Primordial – Interview with Alan Averill @ Damnation Festival 2015

7th November 2015
Interview by Demitri Levantis

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At this year’s Damnation Festival in Leeds, we caught up with Alan Averill (A.A. Nemtheanga) of Irish black metal outfit: Primordial to discuss the changing world of touring and the Irish metal scene.

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How has this year been for Primordial?

That depends on what you mean. Like most you have years of successes and triumphs and disappointments and downs here and there – this one is any different. I mean we’re on the back of what I think is a really strong album and we’ve had some great shows, the reaction has been very good – on the downside I don’t think we had enough shows in the summer period. But it’s just another year, when you get to twenty something years there just a vagueness. Playing in some new countries like Russia and America for the Maryland Deathfest – some unusual places but blink and you miss it.

What’s been your favourite show so far this year?

Russia. We played a mammoth three hour gig in Moscow for the first time and it was really interesting. About two and a half decades in I’m really interested in adding some interesting new places in so most of the summer festivals are about bumping into the same people and bands so you just try and enjoy the positive moments with good people. The eighteen hour van rides with no air conditioning and no sleep, that’s just what you do.

So which big festivals have you played this year? Hellfest, Wacken?

We haven’t played Wacken in a long time and Hellfest is next year. Brutal Assault, Bang Your Head…to be honest it’s sometimes difficult to pick out specifics. I used to be way more involved in things but now I have this travel app on my phone that says: ‘in seven days: Bang Your Head…blah, blah, blah,’ and then I only look to see if we have any friends in other bands playing. Usually we do but I’m not as completely aware of all the details as I used to be.

There any particular bands you absolutely love touring with, as in they’re really good friends of yours?

Yeah there’s loads, we haven’t toured with that many difficult bands. There are so many good friends we have now and we don’t tour as much as we used to, we now just do these blitzkrieg weekends away because touring has changed a lot, festival culture has kind of ruined touring unless you’re part of a really odd package. So we do weekends in very specific territories and find you’re going to do a two/three hour show, a proper show – not going to see us fourth out of seven bands, which is fine in its own way but that’s basically what we’ve been doing. And nobody wants Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday shows anymore, everyone wants the weekend. So if you go back and forth, like three shows in Germany and then go home and three shows in Italy, go home, that sort of thing.

Speaking of the Irish metal scene, what do you make of it today and how has it changed in the time you’ve been part of it?

Massively. I’m not as up to date with all the newer bands but there’s a lot of bands like Zomm, Malthusian and quite a lot of movement from the punk scene to some of the metal world too. There’s a large scene of deathcore and grind bands I’m not that well up to date with but by now I’m sort of ‘elder statesman’ and I can’t go to every underground show as I did twenty odd years ago. The one thing I am struggling with is that the people who built the scene are of our generation, say Invictus and Sentinel and lots of other established bands from ‘89/’92. It’s a small country so not that difficult to get known in. Ireland may be exotic for some people but it’s a bit odd to be a band from Ireland and get noticed in somewhere like Portugal. We have so much history it’ll be hard for a new band to move into position to have a career.

Did you ever notice any big differences between the Republic of Ireland scene and the Northern Ireland scene?

Definitely- without a doubt. In the eighties, glam rock was really big in the north – explain that? One of the harshest, most aggressive cities in the world and glam rock? So in the north, bands like Winger and Dokken would pull crowds of about a thousand people and in the south that was never popular. The south were more interested in the underground things like death and black metal. It’s a strange scene and the only bands pulling crowds today are Nostalgia, the old thrash band or bands that appealed to teenagers. It’s the people in their early twenties who are missing, ie: people who were into it five years ago but are now out of it.

Which bands do you listen to most and would recommend to anyone?

It’s odd because I had to compile my top 20 list of the year for Deaf Forever magazine which I write to, and found very little heavy metal – very little doom metal; but this year has been a big swing back to black metal. You’ve got Mgla’s new album, Shape of Despair, you’ve got this new Icelandic scene appearing and there’s a new Revenge album and Urfaust and the like. I’m not one of those guys whose collection ends in ’94, I try to keep up to date. And the last few years I look through the boxes of records in the Invictus store and think ‘what the fuck?’ I’m not as lost as some people my age, but there’s without a doubt some great things still going out and I want to hear them. Seems some really good black metal is making a resurgence at the moment, which is great.

Finally, what do you enjoy most about being in a band?

I’m a bit of a restless sort. I’m the one guy in the band who has no roots or social baggage, I don’t have a family, I work for myself and don’t have debts/mortgages, I enjoy that. I enjoy the travelling most, I feel at home being away most weekends, travelling, airports and being backstage. The other guys have to split that between their families and kids so they have different responsibilities than me. But I think we’re of a certain generation of Irish people who grew up in the 80s who grew up to never take anything for granted, we don’t expect rockstar status or be handed anything for nothing. As we went through a period of sacrifice, being teenagers in Ireland and being able to play music, so we’re all pretty grounded in that sense. But what could be greater than travelling all the way from Dublin to Moscow or Mexico and five or six hundred people are waiting for you – so everything else is a minor complaint really. Who doesn’t enjoy doing that?

This has been a really good interview, good luck on the Terrorizer stage tonight. Thank you.

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