For those unaware, first tell us about how Ancient was formed?
Ancient was formed by me as a solo-project, in 1992. I was making demos with help of a drum machine, etc. the first year. Then, in early '93 Grimm joined me as drummer and vocalist.
Tell us about what inspired you to form Ancient in the beginning? What were your motives and how have they changed now? When you released your demo "Eerily Howling Winds," did you ever expect Ancient would ever be as well known as it is now? What do you think you originally did to make the underground take notice?
Well, you see, I've always been a very introspective person, and through this music I can release a lot of energies and emotions that I otherwise couldn't. It's been the same for me all the way since the beginning, I think. Another thing that keeps me motivated today, is that I can live off my music, I don't have to go and take some kind of shitty job, and that's wonderful. Back in '93, yeah, I did expect that Ancient would get signed and so on. Its been nice to see that things have been going well for the band, but I can't say that I've been very surprised, I guess I'm too greedy for that. I'm an Aries and I usually get what I want. Originally we got more attention than bands from outside Norway, because of all the hype that went on at the time, everybody was interested in Norwegian Black Metal, you know. Today we're not just an underground band anymore, as Metal Blade makes us reach out for a wider audience than earlier.
Your latest release, "Mad Grandiose Bloodfiends," is a long way from your earlier releases back when the band was underground. Explain the motivations behind these changes and if you are satisfied with them overall?
As always, we just made the music that came from our hearts. For me, it would be very boring to release music that is very similar to what I've done before. It's like trying to re-create that past, and usually it doesn't work out very well. Furthermore, I find it a lot more interesting to progress and try out music we have not made earlier. I am satisfied with the music on the last album, the production could have been better though, we mixed it too fast as we had a deadline to work against.
To someone whom had never heard your newest release, how would you describe it to them?
I guess I'd say it's kinda progressive Black Metal with various metal influences. It's hard to give a good description of the style on this album, it's very diverse. I don't care much about labels personally, although I see the need for it, of course.
What do you think, in your opinion, separates Ancient from all the other bands?
I think we have a style of our own, it's clear. Our music is influenced by so many different styles in metal and dark music. We are alot more diverse and open-minded than most other Black Metal bands around. We're not afraid to try out new directions to develop our music.
I've heard a lot about Ancient becoming a mainstream, commercial band , tell us what in your opinion might have led to such labeling? Do you think being signed to Metal Blade had an impact on anything? Would you say things are different now that Ancient is signed on a big label, rather then being on an underground one? Explain some of these differences to us.
It's mostly because we're on Metal Blade. Also a lot because in Europe, our video has been on MTV and so on. These are the main reasons. Being on Metal Blade is in some ways different than being on an underground label. We sell more records, we tour more, we make videos etc., it's more work and it's more of a business now. Though, we still have 100% artistic freedom, just like in the beginning, so in that aspect, there's very little change.
A lot of the time when a band is signed to a big label the underground public labels them as traitors or sell-outs. While sometimes this is very true, other times it is not. Clearly, there is a lot of benefits from being on a large label (i.e. distribution, promotion, recording budgets, etc., ) what would you say personally from experience are some of the pros and cons of being on a bigger label, and what elements, if any, do you miss from your days on an underground label? Why do you think it is that a lot of bands drastically change their styles after being signed by a big label? Would Ancient fall into the category?
Pros by being on a big label would be higher album sales, more promotion, more touring, more royalties and so forth. Cons would be that a bigger label is usually just releasing records for the love of money, more than the music itself. On a small label you usually just work with a few very dedicated people who are basically just fans. In some way that's very cool, in some ways not. Some of the bigger labels push their bands to play in a certain stylemaking them become more commercial, it seems. Also, a lot of bands get "tired" and find it easier to make commercial music and also find it motivating that more people can enjoy it. For us, I don't think being signed to Metal Blade has changed our music. I mean, our albums would have sounded the same even if we weren't on Metal Blade. We just make the music we love, that's the only way to create something with quality, I believe.
Where are you living now? I understand you lived here in the USA for awhile? Why did you leave Norway?
Right now I'm living in North-Italy, in the Alps, on the border to Switzerland. I have a new line-up here, and it's very easy to travel around in Europe to play shows now that we're living in the heart of it all, you see. Yeah, I lived in USA, on and off, for about 2 years, '95-'97. I used to go over for 3 months at a time, and then go back to Norway for a little while. It was ok, but I got tired of the travelling and I also got a bit sick of the US after a while. It was also hard since I couldn't get the visas etc. to live permanently in the USA. I was bored of Norway and wanted to go somewhere else, but mostly I moved to the USA since my new vocalist at the time, Kaiaphas, lived there, and we needed to be together.
Tell us about some of the changes in culture/people that you noticed while staying in the USA, any good or bad things versus where your from you'd care to share?
USA doesn't have much of a culture or ancient history like here in Europe. The country basically just consists of people whose ancestors come from Europe, Asia or Africa. With no offense, people in the USA are in general more lazy and less intelligent than in Europe. But there's many different things I like about the USA too, though. The service is very good, shops are open very late, etc., but the police in the US are really a bunch of assholes compared to here in Europe where everything is so much more liberal.
Back to the music, what can we expect from the next Ancient release? I understand you've got some new members?
Yes, the line-up in Ancient is very different than on the last album. At the moment it looks like this: Aphazel: Guitars and vocals, Deadly Kristin: Female vocals & Seductive black arts, Kirgse: Drums, Scorpios: Bass and Jesus Christ!: Keyboards
At the point we only have about 3 songs half finished, but now in November and December we will really spend a lot of time on songwriting. I always liked the winter atmosphere better for creating new material. I don't think the album will be totally different than our earlier stuff, but we'll just have to wait and see. I wanna spend a lot of time with the new drummer creating new material. We will make the drums be a more dominant part of the music from now on, I think.
How will the next release differ from "Mad Grandiose Bloodfiends?" How will the lyrics be this time around?
Well, we won't have any more songs like "Exu" or "5", that you can be sure of! It's kinda hard to say exactly how the next album will be different. Mad Grandiose... was a very diverse album, maybe too diverse when I look back at it now. One thing that I think you'll notice about the next album is that it will have a bit colder atmosphere overall than Mad... We'll probably use more keyboards, in many ways. And we'll also have a good amount of female vocals of different kinds. The lyrics will mainly be written by me and Deadly Kristin, but I think we will have some work from Thorne this time as well. Our lyrics will basically be various kinds of fantasies, a lot of weird, sick stuff that hopefully will open up people's minds and thoughts more.
Out of all the songs you've ever done, personally, which is your favorite? Is there one in particular that could represent Ancient?
Ponderous Moonlighting, the first track on The Cainian Chronicle. I really love it a lot. It's just an intro, but it is definately the best track I've ever made, in my opinion. We're usually using it as intro for our shows now. The atmosphere on this track is everything I ever wanted in a song, it has really a lot of power and dark beauty overall. You can't say this is a song that could represent our music, though, I don't really know if there's a song like that, they're all so different, but maybe The Draining or Det Glemte Riket.
What is the last Cd you listened to (good or bad)?
It was a Cd with sound effects from thunderstorms, very beautiful.
What are your views on Christianity? Your band definitely has dark tones to it. Are you religious in any way? Do you believe in any sort of an 'afterlife?' What are your thoughts on Satanism?
I totally hate it and everything it represents, it's like a mental disease. We are all totally against religion and any kind of oppression. Some of us are Satanists, some not, but we all are very much against Christianity. I don't believe in any "afterlife", but I'm sure that when you die, you just enter another form of existence, I guess this might be called an afterlife, but to think that you go to "Heaven" or "Hell" when you die, is completely ridiculous.
If you had an opportunity to ask some 'all-knowing being' one question, what would it be?
I think I would ask when the Earth will end.
If you had to describe the music of Ancient in one word, what would it be?
There certainly is a lot of negative opinions on the world and its future these days. This includes almost all of the bands we've interviewed. People feel that there is no hope for mankind, and that the end surely looms nearby. What is your opinion and why? Will things get better or worse?
Well, it's the truth. Most people choose to ignore it or don't realize how bad the situation with the world is now, or they think they will be more happy if they just don't think about it. I think for the most part things will get worse, but I don't think people should go around and feel depressed because of this, that won't be any point, but people should live life to the fullest right now and not waste their time because it's precious. One day it might be over and then it's too late to complain and go around saying "oh, I wish I had done this and that" and so on. Because when it's over, it's really over, and there's no second chance. It's too bad that most people don't realize this.
Tell us about the touring you've done. Who have you toured with and where? Any negative experiences? Plans for touring in the future?
We have done 3 tours. 2 in Europe, in '97 and '98, and one small one in USA in '98. In Europe we toured with Dark Funeral and Bal Sagoth (in '97) and Behemoth and Belphegor (in '98). Not that many negative experiences actually, just some in the USA when we were driving ourselves, not very nice compared to being on a tour-bus, but it saved us money. Right now we've done some shows in Holland, and we'll do some more around Europe in January/February. After the next album, in May or so, we'll probably do a festival in Europe.
What are your five favorite current bands?
Lycia, old Black Sabbath, Danzig, old Mercyful Fate and Devil Doll.
What are some of the things that interest you in life? What do you do in your spare time when not working on Ancient?
I really spend most of my time with activites related with the band (songwriting, lyric-writing, doing interviews, being in contact with Metal Blade, organising concerts, etc.) But when I do have some spare time, I just like to be with Deadly Kristin, who's my girlfriend, taking photos, working out, using the internet, listening to music, etc.
Alas, final comments ?
Thanks for the support, piss on Christ and crush Christianity, rape the children of Abel!