Forming 13 years ago Swedish Satanic black metallers WATAIN quickly gathered a dedicated underground following before heading out on the road with the likes of Rotting Christ and Dark Funeral. As time went on the bands take no prisoners attitude and extreme sound
earned them respect in their genre and beyond. Known for putting on one hell of a live show filled with fire, blood and brutality, Watain have certified their place as one of Scandinaviaís finest live black metal acts.
Fronted by the grotesque and outlandish Erik Danielsson Watain are sure to be one act playing the upcoming Soundwave Festivals that will have everyone talking.
Hysteria had the pleasure of catching up with Erik to talk about the band's upcoming visit, life in the studio, celebrating 13 years together and Watainís plans to release a movie later this year...
Hey Erik, Iím a huge fan of your work, so for me speaking with you today is fantastic! It's awesome to finally see the band heading our way later this month for the Soundwave Festivals, You must be excited to be finally coming down to Australia?
Yeah of course, itís been in the loop, back and forth, for many years now about going to Australia and for some reason it never came through? So, of course it feels great that itís finally happening. I went to the festival website and checked it out and collapsed in horror... the bands that weíre playing with are very far from what we are about and I can either be uncomfortable with it or see it as a challenge and Iíd rather build a ladder! So itís going to be really interesting. The cool thing was that AJ came to see us at the Sonisphere Festival in the UK and he was very taken back by the pyro show, and the whole sinister vibe that we have with our shows, so I think there is at least a real sincere interest from the organisers which I really like. Most of the time when you get these big festivals thereís always the risk that someone has booked you because they have heard from someone that you pull a crowd thatís the kind of situation you donít really want to end up in! Iím still skeptical about the circumstances but weíll see ... weíll be Watain no matter what!
For me personally Watain are one of the bands on the bill that shouldnít be missed as you are one of the heaviest and most theatrical bands on the line up. For the punters heading to the Festival, how would you best describe the band live?
I always have a hard time trying to sell the band [laughs] letís put it like this ... when they witness a Watain show because we put on quite a ride [laughs] it's quite something. That much I can say without boasting too much. We are quite a live act, the concerts themselves I see as magical ceremonies rather than simple rock shows. Itís a heavy experience, there have been numerous times where people have been vomiting, crying, drinking their own blood. Itís not that much f**king around, weíre the real deal and that's what people will realise!
This yearís Soundwave line up is incredible! Will you be putting time aside to watch many of the other artists playing the Festival?
Honestly, Iím looking forward to a great silent vacation other than the Watain show [laughs] I will probably check out The Sisters Of Mercy 'cause I listened to them a lot back in the day, I havenít seen them in some years now. You know what? Weíre into the old shit, the traditional stuff like Judas Priest, Rainbow, and Mercyful Fate, so to be honest and to risk sounding like an uneducated cultural barbarian, I honestly donít know even ten percent of the bands on this bill.
For fans like myself and those into heavier music attending the Festival, what can we expect when you hit the stage; are you bringing your complete stage show over?
Itís going to be the full show, there are no compromises. Weíre shipping everything.
Over the years youíve had the pleasure of touring with many amazing artists, whilst on the road whoís given you the best advice and what was it?
[Laughs] Weíre not usually the kind of band that takes advice from others! What a lot of people realise pretty quickly when they hang around us is that weíre a pretty closed circle, we stick to ourselves and thatís pretty much it. I think that itís really inspiring watching artists who have been doing the same thing for double the time that we have. Itís always cool to see how things are run and how people maintain their integrity, itís easy to get lost in tour bullshit and business nonsense ...
Letís talk about dealing with each other on the road; it can be quite frustrating at times dealing with other band members and crew when travelling together for weeks, sometimes months, at a time. How have you found is the best way to deal with each other especially during times that arenít so pleasant?
You know what ... I think that we share a pretty social attitude towards our surroundings and I think that being in a group where everyone in the group is pretty skeptical to whatever is going on outside the group makes us come together even more; weíre unified in our unwillingness to unify with anyone else. I would say that weíve always seen ourselves as a pack of wolves and thatís why the wolf is one of our main symbols, there is not one person in Watain that would not take a bullet for anyone else and thatís a very important foundation of the band.
Moving away from touring ... in 2010 you recorded your fourth studio album Lawless Darkness, as time goes on do you find it harder or easier to come up with new material?
Well, thatís a hard question for me ... the whole process of composing and being creative in general in such a chaotic and wild hearted band as Watain, that process will always be something that is very hard to define. With the risk of sounding like a pretentious arsehole, as artists I cannot look at the way we write songs, the way we do our work, I cannot look at it with an easy state of mind. Weíve always had a harsh and emotional relation to our creativity. I donít know if it gets harder, not only being in a band, but thatís the ongoing process of all things in life you get into things more and they become more and more intricate, in the end you stand there and a part of you is just a human being, and thatís a problem to be honest. As long as thereís inspiration and as long as thereís a will to do this then I will never see the creative process as an obstacle, itís always a good challenge, but itís not easy to talk about or define.
Congratulations on recently celebrating the band's 13th anniversary. It's rare these days to see a band last more than one album cycle and tour five years or longer. With 13 years now under your belt, what do you feel have been your greatest achievements to date?
I think one of the greatest achievements is keeping the original line up; thatís something Iíve realised when meeting other bands thatís one of the hardest things. The three core members that formed the band still constitute the core of the band and that I think has nourished our belief in ourselves and our strength. It gives us that feeling, that unmovable basis of the band that is almost divine. That is definitely something that I cherish and I think that the whole band gains a lot from that!
What do you think the secret is to keeping that relationship so strong, strong enough to keep all original members together for so many years when we constantly see member changes taking place with so many bands!
I think the secret, which is not really a secret, is that we share an outlook on reality that is not shared by many men in this world in general. Watain is a Satanic band and itís first and foremost purpose is to be a channel for that school of thought and that is, of course, what unifies us and has made us stick together no matter what. Itís more important than personality, itís more important than any egotistical hope to aspire, itís beyond any of that and that I think is the primary reason that weíve been able to stick together. That in turn has also led to Watain being a very special band that is impossible to leave; every tattoo on our bodies is somehow Watain related; we see it more as a way of life and a brotherhood that we belong to. That is what I guess makes it different from how a lot of other people look at their bands and being in bands.
Erik are you currently working on any new material, what is happening right now in the Watain camp?
Weíre always working in one way or another, we pretty much live in the rehearsal room but we do other stuff there besides just writing music. There is some new stuff but the thing weíre working on first and foremost is actually a movie about the band. It started out as a project to document our thirteen year anniversary show that we held here in Stockholm. We started out with a simple idea [laughs] and as usual it ends up as a ninety minute movie. Unfortunately it wonít be ready before we get to Australia, I think itís going to be out around April and the goal is to have it played through independent theatres at first, then release it as a DVD. Thatís something that weíre working on a lot now and itís kind of cool 'cause it gets your head out of the regular music process for a while.
Letís go back 13 to 14 years ago when you were forming the band, those first rehearsals, first club shows, what comes to mind when you look back on that time now?
You know what ... itís been really interesting and itís not that we havenít thought about it before but weíve really realised now that when we look back on everything in retrospective that most metal extreme bands make this journey and start out very harsh, raw and extreme as fuck. Look at Possessed, Death and Deicide, all these American bands, gradually they grow up and get a bit cleaner, get there sound more polished and so on and itís really fun and inspiring to see that weíve gone in the other direction [laughs]. Itís like everything has actually gotten worse and worse and I mean that in a good sense. We started out as a pretty clean looking typical Scandinavian black metal band and we grew into some kind of trans-mutated abomination that wreaked of corpses and the stench of death, and thatís been quite a journey.
Do you have any last words for our readers?
Just come to the shows with an open heart, let the devil in, thatís the way to feel a Watain concert properly!