Satyricon - 28/08/2009

One of the élite scene leaders in Norwegian Black Metal bands, SATYRICON was formed in 1990 by Czral (Carl-Michael Eide) and Wargod. Haavard (Ulver) soon joined them. Satyr took over lead vocals in 1991. SATYRICON's current drummer, Frost, who joined the band in 1992. The band's first album ‘Dark Medieval Times’ showed off the fascination SATYRICON had with the Middle Ages and featured raw black metal blastbeats produced by Frost, mixed with acoustic guitar and flute. On their next album, ‘The Shadowthrone’, this medieval spirit was continued. Satyricon’s third album, ‘Nemesis Divina’, contains Norwegian black metal influenced by medieval metal and was released in 1996. ‘Rebel Extravaganza’, SATYRICON’s fourth album, was released in 1999. It contained more industrial metal influences than the previous albums. SATYRICON’s fourh release ‘Volcano’ resulted in a total of 4 Awards for ‘Volcano’ being, the Norwegian Grammy for "Best Metal Album", an Alarm award for "Fuel For Hatred" in the category for "Song of the Year", as well as The Alarm Award for "Metal Album of the Year" and The Oslo awards for "Best Overall Album". In 2006, SATYRICON released ‘Now, Diabolical’. The album was somewhat controversial among black metal fans due to its somewhat “radio friendly” take on black metal. ‘The Age of Nero’, SATYRICON’s latest effort was released November, 2008

 

So when drummer Kjetil-Vidar "Frost" Haraldstad was available at this year's Fortarock festival, which was held July 11 in Nijmegen, Holland we took our chance to ask him some question. So, here you can read what het has to say to the readers of Metal-Experience.com.

 

 

First of all, thank you for meeting up for this interview. How are you doing?

 

Frost: Ok, as we’re on tour, we’ve been sitting in cars and planes for days, you get tired with just sitting!

 

It’s been more than half a year since ‘The Age Of Nero’ came out, can you give us a little update of what has been happening with Satyricon since then?

 

Frost: We’ve been doing lots of touring, we decided to step everything up as far as this album goes. We’ve put more work into the process of making the album itself, using more resources, touring and promoting it. We feel like this is a true achievement and it demands our full support but we also feel that it is going down very well with our audience. We started to see that with the album because there were a couple of songs that seemed to have like a classic status among our fans, even if the album was, you know, two weeks old or something. People were getting into it which a very good sign because it means more than any good review.  What we have been seeing here is basically a consolidation of what we felt during the first weeks. Everywhere we go, whether it’s Europe or Australia or the United States, this album really works for our fans and we feel that we want to share something with them because we ourselves feel that this is a great achievement for us. The album presents a highlight in our career sofar and we see that the fans have beared with us as well and we really have something strong going on and that’s huge.

 

Was there any special element that you wanted to include on the album?

 

Frost: I cannot really say that we had any deliberate plans for expressing any particular atmosphere. We wanted to make it muscular, to have size and a really deep sense of darkness to it. I think the pieces just fell into place as we were working on it. And I guess that the spirit of the album during the creating process was important for bringing us further for the first time in ten years, perhaps more. It was just really fun to work in the rehearsal place. We had this thing that was working with us and we had faith in ourselves and even if we were struggling really hard to find solutions, we felt that we were on the right path all the time and that we were ready to put everything into the album, we could trust ourselves to fulfill the work and take it all the way. We brought our entire spectrum of abilities, our capacities into the album and we felt that we really could do it without trying to do something, it just fell into place. We could bring in the aggression and the intensity, we could also use grooves and epic themes and everything worked together seamlessly. That’s a good starting point I think for taking the whole thing further because that’s when you feel that you’ve grown up to a level where you really understand the composition of songs and you can make them work without trying to push yourselves into a certain direction or feel that you have to struggle with obstacles.

 

So you kind of grew into this album?

 

Frost: A lot!

 

Did you take into account your old school fans when you wrote the album?

 

Frost: At the moment I’m starting to think that we are doomed to lose. You cannot think of what the fans expect or how they are going to react, that is commercial. It can never work for a band that is so strongly based on creativity and musicians that have devoted their lives to this musical project. We have to stay focused on that and we need the fans to just trust us to do good work. Sometimes there might be albums that certain groups of fans find difficult to deal with, perhaps some new fans will come from this. But we cannot really have our minds there because that would harm the entire process and it would be a huge disturbance factor. At least as of today, we feel that we can trust ourselves to make the kind of album that we ourselves would want to hear. With us being devoted fans of music there is every reason to believe that others are going to feel the same because we share musical taste and understanding with many other people. Bringing it out there is the job that comes afterwards, we take that very seriously as well. When we are working creatively, it’s about us and how we feel about it. We need to fulfill ideas exactly as other artists do. They work with ideas, they don’t think about pleasing an audience or making a commercial product.

 

Even though you guys have been evolving as a band, Satyricon has always had its own recognizeable sound. What is the most important ingredient for a Satyricon song?

 

Frost: There’s not one ingredient in particular I suppose. It is difficult, really to approach that subject without being a little airy and speaking about the vibe of the band and the spirit and all that, but somewhere in that picture I think the band’s spirit has a huge place.

 

 

How important is it to you that people actually pay attention to the lyrics of your songs?

 

Frost: Satyricon really does have good lyrics. Especially on ‘The Age Of Nero’ there is a strong sense of coherence between the lyrics and the music. As for some of the songs, the lyrics tell the kind of story in words that the music is describing in tones, in sounds. I think there is a strong poetry in those lyrics and the great thing about them is that they have huge room for interpretation. With some bands I really like the music but I don’t really know the lyrics and I know I never will, but that doesn’t belittle the experience to me. I still enjoy the music fully although I don’t know the lyrics but sometimes it can be a great bonus to read or actually hear the lyrics. And also of course if you read really bad lyrics that could take it down a little, I mean  bad lyrics can make it difficult to enjoy the songs.

 

‘The Age Of Nero’ has been out for a while now, are you already in the process of writing new material?

 

Frost: We have material written. It’s basically material that we started to write while making ‘The Age Of Nero’. Great material. I think Satyr has made a couple of new themes already that have not been put into any context yet but they are excellent themes by themselves. But we have started to discuss what we want, we want to look back a little and see what we have achieved and what our strongest assets are, I think we are going to try to cultivate them. We want to bring all kinds of ingredients into our next album and make it work. We can integrate furious beats with grooves and slow epic themes. That is where we have to put our mind into it so we can start to pick out some kind of atmosphere that we can express very well and in a very signature way and make it a very strong emotional piece of music. That is what it is going to be once we start focusing on certain core atmospheres, because these are the sort of trademark things that were there on our first album and that are still there on our last, they have been expressed differently on those albums.

 

Satyricon has worked with different musicians from numerous genres in the past. Are there any musicians that you would like to collaborate with in the future?

 

Frost: That might happen again but we haven’t come as far as to be thinking about anyone in particular. I rather think that as we start to work with songs, we might feel that certain songs will need something that we cannot accomplish with just a couple of guitars and a bass and the drums, perhaps it will need something that we ourselves haven’t mastered fully. Perhaps then we will go searching for certain masters in their own fields, it is very possible.

 

What is your opinion on the black metal scene these days?

 

Frost: I think that there is a problem with too much opinion. There is so much talk about categorization, there’s a lot of analysis going on and too much judging without really getting into the core of it, the experience of music and playing it and listening to it. I feel that many people are unable to take in what a piece of music really holds because they feel that it belongs to one kind of category and hence they are unable to feel the atmosphere. With a lot of people it’s like they have to find out whether it’s true. It’s stupid and childish. What black metal needs to do is to bring the focus back to the music.

 

You’ve been with Satyricon for a long time now, how far has being in the band surpassed your initial dreams?

 

Frost: Our entire environment is totally different now. We couldn’t understand where things would be heading. We were quite ambitious from the start, the first ambition was to get a record deal, that was a big thing for us. It was much more difficult then than it turned out to be a few years later. Everything just kind of exploded and every Norwegian band would get a record deal just by asking. But at the point when we started it wasn’t like that at all and we had to go through some rough times actually, getting a record deal and making our first album. But we felt that somehow we could reach further with this band. We realised that we had something strong, something with great potential. We didn’t know exactly where we would end up or which possibilities would come on our way but we just knew that somehow we would put our hearts into this and we would just see how far we could take this without compromising or stepping away from the core idea.

 

Are there any particular bands that have influenced you in your drumming?

 

Frost: Probably not. I mean, I started listening to others’drumworks in later years, basically I started listening much more to the guitars and the sound of an album, I didn’t care too much about the drums as long as they functioned well.

 

 

But you must have had some sort of reference from the start?

 

Frost: Obviously I have but I haven’t been influenced directly, I listened to things and I understood the basics of the genre but other than that there weren’t any direct influences. But as of today I listen to many of the eminent drummers, also of the late sixties and the seventies, I really got into that, the power and the musicality. I listen to metal drummers too but perhaps it’s even more inspiring to listen to some of the hardrock drummers, they have such a ferocious approach to their playing, that’s something I like to bring into what I do.

 

Can you tell me a little about yourself and the things that motivate you in your music?

 

Frost: We have an instrument like Satyricon to unfold ourselves and express ourselves musically and it is a great inspiration. We know that we have developed this strong machinery.

 

How do you guys come to a musical agreement in the studio?

 

Frost: It’s pretty easy, I regard Satyr as the best composer in this genre today, period. And I also have the due respect for his way of working and his arrangements and all that. I take part where it is natural and where there is an opening for it. He sometimes composes entire pieces of music, including the rhythm section. So then I follow the ideas and just try to carry them out in my own signature way. Other times I myself will come up with the ideas, try out different ones and see what works best and perhaps eventually bring in some small details and something that brings a little deeper intricacy to it.

 

What can we expect from Satyricon in the near future?

 

Frost: Obviously we still have work to do for ‘The Age Of Nero’, touring for example. And then we want to give ourselves the time that we need to get a certain distance from the album because it is in our blood, we breathe ‘The Age Of Nero’ these days, we have to get it out of the system a little. I think it will be healthy to clean it out a little and to bring ourselves into the mode of inspiration. As I said, we have a couple of ideas that we can get to work with and we can trust ourselves to make it go from there. It will start to roll as soon as we meet up in the rehearsal place and start to play a little of those themes that are in the make. I’m sure these themes will just continue by themselves and we will record and evaluate and take it from there. I think it’s going to be great, I feel strongly motivated to start that process. I feel so certain that a strong beast of an album is going to be the result of the entire process.

 

Thank you for your time!

(Martina Schouten)

 

 

 

Members:

Satyr (Sigurd Wongraven) – Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards, Bass (1990–present)

Frost (Kjetil-Vidar Haraldstad) – Drums, Percussion (1992–present)

 

Live- Members:

Steinar „Azarak“ Gundersen - Guitar

Victor Brandt - Bass

Gildas Le Pape - Guitar

Jonna Nikula - Keyboards

 

Former members:

Kveldulv (Ted Skjellum – also known as Nocturno Culto of Darkthrone) – Guitar (1996)

Lemarchand (Håvard Jørgensen) – Guitar (1990–1992)

Samoth (Tomas Thormodsæter Haugen) – Bass, Guitar (1993–1996)

Wargod (Vegard Blomberg) – Bass (1990–1993)

Exhurtum (Carl-Michael Eide) – Drums, Percussion (1990–1992)

 

Studio albums :

(1993) Dark Medieval Times

(1994) The Shadowthrone  

(1996) Nemesis Divina

(1999) Rebel Extravaganza  

(2002) Volcano  

(2006) Now, Diabolical  

(2008) The Age of Nero

 

EP’s :

(1997) Megiddo  

(1999) Intermezzo II  

(2008) My Skin is Cold  

 

Singles :

(2006) K.I.N.G.  

(2006) The Pentagram Burns  

(2008)Black Crow on a Tombstone