Satyricon Interview

The Gauntlet: What's been going on?

Satyr: We just finished a little tour in Norway and got back home a couple of days ago. Now the festival season is about to begin.

The Gauntlet: How were the Norwegian tours?

Satyr: They were actually really good. It depends on how you see it. I was a little disappointed in the way some of the venues we usually sell out, only almost sold out this time. I was warned about it as this isn't the best time to play shows in Norway. On the other hand, we were happy with the way our record climbed up the charts in connection with this tour. The new songs went down better with the crowd than the old ones. This is the first time that has happened. It is very rare that something like this happens.

The Gauntlet: Do you think once you get to the US, things will be the same?

Satyr: I don't know. When it comes to black metal music, people are genuinely interested, but at the same time they only started liking it quite recently. The way they look upon things is just weird and so surprising. It is like when I was mixing the record in Vancouver, one of the runners that drove me to the hotel knew nothing about Satyricon. I mean nothing. When I was there, it was the first time he ever heard of the band. The guy was raving about this Swedish band whose name is not important. This band is nothing over here, they even consider themselves history and over, no one even buys their record. He kept saying how good this Swedish bands record was, saying they were the shit and he listens to them all the time.

The Gauntlet: I don't think that's a good assumption of the populous, Canadians are metal retards for the most part.

Satyr: That happens all the time. It would be like if I tried to sell you Death Angel and disregarded Slayer. It is absurd. In Europe, we have a very defined view on every band and where they belong in the metal hierarchy. Americans don't care. I find it really cool. American kids don't care about the who's who of black metal. Whatever they like is what they like. I think it is a good thing, but at the same time it is very confusing and makes it very unpredictable. Satyricon is a band that is very successful in Europe and that counts for nothing in America. There are many examples of bands. Although Behemoth is doing well in America.

The Gauntlet: Their growth has been amazing.

Satyr: That's what I have heard too. They are a good band and that's what they deserve. When they opened for us a few years ago, everyone stayed at the bar while they played. Maybe 10 people paid attention to them. Behemoth has never been a popular band in Europe. It is funny how an unsuccessful band in Europe goes on to be successful in the US. You have the kings of black metal like Emperor, Mayhem, Immortal, Darkthrone and Satyricon that have never really made a significant impact in the American metal scene. It is really hard to say. If we get as good of a reception in the US as in Europe, then we have a chance.

The Gauntlet: I have a different take on Americans. I don't think they like what they like, I think they like what they hear. Too much is dictated by what everyone else is doing. Take the band Celtic Frost, they were a great band with some of the most amazing music. They never did well in the US until the album 'Cold Lake' had its videos played on MTV. That album is shit, but was the bands only commercially successful album in the US.

Satyr: That album was huge in America? Please tell me no. Wow!

The Gauntlet: It was released during the glam metal days in the US.

Satyr: So when they play the US in September will the set list include 'Cold Lake' songs?

The Gauntlet: I asked Tom about that and his response was a flat 'No!'

Satyr: I had been teasing him before. I like asking him questions about 'Cold Lake' to piss him off. [laughs]

The Gauntlet: In Norway, 'Now, Diabolical' made it into the top 5 of Billboard. If you could just chart in the top 200, what would that mean to you?

Satyr: That would mean we could almost start over again in America. When we were out playing with Morbid Angel, it was almost like touring in Europe for the first time. Satyricon was almost like spreading the word of black metal as a musical style than spreading the word of Satyricon. I felt we were on a mission. I think a lot of fans saw that too. It is a part of me though. Having been through all this stuff before and having already accomplished this in Europe, why spend all this time playing for people that don't want to hear it. Of course there are a lot of people that do want to hear it, but just need to be exposed to it. We are just going to have to tour and be there as much as possible. I think that is what it takes to get onto the Billboard charts. It becomes a hypothetical question because we don't have the time to do what we need to do to get on the charts. The thing is now, we wanted to do the Celtic Frost tour. We were offered it as special guests but with absolutely no money involved. So we were being asked to go to America to lose money and drown in bills as opposed to going out on a headlining tour in Europe and playing to people who are extremely receptive to what we do. It is frustrating. I am being very honest with you. I would like to tour America as much as possible and to take part in shaping the birth and molding the black metal scene in America while it is still an infant. There are certain limits to how much I can sacrifice. I demand a lot from myself and I expect people to demand a lot from me and my band, but I also demand a lot from the crowd.

The Gauntlet: Satyricon was offered a slot on Ozzfest. That would be a guaranteed crowd in the US.

Satyr: Yeah, we could have done that and maybe should have. We had to make a choice between playing festivals in Europe that we were already committed to doing. It didn't have anything to do with money as we wouldn't make money either way. The festivals will offer $12,000 to play, but to bring a production and crew over costs � of that. In most cases, there is a 25% artist tax and you have to pay taxes in your own country. There is double taxation. We'd also have to pay salaries. So at the end of the day, you spent a whole lot of time rehearsing and giving it your all and you make $250. So it wasn't really about turning down Ozzfest to make money in Europe. The prospect to playing main stages for an hour at night for 15,000 people that want to see us where � are our fans and the other half are receptive. With Ozzfest we'd be playing at 8:20 in the morning somewhere in the Midwest to kids that want to jump of and down. We aren't a jump up and down metal band. I don't think Satyricon is a band that is good playing in the morning. I am guessing that the way they consider it, we are not big enough to deserve any better than that. They might be right. I don't have to agree with them or how they think Satyricon ought to be presented. Ozzfest would be a great thing, but in order for us to get a chance to expose ourselves, we need to have a slot that will allow us to introduce our music the way it deserves to be introduced. Then people can get a glimpse at what we are all about. Then we would have had the chance to break our commitments in Europe. Playing on a second stage doesn't make sense. I am hoping we'll get the chance next year to present ourselves in a way that is justifiable musically to the band and our potential fans.

The Gauntlet: Satyricon has recently released "Now, Diabolical." With each Satyricon release, there is a new sound from the band.

Satyr: I think that lies in the nature of black metal music. The biggest misunderstanding of black metal music is black metal music is regressive. I think it is rather the opposite if you look at the classic bands. To me the classic black metal band is Bathory. If you look at Bathory, their first four albums are black metal. Those four records are quite different from each other. I think black metal is a feeling more than anything else. It doesn't relate to speed or lack of speed. It doesn't matter if it is high pitched and low growls. It has to do with a certain feeling and atmosphere in the music. They did four albums that were all different from each other but at the same time captured that black metal essence. Celtic Frost was a band that was really brave and full of courage and really progressive. They show themselves and exposed themselves in so many different ways. It was always good and always interesting because you never saw it coming. They are an unpredictable band. You just knew it would be good, but not what it would be. It always sounded like Celtic Frost. I think that's why the guys in Celtic Frost like Satyricon. They recognize a lot of the same qualities. We have been inspired by that attitude rather than their music. We have their way of thinking in approaching music.

The Gauntlet: I completely agree with you. Black metal music isn't about speed. Albums like 'Dark Medieval Times' and 'Nemesis Divina' were heavier and faster than 'Now, Diabolical' in the guitar styling's, but 'Now, Diabolocal' is so much darker.

Satyricon: I think the main difference is the new Satyricon is much darker than what we did in the past. I think our last three records are way darker than the older stuff and 'Now, Diabolical' is way darker. I was telling the band about that and backstage at the Oslo show a few days ago and the guitarist was commenting to me that when we play the new stuff it's like darkness falls upon the stage. Come on, if you listen to 'Dark Medieval Times' there is acoustic guitars and so little authority in the performance. I respect that record for what it is as it is what we wanted to do at the time and we gave it our all. There is just no way that we can say what we did before was darker. What we did on the first couple of records was inspired by medieval music and folklore. On 'Nemesis Divina,' the band went into a much darker direction. The fourth song on that album is 'Du Som Hater Gud'. We can't play the last part of the song live. It just sounds too lighthearted. It isn't dark enough when we perform it live. When we play older songs live, we try to take the older songs and play them with the new stuff with darker sound. If you take the first track off 'Volcano, that is so much darker than anything we did off medieval times. The whole mood is much darker and that is where we want to be at. People are mistaken because the sound is cleaner and more analytical in the way you can hear everything really well. The fact that it isn't constantly fast makes people think it is somehow more accessible. I don't really see it that way. There is just more of a solid framework on each song now. What we do now has much more purpose and more solidity than what we did in the younger days.

The Gauntlet: I like hearing the cleaner sound on both 'Volcano' and 'Now, Diabolical.' You can hear all the subtleties and layers in each song that create the albums atmosphere. The people who consider themselves true black metal fans will probably dismiss the album which is bullshit.

Satyricon: I think this album because of its shear force will be extremely well received in some areas. In Norway, the extreme black metal fans love it. It is also a record that can go down really well with people into rock and metal music because they can more easily relate to the sound. The sound is much more organic. The organic and analog sound makes it easier to absorb and digest. That's a lot of the problems with black metal is the production. Either it is garage for the sake of being garage sounding with no real purpose and people think it should all be like that. They don't know what they are doing or why they are doing it. On the other side of the scale, you have what is happening in death metal music. You have this plastic or clinical sound with the triggered drums and the digital sounding guitar wall and reverbed vocals. I don't dig that at all.

The Gauntlet: What's up with 'Thorns'?

Satyr: Actually when we played in Norway last week, Frost and I went back to this place and the Thorns guy has an apartment there. After the show, we went back to his place and listened to what he's been doing for the last six months. It is excellent stuff. I think he is ready to go into the studio and record in a few months. I was helping him out a lot in the initial phase and still somehow involved in the arrangement. Now, I am just giving him advice on who to work with and where. I don't know if I'm going to sing or play. I already told him it wouldn't be a good idea for me to be the main singer as my voice is so connected to Satyricon, but maybe on a song or two.



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Date: May 17, 2006
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