Belgian webzine Rock 'N Balls recently conducted an interview with ZYKLON/EMPEROR guitarist Samoth (real name: Tomas Haugen). A couple of excerpts from the question-and-answer session follow below.
Rock 'N Balls: A few weeks ago, you released "Live Inferno", so my question is simple: is this record going to be the very last of EMPEROR, or do you guys have any another goodies in store for the future?
Samoth: It looks like this will be the last big release from EMPEROR, yes. It of course could be that there will be some other collector's items or something. One never really knows what the future will bring.
Rock 'N Balls: Could you come back to the reasons why you decided to reunite the band for this small series of shows?
Samoth: I guess there's always been a feeling of something being "unfinished," as we never really got to do those last final shows after we split up the band. The last show we did was a festival headline show in Poland in 1999. The "Prometheus…" album came out in 2001, but that album was in its entirety a studio project, and even by the time we recorded it we hadn't really been a fully functional band for a while, and it didn't really feel right at that time to get back on stage. After the split, the EMPEROR name grew even stronger than ever, and the demand from the fans was huge. In a way I think we owed it to ourselves and to the fans to do this.
Rock 'N Balls: How did you feel when you hit the stage again with Ihsahn for the first time? Was there anything different than before?
Samoth: There was a gap of about six years between the last show we did after the end of touring "IX Equilibrium" in '99 until we appeared as the "secret surprise" at the Scream Festival in '05, where we announced the reunion shows. When we came back we were all on the same page so to say and we were all psyched about these reunion shows, as it felt very right for us and also sort of fresh. I think these feelings were reflected in our performances and general energy around the shows. I would say it was overall a great experience.
Rock 'N Balls: How did you and Ihsahn collaborate on the records? Was he the one who brought in the "symphonic side" and you the "death metal side?"
Samoth: Yes, Ihsahn has a strong "symphonic side," and has definitely added many unique layers to the EMPEROR sound. We were sort of like Yin and Yang in many ways, but that combo worked very well for EMPEROR and the way we built the band, both musically, conceptually and image-wise. I think since the beginning we worked with a common vision, but I guess as we grew more progressive with "IX Equilibrium", we became a bit more divided, with him more progressive and with me more focused on extreme metal.
Rock 'N Balls: How are your relations with Ihsahn today? Do you often speak or talk to each other?
Samoth: We have good relations today, very relaxed and easy-going. We don't really hang out much, but sometimes we chat on the phone or stop by each other's houses for a coffee and to see each other's families, or to talk business and metal. We have a lot of history together and there's definitely respect between us.
Rock 'N Balls: During the "reunion" concerts, you played a song off "Prometheus". I remember that when this record came out, you stated that it was no EMPEROR record. With some distance, what do you think of this album which, in my opinion, is awesome just like the others?
Samoth: I don't think I ever said that it wasn't an EMPEROR record, but I said it wasn't a group effort, it was more like Ihsahn's record. I'm proud of that album too, no doubt, but it's the album that means the least to me as far as being emotionally involved in it. It's a strong record that challenges the listener. "In the Wordless Chamber" was actually one of my favorite songs in the reunion live set, but then again, that is the song from "Prometheus" which is closer to the older EMPEROR sound.
Rock 'N Balls: What does ZYKLON have in store for us in a near future?
Samoth: That's a question I really can't answer to at the moment. ZYKLON are on an official break now. Destructhor is out touring with MORBID ANGEL, and I have a new project in works. This project, whose name is yet to be revealed, is basically my current musical priority. We've already taped a pre-prod demo with all the tracks that we will be recording as our debut. Soon there will be more official details regarding the project. However, I'm confident you haven't seen the last of ZYKLON.
Read the entire interview from Rock 'N Balls.