Black metal warfare was in full effect as Watain came through New York City over the weekend, and they did not disappoint. During their entire set the crowd was in chaos as the Swedish giants powered through each track, and on stage, the band performed a flawless and impactful show that blew every fan’s mind. This was my seventh time witnessing a Watain ritual, and they get more relentless with each and every performance. There are a ton of great metal acts out there, but when it comes to a band that fully believes in their message and music, Watain is in a league of their own. This is more than music to them, and it’s an awesome spectacle to watch every time they come into town.
Before their set I had the honor of speaking with Erik Danielsson about their return to the States, the now infamous Brooklyn show, future plans, their goals and more! Enjoy the chat below, and DO NOT miss them on their remaining dates with Revenge and Mayhem!
Metal Mark: Erik, thank you for taking out the time today. This is the third show of this run with Revenge and Mayhem, so how’s it treated you so far?
Erik Danielsson: So far so good. No matter how prepared we are for the beginning of a run, we still manage to stumble into tours. Why I do not know, but it worked and we are here ready to go now. The two first nights were fucking amazing man. They really were. You can feel from the crowd that they’ve been anticipating this tour ever since it was announced, and now that it’s here, they are letting loose, and it’s really quite remarkable so far.
MM: Especially here in New York City, the anticipation was extremely high due to your last show in Brooklyn. It’s definitely one of my favorite shows of all time, but it was also known here more from the blood incident, where magazines like TMZ picked it up, and it became a bigger story than the show. We saw that response here, but back home, how did people react to that? They probably couldn’t believe it.
ED: It was definitely something we did not expect. I heard about it, but I don’t really pay attention to that type of stuff. They were commenting on the show from a retard’s point of view honestly. They make their living by ruining people’s personal lives, so I don’t really take anything they say or do seriously. They are just idiots in my mind. As Watain fans know, most of our shows are like that. They have been for a while now, so it was interesting to hear everyone’s reactions afterwards. Overall, we did win, because like you said, it was everywhere for a while, so our name and message was out there more than ever, and for it to not be planned or meant to happen like that, I think it showed a greater power was at work. It’s not the first time we’ve had bad things said against us, so we ignore it, and move on with our mission.
MM: Personally, that was my sixth time seeing Watain, but first time up close and personal like that. I have to ask, and you can go into as little or great detail as you want, but once the music starts, you simply seem to be in another place. It’s quite powerful to watch, and made me a much bigger fan as well. What would you say is your mindset once you hit the stage?
ED: That’s a tough question to answer for me. It’s very complicated to talk about. Sometimes when I answer that, it comes off a pretentious or over dramatic ya know. I don’t think it’s possible to translate what I feel when I get on that stage. It’s definitely a process of transformation, and elevating yourself into another sphere. It’s not only an internal thing, but like you said, it can be seen from the outside as well. Most people seem in awe or oddly attracted to it, because it’s not seen so much in the scene or whatever as much anymore. It’s hard because depending on the venue, it can be an intimate affair, but for myself, I’m transforming and it’s a very personal experience, and then there are people watching, so it’s weird mix of realities, but something that must be done. It’s sincere though. It’s real. It’s passion. It’s where I belong, and where we all belong. It’s obvious to everyone at a Watain show.
MM: You’ve been leading the Watain charge for many, many years now, and have talked about your growth, both spiritually and musically before, so how do you see yourself now in 2015?
ED: Honestly, there is still a big feeling of being quite overwhelmed. That feeling has been with me for many years now, and it comes with the territory of what we do. We’ve seen many things come and go, both positively and negatively, but we are still here ya know. The feeling of being overwhelmed as I said, is very central to us, because I still feel quite small to what we’ve been building with Watain. It’s completely taking over, and that’s a very good thing. I hate when people are eager to say “I’m stronger every day,” and stuff like that. If you deal with the stuff we do, you can’t afford to have that approach. You have to acknowledge that you aren’t in charge, and remain focused at all times. Pride is the last emotion we focus on, because there’s a much bigger picture out there, and much stronger forces out there.
MM: Like I said before, you’ve been doing this many years, and it seems Watain continues to grow larger as each year passes by. You often describe your career as a journey, so do you feel as if it’s an endless journey, or will you be satisfied once a certain event or show happens?
ED: That’s an interesting question, because of course we could say there are goals we want to accomplish or something like that, but at the same time, the goal has always been about the journey itself. To be able to do this, build this world we have, and uphold that world in this reality, is more than enough for me honestly. I feel very humbled and grateful when I sit back and look at what we’ve accomplished, but we aren’t done. Not even close. There’s much more to our journey.
MM: Very cool. Speaking of that journey, you are still touring in support of “The Wild Hunt,” and ever since the first time I heard it at the listening party at Duff’s in Brooklyn, I was strongly connected with this record. There were mixed reactions from other fans, as you know, but does it seem like people are appreciating the album more now that they’ve had time to fully indulge in it?
ED: To be honest, I don’t really talk to people about these type of things. “The Wild Hunt” was and is a very important record for our band. I really only ask people their thoughts if they are close friends of mine, or like minded people as myself. I think the real communication is spoken at our rituals. If people want to tell us what they think, they will, by buying a ticket live, or buying merchandise, or whatever it is. That’s how I receive people’s thoughts and feelings more than reviews honestly. Judging from the reactions of the crowds since it’s release, I would say yes, people are more open to it, and understanding it more. It was a very personal album for us, and it gains strength with each listen, so the more time you can lose yourself in it, the more it’ll make sense. At least it does for me, and it’s definitely one of the most important releases of our journey so far.
MM: “The Wild Hunt” came out back in 2013, so has there been any talk of new material, or are you still focusing on touring in support of this album?
ED: Right now we are in New York City. As for the future, we will be in Boston tomorrow (laughs).
MM: Fair enough. People wanted me to ask, so I had to throw that one in there.
ED: As you should. It’s a question I should be expecting, so you get the exclusive response. We are in Boston tomorrow(laughs). That’s what I see in the future.
MM: Well Boston better get ready, because from what I’ve heard this tour is not disappointing.
ED: It’s an incredible tour for sure. We are very honored to be alongside Mayhem, because they were so influential in our beginnings, and to share the road with them is a dream come true for us. Plus, Revenge is an exceptional Canadian black metal band, so it’s a strong lineup from start to finish, and we are not holding anything back on this run. We simply can not.
MM: For the final question, I’ve said this many times to people, there’s a haunting beauty to Watain. Whether you believe what you believe, it’s an admirable thing to see a band put so much energy and heart into every detail as you guys do. In your genre, success is a weird word, but you’ve achieved a lot more than most. From the beginning was there a certain band or influence that you saw, where you knew you could that and more, and have continued that to this day?
ED: That’s interesting to think about. Honestly, I think from watching the bands we grew up on, we knew we couldn’t do anything less, because that would be unworthy. It would be blasphemous to go out there and not mean it. If you’re going to contribute to black metal, you better fucking contribute to black metal. It’s not something that you can casually become a part of ya know. Cleary we’ve had something to contribute and still do. We always knew that if we did this, we would do it and hold nothing back. We wanted to create something extremely significant, and we have. It has to be more than what we are used to ourselves. You can’t recreate something, you must create something. Throughout my career and life, that’s how I approach things. Either you do it all the way, or you don’t do it at all. I think what we’ve accomplished is something rare and special, but it’s nowhere near being done. We have a lot more to say, a lot more to do, and as long as we have the power behind us, we will conquer whatever is in front of us. That’s Watain.