Marduk at Wacken Open Air 2016

"It's great to get on stage and deliver for the crazy metal people who come here from all over the world."

It was a sunny, muddy Thursday afternoon at Wacken, and Foreigner was playing to the infield when NicoleHallamMaF and I met up with with Marduk's Morgan Steinmeyer Hakansson. The band have been busy this year, touring a new album and sharing their intense sound across the globe. As we try to find an open spot in the press tent, Morgan recognizes that Foreigner is playing; smiles and says "you know, Danzig once said he created his band so that people could stop listening to bands like Foreigner!". 

This sets the tone for a really enjoyable chat with Morgan. He and I talk about ice hockey, and he tells me about how he's recently returned to playing himself, after stopping when he was a child. "I played when I was 5 years old, then I stopped at about 8. I picked it up again in 2014. Got the full equipment and everything, and went back - hadn't been skating since I was 8 - it's great to play with my friends every Wednesday."

Nikki and I pull out the big guns; a travelers tube of Vegemite, and a bag of lollies that are shaped like Aussie animals. I'm surprised when Morgan tries the Vegemite and doesn't pull the normal 'yuck' face that most non-Australian's do when they try it for the first time. As Morgan rolls our loveable vegetable spread around his mouth he tells us a bit about his time in Australia seeing kangaroos, emus and a wild echidna. When asked if he had tried any Aussie cuisine, he said " I tried Kangaroo and Emu. Australia has fantastic food, it's amazing!"

Morgan chases his first Vegemite experience with an orange flavoured kangaroo lolly, and we get down to 'serious' business.

What's your favourite thing about Wacken, both as an artist and as an festival attendee? "We have played Wacken twice before, 2000, and 2005. I'm not the biggest fan of super big festivals. For me it's too big. I don't mind playing a good sized festival, say 40,000 or so. If I go to experience one, and not play, I'd prefer a smaller crowd, but in all honesty, I'm not really a festival guy and wouldn't go if I didn't play. I'd rather be out in the wild - fishing or hunting or just be in the forest - rather than be at a festival. I remember 6-7 years ago we played Sweden Rock Festival and I remember seeing Black Sabbath play Heaven and Hell, and I remember thinking "is that Dio up there?" I was so far back and watching it on a big monitor;  there's no point for me. Now having said that, I am going to watch Iron Maiden tonight, because it's Iron Maiden, but I'd rather see them in an indoor smaller venue with 8,000 people, where it's more intimate than all of the people at Wacken. Wacken really is an amazing event for metal as a whole, and amazing that people can come here, and be a part of it. It's the biggest festival, and it's an honour for us to play Wacken. The previous time we've played; we've had a great time. It's great to get on stage and deliver for the crazy metal people who come here from all over the world. It's a great experience".  

Prefering the more intimate crowds; how does it compare to a Marduk show at a smaller venue? "We don't bring as big of a crew to smaller shows, as we do with the big festivals. It can be stressful sometimes. The bigger festivals are a lot of work. I like to do regular tours with crew. I love the intensity of the smaller shows, you really feel the power of the music in smaller venues".

When you started Marduk in 1990, you set out to be the most blasphemous black metal band.  Has it come full circle? "When we were 16 and starting out, this was really important. It was a statement at that time. We wanted to bring back some power into the music scene as it was really lame at the time. That was the most important thing for me. Now it's not as important. It's been a great journey - 26 years! The last 2 years it feels like it's been a really long journey. You keep focused and keep working and you don't realise how many years have passed. There is a guy back home who I saw recently who said "Hey do you still play in that band?" and after I said yes he replied "Oh my daughter use to listen to you guys when she was growing up" and it makes me sound really old! When I meet people who weren't born when our first two albums came out, you start to feel like the bands you liked when you were younger. It was only recently that I started realising this. Time flies! We are still very motivated, and passionate about what we do, so the journey will continue".

Was it hard for you to get gigs or albums out back then? "It was a different time then. When we started out we never expected our records to be in record stores, it was pretty extreme. When things started to move, I never expected to play with bands we admired when we were younger. Growing up on Slayer, early Exodus, and the like... I met all these bands, and I never would have expected this when I was 16. With the record industry changing, decreasing, it's like we are going underground again. Everything has a cycle". Whats happening for you guys now? "We've been touring the album a lot since it's come out. Europe, South America, Australia, Iceland, Asia... we've been around a bit. only the U.S. to go, so after that we'll come back and start working on the next album!

Then back to the forest for you?! "Yes, back to the forest after we tour!".