EMPEROR Frontman Rejects 'Sellout' Accusations

Sauli Vuoti of Imhotep webzine recently conducted an interview with EMPEROR frontman Ihsahn. A few excerpts from the chat follow:

On EMPEROR's decision to split up:

"It is not like pressure, but we have felt people's wishes. I don't think that people really realize what they are wishing for. If they want another 'In The Nightside Eclipse', they already have that. If thinking about whether forces outside the band ever contributed to the end of EMPEROR, the answer is yes. We never started to play black metal to please people, this is not pop music for commercial markets. Then the rebel in me woke up. If people try to tell me how to concentrate or how to write my music, I will knowingly, or at least subconsciously, do just the opposite. It really triggers a spike in me.

"If I think about 'Prometheus' now, it really reflects my state of mind at the time. It is really not a very inviting album. It builds up to something pompous, but it doesn't open up, rather it bounces back to darkness. It is not a very open album. I didn't want to share EMPEROR with people, I wanted to keep it to myself. It was our band, not the people's. The expectations and visions people had about the band became much greater than the vision we had about it. It was a really surreal situation, really, the forces that are together with you in the project are suddenly working against you…"

On how he sees the extreme metal scene these days:

"I have never been good of following things. We, of course, get a lot of demos for Mnemosyne Productions and there are occasionally things I like. My personal thinking is a big paradox, as I expect people to like what I do now yet I am myself quite nostalgic. If I want to listen to black metal, I go back to BATHORY or something.

"Nowadays there are so many bands, so it is hard to get into the scene. When we started, there weren't that many bands and all of them very easy to separate. I do so much metal in my own life as I also teach guitar, so I get even too much of that. I'd rather listen to RADIOHEAD, BJÖRK, jazz music and stuff like that. During all these years that I've listened to metal, I feel like I've lost a lot from other music styles and now I am really catching up. So there is so much great music out there I still don't know about that. I am also quite picky about the music I listen to, but I can like something from every genre. Even if something doesn't appeal to you immediately, you might sense that there is substance there, they are contributing to something new. There's that element of surprise. I respect musical craftsmanship, wherever that might be. There's a lot of dark music out there that has nothing to do with horror elements or Satanism. There are a lot of great musical things out there that you are denying from yourself by limiting the genres you can listen to. It is a bit sad really if you do so, or maybe it is just me being old."

On EMPEROR's upcoming "reunion" gigs:

"We always thought we could play some shows every now and then but we didn't want to hurry with it. But now the demand had grown so big, that we had to make a decision. First we had to think about whether we would enjoy it, so we met up at the ZYKLON rehearsal room and tried out some songs. It went surprisingly well and the first thing we agreed was that we were going to do this at a tempo which we would enjoy.

"I have played metal since I was ten years old, and every kid who has ever played the guitar in front of the mirror and dreamed about playing to a big audience wouldn't turn down such a chance. I haven't been the biggest fan of touring, as traveling, poor concert organizing, drunken road crews, the lack of basic practicalities etc. haven't been that inviting. There are so many things that you have to put your energy on instead of the playing. Now that we can do individual shows, not having to travel all the time and play one show after another. Rather we are well prepared and can bring a crew that does what they are supposed to do and everything will seem fine.

"If people say we do this for money, then why the hell would have we wanted to stop EMPEROR at the peak of the band's career? I mean, with all the offers we've received so far, we could have toured the U.S. twice. It is really cool, that now that we have quit the band and took some distance to it, we can still revisit it and enjoy it, really, and then go our separate ways back again."

Read the entire interview at this location.

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