The Zodiac Chronicle Iceland, June 1998
Text © Magnus Thor Magnusson / The Zodiac Chroncile
Greetings Gunther. How are you feeling today?
Greetings Magnus. I'm feeling quite nice thank you. Just returned from private trips to Holland and Germany where I tasted the local atmosphere. Again I had my fair share of medieval castles and other historical places. Enough energy gathered to dive into your marathon interview. How are you today up there in Iceland? (I'm feeling quite nice, thank you. -ED)
Your new album Fatherland has been in progress for few months now, could you tell us when the album is going to hit the streets?
Beginning of August Fatherland will be released.
I know you had made all the tracks before you entered the studio, but did you make much changes on some of your songs? What's the difference with this release from the previous albums? Maybe you could tell me and the readers something about which topics you choose to deal with this time, song titles and maybe a part of one of your fave lyric from the album.
We have entered the Spacelab Studios in Germany which is owned by musicians who are active in the progressive Metal/Rock scene and classical music. Every note we played was double checked. Indeed they came up with advices about certain melodies. It was a bit like a culture shock since they never worked with a band like ours. A meeting of two different worlds indeed. It was very hard work but well worth it because we achieved a higher musical level this way. also there was no time limit in studio which enabled us to experiment a lot. Some of the song titles are Fatherland, Dying in a Moment of Splendour, 13th Of October 1307, Rise and Fall (Anno Satana), Season's Change, Mother Europe to mention a few. Source of inspiration again have been history and the darkside of things. From a lyrical point of view the approach might be more poetic and melancholic. Every song has its own identity both from a musical and lyrical point of view.
You had a nice budget for the recording, how does that control how things go? Do you think there's more pressure on you doing things much better with such a budget?
Only negative effect of spending one month and three weeks in a studio is the isolation. One gets a bit paranoid when being stuck in the middle of nowhere permanently. However it pushes a person to the limits and more can be achieved, there's no distraction and the mind only focuses on the job.
What kind of people would you like to see buying your new album? Is it still aimed to the hardcore fans or will you be expanding your group of fans, just like many bands have been doing now by playing more varied music?
Music business is unpredictable. So many factors decide if a band makes it or breaks: timing, talent and unfortunately: money. Many talented bands often remain in obscurity while imitators are on top of the scene because there's a big management and label behind them to assure "fame". We never think out these things and simply play what we feel, regardless anyone or anything. When we heard the result of Fatherland we were a bit surprised ourselves with the evolution we went through and wondered what our audience might think. But these speculations should be of no importance. Those who always understood the essence of Ancient Rites certainly will not be disappointed when hearing the new album but it remains a fact we have progressed a lot and one cannot please everyone, this never was our intention in the first place. Nevertheless there is no question of any sell out, we only have matured as musicians and more variety is offered.
Now, lets talk about some of your side-projects, shall we? You seem to be in good contact with people like Magus Wampyr Daoloth, Sotiris from Septic Flesh, Mortiis etc. Could you tell us something about this relationship and how those persons are related to the side-projects you take a part in? Tell us something about Jan Yrlund and how you met up with him.
Sotiris (Septic Flesh), Magus (Necromantia) and I always appreciated 80's Gothic. Since I spend time in Athens every two months a collaboration with people from that scene was bound to happen. This way Danse Macabre was created. We recorded two tracks which were supposed to be released as a 7" ep on Molon Lave Records but since the label ceased to exist the record never saw the light of day. Meanwhile Sotiris had to join the army and all his free time had to be spend on Septic Flesh, Magus' time also became limited. The project was put on ice but I always knew the D.M. saga would continue. Mascot Records were interested in a full length album and when Jan Yrlund (ex-Two Witches/Prestige/Lacrimosa) joined Ancient Rites I asked if he also was interested in the continuation of Danse Macabre. The rest is history. Today Danse Macabre is a duo consisting of Jan and I, in live situations we work with session musicians. Our bassplayer is of Servian origin, the keyboardplayer is Greek/Austrian and the drummer is Dutch.
Mortiis is an old friend of mine, Shadow of Wampyr Shadow Wolf proposed to Mortiis and me to form a project. Music is like a soundtrack. Later this year also a Punkband will be created. Several deals have been offered. It will be like a return to my early years. At the age of five I discovered music through The Beatles. My first full length record I got in '77: Never Mind the Bollocks of Sex Pistols. I was about 12 years old. Still love bands such as Dead Boys, Discharge, Generation X, The Blitz, U.K. Subs (this U.K. Punkband offered an audition when I was in London because their bassplayer Paul Slack played his farewell concert, would have loved to join them but I was still at highschool in Belgium and wanted to finish my studies first), Riistetyt etc. I played in many Punkbands and I think it is about time to release something like that since it is an old passion of mine. In the 70's Punk was the best alternative, a reaction to commercial music and hippie philosophies. Metal didn't exist, let alone Black Metal, Punk was my answer to all these pop and rockstars with their safe and clean music. The Punkproject will be like a tribute to all these old bands who coloured my life when I was a kid. No one can prevent me from doing this, probably many people in my scene will crucify me for this but I do not care about dogma's. Once I like something in life it is eternal. Because of Punk I decided to play music. Motörhead got me into Metal and I owe this band a lot too but before I discovered Motörhead in '80 Punk was my solution. I do not deny my past.
Danse Macabre and Ancient Rites aren't all the bands you've taken a part in. Could you tell us something about the bands you played in before starting Ancient Rites. What about your part in bands like Thou Art Lord and the relationship with Mika from Impaled Nazarene?
In' '79/'80 I started Addix which was a very primitive underground band. '77 styled Punk. I also played in bands such as Subversion (Discharge/Varukers style) and Capital Scum (influences of G.B.H. could be detected). In the early eighties I created Necrophilia which was very raw Black/Thrash Metal influenced by the likes of Venom, Slayer, Destruction. But Necrophilia never got anywhere because it even was impossible to complete the line-up, in those times only few people were interested in playing Black Metal. At first we had no drummer, when we finally found a drummer one of the guitarists turned Hardcore etc... Nevertheless I keep good memories of those total underground days. We lived music 24 hours a day. Since I spend a lot of time in Greece the guys from Thou Art Lord asked if I wanted to appear as a guest vocalist on the song For the Lust of Lilith. Mika is a friend since the Ancient Rites demo days. I was his best man at his wedding. Great guy. Doesn't care about anything either.
I read in an interview couple of weeks ago about how you miss one guy a lot. This bloke was an Slovenian immigrant in Athens, Greece. I assume you know by now which bloke I'm talking about, right, George of Molon Lave records. Could you tell us something about this person, how you met and what made him such a special man in the Greek scene? Maybe you could tell us something about his world famous drinking and eating parties?
George was together with Rotting Christ involved in the organisation of the first Ancient Rites gig in Greece many years ago. We became good friends. He was the kind of person who always followed his instincts. I remember he once organised a carnival party in his record store in august around two o'clock in the afternoon. He ordered tons of confetti and funny hats/noses and lots of alcohol. All customers could drink along. Chaos was the result. One night he told me he was tired of his shop and started to throw his T.V. set on the streets and destroy his desk and fax machine. He did a lot for the Greek underground (released many records of obscure bands) but somehow never managed a breakthrough because of lack of money. He felt isolated because his company was small and bigger labels/distributors refused to work with a label of his size. After ten years he saw no use in continuing, it didn't get anywhere.
I celebrated my birthday with him and soon after he left for the States. No address was left behind. Never saw him again. I received a postcard from him saying "HELL-O BASTARD! How are you!" but again no address. The city of Athens is missing a colourful individual. He never had many friends (apart from his German shepherd called "HEAVY" and his cat called "MOUSE") but I indeed miss. He was incredibly funny and always in for jokes and extreme fun. Because of his careless attitude he lost a lot of money, he spent it on friends all the time but I guess he didn't care much. Not one day I was sober in those days when we met up. Ancient Rites decided to help him by allowing his label to release a split ep with one of our tracks specially recorded for him. He was grateful for this but no words were needed to express the mutual friendship, we simply supported each other on a non profit basis. Meanwhile this split ep is sold out. Well I don't think we will ever meet again but I'm sure when it happens I will have a terrible hangover the next day.
I'm not sure if the younger people in this scene actually know much about your history. Your band was formed back in 1987/88, right? How was it being in the scene then, I mean no black metal scene like it's today. Do you think the underground has changed overall? I mean this real underground feeling of reading underground magazines, getting flyers and stuff like that? What about the bands, do you think they were better back then, the un-signed bands that is?
Surely the scene was much different. Not as overcrowded as it is today. It seemed more pure and original. Now one can find so called "Black Metal" bands which are manufactured/created/hyped by huge management's and major labels. Using the same channels as Spice Girls. It turned into a circus. When bands such as Mayhem, Ancient Rites, Beherit or Sarchofago used corpse paint in the late eighties it never was the purpose to present a romantic image, it was about obscurity and darkness. It had a destructive, sick character. Nowadays tons of bands are painted as clowns and are swinging plastic swords. Only kids can be impressed by this. Of course still interesting bands can be found in our scene but the cult feeling is lost. It is not the same anymore. Sad but true. Dead (Mayhem) is turning in his grave.
Talking about the past, I know that some of your band members used to be in bands before joining Ancient Rites, and then I'm talking about bands that existed before Ancient Rites was formed. Please tell me something about those bands, who played in them and when and why you begun listening to this kind of music.
Guitarist Jan Yrlund played in one of the first Finnish Thrash Metal acts called Prestige before joining Two Witches/Lacrimosa. Keyboardplayer Domingo was guitarist in bands such as
As far as I am concerned I started listening Metal after I discovered Motörhead. Also bands such as Tank, Angelwitch, Ostrogoth and Black Sabbath caught my interest. As I stated earlier I was into Punk but that scene turned too political (with the coming of Hardcore) and I related more to the "no nonsense approach" of a band like Motörhead. When Venomreleased their first album in '81 I knew this was something I wanted to do as well. I related to the mixture of aggressive music and evil lyrics. I got disappointed with these new school hardcore bands who played extreme music but mixed Punk with hippie "love and peace" bullshit lyrics. They destroyed the Punk scene I was into which was nihilistic movement when it started. Black Metal became my next solution when a big part of the Punk scene turned social consciously and dogmatic (straight edge/political).
Unfortunately now also B.M. lost a lot of its obscure character and I see the essence getting lost. Therefore I still hold on to the first generation bands of style, groups who were around before it turned into a trend.
As a person that has been in the scene for more then 15 years, then I'm sure you've heard and seen some really strange things going on, could you tell me some rumours, stories and shit like that from the old days. I know you can tell us the story about when one of the members of Rotting Christ had drunk one too many beers and puked on the bag of one of the Immortal members. What about this wedding, I've heard you were the godfather in the wedding of an known Finnish person, do you have anything to say about that?
Since I participate in this scene for such a long time I know the background of most musicians in this scene. I always had a change to look behind the screen. It is not always an advantage. I know I sound a bit too negative but I remember several people in the scene who used to dislike B.M. before it got popular and now pretend they are listening this music since 1834! Where were most of these retro bands when everything actually happened? Running around in dippers and receiving presents from Santa Claus. Honesty doesn't do anyone any harm I believe. I get a bit tired of these people who just entered the scene and now pretend like if they invented the whole thing.
The story about a Rotting Christ member puking on the bags of an Immortal member? It happened during their tour together. Well we know the people in both bands and they are cool guys. Situations like these can happen on tour. Concerning being the godfather in the wedding of a known Finnish person, yes I was Mika's (Impaled Nazarene) best man. It was a special wedding with only five people invited at the party (including the couple!). I remember taking Mika to a Goth club in Athens. He was silent for a long time so I asked him what was wrong. "I wish I could kill everyone inside here!" he answered referring to the Goth guys wearing female make up and Goth women dancing in a theatrical way. The guy always amuses me with his over the top misanthropic feelings. Fine bloke! Spending tons of money on extremely bad cheap horror/splatter movies and showing his collection full of pride.
Clothing, painting seem to be your hobbies along with music. Could you tell us something about this, when did you become interested in painting and making clothes? What kind of clothes did you make? As for the Dark Ritual cover I know it's done by you, what about the other Ancient Rites releases, did your hand put a touch of magic into them? What do you think about modern art? What kind of paintings and painters do you like?
I took my diploma at art school so it is obvious I had a job on that field. I used to work for a few Metal shops where I designed art work for T-shirts and also for bigger factories who sell normal clothes. But I am extremely critical on my own work therefore I don't want to create the artwork for our own albums. The only art work I ever did for A.R. are the demo cover and the logo. I prefer real medieval paintings because of the authenticity contained within. Modern painters usually are unable to create that same medieval and dark feeling. Huens is an exception. His artwork can be found on the backcover of the Blasfemia Eternal booklet. Also one of his paintings is used on the front cover of our upcoming album. I don't know if Huens is still alive or not because my father collected the man's work when he was still a child. I adore medieval artwork of masters such as Rubens, Brouwer, Teniers, Vermeer, Brueghel. These painters actually lives the middle ages with all its superstition, short life expectation, wars and diseases. It shows in their work. Of modern art I like Magritte and Dali because of the surrealistic character of their paintings.
Blasfemia Eternal, why not just using Blasphemia? Any special reason for using the Spanish word instead? What do you think about bands that are mixing all sorts of languages, beliefs etc. in one soup? What do you think about this quote "Talk sense or be silent" in reference to all those bands who are using stuff that they don't know anything about? As for that quote, have you ever read the Poetic Edda, the main source for those who believe in the Aesir? (æsir)
Since I speak a few languages I find it interesting to use this in our work because of the difference in sound and also because of the authenticity. For instance when referring to a French poet I wish to include a part of the poem in the original language...The reason of using the Spanish word goes back many years. We always had a strong following in Colombia and Maurizio of Warmaster Records presented A.R. on the national Colombian radio. In this program he translated our titles in Spanish and he categorised our work as Blasfemia Eternal referring to the Eternal Blasphemy song on our demo. I like the sound of it and decided to call our second album this way. It also fitted to the international character of the album since many different languages were used in the lyrics...I read the Edda but and English translation. As a matter of fact my cousin owns a very expensive copy in old Icelandic language. Of course we are unable to read it which we feel is quite frustrating. Like I am he is very fanatic about history. Whenever we meet the modern world surrounding us disappears a bit. Often we travel to historical spots to talk about interesting periods in history and exchange new knowledge we have gathered on the matter.
As for all your releases, could you give us some if not all the sale figures for the Ancient Rites releases. Maybe you could give us some more informations as well, companies you've worked for etc.? Do you see much of the money that comes back for the albums? What's the worst rip off you've been in?
It is impossible for us to know how many albums we sold. I will explain why. Our work has been released by too many different labels. After Dark Records, Tessa Records, Osmose Productions, Wild Rags Records, Morbid Noizz, Warmaster Records, Mascot Records etc. For instance our debut album The Diabolic Serenades has been released at first by After Dark Records, they signed a contract with Morbic Noizz to release our album on the East European market. When After Dars owed money to Osmose, Osmose Productions took over the printing/distribution of the album. When we signed to Mascot Records they re-released our album on the market with our permission. We never will know how many copies have been sold by which label. Too confusing.
Fact is signing to After Dark Records was our biggest mistake ever. We invested our own money in the recordings, artwork, photo session, mastertapes but never got a penny back. After Dark eventually went bankrupt because they ripped off everyone, including each other. We were so naive to believe friendship and business could be mixed, since After Dark were "friends" for many years: they proved how mistaken we were. I am convinced our current situation would have been much better if we had never signed to After Dark. They made us lose lot of time and money. We're an old band but only since a couple of years (since we signed to Mascot) our albums are well distributed. The only fact I know about sales is that we sold 5000 copies of Blasfemia Eternal in Belgium and Holland within one week after the release, the Belgian/Dutch distributor told me so...
You love games, don't you? What kind of games do you usually play? What effect do you think games like Doom and such, have on kids? Would you mind playing a game now? If your answer is no then please write what comes up in your mind when you see these words: nationalism, satanism, paganism, nazism, Black Metal, 1980-90, Europe, USA, Venom, Chains and Leather, Ancient Rites.
Indeed I love games. At home I have a Sega computer. My fave games are "Canturion" (a brilliant game based on ancient politics/war strategies which is situated in ancient times. All names and historical facts are correct which I find fantastic), "The Immortal", "Roadbash", "Mercs", "Streets Of Rage" to mention a few. I don't think games or music have an impact on the behaviour of kids. For me it always was a channel to let my aggression out while in everyday life I remained quite calm. People who are "out of balance" sooner or later commit crimes with or without extreme music or games. Ok, let's move to our word game!
Nationalism: Everyone should be aware of his cultural/historical inheritance. Being proud of your own culture doesn't have to lead to hating each other as many wish to imply. As long as there is respect shown to mine I respect others.
Satanism: Different approaches are possible. I relate to a realistic one, based on philosophical/symbolic aspects.
Paganism: Makes more sense to me than all these religions imported from the middle east such as Christianity, specially here in Europe. I still cannot understand why all these millions of people in Europe denied their own culture and adopted plus started to worship these foreign gods. The teachings of Christ can make sense to Israelian people because at least it is a part of their culture but why should a Celtic or Germanic person follow these dogma's? It never was a part of our history.
Nazism: An extreme political system. Like all systems it fails. They had a strong sense of imagery and propaganda. Extremely well organised, the Nazi Reich was the last Empire. Larger than life even, like an empire of doom. Unbelievable that one man could gain so much power.
Black Metal: Once truly cult. Now almost a circus. Eternally I praise the old days of Black Metal.
1980-90: Golden years of Metal, except for the Hardcore invasion that took place in the mid 80's which created crossover.
Europe: I see myself as a European citizen. Everywhere in Europe I feel at home despite the differences in culture, landscapes and language between the countries. These differences are not big enough to create a cultural/religious clash and make Europe a colourful place. I believe in a European nation in which each country keeps it's own identity.
USA: A young powerful nation with beautiful landscapes but the social system is worse than in Europe (there's almost no social security which increases crime).
Venom: Originators of Black Metal.
Chains and Leather: Heavy Metal!
Ancient Rites: a tribute to Darkness and History.
I didn't know there's been any church burnings in Belgium. Could you tell me something about this. I've heard that one of the biggest newspaper in Belgium, namely Kwik, had an article about Satanic terrorism. Not surprisingly, you name was mentioned. They even stated that church burnings and grave desecrations had all been organised by Ancient Rites. Guess Kwik blew things up a little, what else can you respect from a gutter press paper like that. Any comments about this?
Kwik could be compared to The Sun in England. They are only interested in over the top stories. When these church descriptions/church burnings took place Ancient Rites were headline story two weeks in a row. Tracks were leading to us because in the homes of the responsible ones my address was always found even though they didn't know each other. On top of it all I was in contact with the "Satanic terrorists" in Norway. Doesn't take more to become a suspect so before we knew it state security was on our back and the gutter press. I still see the newspaper's headlines: "Hate and murder in the name of Satan", "Perverted Satanic music/ideologies in our country spread by Ancient Rites". Indeed we were in the picture and not in a very positive way haha! No need to complain because when those newspapers phoned us for an interview I expected they would blow things up. For example our guitarist couldn't be present during the interview/photo sessions for one of the newspapers because he had returned sick from a tour in the south of Europe. They wrote "Ancient Rites guitarist suffering from a mysterious disease he caught during a concert in Portugal, may be he came too close to holy water!" The articles shocked everyone in Belgium but to us it had an amusement factor.
"Except for the Native Americans (Indians) everyone in the States is descending from immigrants. That is fine by me but why pretending to have Norwegian blood only because of playing in a B.M. band?" Remember these words? Could you explain on which occasion you said this and what do you think about the Black Metal scene and national pride overall? Do you think all the bands should stick to their own roots, sing about the things they have in their country, I mean it would sure be stupid if an Icelandic band would sing about running around in the forest etc. as we don't have any REAL forests here, it would make much more sense if the bands would sing about the longing of wandering around in a huge forest, get my point? Don't you often get the feeling that more then 90% of the black metal bands are simple talking crap? I said this after I read an interview with an American B.M. band in which they stated all to be Norwegian in order to gain credibility. It is not my policy to mention any names because that is quite unprofessional but sometimes I believe too many bands are talking crap. I even received a flyer of a Mexican band on which they claim to play "True Norwegian B.M. with Icelandic lyrics". Why don't they focus on their own history and origin? There's nothing wrong with writing about other countries but never forget your own or pretend to be something you are not. I am into Viking mythology as well but I find it almost impossible to write a lyrics about it because everyone is doing it, from Zimbabwe to Timbouctou as a matter of speaking. And if I would write a lyrics on this topic I would never pretend to be of Viking origin. I am Germanic and proud to be. There must be many people feeling miserable in the B.M. scene because they are not born in Norway. The guys of Enslaved and I had a good laugh about it last time we've met. The
What about the Belgian scene? Which bands are the best in your opinion?
My favourite Belgian Metal bands do not exist anymore. I truly liked the Full Moon's Eyes mini lp of Ostrogoth (brilliant Heavy Metal), Maniac of Acid (Heavy Metal), Shellshock (Motörhead styled band) and the Black Shepherd demos (Black/thrash). Belgian bands I also appreciated were Front 242 (aggressive electronic music), de Brassers (depressive Punk/Cold Wave), Revenge '88 (Punkrock), Red Zebra (cold wave), P.I.G.Z. (primitive '77 Punk), The Kids (Punkrock). Recently I bought a demo of one of our support acts which are called Oblivion because I enjoyed their concert. The music is very serene and atmospherical, our audience didn't seem to be impressed. They were performing their songs like statues due to the character of their music and were dressed very simple in black, no real image. For me it worked, may be they were wrongly booked as our support because only guitarist Jan (with whom I have Danse Macabre), my girlfriend and I seemed to enjoy the performance. I like listening to their music while answering mail.
Well, here comes something that I'm sure no one has done before. I'm going to re-write a letter that I got from you when I ordered the Evil Prevails ep 6 years ago (I never throw any of the letters I receive). After the letter you may tell me what has changed since you wrote it. Here we go:
Hail all darkness and EVIL!
Hello my friend from the cold North! Gunther from Ancient Rites here writing. Thanx for your letter + ordering out Evil Prevails ep! I don't know if you'll like the ep but when you're into dark stuff I'm sure you will. You ask how old we are and which bands we prefer? We're all older than 23 (personally I'm already 27 years old!) which proves we're not into this scene for a trend, it's not just a childish phase we're going through. I'm into Black Metal ever since the beginning in '81.
I'm into old Black Metalgods such as Venom, Bathory, Hellhammer/Frost, Possessed, old Sodom and Destruction, (only mlp's) new groups I appreciate are Mayhem, Rotting Christ, Diabolus, Necromantia, Impales Nazarene, Samael...stuff like that. A tour with Rotting Christ is in the works, end of this month we'll play in the South of France - a Polish tour is in the works as well + a real French tour will take place as well.
Some other records will be released (other, ep, mini lp, split ep) and as soon as we've 4 new tracks ready we'll enter the studio to record out album which will be even more dark and intense.
Ok, that's all for now I guess, if you've more questions don't hesitate to ask ok?
Thanx again for your support...BLACK METAL RULES!
Original approach of putting a question indeed. Well what has changed? We're all six years older now and I still like the bands I mentioned. Back then I couldn't expect what would become of the scene, how fashionable it would turn out. Indeed we are a lot more popular now but also a lot wiser, if that is always an advantage I don't know. And I realise I sometimes might sound like if I hate everything on the new scene. That is not true. Once in a while I still can get excited when discovering an interesting new band. My favourite current B.M. band is Thy Repetance of Russia, an unsigned underground act with a self financed cd out. Great stuff! Not highly technical but the right feeling (and chords) is there. Also the image is low profiled and the music is a mixture of aggression and melancholy, very underground sound but working perfectly. So I still say Black Metal rules but it ruled more supreme years ago because nowadays only a minority of bands are offering originality and display the right attitude.
Now lets talk about travelling for a bit, shall we? Which countries have you been to so far, even thought about visiting the land of Fire and Ice? I agree with you that every country has it ups and downs, lets focus on the ups for now and later turn to the downs. What countries do you like the most and why? In which country did you feel most bored? Here in Iceland there are a lot of tourist that visit the country to just be able to see as many places in the shortest time. What do you think about that kind of people? Tell us something about the trip you took over the Sahara desert.
I cannot stay home for longer than a couple of weeks. Since yesterday I returned home from touring with Deicide. Already today I went to a travel agency because I want to leave again within two weeks. I truly love Flanders and I feel good at home but travelling is inside my blood, it is beyond my control. I have visited many countries. Every country has its ups and downs but I prefer to focus on the ups. It is impossible to generalise a country because it depends on the area and personal experiences. For instance everyone always told me how chauvenist and arrogant the citizens of Paris are, I (and the others in the band) only had great experiences in the city. People opening doors for us because we were passing through with our guitars, old people leaving their store to show us the way, flower girls wishing us a good concert etc. Or one could say Germany is not beautiful but follow the Rhine and witness the most beautiful landscapes and castles to mention only one region. Some may find Athens too chaotic, personally I love metropoles, the city doesn't seem to sleep and apart from the ancient culture Athens offers the best nightlife ever.
When I visited North Africa I didn't always feel comfortable because Moslem fundamentalism was already increasing and I saw many hostile faces and sometimes the locals provoked me but since I was alone I couldn't do anything. But there I witnessed the most beautiful intact ancient remains in the middle of the desert when I travelled by camels and horses. The Sahara desert was an absolutely terrific experience, the isolation was immense. The heat was killing me but there in the middle of nowhere inspiration always did strike me. Or when I entered the ancient temple of Baalberith where thousands of years ago child sacrifices took place or walked through intact Punic or Roman ancient cities. I know there are tourists who wish to see as much as possible in the shortest possible time but at least I respect these more than all those millions of people who travel to sunny destinations (directly heading for the beach) every year only to get a colour and fuck as much as they can without even bother about the history/culture of the place they visit.
I have a friend who is totally into Icelandic history and he even is trying to learn the old Icelandic language, he even is in touch with the Icelandic language council. He told me that the Icelandic language still is rather pure and that one tries to keep it this way. He visited your land once but I am sure he wasn't the typical tourist.
You've been in contact with a girl from Greece for ca. five years and you've also stated that you like girls from countries such as Portugal, Italy, Spain etc.? Have you ever seen any of the Icelandic snowqueens? Ever thought about just leaving the scene and marrying?
The only Icelandic woman I know is Björk. But I'm sure she is not typical Icelandic snow queen. Beautiful women can be found everywhere but what attracted me to for instance to Hellenic (Greek) women (apart from the looks) is their character/soul/mentality. The ones I know are not guided by materialism, are aware of their historical/cultural inheritance, display a healthy kind of nationalism (proud but not blinded) and are really fighting hard to keep their first relationship alive while in my country women easily trade partners. They hold on to ancient values which I admire. Of course not every woman is like that over there but I know many. Therefore I prefer to have a healthy relationship abroad than a corrupted one next door. For instance my girlfriend has a diploma in science and French literature. Her best friends are female doctors, lawyers etc. but they listen Gothic, Metal and do not circulate in elite circles. In my country women with those capacities hang out with so called intellectuals or upper class snobs, they look down on people listening to our kind of music or are not even aware a scene like ours excists. If I ever marry it must be to a person like my girlfriend. Everything will come to an end eventually, as will Ancient Rites but I don't know if I ever will be able to leave the music scene behind for it always dominated my life. It's difficult for me to imagine I will be happy with a normal life.
Still longing for the ancient kingdom?
Always was and always will be.
Nice being able to visit the Ancient Rites homepage when ever one pleases, what do you think about the Internet and how do you see the future of the underground after the Internet became so popular, I mean, now there's a lot of kids who are making pages for all kinds of different black metal bands, some of those pages only live for two to three months. Do you think we can still use the word "underground" these days? What do you think is so special about the underground and which things make up the underground?
For the time being I am not on Internet myself however I plan to buy a new PC and move to the Net. Apart from normal mail we receive hundreds of e-mails. Bram who is responsible for our homepage sends the messages to us. It will be a lot easier when I will be on the net myself. Concerning the underground, only due to our own hard work and people in the underground Ancient Rites could get this far, we never had a big management, label or big bucks behind us to push the band. So we owe a lot to the underground and those who still hold on to that principe.
Now, you're not one of those who use pointless satanic lyrics as you lyrics seem to go deeper then just "Satan is evil" bullshit. In what way do you see Satanism, do you use it in a symbolic way or do you worship the Ol' man? What about the protest from the Turkish community. I guess they didn't like it when you mentioned Mohammed in your Mohammed Wept track. You've studied the Bible and the Koran, correct? Why, just for your own understanding or do you really think all those little children give a shit about lyrics that have a deeper meaning then "Kill Jesus and Piss on God"? Are you a believer or do you just believe in yourself? What do you think about folktraditions? Could you give us an example of a Belgian folktradition?
I do not worship anyone. I relate to certain philosophies/life codes such as cultivation of inner powers, strength, self respect, pride which happen to be "Satanic". Yes I studied the bible and koran to know more about it. It is always better to gain information before one opens his mouth. And yes, you are correct when you say that the fact I try to put a deeper meaning into our lyrics doesn't mean shit to the majority of kids. They only appreciate us for our extreme music and the fact we are oppossite to god. So one could stat that all my studies are of no use because the deeper meaning doesn't seem to get across anyway. However there are people who dig deeper and appreciate/understand our lyrical approach, these people I wish to reach. And at the end of the day I want to look back on my own work and without feeling ashamed. It wouldn't give me any satisfaction if I would writing "Fuck Jesus and piss on god" type of lyrics. I'm always surprised to see that bands whose mother tongue is English are content writing (and publishing!) those kind of lyrics. It is too naive, too simple. I find it a pity that I don't know English perfectly, like a real English writer, in order to dig even deeper and play more with words. Simple slogans have an effect on kids but do not have a real impact.
I studied the bible and koran and referred to certain which were described in these books, like the poisoning of the islam prophet Mohammed, I wrote about it in a cynical way. I did my home work well because our label received protests from a Turkish community in Germany. This means they took my lyrics seriously, it offended them.
Folktraditions in Belgium? They can be compared with the usual Germanic/Celtic traditions because we belong to the same people.
Hmm, is there anything else I can ask you about? This should be the end of the interview, but if you like to ask yourself some questions then please go a head. I'm going to end here as my fingers are getting a bit tired. I would like to thank you Gunther for taking your time and answering my questions, I guess you really stand behind your words (check out his letter someplace in the middle of the interview).
All is said and done Magnus. Thank you for this interesting conversation, you were extremely well informed. Who knows in six years from now you will confront me again with my own words? Take good care. Longing for the Ancient Kingdom... Always...
signed Gunther, June '98.