Summoning – Interview

int_summoning_headerSUMMONING has evolved from a fairly straight forward Black Metal band on their first full length “Lugburz”, into a band without peers in the Black Metal community. SUMMONING’s richly orchestrated and densely layered passages take their time to unfold and envelope the listener, and are as flawless as they are majestic. They have truly earned their place on the throne as the undisputed patriarchs of Atmospheric Black Metal, and I see no challengers on the horizon. This interview was conducted through the mail at the end of May. – Scott – (Taken from Worm Gear #5)

What led you to put together SUMMONING as an alternative to your work with ABIGOR? And how do the goals of the two projects differ?

In ABIGOR all lyrics and music are created by T.T. and P.K., so I just take the role as a lead vocalist. As I’m a great fan of Tolkien’s imagined world and a fan of sword and sorcery literature generally, I wanted to do something more epic and orchestral beside the rough, fast forward and brutal BM stuff which ABIGOR represents. Beside that, I of course, as a keyboard player, wanted to put forth my own musical ideas that didn’t fit into ABIGOR. The idea of making a kind of musical translation or a kind of soundtrack to Tolkien’s Middle Earth was born, lyricaly based on the dark and destructive side of this fictive world. The music of SUMMONING became a mixture between Darkwave or Ambient music with, let’s say, melodic mid tempo Black Metal. SUMMONING is definitely no side project of ABIGOR. The band had their first demo out when ABIGOR still didn’t exist. Although the music of that time of course can’t be compared with the concept, lyrical and musical, which SUMMONING is now standing for.

I get the feeling from the music that SUMMONING is a much more personal endeavor than ABIGOR, is that a fair assumption?

As I’m not involved in the musical or lyrical process of ABIGOR I can’t speak for this band now. The musical idea behind SUMMONING is not only to get this medieval feeling many bands try to invent. There are also some meditative parts within that the listener can follow if the listener is ready to use the constant and monotonous melody lines as a key to his very innerself, to open a door to the listener’s own and individual mind world. Another aspect that is within all of the songs is this special kind of “Wanderlust” feeling. The melody lines transfer a kind of distance and space. These things had been very important in the stories of Tolkien and now they are the essence of a SUMMONING song.

The orchestration and atmosphere of the last two albums, “Minus Morgul” and “Dol Guldur”, suggests that your tastes in music go far beyond what someone might guess from the ABIGOR albums. Who are some of the artists that you enjoy?

The field of musical influences is of course a wide one, and goes from commercial dancefloor, Metal, Pop, over Industrial, Ritual, Ambient to Classical or Neo-Classical music. The bands/projects I prefer most at the moment are from the Ambient/Wave section, like STOA, SAPOR AETERNUS, LORENA MC KENNIT or SHINJUKU THIEF. But that’s, of course, a very small selection. I also got influences from old Metal bands like SACRILEGE, BATHORY (of course), CIRITH UNGOL, MANNILLA ROAD and tons of others.

int_summoning_pic1Your music is an exercise in tribute to lands and times forever dead. What is it about ancient times that you find so compelling?

The attraction of imagination of ancient times or times to come, fictive or real ones, is of course escapism of the present time reality. Nothing more, nothing less.

Tolkien’s writings and mythology are an overwhelming force in SUMMONING, what effect have his books had on your life?

The thing that makes the works of Tolkien special is his incredible imagination of a world with all those detailed cultures, landscapes, traditions, history, languages, etc. His history of Middle Earth, his tales and stories are timeless and unique. This act of creating of a mind world is , as I said, absolutely unique and for the above average thinking. When I was 15 or 16 I got in contact with his literature for the first time. First I didn’t want to read “The Lord Of The Rings” because a friend of mine had already told me the complete story, but then I gave it a try and was captured right from the beginning.

All of the albums are named after fortress’s in Tolkien’s World, what significance do you put in that, and how do you feel it represents what you want to do with the band?

As I said, the last two albums represented a musical storybook of Tolkien’s World and so the whole concept was based on it. But after the new mini CD, “Nightshade Forests” that will be released this month, we will end the Tolkien chapter. Nothing is sure of what will follow. Maybe a kind of soundtrack the great German hero epos “Das Nibelungenz Lieal” but nothing is sure yet because I’ve heard that German export article No.1, namely BLIND GUARDIAN will do something similar. So we shall see.

Each album has gotten progressively more atmospheric and synth heavy and I assume that will continue, do you ever see yourself going in a purely electronic direction?

Well the main reason for this progression is of course within Protector, the other half of SUMMONING. He gave up listening to Metal music for several years now and is heavily involved and busy within his other EBM/Wave/Industrial bands like Die Verbannten Kinder Evas, ICEAGES and some others. But nevertheless the Metal parts never will be excluded from SUMMONING’s music. Compared with other similar Metal bands just the dominance of keyboards and guitars differs, nothing more.

With Satanism and Asatru being major forces in the Black Metal scene where do stand theologically? And how do the “cosmic” elements, imagery and ideas of ABIGOR fit into that?

In opposite to ABIGOR, in SUMMONING we have kept out all religious beliefs in whatever direction ever after the first CD. SUMMONING now represents ancient tales and sagas with no simple moral of the end. That’s important, because now the listener is free to make his/her own and personal interpretation or just let the story be a story with no interpretation at all. A point that stands for it’s own, but must be said, is that all members of ABIGOR and SUMMONING are individuals. That means that everything that I say is a reflection of my very own and of course can collide with the meanings and self expressions that the other band members have. And I think these individual inputs a band is based on are the main reasons for the vital progress and development of a band. We are no cloned crowd of sheep who all act in the same way.

Nationalism is something that has found a foothold in Black Metal, and from what I understand has begun to resurge in certain parts of Europe. Is cultural preservation a priority to you, and how do you feel about the phenomenon?

A difficult question that of course can’t be answered in a few lines and as this subject has no main priority to me I won’t try it, although that doesn’t mean that I’ve no opinion at all on the subject. I see myself as a kind of lone wolf in every direction, so I would say that personal preservation is most important. That means that you keep physically and psychologically always a step away from the rest, no matter if the rest has the same national and cultural background or not. Seeing this problem from a non-personal, but social aspect the logical solution would of course be the golden way in the middle. Too much cultural mixture would lead to the death of a nation, as to be seen in ex-Yugoslavia. No mixture at all means isolation, regression and the lack of objective thinking and death in the end, as seen in Hitler’s Germany. Many scientists had to flee, because they didn’t fit into the great plan, but later on some of them invented the better weapons to destroy Germany. Everyone should have national feelings, but in reason, everything else is far away from objective reality. Objective thinking is the point that differ the individual from the non individual thinking rest.

int_summoning_pic2Do you feel there are benefits to coming from a place like Austria where the scene is small and potent as opposed to somewhere in Scandinavia where there is an enormous amount of bands but comparatively only a few that stand out?

I exactly agree with you. To have a small but creative scene that can be overlooked is the fertile soil for innovation. In other countries there is just a swamp of clones left.

Packaging and imagery is something that you appear to put a lot of focus on, how important is it for you to have the right photos and artwork in relation to the music? I think it’s something that not nearly enough bands spend the time on.

Many bands don’t waste a single thought on the packaging, or have to take the layouts the record company holds for them. But what is the result of making a good record with a bad or non-fitting cover layout. The packaging is the first thing a potential customer gets in contact with and it often settles if someone gives a try to listen to it or not. Of course the individual taste differs alot. I’m, for example, not a fan of a ten pages thick booklet or something like that, but it’s very important that the cover layout, the logo, the bandname and the title immediately gives the peole a short impression of what the bands concept is all about.

There is a mini CD that you guys have upcoming, what can you tell us about that, and when can we look for it?

The mini CD, “Nightshade Forests”, consists of four songs with a playing time of about 30 minutes. Three songs are from the “Dol Guldur” sessions, and one new song. This time we recorded in a studio in Switzerland. Musically the songs are again in a very epic melancholical and orchestral style, again, dealing for the last time with Tolkien’s Middle Earth. It will be released these days over Napalm Records.

What, beyond Tolkien, do you consider to be good film or literature?

Fantasy like, I enjoy films like the first “Beastmaster”, “Legend”, or the cartoon “Fire And Ice” although all of them are, of course, more or less thrash. And there are of course a thousand other films I enjoy watching to. An excellent non-thrash fantasy saga is the book “The Worm Ouroboros” of E.R. Eddison. He lived nearly at the same time as Tolkien and even Tolkien was a fan of his.

What do you do to occupy your time when you’re not working on music?

I have a full time job here in Vienna working at a record store, being responsible for the metal section that is the biggest of Austria. Beside that I’ve to answer mail (which is shooting away incredible much time.) Whenever I get time I flee into the countryside training away my beer belly. Otherwise I just hang around.

That’s all I have, I genuinely believe that you guys are doing some of the strongest work in the Black Metal scene, and I wish you continued success. Do you have anything that you’d like to add?

No, not of the moment, thanks for the interview

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~ by scottsplatter on January 11, 2009.

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