Straying away from the traditional black metal sound and starting to explore some totally new fields and dimensions has already become a habit for the Norwegian scene. Who is to blame? Well, Mortiis started it, but that's a different story. And for now we have Nagash of the Kovenant on the line ready to discuss their latest effort on Nuclear Blast…
MetalKings.com: Hey, how is it going?
The Kovenant: Fine, although I really have a lot of interviews to do today.
MetalKings.com: How many?
The Kovenant: (pauses) Eight…
MetalKings.com: And it's only like what - six in the evening? Man, I don't envy you.
The Kovenant: Oh (laughs)
MetalKings.com: First of I have to apologize to you, because I am very unprepared for this interview today, I didn't listen to the new album, because I couldn't break away from my main day-job and visit the label to pick it up, and the soundcard on me computer crashed so I couldn't even check out any mp3-s from the net. So you have to tell me what the record is like.
The Kovenant: Well, actually somebody should tell you what its like, but its a progression from Animatronic and… although of course very different again, because all of our albums are different. You could always hear that it's the Kovenant when you're putting on the album, if you know what I mean. But I changed my vocal style, just to try it out, and I do use a lot more of clean vocals this time, than I did before…
MetalKings.com: OUCCCCCH!!!! Okay-okay, I must listen to it, so I'm not making any judgement yet. It's just that I liked your screaming vocals way too much. As far as I understand the waiting period between the complection of the recording session in the studio and the actual release date was quite long this time, why so?
The Kovenant: Oh, that's just Nuclear Blast, they want enough time to promote the album.
MetalKings.com: Aha. Did the release of "In Times Before the Light" on Hammerheart had anything to do with that?
The Kovenant: No, no, not at all. Actually it was NB who should have released "In Times Before the Light" but they really didn't want anything to do with it, so… That's why it was released on HHR.
MetalKings.com: What was the main reason for re-releasing "In Times Before the Light"?
The Kovenant: Well, you know when we first did this album we were 17 years old and we paid for the studio ourselves. And when you're two guys, seventeen years old, you don't have that much money to spend. So we never got the result that we wanted, we were never really satisfied with the sound quality and everything. And you know I've been talking about making a remix of it for quite some time, but once we started doing it we realized that it was recorded on such an old system that the keyboards were not there anymore, because they were recorded on an old Atari keyboard, you know the Atari computer. So the midi-files were not there anymore and we realized we had to re-record all the keyboards again. And that became a huge problem so in the end it was more of a re-recording than re-mixing. So we decided "okay, why not just mix the Kovenant now with the Kovenant then - and see what happens?"
MetalKings.com: Where was the new album recorded - what studio?
The Kovenant: Same as Animatronic.
MetalKings.com: Why that particular choice?
The Kovenant: It's a great studio, and bands like Samael, and Tiamat are all recording there, also the producer is a very good friend of ours. And more importantly he has done so many different music styles - not just heavy metal and hard rock, but he'd also done everything from opera, to musical, to techno, to jazz, to pop - anything, you know. So if we have an idea he is really the right person to help us carry it out. Like, take Peter [Tagtgren - ed.] from Hypocrisy and Abyss Studios, he is a metal producer and if we want to make something differently, in a way that is different from metal…
MetalKings.com: Well yeah, Peter did his share of harm to the scene ;)
The Kovenant: Yes, indeed (laughs).
MetalKings.com: How was the song-writing process different form the previous record?
The Kovenant: Well, a lot, first of - we never played together in a rehearsal place. Everything was recorded and put together on computers, and we would go back from one to another and email stuff back and forth, doing it that way. So when we got to the studio, we originally were intending to use you know the extreme type of vocals, but it really didn't work out when we came to the studio. And we didn't actually know what we were gonna do, and then the producer said "well, why don't you try singing it?" I was like "No, I can't sing!" - but eventually we tried it anyway, and I think its worked out pretty good.
MetalKings.com: Why did Hellhammer leave the band?
The Kovenant: It was a mutualdecision. You know it's the same thing as I had when I was in Dimmu Borgir. He didn't have enough time to do all the bands. And Hellhammer is what? 647 bands or whatever it is?
MetalKings.com: Er… 648 - last time I checked ;)
The Kovenant: Yeah, something like that. Anyway he didn't even have enough time to do his main bands, you know Mayhem, Arcturus and the Kovenant. And with the release of "SETI", you know, we were intending to do a lot more touring and stuff like that, so he didn't have enough time. And eventually it came to the point when we were in the position that told him like, "Okay, we gonna have to find someone new unless you wanna quit all of your other bands." And obviously he was not going to do that.
MetalKings.com: And who will be replacing?
The Kovenant: It's a drummer from a band called RAM-ZET. Although, he is not a permanent member or anything so far - just the tour drummer.
MetalKings.com: What are the tour plans?
The Kovenant: Well, the album came out on Monday, naturally we would have wait a little, you know give it some store time before we start touring in support of it. PAIN is going with us, you know Peter's band, and we will be doing a major European tour.
MetalKings.com: Well since you already mentioned breaking away from Dimmu Borgir, now that the time has passed, do you have any regrets about leaving DB?
The Kovenant: No, not at all. Well, you know, maybe just a little bit, but we are still good friends, so it really doesn't matter.
MetalKings.com: I didn't mean that really, it's just that you could be doing that kind of music, as opposed to what you're doing now?
The Kovenant: Well, I think, I find the Kovenant music style you know, much more interesting. I've been doing black metal for more than 10 years, so… It's just got a little bit boring after a while. You know, I'm not like AC/DC - I'm not gonna release one and the same album for 30 years, you know.
MetalKings.com: Well, that's something I noticed about the majority of those REALLY good Norwegian black metal musicians - it's like, I guess, the most radical change stylistically has happened to Ulver, and I also heard Ihsahn (ex-Emperor) mentioning in one of his Terrorizer interviews that he wanted to do some pop stuff, and you totally moved from your previous style, why is that you think?
The Kovenant: I think that's because we're musicians, you know, professional musicians. If I was still black metal I would have continued playing in DB. But I think it's just because we're musicians and we wanna explore all kinds of styles eventually. And we always gonna do, what we wanna do, without regard to what the fans say, or record labels say, or anything?
MetalKings.com: A friend of mine told me that h heard the new Cradle of Filth record and that it sounded a lot like they were moving towards the Kovenant sound, how true is that, in your opinion?
The Kovenant: Well, on the new record they have a song called 'Animatronic' - so I think they're stealing song-titles from us, he-he.
MetalKings.com: So you gonna sue them?
The Kovenant: Ah, no :) In fact, funny as it seems, but I have this old demo tape from the Kovenant, and actually some of their songs do sound like early the Kovenant. Anyway, I like COF, they're also great guys.
MetalKings.com: Ok, on a more philosophical note what was the most important thing that you have learned over the years?
The Kovenant: Er… I don't know, I don't think I've actually learned anything, he-he… er… I don't know, it's a hard question. I guess I just learned t handle the music industry very differently.
MetalKings.com: Very differently as opposed to what?
The Kovenant: Very differently as opposed to just let them fuck you in the arsehole all the time.
MetalKings.com: So in that respect what would be your advice to all the young and aspiring bands out there?
The Kovenant: I don't know. Depends on what position you are in, but I guess if you're offered a contract, take that contract to a lawyer, or some union for musicians and show it to them before you sign absolutely anything. Other than that, it does not really matter what you do, but be careful with what you sign your name to, because we did that mistake way too many times. Have a professional take your contract and read through it.
MetalKings.com: So, how is your relationship with NB is progressing?
The Kovenant: Oh, we have a great relationship. They are very good at doing promotion stuff. You know, I probably would actually like to have a little bit more royalties, but you know we signed the contract without even looking at it. Stupid us, we were too young and ready to sign anything.
MetalKings.com: If we talk long-term plans for the future. The Kovenant as of now has accomplished a lot - you know, Norwegian Grammy and everything, so what's next on the agenda?
The Kovenant: Well, we are the only band on NB that does not have a video or anything visual, except from touring. I mean we've sold close to a million albums and even the bands who sold 500 copies have a video - we don't. So I think it is time for us to move into this more visual aspect of the band. Right now, we are preparing to do our first music video, we are also continuing to work on this sort of documentary or mockumentary, if you wanna call it that of the band, you know for the DVD thing… Like the history of the band, from the beginning to now.
MetalKings.com: What will the video be about?
The Kovenant: Well, we have to see first… but it really doesn't matter, we just let the fans vote what song they wanna see the video to, because we really didn't care. And they chose this really poppy song, which I was surprised at, because I'd expected people would choose something else…
MetalKings.com: Poppy in what sense?
The Kovenant: Well, you know it sounds like a stupid, you know… metal song, he! Like this sing-along and everything, weird…
MetalKings.com: Okay, I'm through with the more or less serious part of the interview, and for now our traditional stupido questions - well your new image, if you don't mind, I think Kovenant looks nowadays exactly like Krokus…
The Kovenant: Muahahahahahah! Okay…
MetalKings.com: Any comments?
The Kovenant: I don't actually know what Krokus looked like and I've never listened to it, I just know who they are…
MetalKings.com: Oh, they are an 80ies hair metal band who had a makeup that was really similar to yours - steel masks and everything…
The Kovenant: Oh, I have to check that out.
MetalKings.com: Besides take up the latest Rammstein photo-session, they also have silver makeup.
The Kovenant: Do they?
MetalKings.com: Yeah, they do.
The Kovenant: Well, you know we are not into that, we are like more into these Japanese Manga, kind of "Star Wars" meets "Mad Max" kind of thing. Cyber-punk, you know…
MetalKings.com: Aha, well talking of cyber-punk, well, since you… betrayed black metal (Nagash starts laughing hysterically) and everybody hates you for that, and you started playing dance metal and everything, I'm gonna let you choose of two new names for the band - name 1 being "Krodigy" and name 2 being "2 UnKovenant" - which and why?
The Kovenant: I think Krodigy, because its more similar to what we do. I mean Kovenant is Prodigy without the guitars.
MetalKings.com: And finally if that German techno star Scooter offered you to do a video, would you accept what it would be about?
The Kovenant: I would say "yes". I think it should be a live video from like a house party or something, just to emphasize the whole stupidity of it even more.
MetalKings.com: Well, his latest video is exactly like that, besides its got naked chicks in it!
The Kovenant: Oh, really? Whooo-hoo!
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