SATYRICON's participation in the upcoming MORBID ANGEL North American tour appears to be in jeopardy after the group's drummer, 30-year-old Kjetil "Frost" Haraldstad, was denied a work visa required for him to work and perform in the U.S., the Norwegian newspaper VG Nett has reported.
As a result, the planned million Norwegian krone commercial/marketing launch (approximately $144,000) of the legendary black metal band could be stopped in its tracks.
"I've been working on the [band's] launch [in the U.S.] and the tour since last June," SATYRICON's Sigurd "Satyr" Wongraven, 28, told VG Nett. "Now we were going to reap the rewards of our hard work."
The SATYRICON singer and songwriter is in despair. Time is running out for the band, who, in just three weeks, are due to play their first concert in Orlando together with MORBID ANGEL.
"We have supplied [the immigration officials] with contracts and letters documenting the fact that SATYRICON will be working with well-known partners in the American music industry," Satyr said. "Therefore we're trying to do things in a professional and formal manner. This is not a hobby band going on vacation."
20,000 copies of SATYRICON's new album, "Volcano", have already been shipped to distributors and record stores in the U.S. The album is being released via the Sony Music imprint EatUrMusic, the label run by SYSTEM OF A DOWN guitarist Daron Malakian.
"SATYRICON have received $50,000 in tour support from the record label," Satyr said. "It's in the nature of the business that this is just the beginning [for the group]. But we have to prove that we're a band that can cut it live in the U.S. That we would do by touring with MORBID ANGEL for an entire month."
According to Satyr, the record label has already purchased TV spots on the Fuse music channel and plans were made for SATYRICON to appear on the MTV2 program "Headbanger's Ball" to present their video for the track "Fuel For Hatred", which was directed by the famous Swedish director Jonas Åkerlund (MADONNA, METALLICA, PRODIGY).
"It's all hanging by a thin thread. It's looking bleak right now," Satyr said.
The fact that the Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) gave Kjetil Haraldstad and the rest of SATYRICON the O.K. to enter the U.S. meant little to an official at the Scandinavian Department of Homeland Securities in Denmark, who made their position clear to the American embassy in Oslo.
"Our impression is that the embassy in Oslo was positive and they O.K.ed the application even after they interviewed Frost personally," Satyr said.
"Everyone we are working with in the U.S. is concerned that months of planning will be a complete waste."
Kjetil Haraldstad is the only member of SATYRICON that has been denied a work visa in the USA.
SATYRICON have not been given a reason as to why Frost has been denied a work visa, but it is reasonable to assume that the denial stems from an episode three years ago when Frost was detained in New York on a layover on his way to back to Norway from playing a show in Colombia.
During the interrogation, Frost was confronted with the fact that he was convicted of an act of violence in Norway even through the matter at that point was 10 years old.
Haraldstad had misunderstood and answered "No" to the question of "Have you ever been arrested or convicted for an offense or crime involving moral turpitude or a violation related to a controlled substance?" on a I-94W Non-Immigrant Visa Waiver Arrival/Departure Form filled out by every visitor to the U.S.
"Frost thought that it was connected to the other questions about participating in gruesome acts like genocide, Nazism or acts of terror," Satyr explained. "He apologized for his mistake but was still accused of intentionally lying and suspected of illegally sneak into the U.S., even though he was in transit and could produce a plane ticket with a return to Oslo the same day.
"The punishment is unreasonably harsh and it is not in proportion to the offense," Satyr continued. "The [work visa] denial doesn't just hurt the band, but everyone we work with, from the record label to local promoters."