You’re currently touring with OFF WITH THEIR HEADS. How is it going so far, Nathan?
Yes! We’re in Cleveland tonight and then we go to Chicago, I believe, but I can’t remember. The tour is awesome! It is a lot of fun! We’re having a great time.
How’s the audience taking you in with the songs from the upcoming album “Thy Will”?
It seems like everyone is taking it really well –which I was kind of shocked about! OFF WITH THEIR HEADS is obviously such a different style of music. I thought that the people would be put off by it but so far it’s been going really well. We got a great response! People love what we do. I got a great compliment last night when some guy came up to me and said: ‘That was the fucking most evil show I’ve ever seen!’ (laughing – also evilish)
… which is totally what you would want to hear. It the best thing anyone could say.
It was perfect! (more evil laughter)
But on this particular tour, the audience is probably pulled in by OFF WITH THEIR HEADS…
Yeah, they are definitely there for them. Last night, there were a couple of people there, who were there to see us. Some people that I knew. I don’t think anyone was coming to an OFF WITH THEIR HEADS show to see a metal band.
Some people probably also showed up because they know you already
Oh yeah. There were definitely a couple of people who were there because they know BOYSETSFIRE and where excited to see it.
But that’s not necessarily a bad thing…
No, not at all! I don’t mind that at all! But I do like to have a separation between the bands. Because number one: I don’t want I AM HERESY to be seen like a pet project or some kind of side project – because it’s not. It’s a full-fledged band and I am very serious about it. And number two: I like to keep it a little separate. It gets kinda obnoxious when you want to talk about I AM HERESY and people want to talk about BOYSETSFIRE. It’s not really where my mind is right now.
What are the reactions to the lyrics and the overall theme of the album? It is very openly opposing the idea of religion – which is, especially in the U.S., a difficult topic
You know, the religious right has gotten so far out of control that we’re now having a backlash – especially from younger people who fucking know better. They are sick of that kind of shit being forced down their throats. They are sick of people being persecuted basically. I think that the gay marriage debate has brought a lot of this bullshit out of the closet, so to say. Because kids are looking around and going: ‘Why? Why can’t people just be people and you shut the fuck up?’ So these religious right fanatics look more and more like what they are; which is fucking insane! And that’s a good thing. It’s good that they are being exposed. It’s good that they are getting crazier and crazier. Because the crazier they get the more they look completely unfounded. And people will then look into the Bible and go: ‘Oh look! It’s a book. Just like any other book. It’s a book full of words that probably don’t mean anything’.
In the U.S., religion is deeply intertwined with politics and society. For the most part, that is different here in Europe. People do have their beliefs here, too, but…
You have more of a pluralistic society which is what I feel America needs. The government and institutions of that matter are more secularly run but at the same time everyone is free to worship whatever weird idea they feel like. It’s just not allowed to play a role in politics, which is what I think is completely fair. That’s how it should be.
I just remember this one news cast where, after a tornado, a woman was interviewed about her neighbor whose house was totally wrecked. When asked if she and her neighbor prayed together, she replied that her neighbor is actually an atheist. The news reported was in total shock and immediately a news ticker announced that 2% of Americans are atheists. Over here, no one would even care if she believed in God. The tornado would’ve hit the house one way or another.
(Nathan bursts into laughter) Funny enough. I laugh because this is so common here. Not only to say it aggressively but also passively like ‘Oh a tornado ripped through our town and we were spared because we’re good Christians’. So what they are saying is: ‘It is ok for others people’s houses to be wrecked, their children to die, because they didn’t pray to some major fucking bullshit thing’. It’s angry. But at the same time – especially with younger people – you can see a definite movement towards a lot of people beginning to realize that being socially conservative just means that you’re pushing your values on other people. So they are starting to realize ‘If I don’t like gay stuff – then I just don’t do gay stuff’. Which is how it should be. If you don’t like it, don’t do it.
What makes me even angrier– being somebody who is a nonbeliever, who feels that it is all mythology and has nothing to do with anything – is that there are people who feel that they have a right to take people’s only chance of happiness? This is it. When you die – it is over. So how dare you fucking fuck that up for somebody?
Let’s talk about the album. Obviously, I love it because it has a lot of screaming and drums on it and I can relate very well to the lyrics. But do you think that it might be difficult for ‘regular kids’ without a certain religious background knowledge to relate to the lyrics with so many specific terms and phrases from mythology and religious contexts?
I don’t believe that it would necessarily put people off if they didn’t fully understand it. I feel the music works on its own. What I like about this band is that even if you don’t quite get the concept of the lyrics, the music is still good. It’s something you can get into and you can just sit there and rock out to it. And that is awesome. So, I don’t think it’s a put off if people don’t fully understand it. And I don’t expect people to do so. That’s why I love interviews where I can simplistically explain the overall feel of it. What we are doing is creating a mythology to an extent that is based in LeVayan Satanism or anything that sort that stands in defiance of your basic religions like Islam, Christianity, and Judaism; that more empowers the individual than it empowers some bullshit concept. What we’ve done is that the album is more poetically with a lot of symbolism and archetypes and things like that. So I didn’t want it to come off strong handed. If you wanted to you could look at it almost as a work of fiction from H.P. Lovecraft. It wouldn’t necessarily be just a tirade against religion. It could just be ‘Ah there’s weird demons and deities and stuff’. Which are obviously just symbolisms for standing up against these things. But also at the same time, a common theme through the album is a dangerous simplification that religion has caused in our lives. I can give an example by the words ‘good’ and ‘evil’. Good and evil are complete bullshit terms that were created to over-simplify complex problems. We can sit there and say: ‘Stalin was evil. Hitler was evil. Pol Pot was evil.’, but that doesn’t answer the question. It only simplifies the situation. And what we don’t get to realize is that what Hitler did, what Stalin did, what Pol Pot did, where actually very natural things in the animal world. That does not make them good for society by any stretch of imagination but when we over-simplify and just call it evil, then how do we defeat it? How do we create our own evolution? How do we move past our human need to dominate? The human need for classism, sexism, for division or things that cause us to fear otherness?
For me it’s also about tradition – that might derive from religion or beliefs. And not only in the broader picture but also within families. This relates to gender questions or the relation between a father and a son. Do you question what is handed down from your parents and grandparents and do you see the obligation to dissent? Do you raise your fists to fight back?
Right. And this is why Satanism – or at least LeVayan Satanism – played a big role in the inspiration of my thoughts and this band in general. It is about empowerment. If you follow this ideology, you don’t believe in the devil, you don’t believe in God. Basically, it acknowledges a person’s need for ritual. I think that we all as human beings have that need for rituals and a believe system. So what Satanism does is that it gives that while, at the same time, through these symbolisms and archetypes, it says: ‘You are God – or Satan. You are all of these things’. And it takes on that role of the accuser and a Satan because of the fact that – for so long – religion has called our basic needs and desires sins. So if our basic desires and needs and wants in life are to be called sin and works of the devil, then let’s be devil worshipers. And then that just means we worship ourselves. So, I think it is important to get that message out to people that you don’t have to fall for this bullshit. You can be your own God. You can make your own rules. You can be that individual and be stronger for it.
So have you actually made that trip to the Creationist’s museum? I saw your post on Facebook that you were near one.
Ha! No! Yesterday we did not make it there. There were two things to it. Number one: We didn’t make it in time. And number two: It’s like 30 $ and six of us paying 30 $ to something that is aaaahhhhhh-I don’t know. I heard they have free days which I think is totally worth trying. That would be awesome!
With six people in the band – and 3 of them playing guitars, how do you guys work together without killing each other along the process?
Yes. It works very well. I mean, I can’t say we won’t kill each other and some point, but it works out very well. We get in a room, everybody brings in songs and parts they want to play. We just work on it together and everybody gives their little take on it. We work on the arrangement. We work on how it’s going to flow and it usually works out very well. There are minor arguments here and there, but we all know what we’re there for. And that’s not to sit around and bicker like little kids but to make music. And to do something that we feel is very important and passionate.
You have a special constellation in the band – with your son Simon playing guitar. Is that sometimes a problem for the rest of the band?
No. I mean, here’s the thing. Simon and I are obviously father and son. Jay, our one guitarist and Crumbs, our drummer, are brothers. And Matt, our bass player, has been in a band before this with Jay and Crumbs for so long, they might as well fucking be related. The only odd man out is Greg. And he’s real fucking odd. So, (laughing) he’s the one who catches the most shit. And he deserves every amount of it. (Pause) And he knows it. He’s one of those people who get shit all the time for being ridiculous, but he completely knows and accepts it. You’ve got to have a whipping boy!
What are your personal favorites on the album?
My personal favorites? Let’s see: “Rahabh” is one. “Our Father” is another favorite. “Destruction Anthem”. And I’m just going to read the whole list. I feel like every song has a special part in my heart. Honestly! As cheesy and weird as that sounds. It’s just like every little piece of this album just speaks to me and really means something to me. I feel very passionate about them.
When I listened to “Seven Wolves And The Daughters Of Apocalypse” on “Thy Will”, I was totally irritated – in a good way – because, I immediately started dancing the Carlton-dance (reference to the Fresh Prince, if you know what I mean). I could totally imagine the whole crowd doing that at a show!
I would love that! We brought that song onto the album because it didn’t get the come-upings when it was on the first album. It just didn’t have the legs like it has now. It is awesome to play it live as we do it on this album and to hear it now; better recorded and better thought out. And the chorus is so catchy and dancy. It’s just so much fun!
I read some reviews before listening to the album and I thought – well: adding up all those styles… That’s risky business. But I absolutely love what you did. The album is incredibly dark and the drums and guitars are so heavy, yet melodic. It all just blends in really well.
It’s actually the best compliment I have seen. A band with this many influences usually just sounds like a mess, but that we were able to put it together correctly… That’s awesome. I am glad that people believe that we are one of those bands that were able to make it work. We have all those influences flying all over the place, but were able to make them cohesive. It’s been a great compliment.
Now that you’re signed on Century Media – how was it to work together? Did they influence the process a lot?
They’ve actually been very awesome. Melanie is the woman that we mostly work with. I definitely asked her opinion on things in certain songs. She gave ‘em. She in no way expected us to follow it. When I do an album I sort of always give out music to certain friends and ask them what they think about it. I like getting perspectives. I don’t feel like I need to be in a bubble. When you do that, you end up being Brian Adams and you put out an album of 50 songs and like 5 of them are great. I don’t like being that hardass that won’t listen to anyone. So I definitely asked opinions and they gave opinions. But there was nothing like: ‘If you don’t change it, then you can’t do it’. They gave us a lot of freedom and it was wonderful.
You’re touring the US a little more and then you’re heading to Europe in April, right?
Yes, we’re heading to Europe with WOLVES LIKE US in April for 2 weeks. And we will come back in the summer – I’m not sure when though.
So I guess I see you at a show – where everyone should be doing the Carlton dance!
Nice! That would be awesome. Thank you!