SATYRICON, “What we wanted to achieve with the choir was to bring a new dimension to the Satyricon songs”

by on Lug.21, 2015, under INTERVISTE

fotoSatyricon1(In Italiano qui) Satyricon played here in April 18th, when I recorded this interview between the venue and the band tour bus. I intentionally delayed this going online, just to put some fuel on Satyricon’s fire, as they’re about return in Italy another time this August. In the few months in between I let people talk. Express opinions. I let Satyricon last release “Live At The Opera”, go around, being reviewed, discussed, criticized. Of course an army of static people is still wondering why Satyricon isn’t doing what they used to do in the past anymore. I already knew why, it’s the reason I follow this band. But I asked Frost about it. A very kind guy, that quietly explains his opinion, his point of view about music, art, creativity and black metal. In a very relaxed way of speaking, Frost reveals new ideas, new concepts, new direction. New inspirations. A new way to do music and to be artists nowadays. He also explain with details what it meant having such a choir onstage with Satyricon. And given his long time experience and success, I’d rather accept his wise words than any of the stupid gossip going around, generated by people that can’t simply understand music and its evolution. Here’s one of the fastest drummers of the Black Metal scene. This is Frost, for you.

MH: Hello! You and Satyr are communicating great messages with your web site. You guys said you were about to accept some guest musicians on stage….with strange instruments…
F: Not necessarily strange, we have announced we are open to have guest musician coming onstage with us to just jam material or perhaps playing some Satyricon songs with us. Like in London for instance we had a percussionist that came onstage wit us, and we just did a free jam. And that’s really interesting, quite a bit of fun. People is just sending applications to email, and we consider. What we are looking for, you know, is different experiences, I mean there is a lot of guitarists that want to come onstage and play known song with us, but that’s not really what we are after. We want experiences that are interesting to ourselves and that brings in something different but that also could be valuable for the audience and could result in some fun musical moment being created there and then. So it doesn’t really have to be a very unconventional instrument, but the players need to be good in what they are doing…
MH: Of course…
F: …for having good music coming out of it.
MH: Also giving the quality of the guesting band…
F: …An instrument that we don’t have in the band and that could be itself interesting but not necessarily .. like in Hamburg there was a flutist…
MH: And for tonight?
F: For tonight I am not sure actually. Most of the show what you do is allow for a jam session to happen, sometimes we improvise, sometimes we play bit and pieces we have created for an upcoming album and we just present excerpt from it, not being… you know… unfinished, a constellation of themes, but at least you know it makes the shows a bit more dynamic. Definitely more creative. It seems the audience likes it a lot, it makes the show a bit different and more interesting to us as musicians. And it can also mean that there’s a creative verve like happening in front of the audience, you know, in the moment.
MH: That’s all the live music should be about.
F: Yeah, I think that’s a very fresh and very good way of doing it. I guess it pretty much represent that spirit that Satyricon has in the moment. It’s a little more free and open, it’s more dynamic, it’s more creative and we do show in the way it’s more typical of the hard rock shows in the 60s and early 70s, which are still remembered for being fantastic happenings. So you know, why not doing something on that way? That’s very unconventional for black metallists, so a reason more to do it. So we like that new format and it seems to work with the crowd, so great.
MH: So tonight we’ll get something of it!
F: Yes, let’s see what’s coming out of it. We don’t always decide before the show.

MH: Still on your web site I read that in 2015 there will be a new Satyricon waving goodbye to the pre-set formulas of the music industry. To me this already sounds exciting, but would you explain what you mean in a detailed way?
F: You know, formulas and standards and conventions apply not only to the commercial music industry, but it also applies to … even this small sub-genre we’re part of. It’s this ever growing feeling that even what is supposed to be creative and unconventional, extreme, is also falling into this black hole of standards and conventions. It’s like if you’re black metal band, many people would expect that you deliver in accordance with the set standard or conventions, like if you make an album that many people like, they want the next album to sound almost exactly the same. And there’s conservatism that penetrates…
MH: It’s also part of the black metal…
F: Unfortunately. Yes. In our view it’s not supposed to be that way. It has never been supposed to be that way. The song itself is born out a huge creativity and innovative spirit that is born out of those people that are there to do something that wasn’t done before. People that took music further. Made it harder, faster, and that also eventually trench it into darkness. Idealism.

(At this point the sound check started. We walk out of the venue into the tour bus. We get in, take a seat and Frost continues EXACTLY from the point he was interrupted few minutes ago. Like these few minutes didn’t exist.)

F: The innovation and idealism are basically necessary for the song to be born in the first place. In Satyricon we still adhere to those principles. And then your music is guided by creative spirit, it would be subject constant changes, there would be developments, improvement, learning processes happening all the time because that’s how creativity works. And we aren’t planning to be any different. So those album that we have made, we don’t want to make over again, and it would also feel completely unnecessary, and they are old spirits of their time. But what is very typical of the music industry and also unfortunately among many many fans and followers is that there’s a wish for bands to find the formula and stick to it. Music, introduction, presentation and everything and we are sick of tired of it, and we feel we have been constantly moving since the very beginning and now this is one of the areas that we are really starting to touch actually how you present music. A typical modern metal live show would be a pure routine from beginning to end, and very static setlist, that starts the same every day, ends the same everyday (smiles, editor’s note).
MH: Sounds kinda like a regular job… a daily job…
F: Yeah, album themselves are also subject to lot of formulas and many standards, and always music industry who wants to dictate about this because there’s a feeling, you know, what works and what doesn’t work is established.
MH: What sells or doesn’t…
F: Which is a very conservative and commercial way of thinking, and that still applies. But we don’t want to do it that way. At all. And we want to do a fundamental break with it. That’s gonna be showcased very clearly with the next album, but we have already started to show it on this tour. We do live shows the way we feel is correct for the band at this point, and this might be the start of something that is becoming perhaps even more untraditional and unconventional. For instance, we do longer sets, we do more variable sets, we open up for this jam session that we’re doing now, and that shows Satyricon is definitely not adhering to any standards. I think it’s a good thing.

MH: Given that this tour is somehow in between completing the promotion of “Satyricon” album and the promotion of “Live At The Opera”, how did you choose the set list for tonight or every other gig of this tour.
F: Yeah. Each setlist is different. We haven’t done all identical.
MH: And how do you choose it every night?
F: It’s part of Satyr’s job, the creative leader of the band to set it up. We basically have four different acts that divide each show, and there would be like a nerve in each of those. There are some songs that we basically always play, and others that … that we take in and out…
MH: So it’s going to be a surprise
F: Yeah, we surprise ourselves a little every night (Frost almost laughs, editor’s note) so we are not falling into that boring routine, which I think musician benefit from. And the jam sets are of course different from night to night also. I don’t know today’s set list for instance (he laughs. Mind it was 3pm, the band would have played later the same night, editor’s note)
MH: Wow, this is very professional. Usually bands rehearse those ten songs perfectly…
F: Yeah…
MH: …but this way you need to be much more prepared, and you need to rehearse at least twice the songs than in any regular tour…
F: Yes, and especially since the show lasts for around two hours now. There’s a lot to remember. But I mean musician is what we are, and we should be able to pull it off, right?

MH: Since you mentioned it. What about a new album after this tour? Because somewhere in your website I read something about a cover album…
F: Yeah. True enough. Many things happening in the same time here, like right now we’re on tour due to the release of that opera show album, and that of course makes sense because it’s an important release to us. A lot of effort went into it, and it’s a presentation of material that was particularly written for this one show. And it really makes the Satyricon songs sound and feel very different. We recreate couple of the song every night, in order to make them sound a bit more like, you know, what we experienced at the opera, so we have pretty large and complex arrangements that are played on keyboard. But it really was an effort to do, and also they’re played in accordance with tablature that was made for the opera show. So it gives a pretty good feeling of what it is like, and that’s also one of the things we do that makes this show very different. But we are also in the process of making new material, some of which is showcased on the tour, and it also happens that we actually played cover songs of the show, because it’s true that we are simultaneously working on a cover album. I won’t reveal too much of that, at this point, but it’s gonna be a very different kind of cover album. We’re not gonna do those songs that everybody could suspect that we will do. We try to pick musical pieces that mean something to us and perhaps that have some kind of importance, but not necessarily meaning any direct influence or something that is similar to our own music. We want to go for something that is slightly more… old… and if it wouldn’t I think it wouldn’t represent that kind of challenge that makes such a process meaningful for us at this point.

fotoSatyricon2MH: I’ve see the “Die By My Hand” video out of “Live At The Opera” (mind this release wasn’t out yet on April 18th, editor’s note). Well, a lot of bands did something with a choir. Or an album with a real orchestra like Dimmu Borgir did once. But another thing is doing a Live with an orchestra… how was to have all these guys behind you?
F: A magical happening. I guess there would be… none of us that were on stage that night will ever forget it. It seems it was a really really great experience for the crowd as well. Given their reception at least. And the people we have talked to afterwards …. But being said, there is a very important commentary I’ve to make to your question. We are strongly feeling that this opera show was so far away from any performance that’s done with an orchestra, or recording with an orchestra. A Choir is really not the same as an orchestra. We have worked with the brass ensemble in Satyricon before, we have done that live and we have done it in the studio. But that cannot be compared to having the opera choir. You mentioned other recording done with an orchestra, but what does that got to do with Satyricon performance with a choir. I think it’s two completely different words. I guess that what Dimmu wanted to achieve is to create something that was very very pompous. Theatrical. Orchestral. (Here he takes a break and thinks for a while, editor’s note). Probably quite spectacular, in a way. What we wanted to achieve with the choir was to bring a new dimension to the Satyricon songs in a way that only a professional choir can do. A set of voices wouldn’t at all do the same. As a large orchestra that contains a lot of different instruments, like strings instruments perhaps, brass instruments, percussions. I think that rather of something that’s very very theatrical and spectacular, you get something that add a ceremonial and ground feeling to the songs. So we had two song for that Opera show, that could benefit a lot from having an emphasis on that, because those vibes or atmospheres already existed on the songs. You could find such vibes in “Die By My Hand” that you mentioned for instance, so since you’ve seen that one you can understand what it does to the song and if you take songs with a very very particular atmosphere like “Den Siste” for instance, which on the album sounds (thinking, editor’s note) very dark, but also melancholic, lonely, at time there’s some ground on it, other times it almost feels little small and dissolute. You can feel a very lone soul in a way. And those atmosphere are emphasized so much by the choir arrangements on the song, and it makes emotions come true in a very very strong fashion. And such thing couldn’t work with a large orchestra. Because it’s not meant to express those same things. That’s the reason you have choirs and orchestras in first place. If you go to see a choir sing you will expect something very different than what you experience watching an orchestra. And it’s the same thing that happens when we applied to existing music. If you add a choir to a metal band, that would produce a very different result than if you add like a large orchestra. And Satyricon’s way of expression is also quite different from others that tried to incorporate, you know, these large external elements. So it has to really be quite adapted.

MH: I got a question that’s probably stupid, for logistic reason… so I twist it somehow for you. Did you ever dream about doing an european or world tour with such choir following you? I don’t mean having them in them all in the tourbus, but maybe having the city choir of every venue you’d go. It’d be great. It’s a dream. But I am sure you have thought about it.
F: Yeah, you are probably right about that. When you had such an experience it’s almost impossible, you know…. Not that I thought like how it would be to take this entire package on tour, and we have known… you know, the Opera Show was this one time performance and it would be impossible to make it happen on tour and perhaps in the end, we actually wish to do it, yeah, but you point to the logistic… and also you are meant to follow the routine; but when we added that opera show happening, it was a magical moment right there and then and perhaps is better to keep it that way. If you go out on tour and do that every day for weeks, perhaps months, at some point perhaps you just start to get tired of it. First of all you would become so used to it, and it wouldn’t produce the same effect, on us the musicians you know, and for the choir itself as well. And that would start to rub out to the crowd and they would start to feel the magic is probably gone from the stage. That’s one side of it and also you can risk to become very tired of this large problem that it would mean to gather so many people, first for a sound check for the show, you know, and the last thing you would want to do is the get really tired of something that is supposed to be a fantastic experience. So we concluded that even if there’s something very appealing with it, it cannot be done and I don’t think I would like to do. But it could be possible to do few very selected shows at very particular places. That is something that we have discussed. If that’s ever gonna happen we don’t know, but that’s, you know, a possible outcome of it. We know the choir would like to do it. There are potential other choir around the world that would like to cooperate with the band, and the band is always up for new challenges. And we do have, you know, tablature for the choir arrangements, and those are ours. So we can use them in other sets if we like to. But that’s it. We have so much coming out now, so I guess we have to kind of deal with what is going on here and now. First, and let’s see where we stand after that, in 2016, when we probably have recorded two more album…
MH: the cover and the one that will follow…
F: Yeah (smiles, editor’s note)

MH: Was it that night you recorded the video for “Phoenix”?
F: Yeah, exactely.
MH: Is it possible you’ll have another guest musician, singer, like you had Sivert Høyem that night?
F: Yeah!
MH: Because the song is really fantastic…
F: I agree with you. I am happy you think that way. We have thought about exactly that. As for now I am not sure if we have got an application from singers. But that was one thing that we thought about before this tour, and it would actually have been pretty cool if there were a professional signer and he wanted to have a go for just that song in one of the shows. But we are definitely open that idea. As for now I don’t know what’s gonna be the outcome for the rest of the shows, but if it happens, that would be really cool.

MH: At “Live At The Opera” you had all those guys, the choir. Well, one thing is a band, everybody always together, and everybody liking what they’re doing; but the choir is somebody paid to do what they are doing. How did they mix with the band, and with your music which isn’t probably the music they usually listen on their daily life.
F: Yeah. One of course suspects that not everybody in the choir would be so excited by the idea, but it turned out that… you know, first of all the are professional musicians they adhere to any musical task in the professional, be it conventional or totally new and unconventional. So that’s really no problem with the opera choirs. But what we learned from the rehearsal sessions and later with the show, they thought it was fantastic, they liked the arrangements, and they enjoyed the final result a lot. I think it was as magical to them as to us. And several of the singers came and send to us afterwards that this was the greatest thing they have ever experienced as musicians…
MH: that was exactly the core of my question…
F: So we really had no feeling this was against the will of anybody in the choir, rather several of the singers really rose and shine for that particular job. And the choir master did a fantastic job. Also the composer that composed the choir arrangement did a fantastic job. So all in all there was nothing but positive feeling for what came out of it.

(The tour manager came in for the second time, telling us to hurry up. The sound check was on and Frost needed to go. I had another million questions, but I cut it down to something I really wanted to know, and that Frost kindly took its time for replying, editor’s note)

MH: Ok. Last thing then we go. The “Satyricon” album released in September 2013, was not well reviewed. Especially in Italy I’ve seen a lot of low ratings. But I rated it 8/10, but I did the review like 6 months after the release, intentionally. Because first I wanted to read all the bullshits the others were saying. On my review I wrote WHY the others didn’t understand it. I would like to close this like if you would say why they didn’t understand it.
F: I know, but most of the review I’ve seen they were very good.
MH: One of the biggest Italian webzines gave you 5 out of 10.
F: Really? Well I don’t read that much, I don’t read many interviews or reviews… but it happens, so I don’t care much about it to be frank. But it’s probably true that it’s an album that is misunderstood by some. From my colleagues in France, you know, most of them are full time musicians… they said they needed a long time with the album before starting to understand it. So I think the time factor is quote crucial and it comes just to that album and I mean it’s a demanding piece of music. It’s not gonna hit you instantly. It needs to get under your skin and that takes many many listens, so I can understand that journalists that are, you know, limited to a set of time to review tons of albums, they get the change to listen to it a little, so they don’t really get it … so it’s not much more different than that.

MH: Thank you!
F: It was a pleasure

(Luca Zakk)


Attenzione / Warning

È vietato copiare, riprodurre, ripubblicare, pubblicare, visualizzare pubblicamente, codificare, tradurre, trasmettere o distribuire qualsiasi parte o contenuto di questo articolo senza previo consenso scritto da parte di METALHEAD.IT. È tuttavia liberamente consentito pubblicare un link diretto a questo articolo sui vostro canali e social network.

It's forbidden to copy, take screenshot, repost, publish, broadcast, show in public, encode, translate, transmit or distribute any section or content of this article without a written approval by METALHEAD.IT. It's allowed to post or publish a direct link to this article on your channels or social networks.


Comments are closed.