It’s about 1pm on a sunny Saturday afternoon. It’s a time when most metal heads would probably still be passed out from the prior evening’s debauchery. Yet Erik Danielsson, the frontman for one of the most wild black metal groups Watain, is up and at Duff’s Brooklyn bar with members of metal press and friends. He calmly sits at the bar as Watain’s new album, The Wild Hunt, blasts on the speakers for everyone in the bar to hear way in advance of its August 20 release date. It’s an album that finds Watain mixing ferocious and chaotic metal anthems with experimental tempos and even darker overtones. Yet, while many others would feel nervous about witnessing others (let alone members of the press) dissecting every riff, lyric, and drum beat, Danielsson seems to be at ease as we listen to his latest evil masterpiece.
As the listening party at Duff’s comes closer to an end, Danielsson and I escape off to a booth to talk. During our chat, Danielsson discusses how The Wild Hunt finds Watain continuing to charter new territories, the misconception many have about the band’s live stage and evil persona, their new partnership with Century Media Records, and why he actually prefers to tour America over Europe.
[picture taken by Photo Terco]
First off, what was going through your head as you were in this room watching everyone listen to your new music that very few people had previously heard?
I don’t know. The thing is that, now that the album is done and we’re starting the whole promo thing, listening to the album now, it’s kind of hard to think straight because I get really sucked into the music. I try not to listen to it frequently, because when I hear it I get very focused, and honestly I really didn’t think so much about the reactions [laughs]. I mean, it’s good to hear them afterwards when you sit down, but meanwhile [as the music plays] I’m just ‘in there,’ I’m somewhere else.
There are some really classic black metal riffs I heard in the album, but then there’s slower paced song like “They Rode On” that really standout [editor’s note: as our friends at Skulls N’ Bones said during the listening party, the song may be Watain’s answer to Iron Maiden’s “Fear Of The Dark”]. What inspired you to explore different kinds of rhythms and slower paced songs?
I think it’s a matter of… I hate to say growing up, but you get a bit older and you get a bit more wise and daring, I guess. But Watain has always been about exploring uncharted territories, and this was one of the ways of doing that. Like the song “They Rode On” is almost gothic sounding…
Almost a Pink Floyd sound to it.
Yeah, definitely! That has always been such a big part of our life. When we’re in the tour bus, a lot of the times that is what we’re listening to, when we’re riding through the wilderness of…I don’t know, Phoenix, Arizona. There is this dark, mellow, melancholy thing going on at all times with Watain when we’re on the road. I think it was just a matter of time before it would find its way into one of our songs.