In a Moment of Clarity, the Rebels Return
CoC talks to Satyr of Satyricon (again)
by: Paul Schwarz
Some of you may recall CoC featuring Satyricon back in #38. Then, _Rebel Extravaganza_ was but a speck on the musical horizon scheduled for completion and subsequent release when the heat of Summer would be fading into memory and the cold of Autumn approaching. It is somehow appropriate that _Rebel Extravaganza_ was unleashed as one season was at the point of turning into another, for it marks not only a new direction for the band but, I would certainly argue, a new era in black metal. A bold statement? Maybe, but certainly if such statements can ever be justified, then they can be justified in the case of Satyricon. You can decide for yourself whether you agree with me about _Rebel Extravaganza_, and in the meantime, if you are interested in the ideas behind it or just the life that the members of Satyricon lead, you can check out this interview. I hope it answers your questions, or at least questions your preconceived answers.

CoC: How are you doing?

Satyr: Well, it could have been better, because there has been a lot of stress. In order to save money, Nuclear Blast has sent us around Europe with some sort of travel agency, so we had to get up at five o'clock this morning to catch the plane, and everything was extremely delayed. And on top of that, they didn't manage to get Frost's luggage on the aircraft, so we don't know where that's at, and then we came here and it's an extremely nice office they've got. They showed us their new band room and that's really cool and then they put up the phones to do the interviews and just said, "You can't smoke here". And I said, "Are you serious this is a heavy metal label? And this is the band room and you can't smoke cigarettes in here?" And they said no. And I said I would anyway, but they said they were serious, so, it seems, I can't.

CoC: When we talked before you mentioned that for _Rebel Extravaganza_ you'd be using a lot of other players for the album -- different contributors. I was wondering how well that worked out in the end in terms of the results.

S: I was very happy with it. I mean, what I've always said about the contributions those people made is that none of them really did that much because they really just did the odd riff here and there, but the small things they did were very important for the totality of the album. I mean, Fenris only played tambourine on one riff, and we had SW from Thorns just doing some extra guitar in the odd place here and there, but it's often like that; all those small things. So I was really happy with that.

CoC: The hidden "intro" at the beginning of the album, is that what Grotsky [Apotygma Bezerk (thanks again, Josh) --Paul] contributed?

S: No. That's not really a hidden intro; what it is, is the song "Down South, Up North". The thing is when we did "Down South, Up North" -- which is like the ninth track on the album --, when I started listening to the songs and picking the order and all that, I just thought to myself that there was a sort of, how should I put it?, destruction.

CoC: You mean by having "Down South, Up North" as the ninth track?

S: Yeah. It was something that broke the continuous feeling that I wanted. And at the same time I didn't want to just put it away, because I was happy with the way it turned out; it just didn't fit in with my idea of the continuous feeling of the album. So what we did was just take that little part and make it some sort of, how do you call it?, interlude, or something like that, and we just put the song in front instead of after the songs, because putting it after the songs is so dull.

CoC: So the ninth track is now a different intro?

S: No, track number nine is just an excerpt from "DS,UN". It has just been taken out of the song, really, cut out and pasted into a new place. So it is exactly the same.

CoC: Personally, I felt that there's quite an interesting raw and bare approach to _Rebel Extravaganza_. It is almost an industrial approach, I'd say, in terms of the structure of the album...

S: Very primal.

CoC: Yeah, but it is played in what I'd call a black metal style. I was wondering if this was a feel you were -intending- to get?

S: Yeah. I mean, the fans and the press have been saying that we're becoming an industrial band. We always felt like we were a progressive black metal band and that part of being progressive is adding new elements to the music. This time around I felt that the next step should be something a bit more fresh and modern and one of the things we did was that we basically stopped using the old-fashioned keyboards and started working on this whole analogue sense instead. In the past, we usually, if we felt something was missing -- something which we couldn't put our finger on or something else --, we would try with a synthesiser, and this time we tried either with adding more guitar -- or with weird effects on the guitars and stuff like that -- or we tried working with samples or sound effects, whatever. Just another way of approaching things. So, to me, this is very, very black metal, but it's got that fresh and modern spice to it. And that was the intention from the start. It is also obviously very important to us to do something which is challenging for ourselves. It is really boring to do the same thing all over again.

CoC: Unfortunately I only have a promo with no lyrics sheet, so could you tell me about the kind of lyrics you've written for the album, the themes you've concentrated on? Because one of the things I've noticed, and a couple of people I know have mentioned, is that you actually have swearing on _RE_, which you seem to have used pretty effectively, but that is a slight difference and I think the lyrical themes are a little bit more modern and maybe even slightly urban, though I'm not sure about that.

S: The English have been saying that, actually. It's only English people who've mentioned both the swearing and the urban themes. There might be some truth to that; if you listen to Cypress Hill there's really no effect, because they're just saying "motherfucker" this and that all the time. So the swearing becomes desensitised. So the thing was basically about just like underlining the statement with swearing as you would do in normal life. That's a bit different from country to country. I know the Swedes, they just keep on going like, "Hello, Satyr, fucking good seeing you again". That's how they are, but that's not the thing in Norway: you use your swearing when you're pissed off -- you want to underline something, and you swear. That is what I did, and it felt natural, really. I've been trying to use quite direct language, as I felt that the music is quite direct and the same goes for vocal production. I tried to take off the reverb on vocals in order to get the vocals more up-front and closer [to the listener]. That's very important. If you have a lot of this chorus and reverb, the vocals get really distant, and for me it is not about level, having it loud enough, it's just like having it up-front, so then you need to go easy on the reverb. With the lyrics as well, it was all part of the process of being direct and the lyrics are very direct in the sense that there's no sophisticated language at all. I guess in a way you could call it some kind of futuristic street language or something. <chuckles>

CoC: I completely agree that it is not as complex, but from the actual song titles I imagine the lyrics behind them seem to be a lot more metaphorical and a lot less literal on _RE_. _Dark Medieval Times_, _The Shadowthrone_ and _Nemesis Divina_ were a little more like storytelling, whereas this is more like you're expressing your feelings through some kind of metaphor, like "Havoc Vulture" and "Supersonic Journey".

S: Yeah. Absolutely correct. I mean, the thing is I like working with metaphors a lot, you know, and it's always... I like, in a way, the middle way -- sometimes a tree is a tree, you know, and it shouldn't be called anything more than a tree. But, you know, other times you could go a little bit further and... there is an expression in Norwegian called <goruns greten>, which means adding all that unnecessary stuff in order to make it sound bigger and more poetic and all that. Then like working a little bit in-between in that grey sound you have there, and that's maybe where those metaphors come in. The new lyrics are basically very much a reflection of whatever is going on in my mind at the time. I mean, there's a lot of people -- you haven't read all the lyrics, have you?

CoC: I haven't been able to read any of them, I haven't got a lyrics sheet.

S: OK. No, because there is a line which is not being sung, but in the lyrics of "Tied in Bronze Chains", it says: "Where have all the flowers gone in October 1997", and I don't sing " October 1997", but it says that in the booklet. [In fact, what is written in the booklet is actually "(So) where do all the flowers come from (in October 1997)", and that is what he sings (without the October part). --Pedro] The reason for that was that I was using a metaphor of a certain feeling that I had -in- October 1997. So, the reason for me saying that is just to make it even more clear that it's a reflection of whatever is going on in my mind at the time. As we were using a metaphor in that lyric about something very specific right then, you know. It was not a general state of mind. It was a state of mind in October 1997.

CoC: Moving on to the choice of title. I think in some ways you've rebelled with this album, against certain trends in black metal, or just certain tendencies black metal bands have these days: you've gone less symphonic when it is becoming more popular to be more symphonic. So, does the title reflect that, that you're trying to -rebel- against that?

S: It is, a bit. The title is reflecting a bit of the lyrical and the musical content of the album, and also the attitude behind the album. It also reflects a little bit what Satyricon is about, because Satyricon is a little bit extravagant and a little bit controversial. That's it, really.

CoC: I was going to focus quickly on your use of the word "extravaganza". I pedantically looked it up in the dictionary and it was listed as being any "lavish or fanciful display in composition" [Collins English Dictionary --Paul]. I was curious, because I would say that, if anything, this album is less "lavish and fanciful" than any of your previous albums. I was wondering if you had a different understanding of the word or whether you disagreed that it's not "lavish and fanciful", or whether it is used ironically?

S: No. Really, directly translated into Norwegian it means -- I'm trying to find the English word for it now -- it's called <'o'ther d'o'de> in Norwegian, which means like... I'll ask Frost. <speaks to Frost in Norwegian briefly> He's thinking now. <pause> "With great splendor", maybe?

CoC: Ah, yeah, I can see what you're saying there. Okay.

S: That's quite close, at least.

CoC: You're saying it is more "monumental", maybe?

S: Yeah, yeah. It's like taking it just one step further than anything else. Even though those photos and the -- dammit, there's some stupid kids in the warehouse staring at us all the time.

CoC: <I laugh> What, across the street or something?

S: No, there's a window between us so they're sitting there with the new Nuclear Blast catalogue and they're pointing at the front cover, which has a picture of us. <I laugh again> Stupid. I think they even work here, that's the worst thing. But anyway, where were we?

CoC: You were beginning to talk about the photos...

S: Yeah, I was going to say -- even though the photos are in a way filthy and they've got this dirty feeling to them and all that, and the music is all very direct, in your face -- you have the extravagant feeling to it with this... do you only have a promo CD?

CoC: I only have a card promo.

S: Well, the presentation, the booklet, is monumental. With this extremely thick glossy paper, which is like twenty pages, and it is just like an orgy in extravagant photos and artwork. Also, the way the album opens, with this extremely heavy theme -- which starts "Tied in Bronze Chains" -- and then followed up by this total rape part which comes afterward [with "Filthgrinder"]. It reflects a little bit of everything with the use of the word extravagant.

CoC: You've always done very good presentation, with _Nemesis Divina_ and _The Shadowthrone_.

S: That's also just a reflection of what we're interested in, let's say in private life. You know, art and a general interest in aesthetics.

CoC: Do you think the material on _RE_ will work better live because it relies less on the keyboards and the subtler melodic elements, because it is a little more "in your face"?

S: Yeah, it could be both things, really. I think that's obviously a point, that it's more direct and that it's more aggressive and down-to-earth. It's more live in that way. Also to me it was very important to make it sound live on the album, in the way that I don't want something overproduced and I think it adds some primal raw feeling to it, and that's going to reflect in a good way live. The problem with it that I see is that there are a lot of extremely fast parts on the album and I always find -- whether it's us or it's Emperor or Morbid Angel, whatever --, I just find fast parts not to work live.

CoC: Yeah, especially if the sound system isn't really up to it.

S: Yeah. I have experience at gigs with those parts working as well, but usually it's the opposite, so I always have been wondering how Marduk is doing live. <laughs>

Well, that's it. I have every hope that Satyricon make it to a town near you, and especially near me, soon, and that they sound as good as Marduk -- as anyone who has seen them live will testify -- in fact do in the flesh.

(article submitted 9/12/1999)

1/15/2000 D Rocher Satyricon: ...and Thus Spake the Dark Half
3/14/1999 P Schwarz Satyricon: An Extravagant Rebel Conquest
11/11/2008 J Smit 8.5 Satyricon - The Age of Nero
3/26/2006 J Montague 2 Satyricon - Now, Diabolical
7/12/2003 Q Kalis 8.5 Satyricon - Volcano
10/12/1999 P Azevedo 9 Satyricon - Rebel Extravaganza
8/12/1999 A Wasylyk 8 Satyricon - Intermezzo II
9/14/1997 S Hoeltzel 4 Satyricon - Megiddo
8/12/1996 S Hoeltzel 5 Satyricon - Nemesis Divina: The Conquering
5/10/1996 S Hoeltzel 7 / 5 Satyricon - The Forest Is My Throne
Enslaved - Yggdrasill
3/5/2000 M Noll Satyricon / Behemoth / Hecate Enthroned Untied Bronze Chains
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