Vattnet Viskar interview

"Wolves In The Throne Room was my biggest reason for starting this band, personally. I don’t really consider us to be black metal. We were never aiming to be a true cult black metal band"

30/08/2013 @ 18:34
In advance of Vattnet Viskar's upcoming release, Nicholas Thornbury (guitar and vocals) chats with us in depth about their glorious new album "Sky Swallower" and black metal aesthetics.

Vattnet ViskarHello Nicholas, where do I find you?
Sitting at home in New Hampshire at the moment.

Firstly, could you tell me what 'Vattnet Viskar' means?
Vattnet Viskar is Swedish, it translates to 'The water is whispering'. We just liked the way it sounded really, unfortunately it’s not really any deeper than that!

Could you give me a history of the band and how it was formed?
Well Chris and myself have known each other for years through other bands that we were in. We just decided to start writing some black metal-ish songs at some point, and it eventually progressed into a full band. We released a 2-song demo, followed by our EP, and just tried to play live as much as possible.

Why did Alan and Matt leave the band?
It was just a conflict of availability, it’s tough to be out on the road not making any money for long periods of time when there are bills to pay. We love those guys and are luckily still friends.

Vattnet Viskar - Sky SwallowerWas it easy to replace them? Were the new members involved in the recording of the new album?
Well it’s never completely easy to replace members, but all things considered I think the transition went well. Our friends Seamus (drums) and Joey (bass) both stepped right in, finished writing the album with us, and recorded. Joey has moved on since, but Seamus is still with us now.

When did Century Media approach you? Can you tell me how that deal came about?
It was crazy for us. I was just at work one day and got an e-mail from Century asking if we’d be open to working with them. I was floored. They said they had just seen good reviews of the EP, liked what they heard and got in touch.

You've been a pretty underground and low profile band. As far as independent metal labels go, Century Media has a high profile. Do you think increased exposure will take away that cult aura of yours?
Probably, and that’s fine. We were never aiming to be a true cult black metal band. We take our music very seriously but not ourselves.

Your band seems that gets positive reviews from different kind of music fans (metal or not). Did you aim for that? Could you find the reason on that?
I think it’s just a natural thing, we listen to an extremely wide range of music, so hopefully that’s reflected in what we play and people pick up on that. The fact that such a diverse collection of people seem to like it makes me extremely happy.

Which are the bands you like the most and which ones would you point out as your biggest influences?
This is tough, as far as our biggest influences, I’d say Wolves in the Throne Room, Neurosis, Isis, Behexen. WITTR was my biggest reason for starting this band, personally.

Vattnet ViskarSo, do you have any relations with other bands of the US black metal scene?
As many as possible! Mostly in the New England and New York area, there are some amazing bands. Yellow Eyes, Black Table, and Obsidian Tongue just to name a few. There are just so many awesome people and bands we’ve met through this!

Do you find yourself feeding off other bands in the area?
New York City is the closest place that we play often, and there are so many good bands there. Krallice alone are a big influence, and that’s just one band out of several really great ones.

What is black metal for you?
For me black metal isn’t this sacred cow that it is to a lot of people. It’s just a genre like any other. That said, when I think of real black metal I usually think of Darkthrone, Mayhem, Dark Funeral, etc...the classics. I don’t really consider us to be black metal. We have the influence for sure, but it’s a very thin comparison.

How important do you think it is for a black metal band to present a full aesthetic package beyond just the music (artwork, titles, logo, and live performance)? Do you think that’s crucial for black metal?
I don’t think I’d say crucial. When we first started, we were going to go for the whole stereotypical black metal image, but we decided it just wasn’t us and tried to just put out an honest image. It’s worked out well so far, so in my experience it’s most important to just work your ass off. I have a ton of respect for bands that stick to a very specific image though, I love it. It’s just not for us.

How was your experience on SXSW? Did you find it interesting to play live in front of an alternative and controversial audience like that?
SXSW was amazing! That type of crowd is probably our favorite to play for, a very diverse audience. I’d play to that type of crowd at every show if it was up to me.

Vattnet ViskarYou have scheduled a tour with Intronaut, how you feel about that?
It’s great, we’re very excited for it. I’m very interested to see how their fans react to us, it should be fun!

I heard you are a beer lover, aren’t you? Why you choose this drink as your favorite? What kind of beer is your favorite?
Beer is just so good. Luckily there has been a huge explosion of small craft breweries in the US, so there’s no shortage of very good beer to drink. My favorite kind of changes with the season, currently I’m looking forward to Oktoberfest style beers.

The new album, “Sky Swallower” is coming soon. It sounds like the natural progress of your previous EP. Your main sound alternates between black, sludge and hardcore metal. Is this description correct?
I’d say so, we generally hear that sort of description. It’s hard to put it under one genre I guess.

On the other hand, some parts of “New Alchemy”, “Fog Of Apathy” and “Breathe Of The Almighty” sound like Explosions In The Sky’s compositions. How and why you manage to connect extreme metal parts with these post-rock/ambient soundscapes?
We love the contrast. We’re all big fans of post-rock/post-metal bands, so it just gets in there naturally. Having some quiet slower parts makes the big parts hit harder hopefully. We’re kind of going for an atmospheric type of music all the time, so these parts help a lot with that I think.

Vattnet ViskarDo you have any favorite track on the album? I believe that “Mythos is one of the most atmospheric and deep compositions you ever made. Do you agree?
I’ve heard a different opinion about this from several people, which is great. Some people like mythos best, some like Breath of the Almighty best, etc. Personally, Apex hits me hard for some reason. The main part of the song is pretty short, but it’s just something about the flow that I like. It’s very fun to play live.

Your lyrics sound dark and deadly. Which are the main topics you approach on the album?
A couple songs are about people being terrible in general, a couple others are about some things that I’m always conflicted with. In general I like to leave the lyrics pretty vague, so people can come to their own conclusions. That’s much more interesting to me.

Are there any plans for touring around Europe? Is there any chance to see you around?
There isn’t anything set in stone now, but we definitely want to get over there. Hopefully within the next year we can make it happen, it’s a huge goal of ours.

I hope you will continue to write the music you wish to write. Thank you.

Theodosis Genitsaridis