Ex-Gorgoroth Vocalist Gaahl Discusses Controversial Moments, Art + Reveals New Song ‘From the Spear’
We've got the exclusive premiere of the new Gaahl's Wyrd track, "From the Spear." The second single from Gaahl's (Gorgoroth / God Seed) new band is a challenging and rhythmic piece of extreme metal off the upcoming album, GastiR – Ghosts Invited.
We also had the opportunity to speak with Gaahl on the phone, discussing the new project, some of his more controversial moments, how isolation allows the singer to be at his most creative and more.
Listen to "From the Spear" and check out our exclusive interview with Gaahl below. To pre-order GastiR – Ghosts Invited, click here.
How long did it take you to work on this album and complete it?
Well, recording-wise, we basically, I think we started the recording in May last year. So, yeah, and due to the engineer -- he's been kind of on and off tour -- we've taken it in bits and pieces, especially with the vocals and the mix. So, a couple of interruptions throughout [laughs] otherwise it would probably have been finished already. That's just how the situation has been, but I know musically, some of the music was done three years ago.
Your vocal style on this album is a bit different than what you did with Gorgoroth and God Seed. How did you decide that this was the proper vocal style for this music?
I usually just try to find the emotion that I'm in at the current state of creation and what I hear. I always have to hear the voice in my head before I actually do it. If I can hear within my head, I know I can execute it as well. That's the way my emotions have been connected to this topic on the album.
When you were onstage with Gorgoroth and God Seed, your stage presence was meant to represent a personification of the music. With this slightly different style and new music, do you have an idea what your stage presence will be like while playing these songs live?
I usually just fall into the state of the music anyway. Of course, only last week we rehearsed with the band, so it actually seems like it will fall into place very easily. I have considered how it should be presented. I think, eventually, it will just fall into place on its own court. There are many different emotions on this album, but I will be able to break into the rest of the set.
Are you still living in Espedal in Norway?
Yes, on and off. I also have an art gallery in Bergen, so I’ve been more in Bergen since I opened a gallery there. I'm kind of on and off. So, I live 50/50 music-wise and also artistic-wise.
In your art gallery are you actually showcasing your own art?
Yeah, but I do present other artists as well. That’s the idea behind the gallery.
Was it difficult to decide that you wanted to display your paintings? I remember that you didn't even want to sell them not too long ago.
Yeah, true. Someone managed to convince me. [laughs] It’s strange how the world moves.
Has it been a rewarding experience, showing your art to people and seeing their reactions?
Yeah, in a way, but then again, it's very exhausting to display one's own art. For me, it's both on and off. At one time, I was really regretting exhibiting them, so it depends on my mood. Sometimes it feels great and other times it's kind of too private.
The term 'Wyrd' has many meanings. What does that mean to you, personally?
For me, it basically deals with the concept of everything that surrounds you in a sense of destiny, everything that becomes part of you as a person. I don't necessarily believe in destiny. You are an individual, so you shape your own fate. That's basically the idea behind this word.
When you've been performing live with Gaahl's Wyrd, it's been a mix of Gorgoroth, God Seed and Trelldom songs. Do you plan to mix those songs with your original material now?
Yes, definitely. They are songs that deserve to be performed. I just bring along the songs that I have made with different bands. Of course, Trelldom never played live. We kind of decided never to do that, so it's a good thing to do, actually. [The songs] survived way better than I expected.
Do you have any plans to come to North America?
It would have to be Canada. I have a visa there that will be valid for five years, but when it comes to the United States, I am not allowed. I doubt that will happen.
Do you plan to come to Canada then?
I think they're working on some shows there. We'll see. It will be a busy year ahead, so we will see what we can put on the schedule.
Splitting your time between Espedal and Bergen, how would you say that your surroundings influence your art both when it comes to music and painting?
It probably influences me quite a lot, but I don't know anything else. [laughs] It's just what's normal to me. I'm quite certain it has led me in that way.
I know you have a deep appreciation for the natural world and like to surround yourself with the natural world in isolation, at times. When it comes to isolation, do you feel you're most creative when you’re on your own?
Yes. I need a lot of space, especially when it comes to visual art. This is actually the first recording I've ever done where I've spent as much time around humans. [laughs] This has been a bit different from any other recordings I've done. I had an agreement with myself that I would try to not go back home before I had recorded this. I almost managed to do it, but I had to take a break. I've gotten more used to being amongst my fellow creatures. [laughs]
So you find it challenging to be around people for too long without being able to go back home and recharge, so to speak?
Yes, but I'm probably better at reading myself, when I start to notice that I have to withdraw. I'm becoming more aware of my own insanity. [laughs]
When you do get into an isolated state and you begin feeling creative and you begin writing lyrics or painting, what are those sessions like? Do you spend days at a time working and working?
Yes, in a way. When it comes to painting, I usually sit and talk to the blank canvas for days before I actually start to execute it. When I execute it, I work very fast when I start. Maybe opposite to music. [laughs] Musically, I prefer to work early in the morning and during the early hours of the day. When it comes to visual art, I usually allow myself to use the evenings and the night. So, I have different approaches to how I work.
When you speak to the canvas, has there been anything that’s inspired your lyric writing?
No, I try to separate them. I try to separate them quite a lot. When it comes to visual art, I usually allow what I see in others to inspire me. When it's musical, its usually never individuals that are a part of of the inspiration. While in visual art, it's usually what I see or what I think I see in what people don't want to show the rest of the world. [laughs]
I think the mythos of Gaahl has grown and grown over the years. When you see yourself portrayed by A Headbanger’s Journey and by VICE, do you think they portray you in the correct context?
I'm very good at not paying attention to anything. [laughs] Especially when it comes to how I'm depicted, myself. It’s one of the things that I am absolutely unconcerned about. I only hear rumors. [laughs]
A very memorable quote from A Headbanger’s Journey was you saying that every trace of Christianity and the Semitic roots should be erased. It got me wondering, even if we got to a point where these religions were no longer practiced on earth, do you think we should keep some relics just for the sake of understanding our history? Or do you believe that they should be completely gone?
It’s always important to remember history, and memories, one of the most important teachers that we have. We should not have a controlled form of monotheism. It’s the psychopath, basically, about to be released. It is a certain fact that it is insanity. We can't remove the memory of it, but we have to remove the formal control.
Here in the United States the population of religious people continues to go down even though the United States is a very religious country. Do you see a similar effect happening in places like Norway?
Yeah, you kind of have it going in both directions, in a way, because of all the scare tactics that are run by the major medias. You always have the doomsday practitioners that are aiming to get their prophecies fulfilled one day. [laughs]. So you get both — the extreme become more extreme and the liberals become more liberal.
I've noticed that. Do these things make you want to retreat into isolation even more?
I'm lucky, Bergen is a good environment, in general. There's very few issues here and I, of course, always have my home anyway. The most dangerous thing we're facing now is the censorship that is happening because we are not allowed to offend anyone. We have more censorship now than we've had in years and years, so we are heading into a strange time. Censorship is one of the most dangerous things we face. To always protect and to not allow us to be offended, it will create groups that will do things just to be noticed. To silence people… that is dangerous.
I remember when Gorgoroth put out the Black Mass in Krakow, there was a lot of religious-based censorship due to blasphemy laws. Did that process change the way that you look at creativity and the need to express yourself despite others trying to stop you?
Well, I've always had the feeling that we've been tried to be kept quiet for a long time. We already had it back in the '90s when [they] put quite a lot of energy into trying to [laughs] control us. We managed to allow art to victor. We went free of the whole charge, not because we didn't break the law, but because we couldn't know that this law had existed. We had a lot of good help from a Norwegian judge, anyway, the ones doing the interview with us. So we didn't actually go to Poland to do that. The one producing it, he went to prison. I think he got two years or so. When he got released, that's when the DVD was released.
Is there any desire to create a performance with Gaahl’s Wyrd as extreme as that Gorgoroth performance or the God Seed performance at Wacken?
I don’t know. I don't know where we'll head. At the moment, both lyrically and everything, it doesn't have the same attack and you don't have a certain enemy. That's not the aim for this band. This is more of the phantom territory of lyrical concept, and also God Seed, but since we brought along all the music that me and King [ov Hell] made together from Gorgoroth, it kind of got stuck -- the Gorgoroth imagery.
If you could possibly dictate your future with Gaahl’s Wyrd, what are the things you would like to achieve with the band?
At the moment, I actually don't have any plans apart from creating. Art usually has a tendency to become their own energies. At the moment, it's creating it and then we'll see what they grow into. It's the creation that's important at the moment and then we'll see what it feeds.
Thanks again to Gaahl for taking the time to speak with us. Pre-orders for 'GastiR – Ghosts Invited' became available today, so click here to order the new Gaahl's Wyrd album.
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