Nachtmystium interview with Blake Judd: "I am particularly inspired by religious fanaticism that occurs in religions throughout the world"

28/08/2012 @ 12:53
Nachtmystium caused over their two previous albums considerable debate regarding the experiments introduced in their sound. However in their new album entitled "Silencing Machine" return to more traditional forms adopting, simultaneously, some new elements in their music. We had the opportunity to contact the mastermind of the band, Blake Judd, to explain more about his musical concerns, among other interesting issues.

Hi, how are you?
Tired, having trouble sleeping lately... it's 7:30 AM and I've been up since yesterday, was unable to sleep last night. Not sure why, but that's the situation here. I'm sure I'll survive haha.

How long had you been working on your new album?
I began writing for "Silencing Machine" with Andrew Markuszewski (the other guitarist in Nachtmystium) and Charlie Fell (our drummer) in mid 2011. It took about six months to get everything together and ready to record.

Is there any particular concept behind "Silencing Machine"?
No, this album is not a concept record (as the last two were, the "Black Meddle" series). This album is about a lot of things, ranging from our disdain for organized religion, personal things in our personal lives that we've written songs about, and over all just the world around us that we live in today. The modern world is a place full of inspiration for this kind of music due to the violent and capitalist (aka greed-driven) society that we as Americans live in.

NachtmystiumCompared to the two "Black Meddle" albums, "Silencing Machine" does not include the experimental perspective of those two releases. Why and how did you decide to abandon that prog, space, psychedelic etc elements of your music?
I disagree at this point.  We did experiment with a lot of new things on this record that have never been present on Nachtmystium albums in the past. Use of modular synthesizers, looping, and other 'industrial' type techniques were used while recording the synthesizers / keyboards for this record. We also worked a lot on creating some wild and gnarly sounding guitar tones, tones that are much 'heavier' than we've used on the "Black Meddle" records. So, we're still experimenting here, just in a totally different way. As for the prog / space / psych elements that aren't found here that were on our last couple of albums ...why would we repeat something we've already done? That's our attitude about it. We wanted to go back to the basics on this album and write a really solid 'metal record' and then try some new things in the layering process (like what I've mentioned above here). We didn't want to make an "Assassins" part 2 or and "Addicts" part 2. We're a band that goes out of our way to not repeat ourselves, we've always been that way and will try to always be that way in the future as I feel that it makes for much more interesting records. You never know what you're going to get with us, and I like to keep our fans on their toes in that regard.

Do you think that this is the only difference between the new and the previous albums?
No, there are a lot of things that make this record very different from our previous efforts. That's for the listeners to discover and form their own opinion on though.

NachtmystiumWhat made you to follow that sort of experimentation back then?
I've always just done what I wanted to do at any given time. When I was writing "Assassins", I was heavily into psychedelic rock, and it's reflected in the record. For "Addicts", I was very into post-punk / post-rock stuff at that time like Joy Division, Interpol, My Bloody Valentine, Editors, etc and that comes through very much in the sound on that album. For this album, it's heavily influenced by GOOD black metal (like some of my personal favorites, being early Bathory, Katharsis, Deathspell Omega, early Darkthrone, Burzum, etc) and then also heavily influenced by industrial bands such as Ministry, Killing Joke, (early) Nine Inch Nails, etc.

Do you feel that your new album has the ingredients to be more successful than your previous two records?
I think so. I feel that the song writing is much stronger and the songs are more memorable. There are a ton of good 'hooks' on this album, the kind of stuff that you'll find yourself humming in your head after listening to it. That's when I know I've done something 'right' with a song, when it finds itself stuck in my head for days after writing / recording it. This is one of my 'filters' that i put our music through before deciding whats good enough to go on a record and what needs to be cut out and removed. Anyways, with all that being said, yes, I think this album has the ability to do as well or better than the previous two. I think the whole performance is just stronger and tighter than what we did on the last two records.

NachtmystiumWhich are the main sources of inspiration and your influences for the music and the lyrics as well?
Like I said in an earlier answer in this interview, my biggest influences on both music and lyrics come from two places: my personal life, and then the world around me. Every song on this record deals with one of those two things. I found myself particularly inspired (lyrically anyway) on this record by religious fanaticism that occurs in religions throughout the world. Fundamentalist Christians, Jews and Muslims are the key people we're attacking when discussing the topic of religion in our lyrics on "Silencing Machine". I feel that people that take any of those three religions to an extreme level (that will result in spawning terrorists in the case of Islam in certain situations with certain individuals, or in regards to Christianity, it could be just one more uneducated god-fearing red neck in the United States who takes on his or her 'holy crusade' and then goes and bombs an abortion clinic or something.) Theses types of fundamentalists are extremely dangerous to the rest of the normal people of the world. These are the types of behavior patterns I've noticed throughout the world simply by paying attention to the news and being sure to get a good, balanced dose of news regularly so that I feel as though I have some clue about what is happening out there in the 'real world'. I then form opinions on these subjects and in the case of "Silencing Machine", I've chosen to discuss my feelings on some of these subjects in the lyrics of this album, which is the first record since "Instinct: Decay" that I wrote the majority of the lyrics for. Chris Black, our long time producer / engineer, wrote almost all the lyrics for "Assassins" and "Addicts" with my guidance in terms of themes. I decided that was something we were going to do only for the "Black Meddle" series. I've returned to being the main lyric writer for this band and I intend to keep it that way in the future as I really enjoyed writing the lyrics for this record and I feel that I've improved a lot on my phrasing of words, placement of words in songs, placement of choruses, etc. I'm really pleased with how all these angles of the lyrics / vocals worked out on this record.

NachtmystiumDuring the past years Nachtmystium did many line-up changes. Did that help you to find the sound you were looking for? I mean how the other members contributed to that way?
Nachtmystium has always primarily been me and whoever I've hired to play with me at any given time. The other members in the past didn't contribute very much other than just showing up and playing what they were told to play. Very little writing occurred as a group in the past. I've only had a full band line up in place ever because I need a full band in order to play live, which is very important for Nachtmystium. We tour a lot and I like to be on the road doing that as much as possible. This was normally the #1 reason that people would leave Nachtmystium, the touring schedule was far too demanding for most ex-members. People have jobs, wives, houses, kids, etc. now that we're all a little older (I'm about to turn 30 this year for example), and since I'm insistent on touring heavily at all times possible most of the time, it often times wouldn't work for someone else in the band, and naturally, they had to be replaced. I don't let things that other members of this band have going on in their personal lives stifle our ability to tour. That sounds harsh, but I've got to keep the wheels of this tank moving forward at all times. Stagnance is what destroys bands or lets bands be forgotten about. It's important to be in everyones face at all times to consider the ascension to a higher level that we're trying to take this band to. This current line up has been together for about two and a half years straight now (with literally no changes aside from having a bass player step in for about a year while Will Lindsay, our official bass player, took some time off from Nachtmystium to focus on his other band, Relapse Records recording artists Indian). With this line up, we have played over 400 shows together prior to recording "Silencing Machine", so we are tight in a way that no recording line up has ever been for a Nachtmystium record, which I think is just one more reason that explains why we in the band feel that this record is so much stronger than its predecessors.

NachtmystiumWhich was the record that came closer to your musical vision?
I've awlays been pretty pleased with the turn-outs of all of our records. I think that this one, however, is the one that is closest to what I'd envisioned it to be. "Silencing Machine" turned out exactly as I'd hoped it would. I have no complaints. I could complain about the last two records all day, but this one, I'm quite happy with.

Are you going to support your new album with any concerts or any extensive touring? Is it possible to see you on stage in Greece?
Yes, we'll be touring North America and Europe (as usual) for the album over the course of the next 12 months.  We plan to come back to Europe for sure (we were just there in April and did a 2 1/2 week headlining tour with Dark Fortress as support - who, might I add, are great guys and a fantastic band). Not sure when we'll be doing Europe, but as for the States / Canada, we'll be out in November / December from the looks of things as they stand right now. I'd expect us back in Europe during the first quarter of 2013, assuming the world doesn't end between now and then.

What do you think makes Nachtmystium special compared to other bands of the contemporary black metal scene?
Nachtmystium has and always will play by our own rules. We don't let any outside influences or pressures from anyone or any business / label tell us what to do. We do what we want to do, and we do it well and with a full heart and with 100% conviction.  

NachtmystiumDo you follow the current black meal scene? Any favourite bands from the past or the present regardless the genre?
Not too much these days, but there are a few bands / labels I pay attention to. I like a lot of the bands on Norma Evangelium Diaboli, for example. I also enjoy the newest works of Arckanum, Pseudogod, Deathspell Omega, Blut Aus Nord, Watain, etc.  as for the classic stuff, my favorites are stuff like Strid, Burzum, Abyssic Hate, early-to-miid-era Graveland, Bathory, Beherit, Venom, Nifelheim, Dissection, Blasphemy, Conqueror, etc. I could go on forever... I was such a black metal freak for so many years. At one point I think I probably owned over 1000 different black metal records.

What can we expect from Nachtmystium in the future?
I imagine you can expect to see on the road quite a bit for the next year or so.  At some point soon, we are going to record a couple of new tracks for some upcoming split 7" EP's we'll be announing soon, and that's probably going to do it for us for 2012. Pretty productive year if I do say so myself.

Would you like to say something to the Greek fans?
I really hope  to meet some of or all of you at a Nachtmystium show in Greece some day! My friends in Marduk have told me that shows in Greece can be amazing and normally are, and knowing how much Marduk tours, that means a lot coming from them because they're out constantly and have been to all corners of the world. So, hopefully we'll meet you guys soon! Thanks to everyone in Greece who has or is now tuning into us and checking out our music. We will get to you sometime soon!

Thank you very much for your time.