Thornspawn, it seems, after having been around in the scene now for a while, has vaulted itself to something of an envied position...other bands are constantly claiming you as an influence or hailing your determination, in several cases naming you as the 'leaders of the American Black Metal scene' - how do you feel about this ranking? Why do you think so many other bands are eager to name you guys as the champions of USBM? Does it really matter to you, this constant hailing and ranking? What does Thornspawn have that these other bands lack? Does Thornspawn have an original voice in the scene?
I admit the hails are flattering, but it does not go to our heads. We are pleased that our fellow warbrothers approve of our art. We are part of the US black metal movement. If people want to label us "leaders" so be it. We have put much effort into Thornspawn and I think it shows in our music. We are not a bunch of kids that just read Lords of Chaos and form a garage band thinking all of sudden everyone should bow before us. Conviction is the keyword. I think that is what people admire Thornspawn for. We play music with conviction. If a band does not have conviction all is hopeless for them. But we never think of ourselves as the best. Regarding the constant hailing, it only matters when it is sincere not people doing it just to get on our good side so it can benefit them. We are not original in the sense of groundbreaking new music forms. But we play black metal the old way which is almost a forgotten art.
Can you describe your approach to playing this kind of music - what inspires you, and what summit are you trying to reach by playing black metal? How does playing black metal satisfy you - on whatever level? Is there something that this style of music has that other styles miss? Is it more relevant to these times than other forms of music?
Black Metal is an emotional release I must have. Just performing black metal with fellow bandmates is inspiration enough for me. I have this darkside that can only be satisfied by performing black metal. Black Metal when performed right is something only the blackhearted can take delight in. Black Metal is a fist in the face of modern society and all its bullshit.
Even though Thornspawn seems to be growing in popularity every time I hear your name mentioned, it seems that you guys never court renown or celebrity, but instead try to maintain a very low profile - is this a part of your convictions concerning black metal? Do you think that 'true' black metal bands have to retain a sort of cult status in order to concentrate on what's the most important for them? Do black metal bands that gain a certain amount of popularity lose their appeal in your eyes?
It does not matter to us if a 100 people are into us or 1000. Black Metal is something you should perform to please yourself 1st and foremost. If the masses like you then that is a plus I guess. We are not concerned about being the most popular US black metal band. Goals like that are for rock stars not Black Metal musicians. I still admire bands like Marduk and Angel Corpse and they are big. But you can tell they make music for themselves first. If a band stays true to their style then I do not have a problem with them.
You recently signed to Baphomet Records to release your debut album...what are your plans for your 'official' releases - do you have a certain approach to releasing material on such a large scale? Do you think this will change Thornspawn in any way - for better or worse? Do you plan to tour to support the album? How do you feel about this label's tie to Phil Anselmo and his desire to 'infiltrate' the underground - is it sincere, in your opinion? Will his notoriety end up helping or hindering you?
Well being on label like Baphomet allows us to release stuff the way we want to. No restrictions in the layout or whatever the case. But it is still Thornspawn I guarantee it will be deadlier than anything before. We get more violent with each release! We want to do some small tours here and there, but nothing too outlandish. Phil has nothing to Baphomet Records except releasing Viking Crown on it. Idiot people think he runs the label. I spoke to Killjoy in great lengths what his ties were to the label before we signed and Killjoy assured this is something he is doing 100% on his own. After hearing the music on the latest Necrophagia releases I think it is safe to say Phil really is into this stuff. But if people equate us to Phil Anselmo because of our label then they are idiots. I don't even know the guy.
Can you describe your methods when it comes to composing your music or writing your lyrics - what influences you or makes you want to write more than anything else? Do you need a certain environment in order to remain inspired? Do you think that inspiration is really that important when it comes to writing music - or is it really an act of the will, a planned and deliberate action? Do you consciously censor yourself when writing music - leaving out parts that you don't feel fit the 'black metal' archetype?
Well I can only speak of writing music since Blackthorn handles all the lyrics. Writing comes from within. I do not need a forest or snow for inspiration. I just need myself. Some bands that can spark me into getting motivated are Mayhem, Necrovore, Possessed, Dark Throne, Bathory, Celtic Frost, and all the ancient masters. We do not constantly censor ourselves because if a riff works we will keep it. Black Metal comes from the soul not a guidebook.
Why, in your opinion, are 'darkness' and the occult, or satanic themes, so popular for metal musicians? Is it just tradition or it something that naturally adheres to the personality types that seek out this kind of music? Does black metal have to concentrate on occult themes to remain relevant? What is the source of Thornspawn's hatred for Christianity? Do you feel that anti-Christian messages really have an effect on metal's audience, or is just another part of tradition now?
Black Metal should always have a tie to occult or satanic themes. Yes, I do think a lot of it is part tradition now. But there are some real occultist and satanic musicians out there doing this. Occult and Satanism are different things to different people. But as long as the message is anti-Christian I think we all can gather under that one banner. Christianity is Hypocrisy of the highest order. It is bullshit that has too much power in this world. Black Metal is a symbolic fight against it. Some will get the message and some will not. But we will continue our unholy propaganda.
What is it like being a black metal band in San Antonio - positives and negatives? Do you have a strong local following? Are you able to play live often? How has the response been to your shows - are you drawing in more people now than before? Do you ever play shows outside San Antonio? Is there some kind of special attention that has to be paid to put on a 'black metal show', or a Thornspawn show for that matter? How are you guys different from other bands when it comes to playing live?
San Antonio is a unique city in the US. It is not an iron jungle like New York. I heard Europeans say this is the most European US City they ever visited. We get about 100 people at one of our local shows. Most are wearing black metal shirts or true death metal shirts all in black the way metal should be. We are making a movement of true metal down here. We play out about every 3-4 months or so. We have played other Texas cities like Houston, Austin, and Laredo. We plan to branch out in the future. We try to capture pure chaos at a live show. We wear our battle armor and warpaint everytime. We also use candles and a lot of smoke for atmosphere. We also put a lot of energy into a live performance. I hate bands that just stand there and do not have any reaction to your music. If the band does not react to their own music what do they expect the crowd to do?
Where do you think black metal is headed in the future? Is it continuing to evolve, and is that evolution a good or bad thing? Are there certain parts of the 'modern' black metal sound that you can't understand or think are superfluous? Do you feel there's a certain sound that black metal bands should strive to reach - an approach to playing or convictions concerning the ultimate level the music can reach? Is it contrary to the style to evolve too suddenly or too far? How will Thornspawn evolve? Are there bands out there that you feel never deviated from their convictions when it came to playing this kind of music?
Well, if the black metal future is Kovenant or Dodsheimgard's new looks I prefer to stay in the past! I do not think all bands should strive to hit a certain type of sound but they need to hit their own pinnacle on their own. A band like Limbonic Art is dark but a band like Graveland is dark also. These two bands have nothing in common but they both are very dark in their own way. They both play with conviction in what they are doing. But a band like Dodsheimgard evolved into a such a different entity so quick it makes me wonder what they all about in the 1st place. We will just try to make better music each time, but we will never changed our style too drastic.
How do you feel about the NS element that is becoming increasingly prevalent in underground black metal? Why do you think this has gained such a foothold in the scene? How do you feel about the American bands that have adopted these politics - in your opinion is it just another aspect of their image or 'mystique' or is it something to be seriously dealt with? Do you think politics have a place in black metal?
NS to some is something they truly believe in but to most it is just a big trend they are involved in. I don't mind someone who has NS views but it is not the law that rules over their life. But people who think black metal is NS and nothing else need to laughed at for their foolish thoughts.
It seems that you now have a bass player with an interesting history connected to the metal scene...can you elaborate on this?
Bolverk was involved with Necrovore in the 80's. He was a guitarist in the band. We do not want people to think we are Necrovore reincarnated or something. Thornspawn formed in 1995. Bolverk came into the picture in 1998. Bolverk was selected because we knew he had what it takes to be a part of Thornspawn. He was the right guy for the job.
Alright, the last question: you recently released an EP, I believe, on a small label here in America - what are the details of this release? How could readers of this interview find that record? How do you guys feel about releasing or collecting vinyl? Is it something that the underground will always embrace? Do you have any prize vinyl that you want to brag about here? Please add any other information that you want our readers to see.Our "Infernal Legions" EP is out now on Profanation Records. You can email Rasalgethi@aol.com for details. It is printed on red vinyl and limited to a 500 copies. Since I am older vinyl will always be special to me. I have things in my collection like the debut Bathory on the Swedish label with the yellow goat instead of the white one. Mercyful Fate "nuns have no fun" EP. And all the classic from Slayer,Possessed, Hellhammer,Celtic Frost,San Antonio Slayer,Venom, Mayhem, Sodom, Darkness, Nuclear Death, Profanatica, and so on. I have been collecting vinyl from about 1985. Our album will be released on March 14. Blood of the Holy Taint thy steel.... I promise it will be a devastating slab of blasphemy for all!!