your influences are, you've stated your biggest influence is your own mind and soul. Could you elaborate on that?
It comes thru, you are who you are because what you've been thru in life. That in itself. Your take on things, and your perception of the world that you live in and your surroundings makes your soul and your mind and the way you think. And ultimately, what's inside is what I feed off of when I make music and write lyrics.
You've enlisted the services of Slipknot's Joey Jordison on drums for the tour. He learned the songs fairly quickly?
Yes he did.
What, like a week of rehearsals?
We had three days of rehearsals in Oslo, then one week in Los Angeles before the tour started. In an ideal world, we would have had more than that, but we started well and every show since is sounding better and better. He's an excellent drummer. Very humble.
Those are some pretty tough shoes to fill.
Tough shoes to fill yes, and I think what he's always been saying is that he's not going to be like Frost. He's going to try and play Satryicon songs as well as he can with his own style and he's doing a very good job. The musical chemistry we have on stage is really, really good. Also a big part of that is cause we get along so well. Not many people would have the balls to step it up like Joey has. A lot of people in his position would never do it. Because of the fear of failing and how that would make them look. And a lot of people would not do a tour like this if they were as successful as he is just because they can't be bothered because they have all this money, success and fame. He doesn't give a fuck, he loves the band and to him it has actually been an honor to be a part of the band. Just the fact that that's his approach and attitude makes me feel as if it's a honor to have him with us.
Frost is still having a lot of trouble getting a visa here, will he ever be able to join you here in the states in the future? Is it just a waiting game?
Yes I think it's just a time issue. Well there's no taking for granted that it will ever be resolved, I think it will be, chances are that one day are pretty good. But I think we're looking at a year, year and a half. Something like that. At least before we can have a certain degree of hope that it's gonna work out.
Anything you'd like to add?
No, not really...
Taken from: Metal Warrants
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