Vague sounds & harsh feelings, desolated black metal meets dreamy acoustic guitars. Melancholic and sometimes even hypnotic journey , but also intense and passionate black metal is what Auestrian Dornenreich is doing for quite a while now. This interview was done between Durch den Traum and In Luft Geritzt. Enter into the realms of Dornenreich and read the thoughts of Jochen.
Hello Jochen! How are you? Things pretty messed up with those phantom-emails. I got a bunch of emails from you with empty messages in it. Where do you live? Are you having maybe some ghosts in your house? I think something evil had eaten those emails, right?
Thank you, I am fine. The e-mail-trouble was weird, right. I moved to Innsbruck only a few months ago and the house I’m living in now would have been to Lovecraft’s taste as well, I guess. More than one hundred years ago it was built – and it is built on a hill. Recently, I returned home late at night and the moon was up and I can tell you this house looks like a witchhouse to fantasy-driven people like me. Moreover the area where this house is situated is well known for countless legends dealing with ghosts and witches. Whether these spooky circumstances had any impact on my mail-account or not is a riddle, yet, but I am glad to live here for this place is inspiring, indeed.
Have you made any new year’s promise for yourself? Something like you quit smoking, or things like that…?
No more cigarettes, yes. And it works.
What happened to Valnes, by the way? Dornenreich becamed a one-man band?
No, Inve, a violinist, is a new Dornenreich-member since 2006. But I have known him for many years because he had even played the violin on “Her von welken Nächten”. Unfortunately, I don’t have any contact with Valnes at the moment. All I can say is that back in 2005 we both felt that it was time to walk down different roads.
You started out in 1996. What did you remember from those days? You had to be passionate and eager, am I right? Did the motivations of forming a band were serious? Did you have some songs so you formed a band, or did you form a band so you had to write some songs?
We were very enthousiastic back then, yes. It was our clear intention to form a band. We all had written songs on our own before we met, but we all lacked sincere and ambitious artistic partners, so, when we met for the very first time a truly energetic atmosphere was created.
What doeas the moniker Eviga means? Is this a common name in Austria, or its just a pseudonym?
It is a pseudonym, right. It is meant to strengthen the mystic and timeless aura of Dornenreich as for the fact that it is just an aesthetic but “free” combination of syllables.
Recently I searched for your metal-archives.com page and I dicovered there that Dornenreich played black metal, and now is “ambient rock”. What is this? This is true? I mean I’m really not the 24 hour black metal guy, but this is kinda surprise for me.
So many people try to grasp a band via some “genre-terms”. In my opinion and perception Dornenreich is a highly individual form of passionate and mystic expression To a certain extent terms like black metal, ambient, folk or avantgarde could illuminate a single appearance or stylistic detail of Dornenreich, but finally the sum that ist Dornenreich hints on something far off all the mentioned genre-terms, I think and feel.
Also I heard you will release an acoustic album, or some kind of non-metal thing. This in fact could go with your path/concept/sound. This is just a little excursion or is this a final departure from your musical past?
This album is called “In Luft geritzt” (“Carved in air”) and it will be released in Spring 2008. We recorded it live – without overdubs – and we use voices, acoustic guitars, violin and percussion, exclusively. It was extremely uplifting for us to create an album on natural instruments, only. For us this album is neither an excursion nor a departure, because we feel the emotional continuation of the main “Dornenreich-emotion” within the new album: yearning. What was the initial idea behind “Metal”? Wasn’t it “individual, free and powerful expression”? To me it was and “In Luft geritzt” (- like all former Dornenreich-releases -) comes from this source again.
Actually making an acoustic release is not a new thing to black metal bands. I think Ulver started this, than bands like Empyrium, Borknagar, Frostmoon Eclipse, Drudkh, and others continued this. Moreover Herr Morbid of Forgotten Tomb has (or had, I do not know) a band where he played acoustic/unplugged versions of his songs. What is YOUR REASON for doing this kind of an album?
We simply wanted to create an album which relies on a deep and natural beauty, a beauty knowing both joy and pain of human existence and perception.
German language fits very well to black metal. You never wanted to write lyrics and sing in English? Many German (or Austrian) underground acts do sing in their native language. Is this because you are so bound to your roots?
I use my mother tongue for I want to express myself in the best way. With my lyrics for Dornenreich I have always been trying to hint on many subtle and mysterious aspects of archaic contents such as vanitas, dream/reality and human perception, so, in my opinion the use of one’s mother tongue is absolutely authentic when dealing with the mentioned existentialistic topics.
Why Dornenreich? It’s the “realms of the thorns”. Who/what are those thorns?
“Dornenreich” can mean “rich in thorns” as well. Anyway, a worn out spiritual legacy could be a thorn, an unconscious fear, too, but that would a rather one-dimensional and just negative interpretation. And our expression has always been reflecting all contradictions of life, thus, nowadays I think of thorns as something that hurts you but does not kill you, it rather has the power to sharpen your senses for truthfulness. I perceive it as some kind of symbolic pain that keeps me aware. Even melancholy is – in a tender way – painful, so, perhaps you get my point.
Franz Kafka was Austrian. Are you familiar with his novels? I always thought that his novel The Metamorphosis could be really incorporate in a black metal album’s concept. It’s so hallucinating and miserable. Disturbed individuals in a nightmarishly and spiritually frosty world. That’s so black metal, isn’t it?
I know Kafka’s novel you allude to. It’s frightening and was fascinated with it. However, as for Black Metal I have always been interested in the combination of contrasting elements and contents such as the (symbolic) use of extremely distorted “cold” guitars with “warm” classical guitars, that is, the universal depth within and beyond the words “black metal” including both life and death or to put more clearly: the entirety of existence.
Austria has been the birthplace for immensely creative musicians like Mozart, Strauss, Haydn, Schubert, Mahler, just to name a few. Dornenreich also has a slight classical music influence and I also know you took some musical classes, claessical guitar. Is this slender classical approach in Dornenreich’s music a personal choice, or Austrian people are looking back with great honour on their ancestors? Or none of these? Or both?
For six years I have been professionally trained on classical and on e-guitar, but the classical edges in Dornenreich refer back to my intuition, exclusively, that is, it was no conscious decision concerning our first three albums. With “Hexenwind” I intended to combine “Southern acoustic-melodies” with “Norhtern chords”. The famous artistc you pointed out above are popular, still, and it seems that many Austrian people are proud of their artistic ancestors, yes.
Are you into movies? Michael Haneke? I love this guy’s movies, especially La Pianiste. Do you like his films? Is he big in Austria?
Haneke is radical and I think highly of him. My favourite Haneke-movies are “Benny’s Video”, “Funny Games” and “Die Klavierspielerin” (“La Pianiste”). I guess he is quite well-known, at least now as his films won international awards…
The Österreich-Ungarn had made its mark on Hungary’s culture. By the way, I’m a Hungarian who lives in Romania. The Austro-Hungarian Empire was geographically the second largest country in Europe after the Russian Empire, and the third most populous. Are Austrian people lamenting their historic loss? I know that Dornenreich has nothing to do with politics, but I’m curious about your ideology and way of thinking.
Probably this topic is discussed in Lower Austria and Vienna, but in here – in the Western Tirol – I hardly ever heard anybody talking about the Austro-Hungarian Empire. I have to admit that I have never thought about the fact that Austria might really struggle with this cultural and historic loss deep within, but I thank you that you hinted me on. Right away, I can’t add anything.
Do you known any Hungarian or Romanian bands, by the way?
Sear Bliss, Negura Bunget and Of the Moon and the Nightspirit. Unique bands for sure.
Black metal lyrics are frequently about nature, mountains, winter, etc. As I am very weak in german, I must ask you what the lyrics are about. Mozart wrote in “Land der Berge, Land am Strome” that Austria is the land of the mountains. Mountains frequently appear on your covers. What is your relation to nature, and what is the effect it has on you?
Nature is the cycle that shows us everything that is of importance. It is wisdom that tends to sink into human oblivion for we don’t see what we are shown every day.
Life after death? Do you believe it?
Yes, I do. Fortunately, this feeling goes beyond words, but perhaps I only believe in some sort of life after death because I truly want to believe in it. Anyway, no rational or scientific reasons have ever been able to detract me from my “inner taste of eternity”.
Which are the principles that you have choose to rule your life? Do you have any individual philosophy about life?
I am just trying to grow into life as open-minded as possible, similar to a tree which spreads its branches as well as its roots.
Your last album’s cover was painted by your father. It’s very indicative and isolated in mood at the same time. What does a father think about his son’s black metal music? Is he proud? Does he enjoy your music?
Some years ago it seemed to me that he was not totally convinced of my artistic efforts, but after he had listened to “Durch den Traum” via headphones he simply congratulated me on a “real piece of art” as he put it.
For the first time I heard about Dornenreich was I think in 2000 – 2001 in Doru Atomei’s Kogaionon zine. It was a long interview. Do you remember it? Are you in touch with the guy?
Unfortunately, all I can remember is the name of the zine, but I enjoy the fact that you read it back then.
I understand Dornenreich has a captivating presence on stage. How should I imagine a Dornenreich live set? Any visual ingredients in your live shows? Do you play all the songs exactly the same way they are on the albums, or do you like to jam-away them?
We dare to focus on our expression, exclusively, that is, we usually use constant blue light when playing an acoustic concert. Sometimes we add some candles, but all that is happening on stage is music and expression itself – and that can be magical. Personally, I have always adored – for example – Tori Amos’ solo-live-shows. Just Tori, the piano and the audience – perfect. Sometimes we change songs – especially arrangements – for the live-situation, sometimes we follow the recorded versions, totally.
You were once involved in a project named Angizia. I never heard any material from this outfit though. What kind of music is this? Are you still active? What is/was your role in this band?
A unique band of close friend of mine. From 1999 to 2005 I contributed bass-guitar- and acoustic-guitar-lines and even vocals on – all in all – three albums. Angizia’s music is so much and hints on so much more. It’s theatrical, passionate, playful, bizarre – and always soulful. At the moment Angizia is not active, but just visit us at www.angizia.com
Especially in the last song from Hexenwind, I hear some The Cure influences. Both musically and sound-wise. I may be wrong though. Was Robert Smith’s music an influence for you? Actually what are the bands who you admire?
Personally, I don’t like The Cure that much because I dislike Smith’s vocals, but Valnes was a huge The Cure fan and possibly that shows now and then. I appreciate bands and artists who feed my existence authentically and totally. For instance Dead Can Dance, Ulver, Kvist, Birch Book.
On 3 covers I discovered a diffuse shape of a an entity/creature/individual. Who/what is this? What role does he have in the album’s concept? Are he going to appear on the next covers? This is something like Maiden’s Eddie….?
This human shape or silhouette reflects the human being of the lyrics. This human being is “the individual” I address in my lyrics for all profound change starts within the single person. The cover for “In Luft geritzt” won’t offer this shape for we stress different symbols and metaphors this time. In a way it is our existentialistic Eddie, yes…
What do you think about resources as MySpace spreading black metal to the heaps? Some are against this, others the exactly opponent. Should a black metal fellow even have a MySpace account?
To be honest: that’s all the same to me.
Why your albums are released only on CD, and none of them was released on vinyl. Do you not like this medium? What is your favorite format? Are you a collector?
For “In Luft geritzt” we will release a vinyl version because we really think that this medium will enrich this acoustic album very, very much. Actually, only a few years ago only very few dedicated vinyl-collectors seemed to be left out there (at least according to the vinyl-sales, which is a certain criterion), therefore in 2005 we could not convince our label to release “Hexenwind” on vinyl, too.
Any recent bands, or albums you enjoyed? Are you familiar to the underground scene? Do you like to discover new bands?
Currently, I am keen on listening myself through my collection of Black Metal. So, I am having an intense time. I am not very familiar with the topical underground scene. Nevertheless I like to discover new bands, but recently I have not been successful in this area, unfortunately.
What do you do besides music? Do you have a job? Family, kids?
I am living with my girlfriend in Innsbruck and I have a part-time job. We don’t have kids, yet.
Please tell me, what’s going on with Dornenreich at the moment, what are the future plans?
We plan to play live frequently this year and especially after the release of the new album. And we also intend to elaborate a DVD and we will – in all probability – rehearse new songs with Gilvan on drums for an album, which we would love to release in late Summer 2009.
Thanks for your time! Last words are yours.
I would like to thank you for your truly dedicated and interested questions. Such things are rare today.
by Robert Sun