An Interview with Summoning…
My first interview with Summoning took place in ten years ago. In 2014, we talked again about, at the time, the band’s latest album titled “Old Mornings Dawn”. Now, after a few months from “With Doom We Come” release, I’m fortunate enough to have another conversation with the band. I always prefer to wait for some time after the album come to life as I believe you know aren’t packed up with so many interviews inquiries. Being that said, thank you so much for this new opportunity. Let’s start with something I read about Summoning’s fate. Could you share with us why the band almost broke? Summoning have stated that there were many struggles that almost led to its end.
At the beginning the work for the new album was totally normal, just like on any other albums. we started composing new melodies till the songs where finished and I started to mix them in order to show them finally to Silenius and to fix some details or mistakes that he notices. In the past releases this sound fixing process just meant to change very few instruments or make one melody line a bit louder or a bit more silent. but this time the moment when I played my versions to Silenius was absolutely different, instead of mentioning some sound details to fix, he said to almost all songs that they are total unfinished or needed to be rearranged and remixed totally from the scratch. i was really surprised about it, but accepted this wish and then the next round of mixing started. but what i did not expect was that (in my opinion neurotic) overperfection of silenius, that lead to a delay of 2 years. instead of finishing the sound in a couple of months i had so sit in the studio and follow his orders, without actually having a clue what the fuck is wrong with the sounds before. what was once an exciting part of an album creation, now turned more and more in to a boring, monotonous job routine. after i thought that finally this boring part is over and we created the first CD that we both considered as ok, silenius listened to it at home and wrote me that the sound is total terrible, and then i my patience really broke immediately. i thought that summoning will be a never ending story and we will sit for decades searching for a cd sound that no one knows what it should be. that was the moment when i told silenius, that i can not to on like this anymore. i don’t want to destroy my passion for music and don’t want that this passion turns to a boring routine and that i prefer not to continue with summoning.
well as you know from other interviews, we somehow agreed how to continue and brought the cd finally to an end. i still don’t know what happened with silenius, why he changed to extremely concerning his pathologic “perfection”, but i am optimistic that this shitty time will never occur in summoning again.
Connected to the previous question, Summoning is a band that doesn’t play live. You don’t need it to pay your bills. In a way, or better, it truly is, a work of passion, if I’m not mistaken. That’s how I feel about the band. Thinking about this, do you feel that, someday, not due to any sort of natural causes, obviously, Summoning might end? How do you feel about this when you think that Summoning has been a part of your lives for twenty-five years?
Of course Summoning will end one day. I would see Summoning in the autumn of its existance, compared with our normal life span. And of course in the past of the long bands existance there there up and then have been some situations when one of us had the feeling to end everything because of different reasons. But luckily we never gave up, and luckily we never ended the band loudly just to reunite a short time later, as so many other bands did senselessly. in the first phase of our existence of course the band had absolutely priority in our lives. It was not just music or a hobby, but Black metal was a life style. Later with the years and growing older the focus changed a lot and other things in our normal life became more important. Nevertheless Summoning is still our “baby” and we have to care about it. But in contrary to former times we do not force anything anymore. New music just happens when we get inspired, otherwise we just let the band sleep….
Speaking about Summoning’s life-course, did you ever imagined that Summoning would be alive and well after twenty-five years? Even though you create your music at your own pace, with no pressure, there must have been some tough times, including the one pre- With Doom We Come. So, during this time, I kindly ask you to share some of the ups and downs that you have faced with Summoning. Please, tell us some of the best memories you have on your musical journey.
when i started with summoning i did not think about any future at all, it was not interesting for me. unlinke the others, i even did not give a shit about any releases, the music was enough for me, i did not care if the music will be released anywhere. fortunately sienius had a different attitude, otherwise today there would not be a single summoning release existing 😉
apart from the annoying sound mixing process i mentioned in the first question, there were no real “downs” in the history of summoning for my opinion. but there where surely highlights. the first main highlight was the first time we started making music without a real drummer, but with the keyboard drums. suddenly everything souded so heavy and slow and not so hektical anymore. instead of constant double bass and hi-hat beats we hard heavy kettle drums and march drums while playing our instruments. this was a moment where for me it was clear that summoning will never sound again as it sounded before and the real summoning was born.
the second highlight in the history of summoning was when finally the computer technology was good and cheap enough that i could make my first own sound recording and mixing on my own PC. there was no need anymore to argue with some external sound mixers how i want the sound, everything i wanted could be done without the slightest compromise or confessions to the mainstream sound. for the first time not only the music but also the sound was totally under the control of summoning. and this is how it will be as long as summoning exist.
Still on this subject, do you credit Summoning’s longevity and success to the fact you are both are free to create your art as you wish? As in you don’t have to release an album every single year, sell a certain number of copies in order to be in certain label? I ask this because I remember Silenius stating that he is not creative on command.
i am quite sure that if i would have to pay my bills with the income of music and had to work as (for example) some sound track composer, i would be able to write new melodies on command, but in that case i surely would not consider all melodies i compose as perfect. if i would make music for summoning on command the quality of the music would go down and that is what we both would never accept.
Of course our label secretly never gave up hope that one day we would be more active, maybe start to play Live shows, release CDs more often, and have a permanent online presence. But they gave up trying to teach us, motivate us or simply force us in one or another direction, because they meanwhile realized that first it is senseless, and second they see that Summoning works total different to all the other bands and the usual commercial mechanisms. So all they can do is just wait and accept the situation. And as long the band is successful, we have no fear of being dropped…
One more question related to Summoning’s landmark, the longevity of the band. It’s truly remarkable that Summoning is alive and well after twenty-five years. Are you thinking about a release, something special to celebrate this milestone? I have read that you would like to make a small and limited-edition release. Perhaps this is a chance to fill two “needs” with one deed. Could you comment on this, please?
No we will not celebrate the bands existence, and I am afraid there will not be any new release during the next two or three years. I lost my job in Vienna in the end of last year and meanwhile I work 200 km away of Vienna, with no keyboards at hand. In the moment i have to focus on this job thing and everything else has to wait. This limited edition thing was my idea, but neither Protector nor the label is very pleased with it. So we will see if this can happen or we make a normal full length again. Time will tell…
I don’t think it’s necessary to mention all the adjectives and characteristics of Summoning’s music; it’s epic, fantasy-like, truly breathtaking, just to mention a few. Yet, sometimes, at least for me, I feel that some songs are darker, others give me a sense of hope and courage. I would like to know if and how your personal lives, feelings and current events influence the creation of your songs.
i dont think that personal event apart from music really affect the sound. it rather new music experiences i make or new instruments i discover that have influence on summoning. for example the fact that i discovered my passion for arabic/persian/turkish percussion surely had an influence on the rhythms of summoning (even if this influence is so integrated that no one would think about the original sources), but i don’t think that any events in my life, like a job change or anything similar has an influence. i also don’t really think that our music got less “dark”, the instruments just changed and got a bit higher. but the reason for that is that due to our musical development we also got able to create more multilayered song structures and needed to get more clarity in our sound to be able to hear all the details. it was just a matter of natural development and not of some drastical change of musical taste.
Did you both, ever since the beginnings of Summoning, deliberately wanted to keep your identity “anonymous”? And if so, what’s the reason concerning this? It’s interesting that, at the same time, this aura created by the lack of exposure brings more attention to the band. How do you feel about this?
In the beginning we just followed the laws and aesthetics of our heroes of the second wave of Black metal. In the beginning of the nineties when BM arose in Norway and just the underground was aware of it everything was very mysterious, and it was hard to get any informations. No internet, no media, just fanzines and tape traders. So the presentations and optical aesthetics had a much higher role then. And we immediately wanted to be part of this rising movement and took over the ideas as good as possible and started to make something own out of it.
Later after the criminal actions all at once the whole world looked at Norway, the movement became a trend and most of the bands stepped into the spotlight to enjoy their fame. We immediately and instinctively knew that this was wrong and did not follow. And we were right. Black metal shall stay in the shadows where it belongs to, and so we stayed there…
In a way related to the preceding inquiry, we evidently perceive that you weren’t, aren’t and won’t be looking for fame; however, when you think about your works, your compositions, all the time you have spent with Summoning, if the day should ever come in which Summoning will come to an end, how would you like Summoning to be viewed and remembered? By the way, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for this not to happen any time soon.
when you talk about how i want to be remembered i think about the great quote from “woody allen” saying ““I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work; I want to achieve immortality through not dying. I don’t want to live on in the hearts of my countrymen; I want to live on in my apartment.”. but seriously, i am not that nostalgic type, i don’t spend any time to think how people might remember me. i really live in the presence and care for the presence. if my name will stand next to the names of mozart or beethoven in some centuries it’s fine, if no one will know who i ever was, its also fine.
There was some controversy surrounding statements by the band concerning political matters. I’m not going to ask you about these assertions themselves, as you have talked about them endlessly. Nevertheless, I was reading an interview with Brian Eno (I enjoy reading interesting interviews, be them with any musician) in which he affirmed that “You can’t really make apolitical art”. I was wondering about this and indeed, even music with no lyrics, no statement from the musicians behind them can, in a way or another, be political; in a way that they can be perceived as “immoral” by governments, as it happened before. How do you feel about this?
although i have a clear political view that very important for me, i would never want to make clear political music with political lyrics. i really respect people like brian eno (who for example make clear political statement like supporting the BDS movement etc.), but i personally like to keep my music and politics separated, simply because i never wrote a single melody line that was ever inspired by some political events. but i think that the line you just quoted is right, nothing can be really unpolitical, even if the musician wants it. in order to understand that you have so see politics as something wider than just some parties that people vote every couple of years and which later ignore what the voters wanted. if you see politics as the kind of pattern how the world changes then any musician is naturally politic. for me for example the fact that i make underground music which does not give a shit about the mainstream music industry is a clear statement of not kneeling to any higher forces – and therefore any kind of independent, noncommercial music is in strict contradition to any ideologies like fascism which are based on mases that kneel to any leader and just say “yes sir”. thats the reason why any kind of music that was considered as too noisy or to loud in the third reich was called “entartete kunst” and forbidden. so music often means personal freedom, what is the enemy to all dictators, and therefore is politic, even if the musicans dont know it, and even if they are dumb enough to think that making noncommercial music could ever fit to fascist ideologies.
I do not agree with the statement that there is no apolitical art. Summonings music definitely is apolitical art simply because we the artists never had any political agenda by creating this art, no matter if other people make political interpretations. Summoning always followed a clear agenda: a musical translation of the darker side of middle earth, nothing more or less. And if you would say now, ok then it is dealing with middle earth politics, i would answer that Summoning always had a fictional and spiritual core and that’s the opposite of a political expression.
Of course both of us are interested in everyday politic and both of us have strong political views in very different directions, but this does not make Summoning left or right winged. Unfortunately, after Protectors private political statements in the noisy interview Summoning was driven more and more in a political connection the band simply does not belong to… That is the ugly consequence when we, the artiste behind the band step too much in the spotlight. Time to jump into the shadows again…
Let’s talk about bit more about “With Doom We Come”. Please, tell us to what degree was the process of making “With Doom We Come” an extension of making “Old Mornings Dawn”? For you, does “With Doom We Come” feel like as a continuation or an entirely new chapter into Summoning’s discography? Also, when it comes to your compositions, how do you explore your ideas and concepts with the sound world you built on “With Doom We Come”?
The new Cd shall not be seen as an output of its own. It is simply a second part of Old mornings dawn just because it was created out of the ashes of those sessions and therefore has a very similar mood to this release. you can compare it a little bit to Nightshade forests, that also was made of songs from the Dol Guldur sessions. But in contrary to that release we tried to make a similar sound and also a similar fitting cover concept. But for the future I want to explore new sounds for Summoning without neglecting the essence of what Summoning is all about. Simply like we always dis in the past. All in all the future is still foggy…
Alas we reach the end of this interview. I truly hope that you have enjoyed answering it as well as that your fans will had a good time reading a bit more about Summoning. Once again, I deeply appreciate your time and patience. With much gratitude for your music, I leave you with the last words of this conversation.
As always, thank you very much for this in depth interview and up the hammers to all our fans worldwide. We are marching homewards now…
July 7, 2018