With more than 40 bands, three venues, thousands of people and all tickets completely sold out, Desertfest Berlin kicked ass this year once again. For six years, this festival has been shaking the foundations of Astra Kulturhaus with concerts by the best bands of underground rock together with the best fans. This year visitors from more than 40 countries from all over the world came to see legends like Sleep and Saint Vitus. During the festival, I talked with Nathan from Wolves In the Throne Room. The band played a memorable show on the main stage of Astra Kulturhaus – a full hour and a half of a mystical black atmosphere, complete with the smell of burning sage.
Years ago, the Norwegian black metal scene made its impact on metal music around the world. This, together with the landscape of Olympia, Washington, was a source of inspiration to brothers Aaron and Nathan Weaver and influenced their sound. The band’s music is hugely diverse. It jumps from breathtaking black metal to ambient soundscapes, sometimes taking a left turn via funeral doom. Wolves In The Throne Room continue to chase us away from the convenient city life into the dark woods where paganism rules.
You are on tour right now (during DesertFest). What’s playing in Europe like in comparison to playing in the Usa?
WITTR: In many ways, it’s a lot easier in Europe compared to the USA. We get fed really well, hospitality is very nice. You show up and there are people that help you set up, cook you dinner and provide healthy meals. The hospitality is very nice, but, in many other ways, it is more challenging, because when we are in the USA we are kind of on our own turf. We know where everything is, we can drive ourselves and, you know, we know everything about the culture and where to go. But here it is a lot more mysterious sometimes… We just show up in some crazy ancient complex like this (Astra Kulturhaus) and we are out of our element a little more.
Let’s talk about your new projects. You presented your new side project, Drow Elixir, at the Roadburn. Can you tell us more?
WITTR: In Celestite we were doing a lot more with analogs and synthesizers. In that record there is a lot more synthesizer based music. We bought a bunch of old 70s synthesizers, effect units and tape echos and we were creating more soundscape, more synth oriented compositions. So we did the album Celestite: there was all synth, there was no metal. It is because of Celestite that we decided to start a side project that was more of a dark-ambient, experimental side project, which is Drow Elixir. So Roadburn was the first time we ever played it live or we ever performed live…
How was it?
WITTR: It was good and it was dark. The show was at the end of the night, we were very drunk and it was cool! It was fun!
The Beltane European Tour is almost over. You performed in London, France, Switzerland, Italy… what should someone attending one of your shows expect?
WITTR: We have maybe a different relationship to interacting with the audience than other bands. We don’t really speak very much between songs. Our goal is to create an atmosphere; a dark atmosphere and a dark environment. A rock n’roll band would be like, “You crazy motherfuckers, let’s fucking rock!” I’m into that kind of thing but that’s not what Wolves in the Throne Room really does. We try to create a unique space.
I saw on your Instagram page that you are working on a new album. Is it different from Celestite? What kind of sound are you looking for?
WITTR: Celestite, as I was saying, was all synth. There was no drum, no vocals, nothing like that. This album is definitely more metal. It is maybe the most, I don’t know – I don’t like using the term necessarily, but it is more traditional than a lot of our other stuff has been. We are definitely very inspired by – we kind of went back in time to be re-inspired by a lot of stuff, some of the catalyst influences in the beginning such as Swedish melodic or death metal, and we did a lot more guitar harmonies. It’s different than other stuff. It’s less Pacific Northwest. I don’t wanna reveal too much because cause we haven’t announced the album yet and there is no release date. It’s all finished, recorded and mastered, but I guess you’ll just have to wait and see.
(Photos: Christina Wenig)