interview: Oscar Wendt
‘The dead are the voice of Power Through Unity regardless of their nationalities and beliefs’
The Goat Tavern: Hi Igor! Thanks a lot for speaking to us! How are you doing comrade? You said you were going to Holland for a gig. Were you playing or attending?
Igor Mortis: Good day. Thank your interest in The Committee. Right at the moment we don’t accept any new live shows until the new album is released. That off course doesn’t mean that we can’t visit any gigs and festivals to support the bands we like.
The Committee is an international collaboration which, I think, isn’t a very common thing. Where do you all guys come from and what is you musical background?
In Belgium the metal scene is very diverse. Our international background might sound strange, but it’s common where we live. Each of our members has their own taste in extreme music and we try to leverage our differences in order to create music that appeals to all of us and where everyone can insert a part of their creativity. This was done from the beginning and this is the way we will proceed in the future.
photo: The Committee
The Committee – Power Through Unity
Your first full-length album, Power Through Unity is a very strong piece of music that seems to be charged with historical background. What is The Committee’s actual standpoint? Is there any particular message you are trying to pass through to people?
First of all, we are not a political band and we do not choose sides in any debate. Our debut, Power Through Unity tells a fictional story of reconciliation between the Soviet Union and Germany in the turbulent times of the first half of the last century. We take a cold and pragmatic look at the global tragedies such as revolutions and wars and try to observe who profits and who loses from these horrific events. The dead are the voice of Power Through Unity regardless of their nationalities and beliefs. The message of our debut can be described as breath of sorrow, death and decay, yet with a certain optimistic view towards the future. History is meant to be respected and handled with a great deal of fascination. We’re very pleased to say that our fans worldwide (especially in Germany and the ex-Soviet countries ) understand our message and support it. We hope that the next chapters of our collaboration will be received with this much of understanding and clarity as Power Through Unity.
We had a chance to see you guys live at Throne Fest in Belgium this year and I have to admit that it was one of the most interesting performances of the festival. I was really surprised you were the opening band! There was so much devotion and feeling put into the show! How important are emotions in music for you? Don’t you think that a lot of bands play black metal without actually being spiritually engaged in music?
First of all, due to the logistics of our live performance, we need a long time for preparation and this is exactly the reason for us being the opening band of the second day at Throne Fest. Besides, we started 10 minutes earlier in order to present one new song to our fans. All of the senses and emotions are very important for us during the live rituals. It’s our duty to engage all the senses into the live performance in order to enhance the music and the message. We prefer to keep the attention on the music and not on the musicians. Therefore, all the aspects of the visual and aesthetic are carefully selected and cultivated in order to enhance the experience of seeing The Committee live. I’m very happy to hear that you liked our live ritual. We have put a lot of time into the preparations and will continue doing so in the future.
I must say that I absolutely love Katherine’s Chant and the way it worked out live. And your interpretation of Katyusha, the Russian wartime song, is just astonishing. It matches the heroic and battle atmosphere of The Committee. But where did that inspiration come from? Is there any particular period of Russian history that inspires you the most as a musician?
Being a child of the Soviet Union, from an early age I was raised with books and poetry. The cultural development and cultivation of hunger for knowledge was a priority for the education of children back in the days. Looking back, I’m very glad I had this experience and I still have the tradition of reading books and cultivating hunger for knowledge.
The song Katherine’s Chant have existed from 2007. It’s an anthem to the perished and a grim reminder of the horrors of war. The focus lies on the primitive feelings and emotions. A primordial vivid adrenaline rush that permeates the whole body. The Russian wartime song simply belonged in the whole unity of Katherine’s Chant in order to evoke the feeling of those cold, dead years. We simply felt compelled to play it. As far as history goes, Europe and Russia share a very brutal and bloody past. From the Ottoman empire to the Napoleonic reign, there’s much to learn in order to foresee the mistakes that beg to be repeated by the few men in power. It helps to research history in different languages and form an objective picture.
photos: Dawid Krosnia / The Goat Tavern – The Committee live at Throne Fest 2016
Earlier this year you’ve announced the new album coming up to the masses at the end of 2016. Can you tell us a bit more about that? How different is it going to be comparing to Power Through Unity? Is there something surprising coming?
Unfortunately, I cannot tell much about our new debut. What I can mention is that the message would be more global than Power Through Unity and it will be relevant to more of our fans worldwide. As far as the sound is concerned, we will do our best to preserve the dark and depressive atmosphere that have come to be The Committee. That is why it takes such a long time to finish this project. There is simply too much that needs to be done, before our debut can see the light of day. We hope to present it by the end of 2016.
You are currently with the German Folter Records? Are you planning to change the label for the next release? What, for you, is important when it comes to cooperation between a band and a label?
We have had a good collaboration with Folter Records. They are one of the best underground labels out there. They have done a very good job with the promotion of The Committee and releases of special materials (like the shape vinyl of Holodomor) [the band’s first EP from 2013]. For now we don’t have any plan of action when it comes to a new label. Only the future will tell.
Since we started out on our own (and try to do much of the work ourselves) it would be wise to have the label grant us as much autonomy as possible. We always search for a mutually beneficial long term collaboration. Also, due to our complex personal situations with work, families and other projects, we simply have no possibility to drop everything and go on long tours, even if we want to.
What does Friendship of Nations mean to you? Do you think that nations should be more united instead of fighting between each other?
Growing up in the Soviet Union, there were nations from many different countries living under one roof. Same phenomenon was observed in Tito’s Yugoslavia. Under a strong leadership, the different nations with different traditions and beliefs lived side by side and had no problems. This is just an observation and not a call for centralised power in any way. Friendship of Nations was an old Soviet Doctrine that dictated rules of mutual respect towards each other in order to avoid wars and genocides. The Committee sees this in the underground metal scene every day, therefore this ancient doctrine is as prevalent as ever.
Nations of Europe are inherently different from each other. There is more mutual benefit from cooperation, than from conflict. What The Committee wants to mention here, is that most nations do not practice a parasitic way of life and, therefore, avoid conflicts. When conflicts happen, it’s usually wise to follow those who love to divide and conquer in order to form a complete image of the whole event. This is a topic for another time.
You say ‘History is written by the victors‘. How do you think the current political situation in Europe and the obvious threat from Islamic countries will impact our future? Who is going to be ‘The Voice of the Dead’ in 60-70 years?
A few years ago there were published 2 prophesies that by 2043 Europe will be governed by an external force. It seems that if the current ‘visible’ rulers of Europe won’t change their course of action, these prophesies won’t sound so ridiculous in the next 2 decades. Maybe the ‘selected’ rulers don’t have the interest of Europe in mind. Maybe it’s a deliberate act, but hopefully it’s just a demonstration of ignorance and incompetence. Only time will tell.
Alright Igor, thanks for speaking to The Goat Tavern! Is there any chance we will be able to witness The Committee ritual in the UK soon?
Thank you again to The Goat Tavern for this interview and for your support of The Committee. We have been long time fans of the brilliant metal that the UK has to offer. From the moment of the release of our next full album, we will start to make plans for new live rituals, including the UK. 2017 will be a busy year.