Interview by Alan Daly
© Olga Kuzmenko
Photos by Olga Kuzmenko
At the recent Bloodstock Festival we took some time out to chat to Norwegian death metal band 1349’s guitarist, Archaon. Archaon was kind enough to chat to us between sets.
Alan: Hello from MyGlobalMind.com, and welcome to Bloodstock Open Air Festival. When did you arrive?
Archaon: We got here last night. In the evening. 6 or 7 I guess.
Alan: Did you get to see any of the bands last night?
Archaon: No, no. Not last night.
Alan: What about today or tomorrow?
Archaon: I’m going to try to today. We leave in the day time tomorrow.
Alan: Would you prefer to play at a small club gig in front of die-hard fans of your band, or a festival with 15,000 people with some new fans maybe?
Archaon: I like both of them. I have a problem selecting which is better than the other. The big festivals are great because you get to present your art in front of a lot of people in one run, so it kind of makes up for a tour in a way, when you cannot do one always. But as far as small shows go, there is usually more concentrated energy there. So it’s good for those.
Alan: What was the highlight of your performance today? Any particular moments that stood out?
Archaon: My highlight today was the interaction from the fans. There was good energy. I think that was because of the fact that we were not the first or second band, but the third band. It’s still early. People are awake. They’re not that drunk yet. So you actually get people that are perceptive of your art, and there were a lot of people there. It was really packed today.
Alan: Yeah. It was a great show. I really enjoyed it. From your last album, Massive Cauldron of Chaos, which song do you think went down best with the crowd?
Archaon: ‘Exorcism’. I could sense that something happened in the crowd. That’s always exciting. When you make a new album like that, to see how people perceive it. We do have a back catalogue that people respect and like. But to see the new stuff awake people like that… I feel like we did something right with this album.
Alan: So there was a four year gap between your last two albums. Do you think you will continue on a long album cycle or back to the 1 or 2 year cycle like between your earlier albums.
Archaon: We’re going to write a new album. We’re planning to start writing this year. It’s never to be rushed. It’s better to take your time when it comes to art. So many bands now are pushed by labels and the industry and by the press. There’s so many obstacles and pressures to do things that might affect their art.
Alan: Yeah, I suppose, ironically, when bands are starting out and they don’t have much original material, there’s more pressure on them to rush writing and recording, and there’s very few bands that get it right first time, with some obvious exceptions.
Archaon: It’s a natural thing. With the record labels, they want to sell products. That’s their job, and if you’re not there, the next band is going to be there. I understand. That’s the way it works. But at the same time, if you’re going to keep the fun element in doing what we’re doing, you have to maintain the entertainment. And the only way of doing that is by being responsible enough to say “Stop. This is what we’re doing.”
Alan: I’ve been asking other bands about putting their band name onto food and drink. I believe 1349 have started producing beer now?
Archaon: That’s really interesting that you ask that question. In all the interviews I’ve done, I’ve brought that subject up. You’re the first one to bring it up. We have our own beer in the US. We started early this year, we did black ale. It’s basically beer containing 13.49% alcohol. It’s been in the works since 2010. It’s produced by Surly brewing company from Minnesota and Lervig from Norway. Me and Frost [Kjetil-Vidar “Frost” Haraldstad, Drummer] were playing a show in Minnesota. Instead of getting a rider, some venues give you coupons for drinks. And Frost knows a lot about beer, so I said “What are we drinking here?”. And he said “Why don’t you try Blue Moon?” I remember it very vividly. So I tried it. And on the other side of the venue, this guy with a long grey beard and a couple of friends were watching us and saw that. He was at the show, and he was a fan. He plays in a band called Powermad himself. So he said “You guys are picky about your beers?”. He said “My name is Todd Haug”, and he pulls out his business card, and it’s a beer coaster, and he’s head-master brewer of Surly brewing company. Frost instantly had this idea of a 13.49% beer. So we started working on it then. That was five years ago now. That came out late last year actually, and the pale ale came out last month. So we’re on a run now creating beers. I guess we are the first extreme metal band… I mean behemoth came right after they saw we did it. I’m not saying they robbed it, but it’s cool. Just like Motörhead did, by putting their name on a regular lager. Most people drink lagers. That’s what they know as beer. That’s not a good beer. Real ale, good beer is out there, and we knew this so we went for it and made two beers now.
Alan: And how is it selling? Do you bring it on tour with you?
Archaon: We haven’t got it on tour yet. Of course we request it on the rider, but nobody has been able to get it yet. But it sold out. The brewery was sceptical at first. But we told them, we’re in the metal scene, and people drink beer. Satyricon, our drummer’s band, might promote wine, but where I come from, that’s not what people drink. When I’m at concerts, people drink beer. So when you glue those elements together, it was a match made in heaven.
Alan: Speaking of Frost, he wasn’t playing today…
Archaon: He’s at home, yeah. He’s working with Satyricon. Apart from that, we’ve been deeply into the beer thing. We did a couple of events back home. And we’re also doing shows. We’re going right back home to do a show with him later this month. Sometimes he’s busy with Satyricon, and we’ve just got to accept that.
Alan: It’s great that he can find the time to keep the two bands active.
Archaon: We were aware of that when we brought him in. It was on the basis that his first band is Satyricon. And he does two bands full time. They have priority above anything else. No other band.
Alan: You say you like your beers. If you could go drinking with any historical figure, alive or dead, who would it be and why?
Archaon: That’s a peculiar, cool question. I would probably go back to the Viking era. Probably Odin.
Alan: What do you think you would talk about?
Archaon: I’ve no idea. My blind cat for sure. I don’t know. It would be surreal. I think it would be a highly interesting conversation. I don’t know if any of us would survive!
Alan: Finally, do you have any news or updates for your fans. Tell them about what’s on the horizon for 1349?
Archaon: Well, yeah, we’re working on the new album, and we’ll be back in the U.S. in January. Keep your eyes open for a European tour. We’ll be working on that too, in like half a year from now.
Alan: You were in Dublin last year. Do you remember that show?
Archaon: Yeah. Hopefully we’ll return there soon. Dublin is always a great scene. I love Dublin. Every time we play there it’s been great. Last time we played the Voodoo Lounge. It’s great. I connect Dublin with that kind of venue, because we have good experiences. Sincerely, I hope to return there and I’d be happy to return to the Voodoo lounge any day.
Alan: Thank you for taking the time. Great show today. Enjoy what you can of the festival.
Archaon: No problem. A couple of beers, sure!