AN INTERVIEW WITH BEHEMOTH
Questions answered by: Nergal
Interview took place at the concert in Vienna on 15/12/2000
Interviewers: Anja & Maja
Not even a year has passed since your previous tour and I think this is your fourth tour in the last three years. Is that correct?
Yeah, maybe. I didn't count them so I'm not sure. I believe yes.
Are you always on the road? I mean, we have seen you so many times now in these three years.
I think that we're not actually touring that intense, you know. But that's my opinion. I'd like to go on tour like twice a year, you know, in Europe and probably if there's a possibility go to States, you know, but... Well, it's cool that you have such an impression but... I wouldn't say so.
Isn't that kind of living exhausting?
Is it? (he was asking the rest of the band but there was no response; they were just smiling) Not really, you know. We love playing. We like doing performances for all kind of people. Ok, sometimes it might be dull and the reaction is not that spontaneous but as long as we are inspired and we like what we do then everything is fine. So we just continue playing as often as possible, as we can, just to promote the band, you know. Sometimes you feel exhausted but basically playing a show is like a great payment for some not comfortable situations that happen on the tour sometimes. Basically we're satisfied with this kind of life.
Well, in these three years you've been in Slovenia twice, right? Is there anything you remember about Slovenia (about the gig or about the country itself)?
Yeah, we've played in Ljubljana twice and... The city was really impressive, the old town because the club was situated pretty close to the old town and we just walked around visiting the sites. There is also somekind of castle...
Yes, on the hill.
Yeah, but we didn't really had the chance to visit it. But basically I must say that the town itself was impressive and very beautiful.
What about the people, fans? I think the place was crowded.
Yeah, it was crowded. The place itself really sucked, but the crowd was
A small stage first of all...
A very thin hall and very long, I remember. Yeah, as long as people are satisfied and as long as we are pleased then I think it's ok. I remember both shows exactly, you know, when we played there and they were both really good.
How can you remember all the shows? There were so many.
I mean, I don't remember almost every show we've played in Germany for example because we have played there so often, you know, but those particular ones, that would be in Slovenia for instance, they just stay in my memory for a long time.
Band members have been constantly changing except for you and the drummer.
Yeah, the drummer has been in the band for a few years now. We've got a new guitarist, Havoc, and a session bassist Novy from Devilyn, a death metal band from Poland, who is also with us for almost two years by now. And we're doing fine now. We've recorded a new album in that line - up and I was very satisfied. I hope the guys were also. So I believe that in this line - up we can continue for some years at least. I mean, I'm a bit tired of all this changes, you know, but it's like... people are people, you know, everything is changing constantly, all the time. You can't really control things, you know.
Can you easily find new members?
Not really. It's really difficult to find good people for the band, you know, because it's not like finding just a good instrumentalist, you know. Apart from being good instrumentalist you must have a strong identity and you have to fit in that band perfectly.
Dedication as well...
Yeah, sure. Yeah, you're right.
You started something new, different with Satanica. What has caused this change?
Well, I wouldn't say it was totally something new. I mean, I don't really consider this band as an original one. Absolutely not. We have...(he pauses looking for the right words)
But didn't you say in an interview once that you want this band to be unique?
Well yeah, sure. I mean, I strive for this but I'm aware of the fact that we are not that original, you know. I mean, we play music we like and that's it. There are bands we look up to and that's OK. Maybe we kind of do our own thing, you know, but it's inspired by many bands, you know. I never deny my roots. It's hard to say. I mean... basically I think that we're on the right track since our last albums (Satanica and Thelema.6) kind of established our position and our new style, you know, because it's more complex now, more structured and more death metalish in a way. It's still Black Metal and some Death Metal and extreme and everything, you know. It was just pushed much further this time. And, yeah, basically this two albums established this new style but I wouldn't say that this is original. It is ass kicking definitely! (he starts laughing)
Do you work a lot on your image?
Hm... It just happens, you know. We don't discuss it that much. When people get involved in this band they just know what's all about, you know, and we don't really need to speak much about it. Behemoth has always been a very theatrical band. I figure that we're not gonna like end up wearing T- shirts and jeans on the stage, you know. Definitely not. We're still pretty much into spikes and all that shit, you know, but we still do it in a bit different way than all the other Black Metal bands, you know, which definitely fail in a way because they repeat themselves, you know, and we do something our own I think. I mean, in this particular case.
People say that Thelema.6 is just a continuation of Satanica. Do you agree with that?
In a way it is a continuation because it's the same band, you know, and these are almost the same people, you know, that created that music so there is nothing
strange in this. But definitely we've discovered some new musical territories and also lyrically something new maybe but as I've told you I don't really care about being original or innovative for any cost because it just...(trying to find
the words) It doesn't mean that I'm like honest to myself then, you know, because I'm honest with what I'm doing right now. I think that the quality of the album
is really high. It's really great production and the songs are good.
And how did you choose the concept for this album?
It just happens, you know. I never like sit and think about it, we never discuss it. We just sit down in the rehearsal room and we just jam or something. I bring some riffs, you know, and tell the guys what I'd like this to sound and... yeah, it just happens, you know. I believe there is chemistry within this band. We know
each other pretty well so it all comes pretty naturally.
I have read somewhere that a very good friend of yours has also written some lyrics...(I wasn't able to finish the sentence because he jumped right in)
Yeah, lyrics for Satanica. He wrote almost all of them apart from one song and for the new album I wrote 7 songs and he wrote 4. We kind of like cooperating with one another. He is pretty much dedicated to occult, you know, and that kind of stuff.
I heard that he was the one who got you interested in this.
Yeah, that's true. He doesn't live in Poland anymore, you know. He lives in London now. We used to like discuss for hours and hours about several topics and he just got me inspired and I got involved in things I'm into right now.
So how was it working in Hendrix studio?
Excellent. I mean, it was probably a really hard studio session, you know, very difficult and very demanding. We're very demanding to ourselves actually. Yeah, I figure this is definitely the best result we've reached so far with this band, you know. We paid lots of attention to each fucking detail, you know. I repeated several riffs for like fifty times or even more, you know, just to make it perfect. But we were provided with a big budget so we could afford to stay in the studio for almost two months so the result is "listenable". (he says smiling)
You have also changed your tour manager. What is next? Will you switch the label maybe?
No, I don't think so. I mean, we are satisfied with Avantgarde. Both sides are basically pleased with each other so I don't really think that we'll switch the label because they are really good, you know. They are doing a great job for us, you know, and I hope that it will be continued in this way.
But what if you got a really good deal like happened to Immortal for example?
Well, I'm not sure if it's that great for Immortal to go to Nuclear Blast, you know, because then they are just one of the bands because they have really big bands like Manowar, Death, Dimmu Borgir and these bands are much bigger and... I mean, it's like... it's sure there won't be the same attention they pay to all of those bands, you know.
Do you have any side - projects?
Yeah, I've got one. It's called Wolverine and it's more rock'n'roll kind of stuff, you know. A bit metal, a bit stoner, a bit rock as I've told you. It's like Danzig, The Cult and Monstermind and that kind of shit, you know.
But Behemoth comes first?
Yeah. It's always like a priority for me, you know, but I'm also pretty serious in all the activities I do. Behemoth is definitely a priority for me. That's certain.
Didn't you help some of the other Polish bands like Hermh for example?
Yeah. (he said that in a weird way, the tone of his voice changed) There were some episodes, you know, I used to take part in but... yeah, we're friends so when somebody is my friend and would like some help and if I'm willing to do this then I do it. And that was what happened with Hermh.
How was it like playing with big bands like Deicide, Satyricon and now Morbid Angel?
Well, for us it's like a great honor to go on tour with these bands because I think that life is long enough to learn all the time, you know. So it's not like that we've released our fifth album by now and we like know everything or something, you know. By watching Morbid Angel for instance each night we can see how big
distance is between us and them, you know, and how much work is still to be done, you know, for us. How much attention we have to pay to our technic and stuff like
that, you know. And I think it's very positive to go on tour with these bands because you will learn so much from them, you know, and that's cool. Of course it's great to meet people, fans you know, and of course to earn some money so I think that going on tour with all those bands is in each way profitable.
I see you're wearing a Satyricon shirt. How did you get along with Satyricon on tour?
Excellent. We had no problems with the guys. They were really nice, you know. Frost is probably one of the coolest guys I've met in my life. Pretty calm down, very kind and very cool. Also the other guys, you know. They are all really really cool and very easy going people. Also Hecate Enthroned was a cool band to hang out with. So I'm showing my respect by wearing their T- shirt, you know.
Can you tell me something about your future projects?
I don't really know what I'm gonna do beside the band but with Behemoth we'll definitely try to promote the new album as much as we can. Yeah, that's the point, you know, for us now to go on tour in a couple of months.
Again yeah, again. (he understood perfectly what I meant by that) But a probably longer one, you know, like three or four weeks I hope and it might happen in March or April. I believe we're gonna do this.
Will you also come to Slovenia?
Well, it depends on the organization, you know, and the schedule which I don't know... yet (he adds with a stress) But I'd like to go everywhere. I'd like to go up to Britain and down to Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy, to all the South European countries and drift East a bit as well and go to Hungary because we've never been there and go to Czech because we've been there twice I guess. I think there are lots of places to be invaded so I hope that we can do this.
And how was it like playing in Poland?
One week ago it was excellent. We were opening for Cradle of Filth then and there was almost 2000 people. They were all going fucking crazy. We had just a 30 minutes long set. I think that in Poland in a way we have a really established position. We sell lots of records there and it's getting better and better. I'm just satisfied.
How is the metal scene in Poland?
Hm, pretty strong I would say. In a way it's strong and in a way it's very shitty, you know, so it's like a paradox or something. (he was trying not to laugh) We have a very strong death metal scene. We have dozens of great bands like Vader, Hate, Damnation, Devilyn, Decapitated, Desire and some more. But when it comes to Black Metal it doesn't really exist. There is no Black Metal scene there, you know, because I don't really consider shit as Black Metal. Yeah, basically Death Metal scene is very strong and apart from that there is nothing.
You really like grew big in the last years...
Yeah. I think that's because of a really good deal, you know, but that's also because of very good music that we have produced recently. I mean, this band just needed to take it's time to set up it's own standard, you know, which was done with Satanica and Thelema. These are the albums that really established our new style as I've told you before and because of these albums, because of their high quality we kind of gained attention from people, you know. And that's the point, you know, I think that's the reason why people noticed us. They say: "This is a band from Poland which is good," and I think that happened because of our great determination and because of a good deal.
Can you tell me what's your life philosophy?
Hugh.. It's pretty complex and hard to answer that in just a few sentences because it's so varied, you know.
But you put a part of your philosophy in your music...
Yeah, definitely. My music reflects what I am and who I am. That's a certain thing, you know, but... to live every day and just to make myself a better person, you know. That's sometimes pretty difficult but I just try to work on myself in each detail, you know, and try to be a better person definitely and sit up my own values and just carry on.
And what are your obligations beside the band? I mean, do you work or study?
Yeah, I study. I'm in the 5th year of History at the Danzig University and it's like getting harder and harder because the obligations towards this band, you know, are going higher each year so it's like more difficult to get through each next year but I'm closing to the end right now so I believe I'll manage to finish this next year. And then I'm gonna continue the education in some other school. I don't know what I'm gonna do yet. Probably some Journalism, Public Relations or something like that. But we'll see, you know. You never know what will happen the next day and I can't really say what will happen next year so... (he starts laughing) We'll just meet in a couple of years and then I'll tell you. (we gladly agreed)
Ok. When can we expect your next release?
Oh, it's hard to say now, you know, because we're concentrating on touring and promoting the last album right now. I don't even wanna think about the new album because I'm so... I just ran out of energy by doing this record so I just have to take my time to recover, right (he starts laughing again) and just to get some new inspiration, probably some new... I don't know what... whatever, you know, what makes me spark. Yeah, we'll see. We'll probably start thinking about it in half a year or something and then enter the studio maybe by the end of next year. Maybe. We'll see.
That's still pretty fast.
Yeah, it is but not for me, you know, because I live with this band and it's just my life so it's natural for me. There are bands that like to take long breaks between releases but I think that in our case, you know, which means that we are not that big band, you know. We have to remind people of our existence each next
year, you know, or each two years or something. I think that it has to be done because otherwise... There are more and more newcoming bands around and more... yeah,
and better (now me and Maja started to laugh; we really didn't expect to hear that from him) so you just have to prove, you know, that with the 5th or the 6th album you are still fresh, you have new ideas and you can just fucking rule the world, you know, with your music and that's the point. Because there are still good bands, you know, but I'm never gonna give in, you know. I just want to prove
that we are still... that we can kick some serious ass, you know.
Do you feel pressured because of it?
Yeah, a bit definitely. There is something in this. I'm not gonna like finish with this band in one year or something, you know, because with each next record... it drives me even more and I just wanna achieve much more with each next record. It's natural that I'm not even thinking about giving up, you know, with the band. Sometimes I feel tired, you know, but after 10 years of playing you might have such moments. But generally I'm very determined. Yeah, I'm strong as hell. (he started laughing again)
(at this point we were interrupted because Behemoth had to be on stage in 5 minutes)