In April 2009, we met the legendary SATYRICON drummer, Frost, and tried to use our 15 minutes in the most productive way possible. Frost was great company: perfectly polite, extremely intelligent, and very talkative – something any journalist would be happy about. Narrowing his eyes every now and then like a cat and looking more like a model than of a stereotypical metalhead, Frost commented on the recent changes in the band’s life and told us everything he had on his mind about those infamous black metal stereotypes.
You have changed the band logo for the latest album, The Age of Nero. What were the reasons for that?
Satyr and I are very interested in aesthetics. We both find it to be a fascinating thing and we both think it’s an important part of our band. We play a type of music that is very visual. So, all the visual aspects of the band have to be kept at a high level. The logo was a little bit unbalanced – it was a little bit heavy on the right side, so there was potential to improve it. When I saw the new logo, I immediately thought that it was an improved version of the old one. I didn’t really look for details that were changed and what was done – they were minor improvements, but the logo became better and was more neatly balanced. So, the new logo feels the same as the old one, just better and more harmonic in a way.
You have recently parted the ways with your bass player. Do you at all (as a band) feel uncomfortable with such frequent lineup changes?
We would feel more uncomfortable if we had to keep up with this situation. Victor was a very good bass player for SATYRICON and it was a very good cooperation for us for as long as it lasted. But it was also very obvious that he felt himself a little bit uncomfortable in his role, being just a bass player, because he also wanted to be a creative member of the band, so he couldn’t unfold in the way he wanted to. He enjoyed playing bass in SATYRICON a lot, his style was great, but we came to the point where it wasn’t really enough for him. He started showing severe signs of the wrong attitude. He had probably been frustrated about the situation for months. It was the time to end the cooperation. It was bad, but it is just something that can happen when you have a band like that. We have dealt with that before, we are dealing with it now, and we will deal with it in future if necessary. SATYRICON will go on and the position will be filled with a musician who will become permanent member of the band. It won’t be a lasting problem.
SATYRICON had done a US tour with CRADLE OF FILTH at the beginning of the year. How did you like it?
Touring with CRADLE OF FILTH in America was a very good thing for SATYRICON at this point. We haven’t toured America since 2004 and we really want to re-launch the band there. It’s not possible for SATYRICON at this point to go and play our own headlining tour there. Clubs wouldn’t pay us money because they are not familiar with SATYRICON anymore. In America, 5 years is a very long break. It’s not like in Europe where SATYRICON is a household name in the entire live scene. So we needed to do this to get the band back on track, to fight to reclaim the recognition, and with a band like CRADLE OF FILTH, which is well-established in the American metal market, it is much easier. Moreover, together we created a kind of a power package because we partly draw the same kind of audience and partly different audiences. Both bands have such a strong following so that they both can benefit from it. For SATYRICON, it was very rewarding to get to play for the CRADLE OF FILTH crowd, who seemed to like SATYRICON a lot, even though the people weren’t really exposed to us before. Now we know that lots of people who didn’t know SATYRICON before would come to see our own headlining tour this fall.
By the way, back to 2004, during your American tour the SATYRICON touring musicians had gotten accusations of rape. Does it mean that the old rock ‘n’ roll cliche of “sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll” is also valid for black metal bands?
Not to us, anyway.
You are iconic figures in the black metal scene, but now musically you’ve stepped aside from the path where you started. What do you think nowadays about the stereotypical use of makeup and nicknames by black metal bands?
I think that the use of these elements has to be done with care and consciousness. In SATYRICON, this thing is not going to happen anymore because it’s not how this band functions. We used the full range of corpse paint, leather, spikes, and bullet belts, while we felt it was bringing integrity to our style. It was the kind of expression that we felt was stylistically right and was personally close to each band member. And we designed everything ourselves. The style that we have these days is the style that suits SATYRICON at this point, that suits the “Age of Nero” style. It’s stripped out, it’s very somber, it allows us to feel like a rock ‘n’ roll band. It’s a good environment for the dark elements in our music. Having this kind of simple black, somber look, just underlined eyes, it helps us to back up the wide range of moods and atmospheres in our music. Spikes and corpse paint are good when they are used properly, but it is also important for us not to use them now because so many bands are using these things. We would like to stay away from this generalization.
You have been on stage for quite a while – what sides of show business do you think create obstacles in the way of musicians?
That’s a huge theme there. There are mechanisms that can work for or against anybody, regardless of what type of music it is. If there are any kinds of obstacles that are really hard for us to deal with, they are connected to how the black metal genre is being viewed in a larger context. It’s obvious that we have to work with people outside of this genre and outside of the metal genre at large, most of whom will have this pretty fixed idea of what metal is about as a whole. They would feel like there is no potential for expansion or anything. For instance, when we play festivals and such, we will get meaningless spots because it’s like secondary material, they think that some kids out there like metal, so let’s bring some metal bands to this festival. Those bands will never get treated with respect or understanding at all. They will never be understood at all for their musical qualities. It’s just a metal band to get metal people to come there also. It’s really stupid and low understanding of the whole thing, and that’s an obstacle. And the kind of people who traditionally work with metal bands often have very low understanding of the mechanisms at work, that’s a big obstacle. Because there are so many crooks that are being drawn to the whole business and they think that metal bands are really easy to exploit. They will never understand if there is money missing at the end of the tour and they will accept whatever comes their way as long as they get to tour, as long as they get their beer, they can have their fair share of funds, they will ask for nothing more. It’s really difficult to come be ambitious, elitist people like us that really want something more and that see themselves as artists on a larger scale. You have to face all these limitations that metal bands are plagued with.
What is the biggest possible sacrifice that you are ready to make in the name of music?
I am basically sacrificing my health for this, as simple as that, and dedicating my life to it. There haven’t been any sacrifices that I could do in order to give a better contribution that I haven’t done yet. So I am ready to give more and the rest of us are as well.
Interview by Victoria Maksimovich
Interview with messier — “There’s only three of us, so we have to make it count and get the sound as big as we can.”