Nachtmystium Front Man Blake Judd Talks New Album "Addicts: Black Meddle Pt. 2"
A constantly evolving band, the U.S. based act Nachtmystium is set to release another progression in the form of the upcoming "Addicts: Black Meddle Pt. 2" on June 8th, 2010. Starting out as raw black metal and moving into a more psychedelic sound, the new album has been described as "black metal disco" by front man Blake Judd. Commenting on the persistent transformation in style, Judd shared "I think everyone was expecting another psychedelic record, and that’s what people would have understandably expected. We wanted to throw a curveball and do something different and not repeat ourselves. It would have been really easy to do that and re-record the last couple of albums..."
Judd spoke with me at length about the personal themes of addiction and consequences on the new album and his tastes in less extreme music. He also discussed recent events in the band, such as the members unexpectedly being stranded due to the volcanic eruption in Iceland.
xFiruath: Can you give me a rundown of Nachtmystium for anyone not familiar with your music?
Blake: We started out as sort of a raw black metal band back in 2000. We released a bunch of records between 2000 and 2004 that were real underground and ugly black metal. Then we started to change a little bit around 2004 and we did an EP called “Eulogy IV,” where we tried to incorporate this psychedelic type of sound. We stuck with that for a few years and since then we’ve tried to do new and interesting things with each record.
xFiruath: Before we tackle the new Nachtmystium album, are you working with any other projects right now?
Blake: I’m involved with Twilight, which I guess has the label of “super group,” but I don’t really think of it as a super group. Other than that I don’t participate in other bands, I’ve got more than enough to keep me plenty busy.
xFiruath: You were mentioning about how your sound has changed over the years. How would you describe the sound of the new album “Addicts: Black Meddle Pt. 2?” I’ve been listening to it and its kind of black metal, but not really.
Blake: I like to call it “black metal disco” myself. It’s really intense but really poppy, and that’s what we were going for. I’m not really sure how to describe it though. It’s got a little post-industrial and post-rock kind of influence in it. It’s still got a core of black metal there, I suppose you could say. In general we really wanted to make something that was more accessible, basically because that’s where my tastes have gone. I listen to a lot of more commercial music these days. Or I suppose not even commercial so much as music that more people are into than are into black metal or death metal, which is a pretty pigeon holed little part of the music community. We were trying to make a rock record that was influenced by our history in black metal.
xFiruath: This one is “Black Meddle Pt. 2.” Explain about why it was broken up into parts and how it’s connected to the previous album.
Blake: Thematically the lyrics and artwork and all that are joined. Originally the whole idea of Part 1 and 2 was that we were signed to Century Media in the United States and Candlelight for Europe, both for two records. We were like “well let’s make these the Century Media years” and we’ll do a Part 1 and Part 2 and come up with a central theme that will work for both records. That’s no longer relevant now. Basically we just wanted to do two records that captured that time in my life and the lives of the people working with the band.
Basically the three core members on the records are myself, Sanford Parker as an engineer and co-producer, and then our long time producer Chris Black. The three of us all work closely together. The cohesion between the records is more in the themes and the lyrics than in the music. When we went in to make “Addicts” I think everyone was expecting another psychedelic record, and that’s what people would have understandably expected. We wanted to throw a curveball and do something different and not repeat ourselves. It would have been really easy to do that and re-record the last couple of albums, I mean just listen to the last couple of Slayer records, that can be done.
xFiruath: What are the lyrics about on this album?
Blake: It’s kind of the same subject matter as the first one. I’ve always had this dream of being a performer. Ever since I was a kid I wanted rock and roll to be my job, and now it is. With that comes ups and downs. It makes a lot of things really easy and a lot of things really hard. I focused most of this record on struggling with relationships and struggling with drug abuse. When you don’t really have any responsibilities it’s really easy to party a lot. To go out and do whatever you want to do all the time. I was able to go out and do that and that’s come with some consequences in the last few years. With this lifestyle comes a lot of extreme living and that’s what it’s all about.
xFiruath: Who else did you work with on this album besides your three core members?
Blake: On the new record we have Wrest from Leviathan playing drums. He’s one of my best friends in my personal life and he and I worked together on both of the Twilight albums. Working with him was an easy choice, and he’s kind of responsible for turning me onto the music that has influenced our sound these days. Doing that first Twilight record and working with him was when I got turned onto bands like Joy Division and Interpol. That opened up a whole new world of music to me. There’s also Will Lindsay from Wolves In The Throne Room. He played bass and then ended up doing quite a bit more than that. He also played guitar and helped us finish some songs that weren’t quite complete when we entered the studio.
Basically everybody involved on this record is an extremely close friend of mine and knows the ins and outs of my personal life. Since that’s the subject matter of the album it was easy for them to see where I was coming from with the songs. The song “The End Is Eternal” is about a period of time in my life where I’d been seeing someone and we broke up. I started someone else and both of the girls wound up pregnant, so in six months I had to deal with two abortions. They were there for that and they knew where my head was at when I was dealing with that. They can feed off the actual life experiences and incorporate ideas into the music that work hand in hand with the event that inspired the songs. Jeff Wilson was involved as well. He’s been in Nachtmystium with me for five years now and he actually just departed in the middle of our European tour. He’d had a bit of a personal crisis in his life and decided to go home and call it quits, but he was a big part of making “Addicts” and “Assassin.”
xFiruath: I saw that you had to cancel a festival appearance not too long ago due to being stranded in London because of the volcano. How did that finally end and when did you guys get home?
Blake: That was horrible. We had been on tour for 30 shows in 32 days in Europe after doing two and a half weeks in the U.S. We only had like three days off between the U.S. tour and going to Europe so essentially we were on tour for about seven weeks. We were getting towards the checked flag so to speak and then we hear there is this fucking volcano erupting in Iceland that was preventing a lot of the American bands from getting over. We were bummed out because we wanted to see a lot of these bands. But then it dawned on us that it would be relevant to us getting home. We ended up playing Roadburn and then drove down the next day and had to stay in our tour manager’s house for six days before we finally got out of there. Our girlfriends and so on were not happy with us back at home because we were supposed to be home.
xFiruath: Tell me a bit about touring alongside the legendary Marduk last year.
Blake: That was great. They were awesome guys and they just might be my favorite band to tour with. Musically I’m not a big Marduk fan, although I was when I was younger. 600 miles per hour black metal isn’t what I listen to in my free time anymore. It was definitely an honor to be out with them though. I’d been listening to Marduk back since I was a kid so it was a huge honor to be their support band. We shared a bus with them and they’re wonderful people, real cool dudes and down to earth. No egos there.
They didn’t play rock star with us at all and with a band of their stature you occasionally hear about them being like that and I’ve dealt with that on the road before, but they weren’t like that at all. The shows were great and their fans received us really well. I think our fans received them really well too. The bands are different enough that we weren’t drawing the exact same crowds. I’d love to do it again with them and actually I just saw them for the first time since the tour at the Inferno festival. We hung out and they were great at Inferno.
xFiruath: When are you heading out on the road in support of the new album?
Blake: Yeah we’ve got a whole bunch of shit actually. We’re heading over to Germany to play Festung Open Air at the end of May. We come back here on June 4th and kick off two weeks with EyeHateGod and Brutal Truth, which should be really cool. After that we haul ass back from New York City to Chicago and fly over to Paris to play Hellfest. Then I think we have the duration of the summer off before we’re back out in September for a month. We’re either going to do a headlining thing or directly supporting a much, much larger band. They just put their debut album out, which I’m very excited about. I’ll leave that to the imagination, but I’ll just say it’s a legendary metal dude’s new band continuing his old band, so you can put that together.
xFiruath: I’m always interested in hearing from vocalists of extreme bands about how they keep their voices going. Do you have any particular warm ups or techniques you use?
Blake: No I’ve just learned how to do it from doing it so long. When I was younger and I started touring a lot I definitely had a couple of tours where I blew my voice out. Once you do that you have three to five days off before its coming back. I’ve learned that the hard way and admittedly sounded like shit on a few occasions throughout our career of touring. Nowadays I’ve just figured out how to do it. You have to try to take care of yourself. Try not to drink too much before you play. I try to smoke less on the road or smoke lighter cigarettes. Just try to take of my throat. As far as exercises or warming up I don’t do anything.
xFiruath: You mentioned some bands that you’ve been influenced by in recent years. What have you been personally listening to lately?
Blake: Lots and lots of Killing Joke. I have gotten into that band they have such a huge wealth of material. My roommate who moved in recently has turned me onto a lot of proggy stuff. I’ve been digging some of that and other than that I can’t really say. I don’t listen to tons of music in my free time, and when I do its usually the same ten bands I listen to all the same like Queens of the Stoned Age, Killing Joke, and Nine Inch Nails. I like some old Gothic rock like early Christian Death and Fields of the Nephilim. I definitely don’t find myself listening to a whole lot of metal anymore.
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