Interview: Watain returns to US for one unholy, uncompromising ritual
Erik Danielsson of Sweden’s black metal legion Watain spoke via email with my photographer friend Kassandra Carmona a few months ago during the group’s initial tour for the album “The Wild Hunt.” Kassandra recently sent the interview to me for publication here, even though she had posted it on her own blog. Now that Watain has announced a special one-off show in Brooklyn on June 15, I thought it only fitting to update the information with some more recent comments from the man himself. Erik quickly and graciously responded. This Q&A is divided into two parts, the first part with questions from Kassandra (KC) and the second part with questions from me (MS).
If you have never seen Watain live, the June 15 show at Brooklyn Night Bazaar promises to give attendees the full multi-sensory experience. If you HAVE seen them live in the US, which I have a couple of times, what you have witnessed has probably been a watered-down version of what they are capable of. Certainly listening to Watain on recording is powerful in and of itself. Watching their DVD “Opus Diaboli” can help to further gain an understanding of the Watain ritual. But to fully appreciate what they are really all about, one should see them live, uncensored and uncompromised, at least once. After reading Erik’s responses to my questions about this show, I am very tempted to find my way up to NYC for the Father’s Day show. I feel like it’s really going to push some boundaries, but when has Watain not pushed some boundaries? Who knows, they might usher in the end of mankind. If the stars align, I will be there.
Tickets to the Brooklyn Night Bazaar event are $25 and can be purchased here. Expect this show to sell out. The venue is unusual so you might want to visit the Brooklyn Night Bazaar’s website to see what you are in for. I have no idea how it will be configured for this show.
KC: Well, to start out you guys have been on tour in support of your latest release “The Wild Hunt” for about 4 months now, reaching from the States to Australia. Considering that you’ve been touring partners bands like Mayhem, In Solitude and Tribulation. What has been the tour experience like this time around?
It’s been a long and hard ride so far, very rewarding though, and filled with many important moments and experiences. We always try to pick carefully what bands we play with, mainly because we have learnt from the past that if we go on the road with the wrong bands, things usually end up pretty fucking bad. We don’t like to take bullshit and we don’t like to be around wimps, as simple as that. Us and In Solitude are of course close already and meet each other often back home as well, so touring with them was basically being on the road with a bunch of friends. Which is great, makes things easier and more focused in a way. With Mayhem things work really well too, perhaps a bit more of an explosive scenario, haha…
KC: As far as the few announcements I’ve seen, you are still announcing more European tour dates, and some very close to home, do you approach the rituals at home, let’s say any “different” than the ones elsewhere?
The next thing we have coming up is a Scandinavian tour, so it’s all pretty much close to home yes. There is something I really like about performing here, the crowds are always big and passionate and wild and loud as fuck. Which is good. But I would not say we approach the shows differently, no. What happens on the stage with Watain -at least within our minds and spirits- is the same in Antofagasta as it is in Stockholm.
KC: Now that you’ve covered the US, Australia, & Europe, what other places are you planning to tour this year?
For the rest of the year we have a big European headline tour together with Degial coming up in March and April. After that the festival season starts, which is always interesting. Playing at European festivals is always a good opportunity to hammer down the Darkness of Watain into peoples souls, because so many of the crowds are just regular festival goers that are there to have a good time. Then, there, after a day of drinking and partying in the sun and becoming like useless overheated animals, they find themselves standing before a Temple of Fire and Chaos, from which venomous radiance they will not be able to shield themselves. The concerts then become a merciless incineration of mindless joy, overpowering and truly dangerous. So yea, I am very much looking forward to that. We are definitely going to try to do South America and Japan this year as well.
KC: Stepping aside the touring life, I would like go a little more in-depth into what Watain has become and the road leading to it. You began the band at very young age, what was your purpose when starting the band, and is that purpose the same? Did age play anything into what you believed your life would be in a band like Watain? Did you ever expect Watain to become what is it now?
The reason behind the formation of Watain was our burning, fanatical approach towards Black Metal and our will to be a part of that movement, to feed it with our own fires, to honor its codes and to explore it’s divine origins. Eventually it came to grow into something far greater than that, a brotherhood, a weapon with which to fight the world, and a tool of magic. I think we always knew, since day one, that this was going to be something that we were going to stick to for a long time. We were very serious about Black Metal already at such a young age (we were between 16 and 18) and we knew that this was not something you got into just as a hobby. When Hell calls your name, there is no way back… And here we are now.
KC: Any message you would like to give to the faithful Watain Disciples?
Hopefully they know by now how much we appreciate and cherish their support, without them our tours would be far less interesting actually. The Disciples thing has grown from a small idea to something quite organized and effective, which we feel very honored by! And we see it growing and hardening every tour we do. We look forward to meet you all along the road during the time to come…
MS: My understanding is that American audiences don’t typically get to see your full ritual performances. Usually there are restrictions from the venue on pyrotechnics, blood, etc. How will this performance be different from other US shows you have done in the past and, more importantly, why are you doing this show NOW in the US?
Touring the US is always a bit problematic with the kind of stage setup we use back here in Europe. The problems are both logistic and ideologic in nature. US organizers and promoters generally have a much less liberal attitude than Europeans, especially towards stuff that lay in the greyzone between what’s “legal” and what’s not. Anyway, sometimes you come across people who are willing to make stuff happen regardless, as is the case with the Brooklyn concert we now have ahead of us. With the combined efforts of a group of determined men and women, professionals as well as criminals, we have– as it looks now at least!– managed to overcome some of the obstacles we have been facing before and the Brooklyn stage should thus be illuminated by the fire of the Will and that strange and terrible Light that only Diabolical things can bestow. Why now? Why not? The snake is cunning. You will never be safe…
MS: What are Watain’s plans for future North American touring?
Right now only the Brooklyn show. We had a tour that was going to be in support of an old band, which we have always been great fans of, but they freaked out when they saw what we wanted to bring on the stage and called the whole thing off. It’s not the first time that happened I can tell you. We currently have some pretty interesting touring scenarios on the table for the States, but we will shed light on those when the time is right.
MS: Anything else you might want people to know right now.
We look forward to set fire to Brooklyn Night and turn it into a pandemonium of Satanic Metal ecstasy!
Note: I may update this post later with some additional photos, however nearly all my own photos of Watain have been lost. Technology hates me.