Behemoth’s Nergal Talks Health, U.S. Tour and Being a TV Personality
Behemoth singer Nergal chatted with radio host Full Metal Jackie on her show over the weekend. Nergal talked about his recovery from leukemia, his band's upcoming U.S. tour and becoming a judge on the Polish edition of 'The Voice.' In case you missed Full Metal Jackie's show, read her full interview with Nergal here:
How are you?
Thank you so much. I’m doing well, just wanted to say hi to everyone out there.
Obviously a lot has happened in the past year with regards to your health; I just want to start out by asking how you’re feeling?
Actually, I’m doing well I’m physically. I’m improving pretty much every day; I’m also helping myself a lot, it’s not that I just sit and wait for miracles to come, nothing like that. I really push myself to the top and try to bring out all the potential there is and I need to push myself and I need to develop. It’s going in the right direction, considering the fact that a few month ago I wasn’t even able to run for let’s say 200 meters it was enough for me to spit out my lungs and now I’m doing six to eight kilometers every day, every morning jogging and I’m lifting weights and stuff and I actually look good and I look quite fit and healthy so I guess that the way I look speaks for how I feel. [Laughs] It’s going well thanks.
When we found out about the diagnosis last year, there was a pretty amazing response from the metal community; how did that feel for you?
It was touching , yeah I mean, I’ve said that several times already that I would never expect the extreme metal community to be that sympathetic, to be that empathetic, for all of these people to feel for me so much and to just send all the messages and emails all of the post I’ve seen on several forums. It was cool, it was really cool, it was really encouraging and having in mind this massive support coming from people who I consider our fans, it was really helpful and it was very encouraging as I said.
It’s not just me and my family behind my back, in a way it’s my new family, I consider all these people as a family in way you know so it’s an extreme metal family. [Laughs] So it’s awesome, it feels good that there is people that have so much support and have so much faith in you and that you really mean something to them and you can’t overrate it, it’s amazing, yeah it’s killer. I mean I’m speechless.
Metal Blade is going to be releasing ‘Demonica’ worldwide on Nov. 22. What could you tell us about the release?
Well it was released in Europe like a few years back but it was a small label from Sweden that didn’t really take much effort to bring it out to people, it didn’t get enough attention so we decided to pass it over to Metal Blade and they took the right care of it. There’s new packaging and it’s going to look really cool, it’s going to be a deluxe edition with two CDs obviously because there’s a lot of material, there’s a lot of versions of the old songs and there’s a really big booklet of stories from the old days and stuff like that so it’s pretty exciting.
There’s a lot of people who know us from the ‘Demigod’ period up to now; there’s a lot of people who just discovered Behemoth with our last record ‘Evangelion’ so they have a chance now to revisit our catalog, the very beginning of the band. I call it the toddler period, you know, it was the starting of us getting together as a band and we were shaping up, so to say, and it’s older, it’s a lot of songs from the first and second demo tape and there are songs that were recorded like rehearsal songs, a lot of cool stuff. So, for diehards it’s a must and for others I think it’s cool to check out where we came from.
Recently it was confirmed that you’re going to be a judge on Poland’s version of the singing competition ‘The Voice’ and obviously there has been a lot of controversy on that subject. Being a judge on the show and it’s called ‘The Voice of Poland,’ do you feel sort of like Alice Cooper, who let’s say infiltrated the mainstream on TV game shows in the 70s?
Well he did it on the big scale and I don’t really see myself doing it on a big scale these days because it’s a national thing right, it’s a Polish thing but obviously for some reason, I know the reason, which I’m going to talk later about, there’s a lot of controversy here in Poland about it because there’s a group of people that’s part of society that apparently find it offensive that a guy like me, a guy that fronts a black metal band and the guy who is considered being a Satanist, we have two main TV channels which are national channels and this is the national TV channel so find it offensive. Apparently they have to pay, in Poland you have to pay, actually it comes off your taxes, you cover the national TV off your taxes and they can’t stand the fact that they’re actually paying, the money comes from their pocket straight to my pocket.
All my virtues and life stands pretty much in opposition to their life so there’s a lot of controversy, there’s a lot of articles, in the last couple of weeks it was crazy because the program started in early September and it’s doing really well and it’s a singing competition obviously, there’s not much heavy metal there but it’s cool, it’s pretty ambitious I would say. There’s a lot of people who really know how to use their voice and obviously I’m aiming for a strong male rocking voices and I actually have two really killer guys in my team.
I’m happy you know, it’s like a new treat for me and I was surprised to see the extreme metal community in Poland, I mean some of them obviously make jokes because of that but all the smart guys know that I’m being myself on TV, I’m not pretending I’m someone else, I’m not wearing different clothes and if they ask me what I think of music I pretty much speak up my mind and I don’t hide behind a mask or anything like that. I’m just being myself, I’m an extreme metal musician with a lot of albums behind my belt and that’s all the success that I’ve had with Behemoth and it’s undeniable, so my status is there and there’s quality behind it, too.
They just can’t stand the fact that someone like me who part of society considers, an outcast or Satanist, anarchist, whatsoever, there’s a lot of controversy but other than that it’s cool, a lot of people find it really cool and very refreshing that people from the alternative scene find their place in TV. I think it’s cool, you know, and it’s also a new thing for Poland. I think it’s going to change worldwide too. I know you guys get ‘The Voice’ in the U.S and there’s Christina Aguiliera among others so yeah you guys got Christina Aguilera and in Poland it’s me.
Nergal you keep on saying that “somebody like you” but you’re university educated, you’re now a TV personality and you front Behemoth; what’s the most fun part of being a contradiction to the mainstream?
Well, you know what, I don’t need to bend to any rules and that’s awesome; the coolest thing is that whatever happens, I always come back to my cave, I always come back to the place that I feel so comfortable and the environment is very comfy for me and I’m talking about Behemoth and I’m talking about out tours, our shows, our rehearsal place so whatever happens with my TV affair, if the crucify me in media or whatever I don’t give a f---, you know, because my priority number one and my biggest passion and love in life is extreme metal music and I’ve always said that.
Even now if they ask me in interviews, I’m always being honest and straight up and I say that I’m an extreme metal musician so whatever happens I just don’t care, I know that I got legions behind me and I got people who worship Behemoth’s music and really have a lot of faith and trust in what we do artistically and that’s awesome and that’s who I am, that’s what made me who I am. This whole TV affair, I’m flirting with mainstream but don’t expect me to do a pop record. I’m not the right person to make that kind of music because I know how to do extreme stuff and I got extreme opinions; I got love for extreme metal music so that’s what I know how to do.
That’s obviously where your heart is.
Yeah, there’s really nothing wrong with to explore a different type of music, it’s cool and it can be teaching in a way, there’s a lot of people, there’s a lot of professionals there and I watch how they work and stuff and I’m a good observer and can really draw a lot of inspiration. It’s a different territory it’s TV, it’s mainstream but as long as they’re professional in what they do you can still draw inspiration from this and can bring it over to extreme and underground and make it even more professional so there’s nothing wrong with that. I think the tools are there, it’s just up to me if I want to learn how to use them, that’s it.
Being in a black and death metal band, people probably think that you’re musical taste is pretty limited what would surprise people most about the music on your iPod.
Well there’s thousands of songs, there’s hundreds of albums and well I woke up today and I played the new Red Hot Chili Peppers on my iPod and I really enjoyed it a lot; I think it’s a really really cool album, a lot of good songs. So to people who expect me to listen to Morbid Angel and Dissection only, they’re wrong. I’m a very open minded musician and I listen to anything, it’s a really wide spectrum of stuff that I can enjoy. I hate limiting myself in any way, I go for what works for me in any case.
I know that you’re preparing to tour right now, what could we expect in terms of the rest of the world, I know you’re doing some European stuff right now.
We’re doing Poland now, it’s a warm up tour and then we’re starting with Cannibal Corpse in February in Europe and actually we’re putting final touches to a U.S. tour which will start on April. 12, the lineup is still a secret but probably within days or weeks it’s going to be revealed to the world. All I got to say now because I'm not really allowed to reveal any names but it’s like a dream team tour for me. It’s going to be very underground, very dangerous and when we go on tours especially in the U.S. we’ve always compromised to be on a bill with bands, bigger bands, smaller bands it doesn’t matter.
But sometimes it’s just policy, it’s labels involved, it’s money and stuff that we need to compromise and there’s bands that we hate, good guys you know but a lot of music that’s on the bill it’s s--t and this time for the first time ever it’s my favorite bands on the bill and just wait and see it’s going to be a huge surprise. It’s going to be massive, it’s very underground but people will f---ing love it, people are dying to see this kind of bill, it’s going to be super evil. It’s going to be the most satanic tour that’s going to invade the U.S in a long time and there’s going to be no tour like that in years. That’s a promise just wait and see, I can’t wait for this to happen.
Last year, what made you stronger, being on trial or battling leukemia?
Well the whole trial thing you know I consider it, occasionally you go to the circus and that’s how I felt. The whole thing it looked like someone was trying to do PR for themselves, some so called politicians and people who tried to promote themselves through the whole case. It’s a serious thing in the eyes of the world but to me it’s just a joke so I’m over with this and I don’t really care anymore, so obviously Leukemia because it was a life-changing experience and it was a life-threatening experience. It was definitely something.
Thank you so much for speaking with us today, in your busy schedule, I know you’re a busy guy.
Thanks a lot and yeah we’ll be back soon, it’s just a few months you know and time is flying and we’re getting ready. Expect some new music coming next year hopefully and I’m so excited, I’m so psyched about this tour so just sit tight and keep your eyes open and check out ‘Demonica’ in the mean time.
That will hold us over in the mean time, thank you again and “do widzenia” ('goodbye' in Polish)
Do widzenia. Thank you so much. Cheers.
This coming weekend, Full Metal Jackie talks to legendary Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford. Full Metal Jackie can be heard on radio stations around the country — for a full list of stations, go to fullmetaljackieradio.com.