interview: Dawid Krosnia
‘When I’m listening to and watching black metal, I don’t like the feeling that you’re hearing human beings.’
photo: Naut byDawid Krosnia
Having supported bands like Belphegor, Marduk or Gorgoroth, the UK Ethereal is one of the most quickly growing British bands determined to spread the plague across the Europe. With a solid debut album, Ethereal put a lot of attention to detail in terms of the music and the image. Naut, who is also a frontman in Necronautical, has recently performed at Eradication Festival in Cardiff with both bands, on the occasion of their short UK tour with Ethereal. We thought that it could be a perfect opportunity to speak to the man himself about his input into black metal scene in the UK and the band’s plans for the near future.
The Goat Tavern: Hey! First of all, how is the tour going?
Naut: Yes it’s been fantastic, great line-up so far, in London we played with Eastern Front, Hecate Enthroned and of course Nordjevel. Great crowd, great response. Manchester was much the same. There was another great line-up in Eradication Festival with lots of bands. Yes, it’s been really good. We’ve played with Nordjevel before, one show in Oslo, Norway so we were already acquainted with them. It’s been great to bring them over to the UK and they’re just great guys and we had great time together. It’s been good.
Which one of the shows was the best one between London and Manchester?
In different ways, London was the best crowd and Manchester was the best performance so far but I’m optimistic that tonight is going to be the best of them all.
Today you are playing with Necronautical and with Ethereal. How do you prepare for each show? Do you prepare the same way or do you spiritually prepare in different ways?
It’s quite different. As far as preparation with Necronautical is concerned, I have multiple things to think about as I’m playing guitar as well. We’re trying to keep things most simple. We just get warmed up, but I think that the thing with multi-tasking is that it’s a good thing to have a relaxed frame of mind. We keep all laid back, we warm up, shake hands, one beer to have a good feeling and just go do it.
With Ethereal, we have some ritual sort of elements because as a vocalist I can let loose a lot more. What I really want to do with Ethereal is keep an aggressive, hateful, proper black metal performance. It takes some time to reach that mindset, that black metal feeling, to get the energy up and then once on stage, it’s a whole different feeling, like it’s not even me.
photo: Ethereal at Eradication Festival 2017, April 2017, by Dawid Krosnia / The Goat Tavern
photo: Necronautical at Eradication Festival 2017, April 2017, by Dawid Krosnia / The Goat Tavern
With Ethereal, how did the line-up shape up because there are two Polish guys, some of you are English, how did this collaboration come about?
Ethereal began a long time ago actually. Iyaan started his first black metal band with his brother in 1993. They were called Dark Towers and they did a lot of stuff in the underground. Later, they founded Ethereal about 2000. They’ve been doing stuff in the underground for a very long time like proper extreme raw black metal in the UK. He was probably one of the first. I guess things fell apart in the old line-up eventually and we were left with the guitar players, M-Inanz and Iyaan. And essentially they were looking for members and there were some concerts with Mordrath. He was looking for an extreme band to play some blast beats so obviously when he saw that advert he thought it was perfect. Him being from Poland has no consequences as he lives in the UK just like me. Volf was living in Liverpool and he played in another black metal band but when it was time to find a new bass player, he just seemed to be the guy to ask because he is a great character, a great addition to the band, awesome on stage. For me, actually, it was the early days of Necronautical, we had just played some shows and by coincidence, the guitar player saw a video of us performing and he liked the vocals and invited me to try.
Why do you think it took so long to record an album as you released an album in 2015?
There are 2 EPs from the early days of Ethereal. I wasn’t there though. However, I think it was mostly due to… I don’t know, you know, bands have a lot of line-up difficulties, particularly for drums, finding the guys able to play the kind of vision Ethereal had. Obviously, they were working, touring but I think Iyaan considers those years as foundation, formation and learning. It’s kind of a long time working on a first album because it takes time to work on the details. By the time I joined, the instruments were done and I just had to write the lyrics and record the vocals. We’re doing a second album now and that’s been a more collaborative process.
You kind of established yourself on the first Ethereal album, what can you tell us about the reception? Are you happy with it?
Absolutely! For a debut album, it has passed our expectations. I think it’s the same for every musician, there are always things you’d like to do better but that’s for the next album. We’re very pleased, it was a good time for us as we come out of a tour with Gorgoroth in the UK, we signed to Candlelight Records, and all this stuff is unbelievable. They are dream-come-true kind of things. The album took us to some places. We’ve done countless shows with so many influential bands.
How is the music received in Europe? You travelled with Belphegor and with Gorgoroth for different shows so, what do people think in Europe?
Not to discredit the excellent English scene, but English black metal is not as known or highly-regarded as it should be. So an English band going out there we were unsure how it would be. We’ve done a couple of shows in Poland which were awesome, the Polish fan base was very receptive to us. We did that before the tour with Belphegor so that was a good thing to accomplish. All we can do is what we do, we get on stage, raise hell, hail Satan, blast beats and of course the reception in Europe is fantastic so there was nothing to be concerned with, the tour is a great success and an awesome experience.
What do you think of the UK black metal scene at this moment? Where is it going? Because for me, personally, it is stagnant, there is nobody going above and playing something else than UK tours like continental bands in Poland or Sweden, Norway.
I understand. Of course, as far as touring is concerned, it is slightly more complicated logistically if you’re living on an island. That being said, I think the UK scene is good and you always have these people saying ‘the best black metal is 91-94‘. That was glory days of course, but generally, the best black metal in the world is happening right now, all over the world and that’s because the scene is growing and this music is appealing to a certain type of individual so as the years go by, these individuals want to start a band on their own. I think there are more excellent bands that I really admire across the world including in the UK and also throughout Europe because of the natural growth of black metal. So there are a lot more bands, a lot more fans now than it ever used to be so you may say certain aspects of the scene are stagnant and that’s the same in all music probably, it depends what stands out, it’s subjective so I think there’s some great quality to be found in the UK black metal scene, just as much as throughout the rest of Europe or in the United States.
photo: Ethereal at Eradication Festival 2017, April 2017, by Dawid Krosnia / The Goat Tavern
Is the visual side of things very important to you with Ethereal? What does the band represent visually?
Absolutely! When I first joined Ethereal, I had never worn the corpse paint before and you know, I’ve always been a fan of old school traditional black metal style, so I thought we had to try this. The first time I did it, it was like a revelation to me. It changed my feeling, to the stage, it just made me more confident, more aggressive, it just makes something to you. I think there’s nothing wrong with bands that don’t want to use an image, people calling it unoriginal or gimmick. It’s not about that, it’s just that for me, as a fan of black metal, it adds a lot of atmosphere, despite being called goofy. When I’m listening to and watching black metal, I don’t like the feeling that you’re hearing human beings. I want to be evil as fuck, to sound like hell and so I think the band itself can become a part of the artwork. It’s not just the CD, it’s the whole thing. Black metal is not just a genre of music. For us, it’s a way of being, a way of life and the corpse paint on stage is just another way to embody that. We’re not the first, we’re not going to be the last, but this is just how we want to do that.
We were actually discussing it today, some bands, without saying any names, are trying too hard. They’re trying to be the most evil band on earth and sometimes it doesn’t work unfortunately…
You can do that but we’ve already seen Black Mass Kraków [both laugh]. But I’ve had a lot of admiration for the bands that put a real effort on the performance. I think it adds good value to the audience and to the band itself as long as the feeling is good and the music is right.
You’ve got a second album coming out. Can you tell us the title or when is it coming out or any information?
You know, we had a title but we decided to change it because, for a long time it was entitled Terra Damnata which has coincidentally happened to be the title of the new Nightbringer record. The lyrical concept was all prepared around the concept of Terra Damnata, which means a condemned earth, but we wanted to record something original so we had to consider a new title. The album is about the downfall of civilization, earth, the end of humanity, you know, good things for the world. As far as record and release goes, we’re working of it. We would love to do it this year for the release but we can’t promise anything. Things are moving along.
Do you know which studio you’re going to use, or producer?
We have a few ideas. We’re fairly certain of which studio we’re going to use but I probably shouldn’t say it because you never know… We’re looking Skyhammer Studios at least for the drums and re-amping. Chris Fielding from Conan is a producer there. He’s a good guy, I’ve recorded with him before. That’s what we’re looking at. As far as mix, there’s a few names we’re looking at, decisions have to be made, we’re going to see how the sounds feel.
You recently worked with Fabiola Santini, the photographer, for your shoots. How did it go? There was a fantastic video!
She’s awesome. We’ve known her for a good many years, she interviewed me when we played Marduk two years ago, she’s been a friend of the band ever since. She’s doing a great job capturing the images that are not easy to work with. We’re very happy with that.
That’s your second time in Cardiff with Ethereal and with Necronautical, do you have any last words to your Welsh fans?
Eradication Festival is awesome, the Welsh scene is fantastic, it’s always a pleasure to play here and we’re going to continue to tour for many years to come. Thank you so much to fans from Wales for the great support.