Christopher Lee of Crypt Magazine recently conducted an interview with vocalist Sigurd "Satyr" Wongraven of Norwegian black metallers SATYRICON. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Crypt Magazine: First off, let me congratulate you on having a No. 1 album in your country (Norway) after 20+ years of cloaking your homeland as well as the rest of the world in darkness! I am sure it is a very gratifying feeling.
Satyr: Thank you so much. Yeah, who would have thought that? [laughs]
Crypt Magazine: So with your newfound celebrity, are you and Frost [drums] pretty much recognized everywhere you go after all these years?
Satyr: Uh, well, I think the interesting thing is, ya know, trying to explain how the market over here works compared to the rest of the world, when talking to foreigners, is that this is the country where, ya know, THE MARS VOLTA or QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, and bands like that, can actually top the album charts, and Norway's always had a good scene for alternative music, ya know, and I don't know if a lot of people necessarily like black metal, but if you have a good following of black metal fans, and then you have a lot of people who are just into good music, regardless of genre, there are many of those out there, as far as if you combine those two groups of people, all of a sudden we can make it to, ya know, Top 10 of the charts, or in this case, first place! But, uh, nevertheless, I feel first and foremost, thankful that people will get behind the record.
Crypt Magazine: Well, as I said in my review of the new record, SATYRICON is an art form, I have been a fan since 1995, and I have always loved watching the progression of SATYRICON, especially once you released the groundbreaking "Nemesis Divina", all the way through to the current sound of the band, you guys have always had the best riffs and arrangements, keeping the original hardcore punk influence of black metal yet pushing it through new boundaries.
Satyr: Thank you. Well, I mean, the interesting part about it, I guess the path that we pursued throughout the 2000s was, to me, much closer to our roots, in a way, than anything we've ever done; it's what we wanted to do at the time and we all stood firmly behind it, ya know, being proud of it, because we know that it's always the very best that what we can do, and that's really all you can ask is to do something honest and give it all we can. But with the albums from the 2000s, what's different about them is that we really decided to pursue a more straightforward, kind of, "compressed" type of songwriting which is actually what VENOM, CELTIC FROST, and BATHORY did in their early days, and it just goes to show that so many people when they seek new music and do their analysis on it, that they risked being misunderstood.
Crypt Magazine: Especially if you listen to [the new SATYRICON album] with headphones, like I have done a few times, there are lots of subtleties and nuances in the music, giving the record much more personality since you recorded it in "analog". It sounds great and gives the record that much more of an identity. There's a lot of awesome stuff on the record. It starts off kind of subdued and experimental and then it just goes for the throat with tracks like "NekroHaven" and "Walker Upon The Wind".
Satyr: [laughs] Yeah, well, ya know, it's not always about making music, but just being a fan when listening to music, what you put in is what comes out. I mean, when I listened to [SLAYER's] "Reign In Blood" for the first time, I was, I was not even 11, I was almost 11 years old, but I remember thinking to myself, "What the hell is going on?" And I knew I liked it, but, to me, it was impossible at the time, given, ya know, the few years of experience that I had as a listener, to digest everything at the same time, 'cause even though that's not a record that has, ya know, all the crazy breakdowns of the new SATYRICON record, it has so many interesting guitar harmonies going on, and uh, the intensity, is really subjective and aggressive and I needed time to digest, but because I knew I would like it, I did allow myself to spend a lot of time with it, and it became a record that I still listen to, to this day. I think that, not comparing the two, as they are so different from each other, I do think the new SATYRICON is one of those records where, um, as a listener, you would want to be patient and keep listening, and like you said yourself, with headphones.
Crypt Magazine: What are you most proud of in regards to SATYRICON? I am sure there is a lot to be proud of.
Satyr: I am proud of the attitude of SATYRICON! That's what I am really proud of. I think today, here's an interesting thing that shows what SATYRICON is about. We basically had national Norwegian rock radio come back to me and, or they came back to our publicist, and they said the following: "This song 'Phoenix' is really, really good. We like it a lot, but we need it to work better with our formats, so some our producers have some suggestions for a remake of the song, and if you are up for that, we are ready to put the song on, to spin it on heavy rotation." And I just went back to the publicist and I said, "So they don't like the song." And she said. "Well, they love the song. They just want to make these changes." And I said, "Well, if I wanted it any different, I would have made it different. This is the song, and if you don't want to play the song the way it is, to me, they don't like the song and therefore they shouldn't play it." And then she went on saying, "Do you realize how much this is going to help record sales, how this gonna help you stay #1 in the following weeks?" And I said, "That's fine. I'd rather not stay #1," 'cause doing something like that is, to me prostitution. And it's, like, this is never happening again; I will never do anything like this, so it's fine, you can do a "radio edit," but if you do a "radio edit," you should do it yourself. But to have like some DJ at the radio station sit there and mess up your song, blindly, just to get it on rotation, it's, to me, absurd, and that's exactly… You are asking me what I am proud of. It's that! 'Cause what people don't understand is that SATYRICON has things like that coming our way all the time — all the time there are things like that that people want us to do. And we only do things that we are OK with and we very true to ourselves, and that's what has given this band like, a 20-year-plus career as one of the pioneer bands, because we've never done anything where we can't look ourselves in the mirror afterwards, and to me, that is one of the most important qualities of our band.
Read the entire interview at Crypt Magazine.