Upon recieving news about a new SLECHTVALK I remembered having heard one of their earlier albums. And since I wanted to knoiw more about the band I interviewed Shamgar (guitar/vocals). Anders Ekdahl ©2017
When you picked the band name was it set in stone that it had to be in Dutch?
-When I started this band as a one-man project choosing a proper name wasn’t so easy. Most english names I came up with either sounded cheesy, generic or there were already numerous bands with the same name and I wanted something unique. This is why I started looking to dutch words and after having seen a documentary about the Peregrine Falcon (‘Slechtvalk’ is the dutch name for it), I decided to name my band after this bird of prey. In retrospect it might not have been the most commercial sensible choice (as most foreigners have lots of difficulties pronouncing it), but on the other hand we are the only SLECHTVALK and it’s reasonably recognizable.
You guys have been going for some time now. Having released numerous albums what has been the high light(s) so far?
-Back in 1999, when I started SLECHTVALK as a solo-project, I had little expectations of actually succesfully forming a band, due to failed previous attempts. So after the release of the debut-album ‘Falconry’ I was quite surprised I was able to form a full band within months. A second highlight was being offered the opportunity to record a live-DVD show (2005), which was pretty unique at that time, but for us the biggest highlights came during our 2nd decade of existence.
Our first three albums have been well received, but they’re not top-level production-wise, rather mediocre, it was therefore a great boon we were able to record our 4th album ‘A Forlorn Throne’ with the same people who worked with well established bands like ‘Amon Amarth’, ‘Opeth’, ‘Katatonia’, ‘Swallow the Sun’. Ofcourse this album set a high standard for us, but believe we’ve been able to beat it with our new album ‘Where Wandering Shadows and Mists Collide’.
If you were to narrow down to what has been the single greatest influence on your sound, what would that be?
Getting bored rather quickly. There aren’t that many albums I’m able to listen to in one sitting, usually I get rather bored after 3 or 4 songs, because the songs sound too much the same. So the music I write has to keep my interest, which is why I take my inspiration from various metal genres and occasionally create some unorthodox combinations.
Metal today is filled with all kinds of sub-genres. What was it that made you pick your sub-genre? Why are you playing the metal you play?
-I’ve been listening to metal for several years before I started writing my own and at that time symphonic blackmetal (Dimmu Borgir, Emperor, Legenda and others) appealed to me most. Ofcourse during the years I have been listening to all sorts of styles. I’ve had periods where I listened to mostly one specific style ranging from old-school blackmetal, folkmetal, doommetal and even metalcore. Being familiar with many sub-genres allows me to try out new combinations, which is why it’s difficult for me to pinpoint which sub-genre fits our style best. Personally I don’t consider us a blackmetal band anymore, but rather blackened-deathmetal, because some songs hardly sound like blackmetal at all, but on the other hand some songs really sound like blackmetal. Eitherway our sound is extreme and most songs sound very epic, which is probably why our promotor Markus Eck suggested ‘Epic Extreme metal’.
Something I have often wondered about is if you feel that you are part of something bigger and greater when you play in a band, that you are part of a movement?
-In my daily routine of work & family, I’m rather oblivious to the metalscene. I don’t encounter that many metalheads in my daily life and when I hang out with my (metal) friends we usually talk more about other stuff than metal. It’s when I go to concerts (or play there) I do feel ‘at home’ in a sense. I’m so used being the only long haired & bearded dude where-ever I go, being among other metalheads triggers a sensation of brotherhood, especially when being among fellow musicians.
When you play the sort of music you play I guess you cannot have birds and bees on the cover of your album? What is a great album cover to you?
-A great album cover sparks the interest to get to know the story behind it. The cover artwork should also reflect what kind of music you can expect, I’ve been duped many times thinking I held a blackmetal album (due to logo/dark artwork) and it turned out to be something totally different. I’ve also seen several blackmetal albums that I wouldn’t recognized as such from the exterior packaging.
I think Raymond Swanland did a great job on the artwork of our new album though.
Why do you think it is that people today prefer to download music instead of buying a physical product? Is digital killing music?
-As long as those people pay for that digital download, it wouldn’t be a problem, although I wonder why a band should invest in artwork if people don’t even bother to look at it. But somehow many people tend to think that music (& movies/series as well) should be in the public domain and free for all, but that kind of attitude kills all artistry. It takes a lot of time & money to create & record an album and most artists have to balance their music-spending with their families, so getting some revenue from album sales is a requirement for that artist to keep on making music, while keeping their families content, otherwise one or the other will ultimately be doomed.
What state is live music in today? What kind live scene is there today?
-I believe it’s in a state of decline. We just came back from a tour and the gig in Italy wasn’t that crowded. I was told the scene in Italy is dying, one club closing after another, people just stop going to shows and then complain there arent enough shows. In the Netherlands it’s not as bad, but getting paid gigs is difficult. It’s often cheaper for a club not to organise anything or organise some dance-event, than booking bands and now that there is little sponsorship by the government, many clubs either choose to book bands that are certain to attract a big crowd or only offer a door-deal, but with minimal promotion that often results in empty pits.
When you play live is it a happening or do you see it more as a party?
-When I go to a concert as a visitor I also want to be visually entertained. Either the musicians must be intriguing to watch them perform or have a good interaction with the crowd and probably a combination of both is best. I’m not really into party folkmetal anymore, so to me it’s more like a happening and when it’s not interesting to watch I personally rather hang out at the bar and talk with friends and enjoy the band as background music. This is probably why I try my best to keep the crowd entertained.
What would you like to see the future bring?
-So far we haven’t really played at big reknowned festivals in front of a crowd of thousands, so that’d be nice to experience someday. Since our live-DVD from 2005, much has changed in our performance, so recording another live-show would be awesome, but most importantly we’ve got many ideas for a future album, so we hope our new album sells well enough to allow us to invest in another sometime in the next 2 years and not have to wait another 6 years to scrape the funds together.