Wacken Celebrate 25 Years!! Part Three

"It was metal heaven, it was dirty and mean"

Throughout our expedition over the past few weeks unearthing the funniest, most bizarre and often foolish stories of our favourite bands playing Wacken Open Air over the years Metal As Fuck has uncovered a long history of one musician in particular who not only has played the festival and made lifelong friends with some of Australia’s oldest and greatest but also considers it some of the best years of his life. The self proclaimed mouth piece for Satan; the infamous Erik Danielsson of Watain:   

“I use to go to Wacken during the last years of the 90’s and we had just started Watain and we headed down to hand out flyers and things, we pretty much spent the whole festival just walking around and handing out our stuff and promoting the band...... and of course being outrageously, fucking obnoxious at the same time, doing stuff that you’re not really supposed to do at a festival [Laughs] I met some friends there, Australians in bands, you know like Destroyer 666 and Vomitor, great bands, great guys. Those were really memorable years for me, back then though the size of Wacken was not like it is today, I was still young and at the time it was metal heaven, it was dirty and mean, I will always cherish my years at Wacken. It was a very special place for me to be at the time”.

The sudden jaw drops from the crowds were always a favourite for Erik when they began their sets “Playing at Wacken is always a little bit bizarre; you're standing in front of a crowd who were a minute before you just watching Whitesnake or Job For A Cowboy you know [Laughs] and all of a sudden, we’re there with all our.... stuff [Laughs].... Wacken is very diverse, which is great, there is always a punishing vibe when playing there, I feel like I’m punishing people who come to have fun for four days and then we descend like a black cloud and ruin the party mode completely which I thoroughly enjoy. I think it’s one of the main reasons why I like playing at festivals in general; just to wipe the smiles off everyone’s faces. We’ve done extensive festival touring in Europe over the last 6 years, but Wacken is kind of a nave when it comes to festivals in Europe, it’s one of the more central, each time we’ve played there, it really feels like your reaching out to more and more people every time, it’s quite an overwhelming experience and I hate it as much as I love it only because the festival scenario in general doesn’t go so well with the Watain mentality overall, we take a severe and violent approach to what we do and people go to festivals to have fun and sit in the sun and listen to metal. There is always a weird contrast; it’s rewarding but a challenge definitely”.    

“No matter who you are or what walk of life you come from, there is no way to describe Wacken without a beaming, dorky smile on your face”. Isaac Delahaye of Epica rounds it up the best. “It simply is one of the biggest gatherings for people who like heavy music. Metal heads from all over the world come here to watch awesome bands and to build a massive party. Playing for so many people is quite exciting for sure. We started our set when it was getting dark, so we brought a lot of pyro and extra lights to make it the best possible show".

Wacken is more than just playing a set, "Yeah like the set of your life but it’s always great to catch up with friends from other bands you haven't seen in ages. As far as the show itself goes, every moment where we ask for participation is awesome. Seeing our fans having a good time is priceless! Playing in Germany at Wacken Open Air definitely took us to the next level. And just saying you're playing Wacken is already a sort of achievement for a band. It is an honour to play there basically”. Many have graced the stages of Wacken and many dream of it, any tips for new bands playing the festival for the first time? “Everyone is there to have a great time, so just do what you do best; play your music, start a party and enjoy every second of it!”. 

“Wacken gives you a special feeling because everyone in the audience is a metal head” states Mircea Gabriel Eftemie of Mnemic. “It’s not like playing a more commercial festival, with a ton of genres; this one is purely and entirely only for metal loving people. We played the festival in 2004 I think… It’s been over 10 years since we visited, and lots of things have developed since then, plus some grey hairs. It’s a straight up metal festival, no frills and plenty of spills”.

Now I know that you attend Wacken on a regular basis as I had the pleasure of bumping into you last year. Great fire making skills. [Laughs] “Yeah, I have been heading to Wacken since 1999, always great every year. I consider it attending as a ‘regular mortal visitor’ [Laughs] after our set we went to the camping area to drink our brains out with our friends from our hometown, relaxing at Wacken after a set is easy and always fun, although when playing the festival you don’t relax that much, just due to early sets. We did many festivals back then, and as I recall, we arrived the day before, and got stupidly drunk”. [Laughs]