Serpent Singer Sheds His Skin
Chronicles of Chaos chats with Piotr Wawrzeniuk
by: Adrian Bromley
While Serpent's debut album, _In The Garden of the Serpent_, might not be the most popular piece of metallic harshness to be flung into the music scene of late, it is however one truly remarkable assemblage of riffs and groove that'll shake any foundation to rubble. The riffs are thick and Sabbath-esque, the vocals are heavy and gritty and the production is simple. Pure, uncommercial music to take hold of and crank. The band was formed in 1993 by bassist Lars Rosenberg (then of Entombed) and drummer Piotr Wawrzeniuk and guitarist Andreas Wahl, both of Therion at the time. Over a period of time, members shifted and finally settled on the line-up that included Wawrzeniuk (taking over vocals), Rosenberg, drummer Per Karlsson, and guitarists Johan Lundell and Ulf Samuelsson. They then recorded their debut album _ITGotS_ in the spring of 1995 at In Deep Studio in Stockholm, Sweden with engineer Anders Paulsson. Speaking with lead singer Piotr Wawrzeniuk from Sweden, he goes into detail about the difficulties of touring, success, and breaking into the American market. Here is how it went:

CoC: How have things been going for you guys?

Piotr Wawrzeniuk: Not bad. We have just gotten back into the studio and are rehearsing new songs because it has been quite awhile since we wrote the material for the debut album.

CoC: What kind of material or sound are you looking for with the new stuff you are presently working on?

PW: I don't think the music will be much different. We were hungry to make new music and we didn't look for a new style or approach rather just have a hard, loud sound to get our kicks out of it. It is fun writing these songs but it is still the same style... maybe a bit slower though?

CoC: Have you guys decided if you will tour in the near future? Aside from playing Europe, what are the chances of you playing the United States?

PW: Ooh... to tour over in the Unites States, you have to sell plenty of records in Europe, somewhere in the vicinity of 30,000 records and we will never do that. Bands like us never sell that many here in Europe.

CoC: What about getting a tour in Europe?

PW: I am not sure about that. It is hard to get a tour over here in Europe if you play such uncommercial music. We are looking for a tour though in the coming months. Of course we could play Europe but the money we would make would not be enough to cover the car, gas or hotels and we don't want to pay for this so I guess nothing is going to happen right now.

CoC: Considering yourself somewhat uncommercial, how have you managed to stay away from commercialism while other death metal or metal acts have gone to that source for exposure?

PW: Well, I have played in many bands in the years and I wanted to do something really heavy and slow. So did Lars and it just ended up this way. Of course, I wouldn't mind being in a successful band and selling lots of records but unfortunately this music is not selling a lot but we still play it and enjoy making this type of music.

CoC: Do you value your music more than your success?

PW: Yes. I have done so many compromises in the music industry with my other bands and they didn't get far and I would rather stay where I am and be happy doing it. At least we can feel comfortable about our music and not care what people say.

CoC: How would you describe your band to people who may not know your music?

PW: I would say that we are a hard rock band. More hard rock than metal I'd say.

CoC: I'd say you are a bit along the lines of Kyuss with your dirge-like gritty guitar with heavy bass sound backing the music. I wouldn't say you are metal.

PW: We produced the record ourselves and we made it sound this way on purpose as it went along with the music. We made it sound like the last Saint Vitus record. I thought that record sounded great. We just wanted to capture that style with this record and I think we captured a feeling of hard rock and heaviness.

CoC: What do you think is the best attribute that comes out of the album?

PW: That is hard to say. Some people like the vocals. I personally don't think they are outstanding, and they are comparing them to Wino of The Obsessed. The sound is very important because I can't imagine the music we have written without this sound of heaviness and creativity.

(article submitted 10/5/1996)

4/18/1996 A Bromley 6 Serpent - In The Garden of Serpent
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