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Dragonland Magazine China, July 2003
Text © Jun "Demogorgon" Zhang / Dragonland Magazine

First, I want to tell you, this live album really express the glory and the might. Victory or Valhalla echoes in my mind, appears before my eyes... Sometimes I think you do not like the idea about merging all nations as one. But in post-modern societies (and also all the societies before), there isn't a single criterion about "good". Then, how can we solve problems while we quarrel or even conflict? Do you believe there exists a final way to extricate us from the labyrinth?
On one hand I strive to achieve harmony. On the other I do not want this world to be one big melting pot without identity. As with everything in life there are positive and negative aspects to each approach. There is no final way I'm afraid. What could be a solution for one culture can mean a disaster for the other. Things in life are complex, nothing is really black or white. The older I become and the more I learn the better I realise I know nothing.

How could you settle your work? You have several bands/projects, I know it must spend you much time to write music (lyrics) and rehearsal and gigs and festival performances. How could you have spare time to write the booklet? I am amazed by your exuberant creativity indeed.
And on top I have a steady job besides music in order to survive. Indeed, a lack of time is a constant problem I have to deal with. This results in a high blood pressure and doctors said I should slow down but this is my way. I feel I need to do too much on a too short time as life is over too quickly. Here and now matters and I must use this precious time in a constructive way. Is it a subconscious strive for immortality? Time is slipping through my fingers and there are so many things still to learn, discover and experience. Ironic isn't it. The older a person the gets the wiser he becomes but by the time a certain degree of wisdom is achieved life is over. Where is that Devil from the legends and fairytales who haunts souls, in order to achieve immortality I would sign my soul immediately away :-) ...

Could you tell us something about your Biebob Club show? Are there many changes in the arrangement for live performence? It must take all of you much time to record the live and mix them for such a clear sound, right? (Especially the bass drum) Do you think equipments and producer very important to record live?
Our label came up with a request for a live album. To be honest at first we were not too enthusiastic about it. However, after giving it thought we felt that after four studio albums and 15 years of hard work with A.R. the time indeed could be right for a live registration on cd/dvd. Only under our conditions and with a good budget, in order to offer a quality record in good old Metal tradition when live albums were an important step in a bands career, not a “quick something in between”. As a location to record our live cd/dvd/video entitled And the Hordes Stood As one we chose Biebob Club. This place has a great sound and a long tradition as a club where many known and unknown cult acts have performed. It is a place where we usually present our new albums on stage for the first time. Our German producers from Spacelab studios came over with a mobile studio, a P.A. technician from Holland was hired and our Finnish video producer came over to direct the video recordings which were taken care of by a Flemish camera team and a Flemish light technician was present to handle the visual aspect on stage. A very loyal and diverse crowd attended the gig, people from the Flemish, German and French speaking regions of the country but also fans from Germany, Luxembourg, Holland and France where present. In typical AR tradition it was an international event. The atmosphere was really fantastic that night and the interaction between band and audience fabulous. Very rare at an extreme Metal gig to hear a crowd sing the lyrics louder than the music or clap their hands during the medieval Folk parts. It was a night I will always remember and cherish. I am glad that event is “immortalized” by audio and video teams and is released to share it with our fans worldwide. Indeed we have already played bigger clubs and festivals but that particular night the mood was perfect. The DVD also includes extra footage: a video history of the band (excerpts from European tours throughout the years). A special on one of our tours through Finland. A picture gallery. Two video clips Victory and Valhalla and And the Horns Called for War. Interviews with band and fans. A special on our appearance on DYNAMO...

How do you see Aggressor? This French thrash band also combines medieval music with Metal.
I must confess I am not very familiar with the work of Aggressor. I have heard the bands' name but never had a chance to listen their music therefore I am not entitled to give an opinion.

You said Ancient Rites does not write about fantastic subjects. But music is constantly closer to fantasy than reality... How do you see music's function as art? Can it be used to preach or convert, like lecture?
When describing heraldic or larger than life topics the use of dreamy musical parts increases the right atmosphere, a harmony between words and music. This interaction enables the listener to “travel” with his mind to the places and times I write about. The music might appear fantasy from time to time but the topics are rooted in reality and historical facts/events...

You must believe all the things you write? Alas, we found it is more and more difficult for us to see the truth clearly nowadays. I believe it is the reason why believes of Hedonism and Nihilism grew.
Truth is relative. Everyone fills in his own view of what the truth is according to personal experiences, visions, ideologies, cultural background. Example? In the eyes of Islamist fundamentalists the activists who bombed the World Trade Center in New York are heroes and freedom fighters. According to the American people they are terrorists killing innocent civilians. Iranian or Serbian people who were bombed by the US Air Force consider these actions as war crimes, the US government called it a fight for democracy. Everything in life is relative and press statements are often propaganda, one hears two versions of the story depending on which camp a person belongs to... Everyone has his own truth.

At last comes the end of this short interview... frankly, I don't agree with your viewpoint "... sooner or later all subcultures become mainstream." I suppose there must be many types of subculture fade into oblivion before they draw out intention. Metal just is the one strong enough to survive and fight back!
You are entitled to your opinion. I see it differently as I live this business every day as a Metal musician. I know that fans would like to hear it differently but I always speak without censorship about my true feelings and personal experiences, I am not into peptalk. When I was young and started playing Metal I hoped to find a difference and thought that quality would prevail, unfortunately also Metal is big business. Talent does not make a band big, money does. Punk was supposed to be against fashion. Today the music channels are flooded with Poppy Punk bands who never got the essence. Nowadays in Europe this Goth Metal and Nu Metal thing is huge and played on MTV between clips of major pop or rap stars, to my opinion that is mainstream. Of course there will always be an underground offering an alternative but believe me the moment when business men discover a new trend and pick it up it will sell millions. No matter what style. The masses are stupid enough to swallow everything. That is what I wanted to say. I did not criticize Metal as a music style otherwhise I would not play it. And of course there are strong individuals who withstand the tricks of commercialism but they are a minority. Business corrupts all music. That is my opinion, although I am not happy with that knowledge either...

Thank you for your time! Hope one day I can meet you in our ancient land, the middle-kingdom and guide you here. Even a concert or gig seems impossible in the sight! (You must know even the Rolling Stone show has been cancelled due to some songs which mention sex or refer to erotic, sadly enough - they want to perform China since 70's!!!)
It would be an honour and a pleasure to meet you in your ancient land one day. Not only as a musician but also as a visitor who wants to discover more of your culture and land. In return I will show you mine. Let us hope one day this will be a fact...

Cheers, hear from you soon... hope I can get your contact soon... All the best wishes to you!
Thank you for this interesting conversation. All the best to you too...

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