The book should be out in November. It has around eighty interviews to Black Metal bands, among other things, so it should be a very interesting reading.
How did your life as a metal writer started? Besides Metal Hammer, Record Collector and The Quietus, where else have you been working? What has been your path?
I was (and still am) a photographer originally and fell into writing by accident after creating a fanzine (Crypt) and then being asked to write and/or photograph for bigger metal magazines on the strength of that. I worked regularly with Terrorizer from about 2003 to 2010 and for Metal Hammer since 2006 (originally for their extreme metal imprint but branching into the main mag soon after). From there I guess I expanded somewhat more consciously, hence The Quietus and Record Collector (and some others). I still take photos and do retouching/design work though.
Why a book about Black Metal, and not another genre? Is this your favourite kind of music? Your favourite kind of metal music?
Both, probably. I listen to a lot of different styles of music – both within metal and outside of it - but black metal is probably the one I spend the most time with. I also felt that there was more to say about black metal because of the huge variety of music and ideas the genre contains, and also that someone needed to write an accurate book, if only to balance and counter some of the misleading written/filmed material out there and highlight some of the more overlooked artists.
How was it to write Black Metal: Evolution of the Cult? How long did it take?
It was certainly easy to motivate myself to write it because this is a passion, and I really enjoy digging up information that hasn’t been told before. The practical side of writing a 600 page tome covering over thirty years of activity and evolution wasn’t easy at all however, and it has been a four year journey to bringing this book to the readers (plus another decade or so preparation as a fan I suppose).
In your book you feature so many bands, there are so many interviews to renowned bands, was it “easy” to reach all these musicians? Did you meet them all in person, or did you have to contact them more remotely?
It varied hugely to be honest. Some of the bands and artists I already knew on a personal level, some were friends of friends and others were complete strangers (and a few still are). Black metal musicians are not – generally speaking – the most forthcoming or organised people and so that obviously presented a challenge and required a huge amount of patience, not to mention a fair bit of detective work at times. Surprisingly perhaps, the bigger bands were maybe the easiest to hook up with I guess because they have press agents and managers to organise things, it was the bands who were smaller or inactive that were more of a headache. A big factor in getting them involved was the collaborative approach I took I think. In terms of the actual interviews, some I did some in person, lots by phone, some by online conversations and even a few by email.
What was the band/artist that gave you more pleasure to interview? Why?
There are about eighty interviews and it would be very hard to choose one to be honest. The first meeting with the founders of Mayhem (Necrobutcher and Manheim) was very memorable, and was kind of where the book started. But finally interviewing all of Mysticum was also very rewarding, talking to Cronos and King Diamond for such a long period of time meant a lot, reaching Snorre Ruch of Thorns meant a lot at a personal level, Kristoffer from Ulver was a pleasure to interview… etc etc. Too many to choose basically.
Is there any part of the history of Black Metal or phase of Black Metal history, if we can put it that way, that you think is missing in your book? Was there any important subject or were there any remarkable bands you left behind for any reason?
I would hope not actually. Of course, even in a book with some 210,000 words you have to be as concise and selective as possible, but I don’t think anything important has been left out. On the contrary, unlike those writers and film makers which focus solely on either Norway, the early nineties, or the contemporary scene, this book looks extensively at bands from the last three decades. The emphasis for this particular book is evolution (hence the name) and influence, so I have chosen to focus primarily on bands that broke new ground musically or culturally. So it wasn’t possible to report on all the good (but perhaps not so original) bands out in, say, South America or Asia at the moment. But there’s plenty of time for that I guess.
What do you expect from the public with this book? Do you expect to instruct them, or do you think it will be something people will consult when necessary? It is a massive work, hard to imagine someone having it on their bedside table :)
That depends on the size of your bedroom table ;)
I think this book is capable of both educating and entertaining those who are new to the genre, while also being packed full of new information for people who have (like me) followed this movement for the best part of two decades. There is a lot of new stories and that was one of my main concerns; digging for the truth and offering new perspectives on events that have been much reported (and misreported).
If you had different conditions (let’s say for example different budget, different deadline, different timing/era), do you think you would change anything on your book? Any regrets so far?
I regret nothing! :) I only started shopping for a publisher two thirds of the way into the book and I can say from the bottom of my heart that I would not have released this had I not been completely satisfied with it. A different era? No, I would say this is actually the perfect time for writing a book like this, because most of the main protagonists are still alive and creating music, but have also had the benefit of time to reflect on the real meaning of things.
There was no deadline for the project (or I sure as hell would have done it in less than four years!), I just worked until it was complete. Unfortunately there was also no budget, and if there had been I might have hired an assistant to send all the millions of emails necessary and do the other boring admin stuff.
Music apart, what are you reading right now? What is your bedside table book?
To be honest, I only read non-fiction, mainly biographies and books about music, politics, philosophy, crime and so on. The last book I read was a compilation of Nick Kent articles. Lately there is no bedtime book due to being caught up in book promotion duties!
What is your favourite writer? Music or other, doesn’t matter.
I couldn’t name one actually, would be like naming a favourite band. Boring answer but an honest one!
Have you thought of writing something different, other than music related?
I think a time may come when I do look at branching out a bit, yes. I’m not a writer whose interviews focus solely on chords and song structures anyway, I’ve always looked a little deeper into digging out the character of the musician and touching upon subjects outside of music. I’m fairly sure I could do the same with people of other walks of life.
What about new writers, people starting their journey as a music writer, what is your advice?
That’s a hard one because my route into writing was a bit unusual – I mean, I’m sure creating your own paper zine/magazine would still be a good way to catch an editor’s eye but it might be of a time-consuming way of doing it. I think these days you’re probably best off getting some work experience at a magazine for a few weeks (I didn’t do that, but most people I meet in the music journalism business seem to have) and writing for online mags until you get a chance to contribute to a printed magazine. Maybe keep your best examples of your work and send them periodically to people you’d like to write for.
Anything else you would like to add to Lachryma Christi readers?
The book is out 12 November, you can preorder it now at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Black-Metal-Evolution-Dayal-Patterson/dp/1936239752 and/or sign up to the facebook page (www.facebook.com/EvolutionOfTheCult) for updates and other information. Thanks for the interview and interest, and for supporting black metal bands on your site!
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