Interview with Ragnar (vocals) and Flo (drums)
Interview by Cathrine Wendt
Pre-order Fragment : Erhabenheit BANDCAMP
Congratulations on the upcoming release of Fragment : Erhabenheit!
So how are you all managing with the current situation with covid-19? Has it impacted the coming record release?
Ragnar: Well, personally I think that a great gift has been given to us in 2020. Namely being able to spend more time with yourself, your home and beloved ones. I think that many people are suffering from missing perspectives, inner strength and calmness in our modern society. Maybe this was a chance for them to regain strength and focus on things that really matter. Besides that, when we look at the music industry, COVID19 was challenging for everyone. But I think there is light on the horizon: Festivals starting up again with slightly different concepts, locations reopening, concerts and events slowly taking place again and so it seems that we are on the way up again!
When it comes to our release of “Fragment : Erhabenheit”, COVID19 didn’t really have an impact on our plan but of course we had to cancel some live-shows. We will still play some shows in 2020 and 2021 is going to be a the huge year in terms of live-performances for Theotoxin. Be prepared for that!
F: Luckily we started recording at the end of 2019, and we finished the sessions right before the first lockdown happened. Sure we had to cancel some shows, but the most of them are postponed to 2021.
When did you first start getting into music and know you wanted to join a band?
Ragnar: I’ve been listening to black metal music since I was nine years old. At that time I also started to play the piano, which was a great passion for me at that time. I always loved classical music – actually I still do. When I was fifteen I started teaching myself guitar and doing black metal vocals. Things evolved further and now I am where I am, doing vocals for Theotoxin which is my only project at the moment since I decided to quit Anomalie some weeks ago.
F: When I was around 7, one of my older brothers was constantly listening to bands like Aerosmith, Pearl Jam, etc. and that’s when I got into music. Since I was 15 I’ve been active in different bands but every one of them was either black or death metal. During my studies at university it was a “must” to play in different Jazz ensembles and in an Orchestra, which I did as a drummer as well as a guitarist, and this really expanded my horizon when it comes to music. Now I’m 37 and I think all those steps were very important for me as a musician who I am today, but my passion was and still is to play dark, fast and aggressive music.
Your new album “Fragment : Erhabenheit” is soon to be released. What is the concept behind the album?
Ragnar: Due to the fact that I joined the band exactly at the beginning of the song-writing process for the new album and my vocals strongly differ from the last singer, it felt natural to create a fitting and new concept for this album. I think that “Fragment : Erhabenheit” is exactly the outcome of all our musical tendencies and preferences and that it´s concept and style fits the line-up of Theotoxin perfectly. We started to walk a path together and we are at the beginning of a long road, which pitch black start is “Fragment : Erhabenheit”. This album is a great milestone for me. In terms of vocals as well as in terms of production.
Do you have a favourite track from Fragment?
Ragnar: I truly get goose pumps from nearly every track, so I guess I can´t make such a decision yet. If you want to hear recommendations for “diving in” I´d say: “Golden Tomb”, “Philosopher”, “Obscure Divinations” and “Sanatory Silence”.
F: That’s a tough question for me because looking at my own songs impartially isn’t that easy. I think the whole album will unfold and you will always find new interesting parts the more you listen to it.
How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it?
Ragnar: Honest black metal with a bit of avantgarde-style influences and unique vocals with much variety. No cellar-recording bullshit, good quality but not “overcooked” and a must-listen for everyone who is pissed by modern hipster black metal sound, song-writing and attitude.
F: Brutal but atmospheric black metal.
Are you missing gigs and fests a lot with the corona virus having shut the music scene down? Have you explored digital streaming or focused on creating more music?
Ragnar: We are no big fans of live performances being streamed since we are a band which is very intense to see on stage. When you stream a performance, you will never get the same results in terms of feeling, heat and performance as on an actual live concert, so we decided not to be part of this live-streaming movement. Personally, I don´t even watch such things because I find it boring – at least in the black metal genre.
Of course, streaming music itself is something that’s important in a world where every second person uses Spotify or other products to listen to music, so we cannot ignore that fact / industry. But luckily it´s exactly part of the job of our label to publish our music in best ways, so it´s accessible for people around the globe.
Where do you draw your influences from when it comes to producing new music/lyrics?
Ragnar: I can only answer this question for myself when it comes to lyrics: all my lyrics are based on my actual own feelings, understandings and my personal picture of what is going on in this fucked up world we live in. To sum everything up, I would say that my greatest inspiration is life itself.
F: Different moods I guess, depends on the things that are going on in my life at the moment. The most honest answer is that I’m writing what my heart tells me to, sounds cheesy but that’s the way it is.
Is it difficult balancing out being in a band with a ‘normal working life’?
Ragnar: Depending on the jobs you have it can be easy or difficult. For me it´s quite easy since I have jobs where I can plan most of the things in advance and on my own. But I guess not many people are that lucky.
F: I have a great daytime job which allows me to put a lot of time into music, so I am lucky I guess.
How do you like the music scene in Vienna and Austria? Have you toured outside of Europe?
Ragnar: The scene in Austria is small but quite “loyal”. You always see the same people on concerts. The only problem I see is that there are not enough young people coming up, listening to black metal and harder music styles. But hopefully this will change with further time.
Unfortunately, we haven´t toured outside of Europe with Theotoxin yet but we are curious and open to do so.
F: Ragnar said all about the local scene and I have the same opinion as he does. About touring outside of Europe…not yet.
What is it like touring? Do you all get on all of the time? Or do you have times you need space from each other?
Ragnar: Since I have done a lot of nightliner-touring in my life, I can say for sure that I can´t stick on other people the whole time. I need time and space for my own when I´m on tour and I sometimes separate from others to have some moments of silence and peace. Especially before a show, this is important for me to be able to unleash all energy on stage.
I think that touring with Theotoxin will be a bit different, since we do not have one single person in our lines which is a “party idiot”. Compared to other projects I was part of, this is something new to me and I´m very curious about upcoming tours with Theotoxin. I really think that we fit together in a perfect way in the current lineup of Theotoxin.
F: I have also spent a lot of time in a Nightliner, and it was always a good experience. We respect each other and we also respect the bands we are touring with. When someone needs space or private time he takes it, no questions asked. We all know that’s important, especially when you are on a bus most of the day and have the same routine every night.
How do you think the music industry has changed over the years? Or is the music industry how you thought it would be when first starting a band?
Ragnar: To be really honest I do not care much for the music industry itself. Since I do not see making music as something I want to earn money from, I might have different, maybe disturbing views of the industry and how people are acting or should react to things.
Do you think it’s important for a band to be signed to a label to be recognised in today’s society?
Ragnar: I think yes. Why? Because you can focus on your main goal, which is producing music and not publishing it.
What are your views on bands who give away their music free on social media? Do you think this is a good beneficial marketing idea, or should fans be paying to purchase tracks?
Ragnar: I really do not have an opinion on that. I think bands must decide on their own if their product is worth charging money or not.
What is your writing/recording procedure like? With the gigs and fests all cancelled are you finding more inspiration and time to write and create more music? Are you enjoying more time to spend with family and friends?
Ragnar: I think that I already answered parts of that question in my first answer. When it comes to the song-writing procedure of Theotoxin, it´s F. that is writing most of the riffs and music and my part is to arrange those riffs and form parts to fit with the lyrical concept of a song. After we’ve done this basic construct, we meet in our rehearsal room to make the final arrangement together, add more details, breaks, modify certain musical or lyrical parts and to finish the song.
What genres of music do you like to listen to personally? Any new bands that have caught your attention recently?
Ragnar: I´m a total fan of black metal myself but I´m quite open minded in general. I also like classical music a lot. Current favourites in my playlist are for example: Whoredom Rife, Mephorasch, Bethlehem, Sargeist, Belphegor
F: I am also very open minded when it comes to music. I am also listening to a lot of electronic stuff, drone etc.
When it comes to black/death metal…Paara, Nekrovault and Armagedda are in my playlist at the moment which I highly recommend.
What advice would you give someone wanting to start a band?
Ragnar: Only start a band if you have enough passion for it. Don´t do it with any expectations and only do it for yourself, not for others. Be careful in terms of choice of your fellow musicians – having one idiot in your band can ruin a lot. Internally as well as externally.
F: Ask yourself a few questions before getting a band together.
- Is there enough passion and stamina?
- Is there a budget (that’s the part no one wants to hear about, but sadly it’s very important)?
And as Ragnar mentioned, as soon you notice… get rid of idiots and people who do not have the same passion as you.
What do you like to do outside of music? Any hobbies?
Ragnar: I simply love my private life with my girlfriend and I like spending time with friends and being outside.
F: My girlfriend, my dog, lifting weights and practicing drums.
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
Ragnar: Do the album release, prepare for more and rehearse, do another video shooting and focus on new material after the release of “Fragment : Erhabenheit” has been finished.
F: Preparing the tour-set for Schammasch, where I’ll take care of the drums on the upcoming EU tour (which starts in January) as their live drummer, and also getting ready for a lot of Theotoxin and Agrypnie shows in 2021.
Thank you for your time, is there anything you’d like to say to our readers?
Ragnar: Prepare for more Theotoxin live performances soon!
F: Take your time when listening to Fragment : Erhabenheit it will offer you a lot.
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