Behemoth's Nergal Grants Interview About The Decibel Magazine Tour, His Lyrics, and Guitar Tunings
Band Photo: Behemoth (?)
It's not a stretch to say that Adam "Nergal" Darski is by far one of the most important frontmen in metal today. Between his fight with cancer, his prosecution under Polish blasphemy laws and his headlining of the controversial Decibel Magazine Tour few can manage to stay in the headlines so consistently. Metalunderground.com had the opportunity to meet with Nergal in Chicago to discuss the very essence of what makes Behemoth the juggernaut it is today.
Matt Dasher: After Your Recovery, what was it like to pick up a guitar again for the first time in months?
Nergal: It was pretty normal, I'd say. Nothing spectacular really happened. No miracles, no three kings accompanying me. Just casual stuff, it happened.
Matt: Who's Krystof Azarewicz who writes many of your lyrics? I couldn't find much info on him when I Googled his name.
Nergal: He has a press company. It's on Facebook. He's an old friend of mine and he's highly skilled in occult things. We've just been friends forever to the point where he's like a brother.
Matt: You said press stuff, so is he your publicist?
Nergal: He's a publisher, not a publicist. He translates books, he writes books, he writes poems and stuff.
Matt: I've noticed that many of your lyrics are about spiritual entities that are more positive manifestations of chaos like Shiva, Seth and Dionysus. What does freedom mean to you and who do you feel best defined your definition of freedom?
Nergal: I've got my own definition but I'm not sure if I can even put it into words. I try to live by my own rules and I'm not easy to put in a box and be locked in that box. I'm just trying to get out of this box as often as I can.
Matt: A lot of your lyrics also have to do with transcendental self-empowerment. What do you think it'll take to fix the problem with ignorance that you decry in other songs of yours like “No Sympathy for Fools?”
Nergal: “No Sympathy for Fools” is just a hate anthem. There's no space or room for delicacy. It's just a crazy song. It's just different songs dealing with different stuff. I just write it and I don't know how people will react to it. I came down with some ideas the other day and I'm just hoping that it's really is positive stuff that's coming up about anything really, I don't analyze it.
Matt: One thing that I've always liked about Behemoth that puts them over other bands in the death metal scene is that there's always been a very intellectual side of the band and everything is very well researched. There’s a lot of metaphors, symbolism, etc. Do you ever worry that much of what you do might go over fan's heads?
Nergal: No. I do it for myself in the first place. And of other people want to dig into it, that's cool but I don't preach.
Matt: Are you looking forward to the Lech Walesa biopic that comes out by you in September?
Nergal: I've never heard of it but I know that “Iron Sky” is going to play soon so I'm excited for that one.
Matt: What exactly is the “Black Eagle” in “Chant for Eschaton?” Is it Garuda, Ziz, Quetzalcoatl, a tengu or something else entirely?
Nergal: I honestly don't know. That song was written by Kryztof so you should probably ask him.
Matt: Does your upcoming album have a title or a release date yet?
Nergal: No, we're just touring around. There's no plans yet but it'll come out next year for sure, though.
Matt: Your last show before entering the hospital was opening for Metallica at Sonisphere. What's going to be your next milestone as a band?
Nergal: A whole tour with Metallica? (laughs)
Matt: What guitar tuning did you use on “Be Without Fear?”
Nergal: C#. Why ask?
Matt: That song just had that very harsh grinding sound to it and I'm wondering how you pulled it off.
Nergal: We've used C# since “Zos Kia Cultus” for all of our six string songs and “Be Without Fear” is a six-string song so it's in C#.
Matt: What happened to your side project Wolverine?
Nergal: We just put it on ice. There was so much involved in Behemoth that I simply had no time for anything on the side so I had to shoot it down.
Matt: I remember when I saw you two years ago at the House of Blues. Are there going to be any setlist changes this time around? Are there any songs that you haven't played before or haven't played in years that you're breaking out now?
Nergal: A lot of new stuff.
Matt: There wasn't anything posted about what you're playing on this tour. So I'm really wondering what'll be played.
Nergal: You'll see. You'll be surprised.
Matt: The Devil's Blood aren't really a metal band. They're more acid rock/occult rock similar to Black Widow or Coven. Do you feel that they're going to attract a different audience to your music or your audience to their music?
Nergal: They're extreme in their own way and extreme bands should stick to each other. Secondly, I'm really hoping that fans of Behemoth are going to dig them since it's an awesome band. And I'm really exited to be showing them to the world.
Matt:Do you feel that your recovery will bring about more work for leukemia awareness?
Nergal: I do things for leukemia awareness. Occasionally I work for a leukemia awareness foundation that helped me out and I just do stuff with them.
Matt: What about your legal troubles with the blasphemy law case. Are you also involved in free speech causes as well?
Nergal: I campaign just as hard for free speech as I do for leukemia awareness in Poland. They're my main priorities and they’re progressing.
Matt: That's great to hear.
Nergal: I know.
Matt: Is Seth a full time member of the band or a session musician. Sometimes, I see him credited as the former, other times the latter.
Nergal: I think we're all confused. I want it to stay that way.
Matt: You have a masters in history. What's your favorite historical period?
Negal: Ancients and the second world war.
Matt: Which ancients?
Nergal: I'd say Greeks and Romans. They're more the intellectual foundation of what Europeans are these days and modern Europe is really their inheritance.
Matt: Each of your albums have had a very different sound to them. “Pandemonic Incantations” was the turning point for your sound, “Satanica” was much more melodic than your other work, “Thelema.6” was a much faster album, “Zos Kia Cultus” was a bit heavier and more atmospheric, etc. Is there a direction you're going in with the new one?
Nergal: Yeah, to surprise our fans and to surprise ourselves. I always like to leave room for improvisation. We don't plan things out from A to Z. We just like fucking around to see what comes out. The weirder and more fucked up it is, the happier I am so expect the unexpected.
Matt: Chicago has a very large Polish population. Do you have any sort of message for them?
Nergal: Yeah. Behave yourselves. It's always good to see Polish people coming to our shows as long as they behave themselves. They've always been very supportive and we're all one big Polish family so it's great to see them coming out to the show. I'm exited since they're good people.
Matt: I remember at the House of Blues show, there was that giant Polish flag in the crowd.
Nergal: It's cool. I know we're far from being patriotic but it feels good.
Matt: With the other Polish metal bands out there like Vader, Crionics and Hate, how's the Polish metal scene holding up today?
Nergal: Busy as fuck, man. There's a lot of traffic in Poland with too many to mention. Even among the quality bands it's an incredibly busy scene.
Matt: Which album are you the most proud of that you've done?
Nergal: The one to come that's not recorded yet.
Matt: Are we going to hear a new song tonight or something?
Nergal: Fuck no. There are no new songs yet.
Matt: With the other opening band, “In Solitude,” I like how they really remind me of the first four Danzig Albums, with the lyrics and the baritone singing. As somebody who toured with Danzig, was that something that made you want to bring them along?
Nergal: I never would have guessed that they have some sort of Danzig reminiscence in their music but they do remind me a lot of Merciful Fate.
Matt: They actually seem to me like a cross between the two.
Nergal: It's a good band, they're good kids and very talented with the same sort of philosophy. The whole point of this tour is to bring cool stuff from Europe to people who don't have much experience in watching it so now they can see this band so it's a good tour. This is the biggest we've done here in the US, so we're excited.
Matt: How does it feel to know that you have Decibel magazine behind you on this tour?
Nergal: It's a push for sure. Especially considering that there's so many magazines dying these days.
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