Hello, Erik. Just less than two month left to your first time ever performance in Ukraine. New country, first show – is it something special for you and WATAIN?
Special indeed! We have always had a very strong tie to eastern Europe in general and it has been frustrating to not be able to perform in all the countries there yet. So the upcoming EASTERN ECLIPSE TOUR is an attempt to cover more ground and discover more of the underground darkness in some of the less trodden parts of Europe… We have heard great things about the audience in Ukraine and after having visited Kiev myself a few years ago I got very hungry to come back to perform there. I think the raging Satanic madness of a WATAIN concert could be very interesting in this environment.
In our country, namely in the east of Ukraine an armed conflict is still ongoing on, already for 5 years, and some European bands are just afraid to come here with concerts, especially in the beginning when the war has started in 2014. Did you have any doubts – to go or not to go to our country?
We have gone to countries where there have been ongoing conflicts before, so this is not an issue. The art of WATAIN is based to a great extent on energies that rely on conflict, turmoil, rebellion and chaos, so if anything I think we can only gain from such a context. The most important thing for us is to feel the hunger of the crowd, to create a proper representation of the sacred Temple of WATAIN and to leave the concert visitors with memories of ecstasy, magic and mystery. Metal like ours must not be stopped by the idiot decisions of politicians and their filthy systems of greed and mass control. We will always be their black enemies, working in the shadows where they do not dare to set their foot, like wolves outside the fragile villages of men…
Do you know something about Ukrainian black metal scene?
From contemporary bands I of course know DRUDKH, NOKTURNAL MORTUM (also under the SUPPURATION name) and HATE FOREST, all bands with their own unique aura for sure. From the past I remember hearing bands like LUCIFUGUM and BLACK INQUISITION, and for sure some others that escape my mind at the moment. For me personally, I am very interested in knowing more about older bands like ADEM, REACTOR (demo era), TRASHMACHINE, КПП, and so on. The 1980s/early 1990s scene of Eastern Europe is a great passion of mine, and Ukraine is a country I really want to know more about when it comes to those old and evil days…
WATAIN has been visited in many countries and cities. Did you get some negative experience and can say “never again” for some cities or festivals?
No, but there are many festivals and cities that have said “never again” to WATAIN, haha… Many promoters, especially in the past when we were less known for what we do, did not have a good understanding of what they were getting themselves into. They thought they had booked just a regular Black Metal band with normal people and a normal performance. So many of them almost shit their pants when they realized what infernal horror that had entered into their venue and into their fragile little lives. That way we have teached many people the lesson to not summon the Devil if you are not on his side.
You have a lot of shows for every year. But all those travels and this gypsy way of life is very tiresome. But are you maybe already accustomed to this way of life?
I am very fond of the “gypsy way” of life. I think I must have nomadic blood in my veins, something that urges me forward and onward all the time. This is also a consequence of constantly dealing with Satanic powers, because such powers are not stagnant and still, but rather a energetic force of movement, twisting and turning and always finding a way to advance and become stronger. After nearly 20 years of living like this I find it hard to settle down and be at one place for a long time. I thank the mighty Gods for blessing me with such a journey and I will always look upon my path as a sacred pilgrimage towards my home beyond the stars.
Recently your show was cancelled in Singapore over religious concerns. Have you ever had such problems in the past? Have you heard about similar problems in Russia with BEHEMOTH, BELPHEGOR, BATUSHKA and ROTTING CHRIST for the last couple years? Are you not afraid to go there again?
Yes we have had similar problems several times but this is something that is quite natural for a Satanic Black Metal band. If you DON’T face these kind of problems every now and then, that just means you are doing something wrong. I understand that a Christian country like Singapore try to shut us down, because they are afraid. And they should be! We represent the downfall of their religious dogma, the undermining of their structured society, the burning of their white chapels and the freedom of their slaves. But we will never be afraid of facing them. And each time they shut us down, we gain thousands of new young followers that will grow up with a hatred in their hearts for everything that represents this kind of old fashioned authority.
What music is playing in your car? Do you listen to your own albums and how often?
I am travelling by car a lot here in Sweden, usually quite long distances, so I always keep a good selection of music with me. Lately I have been listening a lot to stuff like GOBLIN, Philipp Glass, Klaus Schulze and stuff like that. We just returned from a very long tour around the world and I found myself in need of this kind of meditative, mind-fucking music without any vocals. But there’s always MOTORHEAD, BEHERIT, IRON BUTTERFLY, THORNS, TUDOR, BLACK UNIFORMS and stuff like that as well. One great and pretty obscure album that I recently discovered is “Evil Dead” recorded in 1985 by the US band LIERS IN WAIT. Check it out!
Many musicians and fans talk about Lords of Chaos movie. Did you see it? What’s your opinion about this movie?
I am a good friend of Jonas Åkerlund so I’ve been seeing this movie coming together from the start. I’ve always been 50% sceptical and 50% intrigued by what he was going to do, since the subject is of course very dear and close to me. In the end I think it ended up a bit too far from my own perception of the atmosphere and emotional spectrum that I relate to these events. It is clear that Jonas had a different approach to the whole thing that someone who was deeply involved in, and cared deeply for, Black Metal, which should be quite obvious. But I know that he worked very hard to get many things right and I know he was very emotionally involved in the whole project, so it’s still interesting for me to watch. He was also in close contact with the families of both Dead and Euronymous and that is to me a very important thing to take into consideration. In any case, I definitely do not think that it will do any damage to Black Metal that has not already been done. I also think it’s very embarrassing with people who are so against this movie for whatever reason but were not even born when these things happened.
What is the future for a black metal scene? Forward to the mainstream or return to the underground?
I think both sides will always exist, just like in 1984 when VENOM were touring with METALLICA while SODOM and HELLHAMMER were trading demos. Or 14 years later, when DISSECTION where headlining Wacken Open Air Festival while we were trying to find money to make the first WATAIN recordings. Or now, when a band like us is promoted by the prime minister of Singapore on national TV, while hundreds of hungry young Satanic terrorists are getting ready in their rehearsal rooms to take Black Metal into even more dangerous and forbidden realms.
What is the source of inspiration for you? Do you have ideas for the next WATAIN album?
First and foremost I am inspired by my life in WATAIN, by the storming fire that surround us, by seeing my brothers in the band growing strong and powerful, by the triumphs and the losses that we experience together, by the mighty Gods that hold their hands above us. I am also inspired by art and music, by things that I read and absorb, anything that is strong and pure and that finds its way into my sinister heart for one reason or another. And yes, there are many ideas for the next WATAIN album indeed. Too many in fact! But we are going to take all the time we need to boil them down into something with the capacity to tear a large hole in the weave of reality.
How are your songs born? Do you compose them with the guitar, or do you first sing the melody to the recorder the way some other musicians do?
The songs are born at a place within us where the higher and lower realms collide, where a current of energy is carried by the sulphurous breeze of the abyss into the realms of material manifestation.
How is your collaboration with Century Media going on? Are you satisfied with the work of this label? What are the main differences between Century Media and your previous label Season of Mist? Do you plan working with them in the future?
I fall asleep when I talk about these kind of things. I’d rather talks about bombs and black magic. Next question!
Which aspects of modern musical industry annoy you most?
The loss of the physical format, and the fact that people don’t seem to take the time to digest an album the way we did before. WATAIN is a band where artwork, lyrics, printing techniques, photography and everything else that is a part of a record is considered extremely important. So the fact that most of our music is consumed online these days is quite tragic. But fortunately we have a strong and very supportive fan base that still seem to understand the importance of actually experiencing things in a physical way, to dig deep into the mysteries of an album by taking part of all its parts.
Do you agree with the phrase: “There the money come the art dies”?
It has been true in many cases but certainly not always. Many of my favourite artists have probably become quite wealthy from the work they have done, and to me that is more than fair! And yet they still maintain a good level of integrity and keep on making interesting and relevant art. But sure, the majority of the things that I like, at least when it comes to music, are underground phenomenons to whom making profit was very secondary. I think its peoples relation to money that is the problem, not the money itself. To most people, money represents the ultimate safety-net and how anyone can produce anything interesting while being entirely comfortable and safe is beyond my understanding.
Your songs about the darkness, Satan, chaos. What thing or person, or happening can scare you? Have you ever seen the nightmares?
I believe fear is something to be approached and indulged in, rather than avoided. To a common man, fear draws the line between the rational world and the chaos that lies beyond. And indeed, there are many reasons for common men to be afraid of the unknown depths beyond the borders of reality, believe me. I have seen them, and believe me when I say there is not only darkness that lives there.
All talks about the liberty and freedom for all, but if you will sing about the war, chaos, and Satan this fake freedom-lovers will attack you. What are you thinking about modern culture?
Freedom is a difficult concept for most men. Throughout history mankind have developed systems to minimize the access to freedom as much as possible. Physical freedom, spiritual freedom, political freedom, any kind of freedom has been considered dangerous and in many cases forbidden. In the societies that we see around the world, true freedom has very little space. This is why I have always maintained an outlaw mentality, and this is why WATAIN is not only a band but also a world on its own where we can live as free men and by our own set of rules. The modern culture has many flaws and many things that are indeed not modern at all, but it is still an interesting context in which to do our bidding. It presents a very fertile soil for the sowing of the seeds of iniquity and rebellion.
What will you do if tomorrow will be the last day of mankind?
I would prepare ceremonially for my departure into the unknown. In fact, I’m always doing that, in one way or another.
Thank you so much for the interview and we all are waiting for your first ever show in Ukraine.
We are very much looking forward to meet, for the very first time, the metal audience in Ukraine and all of you there who have been hungry to taste the sacrificial blood of a WATAIN concert. Join us on the 10th of May for a night of true Black Metal Magic.
Interview by Jurgen
Photo by Sara Gewalt
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