hails, Mikael! Let's begin from the latest news regarding
NIGHT CONQUERS DAY...
- Well right now it's July 14th, and we're in the process of rehearsing new songs preparing to record the second album. We hope to start recording in mid-August. But we still have one song to arrange, and 2 songs to tighten up. We already have 3 new songs finished. We haven't played a live show since April. We sort of kicked out our keyboard player and we really need a keyboard player in our sound. He just wasn't working out. So we're contemplating whether to just play some shows without keyboards, call this keyboard player and have him just do some session keys, or look for a new keyboard player. I doubt we'll find a new keyboard player into this music, so we don't have much choice I guess. We're also waiting to get our money from Hammerheart so that we can get some new equipment.
Your bio features the following phrase: «We are musically and lyrically inspired by... vast philosophical elements and dream symbology». Can you explain the meaning of afore-sited statement?
- The latter refers to the lyrics. Dreams have alot of meaning to them, and I sometimes write about particular dream themes that I have in my own dreams. I've had several recurring dream themes. Not recurring dreams, but similar themes. I had about a one-year stretch with numerous dreams about the end of the world. Each dream would be different, but there were always similar circumstances. The sky was always red, the sun and the moon shared the sky, sometimes the moon's rays would burn skin so people would have to take shelter indoors. These surreal themes get brought up in my lyrics alot. I use some of them as symbols or metaphors. The lyrics themselves will sometimes just be written in surreal prose. There's alot of philosophical metaphors in the lyrics. Being that the lyrics are inspired by dreams and philosophy, this influence also bleeds into the music we create to fit these lyrics. We do not preach any philosophy. I just make vast philosophical statements metaphorically. It is vast in the sense that it's much deeper than the typical basic human idiot would delve. There's NO philanthropy or any sort of moralism to any of our philosophy. It's misanthropic, individual freedom, individual power and creativity, having the mindset of a leader instead of a follower. It delves to the very core of existence, even dissecting the psyche much the way Nietzsche may have done.
You define NIGHT CONQUERS DAY creations as «dark atmospheric epic
metal» - but wouldn't it be better to call your music simply as 'black metal'? Who needs all these high-flown words...?
- Well apparently alot of people need these words. For it seems everyone NEEDS to give one's music a label. I think that we do not represent just pure BLACK METAL. There's alot more showing through in our music, and if one wanted to generalize I guess we'd fit under the "category" of black metal. But we don't sound exactly like BATHORY or VENOM or EMPEROR. They sort of define black metal. It's easy to listen to them and say "Oh yeah, THIS is black metal". With us there's a little more going on in the music. I think some of the '80s speed/heavy metal sound shines in our music. Basicly people are going to define us as something and I figured why not put a label out there for people to use. It sounded like the best label to fit our music if you must have a label for it. The music is dark (it's not fucking happy). There is an atmospheric quality to it (and I don't simply mean the keyboards, I really think our "sound" has it's own "atmosphere" to it). We have long songs. 10 minutes. 14 minutes. The album is 74 minutes. I think "epic" adequately describes what we compose....epic songs. They continually flow along with new ideas constantly coming at you. And our new songs are longer. And we are indeed METAL! There's no arguing about that. If you are one of the few who hates labels, then just ignore it. Listen to it and decide forself if you like our music or not. We aren't a simplistic band.
I don't know if you will agree with me or not, but personally I
consider old speed / heavy metal as your main source of inspiration... The same goes for early MERCYFUL FATE - just to mention those high-pitched, ala King Diamond vocals represented on «The First Snowfall»...
- Perhaps. I'm the one in the band who's been into the music the longest. I got into it in 1985. And it just so happens that I LOVE old MERCYFUL FATE (pre-1985). I love that rare quality that King had in his voice in the old FATE days. I wanted a little of that atmosphere in our sound, so occasionally you'll hear some Diamond-esque falsetto. Since I'm not a trained singer, I have that raw element that King used to have. Now King's voice isn't quite so raw on his albums. So hopefully anyone hearing my vocals will not correlate them to King Diamond as he sounds today. I use alot of various styles of vocals. Actually maybe not so much on the debut CD, but the second CD will have more variety. Don't worry, I won't be singing like a faggot suddenly. No fucking way. Usually when a vocalist says "well I'm expanding my vocals" it means "I'm turning into a pussy". That will not happen. I just like to sometimes use a voice other than a constant screaming. I get some unique noises out of my throat. I can get this LIVING DEATH / PILEDRIVER sort of throaty sound sometimes. And we're going to be working on some cover songs by RAZOR, DESTRUCTION, RUNNING WILD and IRON MAIDEN, so that will enable me to work with my voice and experiment a little bit with different throat tones. As for the musical side of things, me and the drummer (Gregg) listen to lots of speed metal. I've gotten him into LIVING DEATH and RAZOR really heavy. I've been into them for 13 years. I like all kinds of old heavy / power metal, speedy thrashy black-death. And alot of the stuff the other guys listen to is either stuff I dub them or something they discover on my radio show that was played. We're all really in synch. Lately I've found alot of killer old records and demos through tapetrading. I already had a huge collection, but I still re-discover some great old stuff: WITCH CROSS, VECTOM, VIOLENT FORCE, SILENXCE (KILLER!!), STRATTSON (FUCKING MEGA-KILLER heavy / speed metal), METAL SWORD, and tons of others. SILENXCE is one of the most under-rated bands. Same with STRATTSON. Their LP'85 is so fucking KILLER! I only have a dub of it and now I want it on vinyl or a CD re-issue. But yeah that stuff influences me a great deal. BATHORY and CELTIC FROST were HUGE influences. MERCYFUL FATE, ARTILLERY, IRON ANGEL, POSSESSED, JUDAS PRIEST (pre-1979), I listen to them A LOT. Perhaps some of them inspire simply in the way they do their song structures, like "Satan's Fall" by MERCYFUL FATE for example. Long song with constantly fluctuating ideas. There's also some EMPEROR, ENSLAVED and IMMORTAL influence in there as well. But I mean the 1992-93 stuff. That EMPEROR / ENSLAVED split LP is one of the greatest albums of all time. And IMMORTAL's first 2 albums are their good ones. "Blizzard Beasts" is shit to my ears (hmm, I wouldn't say so. Perhaps, you just don't like that irritating production? - ED). I like alot of modern bands. DIABOLICAL MASQUERADE, PERISHED, the new THERION CD "Vovin", MIND COLLAPSE, DARK FUNERAL, BEWITCHED (Swe), DAWN (Swe), GRAVE DIGGER ("Tunes Of War" blows away their old stuff), MUNDANUS IMPERIUM, etc etc. I listen to alot of different stuff. I listen to alot of non-metal stuff too. TANGERINE DREAM, Mike Oldfield, RAISON D'ETRE, I'm probably boring you with all this name-dropping.
«Mortuary Temple isn't even a studio. Actually it's my friend Evil
Eye's living room. «Abandonment» was recorded through his stereo system onto a tape deck» - this is an excerpt from SHADOWCASTER's interview... After reading through afore-cited words, I couldn't even expect such a great sound quality on «The First Snowfall»! What happened? Did you buy the studio of full value and also called it «Mortuary Drape»...?
- Well before December 1995, there really was no "Mortuary Temple Studio". The 2 SHADOWCASTER promos in 1994 were recorded in Evil Eye's living room through his mint stereo system. I just called it Mortuary Temple Studios because I always liked that name. I wanted a studio and I wanted to call it that. I also recorded the 2 INTO THE SUNLESS MERIDIAN demos at Evil Eye's house, but in his basement on my 4-track. I called this Mortuary Temple Studios too. And that was I guess the first "real" incarnation of it. But in December 1995 I bought the old Watchmen Studio 8 track board and reel-to-reel from Doug White. So now I have a studio. "The First Snowfall" was recorded on the new board and reel-to-reel system. It was first set up in Tim's basement (Tim-bassist). But after me and my girlfriend moved into our new house, it was moved into our basement. There's a bar downstairs, and it's been temporarily been converted into my studio. I have a bunch of mics and other equipment now too. Gregg and Justin (guitar) have put up walls in the basement and finished it off, and now we have a separate studio room/rehearsal room for us to jam in/record in. There's a big window and we're soundproofing it. It'll be like a regular studio when we're done. So now Mortuary Temple Studios really is a studio. I always take the rough mix recording to Watchmen Studios and do final mixes with Doug White because he has $300,000 worth of equipment (!!!!!! - ED). He can make rough sounding shit sound incredible. There's alot of stuff I'd need to buy to have a really quality studio. For now I'm fine with recording the stuff in my studio and then mixing and mastering at Watchmen. That's how the NIGHT CONQUERS DAY CD was done, that's how the forthcoming TEARSTAINED, SHADOWCASTER and INTO THE SUNLESS MERIDIAN CDs were done. The results keep getting better and better as I get more experience and learn from mistakes. I'm already wanting a 16 track studio so I have more tracks to work with. We are limited as to what we can do sometimes.
Are there any special ideas behind the lyrics on «The First Snowfall»?
- I'm so tired of explaining this. No offense to you. But this is going to be brief and very general (sorry). The theme of winter is used for 3 reasons. One: I love wintertime. I hate summer and sunworshipping. Two: I grew up here in Rochester, NY, which is upstate, and we're known for our long cold winters. I was sick of bands writing about winter who live in the tropics, or have never really seen a fucking blizzard or an icestorm. We see it. We live it. We fucking write about it!!! Three: There is a metaphorical concept about winter and it's qualities, ascribed to us as individuals. Cold, isolated, fierce. When one walks through the snow, a path is left behind. We aim to be path makers, not followers. Part of it simply glorifies the beauty of winter, and part of it deals with symbolic philosophical images. The CD cover fits into the whole concept. Even the bandname refers to winter, the season when the night conquers (is longer than) the day. Battle and warfare are themes in some of it too. The elements of rebellion and warfare (philosophical and mental warfare) are explored more on our newer songs. We will not be some frost and mountains metal band forever. We just wanted to do it right and do it from personal experience. It's not just an image, the fucking mountains and snow are real. They are landscapes familiar to us. Our environment influences us whether we want it to or not.
What were the reasons for enlarging NIGHT CONQUERS DAY lineup? Just
because it lets you perform gigs...? And, by the way, what is your
opinion of live shows? I know that enormous number of black metallers almost disdain performing concerts...
- Originally we simply wanted a full band to play some shows. It's also alot fuller sounding to hear a full band at rehearsal. We started off as a trio. I did drums at rehearsal, Tim did bass and Greg did guitar. On the album I also did vocals, guitar and keyboards. Greg disappeared early in the CD recording sessions. We also had a brief stint with a keyboardist named Raistlyn. By the time the CD was done it was just me and Tim. We hooked up with Justin and Gregg through my radio show. They did a band called SHADOWLORD. In SHADOWLORD Gregg did vocals, guitar and drums while Justin did guitar and bass. We asked Gregg to do drums because guitar was my main thing and I wanted to do the vocals. Justin joined in on guitar. And now they are 100% members. It's the PERFECT union. It's the best I've ever felt in a band before. We sound good together and write in the same style. They fit into our sound perfectly. We did have another keyboard player named John, but he's not in the band right now. As said earlier we're not sure what to do about John. He's not great enough to have as a member, but if he'd like to do session keys at live shows then that would be great. John's a quiet guy, but he's into alot of the same '80s stuff as some of us... MAIDEN,MANOWAR,etc. He just doesn't write any profoundly great keyboard passages. He's actually a good guitarist and writes some good songs, but we don't need a guitarist unfortunately. Plus no one else in the band like his (lack of) personality. But I had no problem with him. My opinion of live shows? Unless there's a crowd there, it's really a waste of energy. We've done 4 shows. The first one was ok. The second show was totally stupid. 40 people. Wow. The third show was great. We played with ANCIENT and we did a great set. There was about 100 people there. It felt like a crowd. We have that live soundboard tape available to anyone who sends us a blank tape and $1.00 (comes with b/w cover). And our last show in April (on Easter) was shit. No one was there. No crowd = boring show. I can't get into it when there's no crowd there. Local bands all on one bill never pull more than 50 or 60 people. So we'd rather wait and open for a band that will draw a bigger crowd, them nore people will see us live and maybe come back again. Right now I'm the only one that goes all out live (w/spikes/leather/nails/facepaint). Once Hammerheart sends us our money, we'll be adding spikes and body armour and I'm having some more custom stuff done. Maybe some spiked gas-masks will find their way on stage too. Something different and interesting to look at instead of a bunch of dorks in baggy pants bobbing around stage like a lost cow.
Most of black metal gigs strike as very weak ones when it comes to illumination, sound and various sfx's... I never saw your band live, however can I hope that your shows look rather impressive...?
- We don't have flashpots and burning crosses yet. But we light candles atop the amps, I have an altar with human bones, an obelisk, some animal bones and a silver chalice that I put my cold drink in. I wear facepaint and have 3 inch nails and spikes. And we have some other ideas we haven't tried yet. I wish we could get someone to do a light show for us. Strobes and kaleidoscopes and shit like that. But how the fuck would we afford that? How the fuck did VENOM afford their '80s stage show?!?!?!?!?!?!?!
Are you satisfied with Hammerheart Records and their work? And b.t.w., do you know anything about Hammerheart Productions from Korea?
- Hammerheart Records did a great job on the debut CD. No complaints. BUT, I hope we get paid soon. Their overdue on paying us, and I have been very patient. The band is becoming very impatient. But I trust those guys. I think they will pay us. I would like to stay on Hammerheart. They will release our second CD as well and I'd like to extend our contract beyond that if they are ok with it. The debut CD got alot of good reviews everywhere. Hammerheart Productions in Korea appears to have fallen off the face of the earth. Originally they were threatening Hammerheart Records about the use of the name. But HR told HP that they had more right to the name. After all, HR is in Netherlands (in Europe) and HP is in Korea. But since one is "Records" and one is "Productions" they agreed to stay with their names. Hammerheart Records (in Holland) is the one that survived. Hammerheart Productions was originally going to sign my solo-project INTO THE SUNLESS MERIDIAN, but they blew me off and never wrote me again. So instead I signed with Near Dark Productions (in Sweden) and the CD comes out in August. Hammerheart Productions did put out a few really great CDs, especially the POCCOLUS CD!
Aren't you going to resurrect BURIED BENEATH in time to come?
- No. Never. The BURIED BENEATH CD that came out recently is the last of it. The CD contains new versions of remixed songs from 1993 and 1994. It really sounds KILLER. Great production! Brutally atmospheric black death. I'm selling the CD for $10 (world). Over an hours worth of music, 8 page layout, lyrics etc. It came out great. But that closes that chapter in my life. It could've been better had our drummer been tighter and various other little things, but the CD is the definitive BB recording. I think it is definitley different from anything that came out of the USA at that time. But I'm glad it's dead. I am focused more on NIGHT CONQUERS DAY and the 4 solo-projects I have going (not to mention the project-band I'm in). I'm plenty busy with all of that.
Well, it's time for the last question - typical, but inevitable... I
mean your future plans and second CD. Once you said that it should be recorded this summer, therefore I'd like to know if you already
proceeded to record it... Will your second effort also be released by Hammerheart and what are the main differences between it and «The First Snowfall»?
- Yes Hammerheart Records will release the second CD. We'll start
recording in mid-to-late August and continue probably through Halloween(at the latest). The working title right now is "Rebellion Is The Art Of Survival". There is not too much difference in style, I think we still have our sound. It's just a bit more refined. Maybe more heavy / speed metal stuff is in there. But the songs are long and epic. Gregg and Justin have contributed to the songwriting and Gregg will do the drums so there will be slight changes but for the better in my opinion. The new songs are much stronger. They constantly bombard you. It's merciless.
Night Conquers Day, P.O. Box 174, North Greece, N.Y., 14515, USA.
Mega thanks for this killer interview!!!!!
MIKAEL July 14th, 1998.