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Interviews : “Watain in a much more primal, primitive setting” – An interview with Erik Danielsson (Watain)

By on January 9, 2019

Watain… black metal elite! Fearsome Scandinavians… peddling fire, impaled animal heads, tridents and spiked wristbands. Brutally uncompromising black metal inspired by the great Belial himself. Yep, they’re all that!

To many fans of the blackened musical arts, the name Watain is just as important to the genre as “Generation II” black metal outfits such as Mayhem, Immortal and Satyricon. What is less written about Watain, thus understood, is that in their own unique way they are an outstanding rock’n’roll band whose musical heritage includes inspiration from the Godfathers, The Rolling Stones and the Beatles.

That’s right! According to the man at the centre of Watain, Erik Danielsson, who it must be said is an outstanding interview subject and a very effective communicator of his thoughts, the Rolling Stones and the Beatles have played a significant role in influencing Watain. Asked to confirm and discuss the impact of the revered duo, this is what he had to say.

“With the Beatles it was definitely Revolver (’66). If you want to know more ways the Beatles have influenced us, you can just take a look at that (album) cover because it, to me, it looks like a fanzine… a black/ death metal underground fanzine painting. With The Rolling Stones, I would almost say Their Satanic Majesties Request (’67), which is obviously… later on when I got a bit older I was obsessed with that title and the whole story about The Rolling Stones being affiliated with all sorts of outlaw-ish and occult groups and all that.

It’s cool that you mention it as I cannot find any reason to not agree. I would add though that besides those bands, which we were always listening, my earliest musical experiences I listened to a lot of, what do you say… that type of music. I listen to a lot of music from the sixties and seventies and I also see very clearly how that has coloured some of my favourite heavy metal bands… early Judas Priest or AC/DC or you know, these types of bands obviously came from that background to a certain extent. It’s all tied together and the important point here is probably that… if you wanna do this, you need to know about the source of things. You need to know the source material if you want to be able to develop as a musician.”

That last point is crucial for the young and emerging musician out there reading this. To develop as a musician, you must be open minded and be prepared to take inspiration from many sources, especially the elder craftsmen of modern pop and rock music.

The reason for Danielsson’s conversation with Australian indie-journo types was to discuss Watain’s return to the Antipodes. Their previous visit was with Polish blitzkrieg Behemoth in 2015, this time around they tour as headliners taking in three Australian and two Kiwi cities.

“The Australian and New Zealand part of the tour is, it’s a part of a longer tour that we’re doing that’s actually stretching (over) two months, which is one of the longest tours we have done. We’ll start off to South America and then after that we’ll fly to Melbourne. We have a few weeks in Melbourne, actually, then we start off the tour.

One of the things we’re always struggling with when we’re going that far and traveling by plane is that we can’t bring the truckload of hell-machinery that we do when we are touring in Europe and the states obviously (laughter). There’s of course going to be traditional Watain show elements, but it’s definitely gonna be more intimate settings and a much more… compressed type of show, which I personally look forward to immensely because I’m getting a bit weary of always kind of relying on a huge stage production. I miss doing things a little bit simpler or at least, it’s nice to have the (ability to do) both of those things.

But it’s interesting because I talked to people from Europe, from the fan club for example, who are like, ‘Oh, I’ve seen (Watain) a bunch of times with a big stage show’, they’re a bit envious now of the people that are going to see us this tour because it’s going to be much more… just straightforward and (it’s) Watain in a much more primal, primitive setting. I really, really look forward to it”

Sounds like The Ramones version of Watain?

“Yes, exactly. That’s a very good comparison actually”

Catch Watain in Australia this February with special guests Nocturnal Graves. Tickets on sale now via Soundworks Direct. Click here to secure your tickets.

Catch Watain on tour this February with special guests Nocturnal Graves. Click here to secure your tickets.

WATAIN with Nocturnal Graves performing at:
February 22nd – Melbourne, Max Watt’s w/ Eskhaton
February 23rd – Brisbane, Crowbar w/ Impetuous Ritual
February 24th – Sydney, The Factory w/ Sorathian Dawn
February 26th – Wellington, Valhalla w/ Voice Of The Black Pharoah 
February 27th – Auckland, Galatos w/ Winter Deluge



Andrew is a musician who has spent many years performing on the stages of the pubs and clubs of Queensland. A devotee of the broad church that is rock, punk, funk, jazz and of course all genres of metal... he now shares his enthusiasm via a burgeoning pursuit of music journalism. Follow him on twitter @andymckaysmith