1349 Interview with Ravn
The Underworld, Camden
19th November, 2014
Interview by Caitlin Smith
While 1349 may not have been around when black metal exploded at the beginning of the 90s, but 17 years on they have still managed to carve themselves as a stable in any black metal fan’s repertoire. Heading out to once again spread their darkness across Europe on the back of their latest album release, Massive Cauldron of Chaos, Metal-rules catches up with vocalist Ravn in the Underworld, Camden for a chat about all things black metal.
Could you tell us about where the name 1349 came from?
Well it’s the year when the Black Plague hit the shores of Norway. It happened several times and wiped out the population so it’s a year that’s quite dark and grim on Norwegian history and that’s why it’s very suitable for the band and the music that we make. That’s why we chose it.
Do historical events often inspire you lyrically?
No, lyrics are mostly just dark poetry; it’s more to set a mood for the music and to create visions and images in people’s head basically. There’s no concept or things like that involved in any album its just unusual pieces of dark poetry that’s the main thing.
So would you say that the music is more important than the lyrics you use or are they equally important?
No, you have to combine the two in order to gain the vision that creates the image in peoples head, that’s at least how it works for us. I mean wtih the music when you read a proper lyric to it; it creates a medium of its own in a way or gives you inspiration. It’s kind of the way we like to work with music in general so that’s the take we have on it.
Thinking back to your original album right through to the latest release, you sound very different today than when you first started out. How do you guys feel you have progressed as a band?
Well we have become much better musicians and of course the goal for us in order to progress with the music and not being constrained by technical qualities in order to perform and get it what we want it to sound like. That is something we have spent a lot of years work on. Of course it comes a lot with experience of releasing albums, they evolve and develop in a natural way. That’s basically how things come together.
How do you feel you bring something new to black metal?
The point of 1349 is not about making something new, its more about keeping the heritage that was already there and do it in our own way and in a way that we feel is right and proper for maintaining what we feel is Norwegian black metal. We get inspiration from the bands that started the genre back in the 90s. We kind of took it upon ourselves to maintain that legacy in a way and work around it and make our own identity as a band. It’s not a point to bring something new, it’s more about feeling right and being true to ourselves and make what we think is true black metal.
What do you think of the current state of the genre today?
I don’t pay much attention to what others do. When I formed 1349 in the latter half of the 90s it was because I didn’t like the direction that music labelled black metal was heading. It was all synthesisers and the style was more symphonic. All the grimness and the darkness was lost from the music I felt and the rawness that was there so I felt it was time to take action and take it into my own hands. I got some like-minded people together and that’s how 1349 started out. It kind of just developed from there on. A bit of a point for me was not to not be distracted by what other were doing and just look straight ahead and look at what we were doing. I have the backbone from what was there from earlier on, from Norwegian black metal bands so I didn’t feel I needed to check out any new acts. I liked the old ones that were there and just made a line and started fresh from developing there on, making my own style. Of course I am paying attention to what the old acts are doing like the new Mayhem album for instance and Darkthrone is putting out albums still, I always check them out. Its more like since we started making black metal ourselves its not so important what others do so the kind of need to follow what others are doing is not there anymore after I started 1349.
What do you hope fans will take from the new album?
I hope they will enjoy it as much as we do, both in the process of making it and also the fact that now we’ve seen the material in action in a live situation. We’ve got this feeling already when I started metal Alliance with Behemoth in the USA. We released the single, Slaves for that tour and the response we got from the audience for that song… If the crowd wasn’t fired up enough before we played that song, thing just went haywire. The new material is hitting people in a live situation and it has continued now on a European tour. Its good to see that the new material is really well received by the audience in general.
How have you felt the tour has gone so far?
This will be the 6th or 7th day of the tour. It’s been quite good, could have been more people. It’s not sold out so there can always be more people. The people that come out, they’re really supportive, there’s a proper atmosphere in the room and its nice to finally tour the European continent again. It’s been far too long, there are reasons for that but the industry is changing and the market is changing. There also has to be demand and possibility to make things work. It shouldn’t take 9 years to do the European continent again.
So what is next for 1349?
Next we have US, we’re working on that right now, so we will be going back there. That will be in the first half of 2015 and then maybe we will get time to do more in Europe before the festival seasons start but we will definitely be back in Europe at least once.
Is there anything you would like to say to our readers?
Enjoy the new album and I hope to see out on tour.