The idea to interview probably one of the most charismatic and noteworthy leaders of the today's black metal scene came into place a while ago and was planned initially to be a person-to-person talk, during the band's visit to Moscow. However, as luck would have it, our accreditation was cancelled, and we had to make ourselves happy with the roles of spectators. But MetalKings.ru wouldn't have been what we are now, had it not been for our determination... So here it goes folks, an interview with the main man of Eastern European black metal -- Mr. Nergal of Behemoth.
MetalKings.ru:: Ok, with the band celebrating its 10th anniversary this year (please accept my warmest congratulations and wishes of all the best, by the way) it looks like a good time to draw up the results and conclusions of what has been accomplished in this past decade. So for a good beginning I suggest we go back all these years and remember how it all started back in 1991? (And to add to this - what on earth made you start a band when you were 13? And of course, the question you must have answered a 666 times now - why you named the band Behemoth? :)
Nergal: Well, it's been a great time when I set up the band. I was so fresh and yet not poisoned by this so called 'music business' I must tell You. I mean, even today I try my best to resist all the bullshit that might bring me down...back then I was in this just for music, so much determined to play in the band and follow bands I admired. heh, you see, today I also do management of Behemoth so I have to be focused on different things and sometimes it's far from being an artist, if You know what I mean. What made me form Behemoth? The will of creating, the huge determination and love for music. The name Behemoth was derived from the book "The god of evil", whose author I don't remember...sorry.
MetalKings.ru: Although your current lineup looks extremely strong and good in all respects, through all of these years Behemoth has gone through many a lineup change, with band members coming and going all of the time for whatever reasons. You being the leader and the mastermind in the band, where you feel you'd been wrong, which probably made some of the previous members leave? In other words, where do you feel were your mistakes in the way you run the band, which you really wouldn't want to repeat?
Nergal: First of all, I don't regret anything I've done in my life. It all made me who I am now and I'm happy with that situation, with what I stand for and what I represent as an individual, understand? So, yeah...we've been thru lotsa line up changes but I got used to this, therefore I stopped even noticing this...since Satanica album we have the strongest and most steady line up. But let's don't speculate, everything might happen in the future...
MetalKings.ru: Initially what were the main influences on you music-wise, and how did you decide upon black metal as the main stylistic key for the band? Was it a result of a lengthy brainstorm, or did something just strike you? Maybe you heard some band and understood you wanted to do something in that key or…?
Nergal: I loved Blasphemy, Beherit, M. Angel, Necroschizma and Samael at that time. I wanted to follow that certain path, simple. I loved the music and everything around it...you can say that we entered the scene not even knowing the basic truth and wisdom about it. With time we gained the experience, but at the very beginning we knew nothing...we were just kids, right...
MetalKings.ru: As far as we understand your latest release 'Thelema 6" has been enjoying quite a success and praise with both the folks in the music business (including us) and the fans. And I would imagine that you are pretty happy with it as well, however, judging from my personal experience, as time passes one would start feeling that certain things could have been made in a better way, a mix could be cooler here and there, you know them little improvements you wish you made in the first place. Is that true of you and 'Thelema 6' and if so, what exactly would you have improved?
Nergal: Sure, there are some things that might have been done differently but I don't wanna speak about it as it has no deeper sense. It's done, it's over...there's no use in trying to change anything as simply I'm not able to. It's good there are things to be changed as it gives me motivation for the future releases...so, basically You can say that I wouldn't change anything on that record really.
MetalKings.ru: How does the songwriting process in the band usually go? Any special trade secrets you could share? And was the process of writing 'Thelema 6' any different from your previous recordings?
Nergal: No, it just goes pretty natural way I would say. There's either melody or guitar riff or words coming up in my mind. Then I try to play it on the guitar and proceed with some arrangements. basically we work collectively on arrangements so...it's a group work for sure.
MetalKings.ru: The message in the beginning of the new record - "We would like to see most of the human race killed off, because it is unworthy, it is unworthy of the gift… of life." - care to elaborate?
Nergal: Well, people are born with a certain goal in their life, they have potential but most of human being simply loose it and become worthless beings...that sentence is very extreme, but it's just the way I feel about most of the race. It's just worthless...with no real intentions, no imagination, no creativity. generally I'm bored with people, it seems like there's not many people I can get along with...dunno why...
MetalKings.ru: You've already said quite a lot about the lyrical concept behind the new album in all sorts of interviews, so I won't make you answer that again, however what is of interest for me personally, and I am positive for the fans as well, is how the lyrics-writing process goes on? I remember you mentioning a friend was doing a large part of the lyrics for you, how does it feel to sing somebody else's words? How did this collaboration appear? And wouldn't you feel more comfortable singing your own lyrics?
Nergal: Hm, Kris is my long time friend though he lives in London now for two years. But we still keep in touch and exchange our observations, opinions and life experiences via mail or phone. We know each other pretty well and I'm sure he's a very clever guy with a huge occult knowledge so I decided to use some of his lyrics. They launched the band to yet another quality level and made us more sophisticated and...occult advanced, if You know what I mean.
MetalKings.ru: Now coming to the artwork on the new release, do I gather it right that it is you on the cover? ;) If so, how did the idea come into place? And what is this slime they covered you in? And (man, do I have many questions gathered in one paragraph! :) in general, how much importance do you think image plays in the success of a rock band and Behemoth in particular?
Nergal: Yez, it's me on the cover. I just took an individual photo session and the pictures were just amazing. They have very special mood, different than anything I've seen in this sort of music. I decided to place myself on the cover as it represents the band, the one who stands for what this band is. It's much more real and natural than doing some heavy metaloriented graphics or comics. It's not my taste, you know. I am performer and the performed one, it's my music and it's me representing this art, ok? The image is essential I believe...of course music is the substance but you have to look reliable...have charisma and individuality. It's also what I call image...there are too many bands around that just look like...nothing. You see their pictures and suddenly you forget the way they looked. Because it's so typical and ordinary. When You see Behemoth's new album cover I'm damn sure You will not forget it, it's very special...and please, don't get me wrong, I'm not a narcist, it's just the way the whole visage looks like. I love it...
MetalKings.ru: Everything on the scene develops and black metal is no exception, most naturally, are you personally happy with the way the trend develops as of the present moment, and what would you like to change in its development?
Nergal: I like the way it goes. Because it's quite natural... I like the way bands like Mayhem, Dimmu or Emperor develop. I think that behemoth is also one of those, along with Zyklon, Nile and so on, that made a new quality in extreme metal music, mixing black and death metal and pushing its boundaries of extremely much farther.
MetalKings.ru: What is your opinion on all of this "true-and-evil vs. black metal posers" opposition, and (here's the tricky part) where do you think Behemoth would belong in the general opinion of an average listener? Or is this totally unimportant, I mean this division into "true" and "non-true"?
Nergal: I don't give a fuck...
MetalKings.ru: How much do you think the stories with Varg and Faust influence the current popularity of black metal? Was this a decisive factor for the trend to become so big, you think?
Nergal: It helped to make black metal big and worldwidely known. But I have no relation to those actions of the past. It's just not my business...
MetalKings.ru: What do you think of Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir as musicians primarily, and (if you know anyone from these two bands) as personalities?
Nergal: Yes, I know Dimmu guys quit well. I appreciate their last album very much. Also as individuals they are great guys indeed. COF...well, we played them once half a year ago. It was a good concert. Much better than I had thought before. But I don't know the guys that good so I can't say anything...sorry.
MetalKings.ru: OK, let's return over to Behemoth, and touring. You recently did a gig in Moscow - and before I make any further inquiries, I'd ask you to firstly rate that gig on a 1 to 5 scale (with 5 being the best and 1 being the worst)?
Nergal: 4.5 I think. Extremely bad conditions but probably the hottest crowd I've ever faced in my life. Just amazing people, believe me...I loved the way people treated us there. We'll be back top Russia this year probably again.
MetalKings.ru: What are the general impressions on the organization and the way things are done, firstly. (I'll tell you the truth, personally, we wanted to do an interview with you, and I even wrote to you on the subject, but in the last moment the organizers of the gig cancelled everyone's accreditation, except for two magazines, so I think the organization sucked. ;) With that in mind I guess this question would go as to what you did NOT like about the gig and the way it was organized?)
Nergal: As I told you, there were some technical problems, the sound on stage really sucked but after what I saw in front of the stage I didn't care about our "problems" much as those people appreciated us the way we behaved... they are so much dedicated.
MetalKings.ru: What is your opinion of Russians in general? I mean, the ones you met of course?
Nergal: Crazy crowd, the most beautiful and the fastest girls I've ever seen. I'd like to get back there as soon we can.
MetalKings.ru: The reason why I am asking is that (please no offense meant) I heard lots of people saying there is a certain negative feeling about Russians in Poland (which would be quite understandable, in my opinion, given what I know about the history of our to countries) but how true is this?
Nergal: Well, the truth is that there are lotsa Russian criminals and mafia here in Poland. But it's just something we shouldn't mix with music and art, ok? As I said, I was afraid going there before we played in Moscow and other places, but when the tour was done, my view of Russian people changed so drastically. The organizers just gave their best to welcome as the best way they could. the fans were simply awesome! All responded so spontaneously...heh. It was very cool...
MetalKings.ru: Ok, with the previous question bringing us to sort of a more philosophical/social issue, let's walk this path a bit as well. As far as I know, Poland is a very puritanical Catholic country, and the influence of Church is very strong there - in this respect - how hard it is to be black metal and Satanic in Poland?
Nergal: I don't feel any pressure to be honest. Ok, there are some clubs that refused us to play but besides that, I had no major problems with devotees, you know..
MetalKings.ru: What is Satanism for you if put in just a couple of sentences? What do you think is the main misconception the general public has about Satanism?
Nergal: Hm, I'm not sure...I see Satan as an archetype. You see, I was brought up in a catholic country and culture which is influenced by its doctrines so much. therefore I have to use their tools to play with the shit...so, it's just a symbol. Some kind of "FUCK OFF! I am who I am" in other words...
MetalKings.ru: What do you think of Anton Lavey's concept of Satanism? And with that would you ever consider joining COS?
Nergal: It's ok. But I'm far from being his follower. It's too materialistic and... not so deep spiritually. It's something good for the masses I guess...but that's my opinion.
MetalKings.ru: What is the worst thing you hate about people and what qualities you value the highest?
Nergal: Disrespect, lack of loyalty, treason...it's what I hate about some people. And what I value the highest it's the oppositions.
MetalKings.ru: Where do you see yourself and Behemoth 10 years from now?
Nergal: At the top!
MetalKings.ru: And finally the traditional message to your Russian fans…
Nergal: Keep on rockin'! Thanks You ALL for being there and goin' fuckin' crazy! WE LOVE YOU ALL! We will return.
-- In the end we would like to express our greatest appreciation to Nergal once again for this unique opportunity and, even more important, for the interesting and open answers to all of our questions. --
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