|Archive | Interviews | Legacy Magazine Germany - January 2007|
Alan, how are you? – Ready for this intense interview? To start
with, I'd like you to tell us about the current activities of
- I’m fine. Ready as I can be. Slowly but surely we are trying to put together a new album, there are loads of ideas thankfully and a lot of great sounding ones however the distances we now live apart, strange working hours and other family stuff make it hard for us to get together often to rehearse. However complications and hassle are nothing new for Primordial. There will be a new album in 2007…apart from that we are preparing a few festivals and weekends away here and there as we can and trying to sort something to play in America as well. Also the possibility of vinyl split releases with both Desaster and Rotting Christ as well….
When can we expect a new album, are there any new songs written? Will you continue to co-operate with Metal Blade?
- Yes we will continue with Metal Blade, they treat us well. They are not liars and cheats in a world of them. So as long as they don’t make me eat my words and we can sell more then a bagful of cds it should be fine o). as I said before there are many ideas we just need to find the time and space to complete them.
In which way will you develop your style?
- I don’t know really, we don’t think about it, we have our style. We don’t make the same album all the time but each is recognisable as Primordial. This album might be a little longer, have some more acoustics, also some very fast parts and at least so far to my ears more epic and metal sounding…things can change though, who can tell….til we are finished in the studio.
Will you add some Black-Metal-alike shouting as well as you did in the past or will you continue to only using clear vocals?
- there will always be some black vocals in there, you need light and shade. Ill continue with the various styles I’ve developed over the years. Maybe I can find another one to add into the mix, we shall see.
All of the members of PRIMORDIAL got a very varied bunch of influences, but all of you seem to worship old, traditional Metal. In which way does the song writing of old 80s Metal bands influence your way of song writing?
- well we grew up with our metal then as young teenagers so those bands had the biggest influence upon us, what we took from many of those bands was their character. I think bands then were more individual, in virgin territory and more likely to try and find their own tone, their own sound. Also the attention to creating something memorable and lasting, how many albums do you play now that afterwards you couldn’t tell the songs apart or remember anything from ?.
On your website you hail Quorthon as well as Bon Scott, so why did you especially hail those two legends? Hehe, my comrade told me that AC/DC in a certain way is an influence of PRIMORDIAL as well…
- sure of course, AC/DC is a huge influence on all of us, we can do a cool medley in rehearsal. Might surprise some people who knows, but its one of the few bands we all agree on and of course a tour bus staple. Just a real band, playing real music…no bullshit. Like we try to…and I guess Quorthon doesn’t need saying anymore.
And what about Phil Lynott`s immortal legacy, have you ever thought about doing a Thin Lizzy cover version?
- Of course, another band we all to varying degrees love as well. Ok they have a few bad tracks on most albums but when they get it right there are few rock bands better then them. Phil was a tragic character but was much loved for his generosity and larger then life personality and what he brought to Ireland in dark and poor times. He was as Dublin as you could get !…We thought about it once or twice but it would seem to much of a cliché to be honest.
What`s your favourite brand of whiskey and what have been the most curious situations after having consumed too much of this drink, hehe?
- Fuck, there’s a question. I think my favourite is Jamesons Irish Whiskey. Im not too fond of Scots actually but generally will drink anything. Although one of my resolutions for this year is to treat my body better so less drinking is part of that. Situations ?…so many curious and often stupid situations I’m not sure even where to start with them. So I wont and leave them to myth o)
Alright, let`s leave the profane realms right now: Is it right to say that PRIMORDIAL plays Pagan Metal? I mean, I personally think that this banner fits best to your sound, you`re not Black, you`re not Death, you´re not (that) Epic, you`re not Viking…considering both, music and lyrics, I think the words “Pagan Metal” would describe your sound best, contrary to all those wannabe-fun-Folk/Black-Metal-kids that always use the same patterns and melodies over and over again…
- well really that’s something I prefer to leave to journalists. Personally I think any classification like that limits what we do, the band is about far more then paganism, and I think that has far too many romantic and mythological connotations for me, we have no desire to live in the past…we live in the here and now and Primordial is as far from fantasy as you can get. So a track like the Golden Spiral is about relating to the elements around you and for me could be called pure Pagan Metal, but its one part of an album, of a theme that is much more.
What bands would fit to the genre Pagan Metal, is there any “scene” or is there just an opaque bunch of different people with similar ideologies / thoughts?
- Hard to say really, I guess any band who has some passing attachment to their culture, history, folklore and mythology. I don’t know if there really is a scene as you call it, I guess on a basic level there is a groundswell movement of people towards this kind of music right now and if it brings them more in touch with nature and their culture then that is positive. Musically I don’t know at all…I don’t feel any affinity with hardly any of it, its all too jolly and happy, portraying some mythical world of muscle bound warriors sitting around drinking mead and chasing buxom wenches. I’ve better and more important things to be writing about. That’s the difference, we are inspired by the blood and tragedy of our past and the lessons we can learn, the echoes it has in the modern age, we are writing about real things. Seems nowadays Pagan Metal passes for most peoples drinking metal, its just another fantasy like Rhapsody or power metal. Not for me…my drinking music is AC/DC, I’d rather listen to Funeral Mist and my idea of hell is a Finntroll encore o) sorry guys o)
Can Pagan Metal / “pagan lifestyle” be reduced to some sort of ideology at all?
- I’ve met people who are devoted to this kind of music who dress the part, live in the woods and study herbalism or what have you and for them it definitely seems to be. I guess it really depends on what level you want to take it to or what you want to take from it. If you can use the music in a positive way to relate to where you came from, your history, culture etc. and it can inspire you to make some kind of change within yourself and around you then good and well. As for breaking it down to some kind of ideology ?…respect yourself, love those worth loving, don’t waste time on hating what doesn’t need hating, use your rage for change, treat mother nature like you are part of it not opposed to it, support your family, keep tradition alive and try and find yourself in this fucked up dark world…sound like a manifesto ?…o).
By the way, what is this certain “pagan lifestyle” at all, can it be realised in nowadays´ society at all? I personally think we`ve moved too far away from our real origins, there`s no possibility to escape from this Western society…
- of course like I said most of is wishful thinking and fantasy and realising we don’t live 2000 years ago is part the problem, however what does pagan mean ?…it’s a roman word and means land dweller. In modern terms a farmer. I don’t think we could say there is any kind of definitive pagan ideology as such but the language of the old peoples and their gods is often strikingly similar and can have a deep resonance in the modern age you just need to take what you can from it and apply it in modern society where and when you can. Now what that is and how it speaks to you is always different, you just have to be open to it…
Do you know ways to escape from Western society´s needs and moral principles?
- just fall asleep and dream I think might be the only answer…that or live in the middle of absolute nowehere. It’ll find you sooner or later though.
Does musical escapism and revolutionary thoughts fit together with recording albums for big, commercial labels?
- interesting. Well firstly primordial is not about escapism. Ok some people might use the bands music and message to try and escape the modern world but its not necessarily intended that way. Primordial is not fantasy. We want to meet the modern world not sidestep it. From my point of view with metal blade after all the shit we had gone through with our previous labels and in my opinion never getting the respect we deserved we decided for once to go with something bigger and see how it turned out. They never place any restrictions on us music wise, art wise, content wise. They trust us to make something real. We give it to them as complete as we are able. Sure there are always flaws but we aren’t striving for the tedious self perceived sonic perfection most bands seem to. Metal blade release it. Some people buy it. Ok not tens of thousands of people but well enough in to five figures to keep someone somewhere happy enough to want us to make another album. We aren’t a normal band an I guess many of the things we write about and compose are what you could call revolutionary in metal terms but we as always don’t analyse it too much.
I know that you`ve sometimes problems when you play big shows as i.e. the German “Ragnarök” festival together with acts such as i.e. Korpiklaani and Equilibrium, to gather fans for your mighty, melancholic, sad, dark and heavy music. I mean, the ordinary visitor of such events wants to raise his drinking horns by listening to happy melodies of some “original Vikings”, drinking Met and celebrating… PRIMORDIAL must be some kind of “culture shock” for these people, hehe, although I think that you play music that is much more connected to the roots hilarious groups such as i.e. Finntroll rely to… I mean, you got much more substance and you`re much more sincere, there`s no childish entertainment so to say… What do you think about this situation?
-sure I totally agree and honestly the fact that we divided the crowd. Some loved us and loved us more fiercely then the other bands and others were simply bored or couldn’t relate to us for the simple fact that we aren’t a glorified drinking band. I don’t feel any affinity with that kind of music, to me its no different to rhapsody or something like that. If you want fantastical tales about myths that never existed wrapped up in jolly chord progressions, something easy to headbang to then that’s fine. I know primordial isn’t for everyone. However if you want to hear something dark, challenging, gritty and pure, the sorrow of a people, the unconquerable human spirit in the face of oppression and adversity then we are here also. And will remain so. Besides which highway to hell is much fuckin better to drink to. However I’m good friends with some of the Finntroll guys actually and many of those bands and those guys are genuinely into their myth and culture and celebrating drinking seems to be a massive part of old Finnish culture and there is often a dark humour to a band like Finntroll, but not understanding the lyrics doesn’t help people. However I’m not sure if people want help, as you say its all one big party and for example at Ragnarok we most definitely spoilt the party for some people and personally I enjoy that. I would rather provoke reactions of extreme love for the band or loathing. This humpa happy pagan metal is the new big thing, fine and well but it won’t be remembered for anything in musical terms in 10 years.
What I really like concerning PRIMORDIAL is the fact that all of your live shows are something special, there`s always something unexpected happening (perhaps also due to consuming good ol` Whiskey before, hehe) and no song sounds the same as on your records. This is, as I think, also one of the reasons why a band should play live. I mean, it doesn`t make a sense if every song sounds the same as on the album, I also could have stayed at home instead listening to the records. PRIMORDIAL is one of the very few exceptions these days, which makes the whole live situation much more interesting, I think… Do you long for this more “real” live impression, do you personally also love bands that sound live different to the studio works?
- Of course. That’s the point. I want something real…real people pouring their hearts out, their blood and sweat out onstage. We mean what we say and say what we mean. Sure we aren’t the most professional band, we never will be its not the Irish way. I think the sometimes chaotic angle is natural for us. Its just the way things are sometimes. Personally I admit to sometimes being right on the edge when we play live. Anything can happen. That’s part of what makes us primordial.
What do you prefer, live shows or studio work?
- generally I hate the studio so…I find it boring and tiring and stressful so most definitely live work.
Let`s return to the subject “Pagan Metal”: Did you also recognise a growth of followers for this particular music style during the last years? I mean, the style “Pagan Metal” was already used when describing a band like i.e. In The Woods, but this was years before the actual “trend”…
- yeah and skyclad for example before that, they were perhaps the first band using the imagery most bands do now, but yeah I ve noticed a big shift in the underground and overground towards bands who are banded together by journalists as pagan metal. You can see bands like turisas getting huge now and on a smaller scale bands like skyforger spreading further and further. Sure it’s a trend. Most popular things are, but if it makes some people perhaps think for a moment, question their roots then it has to be positive. How much people want to do that or as I said before have something to enjoy at a festival then forget about is up to them. This is a dark dark world though and I cant blame them for wanting to forget it for a while. I however cant, you could say I m a driven man…
What do you think are the differences between Viking, Epic, Folk and Pagan Metal?
- I don’t know, I mean epic metal could be manowar or virgin steele, solstice, doomsword for example. Folk metal conjures up for me horrible images of jolly gigs and reels but I guess it could even mean something like empyrium. Viking ?. I think thyrfing, falkenbach, enslaved bands like that. Pagan metal…I think of skyforger, obtest and bands like that. I don’t really know nor honestly care too much about the definitions. That’s up to you guys. Right now im listening to steve von till and I would recommend that !!!
Don`t you feel that this commercial overkill of all what is “Pagan” or “Viking” slowly kills a once healthy scene?
- I don’t know really, what is healthy. Is it being underground and selling 1200 cds ?. no matter how big primordial gets. Which is more then likely as big as we are now the music will not change nor be compromised. I will not dilute my message or compromise my attitudes. And the more people it can reach the better as far as I am concerned. The metal scene needs bands like us challenging the status quo, coming from left field. Of course its natural when you love a scene and have been part of it for years it can be disheartening to see people enter it you don’t think have the same commitment or passions. Who knows what can happen in the future though…I don’t bother with scenes. If there isn’t one create your own, if you find its getting too out of hand for you, don’t let it ruin your love of the music.
What acts do you think carry on the heathen / pagan tradition best nowadays?
- hard to say. I think skyforger are doing an exceptional job. Coming from an underdog country like we do. Having to fight for the attention of all the Viking obsessed metal fans isn’t easy o) !. there are many bands and people I ve met who are doing something pure and honest. Personally I guess I find Neurosis to be the almost perfect embodiment of something primal, visceral and pagan. The eye of every storm pulls me to pieces every time I hear it…
What are your personal influences concerning the music / lyrics of PRIMORDIAL? I mean, there`s much to discover in your sound / texts, I just think of i.e. (traditional) Metal, Folk music, Hard Rock, epic stuff, literature, history and myths of your home country….
- I really couldn’t define it. It can be anything. Something I ve read or seen on tv even. A film, something someone says to me passing. Meeting people, travelling, relating to what’s around me, trying to interpret it my own way. I don’t think about the words being in primordial when I write them, I just have to write them down. There are so many things that affect and move me I can’t really say what they are. Lately I’ve been inspired by more political things, the middle east, peoples further alienation from each other. I have a very dark world view and I cannot escape that, when it comes out it comes out, through my lyrics, onstage.
Do you still manage to visit some old Celtic monuments in Ireland or is touring with PRIMORDIAL more important to you at the moment?
- I live in the city. Of nearly 2 million people. I don’t drive. I study. I don’t find much time to do anything like that. I admit I haven’t seen as much of Ireland as I would like, this may sound strange but I feel my time will come soon to see as much as I can. Getting out of the city is important, it drags you down, I just don’t get to do it as often as I would like.
What do you think are the best places to visit in Ireland and why?
- I think the Boyne Valley is important, its in co. meath and contains the hill of tara, newgrange and many other megalithic tombs. Historically the seat of the ancient high kings of Ireland. From a pagan perspective this is a very important area. Of course the irish government want to build a motorway through this. Typical. There are so many areas, the ring of kerry, the cliffs of moher, the giants causeway etc….
What books can be recommended when interested readers want a sincere, true source for ancient pagan / Celtic traditions? There`s many literal rubbish floating around these days…
- honestly I wouldn’t know, nearly everything I read lately is political in some way. I’m not the most spiritual person in the world and I think one of the others could best answer this question. Apart from the fact that finding a sincere honest source for something that was only written down by Christians is difficult and problematic. You might be better reading something about W.B Yeats for example.
To what extent do you believe is there something left of the Celtic legacy of your home country in nowadays´ Irish society?
- I don’t know, what is a Celt ?. a fractured and widely spread group of tribes on the furthest outposts of Europe ?. there seems to be a celtic spirit within the people who originate from these places but I don’t know how much of that is modern romantic myth and the fact that people love the beautiful losers. The celts. Our pagan history has generally been a lucrative source of income with regards to our tourism industry and remains so, but Ireland was far more defined by things like emigration, famine, civil war, rebellion, oppression, the catholic church, immigration, the arts – writers, poets etc.
Just mention three words that you spontaneously connect when I ask you to think of the heart of your home country Ireland...?
- sorrow, blood and spirit
What is the difference between a “healthy pride” concerning your origins and patriotism / nationalism / fanaticism?
- its natural in the face of modern corporate society, one which seeks to make you one homogenous consumer. Stripping you of your culture, rewriting your history without opposition. Multinational governments treating people like they do not exist. Old wounds will re open, people will fiercely embrace their identity, alienated from each other because they feel they have no voice anymore. Pushed over the edge of the abyss by the media. I don’t know what is or isn’t healthy anymore, I don’t know what there is to save, what is too late, what isn’t. I’m as confused and angry as anyone else. I don’t have the answers but I have many questions. We are entering a new era of perpetual war, a real life 1984. hold on to what you can…
Please correct me, if I`m wrong, but you did never write a song text about one of Ireland`s greatest sons, James Joyce… - What are the reasons for this?
- no I didn’t write anything about him. The hosting of the sidhe the last track on storm before calm is one of his poems.
What about a concept album about the “Ulyssees” or “Finnegan`s Wake”, hehe…?
- a concept album about Ulysses ?. do you know what that book is about ?. I don’t think so.
What are realms you intent to explore lyrically on future PRIMORDIAL outputs?
- I’ve written a lot. Its hard to say there is so much to take inspiration from. Some people find them too dark and difficult but there are moments of light and hope in them. I haven’t decided on a theme for the new album, I’m tying them all up at the moment. Who knows perhaps ill meet a girl, she can dump me and I can write some emo lyrics…
Is there any Irish myth you personally like best? If yes, please tell us this story, grandpa, hehe…!
- I don’t know if there is one I prefer more then others. There are so many. The sons of tureen or Deirdre and the sons of uisneach. Too long for me to tell the tale, which I know is what you want me to do but these days I cant switch off at all. I think im going insane, you might hear it on the next primordial album….
Alright, that`s all for now, I guess. Hope the questions weren`t too boring, hehe… Thanks for your time and hope to meet you soon (perhaps on a tour with my band Anael, hehe)? Please close this interview with a quote from a famous Irish author that expresses your way of thinking best!
The Second Coming by W.B Yeats
Turning and turning in the widening gyreThe falcon cannot hear the falconer;Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhereThe ceremony of innocence is drowned;The best lack all convictions, while the worstAre full of passionate intensity.
© 2005 Primordial
Site designed by Justin