Photo credit: Danny Patterson
On this past Sunday night’s episode of The Strombo Show on CBC Radio 2, Behemoth’s Nergal visited for an intimate conversation about faith, health, The Satanist and his upcoming country-blues record.
LISTEN to the full conversation on CBC MUSIC (2:10:00), here!
QUOTES from their conversation:
Nergal on the response to The Satanist
“I felt that we are doing something super significant, at least for ourselves. Its hard to project what the album is going to do in the market and how it is going to be received and since Behemoth has never been a band that would fabricate records in order to get people’s attention, media attention or just get a reason to go on tour. We’ve never been none of this. So you never know. Any record we approach, its like this is it, this is our fucking balls out, all out. It just got to leave your system and then just up to people, they’re going to pick it up. They’re going to believe that. I think the reason that The Satanist got so successful for us is that we’re always been honest, us people and us artists. This is a super sensitive record. Considering all the circumstances that I’d been into prior to recording, the health issues, it was pretty revolutionary so people are kind of expecting – ok what’s going to happen next? Are they going to come back with some reggae record? We went even more radical in one way and on the other hand, the music, we didn’t push hard. We didn’t try to overcome ourselves in a sense to even try to top the previous album, we went the other direction with more organic, relaxed, in a way. It’s a very tense record. The pace is not really the fastest record. You cannot say that The Satanist is the heaviest record because its not. Its not the most technical record, but it is definitely the most sincere record and people believe that. In the end of the day, its all about the truth… Its pretty wild. There’s this insanity factor that is probably a driving a force behind the songs and idea. It is a very human oriented record as well, to the bone of approach to it. As I said, its super sincere. I love it. I’m still proud of it. Thats why on this tour, we’re playing the album in full. I truly believe experiencing the Satanist as a whole makes a lot of sense and people seem to really dig it.”
On how fresh the songs of The Satanist are to him
“Its very refreshing. There’s obviously a routine. We go on stage every day. Then I see nothing wrong with routines and rituals, its something that happens daily. I love it. I learn how to appreciate brushing my faith, same goes with tuning my fucking guitar and just going on stage and doing my thing because I know I’m pretty fucking good at it and I’m not faking, I’m just being myself, just covered by mask and some wardrobe, but its me. I love the character, just coming out of my system, my nature…
On what Behemoth is
I think that Behemoth is all about loneliness. A good friend of mine, she is also my coach, she said that if it wasn’t for music that I would probably be in jail or i would just kill someone or be a criminal or something. I don’t know. I’m an observor, you know. If she thinks that maybe there is something behind the surface, I don’t know. I just there’s a darkness that each of us are carrying along, we have to learn how to deal with it and eventually become friends with it because it is part of our nature. Unlike religions, they try to castrate that the dark part of our nature because they define it as evil. We freethinking people, artists, we think opposite. We think that we should embrace all of it and learn how to deal with that. That is probably the biggest challenge, you know… I think that Behemoth and my artistic trip is basically a road to get to know myself better.
On a band coming back, pushing himself
I don’t think that they follow all of it, they think – Ok, what’s next? They deal with that. They got to trust me, even if they don’t understand all of what I’m saying or bringing to the table. It worked before, let’s see now. And usually, I’m right with my choices.
On another record – country-blues and Behemoth
I’m putting final touches to a solo album now. Its country blues, like very rootish kind of stuff. Its almost done. We are mixing as we speak and it should be out on Nuclear Blast later this year. Just cool. Its nothing, not metal at all. It is all very guitar oriented and stripped down, simple, semi-acoustic, some electric, some blues and some country and its cool. I sing there too, use my regular voice, which is a new thing for me as well. I remember a year ago, I would be fucking scared to just use my voice other than just screaming. I’m a screamer. I had to open up to that and start to develop, not that I’m a singer, I’d offend singers if I said that, but I just use my voice. I tell the stories using my regular voice. I just use some extra notes here and there and that is how music is made. I’m totally relaxed, when it comes to that. It’s cool. I was scared as fuck because its me and the other guy, John who is 66-years-old, he could’ve been my father and he was like: “Yeah, just fucking sing!” Wait, I need to tune my guitar. I loved that experience. He encouraged me to fucking go for it, without thinking. I’m a thinker. If you tame that, if you let your body, intuition just come out, you know, you may achieve something much greater than your brain tells you what to do. What comes out is this music and I’m very happy of it, very proud of it actually. This is it! Then we’ll be releasing a bunch of videos too. The band is called Me And That Man… He’s going the finish, going to be quite the opposite. Its both of us, so we’re doing this.
…jamming out some new stuff with Behemoth as well, maybe in June. That’s the plan. I don’t know. We just trying to find some chemistry and see where we are artistically, see if we have something to offer. If we do, then we push for more songwriting and stuff. There are some ideas floating around. I can already see… We are a band. Collective process. Just teamwork. I found this metaphor that is super cool, I’m a hunter and just go out and bring the raw meat to the table and the guy says, how are we going to cook it? That’s how it works. I bring ideas and we sit together about arrangements, I let them have their input and opinions that I really respect because they’re super smart, they know a lot. That’s how it all comes together.
On finding out his diagnosis
I was scared as fuck, obviously. It was just for a very moment. I remember the day when the doctor entered my room and I didn’t know what was happening with me, just know that I have one half litre of water stuffed in my lungs. They would just put this drill, just get through the chest. I’d get this water out of my lungs, just make my breathing very difficult, I couldn’t breathe. I felt like I might just choke. I get this water out and then brought this sheet of paper, here it is: leukemia. What the fuck is leukemia? The name was scary. I didn’t know what to fucking connect with. I had no knowledge whatsoever. I was like fuck. I Google it and was like, what the fucking hell. It’s going to be a tough one. I started crying, which is good always. It’s a good relief. It took me five minutes, where is the clipper, I need to cut my hair. I’m at war with something so let’s, it is going to be a war. I started building up this fighter attitude around it, which eventually helped me out. That’s it! I went in my ring, you know… I have this discipline of a soldier… I remember before I was diagnosed, I just felt like shit. I almost passed out on stage, a week before I was hospitalized, I didn’t know what was happening! I remember that they took me aside like, Hey man – we’re not doing any more shows until you get check yourself into the hospital because you look like shit, you’ve gotta do something! I think I called them and they felt sympathetic, obviously. We canceled, we were supposed to come back here on tour, originally called Divided States of Heretica. We had to cancel it last minute, but health comes first.. Be good to yourself. Embrace it.