The coming darkness: an interview with Watain

"I prefer Satanism to be discussed between Satanists."

Watain, those masters of malignant, malevolent majesty are returning down under once again with Behemoth and Bolzer for what has got to be the most evil tour gracing our shores this year. MaF thus mustered every bit of satanic energy possible to converse with vocalist Eric Danielsson in the most evil of ways (via gmail obviously). Here’s what they had to say. 

You are returning down under in October as part of The Satanist tour with Behemoth and Bolzer. Are you looking forward to it? "Returning to Australia is always something we look forward to. It's proven to be one of the last standing bastions of true, passionate death/black metal mania, which has made all our visits there very rewarding and memorable. We've had quite a long break from touring now as well, so we are really fucking eager to unleash all that has been building up since our last shows this last spring to say the least! I hope you are ready, fuckers!"

What’s your opinion on the two bands you are sharing the stage with? "We've toured quite a bit with Behemoth in the past and we get along really well. They are a hard working band and always give everything they have on stage, so it makes for a good combination. Also because what they do is quite different from us, Watain being a more of a primal, wild and raw force, while Behemoth has more of a pompous and machine-like gladiator vibe to what they do. I have not yet heard or seen Bölzer but I look forward to do so."

You are playing on The Satanist tour, but I am curious about what Satanism means to you? "Well, the tour name - which was not our decision - refers to the title of Behemoth's latest album, and beyond that I don't think people should read much more into it. This is a very delicate subject and for us in Watain a matter of life and death. I do not see it fit to discuss such profound topics in this context. I prefer Satanism to be discussed between Satanists." 

You have been touring in support of The Wild Hunt for close to 2 years now. Does your personal perspective of that material change after playing it for that amount of time? "It grows stronger, and increases in depth and weight. The songs evolve on stage, their character intensifies, their venom grows more potent, more direct. It is a very rewarding and inspiring process. I relate to the idea of that writing a song in Watain is similar to releasing/unleashing something, the recording of it in a studio would represent its birth, and the performing of it on a stage is where we allow it to come to life, where it is charged with the force that we have accumulated over the years. I think people who have listened to the album will know what I mean when they see the upcoming shows."

Have you started working on new material? "We are always working on new material in one way or another, but how and when it will manifest into a defined shape remains to be seen."

You pushed the boundaries of orthodox black metal on your last album; do you see yourselves going even further on your next? "Orthodox black metal was the common term for a few selected bands that co-existed for a few years in the beginning of the millennia, and to my knowledge the term has since then been continuously misused and discredited by idiots, which is why we have refrained from using it in relation to Watain since many years back. Anyway, yes, we broke rules and crossed borders on the Wild Hunt for sure. That is one of the main things we do with this band. I do not see it as going in a certain direction however. The progression of Watain reflects the changes of a landscape - external and internal- along the path that we are destined to walk upon. When we wrote The Wild Hunt, our surroundings were very heavy, solemn, stern and life-altering. If we were to write an album now I think it would sound quite different. Just like each of our albums sounded different to its predecessor."

From where do you draw inspiration? "From every place where the Serpents stir and Darkness thrives."

Will Australia see a headlining tour from Watain sometime in the future? "I am not sure actually, but there are many positive sides about [touring with Behemoth], that's for sure. I always think of every Watain show as a "headline" show, we come there and do what we are there to do and we aim to do it with the same intensity as if it would have been our very last performance. If we come back as a headliner I hope we can tour with some of the many great Aussie bands like Gospel of the Horns, Nocturnal Graves, Reverend Kriss Hades or Vomitor. THAT would be a proper tour package!"

Watain’s live shows have become somewhat legendary for their inclusion of things like pyrotechnics and animal blood. However, your past shows in Australia haven’t included these aspects as far as I’m aware. Will Australia ever get the opportunity to witness a Watain ritual in full? "We have not performed a show without blood in many years, and in Australia never. The blood is always there, it's just that people read about the shows where things have gone a bit... out of hand in that department, and then they expect every show to be the same. Sometimes we share the blood with our audience, sometimes we do not. The blood is there primarily for our own benefit and cause.

In regards to the stage show in general, when you fly to the other side of the world it is of course impossible to bring the stage show we have in Europe for example. For the States we have a separate set up standing at our US headquarters, but that is because we go to tour there relatively often. We have a few items though that we bring no matter where we go, like our two iron crosses that have been on every stage we have raped for the last 15 years. Many heads have been impaled on those, pig and human alike...But honestly that is also one of the things I like with touring Australia and places in general that are harder to reach and transport stuff to; you are forced to take things back to a more primal level where fanaticism and madness has to be increased to the point where it replaces the stage props. "

After this tour is completed, what is next for Watain? "We are doing a second leg of the Black Metal Warfare tour in the US, together with Mayhem and Rotting Christ. Then we will withdraw into the darkness to see what has gathered there."