Dark atmospherics from the mythical world of Middle Earth [2004-01-27]
Richard Lederer (Protector) and Michael Gregor (Silenius) represent a respectable portion of the Austrian dark music scene. They have played in a great number of bands, and are currently active with such cult-phenomenae as Die Verbannten Kinder Eva's, Ice Ages, Kreuzweg Ost and ofcourse, their common band Summoning. Having been a fan of their work for a number of years, I thought I'd be qualified enough to ask the two musicians some questions. m[m]: This year Summoning has been in existence for a decade. Congratulations for keeping up the good work! How do you look back on the past ten years? Can you name some of the most positive and negative experiences with Summoning?
Silenius: Looking back over the past 10 years we have a very good feeling of what we have done and how things have come out over all those years. Maybe you can devide the last 10 years into three phases. The first phase was a time of the demoreleases in combination with the first CD release Lugburz. This time was a very chaotic and excessive phase, not only connected to the music but also to our personal lives. Those were the times when we started to become serious musicians, when we still got totally drunk every second day, when we still where practiving in a fucked up rehersal room, when we struggeled against each other and had a complete fuck of attitude to everyone else. This time ended with the release of Minas Morgul. Since then we somehow have found our own style and maybe became what you can call "serious musicians". The second phase ended with the release of Nightshade Forest; after that time the international black metal scene somehow broke up; all the bands tried to gain new directions. With the release of Stronghold we somehow lost some of the old fans who thought that Summoning didnít have the old spirit anymore, but I think this is connected with the loss of the old metal spirit in general. People simply got bored of the scene; in contrary we gained a lot of new fans of the younger generations who started they first experience with Summoning with Stronghold. In this third phase the sound of Summoning turned a little bit more to an epic and majestic style; in contrary to the more medieval and hypnotic touch of the former releases.
m[m]: Some of the songtitles of the old demos sound quite hilarious, such as the Impaled Nazarene-like In the Name of the Holy Penis or the Immortal-esque Raising With the Winterfrost. How do you look back on that period? Do you still like these demos?
Silenius: Looking back to the old demo songs and song titles and the whole concept in general; it may turn out nowardays of course total redicolous. But you have to imagine that when we started it was in a time when the first wave of death metal was on its top and we simply wanted to make the total opposite to this. We wanted to make everything as bad and fucked up as possible simply to provoke.
m[m]: Almost every biography of Summoning that I've read has said the following about the 'departure of Trifixion: "Öthey kicked out Trifixion, who turned out to be a commercial thinking asshole." While I'm aware that you'd rather not discuss such a thing after all those years, I'd really like to know some more about this. What direction did he have in mind for Summoning? It must have really been something, considering the extensive commercial success of his band Trifixion!
Protector: The problem with him is that he simply was not interested in the music. He always said that he scents some success with this band (because he knew that black metal was the new future trend), and this was the only reason why he played in Summoning. Apart from that he saw himself always as the "intelligent" part of the band, who is the only one who plays the instruments in an "intelligent" way. This means he always wanted to prove while making the music that he is the best and talented drummer in the world, by putting plenty of unnecessary breaks to the songs. He never understood that Summonings direction is something completely different. We didnít start music in order to present ourselves as rock stars; this is some thing Trifixion never understood. Anyway, now our keyboards play the drums, and we have everything we need for our music. The keyboards are no substitute for a real drummer for us; there are something much more and simple belong to Summoning.
m[m]: When we look at the titles of Summoning songs a bit closer, we see that the references to Middle Earth characters and places have decreased. Or at least the references have become less literal, less exact. Nightshade Forests was the last release to feature a direct Tolkien reference in the title (Saruman of Lost Tales excluded). Can you explain this development?
Silenius: You are right; within the last releases we also made musical versions of different poets except Tolkien, and the songs didnít deal exatly with certain happenings of his writings. But I think this is nothing negative, it brings more variety to the imagination of the listener and brings us more freedome in the way of composing. Nevertheless the main topic is till connected with middle earth, just enriched with some other similar fantasy topics.
m[m]: Tolkiens mystic Middle Earth has always been the primary lyrical/atmospheric basis of Summoning. From my perspective Summoning and dark Middle Earth have become inseparably connected. But, there is only so much you can write about this world. On the most recent release, some lyrics were inspired by the writings of Moorcock. Do you have plans to base lyrics on his work in the future?
Silenius: Basically I must say that it is no secret that we donít write lyrics on our own. Meanwhile we have taken most of the Tolkien poems which we thought to be the best for our songs and so it is difficult to make new musical translations of his poems the result is that we search for similar lyrical inspirations to make musical versions on them. The poems of Michael Moorcock were the first ones which I thought would fit to our music and I think in the future we more and more will try to search for new fantasy poems which we can handle with. If you have any ideas please tell us.
m[m]: Have you ever read anything by Raymond Feist? I love his work, it's filled with variety, great atmosphere and intense darkness, I think his work would be a perfect source of inspiration for Summoning.
Silenius: Yes I know some books of him; they are easy to read, interesting but nothing special. All in all I must say that there are just a very few fantasy authors who combine their stories with poems included, but I still wont give up my search.
m[m]: Throughout the years Summoning has refrained from using 'real' instruments for the folk- and orchestral aspect of the sound, while this has become something of a trend in genres such as 'symphonic' power metal and 'symphonic' black metal. While I personally believe Summoning does not require 'real' instruments (your use of rich synth-sounds has definitely proven it's merit), I would be interested in hearing a truly orchestral Summoning track. Have you ever considered going through with this?
Protector: No definitely not. Especially now as it becomes more and more a trend there is no reason to ever use real instruments for Summoning. The only difference between real instruments and keyboard instruments is that the real ones sound more real (if they sound better or worse depends on the taste of the listener). And because Summoning doesnít make "real" music but fantasy music, a real element would rather displace the music of Summoning. Apart from that using a real orchestra simply takes away our control from the end result of the music and gives the responsibility to a conductor. This is what I definitely never want to do. Recording and mixing the CD by our own is meanwhile a main element for the creation of a new Summoning release.
m[m]: What are your thoughts about the use of orchestral arrangements in recent metal?
Protector: I think this is not necessary, and gives for me those bands a total anti-underground image. A real orchestra is something totally institutionalized. I would be rather ashamed to stand in the middle of plenty of professional classical musician who all surely play much better their instrument than be but get far not the attention than I get. For me all this reminds me much more on a Hollywood event than on an underground band. Why donít they also engage some ballet dancers or better some chorus line girlsÖ
m[m]: Protector, I've always wondered: how close are you with Michael? Do you see much of him when you're not working on Summoning together?
Protector: Well this depends on the situation. There are times where I see him often apart from music and there are times where I donít see him so often but we surely donít only meet because of music.
m[m]: Obviously the two of you combined equals musical magic. Have you ever considered getting another project started with Michael? I'd love what the two of you would come up with outside of the musical dimension of Summoning.
Protector: Well this would not make much sense, because I already have my other two projects. The special thing about Summoning is that we as different musical people work together. Making an other project together with Michael would rather be a copy of Summoning; this would not make sense.
m[m]: You were once in a thrash/death metal band called Marlignom, and you almost got a record deal with Peaceville. Curiously, you broke up while success was at arms-length. Can you shed some light on the circumstances regarding the breaking-up of Marlignom?
Protector: This was a long time ago and I was "only" drummer there. The problem about this band was that I had some troubles with the guitar player at the end. He was a total strict and narrow minded anarchy-type and although I am definitely no person with right political views I had some quarrels with him, so it was the best to stop. Apart from that this music was extremely progressive and thinking now about it I realize that it definitely was not my kind of music; but anyway it sort of important for me because it was my first experience as a metal musician.
m[m]: I've never heard Whispers in the Shadow. I've read that after you left the band, the music got rockier instead of the supposedly The Cure-ish style of the two albums. I take it you were responsible for these influences on the music?
Protector: The master mind of this band is definitely Ashley. He composes all songs and writes all lyrics. But on the CD where I was involved I composed all bass guitar lines. I really enjoyed playing in this band because this wave Ė Cure style enabled me very much to play total creative bass lines which were very independent to the rest of the music. This was for me a very different way of making music (compared to my normal computer keyboard working style). I left the band because I simply didnít have time for all these live gigs which they did the whole time, and I definitely donít have any problems with any member of this band. Everybody knows that I am a fan of drum computers (more than real drums), but the fact that after my department they engaged a real drummer and got far more rocky was rather a coincidence. I surely did not manipulate them in any way.-)
m[m]: I have a deep love for all the Summoning releases, but throughout the years my favorite has remained Minas Morgul. I'm aware that most musicians think of their most recent release as their personal favorite, but I wonder what you're feelings are about this. Which album is your personal favorite?
Protector: You are right that my favourite is always the last one (because it simple is adapted most to our current taste), but apart from the last one for both of us also Minas Morgul is the best one. This CD simple started our style and can there fore be seen as our real debut.
Silenius: From the older releases Minas Morgul is definitely the best, because it was the basic of having found our own style. Throughout the years most of our fans always preferred Dol Guldur, but in my opinion this album was just a complete duplication of Minas Morgul.
m[m]: Lugburz has been in existence for almost nine years now. There are some very fine songs on that album, but it's most definitely not as great as the subsequent ones. In some way I don't really consider Lugburz a Summoning-album, although the building blocks of the sound are obviously there. Looking back on that album and the period in which it was created, what are your thoughts about it?
Protector: For me this album is surely not so important than any other Summoning albums, but anyway we will never deny it. It was an important album because it was our "first try" and we really were able to let off all our black metal ideas with it. We liked this provocation we spread with the music and love the freshness of this new style. Surely it is no real Summoning album (simply because of the hectically real drums), but with this CD we got in contact with keyboards and therefore it can be seen as the cradle of all future Summoning releases.
m[m]: How did you come to use the Trapped and Scared theme for Over Old Hills? I think the result is great, it really gives the last song of Dol Guldur something extra.
Protector: I already had composed the whole song Trapped And Scared for Ice Ages when I first played it to Michael. He immediately liked it and asked me if we could use those harmonies also for Summoning and I agreed. It didnít take long to make a Summoning version of it so it became the last track on Dol Guldur. A short time later I noticed that this song was for most people the favorite song of the CD.
m[m]: I was very pleased when Nightshade Forests was released. It was like a short Dol Guldur part 2. I love all four tracks, especially Kortirion Among the Trees, which has one of the most beautiful melodies I've heard. As for the production: the battle drums sound really powerful, but the guitar sound is a bit odd though, it's very much in the background, more so than on the other albums. Was this done intentionally?
Protector: No definitely not. On this release we made a bad mistake. Those times we thought that a Summoning guitar sound sounds the better the more raw it sounds; so we thought "why donít we record the guitars directly, without any amplifier?". This sounded first quite ok but during the mix we noticed that it was horrible, so we hade much stress to undo this. The effect was that the guitars became very silent. This was the reason why we put so much focus on the guitars on Stronghold again (as sort of reaction to the week guitars of Nightshade Forests).
m[m]: Concerning the battle sounds at the end of Flesh and Blood, which were taken from the movie Braveheart, are you aware that many bands have used that particular piece? I've encountered it on albums of Hrossharsgrani, Thyrfing and a couple of others.
Protector: No we didnít know; and actually this is not a problem for us. It sounds good no matter if others have used it or not.
m[m]: Stronghold has been one of the most important Summoning albums. Even though it probably alienated a couple of the old, less open-minded fans, I believe it opened the door to a larger audience. Lots of reviews I've read about this album mention that Stronghold is a big leap forward for Summoning. It took me a while to adjust to the different sound and structure of the Stronghold-style. Guitars play a much larger role here, and a lot of the melodies of the songs are now carried through sung choruses instead of keyboards. How did this big difference between Dol Guldur / Nightshade Forests and Stronghold come into being? Perhaps you can point out some influences?
Protector: After the release of Stronghold I was quite surprised about the different reactions. While many people had a short of shock because of the change in style, others still accused us to be boring because we never change our style. We think that this release was surely a larger step than for example the step between Minas Morgul and Dol Guldur, but nevertheless that we kept our typical style. The reason for this stronger focus on the guitars was surely the lack of guitar power of Nightshade Forest. We missed the guitars on this release and wanted to bring them back on Stronghold. Apart from that this was the first time we recorded our music in my own studio. So we had much more time and were able to experiment much more. I also had of course much more time for the guitars and so I was able to play much more difficult and complicated guitar lines than ever before (which now contrasted to the typical black metal tremolo style of the refrains). This album was definitely our most rocky CD we ever made and surely also the most commercial one because of the stronger guitars and also the stronger focus on vocals and refrains. The loudness of the drums was also a bit reduced so the whole music was never ever closer to the common taste in the metal scene than on this release.
m[m]: Stronghold also marks the transfer from more 'light' sounding synths to heavier, denser synths with a lot of horns. The sound is much warmer. While the vocals & choruses-style was in part shoved aside to make room for the original style of synths as the primary melodic thread of the songs on Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame, soundwise the latest album is most reminiscent of Stronghold. It may come across as a bit blunt, but with Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame you've taken the structures of the old albums and combined them with the heavy sound (both synth- and guitarwise) of Stronghold. It's been quite a while since the last album. Do you still feel as if this is the sound you want to continue with, or can we expect another radical change in the future"?
Protector: Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame was for us a sort of "back to the roots" cd. Although you are right that we kept some elements of Stronghold (especially the more complicated guitarstyle) this CD again contained much more polyphonic keyboard structures. Whereas the keyboards on Stronghold were quite simple and rather like an accompaniment for the guitars and vocals, on Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame they had a much more complex structure; also the drums became louder which made the music less rocky and more epic again. There is no reason to expect any radical changes for the next release, because again we will record the music in my own studio. There are no concrete plans for the new cd (like always all changes come our rather spontaneous). We will definitely keep the more polyphonic style as well as the more complicated guitars; this is all I can say for now.
m[m]: The use of LOTR-related samples taken from various radio broadcasts on Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame works remarkably well. It really adds to the atmosphere, it's as if characters are emerging from the sound. But what I like the most about these samples, is the way you use some of them 'melodically' instead of just throwing them in there. A couple of these repetitive samples actually build upon the melodies of the song, which is brilliant in my opinion. Was this something you had envisioned from the start, or did it develop while you were experimenting with them?
Protector: I also noticed those sort of vocal tunes and also really appreciated this fact. Especially on the song South Away they are for us so melodically nearly carry the whole song. But to be honest we didnít always envision those resulting melodies, we simply tried many of them and took the ones that suited best to the songs. But what surely increased the feeling of this vocal melodies was the fact that we adjusted the rhythm of the vocal samples to the song. Even the shortest sample was always "chopped" into small peaces and then rearranged to the rhythm of the songs by ourselves; this surely give them the feeling as if the speech samples were nearly made for the songs (but we never adjusted the pitch of those samples).
m[m]: No female vocals on Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame. I trust you weren't so pleased with the effect Tania's vocals had on Stronghold? Or was it more of a question of 'been there, done that'?
Protector: There was never a plan to integrate Tania as a new member of Summoning. This was rather an experiment which many people like and also many people hated. I like the song, but we donít think that it would be a good idea to drive Summoning into any gothic metal direction, so we didnít think about any female vocals for the future.
m[m]: I love the clean singing in Farewell, it closes the album in a very special way. What do you think of the result? Something you might do again? Perhaps you can sing solo on the next album, you've got a great voice!
Protector: We both are very satisfied with this song, but we didnít think too much about the use of them for the future release. Maybe we will or maybe we will not. But I will surely never sing solo on Summoning; only in this choir style. The reason for this is that I want to keep a quite strict border between Summoning and Die Verbannten Kinder Evas. This border would be destroyed if I would sing in my DVKE way for Summoning. The same goes for DVKE where I will surely never add any Summoning vocals, rock drums or guitars to the music.
m[m]: Like Stronghold, the production of Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame is quite loud, it actually hurts my ears if I listen to it through headphones at the same volume I normally play music at, hehe. The drums sound incredibly powerful. How do you feel about your production-work for this album?
Protector: As always the recording and mixing process was very important for me. It is a part of the creation process like the composing, and I especially care very much about the drums (especially the tom toms). The mixing took me more than a month of full time work and now I am satisfied with the result. Of course I know that this sound is not the taste of everyone (because the drums are too loud and the guitars to quiet for the average metal listener) but this is simply what makes the style of Summoning. We achieve our power by epic pounding drums rather than by heavy guitar chords.
m[m]: Now that we're on the subject of your studio, what kind of equipment do you use?
Protector: For all of the recording and mixing process I only use my PC. I use the DSP Factory as Soundcard, which has a built-in mixinger; so there is no need for a conventional mixing board. As Midi and Harddisc recording program I use "Logic Platinum Audio", and to edit my two synthesizers ("Korg Trinity" and "Roland Jv1080") I use sounddiver. My microphone is AKG C3000. For me the digital way of mixing music is much better than the traditional way. This way I can store perfectly the last mix; forget it and start with another one, and later continue with the old one (starting directly from the point where I last left it).
m[m]: I was thrilled when Lost Tales got released. Was this completely your idea, or did Napalm Records push for the release of this single?
Silenius: No Napalm didnít push us to release that. Originally we wanted to make a limited vinyl release for the dy hard fans only, but Napam didnít want to do that because of being to expensive so we made the normal CD release. Although many people didnít like this release too much it was very important for us to make a release with now guitars and vocals within. It was a kind of statement, that Summoning's music also can work without the typical metal touch, and it was also a statement against all the narrow mindedness of people who are limited to metal klischees.
m[m]: Arcenstone is essentially a Mirkwood-song. I take it that with the release of this song on Lost Tales, the project has been permanently suspended?
Silenius: The original demo of Mirkwood combined four songs from which Arcenstone simply was the best one and most close to Summoning sound. The other songs are more experimental and originally should have been something different to Summoning and DVKE, but with the same atmosphere. Just the sounds should have been in a more variety and experimental mood. Originally Elisabeth T. should have made all the vocals over them, but in the end everything failed because the song still sounded to similar to the first mentioned bands and meanwhile Elistabeth T. concentrated on Dargaard.
m[m]: You are about to release a new DVKE album. What strikes me about the last one is it's level of darkness compared to the other two albums. Have you continued along the same lines as In Darkness Let Me Dwell?
Protector: The new CD will be definitely as dark (or even darker) as In Darkness Let Me Dwell. It will be as slow as IDLMD but again much more polyphonic. There will be more dominate bass sounds which give the songs more power and more darkness. But for me the main point of the new CD is the fact that I found a new singer for DVKE. Her name is Sinem and she lives in Turkey and she is also bass player in the black metal band Sadistic Spell. We never met personally, but anyway we already made all rehearsals via Internet and are now ready to record the CD (she will record it in Ankara and then later send me her recording with via post).
m[m]: How did you come in contact with her?
Protector: I got to know her because she is a great Summoning and DVKE fan and one day decided to contact me, because of this. After some time she told me that she already made some private "cover versions" of old DVKE songs (I mean she sung to the songs and recorded them). I immediately liked her voice but still though that Turkey is simply to far away to make a recording together. But because Tania was simply to apathetic and passionless to sing for the new CD I searched for a new singer and received some reactions for it. But with each day it became clearer and clearer for me that I will definitely not find such a committed and talented singer with such a perfect voice for DVKE then Sinem so I decided to make the recording with her and to record our vocals over this far distance (separately).
m[m]: I'm eager to hear the result. What can you tell us about the sound of her voice, her vocal range etc.? How does she compare to Tania, or Julia?
Protector: Sinem is extremely talented and has a brilliant voice. She has a classical voice which is not too far from Tanias voice but in contrary to Tania her voice is higher and has a much greater pitch range. So now I am able to create much more female two-vocal tunes which gives the whole CD a more powerful effect and makes the music more complex. Since I know that she will sing I rearranged most tunes and added many additional tunes for her. She is not only responsible for the beautiful vocals but also for enabling me to enrich the songs very much.
m[m]: Will your vocals play a bigger role again on the next release? What else can you tell me about it?
Protector: No in contrary. Because I am so satisfied with the new vocals Sinem sings about 70% of the time. My voice will be sometimes like on In Darkness Let Me Dwell but also again sometimes higher (rather monk-styled again). Tania didnít like the higher voice of me so much so I didnít think much about singing high on the last CDs, but because of Sinems encouragements and preferences for my higher voice, I started to integrate it again to the songs. Now I think that the balance between my deep and dark voice with the monk-styled one is a good combination and brings more variety to the songs than on In Darkness Let Me Dwell.
m[m]: So, how are things on the Ice Ages-front? When can we expect a follow-up to 2000's This Killing Emptiness?
Protector: Right after the release of DVKE, I will start to work for Ice Ages (as well as for Summoning). This project is very important for me (the same important as all other projects of mine). I think the new songs will follow the slow, "heavy" and extreme dark and no-future-styled direction of This Killing Emptiness. I will definitely keep my distorted inhuman cold voice style combined with the distorted drums and cold synthesizer sounds.
m[m]: Obviously Ice Ages, with it's cold atmosphere, embodies a very different aspect of your musical creativity than Summoning and DVKE do. Do you feel as if these three bands are sufficient for the time being, or do you have further ambitions concerning a musical genre that differs from these three? Perhaps something with raw folk?
Protector: For me those bands are enough and all I need to express my ideas. They represent the music I listen to (especially Ice Ages). As I only listen to dark (or at least melancholic) music these three projects represent everything that is important for me in music. Making any other style would not be honest because this would not be the music that I really feel inside me when I make new songs.
m[m]: With Summoning being the most popular of your three bands, does the fanbase of the other two bands consist mainly of people who got into them through Summoning? I know I did. Has it been difficult to get noticed in the goth/darkwave scene?
Protector: Yes I guess about 70% of all DVKE fans or Ice Ages fans got to know this project because of Summoning. To my big surprise there were much more very open minded Summoning fans than I would have thought. Especially the understanding of the music of Ice Ages surprised me because a long time I thought that pure electronic sounds are the greatest enemy for any metal fan; but I was wrong. I rather expected more reaction from the gothic scene, but again I was wrong. I had to face the fact hat many of the people from the gothic scene are extremely prejudiced against any musician not being "born" in the gothic scene. I know that still many gothics estimate the music of DVKE as "Metal" only because I am also member of a metal band!! This is simply ridiculous in my opinion and really disappointed me about the gothic scene (imagining them listening to some pure 80ties heavy metal riffs in a Lakrimosa song, but denying DKVE because it is metal!! ) :-)
m[m]: Austria is a great country for dark non-metal music. There's some great gothic and darkwave oriented bands over there, especially Tharen's projects and Grabesmond spring to mind. Anything else you can recommend me from your country?
Silenius: Concerning the industrial scene, there are some very well known bands from our country like Der Blutharsch, Novy Svet, Allerseelen, Rasthof Dachau and Graumard.
Protector: Sorry but I am not so informed about the present dark wave scene. I rather listen to dark, hard electronic bands like especially Infact and also Suicide Commando.
m[m]: A couple of years ago the Austrian Black Metal Syndicate released the great compilation-album Norici Obscura Pars. Over the last couple of years I haven't heard a lot of the ABMS. Is it still active in one form or the other, or was it never really that big a thing?
Silenius: The ABMS is long dead and gone. In the first years it was very important for us to have a center of the very few bands, tapetraders and collaborateurs to help each other in ways of promotion and propaganda. As soon as most of the bands made their way it broke up, because meanwhile the egos and visions of the protaginsts have become to different and since then everyone concentrated on his own work.
m[m]: What's your opinion on active Austrian black metal bands such as Golden Dawn and Amortis? How do you view the current scene as opposed to the old scene?
Silenius: To be honest I didnít follow the Austrian Metal scene too much. I think the only new recommendable band is maybe Woodtemple. I donít know the music of Amortis ,but of course I know Golden Dawn. The first release of this band was a real killer one, but in contrary to the term "never change a winning team" Stefan T. changed everything and unfortunately became a klische bursting gothic metal band. If he doesnít want to make musical suicide he should change immediately and go back to his roots at once.
m[m]: You were always quite friendly with Peter Kubik of Abigor, if I remember correctly. I was pretty shocked when I heard the news of the death of Abigor. I am very anxious to hear the material Peter has been working on. Can you give me an idea of what's to come from this guy?
Silenius: I donít know. The lastest release of PK was the hellbound spilt cd with Amestigon in which I also have been involved. Later I had a talk with him to make a full reunion with Abigor, with the original line up and a musical turn back to our roots. First he was in a positive mood for this realization, but some day later he told me to burry Abigor. I donít know the exact reason for this decision but I think that he couldnít come along with TT anymore and I also think that his and my musical preferences differ too much at least. But as far as I know Peter this decision must not bee the last one, maybe in some years he changes everything and Abigor could rise up again.
m[m]: Silenius, what's up with Kreuzweg Ost?
Silenius: At the moment I work very hard on the new stuff of Kreuzweg Ost with two new members. Contrary to the first release the songs are a mixture between hard instustrial and very melodic parts. We have a lot of unfinished songs and I hope the new CD will be finished somewhen next year.
Concerning Hollenthon I havenít heard anything new. I gave Martin the soundtrack of the Navigator (not to be mixed up with the film "Flight Of The Navigator"); maybe he has taken some samples of this film. I havenít met him since a long time by now so I donít know what is going on with this band.
m[m]: And to conclude these 'Austrian dark circle' questions: what's up with Ray these days?
Protector: Since Ray moved to Canada some years ago we donít see him so much anymore; I only chat with him some times, but not more. The last time he told me that he is working again for a new Raventhron CD (which will be a bit more Emperor styled as he told).
m[m]: Let's get back to Kreuzweg Ost. I'm curious as to it's birth. I find it hard to believe this band emerged from a spontaneous chat over a couple of beers.
Silenius: It is not secret that I always stated in interviews that over the last 5 and 6 years my personal musical taste left the metal scene and drove me more to the dark and experimental industrial scene with all it subgenres like "Dark Ambient", "Ritual", "Power-electronics" and experimental music.
As ever when you are a musician you want to do something similar in this direction and so I searched for a partner who was skilled enough in programming and was open minded for this kind of stuff. I found this person in Martin Schirenc from Pungent Stench and Hollenthon; I explained him a little bit the direction Kreuzweg Ost shall go and everything else came out from trying and making experiments.
m[m]: Iron Avant-garde is a very strongly themed album. How was the idea to create such an album born? How much research did you in order to correctly execute the theme of the album?
Silenius: In advance of this release I drowned myself in all kind of literature dealing with the second world war and as I was fascinated about this topic connected with the technical revolution of that time I wanted to use this topic as the basics of this first release but more seen from the everyday live of those troubled times and always with a little sense of very black humour included.
m[m]: I found Iron Avant-garde a fascinating listening experience. I know you're into stuff like marching music and neo-folk, I'm not that familiar with said genres. Can you name some of the influences you bring to Kreuzweg Ost, and how exactly do they influence you?
Silenius: Basically I like or better said I am interested in most of the outputs of following labels like "Tesco Organisation", "Loki Foundation", "State Art", "Cold Spring" or "Hauruck".
m[m]: When listening to Iron Avantgarde I find it very hard to pinpoint the stuff you are responsible for and identify Martin's parts. Can you give me an idea of how the two roles are divided, provided this is the case at all?
Silenius: Our musical roles were strictly divided. I brought all the samples from noise samples over musical samples to the lyrical ones and made the basically melody-lines. As martin is a skilled engineer he put everything together in a way both of us were satisfied in the end.
m[m]: How is a 'typical' Kreuzweg Ost song composed? It must demand a large amount of timeÖ
Silenius: Meanwhile I work on the new compositions with two new members as Martin has not time anymore. Most of the new songs are a lot easier to follow for the listener with more melody lines and better song structures. This was not planned it just happened. Nevertheless you will see that the result will be again typical for Kreuzweg Ost, just a little bit different. If a song takes a lot of time to compose or not depends on our mood; sometimes we start a song couldn't get along try something different and all at once it may fit. Everything is much more experimental than for example making a Summoning song were the rules of composing are very limited.
m[m]: "Kreuzweg Ost distanziert sich von intoleranz und faschismus!". You or Napalm Records found it necessary to include this statement with the album. I heard a couple of zines and distro's returned the Iron Avantgarde promo because they interpreted the album as some kind of nazi-propaganda. Can you give me some examples of the kind of reactions you received? How did you feel about this?
Silenius: I am not very happy with this statement, because if you listen carefully to the record and listen to the samples it naturally comes out that this CD is not a propaganda one for fascism, but on the other hand Napalm wanted to make a clear statement for all those distributions and magazines who just listen to one song and make the opinion over it. Nevertheless we of course had a lot of troubles with this release because of the topic; as you said some labels and distributions sent the promo back; only one (I think it was Metal Blade) wanted some more promos. All in all Kreuzweg Ost was never planned to be an easy going product and a crowed puller but that is the way it is and that is the way it will be.
m[m]: What was the response of Napalm when you sent them the advance Iron Avant-garde material?
Silenius: Max of Napalm already knew the material and it was of course obvious for him that he can't sell anything of this. In the end we sold about 3000 copies which are a lot for this type of music but nothing for Napalm, so he did it just because I am a good friend of him and for no other reason.
m[m]: Listening to Iron Avant-garde through headphones, it is clear that the album is very thickly layered. Is this the case for the new album as well?
Silenius: As we are not finished with the new album I don't dare to say anything for the endresult. We simply will se what will come out in the end. I hope the release will be finished somewhen in the middle of next year, hopefully I can say the same for the new Summoning release. So wait and see. But next year definitely will be the year of new releases, beginning with DVKE.
m[m]: What else can you tell me about the follow-up to Iron Avantgarde?
Silenius: This time we have no basic lyrical scene, each song deals with a special film related to the years 20 - 50. The one song that is already finished for example deals with the old version of Mšdchen In Uniform. You can hear the voice of the leading female director of a very conservative and catholic girl school. So in some cases we will be again very provoking just in another way.
m[m]: Something I always ask when conducting an interview: which albums have been spinning in your cd-player lately?
Infact: Fatal Error
Suicide Commando: Mind Strip
Loreena McKennitt: The Mask And The Mirror
Sophor Aeternus: Dead Lovers Saraband
His Devine Grace: Die SchlangenkŲnigin
Combative Alignment: Rites of higer communication Derniere Voluntť: Everything. Inade: Everything. 41.
m[m]: And now for the big question: What is the current status of the follow-up to Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame?
Protector: Because we were both working for our other projects the last time there is not a single finished Summoning song existing, but a short time ago Silenius started to create the complete basis for a new Summoning song. Although it is only a plain keyboard structure (without any typical Summoning elements) I can already say that this songs will become a sort of 'Summoning hit song'; I really like it. Once I have finished DVKE I will start to work for Summoning with full power and then the creation of the new cd will progress in huge steps.
m[m]: Final question. If you could travel back in time and change one thing in your musical career, what would it be? (for example: I would have kicked out Trifixion much sooner)Patrick Toepoel
Protector: I would not change any thing (although kicking Trifixion is a very temptation imagination:-) I think that everything that happened to us in our musical charier, had a special meaning for us. If we would never have played with Trifixion we maybe would not be able to evaluate the power of your keyboard drums, and would now maybe sound rather like a normal metal band.