Paris – Wednesday March 7, 2018
“ Art is something that fills our life with emotional and spiritual purpose “
Tonight is the very beginning of a new European tour. What is the purpose/aim of that new tour compared to the one you did last Autumn?
The reason why we are here in Paris is because the power broke down at the venue where we were scheduled to play in late September. Paris was a part of what we should call perhaps the main European tour. This tour was meant to cover all the places we couldn’t cover on the first tour. We don’t like to do long tours anymore so we operate with a limit of one month as a maximum. So I’d rather do, instead of 8 weeks of Europe, 2 times 4 weeks. So basically we were scheduled for the first shows to do all the bigger places like London, Paris, Berlin, Stockholm, Copenhagen… And then, this one is a little bit “instead of Berlin, it’s Hannover; and instead of London, it’s Birmingham, instead of Stockholm, it’s Malmö”. So, smaller places, basically. Paris is now here because Paris didn’t happen the last time and I’m just glad that we got to be here. France is very important to Satyricon. We’ve always played a lot of shows here, not just Paris. When we do a new record, we do 5 or 6 French cities. So I always felt that this is one of our key territories for meeting Satyricon fans if you can put it like that.
The reviews regarding Deep Calleth Upon Deep have been rather good, which must be quite satisfying…. But after all these years, are you still interested in reviews?
No. I find it difficult. Most reviews I never read unless there is something that I’m being recommended to read for a particular reason. I can tell you exactly why. It’s because I strongly admire a professional approach of a subject. For example, I like art. Visual art. But I don’t think I should write art reviews because I just like art and I’m not an art expert. And for me, I don’t think you should write music reviews if you’re just someone who likes music. I think you should be a music expert to do so, if you like. When I sometimes read concert reviews people are like : “Yeah, I went to see Satyricon and as I missed my train, I didn’t see the first 3 songs but I thought there was a good atmosphere. Together with other people I went to the bar and bought some beers and the energy was so good when we came back…” So stupid, you know? This has nothing to do with music. I think that I’m an expert of music and if I was going to write a review, I would have tried to say something about what it is that you can experiment from this album, what is here. What I – in my analysis and interpretations – think that the artists are intending to do and how successful they are in this attempt to do it. And how I perceive it and how it will be possibly perceived by others. I think this is why I wouldn’t write art reviews about paintings because I enjoy them but I don’t think that I know enough to, in a professional way, communicate to other art lovers what this is. Sometimes, there are people who can write some very intelligent reviews and fortunately, also, people are kind enough to recommend a good read for me and I try to do that to understand a little bit about what we do is perceived. What is interesting about playing live music, altogether that are many factors that are different for a record. When you listen to a record, you typically sit down, you don’t stand up. There is no light, it’s not as warm as inside a concert venue and you don’t have many people close to you. Also, the sound… Even if Satyricon has actually a really good sound, it’s better on the records because there’s more precision, there’s more fine tune. Listening to the band live and listening to records are 2 different experiences but, nevertheless, when you play live, what is fascinating about it is how you can read emotion in the faces and expressions of the people who are right in front of you. It’s a more primal instinct type of review! (laughter)
Satyricon is a band that always gives live treatment to all its new songs when a new record is out. Is it a duty you have to fulfil: to give each song a chance?
I consider our songs to all have their unique personality, so to speak. It is a big privilege to work on shaping the musical personality of a song. The song is the result of arrangements, the gear, the musicianship of each player… I like each song to be more a journey than just a passage. For me, a song is successful if I feel that I can dive into its universe as a listener. I was just – earlier, as a part of my routine and training – listening to some songs. I always do because it’s good for me to remember the lyrics, the little details with the drums for instance so that I can discuss with Frost, little things with the guitars that I can talk to the guitar players about. So I always listen to it and I was listening to a song on Deep Calleth Upon Deep called “Burial Rite” and, always when I play this song, even if I’m training, I’m visualising things for 6 and a half minutes that put me spiritually to a different place. And when the song is over, I’m just back to where I started. But to me, if it’s my song or some other band, that is a successful song because now on a more philosophical level, we are touching upon the essence of what art should be about. Art should be a form of escapism from our daily lives. So I say to people, for instance, speaking right now: we are in France, the country of innovators of exquisite cuisine. Some people say “it’s too much theatre with a gourmet restaurant and the plates are too small”. But when you go to a gourmet restaurant, it’s not to get full, it is a theatre! You sit for 3 and a half hours and then, you enjoy a different level of service that you don’t really have at a bistro. The wine is of higher quality and the food is of higher quality. The way it’s presented to you can be almost like a piece of art. Typically, the room that you’re in is beautiful and you sit there and if it’s a good experience, you forget about all your troubles, your day-to-day life and your obligations. For 3 hours and a half, you are in a different place and when you come out, it’s over and it’s back to your normal life. Reading a good book is the same type of thing: you are inside that world. And sometimes, maybe every 3-4-5 years, you see a movie that you wish would never end because you are in a beautiful place within yourself. To me, that is the very essence of any form of good art and music is no different. Its perhaps more essential feature is its ability to take the person at the receiving end to a different place away from his life. And that is why people who don’t understand art say that it’s too much money to build this opera and too expensive to have a big symphonic orchestra, you know? Because they don’t understand that you cannot put a price on these things because art is something that fills our life with emotional and spiritual purpose. And you cannot say it’s worth €10, €100, €1,000, €100,000… It’s priceless.
I interviewed Frost (drums) about 3 years ago in that venue. Satyricon (2013) was a great success, Live At The Opera (2015) was to be realised and, at the time, there was a real feeling of artistic fulfilment. I was thinking: “How will they top that?” How did you deal with that exceptional period and manage to keep the artistic torch burning?
I feel that, for me, what is very important with Deep Calleth Upon Deep is to sort of thank the album Satyricon and the album Live At The Opera for what it did for Deep Calleth Upon Deep. Because all the things that I find to be artistically successful and important on Deep Calleth Upon Deep can also be traced back to positive experiences from the Satyricon album, many of the things that we did on the Satyricon album that moved us in a good direction. For example, Frost’s drumming on that album was much better that on The Age Of Nero (2008) and 10 times better than on Now, Diabolical (2006). But his drumming on Deep Calleth Upon Deep is a million times better than on the Satyricon album. Deep Calleth Upon Deep is his signature work. Nothing he has ever done with Satyricon and certainly not with 1349 is anything close. His drumming on Deep Calleth Upon Deep is so much more sophisticated and intricate than anything he has ever done. I have incredible drummers like Dirk Verbeuren texting me immediately saying “I love the album and Frost’s drumming is insane”! There had been many really premium drummers out there that are fans of Satyricon’s music and enjoyed Frost’s drumming and feel that his drumming is now in a whole different level. There are many reasons for that but one of the reasons is somehow the experience from the previous studio albums. There is some very fine tune and subtle use of bassoon, contrabassoon, bass clarinets, cellos and violins that really has nothing to do with Live At The Opera. I mean, we didn’t use any symphonic orchestra or anything like that: we just used an opera choir. With the guy I worked with writing the arrangements for Deep Calleth Upon Deep, we had many good experiences together and we wrote arrangements for cello, bassoons, contrabassoons, violins and their likes for Deep Calleth Upon Deep together and I think that many of the experiences we had from working on Live At The Opera made us able to do what we did together on Deep Called Upon Deep better than if we didn’t have that experience.
You know Hellfest quite well as this is gonna be your 5th appearance there. What’s you appraisal of the festival?
It is one of the biggest heavy metal festivals of the world. It has been very interesting for us to be a part of that journey, basically playing almost half of its editions. I said to you earlier that France was a very important country in the Satyricon world, which we have basically shown ever since we’ve been touring. You have to remember that the first Satyricon show ever outside of Oslo was in Paris. At Gibus. Where Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, The Doors and all these legendary bands played. And perhaps, during that time where, you know, black metal bands only played Paris and maybe Lyon, then we also did Strasbourg, Nantes, Toulouse and even places like Avignon or Rennes… We were playing the whole country, not just the biggest places. When we are playing at Hellfest, we are playing for the whole country, we’re not just playing for Hellfest: we’re playing for France. That’s what I feel. I feel that we have built a strong relationship and I know there are people from Belgium, Holland and probably also Norway, coming there. Most of all, I feel that we are playing for France. I think that it’s a fun thing to watch a festival that went from being fairly ambitious but not big festival to becoming one of the biggest heavy metal festivals of the world. And I think the key for Hellfest into the future is to avoid the mistake that they do in Germany: they make their festivals become amusement parks, heavy metal Disneyland. You know which festival I am talking about… To me, I have no respect for that. That is much against the heavy metal culture in the first place. I hope that Hellfest can keep its path clean.
Many thanks to Kai (Napalm Records), Caroline (ass. tour manager) and Elodie (HIM Media).