Emperor/Peccatum April 1999 Mindview
"It's all about not forgetting the emotional side of being human."
After the gargantuan success of 'Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk' the musical talents of Emperor worked very hard on the successor 'IX Equilibrium'. It turned out in a fantastic piece of art with complex, technical songs which, time after time, demand your full attention before they unveil their musical secrets... They used more 80's-metal influences and Ihsahn's voice has evoluated to something very special. With this new record, Emperor confirmed their superior status in the genre. Ihsahn has also a lot to tell about his second band, Peccatum, where he searches for even more wider musical horizons, toghether with his wife and his brother-in-law. On top of that, Emperor also released a 'split-cd' with Thorns.... So it was about time to listen to some words of wisdom from this interesting Norwegian...
What does the titel 'IX Equilibrium' mean?
'It has several meanings, obviously it's a release in 1999, and we mastered it on january the 9th and it took us 9 houres, this was a coincidende. There were also some numbers in the lyrics that fits to the title and the main reason is that 9 is the highest number of our numbersystem, it's also used as the symbol of eternity. 9, Together with the subtitle Equilibrium, it reflects 'reaching for the highest' about some things. It's the content of the album in general, both lyricaly and musicaly.'
Do you want to reach the top with this album ? Is it in that kind of meaning ?
'No, it's more an emotional level.'
Where did you record the album ?
'We recorded it in a local studio, called « Akkerhaugen Lydstudio » and it's an old friend of ours, who we played with before we started Emperor. (Thorbjorn, from Thou Shall Suffer -IS). He built a very good studio, where we got the opportunity to record most of the cover songs that we have made. It was more like a try-out and it was also close to home, so we could return in the evening, it took us three months. We didn't work 12 hours a day, so the environment was much more comfortable to work in and we had more time to experiment and getting the sound we wanted.'
The biography states that it would be unfair to call you a black metal band any longer, do you agree with that ?
'To some extent. We use more metal influences in general, beyond the terms of a preconception of black metal, we used a lot of death metal influences, some old eighties heavy metal stuff like thrash and speed and I mean we are old metal fans ourselves. It was a natural path to bring in more elements.'
So, that's the evolution since « Anthems of the Welkin at Dusk » ?
'We used some older influences on « Anthems » as well, but due to the sound they didn't come out in the same way on this album.'
The album sounds complex and difficult to get into it right away, how do you explain this ?
'The music has some kind of complex nature when all of the songs being different from eachother, that's what we feel. I think the songs are more guitar-based and more technical and on the other hand the soundpicture is more clear and it's easier to get the details. I still think that Emperor has that kind effect on people and it's not that kind of album where you get into it the first time you listen to it. I think that's good, it's the kind of album I prefer, you don't get bored of it after two times of listening. It has to grow. I take it as a compliment, if that's the way you feel about it.'
I detect some vocals on « The source of Icon e » who sound like King Diamond, why is that ?
'Many people have said that, actually it doesn't pick a direct influence for that particular vocal, it's something more like Rob Halford, I'm a big fan of King Diamond myself, but it's more by coincidence that my vocals, the kind of tone, of course not comparing myself with either King Diamond or Rob Halford, but the tone that my voice has is more simular to King Diamond.'
I'm still curious where you get your inspiration to make such an original album these days, I mean it's so different from other bands...
'I think that we just follow our natural progression that we have and that we haven't picked up too much of the latest fashion in music, we haven't listen to the newest albums that come out and say : « let's do something like this ». We don't have a direct reason why it sounds like this, it's just the way we make music, it's very hard to explain the concrete origine of this and this part, it's more of a mixture of different impulses we get.'
What are the lyrics about ?
'In general I think the lyrics are much more mature than they have been before and they are not as rebellion, they are more like an overview and they're not so critical towards society. Where they are critical, they might be interpretated self-critical. Many of the scenes in the album are about emotional quality. In the decadent years we live in where earning more money and buying a new car is more important than your emotional and spiritual life. So, it is about not forgetting the emotional side of being human.'
Is there a deeper meaning behind the cover ?
'I can't really say anything else that we found it appealing and you can find different symbolic values in it, the passage and the people who are walking on the path. Not everything has to have a specific meaning. Something is just appealing in its self.'
The picture you made for the biography makes me think of the chaos symbol on the tree, is this correct ?
'It's a coincidence, these sculptures are part of an exhibition, and they were made by Samoth's father. We were lucky to use them as a kind of background. We weren't very satisfied with that photoshoot and we made new pictures afterwards. It was too late and Candlelight spread the bad ones for the press. We all have a visual aspect of Emperor when it comes to pictures, it's very hard to find a special image that you're all comfortable with.'
Did you find a bassplayer yet ?
'Yes, it's a guy called Tyr, he has no prior involvement in black metal, he has more been into progressive bands, he is very skilled bassplayer ,he's very technical and he finds it very well within the band as well. We are quite lucky with him.'
What do you expect of this album, I mean towards the press and the fans ?
'From the press, at least so far, it has been very well received aswell as for the fans. I think that for the older fans, they will still enjoy « In the Nightside Eclipse » and the « Anthems » album better, it's also a matter of taste and for the first time we have changed much, but those things we cannot take them into consideration, when you make music.'
So you are going to tour soon ?
'Yes, in three and a half weeks, it will be a big tour with six bands on the bill, during 13 days.'
When did the idea start to form Peccatum and what does the band mean for you ?
'It was founded by Ihriel, my wife, and she worked out the concept and she wrote all the lyrics on the forehand, we discussed it and she wanted to express what she had written in a more concrete matter. Both myself and Lord PZ were musicians and we new that we were able to work very well together, we wanted to make an album. For me it has been a great experience and both challenging and opening for me. I have been playing together with Samoth for ten years and being able to work with other musicians that have very different skills and musical backgrounds than myself, that's a kind of mingeling, and also the fact to work together with people that are very close to me on something total new, was a great experience. Musicaly it's a kind of limitless, towards the kind of influences we wanted to use. The way we worked and my position in the band is total different and very positive for me.'
It must be great to play music with the person you love, and to express that...
'Yes, definitely, that of course is a great privilige and also now that we are going on tour together.'
Isn't it difficult for you to write music for two different bands ?
'No, I mean when I write music for Peccatum I feel like a full Peccatum member and it's the same for Emperor. So, I don't see it as difficulty at all. For me the bands are so different and I consider myself a fulltime member of both. Both bands have an equal value to me as a musician.'
Do you all have classical bases ?
'Yes, in classical vocals, Lord PZ and Ihriel are into classical music and they are both a professional singer, she is also the one who teaches us because she is professional classical-singing teacher. They have stronger roots in classical music than I have. We were also involved in the local metal scene in 1987, so we have more eighties metal influences, it's a very good combination as we are so different. It has been very exciting to work with them.'
What can we expect from Peccatum live ?
'We have been dreaming of our first concert, so we are not able to make a statement of that yet, but it will be quite different, we are concentrating mainly on getting the Peccatum expressed the way it's most suitable and getting the full atmosphere in there, but of course we have to use some playback and we have to hire a session guitarplayer. We all look very much forward to it.'
Won't you be exhausted after two shows every day ?
'On tour you get exhausted anyhow, mainly because of all the waiting and the bad food.'
How do you feel about the « Throns vs Emperor » album, did it got good reactions ?
'The reactions have been quit good, but I suppose that for me personnaly, especially with the more industrial parts, I don't really feel competent enough and it was really the best I could achieve in this area of music. There are some things I haven't really been able to get a personnal attachment to.'
How was the cooperation with Thorns ?
'Apart from the contribution for the Thorns cover, the cooperation has mainly been distributed by Moonfog. We haven't really worked together with Blackthorn at all.'
In the beginning of Emperor, did you get musicaly influenced by Thorns ?
'I don't think we have been directly influenced, but of course, the more music you hear, it always has an indirect influence on you and we really enjoy the ways he's guitarplaying, it's rather a progressive and an inventive style. It was quite fun to do the album.'
Do you have something to add ?
'Thanks for your support...'