Because your band is not as well known as some of the others we have featured in our magazine, will you please give a short history of your musical interests and explain how you came to form Fallen Empire? What led up to the creation of this kind of music? Who are the various members of the band and what are their backgrounds?
Fallen Empire is....Lord Hellspawn-Vocals, Guitars; Tora-Bass; Dragonphir-Drums; Nazareth-Guitars; and Valkyr-Keyboards.
Lord Hellspawn, Tora, and Dragonphir came together with one common dream 4 1/2 years ago. Unfortunately, their direction was warped by drugs and immaturities, but as fate would have it, they reunited. Dragonphir introduced Tora and Hellspawn to Black Metal. Satyricon, Nemesis Divina, was the first taste of Black Metal that would forever seal their fate. Nazareth joined FE in November of 1998 as the keyboardist. In July 1999 their debut MCD "Shadows" was released. After playing November to Dismember in San Antonio, Valkyr joined Fallen Empire to play keyboards allowing Nazareth to play guitars, adding a second guitar to give FE a powerful and more complete sound. Being new to black metal, FE has many varied influences: Slayer, Black Sabbath, Morbid Angel, Testament, Overkill, Iced Earth, Satyricon, Arcturus, Covenant, Emperor, Dimmu Borgir, etc...a few of us even like classical music.
What personal experiences in your life led you to the black metal scene? Do you remember the first black metal band you ever heard? What attracts you to this style of music? What experiences keep you in the scene or keep you interested in this form of music?
Lord Hellspawn and Tora lost all direction in their pursuit of the ultimate release. When Dragonphir showed them Black Metal, they found it again. The aggression and mysterious atmosphere of BM had been flowing in their veins all along. Black Metal gives this feeling of journeying through history. It has the ability to portray whatever it desires: various battles, days where the Vikings were feared, when Elizabeth Bathory was at her peak of power, the very depths of hell. Most musicians in the underground BM scene are respectful of each other because we all have the same goal and that is to keep the black flame burning strong, that is the biggest thing that keeps us in the scene.
And now the obligatory question: what do you think of the American black metal scene? How does it measure up to other national scenes around the world? What is different about it, and what do you feel is responsible for these differences? Do you think that different nations and their respective characters can be heard in a band's music - do you think there are elements to each nation's scene that are original and can be isolated and examined? Are there any other American black metal bands that you admire? If so, why?
It seems to be a curse that when Americans are exposed to something new they feel they have to e negative and accuse everybody else of "jumping on the bandwagon." It is the same with every band in the underground; those who are true to what they are doing will endure, those who are not will be devoured. U.S. Black Metal is started to gain credibility and respect in the underground scene with bands such as Khisanth, Thornspawn, Of the Fallen, Averse Sefira, and of course Absu. These bands to us have shown their endurance and talent in the U.S. scene. U.S. Black Metal has its own style, yet it is still identifiable with the roots: Bathory, Venom, Mayhem, etc. Admittedly, our favorite BM bands are from the eastern hemisphere. There are differences between European & U.S. Black Metal because Europe is the homeland. Europeans and Americans have very contrasting lives and situations. Europeans have deep roots in their countries and a long history that has shaped the way they think. The U.S. has only been a country for over 200 years. The U.S. is still in its adolescence and it is learning by trying new things. You can hear one's culture in their music. We believe that is why there is such a wide spectrum of black metal bands. If you take time to observe the many cultures all over the world you can understand the many differences in black metal.
What is it like being in a black metal band in Arkansas? Do you face a great deal of opposition from people around you? Do you find it difficult to be taken seriously because of where you live? Why do you think people always put such a precedence on the location and/or nationality of a band? Does it really matter? Do you think there are recognizable differences in American bands depending on where they're from?
My impulse response to this question was: it sucks being a black metal band in Arkansas. That is the easy way out, however. We are working very hard to expose people to Black Metal and Death Metal alike, because neither really have a scene here. We attribute the fact that we are new to Black Metal to where we live. Nobody knows what it is! One would be surprised to find Arkansas' largest metal section in the Hasting's where we live, that does give us some hope, though. At first we got teased for being from Arkansas, but not so much anymore, people don't care where you're from when they like your music. People are obsessed with race, color, creed, religion, and pretty much anything they may have the opportunity to make fun of or hate. We give respect to those who deserve respect no matter where they're from. It's difficult to pinpoint regional differences in U.S. metal. Americe is too young to have defined regional differences. If you listen close enough you may be able to detect differences, but the bands are so scattered all over the place that you can't really distinguish characteristics.
What are you trying to express through your music? Are there any certain themes or messages that you find yourself returning to again and again? Does your music serve a definable purpose in your life outside of its power as an obsession? How does it make you feel to write and compose music? If your band plays live, how does it affect you to air your music in front of others?
Most of our lyrics are fantasy based. They are essentially fictitious stories. The message that we wish to convey through our music is that we are all in control of our own destinies. We don't have to be slaves to what others tell us we should believe, it is our own choice. Music, to all of us, is a release of the frustrations and anger that is in everyone. Basically, writing music, performing live, every aspect of being Fallen Empire keeps us from completely going insane (we're all on our way.)
The response to "Shadows" has been mostly positive. We're pleased thus far. The most recurring comment is about the cover art. I think we were a bit overzealous about getting the debut out and as a consequence a hasty decision was made. It is a lesson learned and it will be heeded in the future. We haven't found that black metal fans have a hard time understanding us. Here in Little Rock, Arkansas the response has been mildly entertaining to us. I don't think people knew what hit them, we got a lot of wide eyes and dropped jaws. We do take constructive criticism into consideration. We definitely want to present our best to others. Music, as any type of art, is subjective, so we write what we would like to hear regardless of opinions.
What are your goals with this band? How far do you wish to take Fallen Empire? What are your plans for gaining more exposure or a greater presence in the scene?
Our Goal: Global Domination!!!!
We've only been together for a little over a year and have busted our asses to get the debut CD out and get as much coverage as possible. We plan on continuing to send "Shadows" to 'zines & such and play as many shows as possible. We plan on participating in Milwaukee Metalfest in July of this year. The key to our exposure right now is the support of 'zines & distros.
What direction do you see your music following in the immediate future? What elements do you wish to include in future releases or the in music that you compose from now on? Is there something in particular that you feel you have to add, something that Fallen Empire now lacks? How will Fallen Empire evolve?
Fallen Empire has made some major changes recently. Nazareth, who was on synthesizers is now playing guitars full time and FE's manager Kirsten, now hailed as Valkyr, has assumed the keyboard position. We feel this change adds flexibility and power to our live show. The only thing you will see different in our future releases are more matured musicians and intensified power.
Do you think it is really possible to portray true 'mystery' or the occult in black metal music? How is this done, outside of the lyrics? How do you go about creating 'occult' atmospheres within the music? Is it just something that you just follow instinctively, or is there a sure method for such compositions?
Black Metal was born from occultist beliefs and mystery. Fallen Empire represents the darkness that is in all of us. We convey this not only through lyrics, but the emotion of the music itself, with powerful guitars and drums, and haunting keyboards. We are fearless and godless and carry ourselves in that manner.
How important do you think are lyrics to your music? How much work do you put into your lyrics - what is your approach to writing them? Are there any writers that you feel have been particularly inspiring to you? In what way?
Of course lyrics are important, it is vital to what we represent. Each band member has contributed lyrics. Most are fictitious fantasy. We pretty much write lyrics here and there when we are inspired to do so. As far as particular authors it's a bit difficult to pinpoint. We all are attracted to dark subject matter when it comes to literature.
Lastly, when can we expect the next Fallen Empire release? Please take the space here to include any extra information you would like to add...
Fallen Empire will start working on a new release probably towards the end of 2000. We want to take our time and release our best. We'll be perfecting the line-up change and new songs as well as continuing to circulate our debut MCD "Shadows."
Thanks to Erebus Webzine for the great interview. We definitely love the opportunity to share our thoughts with others.
Keep the Black Flame burning!