The Devil Is Always Right
As Watain, the notorious, infamous black metal troopers, the sovereign of the darkest realms are back from an extensive tour across North America together with Behemoth (and the like of The Devil’s Blood and in Solitude) frontman Erik Danielsson shares few words from his retreat in South Oregon on the very near future of the band… and even more to come along a blustery, tempestuous path towards conquering the world with plenty of fire and blood. As They celebrate this year the 13th anniversary of their superb career with a state of the art dvd Opus Diaboli, Watain are about to savage the Metal Hammer Golden Gods awards in London and are getting dangerously ready for what will undoubtedly be an epic live performance at Bloodstock Open Air 2012. For those of you who remember Watain’s memorable late night blast at Sonisphere last year, Bloodstock will be the perfect, infamous ending of a journey into the darkest path…and the beginning of a new chapter.
Welcome back from what could be described as a unique, state of the art tour, too bad it only happened across the US and did not reach Europe: what was it like to share it with Behemoth, The Devil’s Blood and In Solitude?
We all agreed once it was over that it was one of those tours that happen very rarely, where everything was just right every night. It had to do with so many factors, first of all the combination of bands. Most of the times, tour packages are put together based on politics, it’s like labels and booking agents coming together, bringing together whatever band they think should be on tour at the moment. This was different, it was all arranged based on artistic and spiritual values which was great as I think every tour should be like this. Every night, it was just very inspiring to have the other three bands to share the shows with, it was fantastic, very well arranged and attended.
We heard back in Europe that there have some been several controversial reactions following your shows: is there any particular city of this tour you had to face problems with the local authorities and if so, what sort of accusations have these authorities thrown at Watain?
Being in a band like Watain and being on tour with the other three bands that were on the bill, everybody was expecting controversy and of course we have got a fair share of it during this tour. I think there is no other country in the world like the US when it comes to being fundamentally Christian and very conservative which is totally contradictive to everything that all the bans that were on this tour stand for. Of course we met quite a lot of opposition as we went along pretty much everywhere, but even more importantly I think was for the people that came to our shows to see that the bands of this tour package were completely opposite to all this. And that was what I preferred to focus on, instead of whatever resistance that has been met, which was trampled down, extinguished as any kind of opposition should. There will always be people that try to correct us and fight the devil, but they will soon learn that the devil cannot be fought, he will always win. This is really what this tour was a big proof of.
Was there any particular city where you felt people have been waiting long and were dying to see Watain?
We only did one tour in the US prior to this one, so I felt that there was indeed the need for another one. The US seems to have become the country where you can pretty much go at any time and we have a very devoted crowd that always show up no matter what. I think this time the fans were particularly happy everywhere to have us in a bill with all the other bands fitting perfectly to what we do, which did not happened in the past. It looks like we came over at the right time for this event.
With four, outstanding studio albums in your extensive repertoire, how difficult it is to put together the set-list for the shows? Do you still play tracks from Rabid Death’s Curse?
It’s getting harder and harder to put the set-list together, of course but also what we are trying to do as much as we can, is to change the set list night after night, just to be able to actually take in more of both the old and the new material. One thing we did on this tour, on the last five dates I was also playing guitar so I had to remember what songs I could actually play which I have not done for quite a while, that pretty much lead to play stuff from the first two albums (Rabid Death’s Curse and Casus Luciferi) which was really cool because we have not played those songs in a very long time and we realized that they still work. People that came out on those last five shows got to see something very special. This kind of gave us the taste for trying out more of the old stuff and keep it in the repertoire. We’ll see, we try to be open with the set-list, take it as it comes and play what we feel like.
Lawless, Darkness is still very alive and listened to in the black metal community, being one of its masterpiece. Any anticipation on the follow-up?
Well as a matter of fact the place where I am at right now which is up in the mountains in South Oregon is the place where I have gone to start the writing process. But then if it will be a full length album or a single or a movie or a book I do not know. I want to keep everything as open as possible because we want to make sure that with Watain, we will always do our best not to follow the ordinary patterns of a band. We like to question and do things our own way. We’ll see, one thing that is for sure is that there is lot of material.
Why did you feel at this point of your career the need to release Opus Diaboli?
For many reasons really. We have been talking for quite a long time about making something in video format, it was mainly about the fact that we wanted to try out the work in that format, which turned out great and inspiring to work in a complete new way, expressing Watain in a completely different way we are used to and that we have not done before. It’s also a thirteen year anniversary release, thirteen has always been a very important number to us being the number of death and the number of the crossroad. It marks the death of the old and the birth of the new really. Another reason that I personally find very important is that we wanted to make a proper presentation of the band, as at the moment there are so many people wanting to put us in this category or that one as a controversial band. We wanted to take the opportunity to show whoever who want to listen to us how WE feel about Watain, what it means to us. Over the last years there have been so many new fans coming into our circle, we wanted to explain to them what they got themselves in to.
Speaking about the UK, you left great memories with an amazing, late at night, performance at Sonisphere last year. Few of us will be lucky to see you performing at the Metal Hammer Golden Gods in few days before you hit Bloodstock Open Air 2012. Any anticipation on the set list for the Golden Gods?
Metal Hammer got in touch with us and a bunch of other bands because they wanted to have live music at the awards. It’s going to be a very short concert, two-three songs really. But the good thing is that we have made sure that we will use the full stage show with all the pyro and everything. I think that no matter how short it will be, I think people are going to remember it. We have some nice stuff planned, Watain is never a show that someone can walk away from without having an opinion about it, we are just going to keep that up very much. This is an award it’s not a proper concert, I see this as a challenge really, and also we have been nominated in the live category together with Metallica, Iron Maiden and Rammstein, it feels we have something to prove, we will see.
I did vote for Watain.
Thank you, I really appreciate it.
I think your show will be the highlight of the Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards! Anything else you would like to add Erik?
Like I said thirteen years for us means the death of an era and the birth of a new one, our show at Bloodstock will be the very last show of this era that we are in right now. I hope people will come to see it because it will be a spectacular ending and a spectacular beginning.
Erik Danielsson could not have been more right on the Watain show at the Golden Gods Awards, it will certainly be remembered. Taking possession of the stage with the crosses, pyro and Watain’s powerful black metal destructive militia with Malfeitor and Reaping Death, the band generate nothing but pure bliss. This is what Erik share with us right after Watain’s short but memorable performance that makes everybody wish Bloodstock was already happening the following day.
Welcome back to the UK Erik and welcome to the Golden Gods Awards. As we mentioned last time we spoke, you left great memories here with your show at Sonisphere last year. What was it like to play live here tonight Malfeitor and Reaping Death? Your set was awesome!
I know there were lots of people here that maybe have never really heard about us, so we just wanted them to want to see more of Watain you know? We wanted to make sure we were going to use the pyro and everything. It was cool that they allowed us to do the show the way we wanted, that’s what we needed. We open most of our shows with Malfeitor, it really gets you deep, deep down.
How is the follow up to Lawless Darkness progressing?
Where I was in South Oregon last month, it was just me and my ideas with nothing else around me, that does not happen very often unfortunately it was just what I needed to work on the new material.
Is there any band tonight at the Golden Gods Awards you feel proud to share the stage with?
We have been friends with Ghost for a long time, it seems that our generation is starting to take over.
Are you looking forward to Bloodstock?
I am, even if right now it feels very far away. We have the whole summer off now to get ready, we will be preparing some very special stuff!
Watain will not win the Best Live Band award (which was assigned to Rammstein), but have mercilessly overtaken the Best Underground Act category. Beware, the next Watain era is approaching!