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NACHTMYSTIUM

 

NACHTMYSTIUM "Addicted to the Night"

Interview by Dr. Abner Mality

Nachtmystium's name is a combination of German and Latin words, with "Nacht" being German for "night" and "Mystium" being Latin for "mysteries". It seems unlikely that a band with such an unwieldy monicker could find as solid a niche in American metal as Nachtmystium has, but there's no doubt this brooding bunch from Northern Illinois (the Good Doctor's own stomping ground) has made its mark.

It's been a case of slow and steady advance for singer/guitarist Blake Judd and his troops. They've moved from buzzing black obscurity to a prime spot on the well-known Century Media roster and at the same time, they've grown and matured in style, adding psychedelic, industrial and even pop elements to their sparse and bleak version of black metal. Their latest effort "Addicts: Black Meddle Part II" is turning heads far beyond the usual BM circles and is one of the best arguments that American black metal has come of age.

Blake gave me a jingle recently to elaborate on his musical vision for Nachtmystium and the ideas behind "Addicts". Prepare to learn the mysteries of the night...

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: I'm actually calling from not too far away.

BLAKE JUDD: Yeah, I see you have that 815 area code. Are you out in Dekalb?

WC: No, I'm in Rockford, right up the road!

BJ: Right on!

WC: Are you having some downtime right now between tours?

BJ: Yeah, we're taking a little time off. We've been super busy all year. We're going to be heading out again with Zoroaster starting in a couple of weeks.

WC: You've been on a lot of great tours with some pretty interesting bands. Was there any particular band that stood out more?

BJ: Being out with Voi Vod was incredible. They are really great guys, they were really good to us. I think we realized we shared some common ground as far as making metal music goes. Once they got familiar with what we we're trying to do after a few shows, they realized we were trying to do some of the same things that they have done, like using different sounds. We got along with them very well.

WC: You like to go out with bands that are kind of off the beaten path, like Voi Vod. Is that the key quality you look for in a touring partner?

BJ: Not necessarily. Sometimes we're looking towards drawing a crowd, too.We may even go out with bands we don't listen to that much. I can't mention who we'll be touring with next year because it hasn't been announced and we've been sworn to secrecy. We might be going out with a band that is anything but what we would listen to. But we'll be playing to a thousand people a night or more as a result of being on said tour.So it's not always a selective thing for us. Sometimes we just take what we can get.and do what we need to do to get in front of new people and other times, if we have the chance to go out with a band we really like and can stand behind, we'll take that opportunity as well. It depends on the situation.

WC:The "Addicts" CD has been out for a while and it's gotten a lot of acclaim not only from the usual heavy metal outlets but beyond that. Was that what you were shooting for when you put out the CD?

BJ: Yeah, absolutely.I was hoping to attract new audiences and new people and it seems to have done that.

WC: What were some of the non-metal influences you tried to incorporate on the album?

BJ: I wanted to bring in my love for industrial music like Killing Joke and Nine Inch Nails...stuff like that which I listened to as a kid but as a metalhead I felt I had to shun for metal reasons.(chuckles). Now I've come to understand that that music had a lot to do with shaping who I am as a person and what kind of musician I am. Without those bands, I wouldn't be here. It's an interesting time period for me, trying to get my head around what I used to be into versus what I'm into now and where I want the band to go. I also wanted to try some new things and use different outlets as inspiration. That's what we tried to do on "Addicts" and I think we did it well.

WC: In several spots, I seemed to detect an early 80's/New Wave type influence.

BJ: Sure...

WC: "No Funeral" almost had a kind of Devo-ish quality to it.

BJ: Right, that's exactly what we were going for.

WC: Are you going to expand on this kind of sound in the future or is it too premature to say yet?

BJ: It's kinda too early to say. Every album is so different, I really don't know where my head's going to be at when we make the next one in a year or so. The material I'm working on right now is very different from "Addicts", it's kind of back to the basics a little bit and it's a lot more aggressive. But then again, we don't know for sure what those songs are gonna sound like until we get to the studio and all the other elements are added to them. It could change completely from what it sounds like at practice now to what the end result will be. I like going into recording adventurously and not knowing what the exact end result is going to be.

WC: The subtitle of the last two albums were "Part 1" and "Part 2". Did you conceive of these at the same time?

BJ: Not at all. "Addicts" is really about dealing with life post-"Assassins". The album "Assassins" really changed my life. I don't have a job anymore, I tour all the time, the band is a lot bigger than it used to be. All of that was a result of that album. The things that have happened in the last two years since we put that album out is what "Addicts" is all about.

WC: Will we see a "Part Three"?

BJ: No, that was just a two part thing. The next album will stand on its own.

WC: The concept behind "Addicts" is definitely taken from personal experience.

BJ: Yeah, that album was all about me and the people involved. Basically about me and Jeff Wilson, the other primary songwriter on the record. We've both dealt with a lot of personal issues due to what we do for a living and that's what the record is all about.

WC: Does addiction have more than one meaning? The first thing people think of when hearing the word is drugs or substance abuse but you can be addicted to a lot of things.

BJ: Yes you can! You can be addicted to a lifestyle, to living on the road and all the chaos that comes with it.

WC: Have you learned to adapt to this chaos and conquer it?

BJ: To a degree. You just kinda deal with it as it goes along, I think.

WC: One thing I've noticed in all the Nachtmystium releases, even the ones going way back, is a quality of sadness. Was it always your intention to have this melancholy sound?

BJ: Yeah, absolutely. Music is an outlet for the negative things in my life. It's an outlet for the things I have a hard time dealing with myself. I use music as a way to not let other negative things in my life overcome me. We try to get rid of our negative energy through music as opposed to other ways that are negative to the people around us, the people that matter to us. That's where the sadness comes from.

WC: A long time ago, Mille Petrozza told me that you're not missing much if you don't do drugs, that music actually provides more of the positive energy that drugs are supposed to.

BJ: Right.

WC: Do you think there is room for positive qualities to come across in Nachtmystium's music, in addition to the anger and the sadness?

BJ: Possibly someday. But not on this record. The things that are positive in my life, I find time to enjoy them in other ways than creating music. Music for me is the outlet for the negative things, so I don't really foresee Nachtmystium making a real poppy, happy record any time soon.

WC: Are you sticking strictly to Nachtmystium or will you be involved in any side projects?

BJ: The band Twilight is my only side project. That's a project involving me and two of my very best friends. I continue to do that, but aside from that, I don't really have the time to be doing more than what I'm doing right now.

WC: You had some guest performers on the last album. Will you continue to bring in outside people to work with Nachtmystium?

BJ: I won't know that for sure until the day comes. I think I'm going to try and avoid that, make it unique to the last two records. We'll keep the solid lineup of the band. What I'd like to do is take our current live band into the studio and have them exclusively responsible for making the record.

WC: On "Addicts", one of the striking things that pops up from time to time is a saxophone, played by Yakuza's Bruce Lamont. Have you known him for a while?

BJ: Oh yeah, I've known Bruce for years.

WC: Do you have a general idea of how Nachtmystium is going to evolve in the next few years?

BJ: I'm not really sure, man! I never know what the records are gonna sound like until they're done anyway. I don't really know what to expect. It will be whatever we as a band want it to be and it will probably be something different than what you've heard before.

WC: What's the most immediate touring plans you have?

BJ: This upcoming tour with Zoroaster and The Atlas Moth that begins on Sept. 9th and runs through Oct. 2nd in the United States. It's primarily gonna be East Coast, Midwest and then Eastern Canada. We'll be out doing that and that's about it.

WC: What was the last CD or record you picked up because you wanted to get it?

BJ: Um, shit, man, that's a good question! I think it was the newest Beherit album called "Engram". I was a fan of the old stuff and was curious to hear what it would sound like after 10 years of silence.

WC: Did it get a thumbs up from ya?

BJ: Absolutely, it's a great record.

WC: What was the last live show you saw just because you wanted to check it out?

BJ: I went to go see a band called The Editors, whom I absolutely love. It's an extremely poppy British band that plays in a Joy Division style of sad, shoegazy rock. I saw them a couple of months ago at the Vic Theater in Chicago and it was a great show. It was the first time I paid for a concert ticket in longer than I can remember because I usually go to metal shows and I get hooked up one way or another. It felt good for a change to just be a spectator and go see something for myself.

WC: In the long history of Nachtmystium, has there ever been a Spinal Tap moment you can share with the fans?

BJ: (chuckles) Spinal Tap moment? Yeah, there's been a few. The first time we were ever on tour, I put the lock on our trailer backwards. I was unable to get my gear out for over a day. We bought a lock that was impossible to cut off, it was the most safety-prone, heavy security lock you could buy and I put the fucking thing on backwards! We wound up having to cut the door of our trailer off to get our gear. (laughs) That's probably the biggest Spinal Tap moment I can remember!

WC: Any final message to the fans?

BJ: Look for us out on tour and expect a new record from us sometime late next year.