Interview with Gunther Theys.

1- Hails, Gunther !!! How are you ?  
Hail Clay. I’m fine thank you, hope all is well in Brazil. 

2- I read that you speak five languages. Is it true ? Is that because Belgiun (Royaume de Belgique/Koninkrijk België) have three oficial languages ?  
I speak Dutch, German, French, English and a bit of Greek. It is true that Belgium has three official languages (Dutch, French and German). You are well informed ! This Belgium situation might have helped me to get used to different languages. However Belgium as a state is artificial and as the three different languages already indicate also three different communities/cultures are involved. A language after all is some kind of a natural border and therefore it is clear that Belgium as a country is not a real unity. It is rather difficult to have one government and create rules, codes and laws that please each community. Although I am NOT opposed to the other communities in Belgium I see Flanders (The North, Dutch speaking part of Belgium) as my country, not Belgium. 

3- Although Ancient Rites needs no introduction, but in 10 years in metal scene the band have a long history and, of course, inumerous interesting things to tell, about tours, ex-members, boycotts, rehearsals, fans, etc...Give me a resume about this.  
ANCIENT RITES was created early ’89. All members used to play in other bands before. The line-up consisted of JOHAN and PHILIP (guitars), STEFAN (drums) and GUNTHER (bass/vocals). One year later the "DARK RITUAL" demo was released and spread throughout the entire underground worldwide. Soon after the recording PHILIP died in a car accident, problems forced the band to replace STEFAN by drum roadie WALTER (STEFAN committed suicide by blowing his brains out with a shotgun few years later) and JOHAN decided to leave the Metal scene since he never really could relate to the Satanic philosophies of the band. PASCAL and BART (guitars) joined and the "EVIL PREVAILS" ep (’92) was recorded through their own label FALLEN ANGEL RECORDS and later on through several other record companies (WILD RIGS (USA) and Colombian WARMASTER). PASCAL was fired (twice) because of a lack of dedication. 

As a three piece ANCIENT RITES release several split ep’s (AFTER DARK RECORDS and Greek MOLON LAVE RECORDS), split lp and also appeared on compilation CD’s and tapes (TESSA RECORDS).  ’94 The debut full length album "THE DIABOLIC SERENADES" was released through AFTER DARK (CD-version), and MIDIAN CREATIONS (lp format). Licensing deals were signed to guaranteee a worldwide distribution (OSMOSE, MORBID NOIZZ).   AFTER DARK turned out to be atotal rip off and went bankrupt leaving no penny for the band that had invested its own money in recording the album. "95 A deal was signed with Dutch MASCOT and "BLASPHEMIA ETERNAL" was released January ’96. The band has toured Europe and U.K. several times with acts such as MORBID ANGEL, DEICIDE, SIX FEET UNDER, ROTTING CHRIST, IMPALED NAZARENE, CRADLE OF FILTH, VADER, MALEVOLENT CREATION, AT THE GATES, DISSECTION, BEWITCHED, BRUTAL TRUTH, etc. Throughout the years of A.R.’s existence the band had to deal with a lot of misfortune (boycotts, bomb threats, cancelled tours, voilence at concerts, ripped off for large amounts of money by our former label and tourpromotor, members ending up in hospital or dying),  however anger can be turned into power and all the hardship can be na inspiration. May ’96 Bart left the band which made A.R. a duo working with session guitarists like Mike (PENTACLE -Holland), Erik (INQUISITOR -Holland), Michael (LUCIFERIAN -Sweden), Raphael (CRUCIFIRE -Belgium). Also people like Blackheim (KATATONIA –Sweden), Emil (SWORDMASTER –Sweden) and Chirs (ABSU/BLOODSTORM – USA) volunteered to help the band. Since a couple of months a new steady line up is achieved including musicians from Flanders (Belgium), Holland and Filand. Today ANCIENT RITES are: ERIK (ex-INQUISITOR, guitars), JAN "ÖRKKI" YRLUND ( ex-LACRIMOSA/TWO WITCHES/ PRESTIGE, guitars), WALTER (drums), DOMINGO (ex-RENAISSANCE, keyboards) and I, GUNTHER (bass/vocals). In February/ March ’98 we recorded our third album "FATHERLAND" on which the new line up is presented. 

4- How do you see Ancient Rites in 1989 and today ?  
Today A.R. surely is more professional and our name is know. But A.R. in ’89 was a band who still could believe in the underground dream and a pure scene. As years passed by we have learned that even the underground scene is corrupted and dominated by the Dollarsign. We have experienced labels and tours promoters ripping us off and how style turned into a trend. Now we have the "success", but in ’89 we still had "a dream". 

5- If you could sum up Ancient Rites in a word, what would it be?  

6- Your new release, "Fatherland". Tell us abit about it...How are the divulgation and reception of your new CD "Fatherland"?  
Our latest album "FATHERLAND"seems to have a bigger impact on both press and audience according to the reactions. First time in the band’s history we were voted "Album of the Month" in several mojor Metal magazines (such as TERRORIZER, MIND VIEW), scored very high in established Metal press (95% in AARDSCHOK, 6/6 in Italian METAL HAMMER etc) and even received a very positive response from non Metal press. Mail has increased and extremely positive reactions are reaching us. Of course it is impossible to please everyone (which never was our intention in the first place) and probably there are people who prefer the old work but it remains a fact we never had such a great feedback as today. I am pleased to know we achieved this without jumping on any bandwagon and by following our own path regardless anyone or anything. One mustn’t forget on "FATHERLAND" a new line up is presented. Each musicians has (how it should be !) his own style/approach. The current A.R. members are totally dedicated to their instruments and originality is highly appreciated within our ranks. The result can be heard on "FATHERLAND". 


7- Are you satisfied with the final result (production and mix) of "Fatherland" ? And with the recordings at the Starlab Studio's in Germany ?  
We recorded "FATHERLAND" in the brand new SPACELAB studio’s in Germany between 14.02 and 24.03 1998. One month and ten days in studio is quite a long time. There was no time pressure because our label offerred a large studio budget. Working in the SPACELAB studio’s was often very frustratiting because our producer OLIVER PHILLIPPS and sound engineer CHRISTIAN MOOS were very demanding and critical. EVERY note we played was checked several times, even in guitarsolo’s, because they are classical musicians and active in the highly technical progressive rock style. Something song structures were rearranged. OLIVER PHILLIPPS appeared as a session keyboard on the album. Since he is a classical musician who doesn’t know anything about Black/

Death/ Metal he sometimes came up with very interesting suggestions which surely contributed to the originality of the album, this way we were sure his keyboard arrangements didn’t sound like any other band in our style, an attitude that always was important to ANCIENT RITES. The recordings were hard, often it felt like if we were at a music academy, but all in all I am convinced our producer and sound engineer pushed us to higher musical levels. And also the fact we ourselves have grow as musicians makes a difference. Of course it is important never to be totally satisfied. Total satisfaction leads to stagnation. 
8- Tell us about some of the lyrics of your new release and what some of the topics you deal with are.  
The word "FATHERLAND" fills my heart with warmth, nostalgia and melancholy. I am abroad quite often while travelling is in my blood. However when I’m outside Flanders for a longer time, visions of my fatherland como to my mind: the palces where I grew up, typical landscapes, the colour of our sky, every smaal detail. I appreciate other countries/cultures. No one can accuse me of narrow minded, blind nationalism. It is a fact that everyone remains a child of his own place of origin.
It is perfectly possible to respect and appreciate other cultures and countries while remaining loyal to his own roots. Basicly the song "FATHERLAND" is for everyone who is aware of his own cultural and historical heritage. I tried to create a kind of a universal feeling out of the concept "FATHERLAND". It was my intention that a person no matter where he is born will recognize and understand the sentiments I describe in the title track of the album. Lyrical wise I would say that the "FATHERLAND" album is a tribute to ancient/medieval history and the Darkside. The music is a jorney through different styles of Metal combined with Medieval/Classical anf Folk influences. A mixture of Infernal aggression and melancholic atmospheres. 
9- The "Fatherland" line-up features Gunther, Walter and 3 new members, Jan, Erik and a new keyboard player. Why this influence Ancient Rites and on the new album ? How was your relation with the new members in studio ???  
Each musician has his own approach/style. It would be unnatural NOT to allow the mwmbers having their own style/sound. Working with other musicians each time is not always easy because each individual has his own views and ideas and often concessions have to be made to keep everyone satisfied. The more members in a band the more difficult it becomes to please everyone. But all in all things went quite well. 
10- Mikka Luttinen (Impaled Nazarene) appear on "Fatherland" doing vocals on the newest version of 'Fallen Angel', (song from 'Dark Ritual' demo). You was his wedding´s godfather. How many years have your friendship ? What do you think about their new album "Rapture" ?  
Mika and I are friends for about eight years. "RAPTURE" is a fine album. However my fave IMPALED NAZARENE albums are "TOL CORMT NORZ NORZ NORZ" and "SUOMI FINLAND PERKELE". All is a question of taste of course. 

11- What elements are going to be different for this release as compared to the older material ?  
We never plan things. Our aim is to keep on creating interesting albums. Most probably the new album will continue where "FATHERLAND" ended, a next logical step in development. 
12- How are the band relation with your record label, are you satisfied with Mascot Recs.?  
MASCOT offer us total artistic freedom, a big recording budget, they promote well and their distribution, specially in Europe, is quite good. We are not threated as a number and direct contact on a regular basis is always na advantage. They do a good job. 

13- Who are some of your fave bands on the scene right now and who are the best newcomers?  
During the late 70’s we used to listen to the likes of MOTÖRHEAD, TANK, BLACK SABBATH (with Ozzy !), ANGELWITCH, DEMON which was the hardest together with punk Rock and Skinhead music (which I personally also was/am into specially whem connected with misanthropic lyrics). We still appreciate their work. When VENOM released "Welcome to Hell" back in ’81 and created B.M. we immediately related to the whole concept of that style. Today we still hold on to early releases of VENOM, BATHORY, HEELHAMMER/CELTIC FROST, DESTRUCTION, 

POSSESSED, MERCYFUL FATE. Also Heavy Metal acts such as OMEN, OSTROGOTH, IRON MAIDEN, JUDAS PRIEST did a fantastic job. More recent bands we appreciate are MAYHEM, ABSU, THORNS, EMPEROR, TORMENTOR (Hun), PERDITION HEARSE, THY REPENTANCE, KATATONIA, SADNESS, GRAVELAND, ULVER, ARCTURUS, old HOLOCAUSTO, old SARCOFAGO...Non Metal acts/artists who’re able to catch our interest are BLOOD AXIS, SISTERS OF MERCY. ATARAXIA, BRASSERS, CURRENT ’93, JOY DIVISION, LORDS OF THE NEW CHURCH, BAUHAUS, CHRISTIAN DEATH, DEAD CAN DANCE, WIRE, RED ZEBRA, LACRIMOSA, DEATH IN JUNE, FRONT 242, DIE VERBANNTEM KINDER EVA’S for they are dark in theyr own way. Black/Death/Doom/Basic Metal touches our soul but we also appreciate medieval classical music, sound tracks of horror movies and Gothic Death/Cold Wave. In Punk/Oi! I relate to bands such as DEAD BOYS, LAST RESORT, THE BLITZ, DISCHARGE, U.K. SUBS (almost joined this English Punkband in the early 80’S when I was in London and their bassplayer played his "farewell gig"), G.B.H., STÖRKRAFT, SHAM 69, RIISTETYT, EXPLOITED, THE SAINTS, GENERATION X, THE BUSINESS, CHAOS U.K., ENGLISH DOGS, RAMONES, CHAOTIC DISCHORD etc. I appreciate different styles but originality has to reign. 

14- Would you consider the hardest part about black metal is maintaining an image that everybody expects of you? Does this become extremely tiring?  
NEVER I let other people guide my life. I refuse to paly games and pretend to be a person I am not. Already too many people in the scene are pretenders and just do na act. Personally I find it too tiring and goddamn silly to be a part of this. Surely people have expectations and indeed I came across young fans who were dissapointed when I told them I do not ONLY listen to Black Metal. One fan once got angry because he saw me drinking acoffee in the morning. I like beer but I only drink when I feel like, not to show to anyone how much I can take or how drunk I can get ! Other fans demanded that the bandmembers have to remain without a partner because according to them in Black Metal there is no room for a relationship. I can give you a hundred examples or more of people expecting andwanting things of us. Very tiring and kind of annoying indeed but I couldn’t care less. Why should I let my life be ruled by infants ? 

15- Ancient Rites will release a new European tour with Deicide, Rotting Christ, Behemoth and Aeternus. What your expectation for this tour ?  
The tour promoter phoned to tell that many shows already sold out. It is na interesting package after all and good promotion for the tour has been made. According to the presales and sold out gigs it will be a fullhouse every night. I learned to expect nothing but now the facts (presales!) give us enough reason to be optimistic about this tour. 

16- What were the most memorable shows that you played ? Any funny road stories to tell ? How was to play with still plastic tubes inside your body ?  
Tour live is active. We have toured throughout Europe + U.K. several times and it alwais has been a positive experience for us. Apart from that one tour where we ran into one problem after the other and ended up stranded in England with no money, food or a place to stay... Even that one we turned into an interesting experience, often larger than life, and continued touring in a different way (without tours bus), It is kind of strange to see we draw larger crowds nowadays while in the past only very few individuals were interested in our work. Guess this new Black Metal explosion must have got a lot to do with it. Since we always received way more appreciation outside our own coutry, we prefered to concentrate on touring abroad. Nowadays our status has also improved within Belgian borders. Most of the bands we have toured with, we already knew personally, which of course improved life on the road together. When mutual respect is shown things can be easy...It is fascinanting to see how crowds differ from country to country, even from city to city and this keeeps touring interesting. We headlined on the first Black-Death-Grind-thrash festival in Portugal sponsored by the mayor of Lisbon and Coca Cola, played the legendary Marquee (London), the famous Greek Thorns club where KREATOR shot their "Betrayer" video clip to mention a few highlights. Although I feel confortable at home and like Flanders. I became extremely restless in between tours which explains my many travels. Life on the road is like na adventure, and intensity, positive or negative, is what we seek. Playing with tube inside my body? You are refering to a concert I did in between two visits to hospital. I came out of hospital and doctors adviced total rest since I was in a recovery period after operation. Besides I still had plastic tubes inside my body. However I didn’t want to cancel the show so I went on stage, palyed the gig. I felt extremely tired and quite bad but positive thing is no in the audience had noticed anything. 

17- What sort of good and bad experiences have you had on your tours?  
Life on the road is alwais intense. One day can be like paradise when playing in a great club in a perfect environment with swimming pool, delicious food and plenty of drinks while the next day the tourbus breaks down in the middle of nowhere in the mountains during the worst weather possible and police is cauding problems and forces you to pay A LOT of money on penalties which results in two days without food. This is only one example of what happened to us na our last tour instance. I can fill the entire interview with larger than life anecdotes. To sum it all up in one phrase: one day is paradise, the other is hell. BOTH I find interesting experiences. 
18- What kind of equipment does the band use ?  
MARSHALL amplifiers, CHARVEL, GIBSON, JACKSON, B.C. RICH guitars, IBANEZ, B.C. RICH bass guitars, PAISTE cymbals, ADAMS, TAMA drums. 

19- How do you view the metal scene in Belgium these days? How about worldwide?  
For years we have been the only Black Metal band in Belgium. Since 1994 some new B.M. acts have been formed due to this B.M. explosion. While in the past only very few individuals were interested in our band nowadays I see hundreds of people unknown to us wearing our shirts. After returning from touring abroad we suddenly play in front of larger Belgium crowd and some of these new Belgium acts even paly A.R. covers. The situation indeed changed in a drastic way. Unfortunately many of the people who entered the scene recently will disappear as soon as another trend comes along. And this goes for the entire worldwide underground. Fashion victims are like a plauge and many of them can be found within the cult. A natural selection again will take place. There always have been interesting bands in my country but due to a lack of support, professionalism or courage, they all dissappeared into obscurity soon. I liked the OSTROGOTH mini lp ("FULL MOON"S EYES"), the BLACK SHEPHERD demo’s and the ACID debut lp. On a worldwide scale I’d interesting bands can be found everywhere but on the other hand the scene is overcrowded these days. Originality is not always appreciated and sometimes I miss those early and pure years of the underground. A new Belgian band I like listening to is AEON (ex-OBLIVEON), they recently scored a deal for DSFA RECORDS. Their demo is in the atmospherical Metal style, great piano/keyboard parts ! 

20- What do you want to express or pass in your songs ?  
My life seems to be a never endidng quest for general knowledge. I deal with the information I receive in my own particular way. When I visit on my travels na interesting historical place for instance, the basis of a new lyric/song is born. Lyrics are na important part of ANCIENT RITES that’s why I wrote na explanation to each track on our last two albuns. I was considering the fact there might be osme people out there who could be interested in background information, the sources of inspsration. Many bands within our scene are perfectly pleased with simple "Fuck Jesus" type of lyrics, personally I prefer a somewhat more in depth approach. Furthermore I like to share gathered knowledge and experiences with those who are not only interested in our music, with fans who try to catch the essence of A.R. and relate to the topics I write about. This way the deeeper meaning of each song is exposed. 

21- What inspires you musically and lyrically? What about in your life?  
Anything obscure or dark, not only music, can be a source of inspiration: certain types of art (ancient/medieval surrealism, Dadaism), literature (Lord Byron, Baudelaire, Edgar Allen Poe, Shelley, Lovecraft, De Maupassant), poetry, nature, history. When it comes to ANCIENT RITES musically the inspiration can be found in the first generation of Black Metal and basic Heavy Metal. Also influences from extreme Thrash and Death Metal can be heard. Even classical, Folk and Medieval music leave their mark on our sound. All ANCIENT RITES members have a long history in Metal and this is refleting on the music in general. The strong background is na advantage but the band also uses the modern technology to create the best possible sound and atmosphere. Concerning what inspires me in life I would say own experiences. I guess it also must be na advantage that I have been interested in history ever since my childhood. A passion I kept on cultivating. Philosophical views and so called intelligence have to be learned through life itself and all is depending on the situation and character of each person. If a person pays attention to the events in his/her personal life and investigates the relations with other people and remembers/learns from these experiences he/she will always gain a certain degree of wisdow. Also personal drama’s cultivate a person’s views, one can always take strength from negative experiences. 13 years ago I ended up in hospital. Doctors were not sure if I would recover. Mentally I was totally aware of my situation. Physically and mentally I went through hell but it changed my outlook on life, I came out stronger afterwards. I refused any religious support in my darkest hours was a victory, in moments of uncertainty and while facing death a person gets confronted with his REAL self. In those situations there is no time for playing games, there is nothing to lose. I didn’t expect to survive, but I did. I promised myself back there in hospital I would make the best out of every second if I would survive. So I try to give quality to my existence, and follow my own rules/path. I do not waste time on trying to prove anything to anyone. My approach is different. To cut a long story short: personal experiences and interests have made me the person I am. On one having a certain degree of knowledge is a blessing. I understand more easily nowadays what people want from me, if they can be trusted or not, their characteres and how to deal with it. I learned this simply because I sometimes trusted the wrong people in the past but I remember every detail and learned from these bad experiences. I cultived a better judgement and self control. But having the slightest form of intelligence isn’t always na advantage. I have learned to accept everyone the way he/she is as long as mutual respect is show. Unfortunately I too often am confronted with people who have a completely different attitude and who have ways to force their views down a person’d throat. Knowledge can be a curse because it sometimes makes you want to get away from it all, this whole circus of what people make out of life. 

22- Among musicians , it is common to be under the influence of hard drugs , so what is Ancient Rites stand on this issue ? To Stop the Madness or to simply quote Euronymous "Never Stop the Madness" ?  
When being a musician on the road one is confronted with all kinds of people. Some musicians are drug users, others do not even touch a beer or cigarette. I only mind my own business and don’t tell anyone what to do. Personally I am not into drugs, I even stopped smoking (normal cigarettes) because I hated the fact I started smoking too much without even enjoined it anymore. I also reduced the use of alcohol since I prefer to have a clear head. I refuse addiction. The mind has to be in control. No one in ANCIENT RITES uses drugs (not even soft drugs) and I am happy about that. Often we tour with American bands and usually they are the ones on hard drugs (of course not everyone or every band). In America they are used of going on tour from one state to the other without real border control because it’s one big nation but in Europe it’s a different story. Here still borders have to be crossed. And each country has its own laws/rules. In Holland the of soft drugs is tolerated by the authorities but when for example someone in Greece is catched with hash he/she can immediately 

put to jail for a very long time, for a joint! Imagine if we are on a tour in the same bus with musicians who are in possession of HARD drugs and a Greek police patrol control the bus. EVERYONE on board will be thrown into jail for someone else’s weakness/stupidity! On our last tour French police came on board of the ANCIENT RITES tour bus to search for drugs and even put special trained dogs to search every spot. We could relax because we knew nothing could be fould. But sometimes we are together with other bands on the same bus and when I know some of the musicians are on drugs I never feel confortable when crossing country borders. Because of our appearance we already draw extra attention from the police so why push our luck even more by giving them the opportunity to arrest us for drugs ? When this happens not only the tour is lost but also a person’s freedom. 

23- Is there a particular song you've written, old or new, that you are most proud of ? If so, why ? In contrast, what about a song you dislike the most, and why ?  
I specially like "Mother Europe" because musically different styles are captured in only a few minutes and lyrically a major part of ancient/medieval European history is mentioned in only a few lines. The song is almost like a compact history in Metal and a compact journey through European history. A song I dislike the most ? I do not dislike any song. But I am glad we do not paly "CRUCIFIXION JUSTIFIED" live anymore. Only positive aspect to the song was its extremity, from a songwriter’s poin of view it wasn’t a very interesting composition. 

24- Could you tell us one person of the past whom you personally respect, and why?  
Several individuals throughout history I respect. But since I can only point out one I will mention AMBIORIX because he represents na important part of our national history. Ambiorix was the leader who organised our tribes to fight the invading legions of Julius Caesar. Our tribes were killed to the last man because the Romans were tem to one but Caesar mentioned Ambriorix tribes as the bravest of all Celts and admired their courage and fighting spirit. 

25- If you could exist in any era of any part of the world, which would it be and why ?  
I am interested in so many different historical periods. As long as I can remember I always had a special interest in ancient times though. The splendour in art, philosophy and architecture of ancient Greece, the might and military skills of Ancient Rome and the mythology and more primitive, yet brave, civilization of my Celtic/Germinic ancestors always touched my soul. But also the dark middleages interest me although it must have been a period of superstition, gloom, cruelty and disease as well. As life at French or Italian cout in the Baroque/Renaissance period (16th-18th century) must have been a constant feast: it was as epoque of art, literature, decadence, intrigues anddangerous romanticism. Also I find the fashion of these centuries attractive. Wouldn’t it be fantastic to catch a glimp (with our own eyes, not through books) of these civilizations and people which are forever gone ? How much I would like to listen to the wise words of na ancient philosopher or taste wine on a medieval banquet, witness the beauty on a ancient city and meet people (friend or lover) we never knew because faith decided that we were born in different centuries. 

26- How do you spend your spare time? Hobbies, interests?  
Music is our main occupation. When not rehearsing or writing lyrics I take care of other things connected with the band: from early morning ‘till late at night I am doing interviews (by telephone, through mail and internet), take care of fanmail and merchandise orders. DANSE MACABRE my other band takes up a lot of my time as well. As a matter of fact I formed a third band with whom na album shall be recorded in spring (again in a different style, I do not wish to play in similar bands). Music dominates my life. In my free time I travel and am consumed by literature and art. In order to keep up this life I do not have a steady "9 to 5" job. Guitarist JAN YRLUND and keyboard DOMINGO are also unemployed and mostly busy with composing music, drummer WALTER and guitarist ERIK have a steady job and work extra hours every day in order to be able to go on tour when needed. In their free time they are also mostly occupied with music. What they exctly do outside the music I do not know because we only meet whem it concerns the band and we live far away from each other. We all have our own life. Only drummer WALTER I meet more often since he lives closer and we are old friends. I used to earn a living as a painter and graphic designer by working for several companies and stores who used my designs and drawings by printing these on clothes (sweaters, shirts) and releasing it on the comercial market. Before I was active in music I expressed my passion for history through art: I made paintings and comic books (I was heavily inspired by artists such as Serpieri, Hugo Pratt, Jacques Martin, Pleyers, Hermann). I am very critical when it comes to my own work that is why I prefered to use the art of other painters for our album covers. It is my opinion that to achieve the right medieval atmosphere one should turn to painters who actually LIVED during the middleages and experienced these times of superstition, fear and gloom first hand. I admire medieval Flemish masters such as PIETER BREUGHEL, RUBENS, BROUWER, TENIERS. Also the works of VERMEER, BOSCH and REMBRAND. I adore classical art but also appreciate surrealism (Magritte, Dali) and the destructive character of Dadaism. As for my own work connected with A.R.: only the cover of the "Dark Ritual" demo is made by my hand. 

27- Give me a bio of Danse Macabre, tell us about your CD "Totentanz" and what you're working on for the future.  
DANSE MACABRE is a perfect channel to express diferent musical and lyrical instincts. The project was created a few years ago in Athens together with Magus Wampyr (NECROMANTIA) and Sotiris (SEPTIC FLESH). A 7"ep was recorded but never got released because the label DANSE MACABRE was on ceased to excist. For years the project was put on ice because Sotiris had to join the army and Magus had not enough time to continue with DANSE MACABRE. I did not want D.M. to end this way and the moment I got introduced to LACRIMOSA guitarist JAN YRLUND I asked him if he was interested in joining DANSE MACABRE. We became a duo working with session musicians. We recorded a full length album in Holland which was released in april. 


Meanwhile DANSE MACABRE turned into a real Transeuropean act (like A.R.) with musicians from Holland, Finland, Flanders (Belgium), Greece, Austria, Yugoslavia... We already played a headline show in Holland on an open air festival. Concerts in Belgium, Italy and Portugal are planned. It is very difficult to label DANSE MACABRE because our album "TOTENTANZ" sounds like a composition album, each track has a different approach. "TOTENTANZ" is a journey through medieval music, classical, Gothic Rock, Dark Wave, Folk, Industrial etc. 
27- Give me a bio of Danse Macabre, tell us about your CD "Totentanz" and what you're working on for the future.  
DANSE MACABRE is a perfect channel to express diferent musical and lyrical instincts. The project was created a few years ago in Athens together with Magus Wampyr (NECROMANTIA) and Sotiris (SEPTIC FLESH). A 7"ep was recorded but never got released because the label DANSE MACABRE was on ceased to excist. For years the project was put on ice because Sotiris had to join the army and Magus had not enough time to continue with DANSE MACABRE. I did not want D.M. to end this way and the moment I got introduced to LACRIMOSA guitarist JAN YRLUND I asked him if he was interested in joining DANSE MACABRE. We became a duo working with session musicians. We recorded a full length album in Holland which was released in april. Meanwhile DANSE MACABRE turned into a real Transeuropean act (like A.R.) with musicians from Holland, Finland, Flanders (Belgium), Greece, Austria, Yugoslavia... We already played a headline show in Holland on an open air festival. Concerts in Belgium, Italy and Portugal are planned. It is very difficult to label DANSE MACABRE because our album "TOTENTANZ" sounds like a composition album, each track has a different approach. "TOTENTANZ" is a journey through medieval music, classical, Gothic Rock, Dark Wave, Folk, Industrial etc. 

28- Explain the differences and similarities between Ancient Rites and Danse Macabre .  
DANSE MACABRE gives me the opportunity to use my voice in a different way and to explore topics which wouldn’t fit to the concept of ANCIENT RITES. A way to show different aspects of my personality. Similarity between A.R. and D.M. could be that in both bands a passion for centuries which are forever buried by time and dust is displayed...I also formed a third band called DIVISION 88/99. Music is a tribute to Punk/Oi!, style that "coloured"my earliest youth and was during the 70’s the best alternative to commercial, manifactured music such as Disco, Funk, Soul. Metal didn’t even exist. The "no nosense" approach and aggressive character of the music also was a perfect answer to all these hyped megastars and hippie bands playing "20 minutes" guitarsolo’s! I know there are people who dislike the fact I also work on different musical fields now but I refuse to limit myself. Metal will always be an important part of my life but why should I be narrow minded ? I have a huge record collection and many styles can be found, from the most amateuristic noise to the most divine music. A person carries so many different emotions and feelings inside, to each one exists a different kind of music depending on the actual mood. 

29- I’ll tell you different words/names and you give me your thoughts about it. 
La Brabançone - The national hymn of Belgium. It is NOT my hymn as I consider "DE VLAAMSE LEEUW" as my anthem. "La Brabaçone" is a French title so how could I (being Flemish and Dutch speaking) consider a song as my anthem when the title itself is not even in my language? Imagine Japanese people having a national anthem in Russian language or the Brazilian hymn having na Arab title? No logic! Belgium has a lot of things to offer but a unity cannot be achieved. Even in details it is made clear. I beleive in na independant Flemish Republic, a peacefull seperation. 
les cathares - Fascinating Order. Prosecuted during the middleages. Topics I like to read about. 
misanthropy - Na emotion that sometimes appears when again I am dissapointed by eyt another human being. 
Friedriech Nietzsche - One of the intellectual highlights of the modern times. 
Warfare - Seems to be a natural instinct, a violent natural selection maybe? As long as humanity exists there have been conflicts. 
Roman Empire - A civilization I always admired although they invaded my land. Surely I would have fought them to the last breath but in wouln’t keep me of admiring their military strategies, art, architecture in general. Ever since my childhood I am fascinated by this splendid civilization. The Flemish part of Belgium is the part that did not get under the Roman influence because we still have our Germanic language, the countries with a Latim language were the ones "Romanised" under occupation. 
Charles Baudelaire - Needs no introduction. One of the best writers in French literature as far as I am. 
Signal of Botrange - The highest point above sea level in Belgium. It seems you have opened a book dealing with everything concerning Belgium. You did your homework before starting this interview my friend! Congratulations! 
Saddam Hussein - I do not support the man but I understand his longing to restore the Babylonian Empire. Fighting alone against the world is a battle that cannot be won. I only wonder if the political opponents in his country are better  

alternative for they mostly consist of moslem fundamentalists and they are even more against the Western culture. The Middle East always has been a place "on fire"... 
Euro - At first it will be a bit difficult to get used to this new European money but on the long run I’m convinced it shall be practical. Specially for people who travel a lot like me. 
pornography midia - Interesting "literature" hehe. Although the "actors" and "models" in the video’s don’t "articulate" clear enough... 
world actual politic,economic and social situation - The golden years are over everywhere. In Africa and the Middle East people still sem to believe Europe is "the promised Land" and try their luck here but things are quite different nowadays. Also Europe is dealing with economical problems. 

30- What do you see wrong with the world today? In contrast, what do you see right with the world?  
What I personally find a wrong evolution in the world today is the increase of religious fundamentalism (specially in Islamic countries) which results in more civil wars and blind terrorism. A fanatism that is spread all over the world due to immigration. 

31- What three books and or movies would you consider essential ?  
All literature dealing with historical and occult topics I find appeling. Fiction writers I truely appreciate are LORD BYRON, JOSEPH CONRAD, EDGAR ALLEN POE, BAUDELAIRE, GUY DE MAUPASSANT, HUBERT LAMPOO, SHELLEY, LOVECRAFT, UMBERTO ECO. Movies I find brilliant are "THE NAME OF THE ROSA", "DANGEROUS LIASSONS", "PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK", "FLESH AND BLOOD", "TWIN PEAKS", "INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE", "PULP FICTION". I know I picked more than three but it was impossible to chose. If they are essential is depending on everyone’s personal taste and expectations. 

32- What book are you reading now ?  
A historical book entitled "THE BARBARIANS" which is dealing with the Roman Campaigns in ancient Germania. 

33- What did interest you first, metal or occultism ?  

34-What do you think about the new Black metal politics (nationalism) ? Which is your position that matter ?  
It is up to each individual which course to take as long as na intelligent approach is involved. I realise this is not always the case. However being proud of one’s country is not a negative thing nor does it have to lead to disrespecting other civilizations. 

35- How do you see this news bands which mix metal with folk music, nationalist thought, aliens... ? How do you see the future of metal ?  
I applaud artists who cultivate their roots and culture and who keep alive the traditional music of their ancestors. The mixing of traditional Folk music gives na extra "colour" and identity to the bands. A Pruvian band could mix those typical flutes in their Metal and everyone would immediately relate the group to South America, a Scottisch band could use the pipes in their Metal sound and everyone will think of the Scottisch highlands etc... Of course I respect bands who stick to a pure Metal sound too but including traditional music I do not see as a negative evolution. The future of Metal? The style will always remain but will appear in different forms. There’s a constant evolution, sometimes positive, sometimes negative. Besides "retro bands" will always be around. 

36- Talk more about your idea of release a Classical/Medieval album of Ancient Rites.  
A classical musician once told us that the ANCIENT RITES songs have a similar strcture to medieval compositions. I considered this as the biggest compliment because our lyrics often deal with that era. We already transformed some of our Metal songs into classical music: "LAST RITES (Echoes of Melancholy)", "FALLEN ANGEL" and parts of "MOTHER EUROPE" in the song "AVONDLAND"... We hope in the future to release na album with ANCIENT RITES songs performed with classical instruments... 

37- In the first album have a song about Gilles de Rais. He loved Jeanne D’Arc, today she is a canonized woman. What do you think about this relation ?  
Both Gilles de Rais and Jeanne D’Arc are intrigueind personalities. Both had their very noble but also their very schizo and dark sides. I beleive the affection between Gilles de Rais and Joan was rather a spiritual one, not really based on erotism. Indeed they are important characters in the history of medieval France. 

38- Are you anti or pro European Unification ? Don’t you think that’s prejudicial to the national culture ?  
Indeed I see myself as a "European citizen". I travel a lot and have close friends all over Europe, Whenever I visit another country I hang out with local people, eat their traditional food and try to learn as much as possible about the culture and traditions. Na attitude I have no matter if I’m visiting Ireland or Greece, Sweden or France, Russia or Austria, Portugal or Lithuania etc. This way I understand people’s roots better. Europe is the "old world" and therefore each European country has a rich history. I realise the differences between the countries but this makes Europe only more colourful. I am not a politician nor am I into economics. The only thing I know is that I prefer to concentrate on what unites us instead of what divides us. Therefore I find it a positive thing that the Berlim wall came down. We are all children of Europe, there should be no animosity between the East or West of Europe. This "cold war" was political nonsense. With songs such as "Mother Europe" I make that clear. On the "Fatherland" album of A.R. musicians from Flandres, Holland, Finland and Germany were participating, in DANSE MACABRE musicians from Holland, Servia (Yugoslavia), Austria, Greece, Finland and Flanders take part. I beleive I illustrate my "European Dream" well. 

39- Plans to the future ? 
First we tour Holland as hedliners. February/march we tour as support through Europe + U.K. as support to DEICIDE (also ROTTING CHRIST, BEHEMOTH and AETERNUS will be on the bill). Later we paly as headliners in the U.K., Belgium, Lithuania, Estonia, Letland and Finland. A.R. will appear on osme of the biggest open air Metal festivals this summer such as DYNAMO OPEN AIR which is a dream coming true. Healine dates in Portugal, Spain and Colombia are planned. Meanwhile the second album of my other band DANSE MACABRE (Gothic/Folk/Classical/Industrial/Wave) will be recorded. A Euro tour with DANSE MACABRE shall take place. Later this year the debut album of my third band (Punk/OI!) shall be recorded. In between all this new material shall be written for the next A.R. album. Another tour will be prepared around summer. Guess I will not be home too much! 
40- Thanks for interview Gunther.... Your final message...  
Thank you Clay for this conversation. All the best with the ‘zine. Keep the Black Flame burning!