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Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Wacht Interview

1.Can you give us an update on what has been going on with the band since the recording and release of the new album?

Not much. We are working on a new EP which will contain Black Metal songs. This one took us just a few years to finish. The Piano Album “La mort” was something that was started after the initial song-writing phase of the EP but we thought to prioritize it. After the release of “La mort” the time came to finish the lyrics and record the vocals and currently the EP is being mixed at the Liquid Aether Audio Studio in Germany. I don’t know when and how it will be released. At the moment I also really don’t care about that. We want to finish the mix first and see how the world has changed until then. Besides that, we try to fight against futile interview questions and the general boring feeling Black Metal emanates these days.

2.In December you have released a new album, musically how does it differ from the stuff you have released in the past?

It is a Piano / Vocals-Only album, so everyone that listens to it for five seconds will hopefully notice the difference. Being a Black Metal band, this is a new musical style for us. However, I don’t sense a change in the overall feeling of the album. For me the album contains the same idea and goal we had on older releases (like Indigen). Of course, it sounds different but the mood, the intention and the atmosphere are similar. Therefore, I would say that La mort is a Black Metal album. If someone disagrees, I am fine with that. But I really don’t care.

3.The earlier albums where in more of a black metal direction while the music on the new recording is piano based, what was the decision behind going into this direction?

I felt it was necessary to do something different. Every other band speaks about change and growth, but which of them really overcomes the shadows of the past and incorporates true change?

We have thought about doing some acoustic songs for some time but I wasn’t satisfied simply doing the same as other bands have done before. So, we came up with the idea to record a pure piano album (yes, it’s not that innovative as it sounds, I am aware). Evangelion and me recorded one song to see if it works, and it did. Therefore, we created song after song in this setup until we gathered material with the length of two albums. The rest of the songs were added as a bonus to the limited box of “La mort”. I want to mention that without the input of our singer, this album would have never happened. I owe him a lot, if not everything.

In the end it does not matter what kind of music someone creates. If the music speaks, I will listen. The album may be boring to people expecting Black Metal. I am also aware that it might be hard getting into it if you don’t understand a single word of the lyrics. But all that doesn’t matter to us. As artists we do not record music for fame, money, attention or other people. We do it for ourselves, for our hearts and souls. Needless to say, that we are satisfied with the result.

4.The lyrics on the new recording are a concept album revolving around death, can you tell us a little bit more about the songwriting?

There is not much to tell about the songwriting. I recorded the piano and wrote the lyrics. Evangelion recorded the vocals and that’s it. The whole thing was very fluent and uncomplicated. I gave him the freedom to do whatever he wanted regarding the melodies and the vocal style/lines. Sometimes we corrected a few things but, in the end, it was a straightforward approach. Evangelion shared my vision of the album from the beginning. I was looking for sparks and found a fire burning wild. 

Yes, the lyrical concept revolves around death. Every song talks about death from a different perspective. Death can be seen as the destructive power of nature but in the same time also appears in the eyes of innocent children. Death can grab the praying priestess or the father preparing dinner for his family. It is a universal constant in life. At the same time the lyrics contain a timelessness that doesn’t care about when the story was told. The narrative of some songs takes the perspective of death itself. For example, “Cul sunar dals sains” (a song on the bonus CD) talks about a personified death traveling through the villages to take the chosen ones with him/her. The people greet this person or curse it when they see it. Some ask themselves why death is already here again. But all of them know that they will see it again and again until it comes for them. We all die. That is the point of the story and the point of the album.

We chose to set the lyrics in the context of our home, the mountain region of Switzerland. There are many parallels to the places we grew up. The album will project the mountains of my home in your mind while you listen to it. It will show you your insignificance and worthlessness on this world. It will manifest the bleakness of nature and the finality of death. Of course, it should also make you kill yourself… (jokes aside). It ends with a person returning home after timeless years abroad. The person will return to its origin, to its memories, and its past, to die. This is what I want, what I will pursue when the time comes. I will look into the faces of those I have always despised and I will enter the ground on the rock besides the river that has always been there (La fossa sül sunteri).

5.You also write most of your lyrics in the Engadine dialect of the Rumantsch language, can you tell us a little bit more about using this language in your songwriting?

Many topics I want to write about are easier to express in this language. It might sound strange but it is not the same if I write the lyrics in German or English. The words don’t make sense and they sound misplaced. When this happens, I switch language and continue with the one that suits the song in a better way. Obviously, some topics also don’t work in Rumantsch (as we call it). The Korona album for example would not work in any other language than English. 

Rumantsch is one of my mother tongues, so it is logical for me to write certain lyrics in this language. It is a national language in Switzerland but only spoken by about 35’000-40’000 people in the mountain region of Switzerland and (in a different dialect) in Italy. The language is a mix of Latin, which was brought to us by the roman troops, and the local Rhaetic language that was spoken in Grisons at that time. Grisons was (and still is) a gateway if you travel from the north to the south and back. People in power wanted to occupy the mountains to be able to charge the travellers road charges. At some point Grisons was a roman province with soldiers stationed there and if I am not wrong this is when the language started to live. I wouldn’t call Rumantsch ancient, but it is certainly not a young language…
Also, it is related to various other languages like Italian, French etc. thus we can understand those better than for example a German speaker. The title of the album “La mort” is Rumantsch and not French as some reviewers suspected. Of course, it means the same thing in both languages: Death. 

As the number of people actively speaking this language is decreasing over time, I thought it to fit perfectly to an album speaking about death. Also, I feel it vanishing from my mind over the years as I live in a different part of Switzerland speaking different languages in my daily life. This is my way of setting a monument, where there shouldn’t be one to be seen.

6.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Wacht'?

It is a German military term translating to “the guard” or “the watch”. I wanted to have a short and clear name back then. As most of the lyrics were written in German during that period, a German name made sense. It sounds as harsh as the music we have created in our early days. We could argue that it is outdated, but then again Black Metal is pretty much from yesterday. So, I think we are fine keeping it.

7.Can you tell us a little bit more about the artwork that is presented on the new album cover?

This is how I imagine my home to be. It is what I think about when I talk about mountains, nature, the Engadine valley and Grisons. Of course, it doesn’t look like that most of the time. But for me this is what I miss and dread to see again, at the same time. 

The tree represents solitude and loneliness but also robustness in a world that has completely turned to shit. It is actually the view I grew up with. I took the picture eight or nine years ago and I believe, it symbolises the concept of the album in a very good way. It captures the surroundings of a cold, dead world but still has a spark of life in it. Then without life, of course, we couldn’t comprehend death. 

8.Currently there are only 2 members in the band, are you open to working with a full line up again in the future or do you prefer to remain a duo?

Wacht has more than two members. We simply recorded the Piano album as a two piece as there are not more instruments than the Piano and the Vocals. The new EP that I mentioned before was recorded with two other guys and there are certain people in the shadows that I do consider as members as well. So, the Wacht lineup is changing but as constant as it gets at the same time. You can imagine it as a rout of mavericks. Every individual has to fight his own fight, but sometimes we will stand up and swallow the sun, together.

As this seems rather abstract, I can give you an example: We were working with two drummers in the past. One has recorded Indigen and Korona in the studio while the other one has performed live with us at our gigs. The new EP was recorded by the former live drummer who now is our studio drummer. The one that recorded Korona and Indigen also played live with us on several occasions. I believe we therefore have a lineup with two drummers at the moment, but – to be completely honest - I can’t be sure. In the end it doesn’t matter who does/did what. The result is the piece of art that was created (be it an album, a gig or simply a song). I believe that Black Metal shouldn’t be about any person-worshipping cult. Therefore, we try to keep everything as anonymous as possible. I don’t like attention whores, and I certainly won’t work with them. Black Metal needs to remain faceless, timeless and restless.

9.When there was a full line up where there any live shows being performed?

Yes – as you can see on our website – we have played several shows in several countries. At the moment there are no gigs planned. This might of course change in the future. Depending on the time and availability of the members. We will not play the Piano songs though; at our concerts the focus will lie on the Black Metal part of our discography. 

10.Over the years the band has also been a part of a great amount of splits, can you tell us a little bit more about the bands or musical projects that you have shared these recordings with?

Those are representations of certain periods in the band’s existence. Some still make sense today, while other don’t. However, during that time, these few bands were close to us and we thought it makes sense to share a release. I discuss splits with people I know personally. I don’t see the sense behind releasing a shared release with bands that don’t fit to my views and that might turn out to be complete idiots (which is quite common these days). So, if we do more splits in the future, they were thought through. But you never know how things turn out...

Our split with “Grusig” (a limited tape) should be released in the next couple of weeks.

11.On a worldwide level how has the reaction been to your newer music by fans of black metal?

To be honest I have no idea. I don’t care about a worldwide level and I certainly don’t care about the reactions of random people. I guess the label might know that better than I do, as promotion and similar things is their job.

12.What is going with some of the other bands or musical projects that some of the band members are a part of?

Our guitar player and me are working on some new stuff for one of his projects, but that is not finished and I therefore won’t share anything about it. The two of us also want to continue with Cunfin at some point but I have no idea when or if this will happen. Both drummers play in several other bands but would like to keep that for themselves and finally Evangelion has a project with the same name which just released a first EP a few weeks ago. And I, being busy all the time, have some other projects as well. 

You can find the information on the internet. If you can’t find anything there, it’s simply not important enough to share… As I said, I don’t care about namedropping and ass licking. So, we just do what we do.

13.Where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?

Apart from the already recorded EP I don’t care where we are heading. I suppose we will continue to play Black Metal as we mainly are a BM band. However, if there is a good idea which goes into a different direction, I am open for that. We will see. 

14.What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?

Certainly not Black Metal at this point. 

15.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts? 

Viva la Grischa!
S. – March 2020

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