Nekron: Allright and well met; yeah, we are busy as Hell on wheels here and it seems that things aren‘t slowing down at all for RÁN. Just did a show in the Netherlands and it was great seeing so many friends after more than two years away, now that yours truly has relocated himself to the cold, dark and generally reclusive homeland in the far and distant North, namely Iceland.
As for the ‘what‘s up‘ and a few productive bandmeetings later, we‘ve taken things out of crawl mode and back into full swing; working on a fresh album sporting the ‘not entirely fresh‘ material off our EPs as a sort of ‘best of’, to be served fully re-mastered and with re-recorded guitars – courtesy of our ‘fresh‘ guitarist, Axion – as a CD, LP and quite possibly on tape as well.
The word being ‘fresh‘ here, much like a breath of fresh air really, we are organising a full tour of Europe – alongside the fine gentlebeasts of the Rock Tour Agency – in the autumn months of 2016, working on material for a truly massive sonic assault, simply termed as ‘The Deep’ (more on that at a later point); what else, more recordings and sketched material covering numerous ‘to-be-made’ albums, shirts, posters, patches and who knows what else…
Yeah, we’re busy allright!!!
In October you had released a new ep, how would you describe the musical sound that is presented on the recording and also how does it differ from the stuff you have released in the past?
Nekron: Well, the ‘Sólin Deyr’ EP/MCD is definitely a poke at what’s to come. Less polished and more raw and aggressive, ‘in your face’ sort of… I reckon it’s what you get when you incorporate the general mechanics of a more ‘Black Metal’ oriented guitarist instead of the former who – despite incredible talent – was, well, more polished Death Metal inspired if you get the point. A totally different feeling of course…
What we really did here, was to take material of 3 different and upcoming albums: The Deep, Rock and Rule, and the auspiciously named ‘Bastards of Black Metal’ and threw it together as a taste of what’s to befall. People find it hard to believe, but we have sketched up albums ranging well into the next decade, assuming we manage to release one every year... I gather we’ll be doing this from time to time and giving our friends a glimpse of the future. Personally, I find it rather interesting as every album has its own theme – so to speak – and mixing these together can be an obscure and enlightening experience as the songs ae likely to develop further and change somewhat when the ultimate release is – erm… – released.
You have a past playing grindcore in Iceland but quit playing music for 15 years, what was the cause of leaving music and also making a return but playing black metal as opposed to grind?
Nekron: Heheh… A good question that will most likely produce a long and in-depth answer… Thinking back to those days and the turn of the 80’s/90’s here in Iceland; damn, it’s certainly been a while…
Now, there was a lot happening already in Reykjavík; bands popping up, left and right, but they were mostly playing what was generally accepted back then and still is for that matter: Midpaced thrash and Death Metal and it all became rather blurry to me, so being somewhat anti-establishment – heheh – I instinctively circumvented that stuff and found myself rather listening to early Napalm Death, Extreme Noise Terror, Carcass, Heresy and the like, ignoring – say – refusing to pay any attention to bands like Death and Paradise Lost at the time; you know, what everyone was listening to. Instead, I opted for music that most would avoid as it was simply too provocative, noisy and extreme… Yeah, that was what I held onto, aside personal favourites of course. Always had a thing for early Bathory, Onslaught, Slayer (early mind you), Overkill, Motörhead, etc…
What I also liked about the Hardcore/Grindcore movement back in the day, was that it had a ‘message’; seemingly a purpose and a drive. You could let that into your head and think it through. Now, it’s all zombies, intestines and chicks on the chopping block. Doesn’t do much for me personally although I don’t really mind it either.
Anyways and stumbling about in the early 90’s like any young man did, would and should, I logically hooked up with some good mates of mine and started Iceland’s first Grindcore band ‘Extermination’, infused with socio-political lyrics and all that. Didn’t last too long though as I left the country alongside my family in ’92 and kept off shore for more than two decades.
Still, the sound always stayed with me and – amidst growing fanaticism and exploration into the realms of extreme music – I was introduced to the 2nd wave of Black Metal by a good friend in the Netherlands – ummm… – back in ‘94 or ‘95, and that in the form of Morbid Angel teaming up with Immortal, so – arguably – the very best of what ‘evil music’ had to offer in those days. Needless to say, it left a lasting impression that still keeps me going… Damn, what a show that was…
So, I went through art school, started a family and all that, but I never stopped writing music and poetry and the ideas kept piling up. Having only served as a vocalist, I picked up the bass and began working on those ideas, now more in league with the early influences of Thrash and Speed Metal, mixed with the core feeling of – predominantly Norse – Black Metal that seemed so dangerous and foreboding back in the early nineties. So, in 2007 or 2008, I caught up on the reformed Onslaught and listened to Motörhead’s ‘Rock out’, which convinced me to get up and do something about this, and RÁN was formed rather hastily with an early line-up of good friends that had the work cut out for them. Naturally and by selection, professional musicians stepped into place and here we are, fully fledged and capable of wreaking Hell infernal, on and off the stage. That despite me having relocated to the homeland and the focus having shifted from the rehearsal room and onto physical releases alongside strategized ventures that can be accomplished despite distances.
As a fitting end to this monologue effort, it should be said – time and time again – that as far as I am concerned, RÁN flowed straight and unhindered out of my musical endeavours in the early 90’s, hence and to me, we go much further back than the ‘official’ start of the band, but call it a feeling rather than a specific date on paper or page. We are here and we’ll last; that’s what matters the most.
What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the band explores with the newer music?
Nekron: Well, I reckon it depends on where we are looking really; I mean, into the upcoming project: I.e. ‘The Deep’, which opens and closes a chapter on extremely dark blends of Black, Doom and Death Metal with emphasis on fitting, complex and wicked poetic arrangements and enchantments to ensnare the soul. Yet and bearing in mind, it is entirely possible to gaze even further on into impending releases like ‘Bastards of Black Metal’ and ‘Rock and Rule’ which focus on music and lyrics appropriate to their respective titles, namely more Rock and Roll and all out Black Thrash compositions. Here the idea summons forth lyrics geared towards monumentality and rebellious messages for our audience to chant alongside us.
That said and by any creative reckoning, I believe a project should stand on its own and as an idea, and it’s not too hard for me to pull out an upcoming album such as Hellelujah (thank you Mr. Sogn) which is scheduled for release in – I guess – 2022 or something like that, bringing more Icelandic folk themes and simplified texts into the general scheme of things. Come to think of it, one doesn’t find such discussions all that hard as – believe it or not – to me it’s all one thing; the past, the presence, and the future and as far as I’m concerned, these numerous titles are as good as released anyways. Just a matter of time since most of the songs are drawn up already and the poetry written off the mind.
Insofar and in retrospect, it’s all been rather mixed up in stark opposition to the above and we look forward to the next release (Rock to Hell CD – scheduled for April/May, 2016) which will close the door behind us and open up a few new ones…
I know that the band name came from the prose Edda, can you tell us a little bit more about your interest in Runes and Norse paganism?
Nekron: I dare say that my fascinations with my ancestry and heritage has less to do with choice and more to do with fundamental understanding and acknowledgement of the self, although I am extensively read and versed both in the Edda, Heimskringla, Icelandic Sagas, etc. All in all, it seriously doesn’t matter much what I do or get up to, my blood will always flow into it, so to speak…
Runes have long since enticed me and the skaldic, poetic incantations and rhymes have had much to do with how I build up the lyrics and song structures. Usually and the way it’s been for some time now, I catch an idea of a song, a riff, or a part and the core or skeleton of the poem emerges. The message, the build-up; all comes to me, sometimes as a whole song with all instruments involved and the ensuing struggle to seize everything can be somewhat demanding. I’ve found that my study of runes has come a long way in capturing the essence of things and aforementioned proceedings especially. I make my own runes, write and give them meanings in accordance to the ancient spells and crafts of my forefathers, decorate our material and myself with them, use them at will, but it goes further and deeper than that… Much deeper… Into my visual art and my daily life as well; the occult runs rampant here, in all manners of ideology and execution.
It is also here that I consider myself in relation with my brothers in the North and – perhaps due to my longstanding ventures abroad – I consider myself Norse, first and foremost. Iceland and Norway, both feel like home and the cradle of what culture I find myself belonging to.
What are some of the best shows that the band has played over the years and also how would you describe your stage performance?
Nekron: I think all of our shows have been good in one way or another. Some were good, some great, some were mere stepping stones or lessons to be learned, but they’ve always led to something decent, something worthwhile…
We’ve made many good friends over the years and will continue to do so. People find us notoriously easy to work with, pro-active (I do recent that word, but use it anyway) and willing to bust heads and bruise knuckles in order to get the job done proper. I suppose it’s Icelandic work ethics in a way, but my Dutch brothers and sister balance this out with attention to finesse and my beloved Lisa has a way with keeping things in proper motion. She is – after all – quite experienced when it comes to shows, bands, public relations and many, many other things.
As for the show itself, for some reason, we do seem to stand out a little (spoken modestly, I assure you), but I despite my effort to improve, observe and learn constantly at the doorstep of self-improvement, the true self comes out once the warpaint is on. One becomes filled with energy, vigorous and all conquering. It feels like a pure surge of Demonic power and the audience senses this; some even participate in it and it can be the greatest thing to experience and share. A real gathering of souls and I already look forward to the next time.
Do you have any touring or showplans for the future?
Nekron: Absolutely and besides our usual demeanour of playing at whatever venue/festival that will have us, we are – as previously mentioned – arranging a tour of Europe in October this year; most likely starting in Milan, Italy and running a red ruin Northwards and through the Balkans, Germany, Poland and finally into familiar terrain in the Benelux area.
The tour will follow our release of the ‘Rock to Hell CD’ and – with some luck on our side – possibly the first, or first few of the 4 piece suite that is to be called ‘The Deep.’
We have some seriously good and honest people working with us on this and spirits are running high. The title of the tour is yet to be announced and there is some serious – albeit good – work up and ahead of us all.
On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your music by fans of black and thrash metal?
Nekron: Well, I guess that being down to the last copies of our first full release (Demonstorm) shows that we’re doing allright despite said album being far from where we are aimed at musically. The rest of the material has sold rather nicely and there is much support from friends and supporters all over. Of course and as it is, certain critical voices have rung out as well; I.e. some were quick to point out a strong flavour of Immortal in the beginning, which is understandable as such a taste is naturally going to make itself present (as credit to Abbath and Immortal) if one is aiming at the core of Norse Black Metal from the early 90’s as one of the prime influences, but as one proceeds and progresses, the self shines forth and makes for a stronger, more persistent image and sound. Incidentally, RÁN was never about originality to begin with, but we have benefited strongly from criticism as well as the guidance/advice of good friends who – somehow – see what truly matters and what is to come.
Today, we seem to stand out and apart – funnily enough – as rather special (or so ‘they’ say) in appearance and sound, and that is rather comforting although we certainly have a long way to go and much to do in the meantime. No rest for the wicked…
The last ep was self-released, are you currently looking for a label?
Nekron: Indeed we are and once in a while I’ll touch base with a label or a someone who seems like a decent enough candidate for partnership, and that’s indeed how I look at it. I have no rockstar illusions, or – say – delusions of grandeur in the mind’s eye. Making music is hard work and hard business, and I like that. Hell, I wouldn’t be doing this otherwise…
If we find a worthwhile label, or – better still – a ‘worthwhile label’ finds us, we’ll be ready and up for talks to a mutual arrangement that should benefit all parties and keep the RÁN express running at full steam ahead. Until then, there’s Rock and Roll, scores of tunes to be written and much else to do. We have no trouble in self-releasing our material and stand ready to bring ‘what’s done’ to the table when the time is right. The end justifies the means and we simply get things done, and move onto the next goal in sight.
That said and done with, we just came through on a good deal with the Dutch underground label ‘Zwaertgevegt’ and they’ll be handling our releases on MC tape format henceforth. The label manager is a good friend and a dead honest individual that we are indeed proud to work with, and that’s exactly what we’d be looking for in any business arrangement. That feeling of mutual trust between people who know what matters most…
When can we expect another full length album and also where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?
Nekron: Although my extensive elaboration earlier went on about much of this, I’d see no reason to waste a perfectly good and honest question, and stand ready to repeat myself somewhat, if only to clarify the path ahead…
We can expect the release of the full length ‘Rock to Hell’ album – released on CD, vinyl and tape – as early as April/May this year. In an attempt to close the book on the early to current period and the numerous releases it has produced, we felt that pulling together the ‘best’ of the EP/MCD material into a single, nine track album would be rather handy and look forward to re-recording the guitars – courtesy of one fine Axion (new guitarist) – as well as whatever else that could be done better this time round. Furthermore, the release will sport a fresh track from the trailing EP to ‘The Deep’, namely called ‘Upheaval’. As a slight matter of fact, this track is already on the working bench and can be seen as a bridge between ‘The Deep’ and what material is to come crashing forth in the coming years and on such albums as I previously mentioned.
What should follow if the schedule holds, would be a massive project that should make any label manager think twice before signing us, and that would be – you guessed it – ‘The Deep’: A full 33 track album spread across 3 full length CDs and previously mentioned EP/MCD (Upheaval). Now and before any reader refuses to take this too seriously, consider that all poetry is ready, the cover art work is made and many of the tracks already sketched up and ready for final works, so – yeah – I like to think ahead and act out of time… It’ll be well worth the effort and there are many good ideas running to see the light of what darkness should follow. The music will be sinister, heavy and dark as Hell; a something that should – as we say in Iceland – pour cold water between the skin and the flesh. Indeed, it will be well worth the effort on anyone’s behalf, including the listener’s…
What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your newer music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
Nekron: As influences go, they do range far and wide. As usual and anything from classical compositions to the works of cinema music scores, further down the line of outrageous Rock and Roll, and straight into the armpits of extreme Metal bands as well as the generous offerings of legendary bands like Motörhead, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Gwar, Judas Priest and – without doubt – AC/DC.
In the current mind-set and ‘The Deep’ already in pre-production, I am looking and listening at loads of Doom and Death Metal in addition to certain core influences of incredible Dark Metal bands like Aeternus, which produce – in my opinion – a very haunting and relentless sound that captivates me and fuels me to write music on my own. That and much of the early Black and Death Metal bands like Obituary, Morbid Angel, Beherit, Ancient (early allright), Bestial Warlust, the mighty Mystifier and others as I try to steer clear of dangerous Thrash influences that are likely to upset the balance of things. Blackened Death metal it is and that should stay until ‘The Deep’ is done and it’s back to Black Thrash’n Roll.
Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
Nekron: I’d take the time to thank you for the well-founded questions and your time spent here, as well as urging any reader to investigate the music of RÁN and – more importantly – look out for us on tour in October this year (2016). The music of RÁN lives and is best enjoyed Live…
RÁN is POWER!!! Relentless and uncompromising; once you see us, you won’t forget…