It's been a week since the release of Behemoth's phenomenal tenth studio album 'The Satanist' (Nuclear Blast). Some hours before the band's London gig on their current European tour, I sat down with Orion to find out how the tour has kicked off, plans around the new album and what the future might hold for the mighty Behemoth.
METALTALK: You've done three nights on this European tour so far. How's it all going?
ORION: So far so good, it's actually never been this smooth at the start of a tour. We had a long break from playing and we get to play six or seven songs from the new album we've never played before live so we still need some time to get into it but it's going really well.
METALTALK: You're co-headlining this tour with Cradle of Filth. Do you have the same set list every night or do you keep changing it?
ORION: We've changed half of it compared to the last set list that we had a few months ago. We're altering one song every night and it doesn't really matter whether we're closing the show or not because we and Cradle of Filth have equal time on stage every night.
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METALTALK: What about the other bands on this tour, did you have a say in who were going to be on the bill?
ORION: Oh yeah, we wanted to play with In Solitude again. The guys are good friends and the last album is great, I love it. I'm happy to play with Inquisition again as well but they aren't going to make it for this show tonight because of some border bullshit. (NB. Inquisition actually did make it to the venue just in time for their set.)
METALTALK: Your new album 'The Satanist' only came out last week and the reviews have been impressive. What's the reaction been like in Poland? (NB. Since this interview took place, Behemoth reached the number one spot in Poland.)
ORION: To be honest, the Polish reaction doesn't really differ from what we get from all around the world, they've just been enthusiastic everywhere and it has never been this good before. So this hype, this 'thing' that's happening everywhere is huge and we're trying to keep up with it but it's just becoming impossible. There's so many good things happening at the same time which is great for us and we're losing track of it all (laughs) but it's been really great. We feel that all the effort and all the work we've done for this was worth it.
METALTALK: The album was supposed to come out in the middle of last year. Why the delay?
ORION: That's actually a long story. We had a street-date set up for September and then we started mixing the album. You know, in case of such a production there are a lot of things that need to be right on schedule all the time. So, we started mixing it with Colin Richardson who mixed our previous album 'Evangelion' and after five weeks he just quit. He said that he was not going to do it the way we wanted to. We're very hard to work with and we're aware of this fact. If I was the person in the other end, I wouldn't really like to work with us. We're a real pain in the ass sometimes.
But the guy didn't want to do it anymore so we had to find someone else to mix the album and it's not a decision that takes five minutes. We had to go through lots of conversations, emails and phone calls and we picked a few guys that we wanted to work with. We finally ended up with Matt Hyde and the first mix that we had from wasn't really what we wanted so we just made a few comments on his work and the second time we got something from him it was just amazing, so we were like 'fuck, that's how it's going to happen'.
But it took another month and a half to get to this point of getting the album mixed and it meant a chain reaction so we had to postpone everything three months ahead. But thanks to this we've had this whole time to get the video for the first single off 'The Satanist' done on time which worked very well for us.
METALTALK: What was it like when Nergal first started bringing the new material to the rest of the band – what was the reaction like? Did you have a feeling already then that it was going to be something a bit different?
ORION: The way we work is to start with riffs and parts of the songs, working on them as a band. We lock ourselves away for, like, three months and just work on the songs. They were very different to what we were doing before but they didn't make us think differently about the music that we wanted to get to with the new stuff and I think we started arranging in a very different way as well.
You know, there was also the matter of this long break of five years since the last album and then Nergal got hospitalised and then I and Inferno went through huge changes in our private lives also. It was a hard time but we've learnt a lot. There's been a lot of changes this time and the approach to composing music was something completely new also.
When Nergal was bringing in the riffs and parts of the songs we were not surprised at all. For the first time ever we didn't need to struggle or compete with anyone or any other band and I think we started to listen to each other better and the music we were making was just what we wanted to hear.
METALTALK: There was such a long break (five years) between the two albums. Were you nervous at all about what the public reaction would be like?
ORION: I remember being nervous but not at this time. We were certainly nervous about the future when we released 'Evangelion' because we started touring and we tried to talk about some new things that we should do in the future. Back then we had no idea, we were like 'what the fuck are we supposed to do now, is there anything we can do better?'. It was just a wrong way of thinking that we had.
And then when we came to this point of making 'The Satanist' we just got rid of such thoughts. We just met in the rehearsal place and started to talk about it. So at this point in time there was no nervousness whatsoever at all.
METALTALK: Is there going to be any more videos off the new album?
ORION: Yeah. It's gonna be either one or two more.
METALTALK: Can you tell us what they will be?
ORION: Well... I'm not supposed to but there will probably be a video for the title track 'The Satanist' and maybe there'll be one more but I'm not saying which one. But it's obvious, come on (laughs).
METALTALK: I can guess! I've read in some other interview it being said that you're all very different kind of characters. What do each of you bring to the band?
ORION: That's a good question. Well, Nergal is the one with the ideas and the vision. I'm the one, I think, who is very down to earth and the person who tries to make this vision a reality somehow; from written down notes to technical stuff and ways to arrange them in real life, which is very different from the vision. And Inferno is a... well... he's a very special person (laughs). Let's say it's enough that he's bringing his drumming to the band and that's already quite something.
METALTALK: What's the situation with Seth – he's still not a full member of Behemoth?
ORION: No, and is probably not going to be. It's Nergal's idea for the band that it's a three piece. Unless I quit (laughs). Anyway, he's been with the band for ten years and I don't think it's going to change anytime soon. He's part of the family, he's been a part of what we're doing since forever and he's involved in the entire process of making music and touring. But still there is some band stuff that is only happening with the three of us.
METALTALK: Behemoth has now been going for around 20 years. What would be the pinnacle of success for you? Do you want the band to get any bigger than you already are?
ORION: We're not trying to do that really but there are things happening at the moment which are new for us and we really appreciate it and are happy with it. Thinking about the next big step we will make, that's in this moment when this entire cycle starts with the release of the album and then this tour and just try to get as much momentum as possible, but to measure success... I think we are very successful people. We are doing what we love to do, that in life is success. If I was measuring it with the number of album sales or whatever I could get that information but it's just not the way I think about success.
METALTALK: You're going to be heading to the US and Canada after this European tour. Will you be back to do the festival circuit in Europe in the summer?
ORION: Yes. The plan is to do this European tour, then the US and Canada tour in April and then three weeks in Russia. We'll go all the way to Vladivostok which, from our point of view, we consider to be like the end of the world! Right after that it's the summer festival season. We're gonna do 23, 25 festivals, big ones also. Finally Wacken as well, after 12 years. Right after that we are going to have a break in September, then we're doing Poland and South America, South Africa... Touring has only just started and we're probably going stay on tour for another two years.
METALTALK: What about you personally, are you doing anything with your other two old bands anymore, Vesania and Black River?
ORION: Black River is long-time dead... The vocalist was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, he's fine now but he has said that he is never going to come back to singing, so we just shut down the band completely. My other child, shall we say, Vesania, is awakening - we are mixing a new album in two months and plan to go on a European tour in September.
METALTALK: Any final words of wisdom that you wish to share with MetalTalk?
ORION: (Laughs) I'm just happy with what's going on. When I think about what is coming our way now, it's only health that can stop us but I don't see any other things doing that. We are ready to be a part of what's happening now.
And so, MetalTalk wish Behemoth well for their journey with 'The Satanist'. Having come through some very tough times indeed, one can sense a hunger for making up for lost time. Clearly on the cusp of reaching new heights of success, personal and otherwise, 'The Satanist' is the culmination of what Behemoth were always meant to become - invincible.
'The Satanist' is out now on Nuclear Blast Europe, Metal Blade US.