I found out about ABBEY OV THELEMA from an article in Terrorizer. I got intrigued by the band and wanted to interview them to find out more. Anders Ekdahl ©2013
What is Thelema to you and how does it fit into the band’s name ABBEY OV THELEMA?
-Thelema is a spiritual philosophy developed by the British occultist Aleister Crowley in the first half of the 20th century. My approach to Thelema is as to a form of spiritual atheism, perhaps similar to Buddhism, but there are many major differences between the two. Yet Thelema is always open to personal interpretation, my approach is only one among many, Thelema doesn’t have to be atheistic.
The Law of Thelema is the famous “Do What Thou Wilt”. Philosophically, it’s build mainly on Nietzschean principles. Thelema influenced many later movements, including LaVeyan Satanism, which I personally view as a mainstream, immature version of Thelema.
Abbey of Thelema was a society in Sicily in the years 1920-3 and led by Crowley. We decided to pick a name for our band after this, only changing in the word “of” the letter “f” for “v”, because there were at least two lesser known bands of that name already.
When you have a word in your band’s name that is so closely associated with one person (Aleister Crowley) and his belief how does that affect the way you look at the World?
-When the band was founded in 2009, I wasn’t really much into Thelema, but slowly my interest grew stronger. I guess you could call us a Thelemite band, but our lyrics mostly do not deal with Thelema, at least since the Prelude to Apocalypse EP.
Personally I have to say, that it isn’t really Thelema that would change the way I look at the world. The view I have now is the same one I had already for at least a decade, and it was only later that I discovered Thelema and found myself attracted to it.
Would you say that there is a specific concept that you follow or can anything go as long as it is in the realm of the philosophy of the band?
-The only concept behind the band is to artistically express ourselves. We don’t want to limit ourselves in any way. We are not intending on doing any propaganda or stuff like that. There’s always a chance that I might be wrong in the statements I make. But there’s always some concept behind each release of ours, and some concepts go even beyond the limit of individual releases (an End-Time concept unites both the Prelude to Apocalypse EP, and Liber DCLXVI).
How much of a philosophical act is ABBEY OF THELEMA and how much is it a band living in the real world? How influenced are you by the world that you live in?
-All our lyrics also have some philosophical level of interpretation, even though on the surface they might appear to deal with other, e.g. mythological or eschatological themes. I personally even don’t even like listening to bands, whose lyrics apparently lack a higher intellectual level of interpretation.
But of course, when we are not making music, we are normal people with normal problems. But when making music, we don’t want to be influenced by the “real”, and outside world. I never put anything from my personal life into our lyrics, not even in a symbolic way. We are trying to attain values which are universal and which go beyond the limits of a simple, ordinary, boring life. We try to attain something eternal, and to put it into our music.
Would you say that ABBEY OF THELEMA is a religious band the way that Deathspell Omega or Watain are religious?
-I personally strictly differ between the terms of “religion” and “spirituality”. Religion is about worshiping gods or idols – AoT is, by this definition, not a religious band. “Spirituality” is about attaining “something higher”, something that goes beyond the limits of an individual life (whatever it may be). With such an approach I think atheism or even materialism can be called “spiritual”. Therefore I think AoT should not be religious in the way Watain is “religious”, because I view Watain as based on a kind of Lucifer worship.
Yet I must say I really love Deathspell Omega, because I think this band is very well aware of a higher nondualistic conception of Satanism and of Christianity, aware of the fact, the Satan and God are actually one and the same (or that Satan is an aspect of God), therefore their approach to Christianity has more value than the approach of 99% of the so-called Christians. I never found such a deep understanding of Christian mysteries in the lyrics of Watain, but perhaps I just wasn’t looking good enough.
What kind of religious climate do you live in? How oppressive is the church in your country?
-We live in Slovakia and Poland, which are both quite Roman-catholic countries. Quadrun, our Polish guitarist says that over 90% people he knows are believers, but he hasn’t met with any real oppression, so he feels ok so far.
For Slovakia, studies say that over 70% people over here are religious. I think most of these people are just hypocrites, in fact only a much lesser number of people really practices Christianity. Most people are only nominal Christians – at heart I can say that for most Slovaks God is dead. However, this doesn’t prevent our politicians from holding a strong pro-catholic position. Slovakia is actually the only country in the world that has signed special treaties with Vatican, giving their church special benefits over here. A separation of state and church is impossible. Even though these agreements seem to violate our constitution, they are still active and by international law even can’t be cancelled. It’s really sad what these Christian politicians are doing to this country.
You have a new album to about to be released. How pleased are you with it and how does this one differ from your previous recorded works?
-It’s certainly the best thing we composed and recorded so far. We finished the recording process in October 2012 and since then are waiting for it to come out. We really hope it won’t take long now. After such time I can even tell what we could have done better. In overall we’re satisfied, but we know we can make better next time.
How touch is it to find the right kind of people to release your album? How do you find the right kind of people to work with?
-We certainly desired a luxurious digipak release which would be appropriate for such an epic work as Liber DCLXVI. It took a lot of time until we got in touch with Wraith Productions, but I believe they’ll satisfy all our needs.
What kind of expectations can you have when you release an album? What would be a success in your eyes?
-We don’t really hope in any large-scale successes, because we are very well aware of how avant-garde and unusual our music is. A success would be a few hundred or thousands people who would get to know our band, and a lot of positive reviews. We are not in this band to become immensely famous, but to discover were the boarders of extreme music can be pushed to.
What more plans do you have for the future?
-We are already working on some new songs. There should be an EP or a split with some other band(s) next year, and slowly we’ll make arrangements for a new album. We also have other bands where we are active as well. You can also check out these associated bands, which include Nevaloth (a new album should come out this or the next year), Me0n (Quadrun’s industrial black metal side project, which released a debut EP this summer digitally, check it out: http://www.mediafire.com/download/jk528e8addkr6e4/Me0n_-_Zeroth_(EP_2013).rar) and 777 Babalon (an ambient project, releases can be downloaded here: http://www.mediafire.com/download/dw2d93wjd1nrct8/777_Babalon_-_2013_-_Alchymical_Androgyne_EP.rar and here: http://www.mediafire.com/download/7lroikf1pa4wuns/777+Babalon+-+2013+-+Berashith.rar)