ANCIENT shouldn’t need an introduction. And even though they haven’t been active for over a decade now you still should now how they are. But if you don’t here is an interview. Answers by Zel. Anders Ekdahl ©2016
I guess I am not the only one that wonders what the hell happened to ANCIENT ? All of a sudden it seemed you went all quiet.
-Ok, from 2006 to 2009 the band was practically inactive, nothing at all was happening then, I think we all had a period with loss of inspiration to tour and create new music etc., Grom left the band and moved to USA, I moved to Greece and the band was practically split up, although we never made any such statement. Just in 2009 we started playing with Nick Barker and things began to move again.
We were actually working on this album since 2011, when we decided to prepare some new tracks and make a comeback. It has just taken a long time as we’re all in different countries and busy with several projects here and there. The actual recording process and mixing also took a lot longer than expected, almost 2 years from we started recording the drums, until we had the master in our hands.
ANCIENT is one of the classic Norwegian black metal bands nowadays with the release of that debut “Svartalvheim”. How do you keep up maintenance on that legacy in what you do today?
-I’m not 100% sure how to interpret your question, I mean, some people will always say that Svartalvheim was the best or only good album that Ancient ever made, but that’s just how people are. Some people say the same about The Cainian Chronicle. We were always a band that kept progressing though, it doesn’t feel natural to repeat ourselves, although with this album we do still have a lot of the roots from the early ‘90s in the sound. This album is the most aggressive and heavy album in our discography, but everybody has different views of which Ancient albums are the best, as our catalogue has become quite diverse over the years. I think the fans that follow us from album to album, don’t mind that each album is a bit different, but they know we deliver a special sound and feeling which they recognize.
When you’ve been silent for as long as you guys have now how do you pick up the thread beyond the media interest, how do you get people to open up their eyes to ANCIENT of today?
-There aren’t really any magical tricks or so, we make announcements in social media, our labels help with promotion, touring always helps… Even though we were inactive for 11 years ( touring wise ) we see that we still have a lot of the fans from the ‘90s still following us, everybody tells us that we are a special band that they remember, we were always a bit different than the rest. And during the last years, it doesn’t seem that interest in this music has faded, and a lot of new fans are interested in us as we are considered a “legendary” band ( although this term is a bit over used these days ). Most of the publicity work is something the record labels are taking care of.
What is this new album like? How does it fit in the discography of ANCIENT
To me ANCIENT started to carve a totally unique sound very early on. What was it that made you chose the musical route ANCIENT took?
-This new album is our most aggressive and fast one so far. There are still keyboards and clean guitars and slower parts in the tracks, but there is a lot of great blast beats, impossible to avoid when we have a beast like Nick Barker behind the drums hehe.
The album is 66 minutes long and has 13 tracks, so there is variety as always yeah.
I think it’s maybe a kind of continuation from the style we had with Night Visit, but with keeping some elements from the early days of the bands, it’s good to not go too far from your roots usually.
People always tell us that we have a sound which they easily can recognize and this album also keeps the special ” Ancient feeling” I believe, although we have progressed and improved in some ways, making this a very powerful album, I like to listen to it in the car stereo especially, it’s very difficult to not turn it up to volume 50, it’s like I just “have to”, if you will try it too, you will see what I mean hehe.
I ( we ) never sit down and ” plan” how our next composition shall be, it all just goes by feeling, what feels natural to do. Even with the first albums when I wrote all the music, I just kept creating the music that I felt like. After Svartalvheim, I wanted to make something a bit different, so The Cainian Chronicle showed a more melodic yet dark side of Ancient, and Mad Grandiose Bloodfiends was very different again, a lot cause of a new line up writing the music, but we really just follow the feelings we have, we never actually paid too much attention to what’s changing in the scene around us etc.
How important is image and a mysterious aura to give that “larger than life” kind of vibe?
-I actually don’t think the image is something really “important”, but at concerts for instance, I think it is right to not look like just a bunch of guys dressed in jeans and “normal ” clothes, nothing wrong with bands that do this, but for our style, the visual side is quite important, and it’s one of those things that contribute to the atmosphere and feeling of the performance, you know. I wouldn’t exactly mind with dropping the make up, clothes, and put no band photos in magazines etc, but this is cool for the fans, in this music the image is actually something that makes a difference, even though I don’t personally feel it’s “important”, the music itself is what matters most.
Now that ANCIENT are back so to speak, with what intent are you back? World domination? Black metal invasion?
-We will just keep spreading the Ancient spirit to the people, how many will embrace it is something we don’t speculate too much about, but we do hope to come out and tour a lot again now.
When ANCIENT play live how do you go about creating the atmosphere that you have on your albums? Do you even try to recreate it?
-We do try to recreate it, but live is always something different than an album. On a concert it’s more the aggression and loudness of the music that is emphasized, so a lot of tracks doesn’t necessarily sound so good live, even if they’re great on the album, and a bit vice versa as well actually.
For our next tours we will experiment with some special sound effects between songs, which might be interesting. To have the right atmosphere live also depends much on things like lights and how the whole performance is planned, many people told us Ancient is quite different live, but not in a bad way, just that live we’re more “raw” and with a more aggressive feeling.
Is ANCIENT still “a Norwegian” black metal band?
-I think by now most people will agree that Ancient is a kind of band without a real nationality, as we’re all from different countries. I think this in some way has contributed to our own personal sound though. I have written most of the music during our career, but it would be wrong to call Ancient a “Norwegian band”.
What will the future bring with it?
-Probably some touring later this year and next year, we will see, hope to come out and find a lot of our fans out there !!
Thank you for the support !!