Behemoth

                                  Interview with Nergal

                                      By John Haseltine

                                              May 2005

 


 

Polish extreme metal kings have done it again. This time around with the monumental release 'Demigod'. I had a chance to catch up with founder/frontman , Nergal , who are currently finishing up the second leg of their U.S. tour with King Diamond. Nergal talks about the thrills of their basically new found power in the U.S. market. As well as a few other things I was curious about.

JH: First off, give us a brief history of the band.

N: Well I formed the band in Ď91. Weíve seven albums and ĎDemigodí is our brand new record. There have been several line-up changes you know. Thereís just too much details to go into right now and thereís no time. Yes , but . Yes thatís very breif.

JH: Yes it was. Thatís cool. So youíve been on this leg of the tour for a couple of weeks now, how well has it been going?

N: Very good. Itís been very good. It seems like weíre really stepping up. Itís getting better and better. And from being a totally unknown band like in 2003, which was like the first album we came over here for and now itís like a huge difference. Itís just getting better and better now. Itís great. Iím happy. Weíre just working hard trying to build a solid fan base here in the U.S. The record is selling like crazy for us. Weíve already gone over 10,000 copies now in 3 months. Which is great results for such an extreme music.

JH: Glad to hear that. Now back in Jan. & Feb. you were here with Suffocation. Are you noticing a larger turnout for Behemoth this time around? Where as before was much more of an introduction to the band.

N: Yea, yea. I am noticing that. I can see that. On this tour we can see the difference. We can see that something has developed. Even since the Suffocation tour. That tour was more underground tour and audience. And with King Diamond we get to be introduced to a much more mainstream audience.

JH: King Diamond may be a little more well know, but still just as underground as the next.

N: Yes very true. But still I remember this couple from Orlando, or Baltimore. Both we like 45 or something. And they said they were never into this kind of music, but after seeing us live became fans. Than a few days later I got an e-mail from them. This is what I find very refreshing about our band. In the U.S. there are so many people you can reach. And theyíre totally, theyíve never heard of the band. And for us, have a 13 years is a long history, is very refreshing. If you know hat I mean.

JH: I suppose I do.

N: You know in Europe, weíre this legendary band. A heavy hitter. And itís cool to come here and be the newcomer. Nobody really knows you and are like, WOW!!!.

JH: Yea, Satyr (Satyricon), mentioned that in an interview I did with him back in December.

N: Yea, yea. So I think it might actually lengthen the life of the band because we feel a new power coming. Itís cool.

JH: Can you tell us a bit about the new record, íDemigodí.

N: Well, itís massive, crushing. Itís pretty much everything that this band is all about. The title speaks for itself. The whole music, the whole concept talks about non-compromise. A non-compromising approach towards life, towards people, towards all surroundings. Itís full of history, full of emotions. Itís pretty much anything all mixed up together. This is Behemoth. What can I say. Get through the lyrics and make up your own mind for yourself. Get inspired. I donít want to try to explain what all the songs are about, you know. I can give you a few key words. What this record is to me. And just listen to this and tell me if you agree or not. I better like this discussing this way.

JH: How would you say it compares or differs to that of your last release?

N: Itís faster. Itís more intense. More insane, more diverse, more technical. We pretty much put all the elements on this record that we had on our last, only we improved on them. There are some really slow parts like on the song Ď The Reign Ov Shemsu-Horí , the closing song. Which is a mantle epic. Itís just huge, you know. And we had these kind of tracks on the last, but it was just to push every way. To push much further. Which makes this record more, professional?

JH: What was it that first intrigued you into playing such extreme metal?

N: I just came to the point by experience. I started off with the traditional heavy metal, forming my first band when I was 8 or 9. With my friends. We played like regular heavy metal band. Then we got into thrash, death metal. But then I found that black metal was more refreshing thing. So I wanted to form my own band. Behemoth has been extreme since day one. Every record shows that we get more and more extreme. Which is cool I think. There are so many bands out there that soften their sound. I hate that. We keep the band honest. And straight forward. Day by day. Faster and more technical.

JH: Now in the early days Behemoth were primarily a black metal band. Than you seemed to progress more towards a death metal sound.

N: Well itís all about labeling really donít like that.

JH: Where does Behemoth fit in? Extreme?

N: You know, when you talk about Slayer, you would never consider them as a thrash metal band. You know what I mean? Even though they are the definition of thrash metal. But nobody considers them as,ÖSlayer is just Slayer. Nobody even tries to think about where to put Slayer now. You know? They just fuckiní slay anyone.

JH: Since day one they always have.

N: Yes they have. And thatís what I try to maintain with our band. Just to be a trademark itself. We donít want to follow this or that path. I like people to say oh yea, thereís Behemoth trademarks, vocals and guitars. Iím not saying I hate originality, I hate that word. I donít believe in anything like that in music. Seems after The Beatles, nothing was original. They were like the first real rock band. Then it was like getting some more distortion and double bass. And thatís it. But still, itís all about putting things together in a different configuration. And, itís what we do. We just try to sound like Behemoth. You can say we sound like death metal and Iíd be fine with that. Thrash metal, whatever. Just listen to the song off the new record ,íConquer Allí, it has some pure heavy metal influences in it. But than again, itís extreme. The vocals are massive. They strike you right here.

JH: Seems just about ten years ago, it was all just heavy metal.

N: Yes. Even the bands who were not heavy metal.

JH: Now with most bands fighting to remain vital in their extreme metal scenes, Behemoth seem to do it very effortlessly. What do you attribute this to?

N: I donít know.

JH: Was that a trick question?

N: Yea, yea that was tricky. Give me another one. Iím sorry.

JH: Thatís okay. What sort of things inspire your lyrical writing?

N: Iíve got this universal answer. Itís life man. A lot of guys are like, yea I read this book. And thatís good and all. But through growing up and maturing, Iím pretty sure that itís just all about life. Enjoying life. Experiencing life. And transporting this experience through the music. Thatís kinda how I see things. Thatís what Behemoth is all about. Behemoth is all about my life. And if you ask any of these guys theyíll say yea we tried to bring in a different spirit, our spirit you know, into the songs, but you know thatís what the band is about.

JH: So youíre the primary song writer?

N: Yea. I give the idea of how the songs should sound like.

JH: Into any other side projects?

N: No. I donít have the fuckiní time. Behemoth takes up 99% of my time.

JH: I also hear youíre fairly well educated? College degrees, museum curator ship. You ever consider going into one of those lines of work?

N: No, no. thatís too boring. Iíve got to be doing this. I need to be traveling. I love to be on the road. Lack off sleep and shitty food. You canít beat it. Although House of Blues has the best food yet. Today we were all joking why we came for 20 minute sets. And now I know, for a good dinner! (laughing) The food here is fucking awesome.

JH: Now on a personal level, are your beliefs in Satanism true? Or are they geared towards the genre of music you play? What is you stance on religion?

N: You know, itís pretty universal. Itís like a 3-dimensional thing. So, I see things on several different levels. Itís not that weíre satanic for the sake of being satanic. Satanism is more like being ,

JH: Are you looking to explain the Anton Szandor LaVey writings? If so I understand those.

N: No. As I said before, I donít like labeling things or myself. Or categorize a certain genre. Iím sorry for the Christians cause they already did it. Being Satanic is just being on a secular level. Having a discussion with certain kind of people. With my friends and people who are spiritual in connection, we donít really speak on a Satanic level. We are far above that. We donít need to do that. Satanism is more or less like a weapon. And itís very material. Itís so much easier to live the satanic way just so you can deal with the people of the world.

JH: I couldnít agree with you more.

N: I would say itís sort of a way of respect to ourselves. Our nature. Our listings.

JH: A lot of people donít understand the philosophy behind it.

N: Yea I know. Thatís what I mean. They misinterpret the words to vandalism or such. People just donít understand. Itís very individual and itís a very material thing. So thatís how I see things. Satanism is a weapon. Or a tool to make your life easier for the here and now. Thatís just one of the levels I deal with. You know there are probably thousands of levels though. Thatís just to put it in short.

JH: Whatís up next for Behemoth?

N: After this tour we are flying to Guatemala to do one show. Iím really excited about it. Because I already did a tour in South America and Central America. I found myself very excited about these countries. They donít get much metal, so itís cool to go there. Then we are going to open for Iron Maiden in Poland, weíll do some of the summer festivals. Then in September weíll be starting another tour in Europe, ah 32 dates or so, with Hate Eternal co-headling, then weíll take a few days break and weíre flying back to America , 2 weeks lined up in Canada. Then weíre opening up for a huge death metal band,Ö I canít remember their name, itíll be like one month again. Then another tour in Europe. It will end up about 230 shows for this record. And then itís gonna be it. I donít like just sitting around waiting for miracles to happen. Iíve got to keep busy. Youíve got to help yourself in life in order to get some more splendor. I donít like my boys to get bored .

JH: Otherwise they might stray.

N: Oh yea. Thatís the way we are.

JH: Well thatís about all Iíve got. Is there anything youíd like to add?

N: Thank you very much for coming to the show. Thanks for the supporting the music and attitude. Thank you. Iím very thankful for that. Letís keep the metal around. Stay strong.

 

 

 

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