the AU interview: Erik Danielsson - Vocalist/Bassist of Watain (Sweden)

Watain Interview Header copy

Levi Buckley chats with Erik Danielsson of the Swedish Death Metal band Watain about their new album
Lawless Darkness
, Dio, and being "lawless biker Satanist motherfuckers from Sweden". You just HAVE to read this interview now, don't you?

You have a new album out, it’s called
‘Lawless Darkness’, can you tell us about the recording process of the album?

Erik: About the recording process of
‘Lawless Darkness’, I can say as much as this; it was a rather intense  and chaotic two months, working every
day and every night for sixty days in a row with the exception of one, I think.

So I’m guessing you didn’t get a lot
of sleep?

No sleep was alright in that context.

On your album you cover SS Death and
Bathory, what do those bands mean to you?

I’d like to point out that these
covers were intended to be B-sides on singles in the first place - it was the label
that put them on there at the last minute, so they should not be seen as a part
of the album. The album should be seen as one artistic expression and not be
mixed up with the covers, but in any case they ended up on there and I think
they turned out great. They're two bands that have been around since way before
we started, it is great to be able to put the spotlight towards them, they are
a cultural revolution in metal and people seem to forget about all the great
things in the past.

You have a few festivals coming up, you're playing the Forta Rock and the Summer Breeze festival alongside some big
name bands like Children of Bodom, Sepultura and more pop orientated bands like
Bullet For My Valentine... Are you excited to be playing alongside these bands?

No… (Laughs) I don’t… Okay, Sepultura, sure, but we generally feel very alienated from that whole thing, you know, we're
still a bunch of lawless biker Satanist motherfuckers from Sweden, and we don’t
even want to be a part of any of that, you know, but we still want to do our
thing on stage and if that means we have to share the stage with other bands, why not? We don’t feel like we’re part of the contemporary metal charade - we do
our own thing.

So do you think the Bullet For My Valentine
and Bodom fans will get into your music?

I hope not… It’s about heart,
reverence and true fiery spirit; we're not looking to gain attention from this
whole plastic rock circus.

There have been a lot more Black Metal
bands coming to Australia over the past few years, we have Mayhem coming soon,
do you have any plans to tour here in the near future?

Absolutely. Actually we were very
close to playing Scream Festival last year, but it turned out to be in the
middle of our recording so it didn’t work out. It’s definitely going to happen
but I cannot say when at this moment. I always say it’s one of those places
we're bound to end up at some point in time because of the whole Australian
metal climate with bands like Sadistik Exekution and Destroyer 666... We feel like
we have something to contribute there.

Being from Australia we're quite
isolated from the Black Metal scene. From what I've seen, bands from Norway and Sweden
seem very passionate about Black Metal, it’s almost like it’s a way of life, can
you tell us why this is?

I have that question asked - I can’t
say how many times - I still cannot really find a good answer to it. I think it
has a lot to do with strong minds influencing other strong minds, creating unity
of an almost brotherhood-like environment. I know when I was first initiated in Black
Metal around '91, '92 it was more of a brotherhood here, you know, somewhere where
you had to earn your place, and I’m still the same: I still have respect for the
same things I had back then, I never really changed my mind about it. I’m very…
juvenile when it comes to my outlet of Black Metal, to me it is something that
means everything, you know, it is my life and it encompasses so many things other
than music; it compasses religion, it compasses your social life - everything I do
is somehow connected to it.

Sounds as though you are very much
into Black Metal, I was just wondering if you listen to other styles of music?

What I appreciate mostly from Black
Metal is mostly, I don’t know, it’s been with me my whole life, but I must say I
probably listen to a whole lot more to heavy metal and heavy speed and actually
more kind of rock things like Rainbow, Deep Purple, Maiden, Judas Priest.
Somehow they always come back, these motherfuckers... They seem to own me, while
Black Metal is something I listen to more on occasion or when I do, I do it with
my heart, my soul and body.

You just mentioned you’re a fan of
Rainbow. In Sweden, what was the reaction to the passing of Ronnie James
Dio, was it a big thing over there as well?

Of course it was, in any civilized
country it should have been. It’s always sad in a way, but at the same time I’m
not the kind of person who cries rivers when someone dies... I think death is
something great, I know that Dio is in a really good place right now, a place
that he earned during his lifetime. Of course it’s all of a sudden, but he
lives on forever.  If you have
cancer and if you're very sick then perhaps death is better, like a great hole is
open for you, and you know you're home.

Going back to Black Metal, a lot of
people associate Black Metal with church burning, Satan and sometimes Nazism, what are your opinions about that side of the genre?

Well it’s a very natural fight, apart
from the political stuff you mentioned, which never was related to Black Metal.
Black Metal is, to me, something spiritual, and definitely Satan has always been
the founding tool for the whole genre, and it remains so - that’s why bands like
us are around. In terms of church burning, or in other cases of ceremonial-like
culture, or ritual - whatever it might be - these are powers... I see nothing strange
with a lot of brutal and destructive things coming out of Black Metal.

In the '90s there were a lot of
church burnings in Norway, do you agree or disagree with what happened?

I agree with it that it was a strong
statement against Christianity, first and foremost I always think that if
you have an enemy you should always fight it. Black Metal was never about being
passive in the first place; the enemy must always be fought with any means
possible, and at the time it was a relevant thing to do, and it made a standpoint for what we were about. It transcended from a regular subculture: it
manifested to action, and I think it was a very good thing to happen at that
point in time in Black Metal history. It served its purpose.

In 1998 you released a demo called
“Fuck Your Jewish God”. I gotta ask, what inspired that title?

(Laughs) Ah yeah, that’s right. I
think a lot of hostility, a will to provoke, I think a big middle finger to everyone
that told you what to do and what not to do, but obviously as I've told people a
hundred million times before, I don’t give a fuck about race or tribalism in
that sense. In a Jewish context, of course... King of the Jews, Jesus Christ - it should be
old news by now, and I think everybody understands that.

Watain's new album, 

Lawless Darkness,

is in stores now.