AGATHODAIMON seem to have been around forever. Only to prove the point that the good don’t always die young. Some survive a and get better with age. Answered by Sathonys. Anders Ekdahl ©2013
You’ve been around for a long time now. You’ve seen trends come and go. How do you as a band survive?
-By having a philosophy that we follow since day one. There are certain things that define the band, and if we don’t lose this focus, there’s no reason to split it up. If we realize we move too far away from our vision, it’s time to correct the course. We actually did cross the imaginary line with our previous album; this was maybe a step too far away from what Agathodaimon stands for, so we aimed for a “back to the roots”-approach this time.
Another important aspect is, that we take the time to record another album if needed. It’s a process that should not be rushed, even if there’s a long gap between each album. It’s done when it’s done…
It’s been four years since your last album. What have you been up to since then?
-Well, typical things, like line-up changes, personal/private things to take care of and so on. You know, we don’t make a living with the band, so we have to follow regular jobs, earn money- and of course this slows you down in comparison to “professional” bands, especially as we set our aims high. There should be no obvious difference between full-time bands and ours.
When you are away for a longer period of time do people tend to forget about you? What kind of reactions have you had to your new album so far?
-I think that’s something that easily happens! There are actually 2 possible streams- if you’re as big as Metallica or AC/DC, it’s obviously best not to release a new album that often, as every new album is a potential risk to damage your legendary status (see the discussions about the last Metallica albums for example). So, the bigger the bands get, the longer it often takes until a new album is released, even though it should be the other way round- having no financial limitation and lots of people to take care of daily business (managers, technicians, promoters etc.), they should be able to concentrate on songwriting and gigs. But, it’s not always like that- and if you’re a small band like we are, of course releasing albums in longer periods is not helpful to keep a steady fan base- especially as I think our albums always sound a little different. So I guess, this actually might be a problem that people forget, or simply develop other musical tastes meanwhile. But that’s evolution, and the same happens to us of course. We’re not trying to sound the same on each album- there are basic elements to our sound that won’t change, but we always made musical freedom one of our core principles. But, back to your second question, the reactions so far have been really good! We did have some secret pre-listenings both for longtime and newer fans, and we’ve been really happy about the feedback so far.
When the press unanimously hail your album as the greatest thing since sliced bread how do you as a band feel?
-Well, not sure if this will happen, but if it would happen, I’d look closely at the statements given- I would embrace positive reviews, and I would not see a hype around the band, but I’d be surprised though if every magazine would give raving reviews. Because I made the experience (and I’m a writer myself) that editors are usually rather hesitant when writing “excellent” reviews if it’s about a band that did take a longer break. But well, let’s see. Somehow it’s always also a matter of taste, even if you try to put the personal opinions aside. As long as a review is focused on facts and not only a matter of personal taste, I can live even with negative output. Although I don’t know what could be mentioned as negative, hehe.
How would you like to define your sound today? How different is it to the one you had when you started out all those years ago?
-Oh well, in 1995 we were more focused on Black Metal in general, there were less outside influences. Quite natural, as we did listen mainly to Black Metal or extreme music back then. But if you grow older, you realize there are also other great bands out there, and of course this more or less influences your style as well. But if I compare our current album to the first one, I don’t see big differences, except that we do have a higher amount of clean vocals on the new one. But when it comes to the atmosphere and feeling, I think the albums can be compared. As everything has to be labeled nowadays and Black Metal doesn’t fit 100%, we’re okay if it’s called “Dark Metal”. That’s rather a phrase to me, but it somehow gives a clue what to expect, soundwise.
When you released your first album back in 1998 what kind of expectations did you have? How different are the expectations today when you release an album?
-I don’t know- we didn’t really have expectations. Everything came quite fast, and I put a lot of time and energy into it back then, trying to promote the band and so on. So, we actually had an impression about how people would judge the music, as we did receive excellent reviews especially for our 2nd demo- of which we sold more than 2000 copies. All home-copied by myself, that was fun, I can tell you… So, the reviews of the first album mostly were great, and it was awesome to suddenly play gigs with bands like Dimmu Borgir or go on tour with some of our idols (Dismember for example). But we never tried to make a living out of it, so we didn’t feel a commercial pressure to top the success and to fulfill expectations of other people. The band itself is more important; so back then we decided to fly to Romania and record our next album there, together with our old vocalist (you might have heard that he wasn’t able to return to Germany at that time, so we had to go there instead). From a commercial point of view, this surely wasn’t a good idea, as Romania didn’t offer the same technical equipment and experienced metal producers than other European countries had. And honestly, when I first heard “Higher Art Of Rebellion” in the final mix, I was myself disappointed about the sound. But it still remains to be my personal favorite album, and I’d consider it as highly underrated from the majority of the metal press. But that also shows your own way of perceiving music as a creator, and the difference to a listener or editor of a magazine. So, I think it’s always most important to be happy with the output/final result of an album and not to focus on commercial aspects. Of course we’re happy if we would make some money with the current album, as nothing is for free- studio rent, equipment etc. has to be paid somehow.
How important is the art work? How important are the colours? Could the wrong kind of colours kill the album?
-Well, the artwork surely is important. The colours are also an aspect of our “corporate identity”, I don’t think we’ll change it- all covers will be held in blue colours. If you do look at our last album, you’ll realize that it’s not 100% blue- I decided to add that additional spot to make clear that I do think there’s more colour in this album than in the previous ones for examples. It wasn’t 100% Agathodaimon so to say, but I came to this conclusion only after the final recordings were done. I still think it’s a great album, but it’s the one that differs most from our previous albums, even if the steps taken between “Serpent’s Embrace” and “Phoenix” aren’t that big. But I think it’s the atmosphere/feeling of the songs- hard to explain, there were great songs on it, but in my opinion, they weren’t “dark” enough. So, the title “In Darkness” hopefully gives a hint about the direction of the new album.
What kind of lyrical topics do you deal with?
-Well, depends. To me, religion is always a subject worthy to pick up. Don’t expect typical satanic/horror stuff, I rather think it’s good to reflect about the daily horrors 😉 Many people simply don’t think and take everything for granted, daily routines against individuality and common sense, hypocrisy… anyway, we also have old school black metal lyrics, occult stuff that usually our vocalist Ash contributes. To me, it’s not necessarily a certain subject or a certain message important, but the overall feeling of the lyrics. They should support the music. So it depends, sometimes personal feelings and experiences are involved as well.
When you write lyrics do you think that they will be there in 20 years time or do you more write them for the time being?
-Not sure if I understand the question… at least, some lyrics are almost 20 years old now… But that’s a thought I don’t have. Some lyrics are rather basic, about things that might affect everyone, and even if I write about personal things, I do rather wrap it in general expressions, so it’s easier to identify with them. And as there’s rarely a clear message in them, they’re rather timeless, as there’s no real connection to the time period they were written in.
What future do you see?
-We’re all going to die. Some sooner, some later. So enjoy the time you have!