“Come with an open heart, that’s the main thing. A lot of people often laugh and joke when they are confronted with something that is too much for them, and that’s fine, that’s a human thing to do, but I mean try. Come to a Watain concert and try to take it for what it is, it’s a ceremony and you can be a part of it.”
Swedish Black Metal band Watain are 13 years into their career and heading to Australia for the first time to bring their music and live show to us. From footage I’ve seen their show looks amazing and one to catch when they’re here. I could say more but any questions you may have or want to know what the band are about are answered below in one of the most interesting interviews I know I’ve ever done, with Watain singer Erik who gave us an insight into the band, their music and their spirituality.
Have a read and make up your own mind…
People are saying you’re most definitely one of the most anticipated bands to catch at Soundwave, so for those that wouldn’t have seen you before, what can people expect during a Watain set?
Well they can expect, I hope, no I know, that they can expect… Let me put it like this, people have been reading all these old Rock biographies about the times when rock was dangerous and badass and it changed the life of people and it stirred up a rage within society and pissed off everyone with the wrong set of moral codes, and that I think is what Watain is doing, in a very big sense. We deliver that danger and almost forbidden passion that uncomfortable over passionate feeling that rock music can have and we do it with blood and fire and all of Hell’s fury. Let me put it like this, we’re going to constitute a nice contrast to the rest of the bands on Soundwave judging from the line up ha ha
From what I’ve seen your live show is a spectacle, will you be bringing everything you normally use to Soundwave with you?
Yes. It is actually being shipped tomorrow I heard. There’s a tonne of steel floating its way down to Australia tomorrow. It’s actually a tonne, that was pretty fun to hear, apparently we’ve collected a tonne of stuff now so that’s good. We wanted to bring everything, it’d be kind of a shame when we’re coming to Australia for the first time and I know people might have been looking at YouTube clips or read about this whole spectacular thing and it would’ve been weird to just show up with guitars you know what I mean? We try as hard as we can not to do that anywhere anymore you know. There’s no real economical win in that kind of reasoning as it’s pretty costly shipping that much steel but actually in the end I think it’s worthwhile, otherwise there’s no reason. We’re bringing the whole shebang.
This being your first time to Australia, are you aware of a big Black Metal community down here?
I was back in the day. Australia was really a high fit, it was a cornerstone of black and death metal scene in the 90’s especially in the early 90’s with bands like Sadistik Exekution and Destroyer 666, they sort of emigrated to Europe and most of them stayed and kept a pretty low attitude. I don’t know how it is today, I have a lot of contacts there still but I have the feeling that many of the people that are involved in Extreme Metal are reluctant to get out and see us at Soundwave, judging from the rest of the line up you know ha ha but it’s kind of weird but what the fuck you know, we do what we can.
You’ve just celebrated your 13th year as a band and recorded your show in Stockholm for a DVD release. When can we expect that and what will be on the DVD?
The initial plan was to make a concert DVD, you know one of those nice concert DVD that we thought would turn out spectacular due to the whole nature of the show but of course we fucked up and it turned out to be an epic journey through the whole band’s history and it turned out to be a movie instead. Which has left us with one or two months of extra work, a lot of hard work but in the end a really fucking spectacular result and I think it was worth it in the end.
When is that going to be released?
it’s going to be out in April, unfortunately it won’t be out around Soundwave, but the plan is actually to have it shown in Independent theatres and then released on DVD further on because as we watched the whole thing we though ‘Fuck this is much more than a DVD.’ I don’t want to say too much about it, but it turned out to be quite something.
It’s been 2 years this year since your last album, have you been working new material for a new release?
Yeah of course, we have, but Watain first of all is a chaotic thing in itself, it’s like one day we are totally focused on making the new album and the next day we’re all ‘fuck it let’s go on tour’ and the next ‘ah let’s do bad things for a week and not give a fuck about the band’ and we’ve all been a bit too much on the wild side lately since the last album came out to get anything concrete together. The plan is when we get back from Australia we have one month in the USA and then we’re pretty much going to do the new album, hopefully it’ll be recorded this year, we have a lot of ideas already.
What’s the usual process behind the writing of a Watain song?
The usual process I would day is to absolutely have no process whatsoever because I think process in a band like Watain means limitations, it means, I don’t know, it’s just complicates things you know. We really dive into the song writing blindfolded you know and hopefully we come up to the surface with something in our hands you know. It sounds weird when I speak about it and it is weird to speak about, I think it’s really like one of the hardest questions and hardest things to speak about, creativity the way it works and the way you work with it, to me it’s definitely not related much at all to the human spirit it comes from a completely different force and that’s why I have a hard time putting words to it. It’s big and abstract you know.
If you look back to the beginning of the band and your first album in 2000, how do you feel that you’ve grown and a songwriter and performer?
I don’t know. Some important things remain, like what other people see as over pretentious and over serious uplift that we have on our own being and our own work. We’ve always considered Watain to be a brotherhood or an order rather than a band and that’s something that we started out as and have maintained perhaps maybe even stronger over the years. One of the interesting things that I find very inspiring myself is that we started out as a calm band, we’ve always been a bunch of rowdy mother fuckers, but we started out aesthetically we started out pretty clean. Not that challenging at all, our first shows they were without make up and they were without much of a stage show at all, and the cool thing over the years it’s just gotten worse, it’s all gone to fucking hell and I’ve realised that’s a pretty rare thing in the end. If you look around, most extreme metal bands go exactly the opposite direction, they start out very mean and extreme and they sort of calm down over the years, that’s the way it usually goes you know and for us it’s gone the other way around, so it’s going to be really interesting to see where the fuck we end up in the end ha ha. That is one of the most interesting things about this progression part that it’s done in this direction.
As a believer and follower of Satanism , what is it that you hope to get across to people in your music?
Well when it comes to religion and to Satanism, Watain is not really about making others think the way we think, it’s never been about that. The way I use Watain in a satanic context is to explore the subjects that it involves, I mean from my own personal spiritual journey and for my own personal sake you know. How it reflects on the listener is a whole different feel, because first of all, let’s just state the simple fact that most people that are into metal are not that all interested in philosophical questions, especially not philosophical questions of a religious kind or a magical kind, that’s something that very few will say that they are. It allows for people to open their hearts to something they may never have faced otherwise, Watain is of their own consistent powers and energies that are strictly and fundamentally connected with diabolical things, with satanic things and what those things are are what people are willing to dive into Watain to realise and to explore. That’s what I think that we have to offer that many bands don’t. If people want something more out of their musical interests then they can find that in Watain, there’s a lot more to discover under the surface. I don’t tell people that they have to but there’s a lot more to discover if they’re interested you know. I think one of the things that I realised in this 13 years, in the past I’ve been trying to explain a lot of our view points and I’ve been trying to define them and make people understand where we come from, and I realised in the end maybe it’s not all that worthwhile it has not really lead to anything good me trying to do that, it’s better to let those who are genuinely interested to let them have that part of us you know, and then people can see us the way they want, one thing is sure we will always be a satanic band.
Over the 13 years, what has been the most rewarding part of being in the band?
I think the feeling that being with the same persons throughout all these thirteen years, the three core members of the band are still the three core members of the band, and being able to do something this life altering together with the same people to be able to achieve what we have achieved without compromising, without fucking around, without feeling like an idiot about anything. To be able to do that and keeping our heads high, that’s our greatest achievement for me. Sticking together and making it more and more important not less important, more important for ourselves.
Just for something different, what does a band like Watain have in their Backstage rider?
I don’t know, when it comes to the specific, more spicy ingredients of the show, we never entrust promoters or gig organisers to fix that for us, we always take care of that ourselves because it’s something that we learned along the way asking for certain things. I guess our rider looks pretty much like the common thing, we ask for a bunch of candles and a bunch of incense just to set the mood in the back stage because we don’t like the hospital lit, sterile lit back stage, we like to have an atmosphere in the back stage but apart from that, it’s nothing really out of the ordinary. We are what’s out of the ordinary I guess ha ha.
Lastly, do you have a message for Australia?
If people really want a rich festival experience then they should come and join the ceremony, because it’s going to be something else, that much I can say, it’s going to be quite different from the other bands from what I can gather. Come with an open heart, that’s the main thing. A lot of people often laugh and joke when they are confronted with something that is too much for them, and that’s fine, that’s a human thing to do, but I mean try. Come to a Watain concert and try to take it for what it is, it’s a ceremony and you can be a part of it.
From: Uppsala/Stockholm, Sweden
Band members: Erik Danielsson – Vocals / Bass, Håkan Jonsson – Drums, Pelle Forsberg – Guitar
Latest release: ‘Lawless Darkness’ (Riot! Entertainment 2010)