by Christopher Lee
Satyricon, a band that needs no introduction, helping to put Norwegian Black Metal on the worldwide map in the 90's, they have enjoyed a 20 year plus career by following their own path with a signature sound all their own! No strangers to controversy by refusing to adhere to trends, and ALWAYS pushing the boundaries of what is perceived to be "black metal" and further redefining metal as we know it! They just released their amazing self titled 8th album last week (see the review in the "more Slabs" section) and Crypt Magazine were bestowed with the honor of speaking with mainman Satyr about all that is rumbling in the world of Satyricon direct from Norway! Ah, the marvels of modern technology! READ ON!
Crypt: First off, let me congratulate you on having a number #1 album in your country (Norway) after 20+ years of cloaking your homeland as well as the rest of the world in darkness! I am sure it is a very gratifying feeling?
Satyr: Thank you so much, yeah, who would have thought that? Ha Ha!
Crypt: So with your newfound celebrity, are you and Frost pretty much recognized everywhere you go after all these years?
Satyr: Uh, well I think the interesting thing is ya know, trying to explain how the market over here works, compared to the rest of the world, when talking to foreigners is that, this is the country where, ya know, The Mars Volta or Queens Of The Stone Age, and bands like that, can actually top the album charts, and Norway's always had a good scene for alternative music, ya know, and I don't know if,callot of people necessarily like black metal, but if you have a good following of black metal fans, and then you have allot of people who are just into good music, regardless of genre, there are many of those out there, as far as if you combine those 2 groups of people, all of a sudden we can make it to, ya know, Top 10 of the charts, or in this case, 1st place! But, uh, nevertheless, I feel first and foremost, thankful that people will get behind the record.
Crypt: Well, as I said in my review of the new record, Satyricon is an artform, I have been a fan since 1995, and I have always loved watching the progression of satyricon, especially once you released the groundbreaking "Nemesis Divina", all the way through to the current sound of the band, you guys have always had the best riffs and arrangements, keeping the original hardcore punk influence of black metal yet pushing it through new boundaries!
Satyr: Thank you, well, I mean the interesting part about it, that I guess the path that we perceived throughout the 2000's was to me, much closer to our roots in a way, than anything we've ever done, its what we wanted to do at the time and we all stood firmly behind it, ya know, with being proud of it, because we know that its always the very best that what we can do, and that's really all you can ask is to do something honest and give it all we can! But with the albums from the 2000's, what's different about them is that we really decided to, pursue a more straight forward, kind of "compressed" type of songwriting which is actually what Venom, Celtic Frost, and Bathory did in their early days, and it just goes to show that so many people when they seek new music and do their analysis on it, that they risked being misunderstood, Have you heard about this band, The Devil's Blood?
Crypt: I am familiar with the name, but I have only heard a track or two...
Satyr: Well, when you hear them, and they broke up now, but when you hear them, to me they don't sound like a "retro" band, they sound like a contemporary band, and clearly when you listen to a band like The Devil's Blood, and you can hear that their musical roots are in, ya know, the seventies. That definitely does not mean they set out to be a "retro" band" and they are never looked upon it that way but that's where they come from, and to me when did we "Volcano" and "Now Diabolical" it was Satyricon continuing what we were doing but trying to do a little bit more direct songwriting and we kind of picked up that, ya know, from early Bathory, early Celtic Frost, to me, that was so overly obvious, that, um, that's where we grew inspiration from when choosing to shape and mold the songs the way that we did, but I guess allot of people missed out on that and misinterpreted it, simply because they don't see things from a Satyricon perspective, but nevertheless I love those records, this new record, is really a departure from anything we've ever done, it's spearheading Satyricon into the future! This is a, uh, more progressive record, the lows are really low and the highs are very explosive and grandiose, and um, not only with the dynamics in the songs, but the dynamics, between the songs.
Satyr: I just had a record collector leave my house about 10 minutes ago, he's sixty years old, and he helped me out with some work at the house and I gave him a copy of the limited edition vinyl of the record!
Satyr: Yeah... I love the record and I already have it on CD and he said, he said to me "this is the record like, ya know, the kind of stuff I grew up with in the sixties and seventies where you listen to it as an album" and I said "well thank you for saying that, cause that's really what I have been trying to stress in all the interviews that I've done, in that, this is the record that we set out to be an album, not a collection of songs, this is an album that you are supposed to listen from A to Z, its not like, when you listen to something like this from A to Z, that's when you really get the whole picture. You should spend time with a record like this, um, and you allow it to spin, ya know, 20, 30 times, and get it under your skin, there are all these little subtleties that you keep on discovering, and to me, that's what makes the record what it is!
Crypt: Especially if you listen to it with headphones like I have done a few times, there are lots of subtleties and nuances in the music giving the record much more personality since you recorded it in "analog". It sounds great and gives the record that much more of an identity! There's allot of awesome stuff on the record, it starts off kind of subdued and experimental and then it just goes for the throat with tracks like "NekroHaven" and "Walker Upon The Wind"!
Satyr: HA HA! Yeah, well, ya know usually, its not always about making music, but just being a fan when listening to music, what you put in is what comes out, I mean when I, listened to Reign In Blood for the first time, I was, I was not even 11, I was almost 11 years old, but, I remember thinking to myself "what the hell is going on" and I knew I liked it, but, to me it was impossible at the time, given ya know, the few years of experience that I had as a listener to, to digest everything at the same time, cause even though that's not a record that has, ya know, all the crazy breakdowns of the new Satyricon record, it has so many interesting like guitar harmonies going on, and uh, the intensity, is really subjective and aggressive and I needed time to digest, but because I knew I would like it, I did allow myself to spend allot of time with it, and it became a record that I still listen to, to this day, and I think that not comparing the two as they are so different from each other, I do think the new Satyricon is one of those records where um, as a listener you would want to be patient and, keep listening, and like you said yourself, "with headphones".
Crypt: So What was it like for you playing with the Norwegian Opera, I am sure there was allot of preparation that went into doing that one show, I watched most of the clips from the show online and thought it was amazing, it worked well because of the dynamics of Satyricon. Will we possibly see a live DVD of the show in the future?
Satyr: Uh, yeah, I mean the Opera Board is uh, what should I say, I mean they are really at the highest level and I, for me, it was just really an experience in itself to do the show and all that, but I must say, I also appreciated rehearsals, ya know, because I, really picked up many things that, I learned allot more about my own band, and I learned from working people who solely rely on their voice as their instrument, and um, working together with a classical conductor, with time related things in music was also really interesting to me. And yeah, that show was really one of the greatest nights in the career of Satyricon and I, like I said, I guess there will be a DVD, at least we did film it!
Crypt: How did the idea of the collaboration with Sivert Hoyem of Madrugada come about, did you write that expecting to sing it yourself, or did you have him in mind, that is an amazing track and that chorus is incredible, very uplifting in a sense, and I love the addition of the choir! Amazing stuff! How did that happen?
Satyr: HA HA! Well thank you, well, the way that came about was actually, that band, Madrugada, they, they don't exist anymore, but they, when the guitar player died, they disband, their music can best be described as like "dark indie rock" and um, I never got into that band, but I always thought their singer was phenomenal, and I knew that the now late guitar player, he was into bands like Dark Throne and Satyricon, um, I also heard that the singer was into the more atmospheric side of black metal, and then I just saw him on Norwegian television on a music show doing a live performance of a new single as a solo artist, and then there's this middle section in the song where, even if the song has nothing to do with uh, black metal or even rock, it sounded, I guess it sounded somewhat "industrial" to me and he had a middle section with some guitars that were clearly inspired by Norwegian Black Metal, and I thought to myself "wow these guys from Madrugada they really like black metal, don't they"!?
Crypt: HA HA!
Satyr: And I started to think about, started thinking about it, "alright, well what if I wrote a Satyricon song, not a different type of song, but more like a classic Satyricon song with all the features that are, ya know, trademark features to Norwegian Black Metal and then, approach it in a way where I, every little mood that I make throughout the song is tailor made to fit the range of his voice, and I figured "if this is gonna work, I have to ask him before I write the song if he wants to do this and he is just gonna have to trust me to be able to write such a song". So I did talk to his manager and his manager said "I don't have to be the middle man, I know he wants to do this, I'll give you his number, I'll give him a call, but I can already tell you right now he's gonna love this idea". So give him a call in one hour and I will introduce you two and you just take it from there yourself" and I said "alright, cool". I did call within one hour and he said "I'm up for it, I'm ready" and then I started writing the song and to me, the song in itself if I would have performed the vocals the way I do it with the exact same lyrics, the same arrangement, I think that it would be a Satyricon song that people would like but obviously what makes it so different is his voice and to me that was the whole purpose behind this whole thing was you could see what happens when you uh, take someone who has a very soulful and uh, expressive way of singing but way, way different from black metal vocals, and add that to black metal guitars, add that to black metal drums and then you see where you end up. So, I think that having that musical experiment in itself, to me was really interesting, I think it really came out good, and most importantly it created uh, more layers of color and more variation on the album and on the journey as a whole.
Crypt: Well now you've got to find a way to bring him on tour with you around the world so you can perform that track live!
Satyr: Ha Ha! That would be the hard portion!
Crypt: I just envision entire stadiums full of people singing along when I hear that chorus, it is incredible! So anyway, when do you plan on coming to the US to support the record?
Satyr: Uh, what we are looking at right now is February, I don't know if that's gonna happen or not, but that's what we are looking at right now...
Crypt: What are you most proud of in regards to Satyricon? I am sure there is ALLOT to be proud of!
Satyr: Um, I am proud of the attitude of Satyricon! That's what I am really proud of! I think, today here's an interesting, thing that shows what Satyricon is about, we basically had National Norwegian Rock Radio, come back to me, and, or they came back to our publicist and they said the following..."this song Phoenix is really, really good, we like it allot, but we need it to work better with our formats, so some our producers have some suggestions for a remake, of the song, and if you are up for that we are ready to do the song on, to spin it on heavy rotation" and I just went back to the publicist and I said "so they don't like the song"! And she said "well, they love the song, they just want to make these changes" and I said "well if I wanted it any different, I would have made it different, this is the song, and if you don't want to play the song the way it is, to me they don't like the song and therefore they shouldn't play it"! And then she went on saying "do you realize how much this is going to help record sales, how this gonna help you stay #1 in the following weeks and I said "that's fine, I'd rather not stay #1" cause doing something like that, is to me, uh, prostitution! And it's like this is never happening again, I will never do anything like this, so it's fine, you can do a "radio edit", but if you do a "radio edit" you should do it yourself! But to have like some DJ at the radio station sit there and mess up your song, blindly, just to get it on rotation, its to me, absurd, and that's exactly, you are asking me what I am proud of, is, it's that! Cause what people don't understand is that Satyricon has things like that coming our way all the time, ALL the time, there are things like that, that people want us to do! And, uh, we only do things that we are ok with and we very true to ourselves, and that's what has given this band like, a 20 year plus, career as one of the pioneer bands because we've never done anything where we can't look ourselves in the mirror afterwards and to me that is one of the most important qualities of our band!
Crypt: Besides having the best drummer in metal and one of the most indistinguishable sounds out there, you know it's Satyricon the minute you hear it! That is why your norwegian counterparts don't exist anymore and you guys are still here!
Satyr: Interesting thing is that many of the bands that, uh, we started with are almost no longer there, um, some of them release records, but they don't really uh, they don't play together as a band. And, it's kind of strange because you have some of the, even some of the classic bands like Dark Throne, Immortal, and Emperor, there is some activity but in reality they don't exist as a group. So I don't know what happened, but we're still here! HA HA!
Crypt: HA HA!
Crypt: Any chance of releasing of the "Mother North" home video on DVD once and for all to keep up with the technology, I remember the world before youtube, where through tape-trading death/black metal audio and video in the 90's, I remember what a fervor that video created when it came out! Everybody traded that video around! Groundbreaking!!!!
Satyr: Ummmm, I think what we first and foremost want to do with that old stuff, is that, I would like to, when we have the time, is to go through everything that we did in the 90's and look at, ya know, how can we improve the sonic's, the cover artwork, and re-release a bunch, but the way things are today, uh, the main thing, the management kept asking what I was doing, they were talking about re-releases and I just sent them an e-mail one day and said "we'll get to all of that, and we'll take care of all that stuff, but right now, you have to decide whether you want me to finish this new record or you want me to look into re-issuing stuff"! That's my attitude towards stuff like that, it's an important part of Satyricon's history, uh, but I'm very attracted to what I'll be doing tomorrow rather than thinking about what I did yesterday. So, it's always on my list of B priorities!
Crypt: Well Satyr, it was an honor to talk to you, any last words for the people reading this interview?
Satyr: Well, we haven't been there, over in the states in 4 years and we'll be back next year, and, what we really hope for is to, be able to see people when it comes to many markets cause I think the way that we are gonna tour in the future is that, what we realized is that with Satyricon is that, when we go and do the major cities in the US, uh, we have a great time, we play for many people who "get it", they enjoy it, we enjoy it, but um, I don't think there's gonna be a ton of people in Springfield, VA or Oklahoma City anymore! We're gonna do, the bigger cities, but we're never really there, uh, let's try and hook up with everyone!
*So with that, be sure to pick up "Satyricon" which came out in the US last week and is on sale right now at all Best Buy locations for $9.99!
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