In The Woods... melder at det skjer ting blant trærne og stubbene.
James driver på med prosjektet sitt, som han har gjort lenge. Nå kjenner de fleste ham fra In The Woods..., men parallelt slipper han musikk med Ewigkeit. Og sisteskiva han kom med imponerte stort, faktisk sa vel jeg at denne var hakket mer innovativ og spennende å følge gjennom spilletiden enn siste Woods. Jeg har hatt dette intervjuet liggende en tid, men grunnet litt rock'n roll i livet mitt er det litt på overtid, men fortsatt veldig aktuelt og like bra musikk.
Les hele anmeldelsen av albumet HER .
First I wanna welcome you to Heavymetal.no, though you have been here earlier (In The Woods...) this is the first time with your main band Ewigkeit. So, a very warm welcome :)
"Thanks Yngve - I really appreciate the support for my ongoing music adventrues and experimentation."
Ewigkeit, I know some of the background for you chooising the german-ish name, but for those not familiar with the story, whats the meaning and why?
"When I was 16, I was looking for a name for the project which I had recorded some demo tracks for - I picked up my parent's English Oxford dictionary, and was searching for something similar to Emperor (the In The Nightside eclipse album had recently come out and had made a great impression on me). Low and behold I came across this word Ewigkeit. What it was doing in the English dictionary, I dont know, but it's meaning is eternity or into the ether - the same as the Norwegian evighet. The German origin of the name didnt really matter to me ; I thought the cool ethereal meaning was perfect and i figured that so many European bands from non-English speaking countries were using English names, why did it matter?"
I remember the band from the Land Of Fog-album back when we shared a label (Metal Age prod), and I remember getting along with your material. But through the years you've done a lot of songs, not all of did it for me, but the general attitude I feel is you doing whatever pleases you, not letting any outside source trying to influence the band and its music. Or was the Earache album a little like that? They wanted you to do something else to please a market?
"No - I've always just created music that I felt I wanted to do. So, when I started, Ewigkeit was very much inspired by the Black Metal style of Norwegian bands. By the 3rd album (Land of Fog) I was listening more to Hawkwind, Pink Floyd and Deep Purple - so I mashed that up with my previous sound. By the way ; that album was recorded in 2000-2001 - but didnt see the light of day for another 2 years - I had completely fallen out of love with metal at the time and life circumstances were chaotic for a few years. When it was finally released, the feedback was pretty positive, so I dusted the project off and recorded Radio UIxtlan as a follow-up.
About a week before Metal Age prod. were going to press the CDs, I had an email from Digby (who I had given the demos to a few months before). He had been listening to it non-stop, but didnt have my email address - luckily he tracked it down and we were able to release it on Earache instead. it's raw as hell, but thats what he wanted to release.
Earache don't really tell their bands what to do - they're not big enough. I think that kind of cynical manipulation occurs at the level of the likes of Nuclear Blast and Roadrunner. What Digby of Earache did say is to try and create the best album I could, and I saw this as a chance to broaden my horizons with Conspiritus. It was mixed by John Fryer and the artwork was great - it should have been far more successful, but unfortunately it didn't fit into the ideal of the minons Earache who actually do the work - the result was extremely poor half-hearted promotion. I think it still sounds fresh today."
Ewigkeit is a one man band, always been, are you a incredible difficult person to work with? :)
"Ha - no, this is basically because I just have a niche music taste which isn't particularly fashionable or shared by the trendy scenesters from where you mostly recruit musicians from. Saying that, I have been at the receiving end of some pretty unbelievable behavior over the years working in music - it always reaffirms to me that if you wan't to create something personal, then it's best to do this by yourself.
With In The Woods..., we have a shared vision of what it is that we want to create - it's very much a communal and democratic thing. This is the first time I have experienced such a healthy artistic relationship in a group of musicians - and it's because the focus is about being creative. I have been involved with other bands over the years where it is basically one dictator telling everyone else what to do. And that isn't my idea of fun or the best environment to create in. The fact that I'm completely unwilling to be the kind of person who orders other people what to do has meant that any live bands I have put together have run into the situation where someone else erroneously sees a sort of power vacum and trie to fill it. Just because I am not willing to treat others badly, it doesnt mean I am willing to be treated that way. There are a hell of a lot of socially inept musicians around - i've met my fair share over the years !"
Some kind of fast food biography of the musical life og Mr Fog; how did it all start?
"Picked up the electric guitar aged 13, and had about a year of private lessons. By 15 I had done a few local metal bands and gigs (briefly mainstream stuff, then briefly death metal). As I discovered Black Metal, I wanted to creat that - but there were literally about 4 or 5 people listening to that in my town back in the mid 90s, and none of them were musicians. I did play the drums at the time, but I didnt own a kit and it was too noisy to rehearse & record at my parents place - so, in order to create the music I wanted, I had to recruit a crude keyboard to programme the drums & keys. I recorded some ultra crude demos, and sent out about 50 home-dubbed demo tapes. Eventually I was offered a deal by a new Black Metal sub-label of a reactivated NEAT records , and from that point the biography is in my musical output since.
I've done a huge variety of music over the last 20 years - from obscure Black Metal through to contributing tracks to a Hollywood film soundtrack to remixing mainstream pop. However, it became clear that inorder to really succeed enough to live from music, you need to keep climbing a very slippery pole whilst being assailed by sicophants, backstabbers and general bastards. That's not the reason I started creating music, so I am now happy these days to work under my own rules and do what music I want when I want, whilst simultaneously live a normal life of 9-5 employment in a soul-destroying job like most other people in the world. Staying creative is the best antidote I know to the meaningless existence of modern western life."
'The Cosmic Man' is a great album, I really fell for it, and can easily picture myself playing through it a lot even after the reviewing rounds were done. Today thats a gift, to make stuff outliving the period people plays an album before skipping to the next. A disease. Thoughts?
"I personally couldn't review music fairly. It takes me a hell of a long time to appreciate new stuff. I mean - at least 10 listens over a period of time. Also, I am really turned off stuff that is surround by hyperbole and advertising - I usually get around to hearing it once that shit dies down around releases. I would say that there are 3 types of reviewers ; 1) real fans of music who are open to new ideas and sounds, 2) people who just repeat what the promo from the label tells them and 3) negative and frutrated individuals who hate everything because they are incapable of doing anything themselves. And the ratios of these 3 are about equal."
You chose to use the same cover artist as In The Woods... used on the 'Pure' album. Why? And whats the idea behind the picture, and what did you give to the artist, any guide lines etc?
"Max Winter did a great job with Pure and I asked him if he would recreate an idea that I had already sketched up. He executed it really well - i'd highly recmend him to other bands / labels. The image is essentially a cross between the journey into the afterlife and a journey into the psychedelic realm.
I was heavily inspired by listening to Terence McKenna's descriptions of the DMT experience. DMT (Diamethyltriptamine - aka the Spirit Molecule) is a non-addictive naturally occuring psychedelic compound which is present in virtually all living things on the earth, including the human brain. It also happens to be the strongest psychedelic substance know to mankind. It is produced in your pineal gland and released under either great stress or trauma (such as an accident or surgery - causing the 'Near Death Experience) or when you are in deep REM sleep (causing the kind of crazy epic dreams which I have had throughout my life). This is also present in plants like Ayahuasca which have been used for inducing spiritual experiences by Shaman the world over for thousands of years. You can actually get crystallised DMT and smoke it ; the effect is being blasted out of your body and finding yourself in another dimension with intelligent entities.
As it is a chemical recognised by the body, it quickly gets broken down and within 10 minutes you are back down to earth and completely returned to normality - albeit in a complete state of disbelief at what just happened to you - for this reason, it became known as the buisness man's trip. In short ; DMT is an escape-hatch for the soul and is no doubt involved at the moment of and assistance in death."
Your music does sound a lot like In The Woods... sometimes, is it 'cause you really love the band, or 'cause you have some of the same basic inspirations?
"I don't personally think it sounds very much like old In The Woods... - but there are similarities with Pure obviously, as I created the melodies on the guitars and keyboards. Vocally, it is going to be inescapable to not sound like myself ! If you mean the older material, it's potentially because I think we appreciate the same originators of Rock & Metal. I really try to avoid sounding like my contemporaries."
The use of Hammond really elevates the album, I love it! You are one multi talented guy. How did you come about doing everything yourself? And did you have to sit down and learn the different instruments along the way, or are you basically a talented musican and these thing just comes easy for you?
"The only teaching I ever had was on the guitar for about a year when I was 13-14. Everything else, I am pretty much 100% self-taught. I've picked up the opccassionaly tricks here and there from others, but I just have an insatiable yearning to know more and get better. The day I can sit here and think "I know everything there is to know about music composition and production" is the day I will quit music. Luckily for me, it is also impossible to happen :-)."
What are your expections from this album? And perhaps evenmore interesting, your expections vs your hope for it.
"When I am working on music and it is totally fresh out of my brain and on the computer ready to be worked on, I am usually ecstatic and elated - it's a real buzz creating something that had never before existed ! The whole process of creating is something I can't get enough of - I absolutely love it. It's like a drug. Some musicians get this from playing live on stage - I am lucky enough to get the buzz in the studio."
Would you ever present Ewigkeit live? Because you haven't done this ever?
"I've tried a few times - but it never works out because I am completely unwilling to dictate to people what to do. It's really difficult to find people who want to play music that they didnt create and who actually genuinely like it. Most musicians only want to take part because they feel it can further their own agenda of making it (whatever the fuck that is supposed to mean). The only way that will happen is by using money to coerce people - but you only get the money from become widely known, which demands playing live. It's a catch 22 situation."
I know Svart Records did lps as well? In addition to the cds and the digital version, right? Any links for those of us who want to buy a copy? And folks, this album is worth having, both the music and the cover is astounding, and you need the lp :).
"Sure ! The LP version is where you can really see the awesome artwork that Max created, and the Digipac CD has the 2 bonus tracks on."
A great big thanks for accepting this interview, hopefully we'll see Ewigkeit turn some sale and making it worthwhile financially. But I guess you're the kind of person still happy even with no sale, am I right? :) A true artist don't care - how's that for a t-shirt slogan.
"There are two different types of success ; artistic success and commercial success - the two are not strictly mutually exclusive, but usually are ;-)."
Any final words, hateful messages, complaints, pats on backs, here is the place to deliver whatever:
"Just to say that I really appreciate the support from you and others - I genuinely enjoy to hear from people who have found something to enjoy in my work. I'll be bringing something special for Ewigkeit before the year is finished and have already started writing & recording the follow-up to Cosmic Man!"