It was 23th April, during one wet but hot day, when we’ve just escaped the spring-rain and enter the venue where Primordial and Moonsorrow should make their performance that particular evening. The first person that I met in venue was Alan Averill, charismatic leader of Promordial. There, in the rooms of venue we had one longer chat (and interview) not just based on music and their latest offering but also on some more things…
You’re currently touring with Moonsorrow, how are you satisfied with the tour so far?
Yes, it’s been at least 10 years since we did a tour with Moonsorrow, so it felt like it was the right time to do it again. Last time we toured with them we had some problems but we fixed all that this time. I think Moonsorrow and Primordial go pretty well together. It’s been really great so far.
You have just released your new record, Exile Amongst the Ruins, could you present it from your point of view? Is there anything that you would like to change or this is the final step, you’re completely satisfied?
I don’t think you’re ever 100% satisfied but, I’m not somebody who dwells on all of those things very much. You know, there are a few things here and there that, maybe I could have done a bit different, or decisions. For example, the studio where we recorded had some technical problems. But still, if Black Sabbath can make an album in 6 hours. I’m more concerned about the bigger picture and not that much on minor details such as, out of tune parts.
Could you compare Exile Amongst the Ruins with your previous records? I can hear that, a few songs, had a musical connection with The Gathering Wilderness. What are your thoughts about that?
I think perhaps, it’s a bit more doomier, but it also has 3 or 4 songs that kind of went in unusual direction which is good because album should always have a few suprises. I think this time, it’s a little bit less heavy metal, still epic, but darker. We don’t just come out with a great plan like „it’s going to be like this“, it just happens.
Yes, it seems like the new record is darker. How did it happen?
There’s no magic formula or a secret, we don’t have a six month or twelve month plan. Sometimes we just come with a riff and jam it out. All of a sudden we just end up having a different sounding song, but that wasn’t our intention from the start. So we’re pretty much a sort of „as it happens“ natural kind of band. I don’t think any of us are into perfection and going over and over ideas. We’re more interested in general feeling.
How do you work and how do you write music now? Do you exchange mails or do you like good old rehearsals?
We don’t send files or anything to each other. It doesn’t work that way. We still work on rehearsals when we meet up. The only thing different now is that the phone is recording instead of a tape. The last thing that we want is to have a band that only exists online.
Could you tell us something more about the title of the album and the story behind the cover artwork? What are you trying to express with it?
It’s complicated. It’s not a concept album, still, a few songs have that story about the spiritual sickness and the west. Western society has lost faith in their spiritual institution and it’s people so, for some people, the whole idea about the west is negative. What I’m trying to get out is, the story of the modern western society that is in era of suicidal apology for it’s existence. All of those values that society was built on have been torn out by people who wish to sacrifice the history of the west. So it’s about spiritual sickness, and those who understand that it is sick are in exile.
Could we say that there is also a political issue when it comes to the album, not direct but, there is a background?
It could be. On the cover you can see a statue and it’s head removed, which is about certain sections of western society that are trying to rewrite it’s history, alter it’s culture and tearing down statues. It’s a kind of complex ideal because, it’s something that a lot of philosophers in the late 19th century and early 20th century wrote about. Apart from that, there is a spiritual, romantic idea, but I don’t necessary subscribe to all of that. It’s about understanding the foundations of our society that we built it on. It’s complicated because, I don’t write it from a political side but, you get very tired of hearing from certain sections of western society that, you need to tear down the college system, throw out all these authors and writers who represent only one side of history.
Speaking about the new record, you’ve done three music videos. The first is about the first world war, the second is in the house, and the third is live video? What can you tell us about them?
My friend actually drove the van full of uniforms and dressed us all. In that video, I’m like the Irish man who has come to fight for the England in the first world war. The point was really about the uniforms and the theater. Everything is original. All the guns are real. So we came up with a very simple concept. It’s not meant to be political, but a piece of a realistic theater aimed at 1914. to 1916. The Irish revolution.
Primordial is, not only successful, but also very respected band. People still label your music as pagan metal although there are a lot of bands in the same genre that sound a lot happier, especially from Finland, does that bother you?
No, not at all. I love the Korpiklaani guys. Not really my type of music but when you think about it, they are the light and we’re the shade. They are enjoyable but still pagan like, dancing around the fire naked and the entire village comes out to celebrate together. That’s them and we’re like the black death. But, if the 15 year old kid likes the Korpiklaani and it makes him interested in the pagan culture, that is a gateway, so it’s good that they exist. They bring joy to the people and that is a good thing. So, I don’t really care who calls us pagan metal and all that shit. Call us doom metal, black metal, whatever. For me, we’re just Primordial. You know we came from old black metal and old pagan metal, this old style. We’re in there somewhere. I’m not really bothered either way.
Could you recall some of the things from the past like, I still have some old magazines where you appear with the long hair, those were the smaller shows back then etc. But could you compare those times with everything that’s happening today now that you have a much bigger opportunity, better gear and all that?
I’m not really a Mr. Nostalgia, but I still have friends that come to me and say things like: “Oh man, remember 95, 96…” and I’m like, man, there were no shows, no scene at the time, nowhere to hang out. There were a couple of bands, but we did our own thing, and we went to Europe in 98-99. This is great, a really great tour, everybody’s fucking great. I’m not a person who will just come and say, man I wish it was 1998 because it’s better now. I feel better. We’re making better music, we’re better on stage. But, of course, there was a magic in that period between 1991 and 1997, there was no internet, we were getting 25 letters a day. That can never be repeated. It is what it is. I’m still trying to keep up with the new music and new bands. I’m not a person who will say: “my collection stops at 1986” or something like that.
I have great memories from that time, but I’ve also got great memories from yesterday. The concept of still making and achieving your goals is very important. I don’t wanna just drive this band around just making some crappy half an hour album that nobody gives a shit about. If you think about it, heavy metal is a young man’s game. I’ts mostly about being young and dumb. I’m glad we’re at album nine. And I don’t think that people are gonna be like: “Play the first album!” I personally love the first album, and it’s great if people discover it, but the popular stuff is from the last few albums.
The point is, I’ll talk with somebody about the 1993 stuff, but I’ll also talk to somebody who’s 20 years old and came into this yesterday. It’s a completely different world.
About the censorship that once again came into the metal scene, a few bands had to cancel the shows around the world, especially Marduk. What are your thoughts about this?
I think that, realistically, heavy metal is an easy target and it can be easily accused by the new left. Identity politics is a cancerous movement and it leaves us nowhere. If you think about it, 18, 19, 20 year old kids, they don’t have the same social circle I did when I was their age, but I didn’t have Twitter. So today, six 20 year olds can get together on Twitter and troll someone they don’t agree on what they’re saying and get them fired from their job, or even worse. I spoke to young people about this, and this kind of activism is their tribe. If you say to them that what they are doing is asking those institutions to cancel the shows, they don’t think about what they’re doing.
I would defend someone I disagree with. I would defend their right to speech to the bitter end because, we know where this goes. But the kids don’t understand that. I say those kids: “You’re the enemies of the free speech. You’re being fascistic. But you don’t release that it doesn’t stop with you.” But the state will be happy with this because they will control young people. Even if there is a pro Isis metal band I would stand for them and say: “Go on, play your show!” We have to stand for people speaking that we disagree with. Kids today don’t want scientists because this new social movement is religious. Those kids are on college and they want to tear this world apart. But you can’t explain this to the people who never had communism, fascism, civil wars or anything like it.
- Answers by Alan Averill
- Interview by Marko Miranovic
- Typed by Darko Panic