Saturday, May 22, 2010

Interview: Fog

Reading your bio - or the one WWIII has up on their site for you - it says that what we now know as Fog actually started in '96 with just two members, and didn't really become solid or completely consolidated until '99 - why so long? Was it just the case of trying to find the perfect members for the band, people that you would want to stay with for a long period of time, or was it really that difficult to find musicians around you who could dial in precisely to what you wanted in your band? During that period I imagine there must have been a lot of people wandering around this country looking for a good black metal band to be a part you think it might have had something to do with where you are located? Why did you change the original name of the band?

The band had a full line up of members from the beginning, but two of the original members left within the first year to pursue other interests. By the end of the year these two left, we had the line up that is now FOG. We then rehearsed and wrote material on a constant basis. We did not want to record too quickly, as we were focusing on learning each other's styles and trying to find what is now the FOG sound.

The departure of both earlier members happened within a very short time frame. Luathca joined the same week Golanthrium left, Luathca played the material as if he had been in the band from the beginning. He is quite an impressive bass player. As for Atziluth, Tophetarath met him at a local music store a few months after Conqueror Crimson departed the band. Tophetarath found that Atziluth had very similar philosophies, he rehearsed with us and the rest is history.

Since there was a line up change and the music took on a new dimension with the addition of Luathca and Atziluth, we decided the band needed a new name that would be more fitting to the new direction of the music.

I'll be honest, one of the reasons I admire your band is that you have been, so far as I know, something of a low-key entity, not really seeking out publicity or not sharing directly in all of the soap opera politics of the American black metal scene. Fog, for whatever reason, just seems to stay close to its own goals, and doesn't become involved in controversies - unlike some of the less savory musical collectives from these shores. Is this a result of your experience with the metal scene over the years? Or am I completely misinterpreting your efforts, and is it just that Fog has not been given the coverage you think it deserves?

You are right with your assumption. We choose to separate ourselves from the ongoing "soap opera politics" as you mention. We will speak our opinion when it is asked for, and we will give you just that, our honest opinion. To FOG the music is the most important aspect, so we choose to let this do the talking! (No gimmicks or image!)
As for the "Scene" we choose to keep our distance. There is a big problem with "Shit Talking" over here. Our movement needs unity! Unfortunately, many see each others bands as competition or through jealous eyes, thus the "Shit Talking" begins. So we choose to stand apart from the "Circle" of US bands.

One of the things that I HAVE read about in interviews you have done before is that you refuse to wear corpse paint at all anymore - if you ever did - and this has, ironically, made you stand out and gain attention for just refusing to construct an image that has become in itself a massive stereotype. It's a strange turn of events when a metal band gets attention for not conforming in this way, isn't it? Why do you think people get so hung up on these kinds of things - these minute details of image - when there is so much more to talk about - about your music, etc.? Why do you think image so important to people? And related to this, do you tend to discount, in your mind, new bands that come to the forefront of the scene that have elaborate ideas about their own image? Would you rather just see everyone concentrate on their music? Some people in the black metal scene can't seem to separate the two ideas in their head...the image always has to go with the music...comments?

FOG has never, nor will we ever wear "corpse paint". To us, this has always been a European thing. We have always wanted the music of FOG to make the first impression on the listener, not a "Sterotypical Image or Gimmick". There are some bands that do use "corpse paint" in an effective and intelligent manner, and we do have respect for some. But for FOG, this was never an option.

Our opinion on why people get stuck on an image first idealism, to us basically it is widespread ignorance, and for some, the lack of talent. I will give all new bands an open ear, image or not. So honestly, this does not really effect my judgement of the music when I am the listener. If they suck, well they suck "Corpse Paint" "Gimmick" "Image" or not.

I have to ask you about this: who in the band is a Robert Howard fan? I only ask this because of the title of the song 'By This Axe We Rule', which is a paraphrase of the Howard character King Kull's famous declaration of might...if this didn't come from reading Howard, what inspired you to name the song this way? I only have the promo form of your album here (note to self: buy Fog record immediately), so I can't read the lyrics...

We have have been influenced by many authors lyrically for FOG. Robert Howard, Brian Lumley, Alister Crowley, Anton Levay, Edgar Allen Poe, H.P. Lovecraft... These are the most well known writers of influence to mention.

As for the song "By This Axe We Rule" you are right, this was influenced by the Howard character King Kull. Whom was a very brutal and violent ruler in his world. He ruled with an Iron Fist, and this is exactly what the song portrays.

Many things dark and evil influence our creativity.

I just interviewed Tom Stevens from the band Nokturnel, and he mentioned that Typhus was in a few bands with him earlier - Morpheus Descends (which is a well known one) - and a couple of lesser known entities, but these bands were, as far as I can tell, all death metal rather than black, even though Morpheus always had elements in it that made it sound at times related to the melodicism of the early black metal bands. Now this is going pretty far back, but why did you decide at a certain point to form a black metal band instead of another death metal group? Fog brings in all kinds of different elements into their songs, but they are for the most part straight forward Scandinavian-influenced black metal. However, I think what completely separates you from the rest of the scene in this country is the power behind your rhythm section and the weight of your riffing, which is obviously from a death background. Was there just a time when you became more interested in black metal, or did you look at the way the scene was turning and decided that death metal wouldn't be accepted as easily as this new form of black?

I did play in MORPHEUS DESCENDS with Tom. As you mentioned this was death metal with black melodic influence, we were always interested in and following the European black metal movement, we were all fans of many black metal bands. So obviously this had an influence in the writing style of MORPHUES DESCENDS. If you remember, JL America the label that released the first MORPHEUS DESCENDS album, also was the first label to release BLASPHEMY, BEHERIT, IMMORTAL, IMPALED NAZARENE, ACHERON... upon American Shores. So we have always been influenced by and worked with black death metal bands. Tom, Rob and I also had a project back in 94-95 called EXILE, this was fast straight forward black metal. I recorded one track with the band and helped in the writing of a few songs. After I left to return to the midwest, the band finnished writing and recording the album. Which I will release sometime soon on Dark Horizon Records.

As for the formation of FOG, it was just a natural progression in my writing style that has evolved over the years. When FOG was formed we all had a vision of what we wanted to do musically. That was to incorporate many influences and styles. As you mentioned, if you listen closely to our album you will hear just that, many different influences. I would not say FOG is strictly a black metal band, because we do have roots in both death and black metal. When we formed FOG and when we are writing FOG's music we never have, nor will we ever consider the "Acceptance" of our music. We write what is from our blackened hearts, it is for us first! We play what we want and like to hear, that is it.

Getting off the subject a bit, I might as well ask you this question here - can you give us a short little history of Morpheus Descends as well, and tell us what releases were put out over the years, and what eventually happened to this band? All I remember about that group is a release that was somehow connected in my mind with the early Suffocation material, and then a Seraphic Decay 7" that may or may not have ever come this is going all the way back to when I was in high school in the early '90s. It might have been the 'Ritual of Infinity' album, which I believe was released in '92, that I heard. How did this band relate to your later involvement with Incantation? What is the status of Morpheus Descends now? Is there any way people who are interested can find this band's recordings - through your label perhaps?

I played in MORPHEUS DESCENDS for two recordings. If I remember right there were a couple of demos, and then the "ADIPOCERE" double 7" EP that was released on PS Records. Then JL America released the "RITUAL OF INFINITY" CD. After this, came the two releases I was a part of, "CHRONICLES OF THE SHADOWED ONES" MCD and the "HORROR OF THE TRUTH" MCD. All of these titles were recorded and released in the early 90's. After the band split up in 96, Rob and Tom joined INCANTATION, while also finnishing the EXILE recording. I returned to Indiana to focus on FOG and Dark Horizon Records. MORPHEUS DESCENDS is still on ice, there has been some talk of reformation for some shows. But, who really knows!! If anyone is interested in obtaining "CHRONICLES OF THE SHADOWED ONES" MCD and or "HORROR OF THE TRUTH" MCD they are both still available through the Dark Horizon Mail Order. Truly classic releases!!

Speaking of your label, Dark Horizon Records, can you tell us how long it has been in operation and what some of your most notable releases have been? It's mostly known to me, I believe, for being the place where Black Witchery first popped into my consciousness, although I think they were still called Witchery back then. You've released the work of some interesting bands...what were your first motivations for forming a label, and how difficult has it been over the years to keep it together?

Dark Horizon Records has been operational now for over 5 years! We now have 12 releases on our label, quite a few of which are sold out now. I think every release deserves some mention, so below I have listed every Dark Horizon Release. As for our motivation, we started Dark Horizon Records to release bands we feel deserve our support and respect, and to spread our philosophies in the way we see fit. We have no desire to sell millions of records. That is why to this day Dark Horizon still has no major distributors. We spread our propaganda ourself through our underground networks. We just want to support cult bands with cult philosophies. I think we have been sucessful with this. Look at our roster and ask our bands about our honest and sincere support and respect!! The music and bands are most important and shall always be. It was rough at the beginning, but with each release, came more respect from abroad, and now things are well. We appreciate the support from all the bands and followers who continue to support Dark Horizon releases and our philosophies. HAIL TO YOU!


All right, let's talk about your debut album now, 'Through The Eyes of Night...Winged They Come' - how old are the songs on this release? Were they written especially for it or are they taken from earlier sessions or recordings as well? This is the first time I have ever heard your band, I was never able to track down anything prior to you have what I am guessing must be a very wide distribution courtesy of your new label. How has the response to the album been so far? Are you satisfied with the way it has been accepted and interpreted? What were the terms of your contract with WWIII - I mean, how many albums are you required to do for them? Is it possible we will see a new Fog release in the near future?

The songs on "THROUGH THE EYES OF NIGHT..." are material that was written from the beginning as well as material that was written as recently as a couple of months before the recording of this album. Before this album was released we had one demo and a 7" EP (split with HORNA). Our demo is long out of stock and of course will never be reissued or released on anything. The same goes for the 7" EP. The response to "THROUGH THE EYES OF NIGHT..." has been excellent. For the most part, I think the interpretation and acceptance by the followers of Dark / Black / Death metal has been excellent. It seems we have gained much respect within the worldwide "scene" from this album. In our opinion and many others, or so we have read in reviews, the music of FOG speaks well for itself, and as mentioned earlier this is the most important thing to FOG (the music). So, we feel those who have sought out and really listened to our music, should and or will agree. This is why we have gained so much respect from the "scene" in our opinion.

We signed to WWIII for one album, with the option of others depending on a current agreement between the band and the label at the point in time of the materials completion. WWIII have already offered to release our second album and we are in the negotiation process at the moment. If all goes as planned the second album will be out before the end of this year. After a few delays, we will enter the studio to record 9 new songs for this in June and or July. FOG just finnished recording two songs for our new 7" EP "FROM WITHIN THE DARKNESS BEYOND ETERNITY" coming out on Dark Horizon Records in May 2002.

The entire black metal scene, across the world, seems to be going through climactic changes over the last two years, with many of the Norwegians succumbing to boredom and changing their sound drastically, to the rise of Eastern European groups which have brought a new energy and sense of melody to the style...the American scene, however, has always just seemed to stay at a constant pace, never gaining too much attention - to the point where it becomes impossible to ignore - but also never completely going away either. Why do you think the entire Scandinavian scene was so influential on our own music over here? Many bands try to ignore it, and some also have tried to turn completely against it and claim that they aren't influenced in any way at all by what the Norwegians or, to a lesser extent, the Swedish, were doing, but still it remains in that if it isn't something that is embraced is must be fought against - either way it can't be ignored. Why was the melodicism, the entire focus and sound of these groups, so influential? What did they have that bands from other countries didn't?

It seems the Europeans are more eager and open to musical or artistic experimentation, that is it. Unfortunately, the whole music scene is very fickle. Here today gone tomorrow. For some reason the underground metal movement must always have something to fight and embrace at the same time, And most of the time the thing to fight against is something that was cool to be into just a few months earlier. It has always been this way. This brings constant change and with this new and fresh ideas!

The problem with American bands in our opinion, is the fear or lack of desire to experiment, and or to expand on their sound. But recently this seems to be changing, for there are many new American bands that are very cutting edge, and actually setting the standards.

Also, related to the question above, why do you think it's been so difficult for the American bands to ever come together and agree on anything in terms of musical aesthetics? Why is there so much fighting, bickering, and backstabbing in the American scene? Or is it a mistake to see these groups connected in any way?

This is something we really do not understand. Why is there so much shit talking?? As I mentioned earlier, we think American bands see one another as competition, thus creating the "we have to crush the other guy" mentality. Another factor in our opinion is jealousy, thus in return creates the "Shit Talking" scenario. We have seen this happen many times. Believe me there are cliques in the "Scene". And amongst these cliques the shit doth fly!!

This is why FOG try to stand apart from any "Circle" and do our own thing. The music and the message must be the most important factor!

Do you ever think it's ironic that a form of music that was originally concerned with stripping down the aesthetics of death metal (or in the earliest times with Bathory: heavy metal) to its simplest, most primitive elements, has now been expanded upon to the point where people have been composing 'symphonic, orchestral' black metal, or where bands like Cradle of Filth or Dimmu Borgir can claim that their sound, so utterly different from the forefathers, is still in some way 'black metal'? I mean, the term really doesn't have a cohesive meaning anymore, does it? Did it ever? And where black metal in this past decade was a response to the boredom that resulted with death metal's stagnation and drowning of the scene, what form of metal do you think will be a response to the same over-proliferation of black metal in the last few years? Are we on the cusp of a new revolution in extreme metal?

Now days there are so many bands, with so many variations within the dark, black, death metal genre, we find it hard to keep labels. Not all bands that are tagged as black metal are in fact black metal. There are so many different spin off styles to the genre. As you mentioned for example the symphonic bands, they do hold the satanic themes but the music actually lacks the raw agression that to me is black metal. So are these bands truly black metal? There is warmetal, the bands uphold many of the same philosophies, they have the harsh and aggresive music style, but lyrically they stray from satanic themes on occasion, are these bands truly black metal? There are some who say true black metal is dead, I disagree, If your music is raw primitive and completely and utterly satanic, then I would call it black metal.

Will there be a revolution? We think that there already has been to a certain extent. As there are so many new bands, and you hear mixed influences within the music. It seems the "Scene" overall has become more open minded.

The explanations above are reasons why we have a hard time with any kind of label placed upon FOG. Our music has elements of black metal, it is harsh and very aggressive, we have satanic themes lyrically, but we also take influence from other dark and macabre themes as well. Also, you will hear influence from many different metal styles as we all have different extreme metal backgrounds. For the most part we carry black metal themes and atmospheres, but due to the lyrical diversity one could classify FOG as Dark Metal.

If extreme metal really is a reflection of the current state of the world, with all of its violence, chaos, cruelty, and constant struggle, as so many people have always thought of it, which style of metal do you think most faithfully reflects these characteristics of modernity: black or death? I have always thought, personally, that death metal (especially the styles it has now evolved into) really mirrors the industrial, technological side of modern humanity, the obsessions with machinery and speed - while black metal is like an expression of much older, atavistic, spiritual obsessions which we still have deep inside us - the call towards forces of darkness, light, or emotional reserves which were left behind in death metal's ethic of you have any thoughts on this subject? What instincts or urges does black metal fulfill in the listener that death metal can't really touch?

Nowdays there is a very fine line between the two as mentioned above. I think both styles can equally represent the state of humanity and it's disease. As you mentioned Death Metal mirrors the industrial and technological plague. And true Black Metal will draw you towards the primal urges to follow the call of darkness.

"What instincts or urges does black metal fulfill in the listener that death metal can't really touch?"
Well, it seems to have motivated some of the listeners and or those involved in the genre to become active in the so called "War Against Christianity" and the spreading of it's propaganda by actually fulfilling the urge to murder and or committed crimes of desecration in the name of "Black Metal" or "Satan". Now that is fucking metal! How can you not admire this much dedication!

Okay, it's time for the typical last question here: what can we expect from Fog in the future? How has your sound been progressing, and how does the newest material you have come up with compare to the music on your debut album? Are there any plans for a tour in the works? Please finish this interview any way you wish...

You can expect a stronger more dark and aggressive direction from FOG.
The new music is comparable to the older music, you will hear the fury and aggression of the older material, but with more guitar solo arrangements and basically a more wide open and darker sound to the writing style. The band has progressed quite a bit from then to now.

We will be appearing at some select festivals this year, at the moment we are working on a small tour of the midwest and 5 or 6 dates in Texas with NOKTURNEL for this summer. We are hoping to arrange a more extensive tour this fall.