First of all I'd like to start off by saying that I have always been struck by the unique melodic/musical style of Graveland's releases, from the utter dark and grim nature of the first few albums to your most recent records, with their emphasis on a new experimentation. Was it intentional to play in a way that was completely different from all of the other bands in the world scene, or was it something that came naturally to you - springing, perhaps, from the personalities of the people involved? Your originality has been both hailed and derided across the spectrum of criticism, the negative criticism (it seems to me) coming mostly from people who were incapable of understanding the message of your music or the personal importance of that message - isn't it true that above all the music of Graveland was always a very personal and intuitive method of expression, created for yourselves?
It' s always a great feeling to hear from people like you, the individuals with the ability to express their inner emotions and feelings they experience listening to our music. We have been always trying to keep the music full of originality, and we have been always following our own path. Our creativity would never let us be just a copy or a blind devotee of any band or style. We play what we feel, we feel what we are, we are who we are...
Can you tell me about other projects or musical endeavors that you have been involved in lately, and give a small history of each? Are you finding that more and more you are turning to music that is based on expressing a certain idealogy, instead of writing music for its own sake?
Right now I am just a session member of GRAVELAND and Darken is the only person responsible for GRAVELAND' s music. Personally, I try to pay all my attention to THOR' S HAMMER. I started this band in 1997. Together with guitarist Boleslaw we have recorded the "Fidelity Shall Triumph" album, and a few weeks ago our 2nd album entitled "May The Hammer Smash The Cross" was recorded (to be released this Spring on ANCESTRAL RESEARCH RECORDS). Besides, I have also my side project called CAPRICORNUS. I have released the "Kein BlutSoll Verunreinigt Werden" demo in 1995 (later released as 7"EP "Stahlgewitter") and a split with the German ARYAN BLOOD horde. I have never written music for its own sake, my motto was always "ideology before music". The music we play is nothing more than a very effective, emotionally deep source of propaganda...
Can you give me a little background information on the cultural identity of the Polish nation as it exists right now? What is happening in Poland as we speak, politically? People in the West strangely tend to think of Poland only as an adjunct or connecting territory of the USSR, and generally confuse all the Eastern European countries. What makes Poland unique? Is there a widespread resistance to westernization, especially among the older members of the communities? How does Poland view the West? How do you personally view western culture or its lack of a definite culture?
The Polish society as a whole have been always knocking on the West European doors and the Russians became the symbol of a natural enemy. The problem is that culturally and mentally the Poles have much more to do with Russians, than f.e. Germans or Frenchmen. The present Polish government is nothing but a blind man following the promises of the West and living the hope of tomorrow. The culture of Western Europe in the past was based on tradition and ethnical differences. Now Europe experiences decades of cultural death, losing its identity and being polluted by American influences and millions of foreigners from all continents. More and more people in Poland start to realize how rotten the Western culture is and how much will it cost us to join this corpse. The society drunk on the taste of freedom in the beginning of 90' s is waking up and the resistance to westernization will grow.
Is there a history of resistance to Christianity in the Polish nation akin to the unconscious aversion to Christianity that is found in the Scandinavian countries? Is there something in the national character of Polish people that can not agree with Christian doctrine, at a root level? Or is it the same as with other territories that were subdued by Christian dogma - the people pretend to follow the ways of Christ, but in their hearts they are subject to other urges? What experiences led you to reject organized religion and embrace more traditional beliefs? Is this something that is spreading in Poland? Have you found that there is a difference in the way that European and American people approach their own spirituality or culture?
Poland could be described in brief as the Eastern Ireland. No other countries in Europe are such a strong bastion of Roman Catholic religion. The last national rebellion against the Church took place in 1047...I guess it' s high time to return to our cultural, heathen roots. I know it will take generations to change the spiritual aspect of our national character, but I believe it must happen! This nation must stop balancing between the West and the East and should find its very own identity returning to Heathendom. I am not going to comment here on any differences between Europeans and Americans because they are obvious. America was discovered more than 500 years ago, so I think it' s time to forget about it, and pay attention to ourselves and Mother Europe.
Why do you think Poland experienced such an enormous explosion in the number of black metal bands that call it home over the last few years? Was it just that a greater amount of attention was suddenly diverted to Poland after the success of a few bands? Are there musical elements that are to be found only in Polish bands - reflections of the national character, perhaps? What makes the Polish scene different from other scenes or groups of bands in the world? Is there any kind of unity at all among the different bands in the scene?Are there organizations or collectives outside the music scene that you are involved in that are related to the ideas spread through your music?
I think it is unexplainable. When the Black Metal "plague" overwhelmed Norway, it was hard to explain it too, although many people tried to find many metaphysical reasons for that. I think Polish bands have this thing that many present bands from other countries (including Norway) miss or forget about. It' s the spirit of true under-ground music, those who have been listening to Black Metal in last ten years, surely know what I mean. The scene is well organized, it has its hierarchy and the weak ones and traitors are eliminated very fast.
Can you give me an explanation of your personal religious or spiritual beliefs, as they are related to your music? I am not asking you to make a confession of your most private beliefs, as that would be impertinent, but rather I am interested in how these beliefs shape the music that you create - how they relate to the form and content of the music you have released, how they inspire you, and how they find expression in your art. Has music been a satisfying method of expression for you, or are you constantly looking for other ways to bring your ideals into reality? Are you involved in other artistic pursuits outside music?
I am not any type of 'artist'. I am rather an activist. The Black Metal music and especially my project CAPRICORNUS is a kind of spiritual "catharsis" for myself.This is what lets me not only express myself, but also it' s the channel for the aggression and hatred inside of me. And my beliefs? I am a Heathen Autotheist.
Graveland has been very outspoken in the world press about it's goals as a band or creative group, and the ways that you hope to influence others around you - has there been much of a backlash or negative reaction in the music scene to what you have said openly? Does this only encourage you that you are on the right path? How do you feel about the basic hypocrisy of black metal bands in that they are constantly praising war, bloodshed, or violence in their lyrics and music but when called to defend their own ideas they almost inevitably back down? Are there other bands out there that are as vehemently committed to their own message and intent as you are?
We simply follow the path we have chosen many years ago now, and we are true to ourselves. I don' t really care about the reactions of our enemies and the hypocrisy of other Black Metal bands. We have already experienced so many problems and attacks from various sources, that I believe we are indestructable. Other bands I respect nowadays? I never praise the day before sunset...Time shall tell who deserves the glory and fame.
Do you honestly feel that Heathens or Pagans can win the war against Christianity? Or will it be enough of a victory for you to escape the yoke of Christianity, on a personal level, and enjoy the freedom of a total committment to your own beliefs? Have you experienced any kind of persecution or hostility, in your everyday lives, from people who belong to organized religions or liberal organizations? Is it difficult for you to find people that are sympathetic to your beliefs, and listen to your ideas with an open mind? How do you think non-Christians can effectively suppress the machinations of their enemies?
If I didn' t believe one day christianity will be destroyed, my life and creativity would be hopeless. Together with some comrades of the Black Metal movement we are permanently invigilated (watched? - ed.) by the police. But I see no compromises here, and I am not looking for any allies in our fight. With us or against us! A simple philosophy for extremist people. That's the only way to bring about the death of christianity, first of all on a personal level, later worldwide.
Is it possible that hatred can be a very positive influence, creatively, on artists - that it can be just as important, for example, as 'love' or the 'pursuit of beauty' in the creative process? If so, how? Why is it that hatred is always seen as a very negative emotion, a thing to be shunned or cast out, when (if you study history) it's very obvious that hatred or fear has been the prime motivator behind events in human civilization? Isn't it true that hatred must find expression or motivate action - if it doesn't , it then becomes a negative emotion, turning on its bearer? Have you experienced any corrosive effects of your 'negative' expression in your personal life - negative attracting the negative - or has your music only has positive effects on your life?
Well, we could start here quite long and finally boring discussion concerning the emotional life of every human creature. So let me answer your question and give you my opinion concerning hatred in one, short, raw and primitive sentence:
HATE IS GREAT!
Let it be a new slogan for the Black Metal youth!
Have there been any strong literary influences on your life and music? If so, which ones? Are there certain works that would bring the people interested in your music or ideas a better understanding of their intent and purpose, or give them a clearer picture of what you are trying to accomplish?
I can not hide that I am really impressed by the works of Friedrich Nietzsche, to whom I have dedicated one of the songs on the "Fidelity Shall Triumph" album. I think the music and ideology of THOR' S HAMMER can be described as Nietzschean in any sense. On the new "May The Hammer Smash the Cross" album I decided to use the "Might Is Right" lyric taken from the book of the same name by Ragnar Redbeard (Jack London or Arthur Desmond? - ed.). I think no other literary influences are available in the music of THOR'S HAMMER. And in my life? The life itself, not the books, can really impress, influence and bring knowledge to each man. I don' t think hundreds of books, or 17 years of education including going to University gave me more than an observation of the world around...
And now, the last question: can you tell us what you are planning for the future? Please include any other information that you would like our readers to see...I am planning to remain a free man, but I am not sure if the ZOG will let me realize this dream. I hope ANCESTRAL RESEARCH RECORDS will release the 2nd album of THOR' S HAMMER soon and there will be the possibility to record something in the future...That' s all...