SATYRICON Frontman: ‘It was a very difficult environment in the early ’90s.’
SATYRICON frontman Satyr was recently interviewed by Mad TV‘s “TV War” in Greece.
On whether black metal’s mainstream acceptance has diluted its musical value:
Satyr: “No. Because… I mean, SEX PISTOLS, which is such a mythical group, and in a way also helped define modern day’s alternative pop culture, does that make what they did less respectable? The idea that something small is credible and something big is not credible I don’t understand, because I consider many small bands to be fake, and I consider many big bands to be very true and honest about what they do. So I think the size of the band and your commercial success is not what defines your authenticity. What defines it is the motive of the artist. And I can only speak on behalf of my band and say that the catalyst in the development of SATYRICON‘s music has been the genuine love for black metal. But black metal in 1992 was different from what it is today, but 1992 was also different from 1986. So when you had the early stuff from DARKTHRONE, MAYHEM, BURZUM, EMPEROR, IMMORTAL and SATYRICON, it didn’t sound like old VENOM and it didn’t sound like old BATHORY either. There were maybe similarities.”
On SATYRICON‘s musical evolution:
Satyr: “What we express is also a sign of the times that we live in. For me, if I heard a band today that sounded like 1992, ’93, I would think to myself that… [There are] three distinct possibilities: number one, they don’t know how to develop musically; number two, they are trying to do this because they speculate that there are people who want to listen to this style and they try to do what they think people want to hear; or number three, that they are so madly in love this that they don’t want to take the next step in musical development — that is also a possibility. But for SATYRICON, it’s been natural to try and look forward but with the spirit of black metal. And I always said that what was intriguing to me with black metal is that it contains so many things. So there are two ways of trying to define black metal culture. One is saying that it’s very dogmatic, it is full of rules: ‘This is allowed, this is not allowed, it has to be like this, it cannot be like that’; or the other way, which is my way, as I see it, that it’s a dark form of expression within the metal genre that has a much larger degree of freedom than other, more preset formulas. Like AC/DC, MOTÖRHEAD, that can only be that certain way. What would the fans of IRON MAIDEN say if they did something drastic? It’s impossible. It would be a catastrophe. But, for example, in the song ‘Dissonant’ on [SATYRICON‘s latest album] ‘Deep Calleth Upon Deep’, there’s a jazz saxophone that’s doing its thing and it gives a certain vibe to the song, but all I ever heard is that people like that, because I think the rules are different from black metal. But it’s hard for people who had been into it for a long time, who had been expecting things to be a certain way, that there are new generations of fans who come in who have different ideas. And I understand that. I can even see that myself. I try and talk about some of the old bands to young fans and they don’t care. And they talk about a record like ‘Now, Diabolical’ as an old record, and it was released in 2006. But some of the people I meet that are fans, they are 21, 22, so you have to understand that when ‘Now, Diabolical’ came out, they were 10 years old, so for them, it’s a memory from their childhood. But if you are 40 or 45, it’s different.”
On the changes within the black metal scene since the early 1990s:
Satyr: “Within the world of black metal, lots of things have changed in the last 25 years, that’s for sure. It was a very difficult environment in the early ’90s. Walking down the streets of Oslo and having unmarked police cars pull up on the street in front of you and four cops coming out, identifying themselves. And then you had to go with them, and they would question you. And that was their way of constantly reminding you that they were there and that they were watching everything. And that’s a lot of stuff to deal with if you are 17, 18 years old — something like that. And that was the reality for many of us back then. And today, if I met the Prime Minister of Norway, it would be natural for us to exchange some polite talk, because us, as a group of artists, Norwegian black metal musicians are highly respected in our country for the job that we do with our music and for the way it affects people in a good way all across the world. But certainly, a lot of things have changed in those 25 years.”
SATYRICON will return to U.S. shores for the final time this spring. The tour starts May 13 in Los Angeles, California and runs through May 30 in Austin, Texas, with two stops in Canada. The run also includes a headline appearance at the Maryland Deathfest.
“Deep Calleth Upon Deep” was released last September via Napalm Records. The disc was recorded in Oslo, Norway and Vancouver, Canada, during early 2017 and mixed together with revered studio guru Mike Fraser (who previously worked on “Now, Diabolical”).