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:: Interviews ::

An Interview with John Haughm (Agalloch and Solo groups)
Wrote: Yishai Sweartz

Lets start from the end: John is the guitar player, lead singer, main writer and founder of Agalloch. Because of a stupid statement on Facebook a few years back, he was accused of being antisemitic. His career plungered, the band he played in after Agalloch disbanded, Metal journalists rejected him and the Metal scene condemned him.

But no. John is not a Nazi, not even anti-Semitic. I have known him deeply for over 20 years. How deeply? He was at a Shabbat dinner in my parents house. That deeply. So let us dive into his side of the story, a side of the story that wasnt heard before by the media and is now being presented, by an Israely magazine nonetheless.

Your first album (with Agalloch) "Pale Folklore" was released in 1999, more than 20 years ago, when both the band and the label back than "The End Records" were doing first steps in the scene, musically it was an impressive debut even considering the small production, combined elements from debut Ulver and mid 90's Katatonia, I remember the responses were very good but it took around a year or two for people to really get the idea, when you go back in time to that record now how do you feel about that one?

I still think it has a cool production - very different from a standard metal production. It has this mixture of warm and cold tones that blend together beautifully. I remember I went to Finland shortly after the album was mixed and mastered and I showed it to a couple friends - trite and true metalhead types - and they said it was "wimpy shit" compared to the demo. Chris from Dawnbringer was in town at the time of production and sat in on the recording for "Hallways Of Enchanted Ebony". He was so agitated and outspokenly against our use of clean tone guitars over the metal backbone. So yeah, that album definitely rattled some cages and took awhile for people to warm up to what we were doing. Looking back on it now, there are a few moments that I wish we would've given more thought and tried alternate ideas. One glaring example was the "I saw the nightfall" part in "She Painted Fire Across The Skyline". Literally the night before we recorded it, I decided that I wanted a vocal part there. So I wrote the lyric and took it to the studio the next day. It was belted out in one take, completely improvised. Don gave me an enthusiastic thumbs up, so we kept it and moved on to the next part. In hindsight I wish we would've tried at least a couple other takes and ideas on how to approach it. But you know, that's all part of the lessons learned that lead to growth and maturity as a recording artist.

What was the main influence on you as a teenager to pick up a guitar and start to write music? The first artists or bands that really hooked you in?

Slayer and Voivod. Slayer's "Hell Awaits" blew my mind and opened the door to death and black metal. Voivod, especially "Dimension Hatross" and "Nothingface", was so unique and it broadened my interest in music beyond the standard rock/metal genre. They opened my mind to post punk and experimental music and that lead to an appreciation for bands like Coil, Laibach, In The Nursery, Dead Can Dance, etc. My first instrument was drums but I wanted to write songs so I picked up the guitar and taught myself enough to compose some basic arrangements. It progressed from there as I heard more and more interesting music and improved as a guitarist. Then I discovered Rush and they brought everything to a whole new level for me compositionally.

In 2000 you played drums in the second album of Sculptured, the album was much more proggy than the doom/death of the debut, how it turned that you will play the drums and how it was for you to handle that proggy semi even jazzy parts?

That album was a treat to be a part of because my only responsibility was playing drums. We rehearsed "Pale Folklore" and "Apollo Ends" simultaneously so I had enough on my plate with the Agalloch recording but the Sculptured album was a fun side distraction. The previous drummer quit so Don offered me the project, I think mostly out of convenience but also because I had a more intricate drumming style than the other guy. I used this opportunity to really implement my Neil Peart influence and it was a very enjoyable process. I literally recorded my drum tracks, left for Finland for 4 weeks, and when I came back the album was finished! Perfect experience!

When "The Mantle" was released things got much bigger, the hype was stronger, sales too, I remember selling about 600-650 cds of that one only in Israel compared to like 100 of the debut or 150, and for me personally this is the best Agalloch album, and the one that did the change and took you to the next level, also artistically, the sound was crystal clear and the whole use of acoustic passages went a step further, even in Europe the record was licensed and started to create big hype, I think that looking back " "...And the Great Cold Death of the Earth" was a key song that influenced a whole mini movement in the genre, more bands felt they can experiment in these directions after you did it so well, your thoughts?

That was a great time because we were continuing our revolt against the status quo of what was "correct" in the metal genre. The Ulver influence was strong - but it is was more so their care-free artistic flamboyance at the time ('99/'00) that inspired me. We were also listening to a lot of neo-folk, post-rock, and experimental music and felt that those influences could blend seamlessly with our style of metal. So we just did what we wanted and didn't give a damn about what people thought. I mean, look at the band photos on the album! We definitely didn't identify ourselves as torch bearers for the heavy metal aesthetic, haha! In fact, I designed the packaging to look like an album that would've come out on World Serpent, 4AD, Mute, or Tesco! So, in doing so, we stood out and were recognized as a unique group. That album wasn't adored from the beginning, however. There were a lot of terrible reviews initially, but I think it has stood the test of time and left its mark on the genre.

It took you guys 4 years to release "Ashes Against The Grain", 4 years 20 years ago was a long long time, after "The Mantle" the band had a pick and were going very well, you were not a touring act so what was the reason it took so long?

That was such a weird and bad time in our career. I had just started a new job and moved twice within a year, Don was going through a divorce and was also dealing with the final days of his father's life, as well as losing a friend to suicide. In those years we also started playing live and did a couple tours, which started our the trend of releasing strange EPs and tour-only single releases. We were definitely busy in those 4 years for sure and I think we should've really waited another year but The End wanted a new album. They wanted something that would rival the latest Opeth, Katatonia, and Dissection releases so that's how the commercial production came about. We showed Ronn our demos of the songs and a couple of the latest Katatonia records for production references.

The album itself continued the vibe of "The Mantle" with a better production and faced even bigger success in the scene, it was a bit simple than the Mantle but a bit more metal too, what inspired you?

Well like I said, we had started playing live and touring shortly after "The Mantle" was released so that was a huge step for us. We were a bit frustrated that our work up until that point had to lose a lot of elements in a live setting that four novice live musicians couldn't fully pull off. So when we started writing "Ashes", we had playing the music live in mind and made a conscious decision to have less layered structures. We still had a song on there that we never could perform ("Fire Above, Ice Below") and "Not Unlike The Waves" was never quite right live either. I actually enjoyed playing that song when we did but the other guys hated playing it so it was eventually dropped from the setlist, much to the disappointment of many fans who asked for it night after night.

Who was Christoph Florian Rehse ?

He was a German friend of Don's who committed suicide. I did not known him at all.

It was also the time to the first Agalloch video "Not Unlike The Waves", do you see Agalloch as a visual band for video? Or do you think it can also destroy the wild imagination of the listener?

In the case of that video, I think it was an awful representation of the song, the band, and us as film aficionados. The director and lead editor had no clue and really just tried to make something trendy with fast edits out of something that should've been more atmospheric and cinematic. The assistant editor and cameraman totally understood our vision and captured some absolutely stunning footage that was only used later in the cut you see on the DVD. That experience was a real shame and it permanently soured our attitude regarding having any other videos for the band.

The album was the easy one to get people into Agalloch, the most "commercial" one as far as I can use this word in this context, it also started the "post metal-post black metal" tag to become bigger and more well known and again: more bands followed your path which is not to be taken for granted when a band is hardly playing shows, your thoughts?

Honestly, I wrote the music with a much more organic production in mind which is why I was so disappointed by the sterile and punchy sound on that album. In hindsight it suited the songs alright but I hated that album for years and never really cared that it was influential. I don't think we consciously tried to make a post-metal album. It was just the culmination of our influences at the time and the overall dark cloud hanging over our lives that resulted in what that album became.

"Marrow Of The Spirit" was the first album after "the end rec", it came out via profund lore, why you left the end? Tell me about the change, it was also the first album to have Aesop on drums

Our contract with The End was fulfilled and we simply wanted to try something new instead of re-signing with them. The End at that time was heading down a very strange road and we didn't want to follow. I do appreciate the work they did for us on the first 3 albums and I expressed this to Andreas personally on the phone. We just wanted a bit more control and ownership of our work and we were in a much better position to take that step by the time our contract ended.

Shortly after you played an unforgettable show in Tel Aviv Israel, it was very special, both to me as a promoter but also to the fans, everything was very personal, a lot of memories from these days (hey u remember we turned a traditional local metal bar to 4ad goth 80's one?....:-) it was a very special event, lets hear your memories

I have fond memories of Israel. The food, meeting the passionate fans at the signing session, walking to the Mediterranean beach from the hotel every day, having that wonderful home-cooked meal at your parent's home, the day my friend Yacov took us to Jerusalem, was an incredible week to behold. The show was great also. Was it 3 hours with an intermission? An evening with Agalloch. We played everything we knew haha! I remember losing a few "friendos" in the scene who had a problem with Agalloch playing there so I got to have a nice time in Israel AND dump some trash from my life! Win/win!

In 2014 came out The Serpent & the Sphere the last album, and by than the band was embraced by a lot of people outside the metal scene, on one hand you had prog and shoegaze fans and on the other hand you still got the respect in the black metal and dark metal press and community

I do really enjoy that album. It got great press but the fan reaction was a bit cold compared to the previous four albums. I still think it is a solid record and achieved what we were going for at the time. I remember playing shows in 2015 in support of that album and when I would announce a song from it, I literally could hear a few groans in the audience. I don't know why that album is regarded our worst by many people but it really isn't up to me to understand it anyway. I'll admit that I do terribly miss playing "Plateau Of The Ages" live. That final crescendo was just incredible on stage - almost reaching a spiritual level - and was always the highlight for me after playing for two hours night after night.

With " Art of the Black Blood" you released an album in 2014, the band was promoted in a very underground cycles, was it in purpose? I always felt that in a specific period of time you wanted to distant yourself from the general metal press and go deeper the experimental approach, both musically but also with choosing labels, Agalloch could go for example to Century Media after "Ashes" and you went with profound lore that was very small back than.

Art Of The Black Blood is a collective that I have been involved with off and on since 2007. I played on the demo and first album as well as provided lyrics and the design. I'm not the main guy but I was one of the original contributors. I would love it if they released another album but the project is so obscure and esoteric that I don't know if they will do anything and if any label would touch it. I put out the album on Dämmerung and lost a ton of money because it remained in such obscurity. It's weird because when people hear it, they love it. That project has literally zero hype and I guess that is the most important thing these days if you want to sell records.

Agalloch split up shortly after, as far as I remember it was mainly due to the lack of ability or will of the other guys to tour while you wanted to push the band to the next level?

There was a lot more to it than just that. We had entered a point where we each seemed to want something different out of the band and I wasn't on the same page with Don or Jason anymore. Aesop was kind of in his own world, playing in different bands, so he was down for whatever. There were certainly some musical differences which you can absolutely hear when you listen to the Pillorian album vs the Khorada album. Not that the Khorada record is bad - in fact I think a lot of it is brilliant - but they wanted a very different musical path than I did at that pivotal time in our career. Yes, of course, I also wanted to tour more, see more of the world, and have Agalloch be a more professionally active band. So I think we had reached a crossroads in a way and I was pretty miserable and felt trapped in a situation I really couldn't control anymore. Plus I was going down a rabbit hole of alcoholism which compounded the issues on a personal and mental level. I had finally had enough when Don and Jason didn't want to do any more shows for another year while the iron was hot and we were getting offer after offer to play amazing festivals and go to places we hadn't been yet. But here's the thing. if I was so miserable and fed up, you know what I should've done? I should've just quit. Just walked away, started something new, and let them continue Agalloch however they wanted. Certainly I could've been replaced by someone equally or more capable - Austin from Panopticon immediately comes to mind - and the band could've carried on like many, many long-running bands do. Frankly, I think a fair amount of the fan base would've been ok with that as long as the band continued in some form. But Agalloch was my baby. It started off as a one man project and so I felt entitled to take it back. Some things, however, reach a level where you can't simply do that. It started off as my baby, yes, but it grew into something bigger than all of us. I understand that now with the gift of hindsight and a clear head but it doesn't mean I want to go back, restart, and re-live it. Don called me in August 2019 to discuss a possible reformation and I told him that there was just no room in my life for it, nor am I interested in opening that pandoras box again. But if Don and Jason ever wanted to start Agalloch up again with other people, they absolutely have my blessing. They can have the name, the logo, or make a new logo for a new era, it doesn't really matter to me. I'm content with the era of the band in which I was involved and proud of what we accomplished. At this point I would simply like to move on.

When u look now at all the post metal movement, bands as Alcest, Tribulation etc etc, do you feel proud? Frustrated? Or you don't care? Will u agree with me that Agalloch had a serious potential to grow very big if the band was still active?

Agalloch was pretty big by the time we split. We had gradually achieved a sort of legendary status and cult following which, in my opinion, is much better than getting really huge fast and burning out. I don't really think much about the post-metal movement nor do I have any opinion of it. I love Alcest and think they will continue to soar. Tribulation is great because they mix that 80s goth/death rock style with black metal so naturally and seamlessly. Like a mix of early Christian Death and old Mayhem. It's brilliant. For me, music is music. I like bands who make interesting music that moves me in some way. I'm kind of tired of all the categories, to be honest.

After that you started to work on your solo projects, releasing a solo album with Mathias Grassow, another one with Daniel Menche and few ep's, all were pretty dark but not in the style known in both Agalloch and Sculptured, what led you to the direction of working with other musicians in the first solo albums and did you felt that you achieved everything metal can offer you by then?

I was seeking a diversion and wanted to explore sounds outside the metal milieu, yes. I have always had a very broad taste in music and feel that sticking with one genre is too limiting as an artist. Even with Agalloch we explored some outside influences and styles but I wanted to go further. It was nice to have both outlets of expression simultaneously for awhile but honestly I have lost touch with my metal pulse and motivation as of the past couple years, especially after the Pillorian fiasco. I think perhaps now I have achieved everything metal can offer and I will simply move further and further away from it creatively. That doesn't mean I hate metal or think I am too old or too good for it now. Not at all. I'll still be listening to the classics and stuff I grew up with until I die, but my interest in newer bands has completely waned and my desire to have a fully metal project has completely gone away. What I am doing right now is exactly what I want to do. I love it, my heart is 110% into it, and that's really the best case scenario for anyone who is a fan of my work.

The debut Pillorian album was released in 2017 and was a kind of return to your more metallic days? I liked it very much, how was the feedback to that one? I remember u told me that the second one supposed to be much heavier, almost death metal.

I was so proud of that recordand I still am. It was the first band in my life that was formed as a full band, contrary to popular belief. It was borne out of a death metal project that I had with Stephen and eventually Trevor going back as far as 2014. So after Agalloch split, we started jamming again and converted some of the previous material into something darker and more esoteric. "A Stygian Pyre" was one of those. The beginning of "Dark Is The River" and parts of "The Sentient Arcanum" were pieces I had started for my 2nd solo album. So there were riffs and ideas but none of them were intended for Agalloch. We were so inspired and on the same page and just wrote and wrote and wrote and rehearsed 4 times a week so the album came together very quickly. It wasn't rushed at all. In fact, we demoed and re-demoed all of those songs. We tried several different arrangements and just put everything we could into that entire album. Unfortunately it was tainted by the recent Agalloch split so the public reaction to Pillorian was either luke-warm or downright hostile with a handful of exceptions who said it was the best album I had produced since "Marrow". I think the album has grown on a lot more people in recent years and it is a true shame the 2nd album will never see the light of day. It was going to be so good - "Storm Of The Light's Bane" good. It was a whirlwind of some of Stephen's most sinister melodies, twisted arrangements, and easily the most menacing and hateful lyrics I have ever penned. The songs do exist as pre-production demos and the artwork was completed. We were planning to record in the summer of 2019 and release in the Autumn. Needless to say, however, the timing of the release would've been a disaster on many levels. Pillorian was fueled by constant vitriol and that negative energy eventually imploded the band. My stupid comment on Facebook was the final nail because Stephen especially was tired of the negativity that I brought either from the Agalloch drama or my loose cannon of a mouth online. I think it was inevitable the band would've split up shortly after the 2nd album one way or another.

18. During these years you played a lot of intimacy small shows as a solo artist with only you on stage or with another guy, how you compare the feeling to a full energetic band show?

JH: The experience on stage largely depends on the material I am playing, really. With Agalloch I was more and more embarrassed to be on stage with that band as the years went on and I eventually was vocal about it. I remember we had to follow Darkspace at a festival in Romania and it was one of the only times in my career that I was completely intimidated and shaken by another band. Darkspace put on a performance that was so sonically and visually powerful it was like the audience was being conquered by a sinister alien race! I remember pacing back and forth while they played and was freaking out saying "We have to follow this?? Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!". Agalloch felt like a backyard BBQ Van Halen cover band by comparison and I hated every second of that gig!

Pillorian, on the other hand, was always awesome. It was a ferocious powerhouse and it felt amazing to harness that power night after night, especially on big stages. Playing after Darkspace would've been no problem haha! But now I feel quite at home with small club or theater gigs either solo or with a collaborator. I would love to play visual/conceptual art gallery events so hopefully those opportunities will materialize in the future. Of course huge artistic festivals like Roadburn will always be events that I would be honored to play. But yeah, I currently have no desire to play with a band again. In fact, a few days ago someone asked if I was in a band and I immediately answered with "nope". It felt great to say that.

Also I learned about you that you are there for the art, meaning you could easily do "best of" acoustic Agalloch songs tour by yourself and make great money, but you never did it, instead you took the artistic valuable path

One of the things I am still proud of is that Pillorian never played any Agalloch songs. We were expected to by promoters and festival organizers but we never gave in to the pressure. We even turned down high paying headline slots at prestigious festivals because they required half the set to be Agalloch material. We simply gave them the finger and played the lower slots out of integrity. That was unfortunately one of the things that we argued about later. I remember having a pretty heated discussion with Trevor in early February 2019 where he told me we needed to start playing Agalloch songs. This was after the very exhausting and unsuccessful European festival tour we did in the summer 2018 - which was really the initial catalyst of Pillorian's decline.

Lets talk about the elephant in the room which for me is more like a storm in a glass of tea, in 2019 you been attacked by your ex members of Agalloch, the whole metal media and your members in Pillorian after a post in facebook calling facebook Judenbook, the Pillorian members left the band and the whole press titled you as an anti seminice and some even said nazi supporter and racist, it was after Bruno Ganz passed away and you wrote a funny comment that you expected a meme about Agalloch break up but the Morbid Angel "movie" was the funniest one (which I agree) and later saying you are surprised that "judenbook" did not erased the post as it did to other Gantz tribute post, now: of course Ganz was an actor, not a nazi supporter, of course the whole Hitler memes were super funny and everyone had a great laugh from them include people in israel, so to me that statement you wrote was not more than sarcastic joke about mark zukerberg, thats it, if an Israeli would write it and calling him "greedy jew" nobody would ever care, its like black people calling each other nigger but if you will call them nigger you are racist.

So the whole thing went totally out of context like a snowball and suddenly the media found a scapegoat, you, now I know you, you been here in Israel, you enjoyed every second it the visit for few days, we had dinner in my parents house, my family are holocaust survivors and partisans from ww2, I know very well you are not racist, not anti seminice and definitely not a nazi supporter, I was shocked how the media and ex members took it, it was a kind of sarcastic joke you can say to your friend eye to eye yes, not something to write in public? Yes, but racist? Come on. But the media didn't cared and the kicked you in the face, leaving you with no place to explain or to defend yourself, how you felt?

You summed it up pretty well. I've always been a bit of a cynical bastard with a dark, snarky sensibility and that's something that will always be part of my character. What HAS changed as a result of this incident is my self awareness, sense of responsibility, and mindfulness. I used to say a lot of outlandish shit online, in interviews, and in person, and I didn't care much about the consequences of such behavior. I had this insufferable "if you don't like it then piss off" bravado and it got worse and worse, especially as Agalloch got more revered. After the band split, I was not a popular guy so in Pillorian that negativity and acrimonious attitude had found a new nurturing home. Mixing this attitude with the fact that I didn't take social media all that seriously and was being watched by a few people who hated my guts was a recipe for disaster. I made a frivolous remark aimed solely at Zuckerberg's inconsistent and biased censorship policies. Was it a vile, offensive thing to say? Of course it was. That was kind of the point. I even changed it to make it even more alarming in hopes that it would attract Facebook's censors to give my account a 24 hour ban. A foolish and risky game for sure and the punchline is that it resulted in no action at all from Facebook! However, It got blown way out of proportion a few days later by those people with personal vendettas (and of course the metal tabloids who needed a juicy story) who re-posted it and caused a lot of drama that continues to follow nearly 2 years later. It is a very apt cliche that if you play stupid games, you'll win stupid prizes.

On the other hand it did lead to the positive change I mentioned, brought me back down to earth, and lead to repairing my friendship with Don, which is something I am quite happy about. Unfortunately, various people in the press and fan base still view this as an indication of my personal beliefs and nothing I can say to the contrary will easily change that. The mythology has been established. It sucks but I will just have to work to debunk that mythology in time with the positive change that resulted from this incident.

You kept a low profile since than, I don't think you need to, its a double standard from the people listening to Mayhem ("we don't want black people here") Dimmu Borgir ("I would gladly cut the throat of every black person in the world, all hail the aryan race") (see attachment) Gorgoroth (rape) Dissection (murder) Emperor (murder), Guns N Roses ("police and niggers get out of my way"), or Rolling Stones (Bill Wyman slept with Mandy Smith when she was 14 and married her shortly after) and I can go on and on forever and people listen to these bands who have members who did serious negative things and not a stupid sentence on facebook, this is hypocrisy in my opinion, your thoughts?

It's just the way things are now. Mayhem and Dimmu Borgir could never make those remarks nowadays and, frankly, they were stupid things to say even back in the 90s: by edgy, sheltered Norwegian youth who wanted to be extreme and appear "evil". There were tons of bands in the scene saying shit like that back then, a few of whom are still active today. I always found it ironic that these racist statements were made without considering important bands like Blasphemy and Mystifier - both bands being FAR better than many of their contemporaries and both armed with black guitarists! I think another interesting case is Burzum. Vikernes is an avowed white nationalist who has written books and produced youtube videos on the subject, and has consistently published his ideologies in interviews since the beginning. Yet I have heard a few outspoken politically left-leaning black metal bands site Burzum as a major influence! I'm not criticizing them for that, mind you. People are entitled to be inspired by whatever they want, no matter how subversive. Burzum made a few fantastic albums in the 90s, no argument there, but I have never cared about Varg nor his dumb political views. Personally I think he's just a comedic old kook, stuck in his ways, and quite difficult to take seriously. Maybe that is why Burzum has mostly been an exception compared to a band like, for instance, Absurd (who have the same ideologies and have also committed murder). I'm not at all advocating that any band or artist should be "cancelled" for transgressive things they said or did 25 years ago by any means. I do find it interesting that many legendary acts, as you mentioned, get a pass for their heinous views and actions while others are crucified for less.

Anyway, I think separating the art from the artist is wise in most cases. Sometimes amazing provocative stuff is created by truly fucked up or sketchy people and with that is an authenticity that I can appreciate. Markus Stock told me some wild stories about when he recorded the band Silencer. I really like that album and I'm glad that the insanity is authentic but I have zero desire to meet or work with someone like Nattramn. On the flip side, I am a bit sad that I never got to meet Jon Nodtveidt. There was actually a short-lived idea that The End Records had back in early 2006 for Agalloch and Dissection to play some special US dates together. Obviously it wasn't possible because Jon couldn't enter the US with his criminal record and of course he entered the void later that summer. But man as a huge Dissection fan, that would've been an excellent tour! This doesn't mean I condone his crime and I think it's a damn shame that he chose that path as he was an extremely talented guy.

Back to music, in 2019 in seattle you recorded the great CAST . IRON . BLOOD album released this year, fantastic record in my opinion, please say everything you can about the inspiration, process etc, do u think that all the mess you been through was somehow reflected the music?

Perhaps "The Scars Maketh The Man" and "Pale Horse // Morbid Nomad" were sonic reflections of my personal mental hell, yeah. There was a lot of exorcizing of demons in those pieces. "Cast.Iron.Blood." is the followup to "The Last Place I Remember" and is the 2nd in what will be a 19th Century trilogy. When completed, all 3 albums will come together as a sort of epic soundtrack and a red thread thematically and musically will tie them together. I plan to work on the 3rd album throughout 2021 and hopefully it will be released in 2022. I also hope by then I can play live again and tour. That is something I am also slowly working on - a way to recreate this material live and create a sonic and visual multimedia performance piece. It will be a lot of work but I'm excited to tackle it on my own. "Cast.Iron.Blood." was recorded in Seattle with Tad Doyle and it was something I had been working on periodically since 2015. After the Pillorian split and some time away to reflect, I decided to revisit this material and complete the album. I'm glad it was recorded the way it was because I think Tad really nailed the atmosphere I wanted. It was a particularly enjoyable process, definitely one of my favorite recording sessions of my career, and I will always carry fond memories of it. I hope for a similar experience when I record the next one.

Last message to your loyal Israeli fans who followed you for many years (by the way: NO ONE in israel took that "sentence" seriously and felt hurt, simply no one) and hopefully see you again here in Tel Aviv when things will get back to normal, what are you doing these days with the covid19 thing in your area? Any chance for another album next year?

It would be a pleasure to play in Tel Aviv again and I hope I get the chance sooner than later. I'm sure my lapse of judgement online disappointed some fans in Israel and for that I do really apologize. As for Covid19, it's an understatement that 2020 has been a challenging and tragic year for many, many people. Personally I have been doing my best to maintain a positive attitude through it all because I think that is one way the events of this year has been testing us. It is testing our metal resolve, our adaptability, and our will to overcome adversity. I've been such a negative asshole my whole life so I made a conscious decision at the turn of this year to change that. This has been a hell of a year to not fall back into old bad habits, attitudes, and despair but I am choosing to focus on the few things that are going right and hold onto those bits of positivity to keep pushing forward. That's really the best thing we all can do. For new releases, I will be releasing the 3rd Mathias Grassow & John Haughm collaboration album "Opalus" before the end of the year and hopefully I'll be releasing some stuff in 2021. Whether it's an EP, an album, or a collaboration we shall see. I was approached by Taneli Jarva (Poison Whisky, ex-Sentenced, ex-Impaled Nazarene, ex-The Black League) about making a dark collaboration record in the vein of Nick Cave, Mark Lanegan, and Townes Van Zandt so hopefully that will manifest in some form next year. As always I have a ton of ideas. Thank you my friend for giving me this opportunity to discuss the past and state my side of some of the drama that has been following me since 2016. I sincerely appreciate it and look forward to meeting you again in the future. Cheers!

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[28/01] Strange Kind of Women
[23/02] SUBTERRANEAN MASQUERADE - The Acoustic sessions
[26/02] *Cosmic Funeral* - PREY FOR NOTHING + CLAPSODRA
[23/03] Sonata Arctica in Israel
[30/03] Samael
[21/05] Swallow The Sun
[29/05] Soen live in Israel
[26/10] Tiamat -
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