interview: Dawid Krosnia
‘I wouldn’t mind if Arvas turned into a sell-out band at all. I would love it! I guess most musicians would like to be in that position, if they say they don’t… they are lying!
photo: Arvas (courtesy of Linn Isabelle Skåtun)
The Goat Tavern: Hi, V-Rex, how are you? It’s been just over a year since the release of your third long play, Black Satanic Mysticism. How do you feel about this record? Are you fully satisfied from what you’ve achieved with this album?
V-Rex: Hello! I am all fine over here. I think it is a great album and it was received very well, but we were with a kind of small label so it was not distributed well enough I think. It would have been fun to re-release all our albums and get them internationally distributed. But Black Satanic Mysticism album is the best album up until now from Arvas. Great tunes and a little innovative as well, in my opinion.
I need to ask you about the artwork on the Black Satanic Mysticism. It’s very symbolical. Can you explain what are the symbols presented on it and what do they mean to you?
It was done by an artist named Francesco Gemelli from Italy and he also did the artwork for Into the Realm of the Occult as well. He is very much into symbols and occult stuff and I gave him the idea and he drew different motives and I felt for the one that ended up being the actual cover. It consists of a lot of different Satanic seals and symbols for all kinds of occult and Satanic rites etc.
Arvas – Blessed from Below…
Ad Sathanas Noctum (2009)
Arvas – Into the Realm of the Occult (2013)
Arvas – Black Satanic Mysticism(2015)
Being an anti-Christian band, did your views change over the years? What are your views on Christianity and the more popular these days Islamic followers (you can be as brutal and politically incorrect as you wish)?
I think I have matured a bit over the years and I am not that bastard as I used to be, I articulate in a different way and I am not THAT anti-Christian so to speak. Of course, the fundaments are still there I guess but it is more balanced now and well thought.
I am more worried against the Muslim culture or pest as I like to call it. There is a song on Black Satanic Mysticism about this theme – Redemption Black. It is about the extinction of Muslims on a general basis, but it is meant as a heads up to the lefties in our political system who keep on turning the other cheek to immigrants and violence caused by these people and still accept them. It is not meant as a racist song or viewpoint but if people see it that way, what can I do?
Arvas has got its origin in Bergen. So many black metal bands from your town made a good living out of the music business. Your music is as good as theirs. Is there any reason why you’re still hidden in the underground? Is it your choice? I know that you are sometimes struggling to find legit and serious promoters to book you in.
I think it is more that I have been unlucky with things over the years and was more interested in partying than to work with music on this level I am now. As I grew older I figured out that I had to do something and I had to change and take this more seriously. And that was it, all is fine now and it finally seems to loosen up for the band and brand. It is important to have people working with you to achieve your goals and getting some serious research and people with contacts. I got mine in Allegro Talent booking/management which is run by Michael Hansen. We have a close relationship and have become really good friends as well as partners in crime. I wish to thank him because if it hadn’t been for him I wouldn’t have gone anywhere fast at all… We are now on our way up there, but it is a lot of work and in the end it will all pay off. Promoters are not easy to convince but more and more promoters are now looking our way so things are finally happening.
photo: V-Rex (courtesy of Anna Apostata -Undergrounded)
photo: Snuff-X (Björn Frank – ShadeGrownEye Photography)
I’ve never seen Arvas live before. Recently I’ve watched the whole show recorded at the Kings of Black Metal in Germany. It looked like you’ve had a lot of fun playing. What surprised me the most is that you are performing without the corpse paint! Is this because you don’t want to do it or you just simply don’t agree with the corpse paint thing at all?
We have been doing this corpse paint stuff since the early nineties and we thought why not just go out there as ourselves? We still use stage names though. It is also more practical not use this, I mean carrying all spikes, bullet belts and make-up was no fun in the end and it takes up space in luggage and all kinds of stuff. Besides, I wanted to let the music speak for us instead of us dressing up as demons all the time.
It is still Arvas, but in a new setting and this suits us much better. It is a part of us developing and growing up in many ways. I don’t care what other bands do, it looks great on some other acts, but all in all, it is nothing for me or Arvas anymore. It is time to move on. We are not in our twenties anymore…
You have been on the block for a while now, looking back at the times when the whole black metal thing started in Norway, can share some memories on the times where the first albums from bands like Darkthrone, Burzum or Mayhem came out? What got you into black metal as a kid?
Those were some weird years for sure, I started out playing thrash metal, and then more death metal oriented music. I got in touch with Øystein Aarseth at some point, I can’t remember when but he introduced me to A Blaze In The Northern Sky by Darkthrone. I had already heard their first album and I had heard Mayhem and Sepultura which was pretty extreme back then, and I somehow got into black metal. The music itself didn’t appeal to me the most but the attitude and the philosophy did. I still don’t see black metal music appealing in general, but there are a handful of bands that are interesting and appealing musically. I still listen to these bands’ early releases, Darkthrone’s first four albums, Gorgoroth’s first three albums, Immortal’s Pure Holocaust and Blizzard Beasts, Ancient’s first album and that is pretty much all I listen to when it comes to so called black metal. Newer bands don’t really interest me at all. There are some for sure but that is bands where I personally know the members and have contact with on a personal basis. I am more into traditional heavy metal from the seventies and eighties really.
Arvas plays black metal with thrash influences. Black metal over the years had many transformations. What is your view on the scene in general? It is nowadays very commercialised in many ways. Do you agree with it all?
I think it is ok to be commercial, it really doesn’t matter what is and what is not. It is only music, and you have these die hard guys who like black metal to be super underground, but what is the point in that? Then, no one would ever get to hear it…. Also, some of these extreme bands proclaim they are only in it NOT to ever be heard of or be seen live but they are the first in line if someone ask them to be opening act on a gig… so… you know?
I mean… I would love to be a commercial success for sure, I wouldn’t mind if Arvas turned into a sell-out band at all. I would love it! I guess most musicians would like to be in that position, if they say they don’t… they are lying! But again, I don’t follow up on black metal at all really, so I don’t know what is going on out there, there are way too many bands and they all sound kind of alike and there is nothing new or original going on, at least from what I have heard of newer bands. I might be wrong but I doubt it.
photo: Coldbound (courtesy of Anna Apostata -Undergrounded)
photo: Stürm (courtesy of Anna Apostata -Undergrounded)
I know that you’ve had an incident in 1998 outside the famous Garage in Bergen. You’ve been jailed for a while for assault and battery when you’ve stabbed someone with a knife. Do you think that your past has any influence on your career right now?
I don’t know really, maybe, but there was also other things that somehow ruined a bit for me, so I take the blame all on my own. I was not an ok person at all back then so yeah… you know. The stabbing part was weird enough but cool though and shit happens. I wouldn’t do it again though, I am much more patient now and friendlier.
On the happier note, have you started to write any music for the new material yet? Could you reveal something on the future plans for Arvas?
Well, all music for the new album has been ready for a year or so, I am always ahead of things so most music for every album is written at least a year or two in advance more or less. This time, Stürm also contributed with three songs so this new album Blackpath will be something else, I can tell you.
This time we have more synths than on the Black Satanic Mysticism and there is more feel and dynamics going on. Snuff-X did record the drums a couple of weeks ago and I have done my guitar parts and bass. Now I am waiting for Stürm to do his guitars and Coldbound to do his vocals. Additional synths and effects will follow in the end. We do have our own studio now so we can take our time without rushing the process so it will be a solid album this time. Live, we will do one Oslo show with our friends in Trident (the new band of Johan Norman from Dissection) and Thyruz. Next year, there will be some more touring with different other bands and maybe some festivals I hope. We really want to come to the UK to play for sure so any promoters in the UK, drop us a line!
Thanks for taking your time to answer some questions for us. I hope everything in future will work out well for Arvas and finally you can play in the UK. Any last words for the British Arvas fans?
Thank you very much! I will say thanks for support and keep supporting, check out our Facebook site for updates!