1349 – Ravn
I’ll be honest with you, I went to the "It’s Grim Up North" showcase at club Red 7 with only a passing interest in Norwegian black metaller’s "1349". I mean, I’ve seen my fair share of corpse painted blast beating Scandinavians. Having heard only a handful of 1349′s music on various compilation albums I still had a pretty good idea what I was getting myself into.
The first ten or fifteen minutes of 1349′s set I really couldn’t distinguish anything overly fantastic about the band’s music. Could’ve been that the soundman didn’t have the sound dialed in right yet, maybe I hadn’t fully recovered from the awesomeness of Sabaton’s live show, or perhaps I had too many three dollar Miller High Life’s. (yuck)
Whatever the case may be, as time went by I started to really focus on the guitar riffs, the commanding stage presence and the overall heaviness of the band. By the end of night I became a full fledged supporter of 1349 and convinced that Austin hadn’t had its ass kicked that hard by a black metal outfit since the "Panzer Division Marduk" lineup invaded town in 2001. I will now be seeking out the band’s cd’s as acquiring them has proven to be a necessary addition to my massive and alphabetically ordered metal cd collection.
I spoke with the group’s singer Ravn at a nearby parking lot after the band’s performance. Ravn is particularly passionate when speaking about his band’s music, and you really get the feeling speaking to him as though he means absolutely every word that he says to you. It’s also refreshing to speak to an authentic Norwegian black metal musician who is also a fan of the black metal genre, as my experience has usually proven the opposite.
If 1349 brings their plague wielding brand of black metal to your town, the only antidote in sight is a night of headbanging black metal madness. Do not miss this band live.
First off, how are you and what brings you to Austin for SXSW?
It’s mainly due to the fans, we’ve never played before in Texas and we always wanted to do that since we consider Texas the main black metal capital of the U.S. So that’s the main reason for coming here.
There’s no new album, there’s not nothing out yet really, it’s kind of a limbo state as a band, we just desperately wanted to play Texas and when this opportunity came up we just had to grab it you know, come here and play for the Texan fans is something we always wanted to do.
It’s very unfortunate that we haven’t been able to do it the last two USA tours. We just had to do it.
It was announced back in December that 1349 were continuing work on a new studio album, following up the Hellfire album that was released back in 2005. What can you tell us about the new material and how far along are you in the recording process?
Well at the moment Frost is busy recording and rehearsing the new Satyricon album so at the moment we are doing squat. We don’t know any schedule yet…what’s about to happen and when it’s about to happen, so, as I told you it’s kind of in a limbo state.
We have to see what’s happening, after all, and make a decision after and move along. There’s no plan as we speak today.
Touring in support of Hellfire, you went on tour with the legendary Celtic Frost. How did you enjoy touring with these metal pioneers, and what were some highlights of the tour for you?
Well, Celtic Frost has been very close friends of the band, especially close friends with me personally. Me and Tom go back some years. It was a wish from both bands sides to do a tour together and as it works out there will definitely have to be more tours because it was just tremendous touring with them and both crowds for Celtic Frost and the crowds for 1349 really enjoyed both bands tremendously.
We have never experienced so much success both bands on either side as we did on the US tour with Celtic Frost. Definitely the highlight of that tour was the closing of it in San Francisco when I came onstage and sang “The Usurper” with Celtic Frost. I did the vocals on that song.
I read that at a show in Switzerland Thomas Gabriel Fischer even joined you onstage for a cover of The Usurper…
Yeah, he did in 2005 on the tour with Gorgoroth he joined us onstage and did “The Usurper” and as a payback of that they asked me to do “The Usurper” with them at our last show with them in San Francisco on the US tour. It goes back and forth. It’s kind of a statement of the friendship between the bands.
1349 is confirmed for the Inferno fest in Norway. Is there anything planned to make this special appearance over the top?
Well, we always try to make each and every concert over the top just by our playing skills and our performance. That’s the way we are. We’re not satisfied unless we give 110% and hopefully more than that.
No matter the response from the crowd, we are on the stage to perform and that’s our purpose. When it comes to the Inferno festival this will be our third time that we do the Inferno festival, as one of few bands that has played the Inferno festival three times.
Blasphemer of Mayhem played with 1349 as a live session musician last year. Given that 1349 have been known to be longtime fans of Mayhem, how did you enjoy performing with Blasphemer?
Well, he didn’t play with us. He were supposed to do the UK tour with us but there was an incident in his close family and due to that and a very serious illness in his very close family he was not able to come on the UK tour with us, so we did it as a four piece, just the way as you saw it today.
It was meant for Blasphemer to join us on the UK tour, but he never did. Due to these incidents.
Also several times in the past, Tony Laureano has been asked to helm the drum throne in 1349. I was wondering how a Norwegain metal band tapped an American to drum for them, how did you meet Tony?
When the issue first came up that we needed a session drummer due to Frost’s commitment in Satyricon, we just sat down and had a meeting about which one should we pick for the job. Which one would be right for the job and Frost’s first choice was Tony Laureano.
When we got a hold of Tony and asked if he wanted to play with us he was very honored to do that so it was fairly easy.
It works both ways, that it’s an honor for us to play with him and he really enjoys playing with us as well. It’s a really fruitful relationship.
I understand that you have toured before in the US with Goatwhore, how do you like playing for American black metal fans?
We really enjoy playing in the US, that’s really what we’ve mainly been doing the last year or so. We’ve been doing two US tours and the crowds out there in the US is really hungry for true Norwegian black metal. Obviously they haven’t seen it before. Every time we have done a show the response afterwards is just tremendous, when we came back with our own headline tour that just confirmed the whole thing.
The audience was really there and they were really committed the ones that were there, they were there for the music and it’s extremely easy to perform when the audience responds the way they do on these tours that we’ve been doing in the US.
It’s really great for the US crowds and it’s really inspiring us to tour a lot more in the US.
Your drummer Frost suffered injuries preventing him from playing drums for a while. How did he become injured and what is his current status, has he healed?
He’s healing at the moment and rehearsing the new Satyricon material. He broke his leg, he fell on the ice actually. There was new snow on the ice and he fell on it, he was walking out in the forest on one of his trips clearing his mind and he slipped there and had to walk back like a mile on his broken leg.
That kind of put him out of place.
Frost has been unable to enter the United States on all previous attempts. Is this something that the band is working to resolve, or is it out of your hands at this point?
Well at the moment he has a visa permit for playing in the USA so he is actually allowed to play in the US now. That of course costs a serious amount of money. We were supposed to play here (USA) with Satyricon but that tour got cancelled and as I said at the moment he has a visa so he can perform in the USA. So, he will definitely be back with us when he gets a chance to do that.
I really think he will be here performing with Satyricon first. He said that as soon as he gets a possibility he would love to play here with 1349 due to all the success we had here as a band. He will definitely want to experience that himself.
Former 1349 guitarist and founding member Tjalve left the band in June of 2006 and was quoted as saying: "I will remember 1349 as the most diabolical, vicious and plague-ridden band ever to stride the Earth, and I’m proud to have been a part of it." What, if any does Tjalve’s current musical activity consist of, and is he still in contact with the rest of you? What was his main reason for leaving the group?
Well, he’s been in contact with us and he’s performing in Pantheon I with Seidemann our bass player, they play together there, but he felt that he didn’t have more to contribute he wanted to go a different musical path. He wanted to pursue his own ways, the way that 1349 works, he felt that he could not no longer contribute…he’s been a part of it for nine years and that kind of burnt him out in some ways. It’s a very demanding task to be in this band. It may not seem like this on the outside but it’s really vicious and it really takes all of you as a human being. It’s a beast to be in 1349.
During some years it can really wear you out and this is something that we all experience. At the moment of our career you have to make a decision once in a while, to whether or not…what is the status and what are you gonna do because the way that this band functions, due to the extremities of the band and what it demands of you as a human being…it demands that you are more than a human being it demands that you dive in to your primal instincts of your soul and rip out your inner self and deliver it so completely, and to do that over and over again, each and every night and each and every album it’s such a demanding task.
It might seem like a cliché but this is the way we feel it and this is the way we roll, this is the way we work as a band. After so many years he felt that he was burned out and he couldn’t do it anymore, and he had this other project as well.
It was both a great sadness for him to leave the band, but on the other hand it was also a great relief so that he could focus more on this other project and completely get into this other project because it’s extremely hard, and (this is) also Frosts’ problem sometimes, diving truly into 1349.
It’s basically just a mind job to dive truly into the material and the being of 1349 and combine that with other bands, it’s actually extremely hard. That’s why Tjalve had to find out he had to make a choice that “Is he gonna continue with two other bands?” or “Is he gonna continue with 1349.”
I’m always interested to find out what the Norwegian black metal bands listen to, are there any American metal bands that you are a fan of?
Well, personally I’ve always been a tremendous fan of Slayer. Obviously. but when it comes to more obscure American bands it’s not so general. It’s more scattered around the world like European bands, more underground bands. The main American band (for me) is Slayer, as I mentioned.
When you are not performing black metal, is it something you listen to personally?
Yeah, of course, but only old records.
Are we talking the first wave of black metal like Venom and Bathory and Mercyful Fate?
Mostly, Bathory and Celtic Frost or whatever….and the second wave….I’m a particular big fan of the second wave of black metal especially Burzum, one of my favorite bands.
If I got to pick one record that really stands out for all of this it’s be “Filosofem” by Burzum. The two first songs on that album “Dunkelheit” and “Jesus’ Tod” (are) two of the most amazing songs ever made in black metal history.
Outside of black metal what are your other metal listening tastes?
Well, I listen to all kinds of music, you know? As long as the music casts a feeling that I can relate to. That’s the main interest and that’s the main reason I got into black metal in the first place, and music, also, in the first place.
The music has to respond to a feeling inside you. You don’t have to describe it particular words, you just have to feel it. That’s the way I started with music in general. That’s why again, I became so fond of black metal because it’s all due to feeling.
Then of course I also really relate strongly to other genes that relate to musical feeling like jazz, is a very good example, to play jazz with really extreme feeling is something I can relate to….and more progressive things that really have feeling in the music. I could mention bands like Pink Floyd and Miles Davis….stuff like that. It’s music that I can listen to.
Norwegian Jazz…I listen to all kinds of stuff. As long as the music gives me something and satisfies my soul in some way and gives me a feeling that I can relate to…that satisfies my soul. I don’t care about genres in music at all. I don’t have any needs to define music in genres in general.
Just to make things easy we state that 1349 is a black metal band because for me, 1349 gives me that ultimate black metal feeling. It’s up to every individual to define what they think of it and what they want to decide of the music.
So many bands claim to be black metal and they don’t give me that black metal feeling. They can claim they play black metal but I don’t see them as black metal.
Tell me about your personal satanic philosophy?
I don’t see Satan as a God. I don’t believe in gods in general, I believe in myself. That, I believe, is really the main purpose. If you can’t believe in yourself then how can…I just don’t understand how you can bring your belief into something completely unknown….that like, a god….if you can’t believe in yourself first.
I mean that, if you believe in yourself and you can draw strength from your inner self, then you can relate to, then you can use the known gods as just a point to relation, and you can relate to them and gain some of they’re strength. This is the first Chaos Theory, Chaos Magick if you know the terms…
You have to believe in yourself to believe in something else.
When it comes to Satan as a word or as a god, I define Satan as a part of every individual human being, Satan is inside everyone.
If you see it from a Christian point of view, Satan will then be defined as the evil. But if you look at it with an open mind, I really think Satan will be referred to as the free man, you know?
So that’s our relation, we don’t see Satan as a god, we don’t worship Satan. Satan is a part of us, Satan lives inside us as the free will and when you see us onstage you see Satan in every one of us.
We are not Satanist in the way (the) Church of Satan claims it to be. (That’s) just stupid bullshit like any other religion. If you really have the need to gather up the people to feel a collective belief then you have truly lost the sense of yourself….If you can claim to be a Satanist just to be a part of a group then you have totally misunderstood the whole concept of individualism in each and every human being. That’s what it’s all about. For me.
I’d like to thank you for taking the time to chat with me today, before we wrap this up what would you like to tell your diehard 1349 supporters?
Well, they can all burn in hell.