Interview with Alan conducted by Bill Zebub for Issue #14
You are in Ireland. It’s a strange name for a country. Did the English name the country because the Irish are full of Ire?
Bizarrely enough, we were talking about this the other day – and I mean, what’s an “Eng”, and what’s a “Scot”? Obviously Iceland is called “Iceland” because of the ice. (editor’s note – it didn’t occur to me at the time, but Iceland is green, and Greenland is icy.). Why are we “Ire”, and what is the land of “Ire” – which makes more sense than the land of “Eng” or something, to be honest. What were we called by the Romans? Hibernia?
Is that because the Irish make music that causes one to fall asleep?
Ah! That could be it.
That was, I guess, a silly question to ask you.
Yeah, but it’s not something that I haven’t thought about before. I have enough time to think about stuff like that. We sit around… as films get too boring, your mind wanders and you begin to think.
You probably have ideas about what America is like. And we also have notions about Ireland. I think that most Americans know Ireland for the typical aggression of the protestants and the catholics. It’s almost as if the baby Jesus is a soccer ball that causes stadium riots. Is it possible for an Irishman to have pride in his nation if he allows his religion to define his brothers?
It’s an interesting question. I think when you’re talking about something like Irish history, you’re dealing with the fact that it goes back at least 800 years, which is not quite 3 times older than the entire history of America. It’s a struggle that goes back hundreds and hundreds of years. And the biggest problem, above everything, is that it’s not really about religion anymore. It’s about a sort of ingrained bigotry in people. It’s about hatred being passed down from generation to generation. And that is something that I don’t think that any amount of open-minded teaching will ever change. I mean, to be in close proximity to either side is quite a scary thing. I can’t take any side with religious bigotry. But at the same time I would have to call myself, ethically, a republican. I believe that Ireland does essentially belong to Ireland. But at the same time, the way that the politics have been twisted and turned, it’s hardly about that anymore in a lot of ways. It’s epitomized, as you say, the analogy of the football – it’s actually quite like the hatred between two sets of supporters of football teams. They don’t really know why, sometimes, they hate each other. They just know that they have to to perpetuate the struggle that they hand down from generation to generation. That’s quite interesting. I like that analogy of Jesus being a soccer ball.
Oh there are more analogies to come.
I had a feeling there would be.
Do you know much about Emperor Constantine?
Probably not much more than his name unless I scour the back of my memory from history class. But that’s been a few years. So enlighten me about the Emperor Constantine.
Are you ready for your history lesson?
Yes. Go on.
Ok. Constantine knew that Rome was falling apart, and he cleverly used Christianity to bind the empire.
Ah yes. Now I remember Emperor Constantine.
He took over the religion, by the way. He completely took it over and changed it to become a tool of control. He altered the already-corrupted Pauline version of the Nazarenes, and he added elements of the Pagan religions. That would make it a little easier to swallow. The Nazarenes believed that they were led by the descendants of Jesus. According to them, Jesus actually had children, by the way. His marriage to Mary Magdalene was completely edited out of the gospels. So were a lot of the female disciples. Peter and Paul hated women, so that’s where that comes from. The Nazarenes, at the time of Constantine, were still around. They were people who did not believe that Jesus was any sort of god. They didn’t believe in the resurrection. That story was added by Paul. But the Nazarenes, and other sects that believed a more earthly version of the movement, were systematically wiped out by Constantine and his later replacements. So getting back to the struggle in Ireland, is it possible to make anyone in Ireland aware that the religion was politically contrived by Rome?
It’s really difficult. There is obviously an enlightened section of the population who don’t really want anything to do with that. And believe me, England wants nothing to do with the north of Ireland. Public opinion in England – if they could cut off the north of Ireland and float it out into the Atlantic, they would do it because they’ve had 25 years of the I.R.A. bringing their cities to a halt, killing their children, et cetera, et cetera. They’re really sick of the north. Admittedly, there’s a certain amount of peace in the last couple of years because I think the I.R.A. has realized that only through political means are they going to achieve a 32-county republic. Well, for the moment. It’s as if the politicians have decided, “Look, give us 15 years of this and we’ll see what happens.” But the problem is, outside of the enlightened population, you’re dealing with people who have no real concept of history, essentially. They’ve re-written their own history between them, and they’re never going to reconcile their differences, as far as I can see. It’s the same with people who obviously are christians. Fundamentally, if you were to hold it up in court, it would be thrown out of court for obviously being quite a ridiculous belief, as it is now in the 21st century. But pointing out to people what seems so logical to you, especially in this country, considering our history, is especially problematic. It’s really hard, when you’re in close proximity to people to actually believe their blind naked hatred. It’s quite unfathomable. You’re talking nation-of-islam-type hatred. My answer is no.
I’ve met christians who seem to be sensible in other ways. Their reasoning is ok in other ways. But humans are also creatures of emotion and of mental illness. So a christian might be able to solve a puzzle, but a christian doesn’t see what you and I see in the religion. I think there should be a revolutionary drug that breaks people out of their brainwashing.
Yeah, it would be nice, all right. I think that probably that revolutionary drug is a bullet, or something.
Over here in America, politicians – especially during election time, like to use the word “god” a lot. “thank god” “god bless you” and things like that. Does that sort of stuff occur in Ireland and England?
This is actually an interesting difference between America and Europe. In Europe they view Ireland as the last bastion of white Europe. But that’s something different altogether. They also view it as the last bastion of christianity and catholicism. But in fact, Ireland, in truth, is probably far less zealous about its christianity than either Spain or Italy, the other two predominantly catholic countries. We have a very strange young generation growing up. The amount of church-goers in Ireland is absolutely decimated. There is nobody applying to be priests or anything like that. In fact, the church’s hold over Ireland was pretty much ended in 1992 when all the sex abuse came out. But often I look at America and I see the rhetoric that is being used, and there is a lot of heavy sort of evangelistic rhetoric used by politicians. We don’t get the same bashing from our politicians, actually. It’s quite strange. Ok, we have very extreme anti-abortion people, and we have youth defense, which is like a small group of very right-wing christians. But they’re very small, and they don’t have any particular public support, except maybe in very rural areas.
Is that like the Hitler youth?
Yeah. You can compare it like that. Just maybe a little more unevolved, if you can imagine. But very very unenlightened people. I think that christianity is very much dying, or dead, in Europe. It has no importance or relevance to a lot of Europe. The actual “god” rhetoric that I see – and I was following your election, is practically nonexistent in Europe.
I think I want to move to Europe.
(laughs) Yeah. Perhaps.
Some people claim that the bloodline of Jesus is alive in the House of Stewart in Scotland.
Yeah, I have listened to the guitar player in Primordial talk to me about this book, “The Bloodline of Jesus” – it traces his lineage from the south of France through somewhere in the north of England. I haven’t read it. I’ve only listened to him talk about it. I don’t know enough about it to make a proper answer, but I’m sure you’re going to tell me.
I think maybe we’ll leave that part of the interview for another time.
The bashing christianity?
We might return to it in a bit more of a comical light.
I’m always up for a bit of bashing of christianity.
How does Primordial teach the world of the Irish plight? Are any of the lyrics based on leprechauns, banshees, or other Irish monsters?
I think in the last cd I said something like, “There is a deep-seated melancholy in the hearts of all Irish men.” or something, because our history is a litany of tragedy. I firmly believe that Irish people are generally friendly, quite passionate. But at the heart is a sort of melancholy that I think that you can hear in Primordial, and the songs about the leprechauns are a bit slow on the ground, actually. I used to get asked a lot, in interviews, did I ever see the film “Leprechaun”? I never even heard of it. That’s how popular they are over here. We spawned a whole film genre, and I’ve never herd of them, and you were probably going to ask me about that.
No. I just thought it would be funny to ask you a bi-level question – one part being serious, and the other part being ridiculous.
(laughs) Yeah, trying to get out the serious bit and then come to the stupid bit, but thinking of the smart answer while answering the serious bit – that’s the problem. So… other Irish monsters… hmm… I usually try not to actually use folklore references, to be honest. We leave that to other bands to sing about – our myths and our folklore. But I don’t think they’d be singing about leprechauns either, to be honest.
That part was just silly. I was wondering if Primordial was in essence an Irish band.
Oh yeah, completely. Obviously, the fact that we’re Irish is very important to us, and I think that you can hear that in the music. There is a sort of earthy basis to the music that is, essentially, for us, Irish. But it’s not Irish in a typical way.
When you take a shower, do you emerge “clean as a whistle”?
No. I’m not very good at washing I don’t think.
I just want to break all the myths. We have a soap here called “Irish Spring”.
Really? I’ve never heard of that.
It’s advertised as making you clean as a whistle.
Oh, I thought you meant “soap” like a “TV soap”.
Well, sometimes after watching a soap opera you can be as clean as a whistle because they don’t have any profanity or nudity.
It morally cleanses you, all right. I don’t think the Irish to be the greatest moral cleansers in the world. But this “Irish Spring” soap – I’ve never used it, but perhaps if I did use it I might come out clean as a whistle. But it’s pretty unlikely because I think it’s more to do with your maneuvers in the shower rather than what you’re maneuvering with.
I think that if there were an Irish soap, it should be like a joke soap- like after you wash with it, you’re bloody, like the people in Ireland.
I think that if it was a joke soap, the best joke soap it could be will be – it would really look nice, it would really smell nice, but after you washed with it a few times you would find out that it was sentex (at the core) and it would blow you up in your fucking bathroom or something. That would probably be better.
You know, it’s interesting that you say that because I was going to ask if the original name of the band was “Nitroglycerine”.
No, but I did know a band that used to have an album that was called “Sentex”, which was a bit of an explosive title all right. No, I don’t think you need nitroglycerine to make what the I.R.A. use anyway. You can make it with fertilizer. It’s very easy to make. You can probably find it on a web site somewhere – some sort of republican fucking web site.
The reason I asked about the band being called “Nitroglycerine” is because it’s a very unstable thing, and so is the line-up of Primordial.
You think so?
I think I read a blurb or something about the many hardships of the band.
(laughs) The many hardships… yeah, that would probably be one of my many blurbs. No, me, the guitar player, and the bass player have been in the band for 10 years. We’ve had one drummer change, and that was about 4 years ago. And we’ve just added a second guitar player. I would imagine that we’re pretty constant. So the blurbs are obviously wrong.
I see that now. This is a very eye-opening interview. Your lyrics lead me to believe that you enjoy medieval fantasy. Is that true?
There’s a few allusions to medieval times. But I’m not quite sure what you mean.
Sometimes Primordial has a Manowar sort of feel.
You think so?
I think so. And their lyrics are blatantly medieval. But after seeing the band live, I think that they’re a bit too goofy to have read anything, let alone medieval fiction.
They’re actually my favorite band. But there you go. (laughs)
When I listen to Primordial songs, I don’t feel that I am in this time.
Well maybe we’re reaching back to a bit more than Medieval… For us, a relation to our Celtic culture and heritage, folklore and myth, is quite important. Obviously that’s pre-christian, so you’re delving back a little bit further. It’s not that we’re romantic people. We’re very much using that kind of ethnical influence as a springboard to move into this century. We’re not kind of hopelessly romantic people who are willing it to be 500 B.C. We’re not interested in that. But at the same time, it’s a kind of earthy, organic quality. We very much shun the industrial electronic sort of urban decay sort of feel that a lot of black metal bands have gone for. There’s a few perhaps urbane references in the lyrics, but mostly we try to keep things very much earthy. We don’t go for swirling keyboards or something like this. We try and make the music sort of pure and honest.
Is your breakfast magically delicious?
No. I usually don’t get up to have breakfast. Breakfast could actually be at 3 in the morning because it’s just that I happen to eat at 3 in the morning.
Do you have a cereal there called “Lucky Charms”?
We don’t. I’ve heard of them. They’re like Twinkies or something. They’re sort of mystical food that we don’t have here.
It’s got these marshmallow shapes.
It sounds disgusting. I’ve heard what it is.
It’s got green clovers, king diamonds…
Oh yeah? King Diamonds? I might eat that.
Do you like King Diamond?
He’s not just for breakfast anymore.
No, no. He’s for all seasons, banging out 2 albums a year.
You have a song on the new album called “The Soul Must Sleep”. It contains a quote from a philosopher.
Jean-Paul Sartre, yes.
Why is that in there?
It’s strange in that I have this sort of penchant for French existentialist writers. (laughs) That’s going to sound incredibly aloof. Sometimes something just hits me, in a book, and I write it down. I have this book where I write lyrics and scribble bits of shit and all sorts of crap, and it just hit me and it seemed kind of profound. I don’t know if you ever read “Nausea” but it’s this character basically dealing with trying to overcome his misanthropic nausea of human beings, and in a sort of fleeting moment this quote just comes out and just seemed to fit in. And when we did the song, we had this sort of dreamy – we called it the “seasick son” because it has this sort of claustrophobic quality, so we wanted to try to open it up and put this sort of speech, and it just seemed to fit in the lyrics. It’s sort of burning-your-bridges, closing-your-ties, just heading for something new and never turning back. As pretentious as it may be… why not?
It’s interesting that you like the existentialists, like Descartes. Remember, earlier we were talking about christians maybe being intelligent in other ways, but not when it applies to looking at the holes in their faith? Well, Descartes basically invented scientific method.
I find Descartes a bit hard to read.
Descartes liked to examine “How do I know that this is real?” And he went through the various processes. But he never applied that to christianity. He also believed very strongly and gave arguments that god does exist.
Yeah, I know. It’s strange the amount of incredibly intelligent men who just happen to have that oversight. I mean, the amount of incredible poets, incredible artists, incredible film-makers, and incredible historians who just seem to have this block, a stain on their mind, where they just can’t seem to question their belief in god objectively. Somebody like Descartes is just another in a long line of people like that. Even Einstein was like that. I can’t understand how somebody could reconcile science with a belief in god, or more essentially, a belief in christianity. But a lot of people do. It mystifies me, to be honest.
Do you also read the ancients, like Plato?
I went through a phase at the end of school of reading things like Plato, Aristotle, and various other things like that. But some of them I found to be a little bit heavy. Other ones I just found a whole lot of Manowar lyrics, like Homer and stuff, which was quite cool in its way.
Well I was just wondering if you ever agreed with some of the things that Plato wrote. I have something in particular, if you’re searching for something – if that’s a bit too wide of a question.
Yeah, I was just going to say that. It’s a bit too wide. Hit me with your quote. I’m trying to trawl my memory.
Plato – one of his beliefs were that you should never deny your body to anyone who lusts after you. And I was wondering if that was how Primordial landed on Hammerheart Records, with Guido perhaps.
The mighty Guido from Guidoland… if you ask me fundamentally if I believe in this quote, then, not really.
But how about as far as Guido lusting after your body?
It depends. He was trying to organize a tour with Thyrfing and Menhir (spelling?), who were on a label “Ars Metalia”. I don’t know if you know them. It was a small little underground tour, and he knew that Misanthropy was kaput. So he kind of said, (in a Dutch accent) “Oh, you must sign to Hammerheart.” At the time we knew him for a long time from Bifrost days…
Bifrost! (laughs) Well, it could be that too. I dunno. But we just thought, “Fuck it! We’ll go with it. We’ll see what happens” We never contacted any Nuclear Blast, any Century Media, any Osmose, any blah blah blah. And now Hammerheart grows and grows and grows, and the business giant awakes, et cetera et cetera. I always say, show me any label whose relationship is 100%, and I’ll say they’re fucking lying, because this business is made that the bands make fuck, and the labels make a lot of money. They just live off your desire to make music and to play gigs. That’s just the way that artists and businessmen deal. It’s a very fucked-up kind of world, you know, but maybe he did (editor’s note – referring to Guido lusting after his body), and we just didn’t see it. I don’t know.
It’s interesting that you said what you said because I was going to ask you if you were terrified after Misanthropy folded.
Oh I was very pleased, actually. I don’t know if people in America would have noticed this at the time, but there was an artistic clique of sort of left-field bands that all seemed to be the same kind of person who never played live, never wanted to make anything really of their bands in a commercial sense. And I can understand that aesthetic. Misanthropy stood for them. But a lot of the times, Misanthropy’s ethic was more important than its bands. Subsequently, In The Woods only ever went on one tour. And Primordial is essentially a metal band. You know? That’s what we are. We need to play gigs. We need to get out and do these things. We felt incredibly frustrated, and also I had my arm severely twisted behind my back to change the original cover of the album they did for us, “Journey’s End”, and it never got mastered properly because they refused to pay for the proper mastering. See? Just bullshit, this kind of stuff. But now there’s nobody left in Primordial who’s naive to the music industry, and I mean, we cut personal corners as much as somebody at a label. You don’t trust anybody but yourself, generally. We needed to do things like get out on tour. We didn’t need to be secluded off in this leftist art-house sell-nothing category with bands like “”Florentine” (spelling?) and “Monumentum”. So we had to just fucking break out of that. I think we would have left even if they (ed.- Misanthropy) would have continued. I mean, I appreciate what they stood for, against the whole usual music industry way of doing things. But eventually it killed them.
Misanthropy was a record label in England. Were you known in the underground then, before you were signed to them? Or did Misanthropy become aware of you because of their employee who was Irish?
Yeah, well there’s a few different things. We did a demo in ‘93. We sold like 1,100 copies, or something like that, and we were quite well known at the time. In fanzines it was like, us, Moonspell, Ulver, In The Woods – bands with demos out that seemed to be in every fanzine. We did an album for Cacophonous Records, also England, and due to legal reasons we got out of their contract after one album, and Tisiana (ed. -the German she-male who headed Misanthropy Records) just wanted to sign us. Also, I knew Antoinette who worked there. I have nothing against the people who worked there. I just firmly believe that somehow we got an underhand deal, and if anything, Misanthropy was in its death throes at this stage. It’s just, nobody quite knew. None of the bands really got the full attention that they deserve, at the end. You know? The exception is most notably Burzum and Mayhem.
Is it true that, around that sad time when you were cutting corners, you made a little extra money on the side by selling some of your woodcarvings to certain places?
Selling some of my woodcarvings?
Yes. I heard that you made crucifixes, but with a totally naked Jesus, and that you sold them to gay bars…
And they used to have circumcision inspections to see if you were a jew?
No, no. I heard that they had the option of having a flaccid Jesus or an erect Jesus.
Oh. Well this was back in the time when the gay funeralem (spelling?) was only burgeoning, and the church was crumbling a bit, and they needed that sort of interesting… I mean, making a sort of life-size Jesus on a crucifix in your front room without the neighbors seeing is quite a difficult thing, and carrying it into town to be sold in the gay bars – that’s the biggest problem. But often they went for the erect Jesus. Who wouldn’t? The sort of Marduk-themed gay bars. You know? The “Fuck Me Jesus” type of gay bar.
When you carried the cross to town, did you carry it on your back to romanticize?
No, I put wheels on it. Very practical. I do a bit of sport, but I wasn’t really up for it. So I thought “Fuck it, I’ll put wheels on it.” It really did look like I was suffering, but really it was just the wheels. You know?
America has very strict laws about beer. If the alcohol content exceeds a certain level, the beverage must be called “ale”, not beer. Most breweries consider that to be a stigma. Do Irish bands have the same caution about incorporating brutality? Do they fear being labeled “Death Metal”?
Well have you noticed that there aren’t very many brutal bands from Ireland?
I think you’re the first band from Ireland that I’ve ever heard. I was just trying to sound cool.
All right. I understand. We’re only both trying to do the same thing then. I think that with Primordial especially, we could pretty much appeal to most fans of nearly every genre, except brutal death metal fans. We have no chance, generally, appealing to those people because, I mean, we’ve been on tour and been confronted by those people… and very difficult. We do have one band, Abaddon Incarnate, who sort of lead the way with their own sort of homophobic nihilistic brand of really really brutal death metal, and they’re pretty good at it. But essentially, Irish bands seem to be more attracted to the sort of doomy gloomy end of things.
Are they homophobic or anti-homosexual? When I think of a band as homophobic, the lyrics would be “I’m afraid that maybe I’ll like it”.
(laughs heartier than I’ve heard so far, making me feel cool and brilliant) Yeah… I’ve never really put that to them. They have a few lyrics of what you could call “anti-homosexual”. they wouldn’t really appreciate me telling you that, probably. But it’s in the cd booklet, so anybody could read it. They’re just a very violent kind of band.
When I first heard Primordial I assumed that it was embraced by the black metal scene because of some of the similar traits, like the dissonant chords, the occasional black metal vocals, and the sporadic folkish parts. But when I played a Primordial song on my radio show as an act of mercy, because I usually play death metal, some black metallers, like Goatwhore, a girl who’s in the Canadian band Goatwar, emailed me her displeasure, asking me questions like, “How can you think that this prettyboy crap is black metal?” Now before I ask you the question, I just want to remind you that it takes a certain kind of person to call or email a radio show, and those opinions should not be generalized to the masses. So my question is, where does Primordial stand as far as black metal is concerned?
I’ll explain what my perception of what black metal is, and where we stand in relation to it. The doors within black metal, in Europe, have all been kicked down. And I do understand that, in America, a lot of people still hold onto the shall we say true 1993 flame of black metal, and that’s probably one of these girls who wrote in saying “This is fucking pretty boy shit, and blah blah blah.” which really doesn’t bother me. But essentially, Primordial is born from the 2nd wave of black metal that came out in the early ‘90’s. Our peers are bands like Emperor, Ulver, Moonspell, Enslaved.. those kind of bands… Gorgoroth. They were all the same age. I know these people generally. There’s been certain bands in the black metal scene who maybe started with us, who people in the black metal scene now may not have quite understood, back then, what they stood for. “Ah, Katatonia is such a wimp-ass band, et cetera et cetera.” The whole point of the 2nd wave of black metal scene was that it was open to divergence, and it was open to the influence of bands like Bathory and Celtic Frost. And their legacy, to me, is, you push in what direction you will. That’s what we take our inspiration from. There can really be nothing more fundamentally black metal than pleasing yourself foremost. For me, Primordial is as black as it ever was. It’s just that we don’t sound like Gorgoroth. You know? I think that if anybody saw us play live, they would get the same feeling. Black metal is such a wide-ranging and vaguely nondescript title in the year 2001 that I’m not exactly sure it exists anymore because I think part of the thing that was black metal was that it came from a network of mail underground writing scene, and that is all dead. Completely stone-hammer dead. It was very important to release your demos and sell them in the Post, and all that sort of thing. For people who maybe have only started to listen to black metal in the last couple of years, they’re not going to understand the importance of Rotting Christ’s demo, because to them, a band like Rotting Christ now are just wimpy. But everybody evolves as a person. And to deny your own self-evolution is probably fundamentally less true black metal than sounding like your demo forever and ever. But I personally think that you can sound like Judas Priest and be true black metal, if true black metal exists. It doesn’t matter. You don’t have to have 4-track production, et cetera et cetera. But there is black metal people who do like Primordial, probably more in Europe than in America. In America we seem to be appreciated more by the Opeth, Katatonia sort of people. If you’re going to play us in the midst of a death metal show, then we’re going to stick out like big fucking sore thumb.
In the case of new Katatonia, I don’t think that their changes were a move of being true to themselves. They were true to pop music.
Perhaps. I know some of the people from Katatonia, and I think what it was is that they just got bored of metal, and they just wanted to move off into something else. That’s not something that ever really happened to Primordial. I evolve as a person. I don’t change. I evolve, as opposed to stagnating. But some people just change, full circle.
I definitely think that Katatonia bought one of your crucifix sculptures.
(laughs boldly) Yeah, perhaps. I don’t seem to remember selling them to them. But it was dark. So it could have been.
Yeah, it sounds like it. America, would you say, got its first taste of you with the big article in Metal Maniacs?
Being on a Dutch label that doesn’t seem to be too concerned with the American market, that (article) was probably your milestone here.
Yeah, well Hammerheart America then opened very shortly after that article.
Yes, and the album usually had a starburst sticker that read “This is the band that you read about in Metal Maniacs.”
You can rage all day against crap like that, but that’s what labels do.
When you were interviewed, was it Jeff Wagner?
Did he use the word “breath-taking” He seems to like that word, doesn’t he?
Yeah, I think he must have used it once or twice. He used it in the introduction.
See? That’s an easy way to make money – betting whether or not jeff Wagner uses the word “breath-taking”. You had asked me before why I don’t interrupt you when you talk. Is that the opposite of a Jeff Wagner interview? Did he go on and on and on?
No. I like Jeff.
Of course. He gave you 6 pages.
Well this is it… and yeah – he’s just a dedicated passionate metal fan.
Not a bag of hot air?
No. Well, I don’t know how Metal Maniacs is perceived by the underground in America.
I enjoy your bardic style of singing. It makes me feel like I’m in a tavern with a flagon of ale.
A tavern of ill repute, yeah.
I don’t know what your society is like, but in America, the English language has been stripped of its beauty.
So I find your eloquence to be refreshing. It’s one of my many escapes from the blight of this land. Earlier you admitted that you do like some death metal. Have you ever considered experimenting with that kind of voice?
There’s death metal vocals in the first verse in the song “Glorious Dawn”.
Hey, if I played that on the radio and said “This is death metal” people would call up and say, “You call that prettyboy crap death metal?”.
Well it’s death metal vocals in the way of Aeturnus or something. To me, death metal vocals is just low end brutal vocals. But I can’t really do it that fuckin’ brutal.
Understood. Is America known throughout Europe as the land of simple language… or bastardized language?
Yes, I would have to say. Unfortunately, what we see of America is pretty much Hollywood and Jerry Springer. American death metal is the big trend here in Europe now.
I can’t believe that. I though black metal had a hold.
Black metal is dead in Europe. Stone fucking dead
We’re behind the times, then.
Yeah, you’re about 5 years behind. Believe me. I don’t mean that in a patronizing way, but it’s true. What happened was, I think, in about 1998 when Morbid Angel released the Formulas album, death metal kicked back in in a big way in Europe. Bands like Marduk and Dark Funeral and Immortal all started championing death metal, wearing death metal shirts on stage.. and their playlists and everything, and bringing the bands out on tour – it had a big knock-on effect in the underground, and now you only have to look at the new “No Mercy Festival” – it has Mortician on the bill. It’s actually getting trendy in Europe now. Death/grind is the big trend. Obviously power metal is the biggest thing… like 10-15 times bigger. Death metal is the new big thing.
I don’t think I have too many enemies over there.
No, no. Not as many. You know, some people have said to me when I said I was doing an interview for the Grimoire, “Oh no, no. Don’t do that! He’ll just take the piss out of you!” And I went, “Ah so what? It’s just funny. Relax, will you?” It’s as if these people are only ever going to read one Cannibal Corpse interview with you and they’re pissed off that you’ve taken the piss out of them. But man, Cannibal Corpse is everywhere. Read a serious interview the next day. But no… you probably don’t have too many sworn enemies in Europe.
I’m glad about that. Well… they probably fight like Europeans anyway.
If they fight like Irish people, it’s a bit different.
In television and movies, women are sometimes depicted as having a headache to get out of sex. Would a headache ever prevent your arousal… or any other part of the sexual cycle?
It’s probably not gonna happen, to be honest. I think that any man that uses a headache as a reason why they can’t be aroused has got something wrong with them because you can be aroused sitting on a bus going over a bump. It doesn’t take much. I think it’s two little brains working independent of each other. You don’t really have that much control over it.
Do you think that if you were crucified, that you might be able to attain an erection if a really hot girl came by to check out your execution?
(laughs) Emm… difficult question. It depends how hot it was or how many days you’d been up there. I think you probably could. It would be a good way to test that fine balance between pain and pleasure. I’m not quite sure how she’d manage to shuffle up the crucifix to sort of impale herself, so-to-speak.
Would you use your position up there to hit on the girl, like (in a smooth voice) “Hey, what am I gonna do?”
Or, “Hey, look, I’m so cool. I can have holes in my hands and still stay up here for hours.” Yeah, I think it would be a pretty definite advantage to be able to hit on a girl. And if she really fell for it maybe she would saw you down or something. But then again, she probably couldn’t get that close. I can’t imagine the Roman legionaries letting her get that close.
Well, if there were a revolt, with 20,000 people hanging…
That’s a good point, actually.
They just don’t have the manpower.
It would be a little difficult to pinpoint one girl particularly to wink at and hit on. I’ve been on stage, so I know (laughs). If you’ve ever played in a band, you know what I mean.
I’m one of those journalists who is a failed musician. Obviously, Romans crucified women too, mostly during times of revolt. If you’re in that city, too bad. If you were living in those times, would you sneak up to a cross at night and help yourself to a cheap feel? Seriously. I want you to really think about this, because this is a serious question.
It depends on how long the woman may have been there. But it also depends on how far your reach is. You have to shuffle up the crucifix to really have a go.
See, that’s a common misconception. It’s because of artists and what they had to abide by when depicting a crucifixion. There were no hilltop spectacles. Your feet were almost touching the ground, so you were there for the abuse of the passerbyer. (ed. – also, if the feet were nailed, it was almost in a spread-eagle position, each heel being nailed to each side of the beam, not in front of the beam. In some cases, the ankle bone was the zone of puncture).
This is true. It would be a pretty sick way to get your kicks. But seeing as I’m doing an interview for a death metal magazine, maybe I should just say “yeah”.
Let’s say you were a teenager living in those times…
How do you know I’m not a teenager?
Your lyrics just speak of too much experience.
(laughs) Ok, I’m not a teenager. I’ll admit to that.
Let’s say you were a teenager and you didn’t have any experience. There was no sex ed in those times. You just learned it from the street or from an animal. But if that was your first chance, would you go for it? They didn’t always nail you in.
Yeah. You could kind of cop a quick look more than a feel, really, and just sort of check out what’s up there. Then you might go back home and you might think about it. Your curiosity more sort of dampens your hardened enthusiasm.
Being that you are a woodcarver on the side…
Yeah, I am a woodcarver on the side.
If you were alive at the time, would you perhaps be a vendor who sold little stick crucifixions for the tourists?
Actually that’s a strange question because this reminds me of something that happened to me, being down at the Rock of Kershall (spelling?) which is like this traditionally famous rock with a castle on it. There’s a little gift shop in the town, and you go in, and there’s these little plastic monks about 4 inches high, and you press his head down, and this huge fucking knob erects out of his garment. And your question just sort of reminded me of that, these vendors selling these blatantly pornographic little monks with happy heads and little penises popping up. So perhaps, unbeknownst to me, that is some karmic link or something, that maybe I was actually before selling little crucifixes with erect Jesuses on them.
In later ages, executions were quite the entertainment. So I would imagine little memorabilia being sold. That might have been pioneered by the enjoyable crucifixion sites.
Could’ve been… you could buy little bits of fingers and little bits of toes, and programs probably.
Do you think it would have been an extra agony to be on a cross and maybe being pestered by someone whom you always managed to escape from at a tavern. You know – pass the person onto someone else to annoy. But when you’re there on the cross, you just have to deal with a person talking to you.
It’s like the stocks in the middle of the village. If someone managed to piss off a considerable section of the village, they used to lock them in the stocks, and people can piss on them and throw food on them. It has a certain sort of medieval charm.
Yeah, we’re really missing a lot these days.
I think we could bring back all sorts of great capital punishment. But you have the death penalty, so you’re not doing too badly.
Yeah, but we don’t really have that entertainment sense about the execution anymore.
Well give it about 10 years. You might get injections and electrocutions on TV.
They’re not much fun, I must admit. You can give people a little bit more of a chance – some sort of Running Man style of entertainment.
Or maybe just throw the body into a pool of ravenous sharks.
Yeah, that’s a pretty death metal sort of answer. I’ll go with that. There’s not many sharks around the coast of Ireland, I must admit, though.
Ok, I just thought they were not welcomed there.
Like snakes, you mean? Saint Patrick banished the snakes from Ireland.
They wouldn’t have too many bathers to feed on. The Irish are known for their pale skin. I don’t think that they’re big beach-goers.
No, not really. Although, with global warming, that might change. We’re hoping for a few better summers.
When Jesus was alive, no one called him “Jesus Christ.” His actual name was “Jesus Penis-hands”.
Yes, he earned that after the crucifixion because that guy, Thomas, could not believe his eyes. So Jesus let him stick his penis through one of the nail holes. Thomas later moved to England, where he started a business, selling certain breakfast bread called “Doubting Thomas’s English Muffins”. Have you heard any of that alternate history?
Well, it could be doughnuts really, if you think about it. That would make sense where the hole is there.
Oh yes! See? In America things are altered. We have “Thomas’s English Muffins.” We got rid of the doubting part, and the hole in the middle is covered up.
It’s another one of life’s great conspiracies. That’s what the hole in the doughnut was traditionally for. It’s been quite an enlightening conversation. I’ve learned a lot about Jesus. What’s the story with so many questions about Jesus? Is that your angle on me?
Well I just feel bad because the last issue did have, ironically, an article based on that book, “The Bloodline of Jesus”, except the very first page of the article had an image behind the text that just blotted out the text. So that page was unreadable.
(laughs) So this is an opportunity for you to put forth some of your text.
Yes, instead of completely re-publishing that page, I thought…
You’d ask me something completely unrelated about something that you made a mistake on before.
Yes, you are my damage control. I’m very grateful that you obliged me.
Any other books or articles you’d care to…