Satyr - Satyricon - Back
Interviewer: Cameron Edney -

Born Sigurd Wongraven, the dark knight of Black Metal is better known as Satyr to his adoring fans worldwide. As frontman for Norwegian black metallers Satyricon, he has helped pave the way for this particular style of metal, which is now recognized across the globe as one of the fastest growing metal sub-genres. The band formed in 1990 and Satyr took over the vocal duties in 1991, a year later the bands long-time drummer Frost joined and the two have forged a friendship unlike any other. Over the years many members of other black metal bands have helped contribute to the Satyricon sounds either in the studio or live onstage but Satyr and Frost have remained together through it all and are the driving force behind the bands creative direction and longevity. By the end of 2005 Satyricon had already released two Ep's and five full length albums, and had a very strong following of fans worldwide. In 2006 Satyricon released their most popular album to date 'Now, Diabolical', an album that outrages some of the more die-hard Black Metal fans due to the bands radio friendly take on the genre. The album produced singles like 'The Pentagram Burns' and 'K.I.N.G.' a song which certainly helped improve the bands popularity in Australia! Soon after the album's release and worldwide success, the band found their way to Australia for the very first time, playing a series of shows for fans that had been waiting fifteen years to see them in the flesh.

In November 2008, Satyricon released their seventh studio album 'The Age of Nero', an album which the band feels is their greatest work to date, and after listening to it, and I can't help but agree! The emotion, aggression and darkness that fills the album is unlike anything the band have done before and it certainly works in their favor. Satyricon jetted from their homeland of Norway to the Californian sunshine to record 'The Age of Nero' at Sound City studios and the results speak for themselves. The album will go down as one of the greatest Black Metal albums of all-time and with stand out tracks such as 'Commando', 'Die by my Hand' and 'Last Man Standing'; it is easy to see why! Satyricon recently announced they would be returning to Australia in March as part of their 'Age of Nero' world tour, news which has been welcomed by the Australian Black Metal community. I recently had the pleasure of catching up with the bands frontman and songwriter Satyr whilst on tour in India. We spoke in-depth about his thoughts on the bandís latest offering 'The Age of Nero', the bands return to Australia in March and the changes Satyr has noticed in the Black Metal scene since the band formed..... Sit back and enjoy our chat with the 'Commando' of Norwegian Black Metal... Satyr!

Metal Fanatix: Hi Satyr; thanks for talking with us tonight! Congratulations are certainly in order mate… ‘The Age of Nero’ is a great step forward from ‘Now Diabolical’; I have been blasting it all afternoon. No doubt you are very pleased with the result?

Satyr: I have to admit… I think this could very well be the ultimate Satyricon album, we felt that stronger and stronger as we progressed in the song writing. To me - making your best record and making your ultimate record are two completely different things. We’ve always set out to climb onto a higher mountain and make our next album the best so far... I think that the ‘The Age of Nero’ is journey like, it’s not just a compilation of some really good songs, but it’s definitely an “ALBUM” and sonically it’s very well produced and doesn’t follow any ongoing trends. ‘The Age of Nero’ is filled with dynamics, variation, and different levels of intensity and tempos. It has great sound and timeless quality and that’s our feeling anyways! This record has three songs that seem to have a very immediate effect of people, something that they’ll instantly like whilst there are other songs that keep growing on you. This gives me the feeling that ‘The Age of Nero’ is a record that people will like just as much in 2018, even more in the future than they do now. I feel that ‘The Age of Nero’ has real soul and a character of its own, its own unique identity.

Metal Fanatix: Mate, how has the response been from those who have heard ‘The Age of Nero’?

Satyr: Really good so far! When I was in Los Angeles, we still hadn’t mastered the album yet and I was driving around with Alan who is one of the artist relations guys from ESP guitars that I work with... Alan is more of a traditional heavy metal guy; he’s not really into the whole extreme metal scene. There were songs like ‘Commando’, ‘Black Crow on a Tombstone’ that Alan dug right away and he blasted them so fucking loud, I had to tell him to settle down [laughs]! This particular morning I played him the song ‘The Sign of the Trident’ and I said “make sure you listen to this song”, Alan said ‘that’s good, but I like this one better’ and he started blasting what I refer to as one of those more immediate songs. Instead of arguing with Alan as we drove around Los Angeles that day from errand to errand, I kept on playing ‘The Sign of the Trident’. At one point I can remember we were stuck in traffic and ‘The Sign of the Trident’ came on the stereo again and he said “fuck yeah, I really like this”! I turned to him and said “oh you really do?” he said “this is great” he cranked it up really loud and started screaming “oh this is awesome” [laughs]. I turned it down half way through and I said to him, “you do realise that this is the same song that you didn’t particularly like this morning”. He said “no, that’s not this song”. I told him...!

Metal Fanatix: Hailing from Norway, you jetted off to California to record the latest album in the same studios I believe Metallica used to record ‘Death Magnetic’! What were your main reasons for recording ‘The Age of Nero’ in the United States?

Satyr: It was easy; we talked about that early on. This could be the ultimate Satyricon record; this is our chance... that is how we felt! We thought, what do we do to secure that outcome? I, as a producer, I need to team up with someone not only who has a good track record but someone that has the same idea of good and bad when it comes to Sonics as I do. Joe Barresi was someone I had met seven years ago and he’s really old school. He uses rock solid gear and tries to do things naturally instead of adding things artificially. Joe has a vast range of experience from his work with Kyuss and the Queens of the Stone Age to his work with pop rock “ordinary stuff”. I think it was really important for us to step out of our comfort zones. Satyricon have recorded six albums plus a couple of Ep’s in the comfort of our home environment in Norway and also our neighbouring country Denmark having done a lot of work there. Those were all very good experiences but we needed something fresh. As many good bands as there are coming out of Scandinavia and many good studios, music as a profession isn’t really respected and treated in the way that it is in America. If you’re in an environment and all you have to worry about is performing as an artist, it will bring out the best in you whilst if you are in Scandinavia you can certainly do good records, I’m not saying that its hard to do good records there but the stage is more set as an artist to bring out the very best in you in America, it’s not considered as much a hobby there as it is a profession.

Metal Fanatix: Satyr, let’s talk about the writing process for ‘The Age of Nero’, did you walk into this album with a clear vision of what you wanted to do or was the process a little more spontaneous?

Satyr: Once I started connecting with what I was feeling and knew how I wanted to approach this, I started writing songs that combined atmospheric epic ground with more straight on aggressive, catchy stuff. I started to narrow it down to some key factors that I thought were flowing in the direction that appealed to and interested me. Anyone can make a record with seven or eight songs in the same style; I wanted to have this album nicely tied together through our signature playing styles and my compositional styles. I never set out to make a record to be slow or mid-paced or fast or atmospheric… I want a record to hold all of these qualities and then there is going to be one or two factors that become a little more dominant than the others. The two key factors on the record to me are that it’s a very muscular album, it’s very powerful and big and I think that it’s a key factor and it’s an atmospheric album. They came to me and led the material in that direction and it felt natural for the rest of the stuff that followed.

Metal Fanatix: Mate, the Australian fans a thrilled that you are returning to our shores in March, it doesn’t seem like it was all that long ago that you were last here! What fond memories come to mind when you look back on the Australian tour?

Satyr: Well, having existed for sixteen years and always having great relations with people in Australia as well as having all of our records distributed there... The nice thing about the last time we came to Australia was that when a place that holds such a reputation as Australia does over in Europe than obviously we made plans to extend our stay, so we had a few extra days on the Gold Coast and we got to experience a few of the things that are special to Australia, we can’t wait to get back there. Australia has always been an important country for Satyricon but it always seems so futile for us to get our asses down there [laughs]. It’s too far away and every time somebody tried to set up something it just wasn’t going to happen, cause of all the practical obstacles of getting a small underground band to Australia. Fortunately through the support of our Australian fans the band grew bigger and the awareness and profile of Satyricon kept on increasing and finally with ‘Now Diabolical’ the door opened up, not only did we get to play just Melbourne and Sydney but we also got to go to Brisbane and Adelaide which was amazing. When we come back Downunder in March we’re doing Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth and we’re also going to Auckland (New Zealand), so, that’s cool for us to be able to go back and also go to places that we haven’t gone before.

Metal Fanatix: I believe the world tour recently kicked off, how has it all been going thus far?

Satyr: Right now I’m sitting in my hotel room in New Delhi, India, we played Bombay on Saturday then we played here in New Delhi and we had a few thousand people come out to the shows which was fantastic. India is a crazy country and I can guarantee you that I will never ever move here, but the shows have been a lot of fun to play. When I walked out onstage in New Delhi I thought about what a privilege it is to have reached a point with our music that we get to go all over the world and play music. We’re still young people and we have seen so much of the world already and been able to experience so much as artists and human beings. Our live keyboard player Jonna Nikula has been playing live with us for over five years now and at times she misses home and her family. She gets tired of always living out of a suitcase and I tell her that I know how she’s feeling and I feel like that at times too, but you have to remember that this is a privilege and there are people that would die to be in your position and travel around the world, see all of these places and experience all of these things. I always try to encourage my band to cease the day and enjoy it!

Metal Fanatix: Satyr, as we only have limited time today, I will run through a few more questions with you! What was the very first concert you attended and how much of an impact did that have on you musically?

Satyr: The first concert I ever attended was when I was ten years old on the 5th November 1986 three weeks before I turned eleven. I went with my best friend and my dad to see Iron Maiden for the ‘Somewhere in Time’ album and they bought over W.A.S.P. as the support band. The Norway council refused to let W.A.S.P. play because of the gore filled stage show but Maiden is who I went to see primarily anyway. My Dad went along cause we were only small kids at that time. Obviously having been turned on to heavy music at the age of seven through my older cousins and older neighbours I was extremely dedicated at that age already, I knew all the songs on the album and I was obsessed at the time. I bout all the merchandise, the shirts, the program and I talked about that show every day for almost a year. Iron Maiden made a huge impact on me! I’m glad I got to experience all of these things at such an early stage cause I notice that people who have reached a higher level in sports or music or whatever are the people who started out really early thanks to some relative or neighbour and I’m so happy that I was exposed to this music really early on. I got to listen to all of these records and see all of these great shows and started to play instruments at a very early age which made it all possible to record my first album at the age of seventeen.

Metal Fanatix: Mate as you mentioned… you started playing instruments very early on and there is no doubt that you are an amazing well-rounded musician, if you could only pick one instrument to play, what would it be and why?

Satyr: Vocals! That’s what interests me the most. I look upon myself first and foremost as a singer and a songwriter. I certainly enjoy playing guitar and I’ve started doing that more and more live especially more with the new record. Frost has talked about it many times also... singing in extreme metal is one most underestimated things, even if you are singing in a screaming style there are so many ways to express aggression, power, authority, despair, sorrow, and solitude. All of these strong emotions can be expressed with Black Metal style vocals. You can still do screaming style vocals but sing in a perfectly understandable way if you have a strong awareness of wanting to sing in an understandable way and I think that part of the catchiness of Satyricon’s music is that I sing rhythmically structured and I really pronounce my words and my lyrics, it’s an important factor in the music. It’s a shame that so many of the listeners in this music are so easily drawn to those who just sound really extreme but hold no rhythmical structure, it doesn’t display any emotion it’s just screaming.... I don’t like that at all!

Metal Fanatix: The metal scene in Norway back in the early nineties was thriving and was still very much an underground scene, what are the biggest differences you notice in the scene these days from when Satyricon first formed?

Satyr: Everything… we are one of a few bands that are left. We recently hosted some listening parties, were we basically invited fans to come and listen to the record. I attended most of them myself and the ones I couldn’t get to Frost attended. We went to different cities, went to local rock bars and played the new record a couple of times for our fans and a lot of band people came out to these listening parties as well. In Bergen the guys from Immortal came out and from what I understand they are doing a new record and will be doing some shows. Enslaved are still going, I don’t know what’s happening with Mayhem now but supposedly they will continue but they have recently lost their songwriter and there guitar player. Many of the smaller bands weren’t around at that point and they aren’t really doing anything. I really feel like there are few bands that are still doing this to their highest level anymore and I think that Satyricon stands as an entity on its own. We really enjoy the company of the people we grew up with and if we are not on tour or recording we certainly enjoy spending some time with these guys and feed off of each other as human beings and as artists, but it’s not like we’re tied together like we all used to be. People are obviously busy in their own lives and doing other things. We are doing what we’ve always done but we have been so busy that we don’t have time to hang out with people like we did in the old days! Everything is certainly different from when we first started Satyricon.

Metal Fanatix: What’s the craziest rumour you had ever heard about yourself and or the band?

Satyr: Oh, I’ve given up on those things. There have been so many of them. It’s all true, it’s all true, and I did all those things [laughs].

Metal Fanatix: [Laughs] Lastly Satyr a question I ask of everyone that I speak with…. What is the one band you never want to hear again and why?

Satyr: One of the worst bands I have ever heard in my life is Simple Plan! They instantly came to my mind but thinking of it what really makes me mad, gets me aggressive and makes me want to kill someone is Mr. Big! I was at the gym working out about three weeks ago and someone put on that song ‘To Be With You’, and I walked straight up to the receptionist at the gym and said ‘you have to turn this off right now’, I went on to say ‘this needs to shut down, if you won’t turn it off, I will”! It makes me want to throw up, it’s the most disgusting song ever made!

Metal Fanatix: [Laughs] Satyr, I want to thank you again for your time today; it’s been a true pleasure. Do you have any last words for our readers?

Satyr: See you all in march, we had a great time down in Australia with the ‘Now Diabolical’ tour and let’s make it even better for you and ourselves when we get back in March!

‘The Age Of Nero’ Is Out Now Via Roadrunner Records.

Get Your Copy Where All Killer Metal Albums Are Sold!

Satyricon Will Be Touring Across Australia & New Zealand in March

Catch Them Destroying The Following Cities

Transmission Room – Auckland NZ March 19
The Arena – Brisbane March 20
Manning Bar – Sydney March 21
Billboard the Venue – Melbourne March 22
The Capitol – Perth March 24

Satyricon Are Currently On Tour with Cradle of Filth

Wed 01/21/09 Cleveland, OH House of Blues
Fri 01/23/09 Detroit, MI Harpo's Concert Theatre
Sat 01/24/09 Milwaukee, WI the Rave Eagles Club
Sun 01/25/09 Chicago, IL House of Blues
Mon 01/26/09 Minneapolis, MN First Avenue
Wed 01/28/09 Englewood, CO Gothic Theatre
Fri 01/30/09 Calgary, AB MacEwan Conference and Event Centre
Sat 01/31/09 Edmonton, AB Edmonton Event Centre
Mon 02/02/09 Vancouver, BC Commodore Ballroom
Tue 02/03/09 Seattle, WA Showbox at the Market
Wed 02/04/09 Portland, OR Roseland Theater
Mon 02/09/09 Orangevale, CA the Boardwalk
Tue 02/10/09 San Francisco, CA Grand Ballroom at Regency Center
Wed 02/11/09 Los Angeles, CA Music Box @ Fonda
Thu 02/12/09 Anaheim, CA Grove Of Anaheim
Fri 02/13/09 Tempe, AZ the Marquee Theatre
Sat 02/14/09 Las Vegas, NV House of Blues
Mon 02/16/09 San Antonio, TX Scout Bar
Tue 02/17/09 Dallas, TX House of Blues
Wed 02/18/09 Houston, TX House of Blues
Fri 02/20/09 Atlanta, GA the Masquerade
Sat 02/21/09 Orlando, FL Club Firestone
Sun 02/22/09 Pompano Beach, FL Club Cinema
Tue 02/24/09 Asheville, NC the Orange Peel
Wed 02/25/09 Norfolk, VA NorVa
Thu 02/26/09 Baltimore, MD Rams Head Live!
Fri 02/27/09 New York, NY Nokia Theatre Times Square
Sat 02/28/09 Philadelphia, PA Trocadero Theatre
Sat 03/14/09 Tokyo, Japan Club Quattro
Mon 03/16/09 Nagoya, Japan Club Quattro
Tue 03/17/09 Osaka, Japan Club Quattro

Tix are on sale now from the usual outlets!

To keep up with all the latest news & much more on Satyr & Satyricon check out the following websites: - Official Satyricon Site - Satyricon MySpace Site - Inside Out 666

© Cameron Edney January 2009 Not to be re-printed in any form without written permission.