Saturday, May 22, 2010

Interview: Antaeus

Whenever I search for information on your band on the internet, I seem to draw up a lot of sources, sites, etc. related to your band and label/distro. Yet I know that you personally don't believe or feel like Antaeus has been fairly represented in the world scene - that you haven't received the kind of promotion that you deserve. I know that you have personally put a large amount of work and money both into your band and label - what would it take for you to just cut your losses and quit the black metal scene? What makes you want to continue with your music and your support of a scene that sometimes seems to be so cold and undeserving of support itself? Why do you think the black metal scene has so many problems when it comes to an adequate distribution of the bands' music? Is it because of the people involved - their characters, their own personal problems, or is it something else? Has it always been like this? Is the black metal scene dying afterall?

Some could quote this question from the rip off mag Dark Blaze, 'is the war lost?', having this never ending question related to the scene & its values, whether the situation has changed or not since its beginning or since one's implication in it...
I recall starting real interest in the scene around 89/90, writing to bands, getting zines & so on. Always seeking something more appealing to me, thus more extreme, or at least having links with my own visions, the death/black metal scene seemed to have such values lying herein. I did invest myself for years, being active through zine publication, distribution, khaos spreading via diverse bands, I never lost interest since it was deeply Me shown there. With years passing by, problems arising (like dailyz billz, daily work, all those kind of thing that would suck your time & effort) did change a bit my visions, I started to see around how things would happen for others. I mean I never really did pay attention to enemies situation or whatever.
In the end, getting to compare those two situation did lead me to my decision to stop all. It's not needed to go on like this, it has no importance any longer, back then I wouldn't mind losing around 200/300 usd per month to promote bands or publications I would konsider as worth the attention for their contents & individuals involved, since I knew I was spreading the 'right wordz' about how it should be.
Now no one would care any longer. Getting rip offs, shit deals, complaints, loosers after your back...that is all I get.
I might get like 7 people supportive around us, like great brothers, but in the end, they are swallowed by the hundreds of shit talking backstabbers we have to deal with.
The black metal scene of today has lost most of its values. I would say that my bm scene is rather limited, only a few bands get into the category, all these norse bands doing sympho whatever ain't part of my vision. Mainstream goth/bm bands are like out of my world, I don't even understand why people keep on calling them black metal anyway. Itz not EVILution, itz more like degeneration. Getting it softened & accepted by masses. Unless masses did change the past years, of which I doubt...

About going on with music, well I just can't. As simple as that. I sadly am not a good guitarist, my skills are way too primitive & I lack the patience & time to practice, + all the equipment would be way too much for me. Since I am AntaeuS & that AntaeuS as a band cannot reh' due to money probs & also a total lack of interest on going on, I guess all is stopped. I won't have money nor envy to invest myself in another band, if AntaeuS was in such shit situation, I just won't believe in anything else. It wouldn't be me anyway. I have a few projects running, but nothing is for sure. Also it wouldn't be a real band with work behind it, more like a side project of other members on which I would lay vokalz.

As of now, AntaeuS is dead, we had this cd out on baphomet/necropolis. I have no idea of whether it is doing bad or really bad. All I could say is that I truly hate the sound on the recording & wish we had like a proper recording & not a live take in some hours. But that's all we could have done anyway. It's still the very best deal we ever got offered, so I wouldn't complain.
I am not surprised when I get to hear about how people say our cd is shit due to a lame recording, I guess some people would say it shouldn't have been recorded anyway.
I wouldn't know, I hail killjoy for this release, at least AntaeuS would have had a cd out since its beginning, which in itself sounds like 'unreal' since the French scene is hated everywhere & nearly no bands get signed outside of our own country.

The black metal scene is not dying, not to me, but the people who had invest too much got to die for it somehow, if you truly live the standards of the bmkult, then u cannot live a healthy life.
I wouldn't stand a normal life myself...
I breath black metal & I breath AntaeuS.

Even if the band is dead, I am still AntaeuS & I won't change my way of life & death.

I hate most of the people around today in the bm scene, too many people I would envy & sadly, I never wanted to envy anyone in the past, but now that is how it is.
I lost the real meaning I guess...
Too many problems did deviate me from the path, I spent much time on having to deal with shit money problems than being connected to what truly matters.

Sounds ridiculous to some, but if you consider that for the last three years, I had to only fuckin eat once a day to keep money aside for the band & rehearsal/mail/gigs...
It makes you feel different when u compare your situation with any other band around. (france, Europe at least, since I am not too familiar with conditions in the usa, around here, most bands get paid or at least get food + travel expenses paid back, we never had that ourselves, always got ripped off, even when headlining a guy with 350/400 people entering the venue, maybe we would get 3 beers & 10 usd or something like that...)

Antaeus has an original sound - a sort of modernization of the raw and chaotic sound of earlier French black metal bands like Mutiilation, Vlad Tepes, etc. While you play in a very brutal, turbulent, scathing style, you also have very strictly defined song structures: a lot like the older death metal bands in approach, where your music always seems like it's just about to close its focus and spin out of control, but it never really does...do you think this comes from the influence death metal or grindcore bands have had on you? Is there a 'perfect' form of a black metal sound - a style that you think black metal should be played in, a style that should be supported above all others? Or is just a matter of personal choice? Is there a direction that you think black metal bands should be headed in now that the 'popular' black metal scene has started to crumble? Should black metal bands go back to an earlier, more stormier style - to reflect the resurgence of all-out hatred and war in black metal aesthetics?

I guess that Set & I are deeply connected to any kind of extreme underground bands, I like sick death metal & some grindcore bands, not too much to be honest, I truly hate the socially involved lyrics & so on, but I wouldn't mind the splatter gore ones, depends on how it looks, sickness is anywhere...
Yes, the production on the cd doesn't allow the guitars to be well perceived, but there is definitely work behind all our tracks, I guess you would hear more in the last two eps releases of the band, since we autoproduced them for some split ep, one with necrophagia & one on my own label.
This is the production I wish we had. Violent, raw, insane, fast, cruel sounding, its like really sharp & u get to hear all that is happening for once. It is like a real studio recording where we had like time for once, we had 8 hours to record 2 songs, which was killer.
I had a talk lately with the singer from a French band signed on osmose, & he was like amazed about our recording conditions, telling me he used a full week to record his album, just for the vocals.
Well, I guess that our worlds are different, around antaeus, there is only my cash involved, & I don't get much from my job, so obviously since the others in the band don't even put like a fuckin cents (in), thatz the best we can get. I don't think we would either enjoy spending weeks for a recording, that would piss me off & that would erase the spontaneous attack, it would be like recording a fast attack over days & days...
I am more for straight forward recording if the studio allows it. But they would prefer separate tracks recording for obvious reasons, + studios doing proper live recording are also dead expensive anyway.
The perfect sounding in black metal would be a mix between dark throne, blasphemy & beherit, having the audio violence of Sadistik Exekution & the sickness of Deadz vocals.
That might be our sound somehow, yez, being also on the edge of Khaos. Psychotik riffingz & my vokalz not being 'musically entertaining' (referring to a review I had).
About how a band should sound 'nowadays' on the opposition of the rising mainstream scene...
Uhm I guess it is up to any band to have their REAL true sound, get katharsis from germany, their sound is theirs, it is like fucked up & insane, I truly hail them, a killer band for sure, their lp on sombre records is a must, I wish we would have done a split with them. Thornspawn from the usa have a great recording sound, maybe too soft on some parts or too clean, but it suits them totally & their cd fuckin kills. Their last track 'throne...' is like one of my black metal anthem you know, this drumming & sick vokalz + warlike riffing are like making me want to smash someone.
Thatz the point, feeling something, getting the aura.
Demoncy is also from the usa but their sound is like nothing compared to thornspawn, more like a profanatica alike recording, very fucked up & raw, and all their recordings are amazing to me, from the faustian dawn cd on so it is done to the one on baphomet, this band rules.
US has a lot of great bands in that vein you know, from fucked up khaos inspired Krieg to the furious Bloodstorm, the list would go endless there, your scene gets more support from me than some European country would ever get my attention for their supposed to be scene.
For those familiar with the whole SHADOW records kamp in Sweden, bands like FUNERAL MIST, OFERMOD, MALIGN, TRIUMPHATOR are like sickness incarnated. Those bands reign supreme, this is the black metal scene I hail...
Now I wouldn't spend time on the rest.

Your vocals are also original...I haven't really heard any other vocalists that sound like you, where you mix different style of expression into one distinct form of 'blitzkrieg' singing that seeks to match the sound of the guitars, or the rest of the music. For the most part it's like a constant vocal wipeout, and you are screaming at the top of your lungs - as if to be heard above the instruments...almost like a live sound, the way that you would be heard playing a show. Is this intentional? Does Antaeus record everything in a live situation, or do you go back and do all kinds of overdubs? Are the vocals recorded separately? You also seem to mix different kinds of vocal sounds in with the 'black metal' shrieks and screams: lower singing, death grunts, commands, etc. Is this all just natural and what you think fits in best with the music, or do you have a definite idea of how black metal vocals should now evolve - a plan, of sorts, for influencing other bands?

As said earlier, it is actually a live recording & I never got any return amp or anything, so I always basically push the vocals to the max, but they get reduced in the mix so it sounds sometimes weird to me, but anyway the perfekt vokal recording for me will be on the next releases. For the cd release, I had to do all vocals in less than 30 minutes again at the end with like the second guitars, since the room was too small, we had the live recording done in the raw for two members each time...
Kinda weird recording you might say.
There is nearly no effect on this, maybe some reverb or whatever...I didn't know, we plugged & performed.
Live wise, we always had very bad conditions so I wouldn't know how a good live (sound) would be.
Some sick tapetraders (video) in the usa have ntsc version of our gig, HATEWAR prod has some, you should kontakt him, he's a real underground freak. Alex from THORNSPAWN also owns the video from the drakkar fest we did last year. For those interested, I'm pretty sure a trade could be worked out.

Getting back to the mix of vokalz, yes it is done intentional, even on the last recording where for once I had like 15 minutes just for me!!! to record vokalz in the studio, I had just the time to do two separate live takes, one for the 'low death metal alike' vokalz & commands (right word u used) & the other one with the screams & black metal 'generic shrieks' done my way.

Those different vocals style are mostly linked to the lyrics & the reflections of me that would handle some part, it would all depend on the word used & the effect needed.

Being a huge fan of Blasphemy & early MayheM, those raw dirty vokalz are like totally my thing, I must say I am not too fond of some of the girlie screams in some black metal bands, it should be pain, real pain & not pussy screaming!

Can you give a little synopsis/listing of exactly what material is on Cut Your Flesh and Worship Satan? That is: where the material comes from in the history of Antaeus, how old the songs are and if they still reflect where the band is, stylistically? Are the band members that are listed on the CYFAWS booklet still in the band? Does Antaeus have a hard time keeping people to work with on a consistent basis? If so, why?

Aktually CYFAWS is like a gathering of only old tracks that we never had the chance to give proper sounding in a studio...
We played them live since the beginning or so...
Only specimen 23 & Nihil Khaos were like two years old, the most recent one then...
All the others are taken from the demos, first demo & split with eternal majesty.
The very first part of the cd is actually the mcd 'promo 2000 - 1'. Then we did add the recording we did for baphomet with the budget we had & a live track to bury one old track that didn't get much of my attention back then, but since we did speed that one up at a fuckin gig around here, I thought it was the right time to get over this one, like having it as a funeral track on the cd. 'daemon' won't ever be performed again, that was our decision at the gig & since some people would recall the version put on some shit compil cd 'encyclopedia pestilencia' done by rip for good VMI prod from franceŠI guess this would bury the first recording.

Band wise, AntaeuS is no more for now.
All band members on the recording were the very best line up we would have ever had.
Sagoth & Thorgon are more active in their own band now, Eternal Majesty, since they had signed a cd deal and will have a split lp out with temple of baal in mid march 2001 via END ALL LIFE prod.
Get this fuckin release, it will be a must have for sure! totally sick black metal.
My drummer is more focusing on his other bands, SCD & Arkhon Infaustus Also since arkhon infaustus signed on osmose, I guess it is normal for him to drop a band like antaeus & our shit situation while he can work more seriously with arkhon infaustus.
Set is maybe the only one with me complaining about the death of antaeus, he did write some tracks, he focuses on SCD & his others bands, but since he has like studio booked for his various bands, he has more work to spend on the rest.
They all got pretty decent deals & get support from gigs & sales in general. Maybe arkhon infaustus will be the bigger band & might get some cash back, while the others don't get anything, but they don't lose either, while AntaeuS is only a vortex of cash & never getting anything back.

Then you might ask if I could find other members to be involved & maybe sharing costs with me...
Then I would say no.
We had so many members in the band, + I'm a total asshole to people, I'm really hard to get along (with) in real life, I guess many people truly hate my gutz & It's fine, since I hate them all anyway.
Also to me, Set is like the most important member of AntaeuS with me, I am the koncept, lyrikz, vokalz & frontman while he is all musik & sickness.

Tell us about your label and distribution efforts - what goes into the Spikekult project on an everyday basis, and how difficult it is to maintain an underground distro. when there are so many problems working with others in the scene. I have read other interviews with you where you are complaining about the lack of support in the underground - what exactly would you change? What would you like to see happen in the underground - how can the little labels and distros help each other? Is there anything the bands can do? Does it all just come down to money problems? Has Antaeus or Spikekult ever had any problems with the police or religious authorities because of your imagery/propaganda/music?

Well SPK is no longer, at least no longer me.
Julie (andrasta666@aol.com) did take kontrol, I am still there a lot, but not as much as before. She has more of a distant approach than me, actually she would be more like how I should have behaved...
She doesn't mind telling people to fuck off, while I had hope in some labels & distributors you know. We've been ripped off way too many times.
Let's take as an example (not the worst, yet the usual situation with our releases):
Arkhon Infaustus (fra) ep was out on spk...
500 copies were done. 180 copies were ripped off from distributors, labels, & various people...
so if u consider the printing cost, the shipping cost & the copies for the band, we lost around 200/300 usd on this one.
That might be nothing for some, it is a dead lot for me. Also no one would care, actually putting fuckin ep(s) out lately is like insane, all people think its cheaper than cds, fuckin now, it did cost me like 3.5 usd per copy...
So sellin it (for) 5 usd hand by hand & 6 usd shippin, with the shit shippin cost & the rest, I never got anything back, also we had shit trades with labels, they did promise us stuff & in the end we got like their very shitty releases, like the stuff we wished to avoid...
I even had to sell some cds for 3 usd since no one would ever get those & I hate to have shit in my distribution shit...
I always had but fuck I won't have any longer, we made that clear with Julie, she won't accept shit trades with stuff we wouldn't support.
Labels & distros cannot help each other unless they know each other...
I hail END ALL LIFE, SHADOW records & BAPHOMET, they all are very supportive. But I guess that is all.
The biggest rip off I had lately was IRON PEGASUS records germany, run by costa stoios.
He seemed like a cool guy, involved & so on, maybe too busy with his stuff, I did recall (remind?) him a few times about our trade since he got all my shit, it's been months now & I don't expect anything from him any longer, he did rip off a few others as well.
Dark Blaze from Poland is also a fine rip off, I even had some rip offs in france with distro known from you Americans...
Belgium too, germany, England...well I only had shit problems anyway.

Money is one problem for sure, then rock star attitude is another.
Fuck when I get to see stuff on ebay selling for so much cash, it is like ridiculous you know.
Also I like sombre records a lot, but man, their prices are like amazing, he's cashing on the real ug freaks...
Like who fuckin knowz katharsis anyway??? Itz like underground to the core, same for moonblood, but his prices are so high. Like No Colours also...well I always thought that u should make the difference between the releases u put out & the price you put on them.

Maybe that was the reason why I lost this much money.
But when some morons come (to us) at gigs to buy stuff from our tables (when we get a place to sell), & they complain about a demo bein sold for 3 usd, I mean, fuck him. I know he can get a like a mag + a free cd of shit mainstream stuff each month for nearly the same price in france...this pisses me off.

Tell me, as well as you can, why the following concepts are so important in black metal, why they are so beautifully integral, and why you think their meanings should be displayed or explored (i.e., why they just belong in black metal):

The Worship of Death (le culte de la mort?):

I sense some French basis in you, am I wrong?
This is totally linked to my definition of Black Metal.
In general, Death is portrayed as negative & opposite to the gift of god.
Itz vision gets attractive to me, all the imagery linked to it via art in the past centuries would get my attention & respect. Very inspiring, very attractive. Deadly seducing...

Chaos (le maelstrom, le bruit de l'ouragan?):

Add a K to make it sound stronger...
My world is Khaos, it goes like a vortex where I could lose myself...
Where I will loose myself...
I'm low on energy lately.

Darkness (obscurité, brouillard, nuit?):

Providing my fuel.
Would sound cliché but It would be needed to provide me the rest & pleasure I seek sometimes.

Suicide (massacrer vous-même?):

Always had that in mind but feel like someone else might konsider killin me...

I would suizid if I was sure there were no other option & all completed...
As of now, I would rather see murder in the first case.
My anger hasn't turn into despair yet.

Violence, blood-letting (meurtre, détruisant?):

It would be like the daily problem, like self destructive violence, or making sure to endanger yer own goods or even getting to destroy someone's health or hope...
Thatz part of my world.

I've seen recently here, on various television channels, little documentaries or movies on 'cutting' - self-mutilation, and supposedly what it 'means to be a cutter', i.e., what the journalists say people are 'trying to express' by cutting themselves. Why do you think that self-mutilation is finally getting 'popular' or that people are finally taking a look at it? What does cutting mean to you, then? Why do it? Why cut one's self when it so much more satisfying to cut someone else? I have my own answers to these questions, but I want to know what you think...is it catharsis? A freeing of excess energy and adrenaline? Is it something else entirely?

Being honest with you, I never paid attention to anyone that would perform the same thing as me nor ask for his motivations.
This would be a question of desire & personal matters.
I've never seen anything or any book about such, apart from the usual tattoo mag that would consider it as 'art', which could be a way to view it.
Having it 'popular'? I never even considered that point.
Cutting would mean having breaches in the shell, showing what truly lies behind.
Performing cutting on oneself is different than on someone else, it wouldn't provide the same satisfaction.
Sex wise, it would be like masturbating someone instead of yourself...if that gets u off, perfekt.
Katharsis, uhmmmm maybe not.
The cuts ain't done on particular specific basis, it is more like spontaneous, maybe not like to (vent) excess energy nor adrenaline, maybe to some need or else to create a question in which u wouldn't need an answer.
Rejecting blood is also a pleasurable sight I must admit.
99% of the time, I would do it on my own & would wear shirtz or longsleeves to avoid anyone noticing cuts for a while or burns.
Right now I would be more into burning, healing currently 25 burns on my body.

Can you tell me a little about the history of black metal in France - who were the first French black metal bands, the 'most important' bands through the years, etc.? Are there any bands right now that sing in French instead of English? Is it difficult for Antaeus or the other bands to find places to play? Is there a part of the country where black metal is more popular (more bands, etc.) than other places? What groups do you think are/were the biggest influences on the French black metal scene, past and present?

Black metal in france...well I guess that Osmose prod did manage to be pioneers when it comes to such matters, producing profanatica, early immortal, getting dsp stuff around & various south American akt upfront. Most important bands must have been the 'black legions' black metal wise, or akt like early gorgon, maleficum orgia, stregoica & so on. The French scene was rather active in 94/95, but most of them did wimp out to become goth or normal formatted people...
I wouldn't give (that) much attention.
Bands like Mutiilation are still there, Osculum Infame & Bekhira as well, though the members might be more active in other formations...
Smaller underground labels like drakkar, end all life, spikekult did also push maybe more demo bands to rise, well anyway the scene is pretty wide, too many norsk alike & pagan band for my taste.
Many bands sing in French & the NSBM scene is rather important I would say, but music wise, the NSBM has always been very mainstream alike, most of these bands sound like dimmu borgir or cof...full of synths, only lyrics would change maybe.
Finding 'gigs' wouldn't be too hard, but getting a decent one is impossible or so.
Unless you are like closed to those setting up gigs, then you could even get some cash back.
Paris is a shit place for gigs, the venues are ok & the crowd would be there, filled with fucked up maniacs as well as poseurs, anything is possible around here, from the best audience to the worst ever.
But even if you bring around 300 people as headliner for a show, the band would never get shit, no gas expense, no beer, nothing...
That would be the usual conditions for us, but we know that bands like celestia, count nosferatu & others do get way better support & opportunities.
Doing a gig would cost me more than actually going to see one. That is the reason why I would avoid any gigs around here.
Also opening for bigger acts is like a total shit situation, I even had to pay my fuckin ticket when we opened for Impaled Nazarene...
About location? Well (the) Parisian area would get all my interest, the south of france is mostly composed of melodic bm bands like full of synths like these NSBM bands I already referred to.
Up north, there are like no bands or such, & u have the lost in nowhere individualz doing killer one man bands, sticking to demo tapes limited to 14 copies...the usual ug thing.
Biggest bands?
Well the most known would be: belketre, vlad tepes, blut aus nord, osculum infame, torgeist, mutiilation, seth...
But then again, I wouldn't care much myself. I only connect to SPK related akt & some others, the rest of the French scene is like a waste of time maybe.

Something else I wanted to ask you: I know that you have very strong convictions concerning the 'purity' of the black metal scene and the way that black metal bands should play...do you think black metal is just a 'musical style' now, or is still something completely different - a way of life, a philosophy and series of beliefs? Why do you think people ultimately end up leaving black metal or changing their musical and social beliefs away from black metal's extremity? Is it just too difficult for most people to stay 'true' to black metal's aesthetics and convictions for a long period of time? Is black metal ultimately self-destructive?

It has for sure lost of its original meaning, or else its effectz on people.
I wouldn't blame the fact that it would reach more people, as long as it would have remained dirty & ugly & disturbing...but now, all got softened, like formatted to fit the media & so on, being aggressive but not too much, with a polished sound...
I stick on my basis, I view it as a way of life & death, it applyz to me everyday every second, I do breath it.
Most people would end up leaving bm in view to have less problems around themselves.
When all you gather is negativity & hate, it might be hard to remain purveyor of the stream & not the victim. After some years, I would admit I would have drowned in my own hate spilling, lost myself a few times there, but got reborn like (a) Phoenix.
Some people would suicide, others would drastically change, other would minimize their role in view to stick to their image but not go deeper...
Black metal is destructive, for those who truly follow the path: they know what I mean.
For we follow His path & spread our aura around us.
We perform for the like minded, making sure that dark art is still around, fitting our commun aesthetics.
Music is only a minor art, the concept would enhance the whole.
Black metal is a whole then.

I want to thank you for doing this interview. Please feel free to add anything else here that you would like our readers to see.

Hailz to thee for the support & place given...
Hailz to our brotherz & like minded individualz...
You are the scene...
The rest, we fuckin hope you die.