Summon: How did the band get started?
Mika: Nihilistinen Barbaarisuus began when I (Mika Mage) got some riffs from fellow co-founder Manuel Rodriguez. I’d been badgering him for a while to show me his original black metal tabs since I knew he was more well versed than I was, and when he finally did I immediately loved the feel of it and asked him to start a band with me. Manuel was fine with the idea but didn’t have time to record anything since he works as a video game programmer (currently for a large company in Denver), so with his blessing I wrote a few original songs/riffs and recorded a make-shift demo of just guitars on my own. I played the demo for M.w.s. (Serpent ov Old, Shadows in the Crypt, ex-Evil Divine, Ex-Wykked Witch) and he loved it, so we spent a week in his Thee Illuminated studio adding bass, vocals, and programmed drums, ultimately creating the self-titled promo. M.w.s. is good friends with Mike Juliano of Horror Pain Gore Death Productions, and Mike was cool enough to not only put out our promo with the HPGD stamp but our first CD as well, the LP ‘Synkkä Tuuli’ (translates in English to grim wind). Everyone who has played in or contributed to NB has been from in or around Philadelphia, so I guess that’s where people like to say NB comes from.
Summon: What kind of music do you play?
Mika: The promo and debut LP were raw atmospheric black metal, some people point to symphonic elements but our intention wasn’t to go that route, only to use keys to enhance the ambiance. My idea for the LP was to create a 30 minute auditory voyage for the listener with the concept being a doomed journey through a northern blizzard, thus the album begins with trudging footsteps and ends with an acoustic dirge, the final song’s title ‘Ketamiini’ referencing the purported ability of the drug Ketamine to simulate near-death experiences. After the LP release M.w.s. left to focus on his own project Serpent ov Old and Manuel only ever wanted to do the one release anyway, leaving NB as just me. For the LP I wrote my riffs to compliment Manuel’s original ones, thus I was limited by his defining style and influences which are more traditional. I’m more progressive, so as the lone creative force for the follow-up EP ‘Väinämöinen’ I was finally able to be fully expressive, and I think it shows in the direction NB has taken. Väinämöinen is the hero protagonist of the Finnish national epic ‘The Kalevala’ and the next album will also be based on it. I personally feel the new material is more symphonic, melodic, and progressive, while still preserving the biting feel of raw black metal, but that will be up for the fans to decide.
Summon: How has the fan response been?
Mika: The fan response has been great, it’s a small niche of people who like this kind of music but those who do really appreciate it. Infernal Kommando Records in France released the LP and EP on the underground cassette market and it’s been doing well, the labels Primitive Reaction in Finland and Depressive Illusion in the Ukraine have been particularly supportive and are doing an awesome job distributing our stuff. The EP cassettes sold out in Finland pretty quick, I’m told because my fellow Finns are drawn to the name and concept.
Summon: Where did the band name come from?
Mika: Nihilistinen Barbaarisuus translates in English as nihilistic barbarism, a philosophical concept originated by Andre Comte-Sponville. He writes in his ‘The Little Book of Atheist Spirituality’:
“Nihilistic Barbarism has no program, no ideal, no ideology. It has no need of these things. Its advocates believe in nothing; they know only violence and egotism, contempt and hatred. They are prisoners of their own instincts, their own stupidity and lack of culture, and slaves to what they think of as their freedom. They are barbaric because they lack faith and/or fidelity; they are the mercenaries of the void.”
Summon: Introduce the band members and what they do in the band.
Mika: Manuel Rodriguez was a co-founding member with me, he provided tabs of his original black metal compositions from which I added my own riffs, all the leads, and wrote original songs (i.e. ‘Anhedonia’ was written completely by me, the first half of the title track ‘Synkkä Tuuli’ came mostly from him…). Manuel never recorded anything, but without his initial ideas the band never would have got the momentum to become what it is now. M.w.s. never contributed creatively but was valuable for his studio, vocals, and bass playing. For the ‘Väinämöinen’ EP I again did all the guitars but this time brought in session talent for the other slots, including M.w.s. again for bass, James Dorton (Black Crown Initiate, Nightfire, Antikythera) for vocals, and Lawrence Wallace (Lawrence’s Creation, Shadow’s in the Crypt) for drum programming and keys. On the upcoming album I handle guitar and bass myself and split duties on drum programming and synth with Lawrence; for vocals James has agreed to do it again but has been busy exploding with Black Crown Initiate (currently touring with Behemoth and 1349 until the middle of May), so it’ll be a while until progress is made with him. I’ve tried out a few other vocalists and so far Joel Robert Thompson of the melodic death metal outfit Omelas has been really promising. Jesse Beahler (Black Crown Initiate, Nightfire, ex-Rings of Saturn, ex-Jungle Rot) is also a close friend of mine and has agreed to program the drums, so his may replace what me and Lawrence have already come up with, but he’s also on the road with Black Crown Initiate so it’s dependent upon him being able to complete it by the end of July (at which point I begin medical school at the Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine, so that is the de facto deadline). For the record, Jesse practically demanded to record his actually playing, but because of the time constraints I told him it would be impossible to accomplish.
Summon: Who writes the music? Lyrics?
Mika: On the promo and LP me and Manuel co-wrote all the music and I wrote the lyrics which M.w.s. later sang. For everything the EP and after I am the sole creative entity.
Summon: And where do the lyric ideas come from?
Mika: For ‘Synkkä Tuuli’ the lyrics were kept to a minimum and were mostly for atmospheric emphasis, due largely to M.w.s. having an eerie wind-like tonality to his voice, and the lyrics I wrote were mostly reflective of the albums conceptual Nordic journey. For the follow-up EP the lyrics were arranged from Väinämöinen’s parting ballad after the child of the virgin-mother Mariatta derides him in ‘The Kalevala’. The new album will also have lyrics arranged from that source in English.
Summon: What is your view in Satanism and Occultism?
Mika: Personally I feel Satanism and occultism are now cliché in black metal, and by cliché I mean the strict dictionary definition of lacking original thought, thus I personally avoid it. That doesn’t mean I dislike those topics, LaVeyan Satanism is essentially atheistic humanism with a theatrical twist and is interesting in its own right. If someone hasn’t read “The Satanic Bible” they probably don’t understand that real Satanists don’t believe in Satan, for instance the black mass is a performance satire on the Catholic mass and not any kind of actual deity worship. When a band screams “Hail Satan!” or speaks of some demonic apocalypse in a song it is in that same satirical tradition, thus it remains that the only people who believe Satan exists are Christians, Hebrews, Muslims.
Summon: How many albums/CD’s have you released?
Mika: The promo and LP were both released on Horror Pain Gore Death Productions and the LP and follow-up EP were both released as cassette for the underground market by Infernal Kommando Records. The next album is complete except for vocals and maybe a Jesse Beahler drum programming revamp.
Summon: Tell me about some the songs on the latest CD?
Mika: For the upcoming album the lyrics are taken from ‘The Kalevala’, arranged from the original text interpreted into English. Bands have done concept albums on ‘The Kalevala’ before by drawing up their own material, but since ‘The Kalevala’ is already a series of poems it seemed silly to create original lyrics for it, essentially creating “poems about poems” while hoping to somehow surpasses the original material’s mastery. Some of the song concepts are Väinämöinen’s prayer to Ukko for aid in expelling the nine-diseases sent to Kalevala by Louhi, Väinämöinen’s lamentation having lost Aino first to her suicide and then again upon her reincarnation as a salmon, and Ilmarinen’s wedding to the Maid of Beauty. As a whole the music is now more melodic and progressive, perhaps more akin to Bal-Sagoth than Darkspace.
Summon: Do you have any side projects?
Mika: I play bass for Lawrence’s Creation (http://www.facebook.com/lawrencescreation), which is essentially Lawrence Wallace’s virtuosic guitar shred showcase (he also programmed drums and played keys on it). We created an LP called ‘Drop Zone’ which Horror Pain Gore Death Productions just picked up (this is actually the first time I’m publicly mentioning it since HPGD hasn’t put out a press release yet). The album will be released late this summer and will appeal to people who like progressive mainstays like Symphony X and Luca Turilli’s Dreamquest; prolific solo artists like Rusty Cooley and Elias Viljanen; and experimental speed metal like Scientic, Progenie Terrestre Pura, and Dan Swanö. Currently you can stream the instrumental rough cuts for free on Lawrence’s bandcamp (http://lawrencewallace.bandcamp.com), but I’m not sure how long the label will be cool with it so be quick!
Summon: Who are some of your musical influences?
Mika: Manuel mostly regarded Graveland, Horna, and Hate Forest as his primary influences in composing; now he mostly listens to Ulcerate, Altar of Plagues, and Dragged Into Sunlight. I’m far more progressive so for black metal I stick with Rotting Christ, Naglfar, and Old Man’s Child with some Windir and 1349 thrown in for good folk and chaotic measure.. I wasn’t overly familiar with ambient black acts other than Paysage D’Hiver and Velvet Cacoon when we first started, and I’ve made a concerted effort to avoid listening to others in order to keep my creative process free from influence. Other than black metal you’ll catch me listening to a lot of Sonata Arctica, Dismember, Bloodbath, Vader, Power Quest, Kiuas, Hypocrisy.
Summon: What is the band like when you play live? Have you guys ever played in another country? How big of crowd shows up at shows usually? How is the crowd response when you play?
Mika: Nihilistinen Barbaarisuus has never played live since all of those involved have always had day jobs or obligations to other bands. The idea of recruiting a drummer, finding the space and time to rehearse regularly, and playing shows has been suggested often, but ultimately I don’t see much point when NB already has label support and distribution outside of the United States. I don’t see much to gain from playing local dive bars or having to sell tickets to open for big acts wandering through Baltimore or Philadelphia, especially having known tons of great local “working” bands who have played live for years but never got label support, never had a CD released, never got material reviewed by zines or sites like Metal-Rules, never did interviews.
Summon: What do you think of the US Black Metal/Death Metal scene?
Mika: The black metal scene in the United States lacks cohesion, you might be able to find skrappy isolated scenes in big cities but outside of that it really doesn’t exist on any wide scale. I would say there is a small regional scene for death metal and great bands like Nightfire, Sapremia, Splitwig, and Black Crown Initiate have come out of it, but it’s nothing like what exists for -core bands and their legions of teenage breakdown dancers. A lot of times at underground metal shows it’s one underground metal band playing to an audience of drunk regulars (for whichever bar they’re playing at) and the other underground metal bands playing that night.
Summon: What do you think of the Overseas scenes?
Mika: The overseas scene is the only scene as far as I’m concerned. I’ve spent a lot of my own money sending CD’s and cassettes to different countries and I do so gladly; I’ll take fans in Kharkiv over Los Angeles any day of the week.
Summon: What are some of new favorite black metal/death metal bands?
Mika: I’ve been busy with all my “day job” activities for a long time so I haven’t been able to do some good old-fashioned mass metal hording like when I was a kid.. I guess Black Crown Initiate is pretty radical and they aren’t even signed yet, Birtchum Thompson out of Tallahassee has some pretty awesome progressive ideas with Altar of Flesh and StormCraft.
Summon: When do you guys plan on writing any new material?
Mika: The new album is recorded except for vocals; I come up with new riffs every day so even while in school I’ll be writing songs (as for having the opportunity to actually produce it, that’s another story…).
Summon: What does the future hold for the band??
Mika: At this point Nihilistinen Barbaarisuus is my own one man band, so as long as I’m above ground so too will be NB. Things will definitely slow down after I leave for Kentucky in July, but as long as I’ve got at least a semi-functioning brain I’ll keep making music.. Thanks for the opportunity to speak here and check out NB on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/nihilistinenbarbaarisuus) since no one makes websites for bands anymore.. The ‘Väinämöinen’ EP is a free download from Gun Shy Assassin (http://gunshyassassin.com/news/exclusive-nihilistinen-barbaarisuus-stream-and-download-vainamoinen) as well as the NB Bandcamp page (http://nihilistinenbarbaarisuus.bandcamp.com/album/v-in-m-inen), so grab it if you haven’t yet!
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