May 8, 2018 Interview – Frost of Satyricon
Progression is never an easy feat to attain, and sometimes it can create a challenge few want to even face. Fortunately, Norway’s Satyricon has fearlessly faced those challenges over the course of the past 25 plus years, becoming something deeper and stronger than they could have ever imagined.
A highly regarded band in their homeland of Norway, nominated in 2018 for a Spellemannprisen award for rgw 2017 album Deep Calleth Upon Deep, Satyricon’s success has never been because of compromise. Instead, staying true to their own artistic vision, the band has been a leader of their respective genre. Black Metal, Black ‘n’ Roll, or just call it Metal, Satyricon are a force to be reckoned with, and they shows no sign of fatigue moving forward. Preparing for what will be their first North American tour in 9 years, long standing drummer, Frost, took the time to discuss his life experience being a part of Satyricon, staying true to yourself, plus much more.
CrypticRock.com – Satyricon has kept quite busy over the past five years, releasing a self-titled album in 2013 and Deep Calleth Upon Deep in 2017. That in mind, what has the last five years have been like for the band?
Frost – The past five years have been five years of a charged evolution, I suppose. If you have followed Satyricon for a while you know that evolution is something that has been happening in this band since day one. We have never really tried to find any kind of set formula or set expression. We have tried to develop, and sometimes, it happens at a greater pace than other times. In between our two last albums, a lot has been going on. That was definitely a deliberate process leading up to Deep Calleth Upon Deep. We felt this was called for, we felt that since we have been around for so long, it started to feel more necessary to recreate something new that would enthuse ourselves and be enjoyable to us. That takes a lot when you have been working with music for so long, as we have.
We felt it was needed to bring a lot of elements into Satyricon that hadn’t really been there before. We ultimately learned from and made our music vibrate in a new kind of vitality. We were putting in a lot of effort to bring a much wider range of dynamics into the band – a profound sense of musicality, more progressive elements, but also while being able to go into even more basic, transparent territories. We tried to take Satyricon forward in a lot of directions.
CrypticRock.com – The band has successfully moved forward over the years. Deep Calleth Upon Deep is a really impressive collection of songs. In hindsight, nearly a year removed from the release, are you happy with how it came out?
Frost – I am very happy with it. I think it sounds electrical, magical, and very much alive. It has a very dynamic and vital element to it that makes all the atmospheres from the album… how should I put it… almost like you can feel it…it’s almost physical – the darkness is so deep and the energeries are so intense. The groove really makes you want to move along with it, the melancholy has a very deep kind of sorrow, etc. The fact that we have managed to accomplish that is something I am very content with. I hope I will feel that way also in 10 or 20 years, because that is how it is supposed to be, something that is timeless.
CrypticRock.com – Exactly, and Deep Calleth Upon Deep has a lot of interesting subtleties you pick up on after various listens.
Frost – I am very happy that you experience it that way, that is how we want it to be. It might feel interesting, or even very good after you listen to it the first time, but the 10th or 30th, you really start to feel and understand what it’s all about. It gets under your skin and it goes from being good and interesting to something that changes you and becomes part of your musical being. I guess most artists strive to make something like that. For us, it has taken a lot of time, we have really had to discover and learn a lot before we managed to understand what it takes to make that.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, that is something that comes with development. Satyr had mentioned in our 2014 interview that his original vision of being a musician was more about writing songs, recording, etc, but not performing live. That said, the band is set to embark on what is to be their last North American tour. What does the band have planned for this final hurrah?
Frost – We want to give ourselves and audience memories for life, nothing less. I think it has been a very exciting ride to go on tour for Deep Calleth Upon Deep. For my experience, the band has gotten gradually better at rendering the new songs live. We ourselves have needed to get them under our skin as a 6-man live band. I think that experience has helped us with that process. Now that we are far into the touring cycle; it really feels good to play the new songs live and I think it has done a lot of good for the band.
Also, touring the US, it makes it particularly special because we haven’t been to The States in 9 years. We have been going through 8-9 months of bureaucracy and hassle to make this happen, so when we can finally realize it now, that also means something. We have really wanted this to happen. The response we have seen from fans in the US, there is a certain aura of gratefulness. That is something that also makes us particularly looking forward to the US tour, which is probably going to be our last. Given what it takes to pull off a tour in the US now, we might not do that again.
CrypticRock.com – Understandable. It is a challenge in many captaties for a foreign band to tour the USA. One is finance, it is very expensive to tour the USA.
Frost – Yes, and I think the bureaucracy is beyond what any musician from Europe, trying to get to the US, him or herself, has ever experienced. It is absolutely beyond anything rational. It has gotten worse since we started doing this, and like it is now, it’s totally ridiculous. It pretty much takes all the fun out of touring because there is so much that has to be dealt with on the way. It is really on the wrong side of the balancing scale.
CrypticRock.com – It has to be discouraging when you have so many obstacles put in front of you to come tour the US. It will be exciting to see you return, even if it is for the last time. Let’s look back on the past a minute. It was around 2002, when Volcano was released, that Satyricon started to get more attention here in the USA. The band went from an adored underground act to getting a good amount of mainstream attention. What are your memories of that time?
Frost – To me, nothing very different happened. With Volcano, we ourselves understood, that we were probably able to reach a bit further because we started to have success with something we wanted Satyricon to have, which was more vitality. As we started to make the songs, it was something ourselves liked and wanted to achieve. It opened up the songs and simply made them become better. At the same time, we knew quite a lot of other people would act positively to that.
People who perhaps didn’t have very strong, or dedicated relationship to the Black Metal genre, could probably appreciate the energy and groove of the music. Perhaps they could experience it more as kick ass Rock-n-Roll music rather than understanding the vibrations. That turned out to be pretty true. Suddenly with that album, it started to attract a different kind of audience than just hardcore Black Metal. That happened in Europe, the US, and also elsewhere in the world. The development that started then is something that goes on still.
For us, it is always about finding what we ourselves feel is the right kind of development for Satyricon. We don’t try to satisfy a bigger audience. We don’t try to satisfy a record company that wants bigger sales. We don’t try to satisfy a bigger market or a gang of journalists. Ultimately, we have to believe in ourselves, otherwise we would have to find a very different genre to operate in. Whenever we have seen the changes we have made, if those changes lead to gain popular or a bigger audience, it is always because it is how we want our music to be, it is never down to commercial interests.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, and being true to who you are and your artistic vision makes the best music. You have been a part of Satyricon essentially since the start. What has it been like being a part of the band, and a vital part, for as long as you have?
Frost – It has been a roller coaster ride. It has been an experience – going in and out of very different phases, and constantly on the move. Sometimes that has been very difficult, sometimes it has come into conflict with my own interests that we always change or develop into something else, but in the long run, it has always been beneficial. It is something I have been gaining a lot from myself, especially on a musical level. Without the constant movement of Satyricon, I would have been a much, much poorer musician today. The ongoing development has challenged me definitely for the better. I am very thankful for that aspect of it.
Also, thinking about how releasing an album as your highest goals in life, then going on to touring the world, spearheading a genre, and having been doing so for many years, that is also something particular I think very few have the opportunity to experience. Sometimes I have to pinch my arm being in that position. I would never had imagined that some 25 years ago that we would ever get there, even if the ambition was high for that time. It has been a very fine ride indeed, and I am happy we have never shown any sign of slowing down the pace of development, rather it has been the opposite. I have to say I love being in Satyricon for that reason, definitely.
CrypticRock.com – It sounds as if it has been an exciting and enlightening experience.
Frost – Yes, and sometimes frustrating that you don’t know if you are going to actually get through or not. It’s always what happens in the long run that matters. I think without challenges then no greater development will happen.
CrypticRock.com – No question, sometimes when you face those challenges, it is very redeeming when you conquer them.
Frost – Yes, not much can beat that.
CrypticRock.com – You have also been a part of other projects, including 1349. Do you have anything other new projects forthcoming?
Frost – Absolutely not. The time for having any kind of projects on the side, that was over more than 10 years ago. I am still a member of 1349 time, and I will continue to be so. That is not a project to me, that is a band I am proud of that I am writing music and recording material in the studio with.
For as long as Satyricon is active, I am working with Satyricon. We are very active at the moment and there really isn’t that much time for being anything else. We have sessions now and then where we work on new material in 1349, and we will release a new studio album eventually. It is about Satyricon for now, and that is how it has to be. There is no time for other projects, and neither do I wish to have anything else. Even if I had more time on my hands, I would still like to work more in order to get better at what I am doing now. There is really no time for it or ambition on my part.
CrypticRock.com – Understood. Well, it will be great to see Satyricon return to the USA, it has been a long time!
Frost – It is going to be exciting. I am looking forward to coming back to the US after all these years. That is heartfelt from my side.
CrypticRock.com – That is certainly a mutual feeling among American fans. Last question. CrypticRock also covers Horror and Sci-Fi films. If you are a fan of either genre, do you have any favorites.
Frost – Not really into Horror movies, but I can always enjoy certain classics. I used to particularly like The Evil Dead (1981) back in the day. I felt beyond the gore and effects, it was pretty dark and had some disturbing, dramatic qualities. That is something I appreciate, even today. Those strange camera motions, that is something I like about such a movie, and it seems very extreme for its genre.
For similar reasons, I can enjoy the original The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974). It is a bit dark and disturbing, more than just being all out splatter, gore, and stupid. I prefer something that operates more on psychological or artistic lines.
CrypticRock.com – Those are some classic selections. Those films are more organic, meaning they are gritty, you can see the grain in the film. Nowadays everything is so high definition, it is hard for them to be effective as a Horror film.
Frost – Yea, and some of those old Italian films were a bit like that from Lucio Fulci, Dario Argento, etc. That at least gave them something that was beyond just the effects, it actually created a certain aura or atmosphere. More like a type of music – the feelings, vibes, and the atmosphere should mean something. It can become too artificial, to clinical, and it really doesn’t make sense or move you. It is also very boring when films are only about the artificial and about special effects. Then you understand everything are just tricks made in order to scare you, if you see through that, then it is not very exciting after a while.
CrypticRock.com – Agreed. As you mentioned, Dario Argento, is a master to create an atmosphere with the lighting, etc. Perhaps films, such as Argento’s, stories were not always extremely strong, but the overall atmosphere made you feel something.
Frost- Yes! Sometimes that is more important. It’s not always about understanding a story, but having an atmosphere. Having something that produces a certain mindset.
5/13: Los Angeles, CA @ The Regent Theater
5/14: Oakland, CA @ Oakland Metro Operahouse
5/15: Portland, OR @ Bossanova Ballroom
5/16: Seattle, WA @ El Corazon
5/18: Denver, CO @ Marquis Theater
5/19: Kansas City, MO @ The Truman
5/20: Joliet, IL @The Forge
5/21: Columbus, OH @ Al Rosa Villa
5/23: Toronto, ON @ The Opera House*^
5/24: Montreal, QC @ Corona Theatre*^
5/25: New York, NY @ Gramercy Theater
5/26: Baltimore, MD @ Maryland Death Fest
5/28: Dallas, TX @ Gas Monkey Bar & Grill
5/29: Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall
5/30: Austin, TX @ Come and Take it Live
^Panzerfaust to support
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