“We like being able to perform what we do live in front of the fans, wherever they are located and we believe in the power of music so for us it’s a great forum to unleash the energy.”
The black metal gods were hardly on my side Friday June 8th 2012, when I attended the Marduk, 1349 & Withered concert at Reggie’s rock club, 2109 S. State Street Chicago, IL. Yes, I’m an idiot for not anticipating Chicago traffic and I promise the extreme metal deities and you dear readers that I will do my best to do so in the future.
Nevertheless, due to my inexcusable tardiness, my opportunity to meet Marduk lain solely in the hands of Marduk’s tour manager, Jarrett. I owe this opportunity and article almost completely to Jarrett, simply because he found a way to ‘squeeze me in’, thanks again Jarrett!
In addition, I want to formally thank Morgan of Marduk for making himself available to me on such short notice and allowing me to conduct this interview on the band’s air conditioned tour bus!
Please enjoy some excerpts of my 6/8/12 interview:
David Halbe: This current tour started in Russia on May 11th. Here it is less than a month later and you guys have already flown across the globe and played concerts in parts of Canada and the US, this tour sounds like the whirlwind from hell, how are you guys holding up?
Morgan “Evil” Steinmeyer Håkansson: So far so good. We started off in Siberia, Russia. I think it’s a great place to start a tour like this. We started out with three shows in Siberia, then we did a handful of dates more in Russia, just stopped home, then we flew out here, started out in Puerto Rico up the east coast to Canada and now we’re here, we’ve got another two and a half weeks worth of dates, we finish up in California, then we’re flying down and doing a few shows in Mexico then back home for some summer festivals and I just got the tour dates for Europe, we’re going to do like forty-two dates so it’s a lot of marching coming up but that’s the way we enjoy it. We like being able to perform what we do live in front of the fans, wherever they are located and we believe in the power of music so for us it’s a great forum to unleash the energy.
Dave: Marduk is one of the first black metal bands and well known for their legendary live performances. The physical demands required to play extreme music are well known, not to mention the hardships of touring, how have you managed to stay healthy and on top of you game for so long?
Morgan: Staying healthy? (Laughs) Sometimes it’s hard to stay healthy on the road but it doesn’t matter as long as you have motivation and dedication to what you do. I think it’s something you have to do, you don’t think about the hardship, you think about the triumph of being able to be there performing and spreading your message as you march across the world.
Dave: Having over twenty of years music must make it difficult to compile a set list, would you rather play songs from your more recent works to accommodate younger fans or is it better to reward longtime fans with the classics?
Morgan: I believe in a combination. In one way I believe you are never stronger than your latest album and therefore you should focus on playing what you’ve done lately. Of course fans and the band as well, enjoy playing the old songs, so we will try to do some but we usually try to do more from the new album. In this case the new album just came out so we will do just a few songs but not too many.
Dave: What do you say to fans who think you’ve abandoned your classic sound on the last couple of releases?
Morgan: I don’t think we have. We’re still very true to the sound we’ve always had. Being a musician you don’t want to redo everything you’ve done. Some people say we always sound the same, some say we’ve changed a lot, I don’t know. We follow the instinct and do what comes natural for us. We follow the inspiration and see where it takes us. We never sit down and plan we have to sound a specific way, for creating music you do it as it comes, that’s what we believe in.
Dave: What songs off Serpent Sermon will be incorporated into your live set?
Morgan: Today, because the album just came out two days ago, we’re doing two songs. We’re doing the title track “Serpent Sermon” and we’re doing the track “Souls for Belial”, we started rehearsing “Gospel of the Worm” and we might do it later on. We’ve got a good combination for one hour so we’ll just do two this time but if we come back later on we might do four.
Dave: Where did the idea for the Serpent Sermon album cover come from?
Morgan: The album cover was done by our vocalist Mortuus. We are very much a band that are do-it-yourself. We record in a studio owned by our bass player, that’s where we mixed the album. Since we are the people that work with the music and lyrics, no one knows better how we ought to sound than us. Same thing when it comes to the artwork it was done by our vocalist. Who better would know how to reflect the spirit of what we are doing. It’s a kind of primitive album cover.
Dave: It reminds of the demon Pazuzu from the Exorcist.
Morgan: Yeah, the demon, devil, whatever you make out of it. Everybody knows what the pentagram is. It’s just a strong symbol that makes up the whole sense of the album.
Dave: Is Marduk’s sound evolving?
Morgan: I think so. Expanding and sometimes regressing, going back and in a lot of different directions, and it’s hard to say how our next album will sound because as I said earlier we work off of inspiration.
Dave: Do you have an opinion on music sharing sites like Youtube and Facebook?
Morgan: Facebook, I am not a big fan of. We have a Facebook site and it’s good to get tour dates up and changes out fast. Personally, I am not a fan of these communities and I don’t want to sit there wasting time reading posts about some guy taking a shit or whatever, I don’t care what other people are doing. I prefer to do complete different things than sit in front of a computer when I’m back home.
Youtube is bad in one aspect as well because in a way it destroys feelings. For example, if you follow a band, you’ll see that almost every show they play is available the day after or the next, it takes away the magic of going to see a show. But at the same time it’s great when I’m able to see a Mercyful Fate concert from ’82 that somebody put up or old Possessed from ’86. But it takes away the magic – when I was younger, I traded tapes and waited for video tapes and there was an excitement that I think is lost today. Today you get it instantly in front of the computer, that part of the magic is gone.
Dave: Are digital downloads the future of music or will metal-heads always desire the physical product?
Morgan: That’s what time shall tell. I still believe the whole downloading thing hasn’t affected metal as much as it has some others but still you see the effect on the industry. Back in my home city, we used to have six or seven record stores now we have one but even when we had several I’d go out looking for an album and if I can’t find I can order it through the internet and still get the physical product but its far more complicated.
Probably the future is downloading, the cd at least will cease to exist within a few years but the vinyl will probably still be there. Vinyl will survive cd because kids are picking up on the thing that they were never a part of. Kids that are fifteen, fourteen years today they were never a part of buying vinyl so for them its something new, you see kids going out and buying Reign in Blood on vinyl because it’s coming back so I think that vinyl will survive the cd.
I still think that metal heads want to have their albums, at least I’m that way, I wanna have the have the physical product. As an artist myself I put a lot of energy into music, lyrics and artwork, I want the whole package. I more or less refuse to check it out in the internet. I want to wait until I have it. I want to sit down and have the full impression of it.
Dave: How would you compare the music scenes in Europe when compared to North America?
Morgan: I think it’s more or less the same. If you play in Siberia or you play in Venezuela, or if you play in New York or wherever in Germany you still have people in black, they wear the same leather jackets, they have the bullet belt, they listen to the same stuff, they wear the same old shirt.
Dave: How do you think the concept of Satan differs in Black Metal when compared to Death Metal?
Morgan: I think you cannot differentiate that concept between black and death metal, it comes from the individual.
Dave: Marduk is one of the few recognizable and respected old school back metal bands left. Do you feel a responsibility to carry the torch and keep the standards high?
Morgan: Yes! And that’s what I think we’re doing. There’s always room for a lot of other bands as well, people always discuss and see what they consider to be this or that, I mean, we never think about being part of a scene. We do what we do and we do what we believe and we believe in the power of our creation, so we just continue to march, doing what we do, whether people like it or not.
Dave: I just read the Loudwire article claiming that you (Morgan “Evil”) actually own pieces of Mayhem’s deceased vocalist “Dead’s” skull (from his suicide back in 1991), is that true?
Morgan: Yes, that’s very old news. (Laughs)
Dave: So what’s the deal with that? Do you have it home somewhere? You know, its part of black metal lore.
Morgan: It was sent out to selected few comrades. For me its old news, I’ve had it since 91.
Dave: Hey, thanks for the interview! Good luck with the show tonight!
Morgan: Thank you.
- Morgan – Guitars
- Lars – Drums
- Mortuus– Vocals
- Devo – Bass
This article was originally published 06/25/12 by Metalrecusants.com