It’s the first day of Bloodstock and already the booze levels are high and the anticipation for the bands later on is even higher; Watain being one of them. The Swedish black metallers are well known for their theatrics and with 2012 being their most successful year to date, SoundShock’s Lily Randall caught up with frontman Erik Danielsson to see what’s in store for the future.
You’re playing later on this evening and many of us would’ve seen you in smaller venues where it’s a lot more intimate and darker, so how do you bring all your theatrics onto a stage at Bloodstock?
Erik: Well, what you may have seen previously is only a third of our arsenal, we’ve actually got a whole truck which is awesome. There’s going to be a lot going on.
What is your first impression of Bloodstock so far?
Erik: I really don’t like festivals. I mean, I like playing them but the rest of it is really not my thing.
So would you rather just turn up play and head off again?
Erik: Yeah, kind of. I’d like to build a tunnel from my house to where I need to go so I can just stay in that tunnel and stay away from everyone. I don’t know, it’s just really not my thing.
But when you’re actually up on stage, do you feel you can still get the same atmosphere across as what you hope for in the music?
Erik: Of course, the stage is always a different thing. I mean it doesn’t really matter if we’re in a venue like the Underworld or a big stage; we come to do the same thing as we always do and we always manage to create [the atmosphere]. I mean, with all the stuff we’re bringing we’ll manage to make the stage feel like our own no matter where we are and that’s something that I’m very grateful for.
Is there much of a difference in crowds when you play in the UK as opposed to Scandinavia?
Erik: England has always been very special, I mean Sweden is always going to be the best country for us to play, but England, it has an old tradition of rock of so many years back and you can really feel that when you’re here. People are not afraid to show that they appreciate what we do.
Watain’s status seems to have suddenly grown as of late with cover features and awards. Was this kind of stardom ever something you were expecting?
Erik: When we formed Watain 14 years ago the first thing we did, and I’m speaking symbolically, was to erect very high walls around our temple so to speak. And we’ve been standing within that temple and behind those walls for 14 years trying to pay as little attention as possible to what is going on outside. With all that being said, the success that you’re talking about is not really something we think too much about. Sure it makes some things easier, I mean in terms of production, in terms of bringing a lot of stuff to the shows but other than that we live in our own world really and we like it that way.
Obviously you’ve said you’ve tried to avoid any criticisms, but in black metal particularly you get elitists. Have you received any negativity for becoming “too big”?
Erik: I guess we have but once again that’s something that’s going on outside in the world, a world that we don’t really feel we are a part of in the first place. Watain is a temple erected for our God and that is really the only thing that matters to us. People ask me questions about how I feel about people in Egypt not being able to buy our albums and I’m not concerned with that, I’m concerned with how soon it’s going to be until the bottom of the sea rises up to the ground and the ground sinks down to the bottom of the sea. That’s the kind of things that I think about.
What’s next for Watain?
Erik: We’re always writing and I suppose there is a new record that we are writing but I feel it is too soon to talk about it. Not necessarily because it’s so far away in time but because it’s a bit too early in the creative process but a lot of very interesting things are going to happen quite soon and I can’t wait to see people either pissing themselves with joy or running away in fear.
Do you find you write more when youre on the road or when you have finished the touring cycle?
Erik: I think the roads serve more as an inspiration, being around the others guys constantly is very inspiring to me, but we don’t write on the road, we write in solitude at home. I’m always writing, I have a notebook that I write in constantly and I always come back and go through the scribbles. It’s often quite a frightening experience to realise what a fucking psychopath I am. The creative process in general is something I find quite hard talking about, it’s very abstract to me.
Interview by Lily Randall.