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Interviews   

Samael is hyperactive


On November 19th, Samael will release Antigod, a new 6-track EP, with “Antigod” as the key song. A single that will be featured on the Swiss band’s new album, to be released around March 2011. We talked to Vorph, the band’s charismatic frontman, to understand the reasons behind this EP, but also to know more about the upcoming album. At the end of the interview, the singer also explains why Samael chose Radio Metal to broadcast the song « Antigod » exclusively from Monday, November 1st.

Radio Metal : On July 3rd, you played in Bogota, Colombia, for your first ever show in South America. How did it go? What’s your memory of it?

Vorph (vocals) : It was pretty amazing! It was the first time for us in South America. It was actually a festival organized by the city of Bogota, and we didn’t really know what to expect. At first we were supposed to play for about an hour in the afternoon, but it the end we ended up playing last. There were over 60,000 people there, so it wasn’t bad for a first time! (laughs) We know that these people had come for the festival, and not necessarily for us, but it was still a great opportunity.

What did you do between July and October? I know you went to Germany to work on the songs for the next album with Waldemar Sorychta…

Yes, we did. It was a bit different from what we did for Reign Of Light and Solar Soul, where we’d barely worked together. This time we had to work together for about a week. As soon as we were back in Switzerland, we managed to transcribe almost immediately all the changed we had decided with him. Then the EP was more or less ready for the studio.

Was everything ready on your side when you started working on the songs with Waldemar?

Everything was ready until we thought maybe we could ask someone from the outside to contribute. Our songs were ready in the sense that we thought it was the best we could do. That’s often the way we’ve worked with Waldemar. We simply revise the songs with him, which means he gives us indications on their structure. When you listen to the same songs too much, you can no longer see how you could possibly improve them, because it’s always the little details that need revising. You have to make the most of what you’ve already produced, and it’s a part of the process that I don’t like much. I think working with Waldemar has always been positive. When you listen to the early demo and the one we record after working with him, you feel there’s something more there, so it’s a good reason to collaborate.

It seems Waldemar’s role in Samael’s music is limited to details. Have you ever changed a song from beginning to end with his help?

No, we’ve never done that. Doing this would mean he’s part of the songwriting process, and we simply want him to help us with pre-production work. I know that he and Xy (note: Samael’s main composer and Vorph’s brother) composed a song together, “From Malkuth To Kether”, for the Exodus mini-album. Xy Waldemar really worked together and composed about one half each. But apart from that, we’ve never really done a song together. We’re more used to bringing in an existing song that we arrange with him.

Would it be conceivable for you, in the future, to work more in depth with Waldemar as a songwriter? After all, he’s used to working with many bands, and he has one himself (Eyes Of Eden)…

Yes, we’ve talked about that. But at the same time, Xy likes to have control on everything! (laughs) These are songs on which he did spend some time. He has his own idea about how they’re supposed to sound. It’s difficult, because when we’re done working with Waldemar and we’re back in Switzerland, 90% of the work we’ve done together is validated. Some things are not, and we take a new direction. What we did together doesn’t appear on the album at 100%. The biggest part is there, but not all his work might end up on the album.

(about Antigod) « We wanted to give a taste of the album with a new songs. We’re going to tour in November and December, so we’ll use this opportunity to introduce the song during the shows. In the beginning, we simply wanted to make the song available for download on the Nuclear Blast website. Then we thought we could treat ourselves by doing a cover, even if, in the end, we did it with one of our own songs (“Into The Pentagram”). »

Antigod will be released on November 19th. What was your goal with this album? Give the audience a taste of the album that won’t be out before 2011? Releasing an EP with only one brand new track and several live songs and remixes is rather unusual…

We wanted to give a taste of the album with a new songs. We’re going to tour in November and December, so we’ll use this opportunity to introduce the song during the shows. In the beginning, we simply wanted to make the song available for download on the Nuclear Blast website. Then we thought we could treat ourselves by doing a cover, even if, in the end, we did it with one of our own songs (“Into The Pentagram”). When we told Nuclear Blast about this, we were more thinking of a very long single. The appellation may have changed, but it’s still a single that Nuclear Blast sell at the same price. It will also be out as a vinyl, with only two tracks.

So the basic idea came from you, and not from Nuclear Blast?

Yes, we wanted to present a new song during the shows of the next tour, because the album will be out at the end of this tour. Obviously, we wanted to make it available in streaming. And after that, Nuclear Blast wanted to make it available in streaming as well. That’s how it works. In any case, we had planned for it to be released one way or another before the tour, and we decided rather well what song we would present first.

Above was a more extreme album than its predecessors. What is your approach for the next album?

We already talked about that together in the past. In the beginning, Above was simply a project, we hadn’t planned to take this direction at all. It’s only when we got the finished product in our hands that we decided to take the “risk” to release it, because if it had remained a project, we would probably never have played those songs live. On the new record, there’s more of an idea of a fresh start.

Speaking of the new album, do you think the song “Antigod” is representative of it?

I don’t think you can summarize an album that features 10 or 12 songs, but I have to say that this is indeed a more orchestral song than what we may have done before. I cannot really make comparisons, but it’s a number 3/4 song (note: Vorph is referring to the rythm signature); it gives some color, like “On The Rise” did for Solar Soul.

It’s true that there’s an orchestral side to “Antigod”. This dimension was also to be found on Ceremony Of Opposites and Passage d’ailleurs. Do you agree with this analysis?

It’s possible. I think the song has a better construction, which makes it closer to Solar Soul. We had this desire to make something lighter, something more primitive, even if it doesn’t sound that way in the end. We really asked ourselves what we would do if we were to release a “first” album. There might be a few elements from the old albums in this new one, but it wasn’t what we wanted to do this time.

“Antigod” is a rather orchestral song, which can be reminiscent of the albums we’ve already mentioned, but it’s also less straightforward than some “radio” hits you’ve been making in the past – I’m particularly thinking of “Rain”, from Passage. “Antigod” takes a longer time to assimilate, because it plays on a more ambient and atmospheric aspect. Do you agree, or do you see it as a truly incisive single?

For me, a single is a song that lasts between three and four minutes. Now, no one says that it will be broadcast on the radio, and it’s not really our goal either. When we do an album, we do it the way we want to do it, we’re not looking for “radio” tracks. I think it will be the most successful song from the album in a live setting. We’re going to play live in a short while now, so we’ll see how it goes. It will be a way to sound out the mood.

« For me, a single is a song that lasts between three and four minutes. Now, no one says that it will be broadcast on the radio, and it’s not really our goal either. When we do an album, we do it the way we want to do it, we’re not looking for “radio” tracks. »

When I was on tour with you, Mas mentioned “Nazi orchestrations” when he talked about the album – as a joke, of course. With this new record, did you want to go back to a more atmospheric music, something less straightforward than what you’d done on Above? Was going back to what you’ve done in the past a natural evolution after leaving the extreme side?

Yeah, well… I don’t really know. There’s a rather fast song, probably even faster than what you could hear on Above. But then again, it’s only one song. We also have some heavy stuff. Some songs fit into the same scheme as “Ceremony Of The Opposites” and are a little more lively.

Xy also told us that there would be less electronic sounds on the new album; it was suppoed to be more guitar- and orchestra-oriented. Can you confirm that, or have you changed your way of going about the album since then?

We never wanted to put electronic sonorities on the side completely, but for this album, it’s true we used them a bit less. We put some in “Antigod”, which will be the single, but it was more of a stylistic exercise. It’s true that there are more orchestrations, the guitars are put forward, and the mix is done by someone we’d never worked with before, and who’s worked with Napalm Death, among others. He’s done more straightforward things, in short. That’s exactly what we needed for this kind of songs.

Do you have a title and a rough release date?

We do have a title, but we’re not really sure yet. So I’m not going to say anything as long as we’re not 100% sure. The album should be released around March 2011. We’re trying to organize something like a tour around this time, so maybe it will be a bit sooner, or a bit later.

You’re going to tour intensively between November and December, with a few dates in Russia some time before that. I guess you haven’t tried the new songs on stage yet?

Well, no, we haven’t! Actually, we had planned to play these songs during our shows in Russia, but I think that would be too early. So we’ll wait for the tour in November to play them for the first time. Maybe we’ll play another song along with “Antigod”. We don’t know yet, ‘cause we don’t know how many songs we’ll be allowed to play. It’ll all depend on what we can do. If we manage to squeeze in a few others, that would be good.

Since you’ll be doing a festival with several other bands, you’ll only have a reduced set…

That’s exactly the question. The idea is to play “Antigod” every single time. We’ll see what we can do if we have more time.

Last question, on another subject. From November 1st on, Radio Metal will broadcast “Antigod” exclusively. Why did you grant Radio Metal this privilege? On the whole, what do you think of our initiatives?

I visited the website earlier today, because I knew we were supposed to do this interview. It’s extremely well done, and it’s good to have such a website in France. The site is also available in English, which shows that you have international ambitions. Obviously, I think that’s great. And to be honest, the more people listen to it, the better for us!

Interview conducted by phone on October, 14th, 2010.
Samael Myspace : http://www.myspace.com/samael



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