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Interviews : Watain (Erik Danielsson) – 31/07/2010

By on July 31, 2010

Watain – Erik Danielsson

Watain lend their name from a track released by the American black metal group Von. Watain’s infectious dark grooves and black metal grimness have lead them on tour with some of the heavy weights of the black metal world. Rotting Christ, Dark Funeral and Anteaus too name a few…

Metal Obsession had the pleasure to speak with lead singer, Erik Danielsson about the band’s lateast release Lawless Darkness, touring and the infamous nazi salute at Party Sans in 2006.

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Metal Obsession: Until now, not many people in Australia have heard of Watain. Can you give a brief history of the band?

Erik Danielsson: We started about eleven years ago, in the beginning it was like a glowing lump of iron that we have forged into a glimmering dagger that we are ready to cut with. Lawless Darkness is the very element of that evolution.

It is our grand ornament so far in the course of the band. It has everything that black metal has meant in the past, and it also reveals a new face in the genre.

MO: With Lawless Darkness, what has been the reaction from the fans and the media?

ED: Usually I try to distance myself from their reactions, because I don’t think that I gain anything from it. To me, as an artist, the most important thing is to always stick to my own, to maintain clarity as a musician, which I think can get blurred and tainted from too much input from other people.

In this case, it’s been hard to hide from their reactions because they have been quite overwhelming. It’s been well received from everyone, from press to our true fans. The reaction from the press is one thing, it’s the opinion of one person, the reviews have been perfect on their own, but the response from the shows that we’ve done in the USA and in France, Italy and the UK has been insane. People know the new songs even more than the old songs. It’s been a wild time since the album’s release.

MO: What is the general concept behind Lawless Darkness?

ED: That’s something that I would need two hours and not fifteen minutes to explain, but let’s just say that Lawless Darkness as a title, is two very blunt words.

It’s a very traditional metal title, but it still refers to something that is as far from blunt as possible. It refers to the primordial concept of nothingness before creation. It refers to the concept of salvation and liberation in a Satanic concept. The album is the answer to your question. This is as close as I can come to as to what Lawless Darkness means to me.

MO: What was the inspiration behind the lyrics in the album?

ED: It was our exploration and adoration of that said nothing, that liberation. We had been living our lives in the shadow of victim for as long as I can remember, and that of course colours everything that I do, not only in Watain, but in everyday life.

MO: Who came up with the ideas for the album artwork and layout?

ED: A Polish artist named [ ??? ] did the artwork, he hasn’t done any artwork for any other bands, but he got in touch with us to see if he could do the artwork. It was one of those nights when the stars were aligned… a match made in Hell.

MO: There’s some really good artwork in the layout.

ED: Yeah, well our artistic vision demanded that, we sent the artist a three-page letter to give him an idea of what illustrations we want, what symbols we wanted and he carried them out with his perfect skill and art.

MO: The progression in the music with Lawless Darkness is evident compared to its predecessor, Sworn to the Dark, and definitely has a darker feel. Was that something you were aiming for or was it something that came naturally?

ED: The only aim that we’ve ever had in the band’s history was always to translate the songs that we heard in our hearts. There are never any aims of trying to make something dark, something thrashier or this or that. I know that will be a very weird source of motivation for me.

For me, Watain has always been about purity of the person and the way things are progressing, and the way things move within oneself, that’s the same progression you will hear in the music. The reason why the album turned out like it did was because our lives, both physical and spiritual, have been very dark and very dynamic over the course of composing and recording the album and that’s why it sounds the way it does.

MO: You’ve been touring around Europe since the album was released, how have the shows been going?

ED: We did three shows in Europe and they were all festival shows but it’s too early to say. We played the Kings of Black Metal festival in Germany about a year ago [which was Watain’s last show before working on Lawless Darkness], and it’s very weird for us to stay away from the stage for as long as one year, because we feed off the live performances.

Since that show, it’s been pushing from within all the time. These first shows that we’ve done for the new album have been about opening the gates again and letting all of it out. Of course they’re really special in that sense. It’s been overwhelming.

MO: In a sense, would you describe the live Watain experience as ‘magickal’?

ED: That depends on one’s interpretation of ‘magick’, but to me there is magick in our work, and it’s magickal work that we’re doing on the stage in the sense that there is communion between us as persons, as humans, as artists, and something that is far greater than ourselves.

Magick to me is the bridge between those two poles, between those two realities. That is when magick happens, and that is what happens when Watain is on the stage.

MO: In 2006, when Watain played at Party San Open Air, there was press reports that members of Watain had done the Nazi salute onstage. Is this true?

ED: We never did. It was something that the media came up with after the show. There is no truth to that statement. The only thing that happened was that one of us was wearing a t-shirt depicting a band whose members apparently had some association with Nazis, and because of that, we had festivals cancelled on us, we had every moaning bitch calling us everything every day demanding an explanation.

We just told them to fuck off, and I still mostly do. If people want to focus on this little petty matter, then they perhaps do not belong in the Watain world in the first place. Of course we’re not a political band; anyone with half a brain can understand that. We have one guy in the band from Sweden, one from Tunisia and one Italian in the band, I mean, what the fuck do we care about racial purity? We care about worldwide death.

MO: Is there any chance of Watain touring Australia in the near future?

ED: Definitely. Not even a shadow of doubt. We’re still negotiating, but we hope to make it over this year. It’s been a pretty long process getting all the pieces together, but it finally seems to be falling into place. If not this year, then later in 2011. There will be Watain in Australia, for sure.

MO: Would it be your own headlining tour or would you be co-headlining with another band?

ED: It’s too early to say, but I wouldn’t mind either way. For me the most important thing is to get there. We’ve never been to Australia before and it feels like the kind of place where a Watain concert would be a pretty natural thing.

Places like South America and Eastern Europe have this kind of… rougher, more primal outlook on metal, which I always relate to a lot myself. The Australian friends that I have there, I can see in their eyes that it would work very well to do a Watain concert over there.

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Q’s: Megan Masters
A’s: Erik Danielsson
Band: Watain
Date: 29/07/2010
www.templeofwatain.com