What were your influences on the first Graveland album, Carpathian Wolves? How much were Oi, progressive rock, and traditional music or classical music in there?
My greatest inspiration were the early albums of Bathory! I simply found myself in that music. Before that I listened to a lot of different metal stuff like Celtic Frost, Mercyful Fate, Possessed, Venom and so on. But Bathory was ahead of that, it was simpler and with that gloom aura around it. Quorthon sang like being burnt on a stake, his voice echoed throughout the dark abyss. Starting with Drunemeton demo, Bathory was always very close to me and still is. I was reading every interview with Quorthon I managed to find. Inspirations he described there caught my interest as well. The thing with music is that many genres of it have an impact on your style, even the one you actually don’t listen to. You’ve heard something once and it hides somewhere in your mind. Then when you compose, you bring back everything your memory and subconscious bears. Thinking about what you are creating gives your music a proper shape, its own discipline. Your character, ideals, things you enjoy, spirit shapes melodies which are your own reflection. If you are honest with what you are doing and do not follow commercial requirements, you will achieve something original. If you want to earn a lot, your work will always be similar to current trendy stuff. A real musician always listen to some other genres of music as well, even a bit. He is able to appreciate someone’s else work without being biased. Whether it is progressive rock or classical music, you will always find something to admire.
How hard is it for you to get your albums into stores, spread news out, and play shows, etc. versus in the early 1990s?
It’s not that easy to obtain original Greaveland releases. I mean CDs, vinyls and merch here. Fans have a lot of problems to get them in their favourite shop. Of course it is easy to download mp3s or find Graveland on Youtube, it’s common thing. Lack of Graveland’s music in record stores has two main reasons. The first one is own fault as in the old days I was under the huge influence of black metal ideology so I strongly opposed its commercialisation, that is why I stayed in the underground for many years. The Second one is omnipresent censorship. You can say that officially it does not exist, as democracy “respects” people’s freedom, but in practice you can easily observe it under the name of political correctness. Many bands from all around the world have problems with it, and there are different reasons for that. It differs depending on region and its political situation. The most common acts of censorship take place in Russia. A perfect example is the situation where Behemoth gigs were canceled and the band themselves were imprisoned for one day. The thing is that this case is an example of censorship you can talk and write about. You won’t read anything about the one that happens in our democratic countries. Not long ago Facebook closed my Graveland page and blocked my own profile for several days. All those attempts at censoring Graveland that I still meet are pure paranoia!
I saw you made some new Lord Wind demos last year. When is there going to be a new Lord Wind album?
I have been composing stuff for Lord Wind’s album for two years already. It consists of some new compositions that I wrote and old well-known, folk songs such as “Herr Mannelig”. Things we are preparing for the new album are so different when compared to the previous stuff that I’ve decided to release it under a new name. We will try to gather some more members as well to be able to play concerts in the future. Finally we have a female vocalist with an unexceptional voice! Olga, as that’s her name, also writes lyrics for our stuff. In February we want to record another video in the same vein as the previous one, but with our own material. The new name of the band will be announced soon.
Will you ever do an ambient/soundscape project like Neptune Towers?
I was never into ambient really. Of course I was listening to a lot of electronic and keyboard music like Laibach, early Dead Can Dance, even I had a chance to listen to industrial, but I have never caught an interest in ambient, I quickly got bored listening to those sounds. I’m highly impressed by symphonic stuff, folk and simply early music. I value the harmonies that exist in this kind of art. They are part of some sort of musical spiritualism. I want Lord Wind to follow such path. Keyboards and electronic tracks will be replaced by traditional folk instruments.
Why did you release the 1050 Years of Pagan Cult rerecordings like Burzum tried on From the Depths of Darkness? Have you ever considered rerecording an entire album as Sorcier des Glaces successfully did on Snowland MMXII?
We decided to make the studio versions of our live set as I wanted to have them well-recorded. I mean they were never played so good before. Capricornus was never that good technically on drums and I was not a guitar virtuoso either. All of these stuff from 1050… was previously recorded with Capricornus and not in the best studios. That is why those compositions didn’t have a chance to break through like the ones of for example Emperor. Now I was able to present them in a way they should be presented. There is a great strength and spirit in it. It’s rather common that re-recording old stuff is not the beast idea as it is hard to create the same unique atmosphere. On this album we achieved even more than that. The people working on this album were really involved in what were doing; it was 100%. We were focused both on details and on adding something new to it; we have released the ancient darkness that penetrate souls like a cold, northern wind. The material was mixed by Michał from Mgła. His idea was to keep as much of the old Graveland as possible: those not exactly perfect things like too much reverb on vocals, not so clean guitar sound and raw drums. When it comes to me, I have composed new keyboard lines and intros that are set in that old style. All of that, with Mścisław on guitar and Sigrunar behind drums, gave that music back to the darkness that was born in black metal underground.
Do you feel there has been a substantial loss of quality control in the current metal scene filled with rehash bands distributed digitally?
The quality was never under control. I remember the demos that were spread throughout the underground. People were frequently copying them from each other. One of the advantages of it was some sort of selection because of being limited. You were not able to send hundreds of copies because of the costs, copying them was also time- consuming. That is why people were forced to make choices. Only the best albums and demos deserved attention. No one cared about crap. That is how there was only the best stuff around. Now, in the days of mp3 and internet you can do it in several clicks. You can send a lot of music in a very short time. The internet is flooded by thousands of bands that spread countless numbers of mp3 files. That is why the scene is overfilled with materials that no one controls. Even censors have problems with it. People think that the internet means freedom, so everyone can create and share the way he wants. And that’s good! All in all the internet is still young and it will need some time for people to learn to find things that are worth attention and how to avoid false authorities and pages offering high-budget crap.
What are the chances that the flood of excess disposable releases give way to a new underground similar to how black metal replaced death metal which replaced speed metal which replaced the New Wave of British Heavy Metal in the spotlight? Is metal doomed to become like punk?
I can’t imagine what might be able to take over the form that black metal once had in the underground. Mostly it’s due to the fact that I’m no longer up to date with those things as I used to be like ten years ago. I’m interested in paganism, historical reenactment, and i still attend Slavic and Viking festivals from time to time. I think that black netal is slowly reaching its end, it’s burned out and common, even radical forms like NSBM are no longer able to keep their cult status. People seem to be tired of this genre. Commercial label will do anything to keep it up of course. The era of pagan and viking metal is just around the corner. It is connected to the cultural changes that will take place in our countries: the return to traditional, conservative values.
Do you have any idea why the Rotting Christ and Graveland influenced flowing Eastern European black metal bands are branching out to a more rock ‘n’ roll type sound now seemingly en masse?
That is a process that happens quite often. Bands change as they develop. At the beginning there are more extreme influences, heavier music and later it slowly changes. For example Tiamat, listen to the first album, and after it everything got different. Or black metal Satyricon, when they were starting look how radical they were, now they have no problem with playing at official fashion shows making background for the catwalk. Once there was a word “poser” in a frequent use, now it is no longer that popular I think. There is no longer sense in doing so. Everyone does what he wants, fans are judging. You simply like the stuff or not. In the eastern Europe many bands draws their inspirations from folk music and national traditions. Here we have an example of resigning from brutality in favor of presenting traditional values. Musicians are more aware of their own culture and tradition that mostly come from paganism. I think that this kind of music is becoming more and more valued and understood. Very nice work was done by a Polish band Percival that have prepared the music for the very well-known and admired video game The Witcher. That is how our traditional folk melodies accompany millions of players during their quest. It is one of the examples how people learn to listen to folk.
Why do you think these groups calling for censorship have only starting moving against metal in the last few years including Mayhem just now? Did they just watch Until the Light Takes Us? Hellhammer and Fenriz made statements in the early 90s that would cause these nu Tipper Gores to explode if they read books; Ritchie Blackmore has been spouting off since the 70s.
There are many subcultures that always hated metal. I think that private aversions of the people involved in them and acting against metal music may have caused that. In those groups that are censoring music there are people who don’t listen to metal at all. They add bands to their black list just because of one member playing a Nazi in the movie (I’m talking about Nergal from Behemoth). Those people start to behave more radical; it all turns to hatred and stimulates violence due to the changes in our region of the world. That is a sign of some sort of frustration because of the situation they are in. It’s even worse as they are being lied to and manipulated by their own leaders which are bound to the New World Order through different foundations and institutions. All that frustration has its end in hatred, so they attack metal musicians. Because of that musicians are afraid to talk about politics during concerts being afraid that someone will hear it and put it on the internet. Orwell’s world is doing well on the metal scene! That is the fault of the scene itself and the fans who became intimidated by antifa. I remind, each of us has a right to his own views and beliefs. If there is anyone who doesn’t like it, he is not forced to listen to it.
With Trump’s election and the right rising in Europe, do you think such anti-fascist and communist agitators will still be supported by the police and local authorities in countries with leftist governments like Canada and Germany? Could this embolden them temporarily?
The USA in a big country that has an influence on the whole world, on culture, philosophy and politics. What happened during the last elections shocked the whole world, especially the liberal left-winged part of it. There will be some protest against Trump in the western Europe but it will not change what is coming now. The most significant factor is the disgrace of liberal left-winged ideals that led to a huge cultural and social crisis. Personally, I was shocked that so many people voted for Trump despite the huge and expensive propaganda against him. I thought that people are the way propaganda let them be, how they are led by celebrities and politicians that are promoted by common media. Those elections proved that this sort of propaganda does not work anymore! I think that is the effect of an evolution of a human being that in this case becomes resilient towards unpleasant factors that limit our free will. People learned to believe everything that is being shown on TV, all of those false authorities, and the internet did not help here offering the possibility to speak your mind, of course in some spheres only, I guess that was enough. All in all people are more and more resilient towards propaganda and that is what makes me happy. This year there will be another chance for changes in Europe that I hope will help people by giving strength and opportunities for development and better life. I mean the elections in Germany and France. In Germany citizens are frightened being controlled by a liberal left-wing tyranny that uses every form of repression to keep their status. People will show what they think about it soon.