Irish metal gods Ė Primordial Ė made a mini-tour at the end of the year 2003: Storming The East. I and my college Mr. Mirgilus have talked with vocalist Alan Averill Nemtheanga after the cathartic gig they played down here in Romania. Nemtheanga was assaulted with our questions, but he resisted very well. Hereís the result:
Congratulations, the show was great!
So, how did you reached to play here, in Romania?
Basically what happened is: I think Satyricon was supposed to play here and Satyricon cancelled the gig. Iíve been emailing with Negru from Negura Bunget, because I liked the last Negura Bunget album.
So I just emailed them a bit to talk with them and they sad, that ďhey thereís a possibility and maybe you could come and playĒ and Iíve said ďyeah, OK, well, letís try and sort it outĒ and then together with this girl Beta and Korgos (the organizers of the Bulgarian gig- ed.) we just all sort of managed to figure it out and it all just kinda came together.
Is that simple?
Well, it wasnít simple. I mean it wasnít simple for them, because they had to pay us. We just sad ďlook, weíll just fuckiní try and get here and figure it outĒ.
And how did you travel? Do you have a minibus or somethingÖ?
Yeah, we came with a minibus. We came from Sofia up to here and everybody is fuckiní tired, because we slept maybe five ours since Thursday, but fuck it, just sleep when youíll dead as we say.
Itís all just an experience and itís a cool experience for us, because we are not as big as Satyricon or big as some other bands. Itís cool to be big enough to be able to come and play two cool shows in Bulgaria and Romania, where a lot of bands not go.
And you enjoyed the show?
Yeah, of course.
This is your first time in Romania? I mean for personally you not for the bandÖ
Yes, Iíve never been here before. Iíve been in Greece, we played gigs in Greece, Czech Republic and Poland.
This was the tour with Rotting Christ?
Yes. We were supposed to play in Hungary and Slovakia too, but the gigs were cancelled.
And we were supposed to go to Hungary to see Primordial liveÖ What were the reasons of the canceling?
Well, the first time we were supposed to play with The Kovenant and then weíve got an offer to tour with Immortal, so obviously we went with Immortal rather then with The Kovenant.
Then weíve had a tour with Dismember and that was cancelled and then at the end of the Rotting Christ tour our drummer got some bad news from home and he decided to go home. And so there was no point in us going to last two days with no drummer.
Did you have time to see the city?
Not much. No, because it took us ten and a half an hour to get here from Sofia to Timisoara. You know, all these fuckiní passports, border controlsÖ
And how was the gig in Sofia?
Cool! Very big sports hall and there were maybe 350-400 people, or something. It was cool. All these things are interesting, and you can meet some cool people.
You are the only in the band, whoís using corpsepaint. Why is that so?
Itís kind ofÖI guess itís a bit like Mercyful Fate. Iíve been doing it for 10-11 years and some people think itís not gonna fit with Primordial, but I like that kind of paradox.
It can look brutal and sound melodic, but yet still brutal lyrically. Yesterday Iíve had pigís blood and they lost the bubble on meÖ (?)
I would like to ask about your sword. You used a sword on the Spirit The Earth Aflame tour. Where is it?
Hahaha, basically on that tour when we were with Immortal and the second day I bought a sword in Belgium. Itís too much trouble to bring it over here. The border guards would have an excuse to stop us even more hours.
A question about your record label. Hammerheart Records now turned into Karmageddon Media. The next album will come out on Karmageddon? Howís your contract?
Generally, all record labels are complete bastards, completely repulsing, completely full of shit. Somebody like me, no matter who the label is, Iíd be difficult to deal with, because I think art and business canít work together. People start off with the best intentions and they say ďIíve never gonna become like thisÖĒ and then soon as money gets involved they become everything theyíve said they wouldnít become.
And any record label that we have ever dealt with, with the exception maybe of Misantrophy Records they always have done the same thing. I mean I tell people that we should have interviews in countries like Romania or Bulgaria, but they didnít care. All things like this have nothing to even do with them.
The Karmageddon doesnít care about licenses, because they donít make any money and so I just say bootleg everything, do whatever you want. Itís more important to get the music out there. Karmageddon they are just the same as any other label.
Iíve read on your website that you have some new songs and you will record a new CD. What can you tell me about it?
We are all writing songs, weíre gonna record another album, but we have a lot of stuff to sort out before that.
And itís going to come out on Karmageddon Media, or at another label?
I canít really say to be honest. Our contract is not expired, but there are a lot of negotiations happening.
Did you have offers from other labels?
Yes, but I canít say who it is, haha. Iím sure you could use your imagination.
What happened to your hand? (Alanís hand was broken and ďplastered upĒ-ed.)
Oh, my hand. Iíve got ten stitches in my hand. Now I could say something cool, like ďbecause I was fighting somebodyĒ, but itís not that. Itís from playing sport.
What kind of sport?
Ice-hockey or field-hockey?
Itís a traditional sport in Ireland?
No, in fact itís completely the opposite.
Itís something I play since I was a little kid and itís sort of something that English brought to Ireland and Iíve just happened to play. But now I smashed my hand a bit and I have ten stitches, which is quite hard now on stage, but Iím trying not to grip my hand as hard.
I have a demo tape of the Dark Romanticism demo and the cover is different from which Iíve seen on your website. Howís that?
Originally there are 1200 printed tape covers, which have a sort of crappy logo on the front. Thatís what we did. Then Cacophonous Records did about 200 with a different cover with the lyrics white on black. If you got white lyrics on black thatís the Cacophonous Recordís and if you got black lyrics on white, then thatís the original one.
There were some talks about the re-editing of your ďDark RomanticismĒ demoÖ
Yeah, thatís coming out now.
Iíve liked your logo from the Imrama CD.
Yes, I liked it. Why did you change it?
I donít know why we changed it. I thinkÖahhÖthatís a good question! I donít know why we changed it, really. I think maybe it just didnít fit in the cover of A Journeyís End.
How are the new songs? What we should expect from the next Primordial album?
I think the next album should be longer, maybe 60-70 minutes, going from total acoustic guitars and singing to completely grim and everything in between. The most grim black metal weíve ever done and also the most melancholic dark stuff.
Something like A Journeyís End?
Some bits of that with layered singing and acoustic guitars and traditional, but also really grim black metal.
I know that youíre not that much into folk music, I mean not as much as the others in the bandÖ
Me? A bit, I do a bit. But the other guys are more into it. Iím that kind of Judas Priest, Manowar, Mercyful Fate, old thrash, but I do listen to some Irish traditional music, but not as much as the other guys, thatís true. But enough, you knowÖ more then probably most people would think, but not compared to the other guys in the band.
My personal favorite album is A Journeyís End and Iíve always been interested who wrote the Dark Song?
It seems that A Journeyís End was really popular in this area. There is a friend of mine, who played the second guitar for Primordial for like two years, we did the Immortal tour with him.
Me and him had a band together, just doing acoustic guitars and singing and we had a sort of melody of the song, you knowÖ (Nemtheanga actually sings here the melody line of Dark Song-ed.) and weíve never made it into a song and then when we made A Journeyís End, me and CiŠran sort of took it and made it into the Dark Song, so I guess itís originally like 20-30% belongs to me and that guy making it up and the lyrics are by this Irish pagan poet (Amergin Glangel), supposed to be the first druid in Ireland.
And what about The Cruel Sea? This is a traditional Irish song. In which age was written?
The Cruel Sea is just a traditional like Illian Pipe Air (?). We lifted a small part of it from, I think it was SeŠn Oí RiordŠin, an Irish traditional Illian Pipe player, I think from the 15th or 16th century. We just took a little bit of the melody of that in and made it into a song.
Are you deep interested in the history of Ireland?
Yeah, but history of everyoneís is interesting.
And what do you know about Transylvania?
I know bits of countries down here. I know of things about First World War or 19th century history of these countries. I know of course the usual books about Countess Bathory and Vlad Tepes and all that kind of stuff, the usual black metal readingÖIíve read all about these stuff.
I used to mail Adrian of Mourning Beloveth and Sentinel Records. He said youíre good friends and he used to share a house with you. Are you still in contact with him?
Oh, Adrian of Mourning Beloveth, yeah. I used to live with him. I see him every week. Heís a cool guy. All from Mourning Beloveth are cool guys.
Howís the scene in Ireland. Are there many good bands?
Yes, but thereís not many fans. But the bands are kind of closer together in the last years, then before.
What about Geasa?
Geasa, yeah. Itís the same drummer that plays in Primordial. They have a new CD, but itís only at a small Irish label.
Yes, thatís it. Fates Lost Sun is the title of their new CD.
Itís a great album and its sounds a little bit like PrimordialÖ
A bit maybe, yeah. Those guys went to school with me and we all know each other like for 10-12 years.
And can you play any instrument?
I can play the bass and the guitar. I donít really write stuff for Primordial, Iím doing another band: Void of Silence.
Yes, theyíre from Italy and I wanted to ask you about it.
Iím doing the singing for Void of Silence, but Iím also have been writing some songs with Keith from Destroyer 666, so maybe we are gonna do a band together. Theyíre good friends of mine.
There will be just grim vocals on it?
Itís like big, epic Manowar-kind of metal.
Do you like old school metal?
Yes, thatís me. All that shit, like Desaster, Destroyer 666, Razor, Pentacle, Gospel Of The Horns, thatís cool stuff. Iím really into Exciter, Razor, Destruction and thatís kinda stuff.
So I guess itís a little bit annoying for you when Primordial is compared to bands like My Dying Bride, or early Anathema. Youíre nervous when youíre heard such comparisons?
No, but itís just bullshit. People who donít understand music just hear clean singing and they think its sound similar, but Anathema donít play any chords like we do.
With My Dying Bride I can understand, they have that melancholy too, and the tone in his voice is a little bit like mine, but he doesnít really sing, he just (Nemtheanga is imitating Aaronís grievous style of singing-ed), very quiet you know, he doesnít project his voice.
I mean we are friends with Anathema and My Dying Bride, but I donít think its sounds similar. I think itís just because thereís the melancholy. When we did the tour with Immortal some people said that Primordial doesnít fit with Immortal, but I think Primordial is more like Immortal then Anathema.
Ex-Anathema bassist Duncan Patterson is also a friend of yoursÖ
Yes, he lives like 4-5 minutes away from our house and we always hang out and stuff.
What do you think about his current band Antimatter?
Itís OK. Some things I like, but I donít like the female vocals. I like only Mickís vocals, Iím not into female vocals.
Primordial is a popular band in Ireland?
No, not really. We probably sell the most of any Irish metal band, but itís only maybe 200-250 copies in Ireland, thatís all. We donít have a big scene.
And where do you sell the most? Where do you have the biggest fan-base?
Germany and Greece of course. We can sell 15000 in Greece. We do well in Holland and Belgium. Itís easier to say the worst countries, which are like France, Finland and Denmark. Italy is not so great too, but itís OK and England itís quite OK as well for some reason. And I think we are OK in Australia too.
You play only in Europe or will you have some tours in Australia, America and countries like that?
Well, we have talked about going to play in Australia and we tried to play in America too, but thatís just hasnít happened yet. Maybe next journey.
We just really trying to move the band on, like a new album for new people and just trying bring it up a little bit. The label where we are now, I think with the current situation we have we just canít get there and play in these areas. So, weíll see.
Primordial shows are theatrical a little, I mean itís like youíre acting on stageÖ
Itís not acting, itís just me. For that hour, hour and a half you just live those songs. You put your soul into them when you wrote them, so if you are pure in your intentions towards writing music it should be no problem to put yourself into those songs whether itís 25 people or 2500, or 5000. You just do your thing, thatís what we do.
A lot of bands donít really seem to believe what they do. It must be hard when the music means nothing and when itís about fuckiní zombies, or fuckiní cartoon satanism like Ancient, or something. Itís just bullshit Hate Eternal and that kinda stuff. (Nemtheanga pointing at Mr. Mirgilusí Hate Eternal T-shirt.-ed.) No offence, but its stupid lyrics.
Yeah, thatís death metal lyricsÖ
Yeah. But, you know, when music itís from a pure place and actually means something to you, then itís much easier to do what we do. No matter what are the circumstances, itís 100% weíre not gonna complain about the amps of the drum kit on the stage. We played here and it was cool.
I suppose youíre not making a living from music. What do you do in your personal life?
What I do in the moment: I paint backdrops for bands to put behind the stage. So I do backdrops for Cirith Gorgor, Death Angel, Necrophobic and just doing things for Irish bands and local bands. I have a job, but itís not really important what I do. Things like ďwhat you doĒ I donít think are important for people. I donít mean it in a bad way and I donít want it to look like arrogance or mysticism, but itís just not important for people to know this.
OK. And the other members of Primordial?
I know what they do. Everybody works and everybody can make a living and itís OK, but not from music.
How much time do you spent on practicing?
We are not a band that practices very often. We couldnít practice 5 nights a week, it doesnít work like that. We practice when we have to do something, or when we have ideas.
You have LP versions for each Primordial record. Are you a fan of LPs, a collector maybe?
Yeah, of course, from the old days. I have 500-600 LPs, or something.
And what are your all time favorite 4 albums?
Itís fuckiní hard man. Weird number is fourÖ Itís difficult, but if I had to pick 4, it would beÖmaybeÖ
Candlemass Ė Epicus, Doomicus, Metallicus
Iron Maiden Ė Iron Maiden
Manowar Ė Hail To England
Judas Priest Ė Screaming For Vengeance
Well, something like that, but, you know, it could be also Exodus Ė Bonded By Blood, Holy Terror Ė Mind Wars.
And what are your favorite drinks, food, books and moviesÖ?
I like to read, at the moment I read a lot of II World War books about Stalingrad, then Spanish Civil War, The Fall of Berlin and right now Iím reading a book about IRA.
Do you get inspiration from these books?
Yeah, I take, but inspiration can come from anywhere. From people and from where you go, from experiences you have and so onÖ
Itís easy for you to write lyrics?
Yeah, when I want to I can put my thoughts into words quite well.
And you are also composing music?
I do write music, but not for Primordial. I donít know yet for whom, it could be the band with Keith from Destroyer 666.
Your favorite drinks and so onÖ
Drink? Is got to be Sodden Comfort (?) and red lemonade sort of drinkÖ Sony and red we call it. I hate to say, but I like Coca Cola as well I guessÖ
Food: anything with meat in it.
Movies: Itís hard to tell you what I like. I can tell you what I hate, itís easier. Most American Hollywood bullshit fuckiní commercial movies are what I hate.
And I like nasty black and white underground Finnish road movies. I like stuff like Akira Kurosawa and Japanese black and white movies.
Do you like David LynchÖ?
Well, yeah, itís OK, but not my thing really.
And what about the Lord Of The Rings?
Oh, yeah, thatís cool! I like that. There you go! Itís easier to say what you hate, than what you like. Every commercial capitalist American movies, Hollywood crap like explosions and fuckiní titsÖWell, not like thatÖ
Well, I guess thatís all for the moment.
by Robert Sun & Mirgilus