with Erik Danielsson
By Joffie Lovett
Thanks for talking the time to answer our questions. Watain is a band that has fascinated me for years and it’s great to be able to put some of my own questions towards all of you.
Firstly, for those people out there that may just be discovering Watain and your music, can you tell us a little bit firstly about where the name Watain comes from and if there is any meanings behind the name? I had read that the name was taken from an old song written by San Francisco Black Metal band Von but I’m not sure how much truth there is to that?
The name Watain is taken from the fantastic, life-altering piece of music that is the VON song, yes. We chose this name because it spoke to us in so many different ways. During the years it has been charged with our own energy to the point where it now gleams with it’s own radiance, independent of source. It has also revealed an inner mystery to us, which will be made official when we feel the time is right.
Watain comes across as a band with a lot of powerful and deeply rooted Satanic mysticism, folklore, ritual practices and history behind you. Could you tell us a little bit about some of the meanings behind some of what the band puts across not only in your music but also in your live shows and in the logos of the band? As I know in previous interviews you had talked about how the Trident and the Wolf are both powerful symbols to you and that for live shows each item on stage had it’s own specific purpose and meaning behind it in order to build the ritual of the show?
Watain is a world we have created for our selves, and a temple we have erected for our Gods. What people are able to take part of in terms of Watain “the band” besides its outside structure are windows that we have opened to allow a certain glimpse into this place. But in general, people have to understand that this world is our own, and shut to strangers. Sometimes we choose to speak about the nature of Watain outside of the lyrics, such as in our movie “Opus Diaboli”. It is a two hour Watain experience that still only covers certain aspects of this our world, and with that being said it obviously does not make much sense for me to try to elaborate much further on that in a internet home page interview. But i can recommend that movie to those who want to know a bit more.
In terms of the production on Watain’s music, your overall studio sound has, in my opinion become better and better with each release and there is always the catch 22 scenario with Black Metal purists who believe in nothing but ultra raw production and less bombastic and elaborate stage shows, whereas you seem to be constantly moving forward with your production levels and with improving the live shows to be a big adrenaline fuelled spectacle. Is there ever any conflict in your minds between satisfying the Black Metal purist side of things and being able to continue to progress and evolve the band?
The only thing that we aim to “satisfy” are the Gods to whom our music is directed. Watain is not a pre-determined concept based on patterns and intention, but rather a magical explosion of passion, penitence, violence and liberation.
Despite being an out and out Black Metal band there are elements in your music that I hear that have influences to things like Old School punk and NWOBHM, are those sorts of bands and styles personal influences of yours when writing the music as well as Black Metal bands?
The way we look upon it, this is how music comes to life: INSPIRATION (POWER) -> ARTIST (WILL) -> MUSIC (MANIFESTATION). Music is power manifested through the will of the artist. With this being said, the artist becomes a filter whose characteristics will colour the final outcome. So in our case, things that we value and admire are also things that in one way or another will make it’s way into the music. This can be anything from books to paintings to music, or any kind of art. Anything from Korpses Katatonik to Mighty Sphincter to Shub Niggurath, or any kind of music with a diabolical intent.
Black Metal is a genre that thrives on surrounding itself on elements of shock, spectacle and controversy. With bands such as yourselves and Gorgoroth putting on elaborate stage shows and in the case of Gorgoroth using animal parts and having mock crucifixions on stage and not to mention the church burning events of the mid 90s. Do you think that eventually there will come a point where nothing is shocking at all and Black Metal will have outdone istelf or will there always be a next level to take things to? And if that is the case where would you see the shock factor of Black Metal progressing in the future?
Hah! The shock and the spectacle and the controversy you are talking about are certainly things that are important for kids, hipsters, journalists and whoever else that needs a bit of excitement in their futile, insipid little lives. The true heirs of the Black Metal movement are not concerned with those things. Black Metal is controversial to those who cannot relate to it’ divine fundaments. The “controversy” is a consequence of that fundament, because Black Metal is in essence anti-nomian, against the world, opposing law and order, striving to tear asunder the shackles of this world. If you perform Black Metal with a true intent, you are also an enemy of society. Of course this is seen as controversial and shocking to the slaves of society. They fear it, and yet they are in awe. What you have to understand Joffie is this “the Light of Lucifer will always appear as darkness in the eyes of the blind”.
Getting back to some of your past influences is there any bands or songs which you think Watain would like to cover in the future or even perhaps put together an album of cover versions?
Yea we have quite a few ideas actually. Those who live shall see… So far we have done quite a few covers of bands like Death SS, Sabbat (japan), Darkthrone, Mayhem, Bathory, GG Allin, Taiwaz, Dissection, Malign and probably some others that I forget about right now.
And if Watain could be put on the live bill together with any current band or band from the past who would you choose?
We have been lucky enough to tour with some of the best bands ever; Dissection, Celtic Frost, Angelcorpse, In Solitude, The Devil’s Blood, Mortuary Drape, Repugnant, Nifelheim etc. Still would want to play some day with Blasphemy, Mercyful Fate and Venom! With bands from the past, that list could be pretty long; Sadistik Exekution, Von, Necrovore, Sarcofago, Treblinka, Beherit, Coven, Korrozia Metalla, GG Allin… Yea, I think I’ll stop here.
In your recent DVD Opus Diaboli you mentioned that Watain is a band those goes beyond putting across simply just music and guitar and amp setups and whether or not those people listening to the music really understand the message that is being put across by Watain, you would never limit what you have to say in the music. To those people who listen to Watain’s music who want to really find and understand the true meanings to the music and who may want to learn more about the Occult/Satanic/Pagan magic and mythology behind it, what would be your recommendation to those who are at the start of their journey and wanting to learn more?
Break patterns. Oppose logic. Quit your job. Commit crimes. Learn to love the nightside. Challenge your fears. Start fires. Do things in solitude that your friends and family would reject you for. Drink your own blood. Eat your own flesh. Kill the ego. Know your Self.
Final question, in a genre such as Black Metal that has been criticised in the modern era as trying to repeat itself too much or containing a lot of bands that start off with a high level of originality but then fade away, Watain stands above a lot of these bands by continuing to originate and progress your music. So what is next do you think for Watain as a band and as a force for communicating your message and what is next for Black Metal as a genre?
What is next for Watain is pursuing the ever whirling path into the unknown, with increased ardency and fanaticism. To fuel the furnace of our Lord and to make sure that the altar stones are always wet with warm blood. And what is next for Watain, is also what is next for Black Metal.