In an era where music is more accessible as ever and one where genres are constantly being blended and blurred by new and upcoming bands, Watain continues to be one of the few bands carrying the torch for true black metal. By combining their ambience and theatrics, Watain’s performances by now are nothing short of a legend, and when coupled with visceral music like the bands latest album Trident, Wolf, Eclipse, fans are sure to be left with a lasting impression long after they leave the venue. Ahead of the band’s very first headlining tour of Australia, Metal Wani’s Jake Patton had the chance to catch up with Watain’s singer Erik Danielsson to discuss the tour, what it means to be ‘black metal’, and the upcoming film based on the formative years of Mayhem, “Lords of Chaos”.
Talking first about the Australian tour, Danielsson is very upfront with how excited the band is about heading back “When anyone mentions Australia everyone in the band gets excited!”. The conversation then covers the importance of the Australian market and how surprised the band is to be headlining in this remote region of the world for the first time in their 20-year career. “Of course it’s great to have your logo big on the poster, but at the same time, the most important thing for us is just to be back there and going to New Zealand for the first time” Danielsson remarks when asked about his thoughts on finally headlining in Australia. The conversation also covers the expectations for the Australian fans for this upcoming tour and the reception for the band on their previous tours, before discussing how friendships that have been forged in Australia have allowed them to have on ground assistance in creating and designing backdrops and props to try and fulfill the ideal Watain performance in the country for this run of shows.
They briefly touch on the bands most recent offering Trident, Wolf, Eclipse and how well the new material has been received live, before switching the discussion to black metal more broadly, and talk about why the genre still continues to court controversy to this day. When asked his thoughts on why he thinks black metal continues to court controversy, Danielsson offers “You mentioned freedom and that’s the key word here, you know I mean Freedom can easily be seen as something very destructive. In order to attain the freedom we are talking about you need to break a lot of boundaries, you need to break a lot of rules and you need to challenge things that are established as norms, and that’s usually what people that adhere to those norms would call destructive behavior and controversial behavior for that matter, and I just think it’s a very natural outcome of doing this to be seen in the light of controversy and to have your work considered taboo and so on – you know it should be, it must be to a certain extent or your not in touch with what you are singing about”.
Finally, the conversation ends on the topic of Jonas Åkerlund’s upcoming film Lords of Chaos, and whether or not Erik thinks that the film night cause black metal to be perceived differently to a more mainstream audience following the release of the film. “I’ve seen the film and it’s you know, it’s not a gateway into black metal knowledge at all. It’s a movie about juveniles that do a lot of really extreme things and I don’t think people are going to walk away from that movie thinking that they know a lot about black metal” Danielsson reflects when asked his thoughts on the film and whether he is worried about the way the film night paint black metal to a broader audience.