ON THE ALTAR is A Swedish black metal band that just recently released their debut album “From Dawn Of Time” on a wide variety of digital platforms. So what better time to speak with them than now. Anders Ekdahl ©2017
When the band came into creation what was the main purpose for it?
-From the beginning the main purpose was to create music and have fun, but as soon as we started to write the lyrics we noticed that our band was a lot more than just music. The lyrics we write are about the power of nature, the old ways of thinking and about humanity. When we write a song it has to have a meaning or a purpose, because we don’t want to be that band that just write something down on a paper and then go for it just to create something. To create a good song with a good atmosphere the music and lyrics need to come from your heart and mind.
How hard is it to come up with a sound that is all yours? What bits’n’pieces do you pick up from other stuff to make it your sound?
-When we formed the band back in 2012 we all had different opinions about the sound and what music we should play. Each of us listened to different styles of metal, but eventually we decided to go for black metal. We didn’t really know how to play black metal ‘’the right way’’, but we sort of knew how we would like to sound and that’s how we started. We basically combined black metal bands we liked with our own personal taste.
I have no idea what kind of creative process you guys go through but how hard is it to record and release new songs?
-We haven’t done anything new for a very long time now because we’re still awaiting our debut album release, but we still have a lot of unfinished ideas and material that’s waiting to be born. We have been working and recording demos ever since we started the band and the debut album only includes nine of our songs, so if people like our music they should be prepared for more! On The Altar haven’t done a lot of music together as a whole band. All our material so far has come from our guitar player Hangadrott (Nils) and our drummer Serk (Adrian). When they have made a song they record it and then send it to the other band members. That’s what we’ve been doing since we started the band and we think that’s the most effective way to do it
Today technology allows you to record at home and release your music digitally. But in doing so is there a risk that you release only single songs because that is what is demanded to stay atop and therefore you end up killing the album for example?
-Nah, we don’t work like that because we take the time we need. If we want to release an album – we release an album. Or if we want to release a single/EP – we release a single/EP. We think it’s better to put time and spirit into finishing a full album instead of releasing songs just like that.
I for one feel that the change in how people listen to music today, by downloading it and expecting to get it for free, will kill music as we know it. What kind of future is there for music?
-Of course it’s sad that most people nowadays expects to get music for free, but we think there’s two sides to it! While it’s probably much harder to make a living as a musician today, we still believe that it’s a lot easier for small bands and artists to be successful and spread their music. You don’t need to have access to a professional studio to make good recordings, you can do it at home, and that is pretty amazing. It’s also a lot easier to promote your band nowadays without having a record label. So while this change makes it harder to earn money by selling CD:s, we don’t think it will kill music.
What kind of responses do you get to your music? What has been the thing that has gotten the most attention?
-Well, most people like to think that we drink blood and worship Satan… No, but we think that the responses have been pretty good so far. We have done three or four live performances yet and people seem to like it. It’s going to be very interesting to hear what people think when we release our album.
We live in a world where there are no real distances between people communicating anymore. What has been the most surprising contact so far?
-As mentioned before, we haven’t done so much yet. We haven’t even uploaded anything except for some live performances. But we must say that this interview actually came up as a surprise…
Does playing in a band make you feel like you are a part of a greater community? What has music brought with it that you would have otherwise missed out on?
Hangadrott: I think so, yeah. Not just playing in a band but being a part of the ‘’metal life-style’’. Music is not just an amusement for your ears; it’s a reflection of yourself. You listen to music that you can relate to.
What is the live scene like for you? Do you feel that playing live helps building a bigger following?
-We haven’t played a lot. Our first (real) gig was at belsepub 2016 and it was absolutely amazing! We don’t think it helps that much, people want to hear your songs digitally.
What plans do you have for the future?
We’re planning on performing live in and out of Gothenburg. Hopefully getting some gigs in other countries as well. The main focus is spreading our music when we release our album the 27th of October this year. When we have done that we’ll start to write new music and start to record a second album.