Hey there, N. Imperial, thanks for giving us the opportunity to interview you. It's not every day a webzine's first issue features the mastermind behind the one and only Krieg.
Mostly February 31st would be good for that.
What initially drew you to black metal and made you want to be a part of it?
The usual cliche' reasons, honestly. I was 14 or 15 and a group of friends found a radio show through the Stockton College frequency that played death/black metal. We would almost religiously listen to the program every week and soon after that discovered a local zine called Rubberneck that was mostly underground bands and demo reviews. Between those two I had the foundations laid for an interest in, at the time, the most violent and profane sound I thought possible. The idea of such musical and moral rebellion appealed greatly to me even if I was too young to entirely grasp the subtle aesthetics which would cultivate inside me over the next two decades.
What was it like going back into the studio after a two-year breakup and with a (mostly) new lineup? Do you feel these elements had an effect on Krieg's sound?
Pretty anxiety ridden actually. While I don't think Krieg's return was really welcomed by many I still knew that I had a lot of expectations to live up to, mostly my own. This sort of idea dissolves once you immerse yourself into the process, though you can feel the tension in some of the songs of a life trying to retake itself. My studio lineup was ideal for this record, I'd worked with Joseph Van Fossen (Noctuary) live for ten years but it was great to finally be in a proper recording setting with him. Simmilar to Wrest, who I'd worked with on Twilight and a few live shows in 2005, I'd always wanted to see what they would bring into the Krieg gestalt. I've only known Chris Grigg, who did drums, for about two years or so but I'm a strong supporter of what he's done, doing, and will do with his band Woe. Everyone had a proper understanding of what I wanted this record to feel like.
How do you think "The Isolationist" compares to previous Krieg releases? How do you feel it is different?
More violent, less obvious. Maybe a little more concentrated yet sporatic. Uncomfortable. Oddly musical. Fragile in some parts, grating in others. Another piece in the ongoing puzzle. Another way to divide people.
How do you feel Krieg has progressed over the years? Do you think there is a high point and/or a low point in the material you've made for Krieg? Do you feel your persona as "N. Imperial" has changed with each new chapter of Krieg's history?
Probably most notable is the growth in structure, the loss of some of the more uninteresting aspects of my youth, and the death of dogma as far as what is "proper" for black metal and what is not. Low points for me would be the early stuff, I really don't like to listen to them at all. There's also certain points on each record that could have been shorter/longer that might have brought the overall impact down. As for personal change; I think anyone who doesn't grow/evolve/change/whatever throughout their lives is either stubborn or defective. I think I've learned over the last five years to hold my tounge a bit more and leave the preaching to the younger ones.
What are your views on the conservative, "kvlt" black metal aesthetic?
That word was invented by hipster idiots, I've never seen any serious black metal bands use that spelling. Same with the "tr00" shit. Fucking outsiders who have no concept beyond initial aesthetic impressions, the same who would get tender and weepy if you made fun of them for wearing their girlfriends pants and ironic sunglasses. The traditions are still strong with those who are firmly rooted in no frills underground black metal, and those who do it well and sincerely honestly wouldn't give a fuck what I think about it one way or another.
You've been a part of the US black metal scene for a long time, have you noticed any definite trends within the scene?
At which time? There's always trends coursing through every genre and subculture at any given time. There has been a noticeable shift from the more bestial side of things to a more intellectual (or psuedo intellectual) way of things. Some people are getting pretty academic in this country, but it mostly just breaks down to their idea that Bataille somehow links every aspect of life from fucking to shitting to waiting for the train.
How do you feel about US black metal being treated as a separate entity in the international scene?
I don't feel any way about it. It has been for well over ten years, probably more. We get linked to our geography and whoever is president at the time. Or the fact that since our country has no identifiable culture to the outside beyond consumerism and bombings we've gotten looked down on. At least in the past, maybe this has changed. I long since turned that switch off.
Now for some questions concerning a few of your various side projects: What was it like working with such a diverse lineup (Sanford Parker, Aaron Turner, Stavros Giannopolous, Wrest, and Blake Judd) on the new Twilight album? Did the range of influence within the band affect the writing process at all?
Satisfying. It's interesting to see an internal battle of aesthetics and beliefs morph itself into a cohesive artistic statement. We all have different influences and ways of doing things but it's treated as a band situation and not a gathering of different...I guess "personalities". No real dictator or ego shit, that gets left at the door. We all have our own creations to do that with.
Your droning black metal band N.i.L. (Nihilism is Liberation for all you new fans) features you on Tibetan singing bowl alongside the standard drums, bass, vocals and guitars. How did you come across the singing bowl? Do you play any other ethnic instruments?
Around the time Nil started I was really interested in pedals and noises in general. It was right after my stay in Nachtmystium which opened me to a lot of different ideas in sound creation. The bowl somehow came up as an interesting alternative to bells, probably through me listening to a lot of Merzbow at the time though who knows. I've fucked around with a lot of instruments, never with the idea to somehow make Nil seem folk inspired or cultural, more just because I'm curious with how it will sound. I bought a dulcimer in 06 with plans to use it for future Nil recordings, but it's gathering dust somewhere in our rehearsal space.
What are some things that have influenced and will always influence you?
The heartbeat of rage and tragedy that surrounds life. A lot of music and literature, some films. Life experiences. Controlled substances. Profanatica. Shitty weather. Fetishes. Mental disorders (my own and others). Travelling and seeing people suffer just as much all over.
What can a stalwart of the international black metal community like yourself tell the new wave of black metal listeners?
Nothing that wouldn't sound like a grumpy old man telling kids how it was in the old days and to get the fuck off his lawn.
Krieg's "The Isolationist" will be out October 12th on Candlelight Records. Expect a review from any of us real soon.