War – Interview
Part of the reason the black metal scene has exploded out of control during the past several years is due to the large influx of project bands orsuper groups. Some of these offshoots have been nothing more than forgettable, but on the other hand, a good share of them have been just as venomous and important to the vitality of the scene as the main bands many of these projects sprouted up from. Sweden’s WAR is such a creation, and with all the talent that fills it’s ranks, success was only an upside down cross and several well placed power chords away. As members, It (ABRUPTUM, OPHTHALAMIA, VONDUR), All (same), David “Blackmoon” Parland (EX-NECROPHOBIC/DARK FUNERAL), Peter Tagtgren (HYPOCRISY, THE ABYSS) and Mikael Hedlund explored a more destructive medium of musical expression, they have single handedly summoned the essence of black metal back to it’s raw, simplistic and controversial roots. I recently spoke to guitarist Blackmoon about WAR’s inception, importance and scandalous journey down the left hand path. Continue onward and learn of what the future holds for Scandinavia’s newest upholder of blasphemous metal. -Marty – (Taken from Worm Gear #7)
I guess the best place to start would be with the True Satanist Horde. I’ve heard about it, but what is it exactly?
That organization is not going any longer. The True Satanist Horde was run by It from ABRUPTUM, and he moved abroad a half year ago to Finland. He sold all of his black metal things and was totally fed up with the scene. He was the one that left the horde. It’s a shame, but everything just fell apart so there really isn’t a horde right now. I don’t know, we might start something, but it will take a long time. Right now we really don’t have a guy that wants to hold stuff.
Along with some of the music, I was surprised to see that It actually handled a majority of the lyrics. Do you think that his absence will change the philosophy of WAR any?
No, the concept will always be the same, it’s still going to be about war. I mean, WAR is about war. We have already recorded the follow up full length called “We Are War” and It didn’t have anything to do with that material riff wise or with the lyrics. It’s still the same type of lyrics. It’s about Satan and it’s about war. It’s not a great loss that It is no longer in the band.
Even though the horde has broken up, basically the views are expressed in the words and the music of WAR correct?
Yeah, you could say so. The WAR lyrics are very much about war, it’s not really that much about Satan. They deal with a little bit of our beliefs of course.
Along with yourself, their are a lot of big names in the band, how did WAR come together?
That’s quite a funny story actually, It happened very spontaneously. Me and It were up at THE ABYSS studio in the end of ’95. Me and It were recording the last of the ABRUPTUM album, I was accompanying him. We stopped in the studio and got fucking drunk one evening with Peter (Tagtgren) and we decided that we had to form a really primitive band. You know, a fist in the face to all of these like keyboard, totally gutless bands. We thought that we’d do the opposite, be extremely primitive, Peter said, “We’ll call ourselves WAR”. Right there the band was born while we were drunk.
So is that when a lot of songs are written, When you are all under the influence?
I think we did like 2 or 3 songs that same night, but they were totally shit of course. No songs were written on there under any alcohol influence.
So does everybody live in different parts of Sweden?
So it’s difficult for everyone to get together and practice right?
Yes you are right. I’m living here in Stockholm as well as All the singer lives here also. The other guys live farther north in Sweden like 3 or 4 hours away by car. It’s not that bad, but WAR really isn’t a rehearsing type band. We will get together when we have some new stuff and practice for 3 or 4 days, try to build some more songs and record it. That’s the only way for us to do it.
As far as the songwriting goes on “Total War”, I found it to be evenly split between all of you. Do you think this was more of a band effort for you than say your previous bands NECROPHOBIC or DARK FUNERAL?
Yes I think so in a way, because we all took part in the writing process more. It was actually myself and It that came up with most of the music, but then All did some lyrics as well. Peter along with Mikael came up with some riffs as well. Yes it was definitely more of a band effort than say DARK FUNERAL or NECROPHOBIC, because of course in those bands I wrote most of the parts myself.
Now that this whole Jon Nodtveidt (DISSECTION) and Vlad rampage is over, do you think that It will ever return to Sweden?
I can’t be sure but I don’t think so. He has already sold a lot of his stuff. He’s welcomed back here of course, but he hasn’t anything to do. He has quit everything he was doing like all of the bands, so I don’t think he will return and do the same things again.
Why do you think he quit all of that stuff?
I don’t really exactly know. He was very fed up with everything. One day he could be really into it and the next he’d be like totally fed up with everything so who knows. He wasn’t really getting anywhere or making any money on the music.
Plus the threats against his family by a new Satanic faction probably didn’t help the situation either.
I haven’t really heard that. I don’t think that his family were threatened or anything. There were some rumors that there were some people after It, like these MLO guys Vlad and Jon or whatever, but those were really just rumors. They hadn’t said anything like they were going to kill him or anything. There were some bad vibes between those guys, but it was all mainly just rumors. I haven’t heard anything about his family being threatened.
Something like that happens and there are so many bullshit rumors that come with it, nobody knows exactly what’s going on. What was the deal with this MLO?
The thing was that Jon and It, they are old friends and they were both part of this True Satanist Horde a couple of years back. I don’t know the exact story, but it was like Jon and a couple of other guys from Gothenburg wanted to split from the horde and start this MLO section, but It had problems with that for some reason. Maybe he didn’t want any kind of side organizations to his horde. That caused some problems between both guys. They started to dislike each other from what I know.
So Jon is basically in jail for sure then?
He’s not in jail right now from what I know, he’s in custody. There hasn’t been a trial yet or anything, but I’m quite sure that he will go into jail. From what I’ve heard and I’ve actually been in contact with that guy quite a bit myself so I kind of know him, I’m quite certain that he killed and committed that fucking murder. I don’t know for sure, but I think it’s very possible.
It’s kind of sad to throw everything away that you’ve worked for on something as stupid as that.
I don’t care anymore now, but it’s a little irritating when stuff like that happens, when people turn their backs on each other. I don’t care anymore about it.
Since you were also linked with DARK FUNERAL, your actual guitar tone and playing style is evident in both bands music. What do you think sets WAR apart from the music you wrote for “Secrets of The Black Arts”?
I think they’re quite far away from each other actually. Maybe you can recognize some of the similarities, but I really don’t see any of the similarities that I did with WAR and DARK FUNERAL. The music in DARK FUNERAL is better written, more orchestrated and far more complex. The stuff we do in WAR is totally primitive. Maybe some people can here that it’s me in both bands, but I can’t do that for myself.
Do you think the new DARK FUNERAL stuff is going to have some of your characteristics?
No. I have heard the new DARK FUNERAL album which they recorded a month ago like 6 or 7 times now. It obviously still has some elements of the old DARK FUNERAL, but to me it’s sounding more like EMPEROR or something. It’s not just me, there are a lot of people that have heard it and say that it doesn’t really sound that much like old DARK FUNERAL.
Are you still on talking terms with those guys?
No, definitely not.
Well, I was just wondering if you talked to them after their American tour to see what they thought of the place?
I haven’t been in contact with those guys for a long time. It’s fucking stupid, but there is still some bad vibes and shit. If we see each other on the fucking street, maybe I’d talk with them for a minute or something, but we’re definitely not friends. We’re definitely not worst enemies either.
The music of WAR is simplistic and intense. Will this continue on the full-length, or will the music grow more technical?
We’ve already recorded the full-length and I’d say it’s just a little bit more technical. Some parts of the songs are quite reminiscent of early SLAYER so for some people they might think we have changed totally. Well we haven’t because there are still some of them primitive, crazy and brutal parts. We said to ourselves that we wanted to do some things in the vein of early SLAYER, like the “Show No Mercy” style and that’s what we did.
How did you find the time to start HELLSPAWN records?
That’s a good question actually. I really don’t have the time that much to really run HELLSPAWN RECORDS. There really isn’t that much happening right now with it, except for the BATHORY tribute which is on it’s way right now and we still have to print up 5,000 digi-pacs. That will come out in three weeks and it will be really great. I don’t really know what will happen with HELLSPAWN RECORDS because I really don’t have the time to run a fucking label because I’m a musician in the first place. I really don’t have the time to be a fucking businessman as well.
Did you kind of start the label with the idea in mind to release your own solo project BLACKMOON?
The BLACKMOON project was something that I worked on for awhile. This is a little bit sad maybe, but I have cut that band and those plans for awhile. I was supposed to put out an album for NECROPOLIS RECORDS and when I came up with half of the material, I realized that it really wasn’t as dark as I wanted it to be. So I thought there was no use in releasing it, it was quite good musically, but once again, wasn’t as dark as I wanted it. So right now, this whole BLACKMOON project is put on ice.
So are you going to release the full-length WAR album?
No I won’t. I know it’s stated on the WAR bio-sheets that I’m supposed to release the new album. There were some really minor problems between myself and Paul (Thind, head NECROPOLIS honcho otherwise known as Typhon- Marty). We were waiting for the WAR CD to come out and it wasn’t happening. I though like, “If he can’t get this release out, I will release the full-length myself.” But I’ve talked to Paul and everything is on it’s way and getting promoted really well so it’ll be best if they release it.
As “Total War” rips through the underground, the track “I Am Elite” seems to be causing quite a stir due to the racial comments (I’m referring here to the line, “Nigger’s and Kykes, stay away” -Marty).
Yes, I know what you mean.
Before this interview, I was talking to Joker (NECROPOLIS publicist) and I asked him if you”d be willing to discuss it and he said that, “he will deny it and so does NECROPOLIS”. Is there any reason for that?
The racial comments in that particular song. I know you personally didn’t write the lyrics, but I was wondering if these thoughts were expressed by all the members in the band?
(Brief pause) Well, I don’t really know. Fuck this is hard to say, It’s hard to get it right in the media you know?
It is a rather touchy subject.
Yeah, O.K., I wasn’t the one responsible for the things that were said on that fucking song. That was something that happened very spontaneously in the studio. O.K., I can say that I stand behind everything that was said on that song. The lyrics to “I Am Elite” deals with Christianity vs. the Satanic side. If you are referring to the special comments, “Nigger’s and Kykes, stay away”, I’m not really racist but I can say it like this, I hate everyone, regardless of their race so therefore, I’m not a racist. I just don’t like people in general, so why can’t we say that?
People seem to be freaking out about that line and in their minds it may be easy to classify the ideals of WAR in with the same context as say skinhead Oi music?
O.K., we have only ourselves to blame of course, it was just something that happened in the studio. If we knew that it would really cause a stir, we wouldn’t have done that because it was kind of serious. I mean, we are not really racist like that, but I think it was something that All felt and we all didn’t know if we were going to keep it. We thought we were going to tape it over. In the end we thought that no one would recognize what was being said.
All has a very distinct way of singing. You can pretty much understand everything he has to say?
Yeah, Maybe you can.
With all this controversy swiftly surrounding the band, do you think that all the members will be able to withstand the pressure and keep the band together?
Yes of course. We are WAR and we stand up for what we say. We won’t let anything like that bring us down. If this were to evolve into something really big, them we’d have to wait and see what happens. If there is some talk about it then it’s O.K., if it’s blown out of proportion totally, then I don’t know what will happen.
Aside from the upcoming full-length, what do you think the future holds for WAR?
More music of course, but we don’t have anything planned right now. There will be more albums, that’s for sure because the WAR thing has turned out to be a really cool band I think. Talking about the near future, I hope at least that NECROPOLIS can get us some kind of a small tour for the full-length album. That’s what I’m hoping for. But then I don’t know what’s going to happen exactly after that.
On a much larger subject, what do you think about the future of black metal? I’m sure it’s current commercialization bothers the shit out of you?
I don’t know if it really bothers me that much. That depends on what commercial means because everything that has to do with money is commercial. I guess it’s not really that good that there are big labels putting out black metal bands and earning a lot of money. But in a way, as a musician myself, if I had the chance to really get out and spread my music really well and earn some money, then I wouldn’t say no. I’m a musician and black metal is very much my life, so if I could get the opportunity, then I wouldn’t turn it down.
I guess the whole purpose of making music is to have it heard. A lot of the old schooler’s would say that this style of music should stay underground?
Yeah, but what is underground? Should people only hear some bad taped copies? That was cool in the old days when you were a tape trader and stuff like that. I mean, that was really underground when you were trading with people across the whole fucking world and you got all these really obscure bands. The scene is more commercialized now. It’s good in a way that more people can hear the music, but there are a lot of idiot people that are going to earn money on it. I don’t really care anymore because the scene is so fucked up anyway, there is so many shit labels and shit bands that I don’t care about it at all.
Do you think that a lot of people that have been into it for awhile are beginning to get that attitude?
Yeah I think so. It’s like a never ending stream of new bands and releases all the time. Most stuff is shit really.
Do you see yourself being involved with any other bands in the near future? What are your upcoming plans?
Actually, I’m involved in a new band right now you probably haven’t heard about. Me and some other guys have started a totally new black metal band called INFERNAL. I put this band together with one of the ex-DARK FUNERAL guys, that is the singer and bass player who played on “Secrets of the Black Arts”. He’s the singer and rhythm guitar player for INFERNAL and we have a really killer drummer whom is originally from the band DEFLESHED. That band really isn’t my cup of tea, but he is a really killer drummer. That band is more of a death metal style. People have said that INFERNAL sounds very much like old DARK FUNERAL but the drumming is more intense and there are more things going on all the time. It’s more chaotic. If you say that you can recognize my riffing style in WAR, you will hear 200% that this is me playing. I was kind of surprised myself, We were just recording a couple of songs in the rehearsal space and when we listened back to it we said, “This could easily be DARK FUNERAL”. It’s a little bit more brutal, but it’s still the same vocals but it’s also a lot darker. INFERNAL is something that we are working really hard on. It’s not really a project, it’s a totally new band. We will put something out quite fast I think because we have some offers right now. I think we’ll put out a mini CD in 2 or 3 months.
You mentioned offers, Were these from bigger or smaller labels?
I really shouldn’t say anything yet because it’s still in the talks. It’s really fucking incredible because it was one of the bigger labels that just called me up and he just heard that I was forming a new band. He said that I have a good reputation with the scene and he was really interested in hearing my new band. We have to send him like 2 or 3 songs and we’ll see what happens.
I guess that’s all I have Blackmoon! Do you have any final comments?
Final comments? Awe fuck, I don’t really know, I’m really quite bad at doing those (laughs).
Yeah, I guess those are usually quite cheesy.
Yeah, it’ll be like, “Total War, blah, blah” Or whatever (laughs).
By the way, I am going to use that.
That’s O.K., it’s actually quite good (laughs), it’s very tongue in cheek.