David E. Gehlke of DeadRhetoric.com recently conducted an interview with vocalist Sigurd "Satyr" Wongraven of Norwegian black metallers SATYRICON. A few excerpts from the chat follow below.
DeadRhetoric.com: You made a [statement] after the cycle for "The Age Of Nero" completed that you were going to do things differently for the band going forward, that it was time for you to "re-examine" the organizational structure of SATYRICON. In what ways have things changed as a result of this leading up to the new album?
Satyr: [pauses] That change is still going on. There are many things… We've replaced almost all of our crew. And they are important people, they can really influence the outcome of a show both in a good and bad way. They can be there to save your ass, but at the same time, you can do everything you're supposed to do and if they screw up, you're the guy that's going to look like an idiot. We replaced almost all of them; we've replaced the management, we've replaced the main agent which is the guy in charge of Europe; we've replaced one of the guitar players, and we're in the midst of replacing one of the keyboard players. When it comes to the studio, when looking at this record, we sent out inquires to some of the very best mix engineers and producers in the world and not one of them did not respond. Some of them came back asking about money, some came asking about schedule, some people said they wanted to hear some stuff, blah, blah, blah. Then one guy said, "I'm well familiar with the band. I really like SATYRICON and I'm confident I can help them get a really authentic sound." And I read that email that was forwarded to me and I said, "That's the guy that should mix this record with me." And that was Adam Kasper from Seattle.
DeadRhetoric.com: While still on the topic of your organization, it's not like the last album was a failure. You've had a significant amount of success, especially in Europe. So, how much examination went into making these kinds of decisions?
Satyr: I think allowing myself that kind of distance… I guess it was around Christmas of 2009 that we finished the touring cycle for "The Age Of Nero", and we made the decision in August that we were going to do that. The reason why I wanted to do that is that I felt at that point, the smallest, not even arguments, just disagreements would turn into huge fights and everything was so overly dramatic and I've seen that kind of stuff before and I've worked with tour managers who dealt with that stuff. If it was a business and I was an executive, I would make changes. I started thinking to myself when I was in that situation that one thing is to be the guy with that extra votes and possibility to force things through and turn them down, but you also have to provide leadership in a situation like this. I just wondered what I was going to do, and I decided I was going to impulse-break. And everyone was saying, "Why would you want to do that now?"
DeadRhetoric.com: There are some bands of your ilk that you are lumped in with that can be considered commercially successful, like DIMMU BORGIR and CRADLE OF FILTH. They are lucrative entities.
Satyr: At least CRADLE are. DIMMU seems to be really lucrative to everyone surrounding them, but not necessarily the band. [laughs] That's more their fault. You have to keep an eye on what people surrounding you are doing. I think in our case, it's like everything else in life. If you want to, after having done this for so long, keep on enjoying it and remain motivated and inspired, which is absolute necessity if you want to make something that sounds good, you have to go look for that. It will not just magically appear. I've had this talk with one of my live musicians a million times. He will sit in the dressing room and complain about something, some stage technician that he doesn't get. Again and again, he will complain, and I will say, "Have you told him?" "No, I haven't." Then I ask him: "How is this situation going to improve? What are your expectations? How will things be different for tonight's show?" And he'll go, "I know, I'll tell him." And I know he won't. [laughs] With SATYRICON, I felt like the break after "The Age Of Nero" was really interesting because I had a different way of discovering the world. I began working a little bit on a wine-making project with wineries and winemakers all around the world, and I got to the see the world without my tour bus perspective. That was really interesting. For example, in France, I worked with a small underground producer in Burgundy. I did a whole wine harvest with him and stayed with his family. I didn't do a lot of grape picking — grape picking is monkey work. [laughs] We did it for vinification. That's where you actually make the wine and to be a part of an old-school traditional French family. I stayed with them. We worked 12-hour days, then they'd gather the entire family for big traditional meals with wines from previous vintages. We'd get up really early in the morning and continue work with the vinificaiton. I also went to Lebanon and there was a winery there where I got to know the people. I stayed with them and their vineyards are in terrorist-controlled areas.
Read the entire interview at DeadRhetoric.com.