Back in December, Behemoth brought “The Satanist” tour to the UK and Ireland. Shortly before hitting the stage in Birmingham, England, bass-meister Orion took time out to chat with Dewie, who began by asking about their return to the UK after a few years absence:
We get a good reaction every time we come over here and it’s been quite a while – we were at Bloodstock festival, but the last proper tour in the UK was about 6 years so it’s good to be back and playing good venues. I heard about this venue that it’s where Sabbath played their reunion a few years back?
Yes, indeed – I was here that night
Sounds like you had difficulties getting to Ireland last night – seems like you pulled out all the stops?
Yeah, weather bullshit basically – they cancelled all the ferries – there was no way to get there with the ferries so we figured we would try to get a flight and get us and all the gear there. We weren’t sure if it was going to happen but we were really glad we did it because it was a sold out show. Unfortunately all the other three bands from the tour – they couldn’t make it so it was just us plus two last minute support bands from Dublin – but it was a good show – we’re really happy we did it.
I’ve never been to Dublin but I hear from so many bands that they always get a great reaction there
Absolutely – it was so great
Getting bands and gear to the UK and Ireland is more hassle than the rest of mainland Europe – I guess sometimes fans can forget that?
Well we came out after the show and talked to people and they really appreciated it.
So two local bands got a call yesterday to support Behemoth?
Ha…yeah…I talked to the guys and they were excited to play – I got to watch one of their sets and it was really good.
The tour you’re doing at the moment – it’s a great bill and a large stage set-up – is it harder to run with so many people?
It runs very smoothly – the only problem for us is money – costs a lot to do this and we need to sell a lot of tickets to break even. The only practical problem for us on this tour is pyro – you have so many obstacles in the UK – so many regulations and it’s just – it takes so much time to get it organised so maybe we will bring it next time.
Are you fans of the other bands on the bill?
I have to admit I was not familiar with Winterfylleth before they played with us but they are fantastic – and of course we love Grand Magus and Decapitated – they are long time friends of ours.
The latest album, “The Satanist”, has had almost universal acclaim from critics and your fans…the lyrical themes remain very focused on the occult and paganism…are you likely to continue in that vein?
This is the direction the band is going in and we will continue this path. We aren’t really thinking about new music at this stage. This album has great potential for us and we plan to tour for at least another year and we have ideas for new videos as well.
Many bands these days want to talk about political and social issues in their lyrics – are your lyrics broadly covering those topics as well or do you keep politics out of it?
We are very far from being political in any way – there is nothing political in Behemoth. The only way we connect with politics is that it seems to have a problem with us so there are shows where we are banned from playing in Poland and the whole situation on the Russian tour…I don’t know if you heard about that…we ended up in prison.
I think some people think all that stuff is great for publicity but presumably it makes life very hard?
It has a bad impact – firstly on the people who are buying tickets – they come to a show and it is cancelled and that is not good. Of course any publicity is good because it gets our name in the news but overall I would definitely prefer not to have these problems. The problems we had to face in Russia – that wasn’t even funny, y’know – you see people protesting in front of the venue – that’s one thing, but ending up in jail was bad. That’s not why we do this.
Do you find suppression of art for religious or political reasons is getting worse or is it not as bad as in the early days of the band?
It depends on what area of the world definitely. Russia is a separate story, but it is getting worse in Poland. There’s a lot more protests against what we do and more people confronting us in the street but then we are getting much bigger and more widely known in Poland so that may be the reason why. Overall the situation doesn’t really change that much, I guess.
You also have your other band, Vesania – how do you find time to record and play shows with them as well – you seem very busy with Behemoth?
I keep asking myself that question from time to time and the answer is “I just don’t know”. Each of us in that band are always writing down ideas, whether it’s at home or on tour or on vacation. We all keep gathering ideas and whenever the time is right we all get together and take it to the rehearsal room, but yes it is really hard to find time for that band.
In 2014 I have had a month break from Behemoth and that was my month long vacation and during that time I did a month long Vesania tour – but that’s what it takes if you want to make music.
Are you pleased with the way the album (Deus Ex-Machina) turned out? You produced and mixed it yourself and all sounds very fresh and organic – doesn’t have that clean over-produced sound that a lot of heavy bands have these days…
Yes – we really wanted to stay away from the traditional metal sound – you know – lots of kick drums straight in your face drowning everything out – we just wanted to give it some more rock old-school sound and not compress everything – we wanted some air – some space between the instruments. It sounds different from what a metal record ‘should’ sound like but we didn’t do it just for the sake of it – we wanted it to sound like that.
The lyrics read to me very much like poetry – you could read them in isolation – did you write them before or after the music was written?
Ah that’s too much to say – too kind – it is a very nice thing to hear from an English-speaking person – because my approach to the lyrics is that I never give it to anyone to check. I want to keep them as they were created and I know there may be mistakes in my English but they were written after the music. I like to write them after we have some parts recorded.
I did have some notes and ideas for lyrical themes before we recorded the music. The lyrics overall are very personal to me and contain some real sadness. I was actually terrified when I finished writing them when I was reading them all through. It’s pretty dark stuff.
Do you have any plans to tour with Vesania and Behemoth? I know you did a tour with Vader, but would it be too much to do a full set with Vesania followed by a full Behemoth set each night?
No – I would totally go for it. It wouldn’t be impossible. It might happen on a European tour in 2015.
Do you have any summer festivals lined up?
12 or 13 so far – smaller festivals this time and then another Eurpoean tour. We are booked for shows until the end of 2015.
So any chance of any time off and if so what do you plan to do?
Either doing stuff with Vesania or just trying to get away from it all. Whenever I get back from tour I get lots of friends calling me to come out for beers or to some clubs but I think musicians are very different from other people in some ways – I’m like – man I have a week off – I just want to sit at home, stay there and not talk to anyone – it’s what I need to do just to calm down. If I do get actual free time I would like to go snowboarding.
What do you have on your ipod then – do you listen to metal?
Not too much – I just get tired if I listen to too much metal because I am so involved in it every day. I try to stay up to date with metal as much as possible and read about metal news, but mostly I just have my few favourite metal bands who I listen to regularly. Other than that it’s rather calm and relaxing music. I work in the studio a lot and being a producer – I don’t know if I can really call myself a producer – but I produce some music, which means you need to be aware of other music and listen to lots of different genres.
It’s coming up to Christmas now…in England you cannot get away from Christmas songs wherever you go – shops, cafes – and it drives me mad…but are there any Christmas songs at all that you like?
(Sternly) NO! (laughs)
Not one? I can’t have a headline saying “Orion from Behemoth loves…”
What? “White Christmas Gives Me Goosebumps” as a quote? Nah. I don’t thinks so.
No – I am really not a Christmas person at all. It is hard because it’s a time where your family wants you to spend time with them which is understandable and I am trying to respect that, but I am not a fan of these holidays at all – it’s really not my thing.
No surprise there at all?
Well thank you for taking time out to talk to This Is Not A Scene – it’s been a pleasure talking to you.
No problem – you’re welcome.