Raymond Westland of Ghost Cult magazine recently conducted an interview with Erik Danielsson of Swedish black metallers WATAIN. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Ghost Cult: "The Wild Hunt" should be seen as a standalone release and not so much as a continuation from the previous works. Can you clarify this, please?
Erik: I do not know how you drew that conclusion but no, that is not correct. Every WATAIN album is a "continuation" of our journey, and although that journey always takes us to new places that may appear different from those we have visited in the past, it is still very much a living continuum. Every WATAIN album should be seen as a monument erected at a specific point in time and space, but still transcending that point by reaching beyond the tangible and the defined.
Ghost Cult: "The Wild Hunt" is a very rich and diverse record and it far exceeds the traditional black metal aesthetics. To which extent was this the thing you set out do?
Erik: We set out to make another WATAIN album, and as always we let the currents of our Temple lead the way. As these currents are and have always been strongly rooted in the black metal cult, that obviously reflects on the album as well. But WATAIN is first and foremost a world on its own, a place in which we can do whatever we feel the need to do, unbound by musical genre. We do not answer to any expectations of anyone else but those of our own. WATAIN is a mouthpiece of Satan, and as such we can not limit our ways of expression, we must always be open to learn new languages in order to express that which needs to be expressed.
Ghost Cult: Can you take us through the motions of writing and recording the album? What did you really set out to achieve?
Erik: The album was written over a period of three years, starting after "Lawless Darkness". Many of the lyrics were written on the road, in Australia, Japan, USA and Transylvania. The recording itself was four months long and took place in different places in Scandinavia which altogether made for the diversity that you mentioned earlier. The nomadic impulse of WATAIN, and the ever on going pilgrimage we find ourselves on, were things that became quite central in the album. We took the time to look back on past experiences and the evolution of the band, and eventually framed it inside a spiritual, even mythological, context. "The Wild Hunt" is the long, hard and yet incredible rewarding road which we have walked upon for the past 15 years.
Read the entire interview at Ghost Cult magazine.
The Great Southern Brainfart recently conducted an interview with Erik Danielsson of Swedish black metallers WATAIN. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
The Great Southern Brainfart: So I have to be honest. Aside from listening to VENOM as a kid, I was never much of a black metal fan, and then I gave you guys a listen, and I'm really intrigued with your songs and your performances.
Erik: That is really good to hear that you made that comparison. I wish I heard VENOM andWATAIN in the same sentence more often. VENOM is one of my all-time favorite bands, and I think if you have that sort of background, you might actually be able to relate to what we do as well. Musically, there might be a slight difference. VENOM are the originators of the black metal movement that we later became a part and we like carrying that torch onwards and uphold that legacy.
The Great Southern Brainfart: WATAIN seems to have more of that classic element than most of the other modern bands. Is that something that was intentional?
Erik: We never really sat down and discussed how WATAIN should sound. It's pretty safe to say, though, that our own personal preferences, when it comes to black metal, have always been very traditional. VENOM are one of the most important bands ever to WATAIN and the same goes for bands like MERCYFUL FATE and even bands like EXCITER, RAZOR, andVOIVOD. We've always leaned towards bands like that in our own musical tastes when it comes to metal. I suppose our sound really comes from a mix of those bands and late-era black metal such as MAYHEM and DISSECTION and so on.
The Great Southern Brainfart: One of the things that intrigued me the most about Watain was the ritualistic approach to the live show using animal carcasses, lighting candles on a small alter and whatnot. What can you tell me about the live show and the background to this ritual?
Erik: If you play music of a diabolical nature, and the music that you perform is permeated by a sinister and infernal essence, of course, that will have to translate to the stage show as well and your appearance. It's not a process that should be forced. It should come as a natural consequence of the music that you're playing and the artistic work that you are doing. WithWATAIN, it was very much that way and it evolved into this thing that it is. When we started playing, we already had that kind of extreme view of how a black metal live show should be like. It should look like the music sounds. That's how it all began. The longer that WATAINexisted, the more we realized that the magical side of this band, the spiritual side began to come through and it just began to transform into a ceremonial thing rather than just a rock concert, so to say. It evolved into an event where we communicate with the forces that gave birth to this band and that have always been a part of this band. It became a time where we could let these things just come to life and be at one with them. It's an ever-ongoing evolution and the live shows are constantly progressing. They have become something more and more severe and intense and that's a very good thing to me. It's a very inspiring context to work with.
The Great Southern Brainfart: When WATAIN takes this ceremony on the road, especially when touring in the southern part of the U.S., sometimes there are limits as to what you can and can't do on the stage. When that does happen, how much of an impact does that have on the purpose of your live performance? Does it make things harder for you to do?
Erik: Yes, of course it does, but being in a band like WATAIN is always quite a challenge. When you take something as inhuman as WATAIN into the world, then, of course, things can be a bit strange. We knew since day one that we would have to face a lot of opposition because of some of the things we wanted to do. I think we're always pretty well prepared for that to happen. Of course, it's annoying and it makes me want to punch the living shit out of anyone who stands in our way, but we always find a way around these things. There's always a way for the devil to come through, no matter what. It cannot be stopped. It's just a fact and it's been that way since the dawn of man. The devil always wins and the devil always finds his way. I think that in general, all of that opposition and all of the people who prevent us from doing what we want to do just makes us stronger. It makes us feel more proud and stronger about what we're doing. We like to fight against the extreme and we like to go against the current. We like to be the enemy and that just fuels the fire of WATAIN and I actually appreciate that. I like touring in places especially the South because we always feel that tension and how skeptical they are but in the end we just do what the fuck we do anyway. [laughs]
Toby Cook of The Quietus recently conducted an interview with Erik Danielsson of Swedish black metallers WATAIN. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
The Quietus: So the new album is due out next month. To say that it's a radical departure is perhaps overstating it, but certainly even compared to "Lawless Darkness", there is certainly, I think, a marked progression. Was it always the intention to create something that was so much more expansive and what were some of the challenges?
Erik Danielsson: I never really compare album to album like that — we never have — and I think that one of the most common things that people say when we release a new album is, "Oh yeah, it sounds very different." So with that being said, progression has always been an inevitable part of this band. The whole idea of WATAIN and our artistic journey, so to speak, has been to go into the unknown, to explore the unknown within yourself, to go deeper and deeper into yourself, and that is something that we are getting better and better at and it's happening perhaps more radically the older we get and the more we progress as artists. So that's why I assume that the leaps between the albums are maybe getting bigger somehow, y'know? I mean, it's really not something that we think a lot about when we are composing, but now I have to try to analyze it a bit when I'm doing interviews about and I'm doing it interview-to-interview so you'll have to excuse me if I sound a bit abstract sometimes — but it's a very interesting journey, going deeper and deeper. The
David E. Gehlke of DeadRhetoric.com recently conducted an interview with WATAIN mainman Erik Danielsson. A few excerpts from the chat follow below.
DeadRhetoric.com: It seems like everything you've done of late has been on a bigger scale. I think a lot of us can remember you coming up with "Casus Luciferi" and "Sworn To The Dark", but leading up to "The Wild Hunt", things are of greater scale.
Erik Danielsson: It's the way it goes, I guess. We've been doing this for 15 years and people have come to understand that we're a force to be reckoned with and you have to let the fans do that, and business people, too. To be honest, things have changed very literally in the world in WATAIN. To us, it's very much the same thing, the same purpose in our lives. From where we stand, nothing has really changed, but at the same time, we have more and more people working, we have tour agencies and management and whatever that are taken care of this and this. So I suppose it's a reflection of how people relate to the band. It's rather something that matters more for other people than us.
DeadRhetoric.com: What's your take on people who think bands have to stay within certain parameters to be black metal?
Danielsson: I very much agree with them. To the extent of that to me, it's not a matter of staying true to a musical spine; that spine is one rather of atmosphere and ideology rather than a musical one. And that's what defines WATAIN. Black metal music is music that, in essence, is diabolical and has diabolical energies and that is where the definition lies to me. Incorporating elements like keyboards… it only takes away from the diabolical aspect of it, because we're talking about the wild, the untamed, ferocious, predatory aspect of it, the tribe within this music. You cannot really get into that permutation with those things if you have a sound that opposes those things.
DeadRhetoric.com: In North America, we have a lot of what is called "Cascadian" or post-black metal bands who don't look the part whatsoever. Have you caught wind of them?