Interview with Protector
Through the looking-glass, what do you think is your most accomplished work so far?
Well, if I would prefer any older album, why should I create any music similar to it? On the newest one, I do the music exactly as I wanted it to sound for me at the moment and, since Stronghold, the music of Summoning generally became more accomplished as we’ve been taking a lot more time for the songs. Before I didn’t even think long for a guitar riff, for example, I’d just take a guitar and played some choirs that would suit and then I wouldn’t touch the guitar again, whereas now many hours or days pass for each guitar riff (the same goes for the tune). Some like the older stuff better because they’re maybe more spontaneous, while I guess others go for the newest since we’re putting more time into the compositions. As for me, I simply prefer to spend more time with a release and not just do it in a couple of days.
What can you tell me about your new album, Oath Bound?
The work for Oath Bound was not much different from the work for the last release; only some software details changed but, apart from that, everything was like before. Silenius came to me as ever with some new ideas of the new song-basics and I immediately created some new tunes to his ideas as before (there was really nothing new I wanted to add further at that point). So later on I added the drums, as I always do, till finally the “guitar-less” instrumental versions were all complete (the exact same process I adopted on the last two albums). Afterwards I searched for some guitar riffs and started to create them like I did for the last two records, but I noticed that this way of making guitar riffs – in the more oriented rhythmic way of classic Heavy Metal – bored me a bit, so I started to treat the guitars quite differently. At this time, I was also closer to Burzum’s Filosofem, since my girlfriend listens to it a lot, and also got a bit more close to the roots of Black Metal. This all surely, and subconsciously, influenced me, so I started to create riffs that were less rhythmic – more in the arpeggio style. I mean, all bands play rather rhythmic riffs and all the old Black Metal bands have changed their style into this direction and this is why it already bored me a bit, but I finally found a new way to play the guitar without adding too many melodic information to it or without treating it as a trademark accompanying element. Actually, the guitars are the reason why now some people say that the new album is rather a follower of Dol Guldur than of Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame, simply because they are now more floating and less rhythmic. To tell you the truth, we never thought about Dol Guldur while creating the songs, but we’ve been hearing this opinion quite often.
As for the actual recording, it wasn’t more or less satisfying than previous ones. Again, it was pretty fine and I am happy with the results. But creating new albums for Summoning is definitely much more satisfying now than it was before Stronghold, where we could only record and mix our music in an external studio with an engineer that wasn’t involved with our music. The guy that mixed Minas Morgul and Dol Guldur did not even listen to any kind of Metal or even Rock, and was a member in an Austrian Folk brass instruments’ band. I know many people like the sound of those albums but I was never satisfied with it, because it was always an uncertainty how the sound would get. The first reason for that was that we only had like three days: two for the recording and one for the mix, and this is definitely not enough. And on the second one, the guy had a totally different opinion on sound than me; he was a sort of “reverb enemy” and I always had to sort of beg him for any reverb.
For people who are completely unaware of a certain musical direction, they find it absurd or out of the context to make things work the way the artist intends to and, usually, might turn out to be somewhat patronising throughout the whole affair.
Yes, you’re right, and the engineers always think that the musician is too stupid to understand anything about sound and that he’s the only one who understands; they hardly understand that there are different aesthetics concerning the issue. But I have to admit that there are also many bands that have no idea about sound and think they are good in sound-mixing and just end-up telling the engineer things that are really out of the blue (and later they’ll complain about the final mix and just blame the engineer). In this case, the engineer has to ignore those orders, but he must have the ability to decide between people who really know how they want the sound and those who are just not able to do it. I’m also very happy about the fact that making your own music is not something that only millionaires can do. Sure, the fact that we only use artificial drums and not a real drum-kit makes it much more easy and reduces the costs, but anyway. Nowadays, with a simple computer, you can do things that in the past you could only do with very huge and extreme expensive devices. I appreciate that, because I think that making a good sound should not be a matter of richness.
Speaking of Burzum, there are many similarities between Vikernes’ latest works and Summoning’s when it comes to create spacious atmospheres of forgotten times and quasi-mythical scenarios. Do you agree? How do you like Burzum’s discography and overall concept?
I think Burzum was a very important influence for most Black Metal bands; the music was totally off the trend and had a harsh sound, but also this painful melancholy that influenced us and many others. He did not use any annoying breaks or progressive traces, he just created very cool moods and tunes in his songs, being Filosofem the finest combination of keyboards and guitars. But concerning his person, his opinions and his actions, I guess he’s a total idiot. He talked so much shit and, in most cases, he’s a contradiction to his own words and deeds, and it’s just sad that many people got influenced by his thoughts. But Black Metal kids seem to be able to filter very well his words and just pick out what they like from them; they repeat most of his lines but still play guitars, although Varg said that he doesn’t play the guitar because it’s a “nigger” instrument. Actually, I couldn’t be more opposed to his opinions. For instance, I can tell you that I like to play Arabic drums; I’m even in contact with an Arabic musician and I simply realised that nothing comes from nowhere. Also, all the instruments that we consider as so damn European and “Arian” we should just look first at the ones used by your everyday Metal band: the toms and the bass-drums are Chinese, which later got developed by Turkish military music (no need to mention the crashes and the rides) and the guitars have roots in Spain and Mauritania. And also one should take a look at the classical oboe and clarinet: they also have their roots in Arabian countries.
You’ve introduced some movie samples on your former releases. Did you have to contact the studios and pay for the original cuts to avoid copyright infringements? Also, why did you choose those particular lines and from which movies were they taken?
No, we didn’t ask and we have no idea if this is okay either, but, actually, we only took very short samples and arranged them in a rhythmic way so that they sounded different from the original. Again, this was Silenius’ job to watch all the DVDs and check out any sounds that he’d like to use as potential Summoning sounds. This time we only have speech samples in two songs, as all the other samples are just noises (such as crows, sword fights and waves). Originally, we planned to add more spoken-word samples, but the only suitable source do this was a The Lord of the Rings‘ soundtrack, and while the sound on it was good it had no dramatic expression in the voice.
How did you like Jackson’s trilogy? Do you enjoy such fantasy epics as Scott’s Legend or Henson’s Labyrinth? With the advent of computer-generated technology, do you think the real magic of fantasy tales might end up lost somewhere along the road?
We both liked the trilogy very much and we think it could not have been done better. All the differences to the book don’t matter, as the film was never meant to be a strict 1:1 translation of the book. I’m also a fan of all Peter Jackson’ movies I’ve seen so far.
I also liked Legend and Labyrinth (this one was particularly cool and full of ideas), but my personal favourites are quite from different genres. We actually used a Legend line on one of our releases – on A Distant Flame Before the Sun, from Stronghold – and it was Silenus who found it; the voice saying “Through dreams, I influence mankind.” sounded very mystic and had a cool “tone” to it, so we took it for Summoning (this also happened many years ago).
I like fantasy movies very much for our music and always imagine landscapes like that to portray it, but, personally, my favourite films are Requiem for a Dream, Reflecting Skin and The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, to mention a few.
When and why did you decide to start with your side-projects Die Verbannten Kinder Evas and Ice Ages? What did inspire you to create them in the first place?
Well, first I need to mention – as I always do – that I don’t use the words “side-projects” because this would mean that we have Summoning as the main project and the others as side-projects, and just because Summoning is the best-selling one it doesn’t mean it’s our main one. For us, all our other projects are of the same importance.
Concerning Die Verbannten Kinder Evas, the new album was finished already two years ago, but due to much bad luck it got delayed, so that’s why it hasn’t been released. First Tania (the singer on the last album) simply didn’t practice enough to be able to sing the new songs; then after three months of waiting without any results I gave up and searched for a new singer. Then I found one over the Internet, a girl from Turkey; she had the perfect voice and in the beginning everything seemed fine – the tracks she emailed were very good – but then due to some deep psychological problems she delayed the final recording so much that after eighteen months I finally gave up again. Then I started to focus on Summoning and the release of the new album before Die Verbannten Kinder Evas’ (although these songs are even older). Finally, I have found a new singer and this time she’s from Greece; she has already been in Vienna one week ago, so all the songs are finally finished!
Concerning Ice Ages, I have the basic structures of all the new songs, but six of them need to be arranged and some rhythms need to be added. But I dealt a lot with some cool synthesizer software this time – such as the great Reaktor – and could now control my sound creation much better than ever before, so now the new songs will be even darker and also much more dirty and rough than ever before.
Sounds pretty interesting, but what did initially drive you to start both? Also, do you think it’d be a bit far-fetched to use their songs on a Summoning scenario?
Well, the main idea was just to be able to create all the different styles that I like to express. I always liked the more quiet Dark Wave music and also old stuff quite much. Actually, the first songs from both projects are as old as the songs from Minas Morgul, but very soon I decided for myself that mixing too different styles together would totally suck, so that’s why I prefer to create separate projects. Well, sometimes I use the same string orchestra sounds for sure, since I use the same devices for both, but there is no sound on any of them that it’s similar. Sometimes I wonder how it would be to make music for Summoning, releasing the album, answer all the interviews and then just start the whole thing again – I mean, how should any new inspiration rise this way? But, in contrast, the way I make it is much more exciting, as I release Summoning, then I just start with Die Verbannten Kinder Evas – everything is different here (meaning no guitars nor rock patterns, just slow chords, sad tunes and a high voice) – and then I complete the cycle with Ice Ages, which is totally different. Only after a long while I’ll start Summoning again, as by that time a new feeling has risen – something like a rebirth – and this way Summoning will always be something new and always remaining fresh and interesting. That’s the reason why we are still together and haven’t spilt-up as many others and still have the great passion for Summoning and don’t see it as a routine.
Same goes for Silenius, I believe.
For sure! And his project is, for him, also as important as Summoning, although he only sells about twenty times less than Summoning – but wouldn’t we be total ass-licking mainstream idiots if the sales of our albums would be connected in any way with that priority? I often realise that many people are unable to understand that a band just cares for the music. Actually, this is easy for us, as we both have our jobs and are not dependent from any money from our music activities. I remember when we released Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame and, in various forums, we found criticism like “talk about good timing to release this album” (right after the new The Lord of the Rings‘ movie). Well, if anyone really thinks that after a completed album, full of passion and hunger, to release it and to see the reaction would just boil down to wait for the exact or perfect timing, then those people never really understood us in the first place. I just hope this time they won’t tell something like “another one that comes out right after the release of King Kong.”
Then you’d have to insert some big, burly monkey on the sleeve.
How could we not think about that? Well, maybe for the mini-CD (laughs).
Will you be releasing one prior to the album?
Yes, because we originally had 9 songs but, as we didn’t want to make any CD longer than 70 minutes, we sort of dropped this last song, which was curious because after we dropped it the album clocked at 72 minutes and, seeing that we opted to remove the fade-outs and create a more harsh end – which is, actually, something very new for us – we achieved something like 68 minutes and a half, so on the mini-CD there’ll be this song, as well as one or two new songs and some different versions of older songs (like some remixes, giving more depth to the instrumental side with choirs and stuff). We aren’t sure about this though, but I’d also try to make something totally experimental – maybe a song with just the guitars and made in a total “true Black Metal” way with double-bass drums and plain screaming. I just don’t want to release some boring shit.
Silenius once mentioned that after the Nightshade Forests release you’d probably translate the classic Das Nibelungenlied, since you’d be closing the Tolkien chapter by that time. Is there any likelihood that this might happen?
I have no idea about it. The thing is that every time we think we’re through with the Tolkien concept, Silenius manages to find some new aspects he wants to work with. But we didn’t think about any future concepts so far.
To conclude, what do the names Summoning, Die Verbannten Kinder Evas and Ice Ages mean for you?
Well, I must confess that I’m not very good about creating names, as all of those names were found by someone else. Summoning was brought up by Silenius, Die Verbannten Kinder Evas was taken out of an old choral booklet and Ice Ages was found by the mastermind of the Dark Wave band Whispers in the Shadows, so I can’t say really say much more about it.