Marduk started out 2015 with their new slab of savagery, “Frontschwein,” and now they continue with their world domination. On the first night of Marduk‘s February UK tour with Belphegor, ThisIsNotAScene caught up with guitarist and main man Morgan.
How are you doing?
I’m good, we’re back marching across the world so everything is good y’know.
We’re here in Plymouth, not too many tours find their way this far south. Have you played here before?
No, I think the closest we’ve played is most probably Cardiff or somewhere, I’m not really familiar with all the places. In 2010 I think we did about seven dates in the UK playing some places which we rarely do because most of the time we play just London and this time I remember we played Leicester, Cardiff, Bristol and some others but now we’re back and this is the first time we play here and then we play Manchester, Glasgoaw and London.
What’s it like playing in the UK compared to mainland Europe or the US?
I don’t think there’s a big difference. It can differ from day to day, from city to city. You can get the same power playing in Venezuela or Chicago or wherever. For me it’s about how people get into the music and how it’s being reflected.
You’ve got Belphegor supporting on this tour, obviously a great match musically, what’s your relationship like with those guys?
We’ve met them a lot other the years. We’ve played together a few times before so it’s a band we’re very familiar with and they with us, so it’s great to finally team up and do a full tour together.
You’ve got a new album out, Frontschwein, what’s the response been like?
It’s been great. I never really sit down and reflect on the media but from what I’ve seen so far it seems to be positive which I think most of our albums get. For me what matters is the response when we play it live and how you yourself look upon the music. But it’s been great, we’ve charted in certain countries higher than we ever have before such as Germany where it went to #34 I believe.
On Frontschwein you’ve returned to a historical military theme which you’ve touched upon before on “Panzer Division” Marduk and various tracks since, what made you feel that now was the time to revisit these concepts again?
We always just do what comes naturally. After “Serpent Sermon” which I consider to be a spiritual album, I became interested in doing a more materialistic album so to speak. We don’t sit down and plan, we do what we are inspired to do. This is something that inspires and fascinates me, and that theme is something that creates a lot of material in my mind. I like a lot of history, read lots of books, and when it comes to music I think that part of history is something that works very well for metal.
Obviously all Marduk albums have their strengths but some have expressed that “Frontschwein” and “Serpent Sermon” also are more dynamic albums with a bit more variety than some previous Marduk records. Are you particularly proud of these last couple of albums than some of your previous ones?
Not in that way no, I’m proud of all the albums we have done. We’ve done thirteen full-length albums which I consider to the thirteen pillars which we stand upon as a band. Even though I see things on earlier albums that I might have done differently I am still proud of them because it captures where we were at a certain time. I think there’s a lot of dynamics and variety in all of our albums except perhaps the Panzer album. [laughs] I don’t like to reflect too much though, for me it’s about being in the here and now and working towards the next one.
So does that mean you’re planning anything for Frontschwein’s follow-up?
Not writing but I have a theme and stuff like that. We’re not the kind of band who writes a lot on the road, most parts are written when we are back home, but I’ll get a few ideas here and there.
Thirteen albums is a lot of material you could potentially draw upon and include in a setlist, how do go about choosing which songs to play on any given night?
It does start to be a bit hard. Of course you always want to play some songs from the new album and to try and get something from more or less every album but it gets hard when you play certain shows where you may only have a strictly limited time to play. We try to do three or four from the new one and then a few older ones because I believe in the strength of the band’s whole career.
How does the writing process compare to the band’s early career?
I don’t know if it has changed a lot. For me I never really cared about instruments and how to do things in a proper way, for me the guitar is a weapon to create music with. I don’t sit down and think about certain technical aspects, music has always been about creating a feeling, to paint a picture in the listener’s mind. I can sometimes create a song just rooting from the title in my head, sometimes I’ll work on a riff and not really like it and then rediscover it eight years later and it becomes really good. Every song’s written in a different way.
Marduk have been going for over two decades with no real breaks, can you see Marduk continuing indefinitely?
I never really understood about taking breaks, this is what we live for. For me it’s about releasing energy and doing more. I don’t know if we would continue indefinitely but as long as I feel the inspiration and the black flame within I will continue to do what I do.
Marduk have had a relatively stable line-up for a few years now but you’ve got a new drummer recently, how’s he been settling in?
Very well, he was the first guy we had our mind on, the try-out worked well and he adjusted very smoothly to the band taking part in regular arrangements. He’s a bit younger than us but he’s very dedicated to what we do. It was tragic though to lose the drummer that we had because it was not like he was fired or anything, it was that for the last two years Lars began to have a problem with a nerve in his back which affected his drumming so in the end he himself said he couldn’t do it anymore. It was sad because on the spiritual side he was one of us y’know.
You’ve achieved an awful lot over the years, do you have any real goals left to hunger towards?
My goals are probably not the same as for a lot of other people, I would say my goals are on a spiritual and personal level and not about sales or whatever. It’s about proving things to ourselves and doing what we believe in.
Moving onto the subject of stage get-up, quite a few bands who originally used corpse paint eventually veered away from it whereas Marduk never have. Why do you think that is?
We’ve done it more or less since we started and it’s part of the whole vision behind the band so why should we stop just because other bands have, y’know? We just do what we do.
What do you think of the state of black metal right now? Is it a healthy scene?
I don’t really care because I don’t really consider us to be a part of a “scene”. Most bands that consider themselves black metal I don’t really consider to be black metal. I appreciate some other bands but I don’t really see a scene so to speak. Maybe it was in ’92, ’93. The handful of bands now who really are black metal though are doing great things. You read about it and many people think black metal is about having a certain vocal style or using corpse paint, but that’s losing the point in my eyes. I know what I believe is black metal so I prefer to stick to my own guns.
Do you see anything of yourself in some of the younger bands?
Yeah, in a few. It’s flattering when you see people give tributes and you meet people who weren’t even born when you did your first demo tape. I don’t see myself as being older though, I’m still a fan of black metal. I met a guy my age who asked if I still played in a band and said his little sister used to like us when she was younger which is interesting because of the age difference, but I don’t see how time flies really.
So 2015, Marduk have a new album right out of the gate, what’s the plan for the rest of the year?
We started out after the release touring in Australia, Japan and New Zealand and then we went home for a while. Now we’re out in Europe doing another two weeks and then going home for some weeks, then going out again doing festivals in more German-speaking countries. After that we go right into South America for an over three weeks tour and then back home to Sweden in the middle of May I think. Then there’s the summer festivals coming up, some still yet to be announced, and after that in September we go out to do a full Eastern Europe tour playing through Poland and the Baltic States down to Turkey. We have plans to cover certain other areas of Asia and the States, so basically that’s what is coming up. The marching order of 2015.