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New Beginnings: Gaahl And God Seed

Wednesday, 27 November 2013 Written by Ben Bland

At times controversial, but always more interesting than most in the black metal world, Gaahl and King ov Hell became latter-day legends of Norwegian metal through their years in Gorgoroth.

Now, they’re back. Following the acrimonious end to their time in Gorgoroth a few years ago, the duo formed God Seed. Damnation Festival 2013 represented just their second UK show, so anticipation was rife for their appearance when we caught up with Gaahl backstage, minus corpse paint of course.

Speaking thoughtfully, and eloquently, Gaahl is perhaps not as many would expect. A gentleman of an interviewee, he carefully considered each answer before speaking, despite confessing to being extremely tired and wary of getting in the zone for God Seed’s performance.

So, aside from the Cradle of Filth tour last year, and a few festivals this year, God Seed haven’t played many shows yet. How have you been finding the ones you have played?

I’ve been really enjoying being on stage. I think I would have to go back to 2001 for the last time I actually enjoyed being on stage as much as I am now. I think it was the fourth concert on the Cradle tour, in Aarhus in Denmark, when we still had a session drummer touring with us, that I recognised that ‘something’ in the audience after the show. Then the next night we had our normal drummer back with us, and it just worked. The show was great.

Sometimes, of course, it can be frustrating. When the sound is not right, for example, but usually it is only you yourself who pays attention to that - you have to trust that things are working for the audience. In general though it’s been a very positive experience for me to be back on stage, although the travelling and stuff is not something I enjoy so much.

Would you say that you have found your years away from playing metal shows liberating, and re-energising?

Yes, definitely. I needed the break. It killed me in a way, the way things were. I was thinking of quitting five years prior to when I actually did. When you love something though, you try to keep it alive as good as you can and that’s what I was doing. Now, hopefully, it will be something that I am able to keep alive. I never know. I’m switching back and forth now and again, but I still think I will always end up performing some sort of metal. The line-up in God Seed now works so well, and I’m good at keeping away from them when we’re not playing. Obviously they’re good guys but I maybe get more tired of company than they do sometimes.

‘I Begin’ is a brilliant record. Were you at all worried about what the reaction would be from people who were perhaps expecting a direct continuation of Gorgoroth’s sound?

I never thought of the response, honestly. I was more concerned that I would not be able to bring something to the music again. I’m quite pleased with the outcome. I think we did a good job, but I like the idea that things have to start from scratch. It’s not about where we came from. Obviously people will link it to Gorgoroth, and that’s fine. There are references and we still play old songs too. I like the fact that we have to start with no name and build up our new name.

Your lyrics for God Seed focus more on Norse mythology than upon Satanism, which was the thematic focus for Gorgoroth. Can you tell me a little bit about that and why it’s so important to you?

Well, I think maybe if I knew why it was so important to me I probably would not write it! [laughs] It continues questions that I have always debated with myself. I always do that with my creative process. The two upcoming God Seed albums have already got continuing themes on them, concepts that continue from ‘I Begin’. These are subjects I have always been touching upon, even on some of the Gorgoroth albums, things that I love myself to repeat from a different angle.

The Satanic stuff on Gorgoroth records that I brought in was more about maintaining the theme of the band rather than my personal interests. I’ve always been drawn more towards this Norse mysticism. With God Seed now I think there’s even more of the realm of Trelldom thrown in I think, and that’s where I came from in a way.

It’s a huge topic so it’s hard to condense it down any more than I have done on the album. It’s just my understanding of it of course, so it’s not necessarily something that is common knowledge in that sense. There is speculation around some of the topics, mainly speculations dealt with through my own connection and sensibility in relation to it. When I look at the old poets and things I am trying to read between the lines, because it’s a complex vision in a way.

I’m trying to break this orbit and bring it together in a new way. I’m trying to break it down and go deeper into the meanings behind some of it. The meaning behind most of the mythology referenced on ‘I Begin’ is the most solitary element within each of us. This is where we find the spark for creation really. The upcoming album will deal with sacrificial elements and the idea of knowledge of wisdom in its broadest sense, so it should be interesting.

You added your ideas to ‘I Begin’ after the composition process?

Yes. That’s always the way. I take the music and add what I do best. I don’t work closely with anyone in that process. It’s a very solitary thing. I always need to work alone in these processes for some reason. Probably because of the topic I suppose.

How much does the music have an impact what you bring to the table?

Not too much, actually. I try to break it up. It’s like having the blank canvas. If you’re too comfortable with a blank canvas then why put any lines on it at all?

What are the plans with God Seed going forward at this point?

There’s a lot of music almost ready, although it’s not glued together completely yet at all. The plan is to start, as a band, to go through some rehearsals with the new songs before the year ends. Then we hope to maybe start recording in the spring and then see how the schedule works out.

We have a couple of tours planned ahead now so we need to ensure those do not collide with the process. Hopefully we will be able to release the second album around this time next year. Then again, you never know with me! They will probably have to wait for me if they have to wait for anyone. I have a tendency to take up a lot of time as I need to have the right focus.

Finally, has your involvement with Wardruna (a Norse folk/ambient project curated by Einar ‘Kvitrafn’ Selvik) changed your ideas about how you can use your voice at all?

Not really, because I’ve always done that sort of music, although previously only in the privacy of my own home and not for other ears, almost like a private ritual. With Wardruna though, Kvitrafn is a very talented musician and managed to bring in all these aspects so I feel like more of a shadow in that band, which I like actually.

I like to be able to close my eyes and not pay attention to anything when practising that stuff. I’m really proud of both the records though, especially the second one. I think that it’s more cohesive and clear. Then again, the honesty of trying and failing is something that I often admire in music, so I don’t mean to overlook the first one at all.

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