Intervju med Nergal i Behemoth.
För en tid sedan hade jag nöjet att samtala med Polens största bibelförstörare, Nergal i Behemoth. En välartikulerad och bildad man, som inte bara gått igenom en utdragen rättegång, utan även en hemsk sjukdom.
Det är ytterst intressant hur denne ganska tunna man med högt hårfäste, kan förvandlas till den mörka och sataniska varelse han är på scen. Vi kom att prata om allt möjligt och Nergal framstår som en människa som mest blickar framåt och dessutom försöker dra lärdom av allt som händer i livet, bra som dåligt.
You were recently found not guilty in the Bible ripping incident. What went through your mind when you heard the verdict?
Nergal: Well, I wasn´t sure so obviously I felt relieved, but somehow I had a gut feeling that the verdict was gonna go that way. It felt somehow like my intuition was telling me that I would win. I´m happy and relieved.
Six years is a long time battling obscurity and bullshit.
And all the tax payers money spent on a thing like this?
Nergal: Yeah, I guess… with all of this stuff I´ve pissed off so many people already.
Knowing what you´ve been through, would you do it again?
Nergal: I would probably give you a different answer depending on my mood. It is what it is. I´m happy for everything that happened at any point in time. The fuck ups, the good stuff, the bad stuff, it´s part of my life. If it wasn´t me in Poland, it would be some other artist or someone else who would be prosecuted for similar actions. It´s a necessary step on the way to democracy and every country has to work that out at a certain stage. Sweden probably had stuff like this. I don´t know your history, but you´ve been through this and you worked it out. Like blasphemy, there´s no logic for it being part of your law. It brings nothing to the system, but in Poland you can be accused of blasphemy. It´s a very intelligent question, what is blasphemy? If there is a thing like blasphemy, we should find some kind of measurement for blasphemy and we´d probably need to find, like a thermometer. It´s completely surreal, this conversation, but it´s like someone would come up with the idea of accusing someone for bad taste. If it was up to me when it comes to bad taste, there would be a death penalty for most of the society, obviously. (laughs) But I know that it´s just surreal and we should really accept people for who they are. We don´t need to get into interactions with them if you don´t want to. I don´t go to church because I know I can easily get annoyed. Some of my adversaries decide to go to church, get offended, get annoyed and then go straight to court. Where´s the logic? It´s some kind of masochism. Either way, I don´t like it.
Did all of this that has happened, change your perspective on life?
Nergal: For sure. It took me a few years until I realized it was a good lesson. It happened for a reason and I need to learn from it. When I was released from the hospital, I just wanted to live my life, which was ok, but the reflections and the conclusions came later and especially in this last year. 2013 has been essential and I´ve made some serious transgressions. It´s an ongoing process and it´s never too late to learn and to realize that there´s a lot of work to be done if you want to become a better person.
Let´s move on to something else. Your stage outfit, how do you go about creating that persona?
Nergal: It just happens. I let my creative spirit free and let if drift and then I just follow it. I observe and follow it and let things happen and I materialize these visions. It´s a summary of all kinds of inspirations that come from all over the place. I just pick up pieces of the puzzle and put it together.
Do you feel there´s a transformation taking place?
Nergal: Yes. Something happens. True. I start walking differently and I talk differently. My vocal tone changes and my moves change. Everything changes. It helps me transform into some kinda alter ego.
Do you feel there are things you can do in that character, that you can´t do when you´re just you?
Nergal: Yes. If I would go now and perform in these clothes I have on now, it wouldn´t work. I would feel small. It´s like an armor and I feel way more powerful. All these pieces put together makes me feel special.
Nergal: Yeah and the previous highest position was 56 or something, I believe, so we got higher up this time around. I actually did some research and I
think it´s unheard of. I think the title can actually shut some doors for us because it´s so radical and it´s really a “fuck off” title. It´s like “Fuck it! This is it!”. For me, there are so many layers of it. I guess that when common people hear it for the first time, the first thing they feel is fear. But the western media also somehow feel very attracted to it, which is weird.
It´s also weird climbing the charts in a country like the US, which is a very religious country.
Nergal: They are as fanatical as they are liberal. Europe is way more conservative. The US is extreme in many ways.
You recently said that US death metal bands are boring and generic?
Nergal: It´s not just the US. I really hope my friends in Nile don´t think that, because it´s not what I meant. The majority of death metal bands are boring to me. It´s how it is. This endless strive for perfection and processed recordings. They´re so perfect and professional to the point of throwing up. I´m not buying it. I´d rather go for something that is very organic and more human oriented and that has the human factor in it.
What bands do you find exciting then?
Nergal: The funny thing is that hardly any of the bands in the darkest niche of the genre offers the most sincere or genuine or best music. I would rather listen to Svartidaudi, Kriegsmachine or Oranssi Pazuzu than listening to the new Morbid Angel or Deicide. Their music doesn´t do it for me at all and that´s music I grew up with.
Could there ever be a Nergal solo album?
Nergal: Yeah, I´m thinking about it. I´ve been thinking about it for years now. What I need now is to balance myself with something that´s gonna be exactly on the opposite side of Behemoth. You would never ever see me doing a black metal, death metal or metal project. I put all my energy into Behemoth, so to balance my life I´d really need to do a really stripped down and primal sound. What I´m thinking about is probably just one or two male vocals, some acoustic guitars and maybe a bass drum only.
Do you already have music like that lying around?
Nergal: Yeah, I´ve been fucking around with stuff. I´ve done some demos, which I hardly ever play for anybody. It´s gonna be dark and sinister, but a bit different. Like 16 Horsepower and Wovenhand and that kinda stuff.
What do you think of In Solitude who are playing with you on these dates?
Nergal: Love them! I´m actually trying to get them on the Polish leg of the tour. They´re good dudes and very down to earth. I liked them before, but with their new record “Sister” they´re actually transgressing and doing something very, very special. One of the best of last year.
What got you into music?
Nergal: Actually, at first I wasn´t really into music. I was into drawing and I was drawing for hours every day. I drew wars. My parents said half jokingly “Maybe you should go in that direction? The school of arts?”, but I chose music and I have never ever regretted it. Not a single day. It is what it is and it´s the best job ever. I love it! It keeps me inspired and I can inspire other people, which is very important.
Was there a particular band or album that then got you into music?
Nergal: No, there were different stages of getting into it. It was a combination of things that made me go that way.
Growing up in Poland in the 80´s, was there an easy access to music or was it all via the black market?
Nergal: Yeah, there was the black market and there was radio. Just imagine, Poland was under a communist regime. In control, but out of control in a sense with like publishing rights and such. National radio would play full albums, which is unheard of, and it didn´t cost them a single penny. That´s how guys like myself would get educated in heavy metal. I was really young and there was this radio show called “Music of the youth”, if you translate it, and they played heavy metal albums. They played Flotsam and Jetsam and said it was thrash metal. I wasn´t really catching on to it because it was too technical and aggressive. When I was a kid, Slayer was too much for me, but eventually I caught up with it and I got into the more extreme stuff.
Do you think Behemoth would´ve existed, had you not grown up in a Catholic family?
Nergal: Well, I had a Catholic upbringing, I did. I was never asked if I wanted to be baptized. There are more atheists today and the atheistic approach is coming back, which is good. I don´t know. I don´t really like to think “What if?”. It is what it is and I am who I am. I don´t question things in this way, I accept it and embrace it and I like the place where I am now. If I didn´t, we´d have a more dramatic conversation. I´m really happy with my life. I´m actually happy that it started that way. I opened up my mind and started questioning things and contemplating and reflecting on things. I rejected religion and converted into something that is very much based on individual and independent philosophy.
I find the way you questioned religion interesting. I´m a teacher and work with kids from different cultures and countries and 99% of them are religious, be it mainly Muslims or Christians. They never choose, they´re born into it.
Nergal: There must be a reason why we call them sheep in the Bible. They never question, they just follow. People need to be led and need to be controlled and even if they don´t, they still choose their ways so they feel safe. This way they get rid of the extra ballast, the extra responsibility and they can eat, drink, fuck, shit and die one day, which is ok. Either way, it´s their decisions. It´s all about balancing it and giving your life deeper thoughts and deciding and choosing for yourself. I don´t know if I was there from the start, maybe I wasn´t. Maybe there was something else that brought me to this place. I just started listening to heavy metal and it just opened up some cells, some impulses to rebel. I don´t know. I think heavy metal is a very healthy music style. First of all, the culture of heavy metal is so spread out from stupid, casual things to very important things that matters. Name any other culture that is spread out like that? There´s none! That makes it very inspiring and very stimulating. If I ever have kids, I will definitely try to play them heavy metal. If they dig it, that´ll be awesome.
What did your parents say when you decided on all of this? Were they supportive in anyway?
Nergal: Yeah, totally. My father used to work in the shipyard and my first guitars came from some of his coworkers. I couldn´t afford getting one from the store. It was at the end of communism and the beginning of democracy. It took a few years until we reached the level we are at now and back then it was really hard to get hold of instruments and stuff. My parents would give me everything they could, but it wasn´t much. My dad used to cut out guitars in wood. They weren´t meant to be played on, but he would do everything he could to support his kid, which I´m very thankful for.