|Note: If you’re wondering what happened to their keyboardist, Ashley Ellyllon, I was informed after the interview, when my recorder was off, that she had quit and they are currently in search of a new one…|
How would you describe how your fan reaction has been ever since you guys have gotten back together?
I think since our CD came out, it’s been way better than it’s ever been; we were still developing a fan base for all this time, you know? Now, it’s like every tour we go out on, it’s getting way better. So this tour, I’ve seen probably the most enthusiastic crowds for us that we’ve ever had. But, I don’t know, it’s really the straight up metal kids that really get into us, you know? When we play to a hardcore audience, which happens on this tour with All Shall Perish and Suffokate and stuff like that, I notice that we still do pretty good, you know? Some people are confused, like “what the fuck is this?” but, you know, it’s been pretty good.
Do you notice during any particular song that you perform that the fans go absolutely crazy for?
Watch Tower and Into the Ashes. People definitely get excited.
Being on tour with artists like All Shall Perish and Suffokate, who both have very diverse styles, how do you think that affects your performances each night?
Um, I don’t know. You kind of have to alter the way you talk to the crowd, I guess. Depending on what kind of audience you have, as a frontman, I can’t talk to a bunch of hardcore kids in the same manner that I would with death and black metal kids. I don’t know, you just have to gage the way you need to be, you know? Those kids that are there that like to mosh and beat each other up, if you tell them to do it, they will, and they like to be told to do it. So, that’s what I’ll do, if that’s what it’s going to take for them to have fun when we’re performing. So, that’s pretty much how I get by with that.
What has been your favorite song to play live on this tour?
I don’t know, man. Into the Ashes, I feel like it’s a pretty fun song. Um, Watch Tower is always a fun song. We play the same songs all the time, so it’s like I’m kind of tired of them. But, there has never been a show where we’ve never played Watch Tower and I’m still not sick of it, so that’s good. Um, The World Beyond, I like singing that song too. I don’t know, there’s definitely – I’m looking forward to this summer; we’re going to start adding more songs that we’ve never played. So, I’m looking forward to that because it’s getting to be old.
What has been your most memorable concert you’ve played, and why?
Huh. Let me think about that. Well, there are so many shows-I mean, there have been a lot of good shows, you know? Especially in the last three months, there have been just so many good, memorable audiences; I mean, I guess it’d be hard to pick one of those. But, I think one of our first shows ever, we opened for Emperor, and that was really fucking awesome, for me. I’ll probably never forget that, so that’s pretty memorable. Even though we pretty much sucked back then. (laughs) But it was a memorable show. That was right here, in Hollywood; House of Blues.
You guys have a uniquely combined sound of black metal, death metal, and even hints of hardcore, that has developed over the last few years – how do you want, or would you want to evolve it even more for your next few albums, or over the next few years?
I feel like our sound has evolved to the point where we don’t have any hardcore influence in our songs. I feel like the media wants us to because it gives them something to talk about than just another boring black metal band, but the reality is, there isn’t any. I think more people, once they listen to the CD, they realize that. But, our sound is just going to progress even more; it’s going to get even more black metal, really. I mean, what we’re planning is going to be probably a little less keyboards and more guitar, but a lot colder of a sound, you know. Still doing our own thing, you know. Still going to sound like Abigail Williams but just we want to step everything up a notch. I’ve already worked out a concept for the next three records. I’ve kind of been keeping all this in mind for when we go to write the record.
Do you care to elaborate on that?
It’s going to be a surprise?
Yeah. It’s too much to talk about. But… It’s going to be icy. The next record is going to be icy, I’ll just say that.
When can your fans expect a new album?
Probably early in 2010. Hopefully really early, as soon as possible.
What inspires you to write lyrics about Pagan beliefs and the cosmic dynasties? Can you give me examples?
Um…I don’t know, I mean- I just kind of like write about- when I’m listening to the music that I just wrote, I’m kind of like “alright, what is this saying to me?” and I just go with it. And if that’s what imagery I get in my head, you know, I’ll just go with it and write the lyrics. I don’t really set out and say “oh, I need to write these types of lyrics” cause I really don’t. Most lyrics on A Shadow of a Thousand Suns, I wrote super quick. Some of them I wrote in the studio, right before I went to sing them, and I free-styled the way I did them, right then and there. So I mean, I didn’t even think about it too much, really. I was just going with it, trying to get a spontaneous vibe I guess, I don’t know.
When I was reading your lyrics, I noticed that “Smoke and Mirrors” was quite a bit different from the other songs, why is that?
I just had – at the time – sometimes I’ll come up with lyrics and I’ll have a story in my head and then I’ll just write the lyrics. But, I like people to interpret shit, you know? So, I never really say: “hey this song is about this.” When I do, I notice people are usually surprised and they’ll be like “Oh well, I thought this.” I don’t want to ruin people’s meanings of songs and stuff like that. The next album will probably be more concept-driven. So, the lyrics will probably be more congruent throughout, whereas this one was more/less just an album; a collection of songs. Sometimes it seems like there’s a concept I guess, lyrically, throughout. But, I just try to keep a vibe and that song’s kind of an oddball song, I think, so I don’t know… Lyrics just kind of went a different way.
What is your favorite track on “In the Shadow of a Thousand Suns”? You can only pick one.
Shit. Uh… (long pause) I can’t pick two? (laughs)
Ok, you can pick two.
Either The World Beyond or The Departure.
I don’t know… They just stick out the best in my mind. When I was writing the music to The World Beyond, I was super excited; it was the first song we wrote for the album. I felt like that was really a good direction, it kind of influenced the rest of the songs, you know? And then, The Departure was a song that I had written, that I didn’t really even think was going to be an Abigail Williams song, and it just ended up on the album. I don’t know, I feel like it kind of was some of the direction that we wanted to go in, you know? I like the lyrics too; I like the lyrics to both of those songs. They’re the most memorable to me.
Your music articulates so much imagery through the instrumentals alone, how do you even begin with writing that?
I’ll just be sitting around and then I’ll hear something in my head and I’ll be like “yeah, how do I play that?” and I’ll figure it out. And then it’s usually like a keyboard par and I’ll be like “alright, I’ll program the keyboard part and then I’ll put guitar to that and drums to that.” Sometimes these songs will take weeks to write entirely and sometimes just one day. I don’t know… It depends on how quick it’s flowing. Like, The World Beyond, we just wrote all in one day, and a song like Acolytes, I kind of wrote in one day pretty much, just in the studio even. I don’t know… A song like Floods was over a course of a year, or more. I remember I was playing the main riff – the main two riffs on an acoustic guitar, when we were on tour in Scotland, and I just always remembered it for some reason. When we were making songs for the album, I just remembered it and put the rest to it. So, I don’t know, sometimes I’ll be watching a movie or something and it’s a really epic part and I’m inspired by that or something. It just depends. Or in the van too – sometimes I’ll just be driving along and I’ll have to put my headphones on with my computer and write out a part and orchestration, or something, you know.
What is your opinion on the infamous church burnings in Norway?
Well, when I first heard about that shit, I got really excited, to be honest. I was like- I couldn’t believe people would be so extreme! And I was young, you know like 15 when I heard about that shit. So, I was really just getting into anti-Christian thought, and I was just super into it. (laughs) I always thought, you know, this sort of thing you think about, that’d be cool to do; not realistic though where we’re from because if you burn a church, it’s considered a hate crime here and you’ll get a lot of years in jail. (laughs) Not that I would personally burn a church! But, I think if I was in that situation with that group of, you know- they were all young back then, and I think if I was hanging out with them, I’d probably get in on it, you know? Cause it was like a movement. I mean, I feel like it was important for black metal as a movement because it brought a lot of attention to it, you know? And I think the music wasn’t even as good at the time, necessarily. I think a lot of these musicians developed right around that time and after, they became really great, you know? But I feel like that attention could’ve possibly influenced that too, bringing the spotlight to the scene, “now it’s time to make good music.” I think it’s probably not the smartest thing to do, to burn a church, but I’m not against it.
What do you think of the so-called black metal subgenre of “un-black metal” or also known as “Christian Black Metal”?
Honestly, I don’t pay any attention to it. I’ve heard a few bands, on accident or whatever. Or someone’s been like “check this out” and it’s just not something I’m interested in. I don’t know, it’s just not for me. I couldn’t even name one band from that scene — oh! I could, but just one… You know? Like, I don’t really, I know they’re out there; it’s just not something I keep track of. I just think- I’m not a fan of Christian metal, period. There have been a few bands that I thought were pretty good, even though they were Christian. It’s just hard to listen to the lyrics for me because it makes me cringe, you know? I don’t know what to say, we’re on tour with a Christian band right now. Underneath the Guns is Christian and I mean they’re really nice guys and we hang out with them, they’re not weird to us even though we totally are not into that. I was kind of rude to them at first just because they were a Christian band, and then they were just nice guys. Whatever, that’s what their beliefs are, we still get along. There are some examples of cool bands, but I hate Christian metal, it sucks. It sucks. Ah man, IT’S THE WORST! It’s so shitty! Kids are confused; kids into that shit, I think are confused. It’s like the cool thing right now to be into God. It is! It’s like, if you’re in a Christian band, you automatically have a fan base. It’s the truth, its crazy shit. They’ll go on tour and play churches and shit – tons of kids buying all your merch because you know, I don’t know. I just grew up when metal was evil. (laughs) And that was cool. There’s definitely some fucking extreme- I’ve been noticing, the more we’ve been touring, I’ve been noticing more and more black metal bands, younger ones, popping up, some of them are pretty good. So I think something’s going on, you know? In the US at least.