Watain: And the Hunt Starts Again
release: The Wild Hunt (Century Media/EMI)
Band site: www.facebook.com/watainofficial
a 15-year career, controversy has flocked to theatrical, occult
Swedish black metal outfit Watain like flies on you-know-what.
Throwing every inch of themselves into their emotional outpourings,
the band recently issued the cracking The Wild Hunt, and will return
to Australia alongside their heroes and perhaps greatest sources of
inspiration, Mayhem, as part of one of the most cold-hearted double
bills to visit our shores. During an intriguing discussion, Loud got
the lowdown from typically outspoken frontman Erik Danielsson.
will be your second time in Australia, but touring alongside Mayhem
is obviously a vastly different environment to playing at Soundwave.
fucking hell. It was kind of weird for us to come over for the first
time to Australia and do something like Soundwave. I mean, in a way I
think it really made sense, because we got to play in front of big
crowds and all of that bullshit, and we got to do the whole pyro show
and everything. But at the same time, it felt a bit weird to come
there for the first time and probably most of our like old, diehard
fans, they wouldn’t even go because of the whole, well, Soundwave
thing pretty much. So it feels really good to finally come back to do
a proper club tour with a good band and just do the whole thing at
that level instead. I think it’s much more fitting somehow.
said, the major benefit for Watain from playing Soundwave was that
you would have reached many people who would never otherwise have
heard your music. For instance, from memory you were playing
immediately before Machine Head in some cities.
yeah. I mean, it served its purpose, for sure. And I think playing in
between, what was it, Black Label Society and Machine Head, you know,
playing in between those bands, and people not knowing at all what to
expect from us. It made an impact of course on a lot of people, as it
does when we do what we do. But yeah, like I said, it felt a bit
awkward at the same time, because it was our first time in Australia
and playing in front of a crowd that basically had no idea what we do
(laughs). But it was good, I liked it. It kind of underlined even
more, when you’re playing next to acts that don’t really do much
on-stage and that are kind of like more mainstream stuff or whatever
(laughs), I don’t want to sound too arrogant here, but you know
what I mean. It underlines the intensity and extremity of Watain,
which I think, of course, is a good thing.
types of reactions did you encounter from those at the festival who
were previously unfamiliar with the band? Or are you typically just
too caught up in “in the zone”, for a lack of a better term when
performing to notice?
A: Yeah, I
would definitely say I’m in the zone – I fucking love that
expression, it’s an Australian expression isn’t it? (laughs) In
the zone; the Destroyer 666 guys were saying it all the time. But
anyway, yeah, that’s really what’s going on for me on-stage. But
I think when I talked to people afterwards, after the show, there
were a lot of people that came up who were kind of blown away,
because they didn’t know at all what to expect from us. We had
loads of pyro that time, and all that stuff and people were pretty
blown away I think. That was just the feeling that I got. So I liked
it, but like I said, I think I prefer doing a smaller club tour.
also touring with Mayhem, who has been a major influence on Watain
from day one.
absolutely. I mean, it’s weird with Mayhem. When I was young – or
younger (laughs), they were probably one of the most important bands
in my life. They released all those records that literally changed my
life. And the years pass by and you get to know each other a bit;
Attila (Csihar, vocals) and I have been friends for many years. And
it’s very strange actually that we haven’t toured together. We
have done one show together in the UK, like two or three years ago.
But we get along really well, and we have a similar outlook and
attitude to the world around us. It’s bound to be a pretty wild and
interesting ride, you know? (laughs)
bands have, whether always intentionally or not, courted a fair
degree of controversy as well. So you could say it’s a good fit in
that respect (laughs).
A: Well, we
like to tour with bands that are not wimps, you know? It’s nice to
tour with bands that at least live as they learn, so to say. It’s
weird, you meet a lot of bands, over the course of 15 years you meet
a lot of bands that you kind of looked up to when you were younger,
or you expect them to be a certain way. But as is very often the
case, they often just turn out to be wimps and posers. So when we met
Mayhem and finally started to hang out, we quickly realised that this
was not the case with them. They are still really fucking good people
and they believe in Watain, and I think that’s something that we’re
not really spoiled with, in the metal world today… With good people
that are actually honest and genuine. I think that’s a pretty
uncommon thing unfortunately within the metal scene.
Q: Why do
you feel that’s the case – is it related to projecting a certain
image on-stage, but wanting to detach themselves from that lifestyle
A: I think
that people have the misconception that black and death metal is
something that is for everyone. And it isn’t, it definitely isn’t.
It’s something that is reserved for people that are free spirited…
And wild and fiery people who are willing to do anything in order to
have it their way. It’s really a music for, it’s really a
movement for radical and extreme people, and I think a lot of people
don’t seem to understand that. A lot of people seem to think that
this is just another subculture for anyone to partake in. I believe
that music is for everyone, and if you want to listen to black and
death metal while you work five days a week at an office and have
kids at home, then fine, do that. But people like that shouldn’t
consider themselves as a part of this movement, as a part of this
culture. This movement, this culture is made out of people who are
willing to sacrifice everything, and who are walking into the unknown
without fear. That’s what this culture is built upon, and that’s
how it should remain.
Q: How do
you view the current state of black metal in particular from a
A: I think
that throughout the course of history there have always been very few
bands that have been able to live up to my standards, at least of
black metal… Then there are thousands and thousands of
misrepresentations and misconceptions of it. But true and genuine
black metal is always something that will always be a minority in the
music scene. A small minority even. Then there’s all these people
that kind of want to… It’s just like punk, you know? You have a
few real punk bands, and you have a thousand bands that try to do the
same thing, but fail because they don’t have the right spirit and
they don’t really believe in it. But at the same time, it
fascinates a lot of people, because it is an extreme way of
expression, and it is controversial, and it’s therefore also
popular and people are fascinated by it. That’s why it’s also so
often, like with other forms of extreme art, whatever it may be,
that’s why it’s also so often misused, and just even
commercialised, just for the sake of that, horror sells. And extreme
metal sells, controversy sells, and that’s why there’s so many
charlatans in this kind of music. But anyway, there’s no need
focusing too much on that either, because if I feel there are some
bands who are willing to stand up and represent this movement for
what it truly is, then I have no reason to complain. There will
always be charlatans and circus people everywhere, but that’s old
amusing that you make that point, because I read a review recently of
a black metal band on a high-profile label, and the writer reviewed
to them as “mainstream black metal”, which I thought had to the
Yeah. The second that black metal truly becomes mainstream, I think
we’re really in the last days. I think that’s really the end
times. When such an extreme thing and extreme form of music becomes
mainstream, I think the world is truly fucked. So I want that day to
come, but I think it’s very far away, because I think (what) people
consider to be “mainstream” black metal now is just completely
irrelevant. It’s a misinterpretation of what black metal truly is.
But then again, there is no need actually to put too much focus on
people who have misunderstood black metal. It’s more important to
focus on what it actually is, and that’s what we will show with
this Australian tour.
Q: What do
you feel is Watain’s “role” within that process then?
an interesting question. I feel that it’s honestly something that I
don’t really reflect on that much. I think it’s pretty much up to
people who are not in the band to make up their minds about that. I
do Watain from the inside, and I don’t really do it for the sake of
any scene, or the sake any movement or whatever. What we do is an
organic, living thing that is just there because it has to be there.
It’s why we are here on this earth, to do Watain. And whatever role
that plays in the larger context, let’s say within a black metal
scene, it’s interesting, but at the same time it’s nothing that I
would choose to think too much about. I just keep on doing what I
always have done.
Watain album seems more akin to a statement than a mere recording.
Whereabouts within the evolution of the band do you feel The Wild
Hunt exists? How close was it to realising your ultimate goals for
but the goals are, it’s not really about that there is a certain
point that we are trying to reach. The goal has always been I think
to maintain and uphold what we have created for ourselves. The goal
has never been to actually reach to a certain point. It’s more been
about pursuing a certain path, a path that will always lead you into
the unknown, into the wilderness really. And everything that we learn
along the way; everything that we experience, and everything that
leaves its mark on us. That makes its way into our songs, and into
our work with Watain. With all that being said, Watain is a journey.
It is not a journey about what the goal (should) necessarily be. The
goal is to have the journey itself, and that is why every album must
be seen as a moment of a specific place in time. Every album reflects
what Watain is at this very moment, and we are always moving. We are
always on the move. It’s a constant movement; stagnation is not an
option. It’s always about reaching further and further, deeper and
deeper into yourself and into the unknown.
best rumour you’ve heard about yourself, or Watain that was just
kind of lost track by now (laughs). I’ve heard so many ludicrous
fucking stories by now, that I can’t even begin to remember. But I
think one of the things that I always found the most laughable is
like the right-wing rumours that have been going on about this band.
That we’re Nazis and stuff like that, that we have been like Hitler
saluting on-stage and all that bullshit. Just take one look at this
band, listen one time to one of our songs, and try to place that in a
Third Reich scenario, and I think you will realise how utterly
fucking stupid that kind of connection is. But I’ve heard about
everything by now. People can keep on talking – it seems to be
doing them a lot of good, so keep on talking.
Q: The more
they talk about you, the more it boosts your profile anyway.
A: Well, to
be honest, I don’t really care that much about that. I’m far more
interested in truth than anything else. I wouldn’t want to base
people’s picture of Watain on things that are false. But on the
other hand, it’s very much out of my control, and in the grand
scheme of things Watain is something that we do for ourselves, and we
have decided to share it with the world around us. But however people
want to interpret that on their own, and whatever stories people want
to make up, however people perceive Watain is very much up to them in
famous last words?
A: Well, I
just hope as many bizarre, wild fucking maniacs come out of the
woodwork as possible for the upcoming tour. We look forward to
touring Australia again, in front of our real crowd, instead of
Soundwave crowds – no offence. But that’s really how we feel
(laughs). But it’s gonna be good, it’s going to be very primitive
and it’s going to be some of the most minimalistic stage shows that
we have ever played with in the past five years. But I think that
will be a very good thing actually, and I look forward to these
Brendan is Loud's contributing editor and also writes for Blunt and themusic.com.au
catch Watain with Mayhem on the following dates:
9/1: Amplifier Bar, Perth, WA (Watain only) (+ Advent
Sorrow + Malignant Monster)
10/1: HiFi Bar, Melbourne VIC (+ Nocturnal Graves)
11/1: Factory Theatre, Sydney
NSW (+ Nocturnal Graves)
12/1: HiFi Bar, Brisbane QLD (+ Nocturnal Graves)