Summon: How did the band get started?
Nekron: Right… And this one goes much further back than the actual beginning of RÁN in 2008. I first co-started a band – in Iceland – back in ‘91/’92. ‘Extermination’ it was called. I reckon it was the first Grindcore act over there. Anyways and I had to leave the country so that came to naught, but I never stopped writing poetry, noting down song ideas, keeping the music flowing…Then, once I was done with art school in Rotterdam (Holland), I found myself constantly trying to get involved with musicians and music, as if I was being drawn to the whole thing. Setting up art projects, ideas upon ideas… Until one day it dawned on me and that very minute – somewhat impulsively – I called this Greek friend of mine and simply asked him if he could play any instruments. Haha! He was quite shocked actually, but declared some knowledge of piano playing, which I found a little disappointing. Not one to be held back, I asked him if he knew any musicians. Turned out he knew this guitarist and a girl who had done ‘some’ drumming. On my request, he called them up and RÁN was born: Myself (Nekron) on vox and bass, Reptilia on drums and Aspyron on guitar. The latter two were, and still are to my knowledge, very Greek and I remain Icelandic to this day.
Summon: What kind of music do you play?
Nekron: As for ‘exact style’ I would rather leave that up to the listener. A cliché perhaps, it’s all Rock’n Roll to me really, but at gunpoint: I might say we fall snugly into a mix of Death Metal and Thrash Metal; fueled and tied together by the holistic idea, sound and imagery of Black Metal. To be honest, I can’t tell for sure – I only work here, heheh… – but there’s loads more to this. All sorts of influences ranging from elements of Classical composition to extreme Porngrind, and everything in-between. …And loads of Hardass Rock and Roll. Yeah, that’s coming in strong…
Summon: How has the fan response been?
Nekron: So far, so good, but (due to line up changes and delays) we haven’t had the chance to prove ourselves properly yet. We are surrounded by extremely dedicated and supportive people though (you know who you are!) and I have the feeling that eyes are watching and ears are raised to what could potentially become something truly great; something massive and well worth the great annals of Metal history, fate willing…And we aim to make it happen: Count on it!
Summon: Where did the band name come from?
Nekron: Now that would take some careful explanation; you see, as a professional artist I take things as near to solid completion as possible. The concept and progress are of the utmost importance, and this is indeed encompassed by the name and logo of RÁN. This element is at the front of the band, but more importantly, it is the fundamental base and the core of the musical/ideological concept itself. The basic name is taken from Icelandic and would correctly translate in common use as ‘raid’, or even ‘robbery’; to ‘take by the use of force’. It is also the name of the Nordic goddess of the sea: A chaotic entity that, as a matter of duality, can be as destructive as she can be benevolent. The third facet would be the name reversed: ‘NÁR’, which is of considerable importance. In Icelandic/Norse (old use) this would mean ‘dead’ and be in common combination, in nowadays speech, to words relating to death itself. Other twists and turns of the name – to hint but a few more – would be the Japanese meaning of ‘Ran’ (chaos), but there is more to it, much more… I.e. the logo shows the Ouroboros, world serpent (Jormungand) having released the tail from his jaws, a sure end of the world and the ultimate release of energy (Big Bang). Runes symbolizing chaos and duality, the pentagram and even the ‘A’ for anarchy, symbolizing in turn the upright pentagram and upheaval of the spirit. The logo itself is structured to be read in the opposite and the writing in the ring (which I won’t disclose at this time) is taken from the book of Lucifer. To state rather boldly: The concept is solid and strong, and so are we!
Summon: Introduce the band members and what they do in the band.
Nekron: That would be simple enough. Each in turn and starting with myself: I (Nekron) handle the 4-string bass and vocals, the sole founding member of the band after near 4 years of existence. Dutch Aesthyr took over the guitars a little more than a year ago and has without doubt become a fundamental part of RÁN. He is as skilled as he is eager to grow and meet challenges. Level-headed and critical, he’s a huge inspiration on me personally and I thoroughly enjoy working with him. The third, current, member is the Dutch Rephaim on drums. A great guy who (despite distance) travels 6 hours on the train, just to get to practice. Devoted, professional and one Hell of a drummer. He’s kindly sticking it out with us until a permanent replacement has crawled forth…
Summon: Who writes the music? Lyrics?
Nekron: Music, lyrics and imagery (including performance and stage props); we all pitch in and work things out to a state of completion. That said; I (being somewhat ‘hyper creative’) usually have the heavy hand in things. I.e. structuring and solidifying incomplete song ideas, taking care of visual elements and writing the poetry. All to make sure that things stay within the framework and true to the core essence of RÁN. Still, it’s a partnership and the door swings both ways with us. We even keep our ex-drummer vixen Reptilia close at hand, as we rely on her opinion as a founding member and a clever girl with a critical eye/ear. All for the sake of constant growth and betterment…
Summon: And where do the lyric ideas come from?
Nekron: Haha! That’s an intriguing question and one that I will enjoy answering. Let’s begin with the lyrical theme, which is laden with death, demonic possession/transformation, rise against religion, eternal war, etc… Pretty much standard stuff really, but I reckon what sets it apart is that it’s written along the lines – or ‘by the rule’ one might say – of ancient Norse rhyming. The use of phonetic and supportive phrases and letters; rules that are – of course – broken occasionally (as rules should), but each body of a poem is arranged in such a way that it becomes a sort of spell on its own, an incantation if you like and one that is deliberately kept simple as to make them accessible. As much as with my visual art; there is more than meets the eye (or ‘ear’ in this case) and I do wish to transmit ideas and/or feelings to the listener. Endless play on words and meanings; you might read one of my poems now and get a particular feeling out of it, and then come across it at a later point and receive something else. All in all, this transmission of transformation might make our lyrics somewhat dangerous, or tempting in the least if one is ready to take them at more than face value. The lyrics themselves are constructed next to the song writing – not before and certainly not after – based almost entirely on ideas that ‘come’ to me. Often when I am painting, or simply playing away on the bass, even walking about outside. I might add I’ve had the most promising ideas when in Iceland and simply on foot in the quiet of nature. I even remember having some great ideas back in the day when I used to visit Norway on a regular basis and would sometimes go for walks there; short ventures to a forest or mountainside. I was (and ‘am’ still) particularly fond of the Bergen and Trondheim area. Have some great memories from there, especially those of sailing the fjords on a cold mid-winter morning. A Viking’s perspective on the ancient homeland…As for the writing/constructing phase; I do believe it makes for a unification of sound, structure and idea; an element of gospel-like strength and accessibility in the most. Everything is of equal importance and there is still a long way to go before this begins to wear thin. I find that particularly exciting.
Summon: What is your view in Satanism and Occultism?
Nekron: I think it’s all pretty cool actually. What I particularly like is the variety, the unique way in which nearly everyone seems to approach this growing form of ideology (a more general, flexible term I prefer instead of any specific ‘belief’ or ‘worship’). To some, it’s a dead serious matter, to others; a temporary outlet, a study, something more uncertain, perhaps even carefree or even not important at all. I think it’s all good. A thing that is still rising and ever changing as such, and that makes it healthy.
Summon: How many albums/CD’s have you released?
Nekron: Due to aforementioned delays and line-up issues; we only got round to begin completing material – and eventually recording some – last summer, which saw the timely release of the ‘Thrash Black’ test session demo. Recorded in my art studio, using computer programmed drums and delivered on a completely home made format, unmixed and straight up. Every single copy sold and/or delivered, has been hand-signed by yours truly and, despite rotten sound qualities, we are still quite pleased to have put that one out, albeit in a limited way. The second release (Doomsday Eve) was recorded Live in November and rather boldly documents our first performance, which I dare say we handled quite well despite awkward moments and certain mishaps we’d be willing to blame others for. It all went pretty good though and we are quite satisfied with it; to be taken for what it is and no more than that. Like I said before: Progress is important to us and (by the fundamental discipline of art) every moment valuable in its own right, be it good or bad, it all sits well with me.
Summon: Tell me about some the songs on the latest CD?
Nekron: Well, to look at ‘Doomsday Eve’ – the title itself being an opener, a prediction of sorts – it does portray the live aspects of roughly half our current material; the first batch of songs if you like. These songs do show the early manifestation of style – our ‘formula’ so to speak – and the elements of relentless, unforgiving Dark Death-Thrash are already being mingled with Rock’n Roll aspects and other elements of let-loose Armageddon. Hell, you might easily spot certain influences and even name a band or few that have done similar things, but I gather that is not unheard of on early releases, so I can live with that…A prelude to our new material; we aim to bring forth songs that may seem strangely familiar and yet are simultaneously demanding and not too hard to get into, if extreme and fast music is your cup of tea of course. It can be said our songs are quite simple and easy to play, riddled as they may be with the occasional moment of ‘clever’ break in the general composition; to sort of untie the monotony and make for better songs on the whole. A good example here, would be the song ‘Thrash Black’, which to me sounds rather old school, but brings to bear the relentless and uncompromising ‘hypnosis’ of pounding Metal havoc mixed with some (rather obvious) clichés and moments of sheer monumentality. It is a song that is somewhat easy to deliver, and a one that can easily establish the kind of transmission/communication that we seek with our audience. All in all, it’s just down to break-neck Thrash and uncompromising Metal madness. That’s what RÁN is all about!
Summon: Do you have any side projects?
Nekron: Musically; well, no… And I think I can speak for Aesthyr here as well, but Rephaim has his own Melodic Death outfit (The Prophet’s Eyes) and seems to be getting involved with other bands as well. All very good…As far as I’m concerned; my life is a 3-way thing: The family, the art and RÁN. A wholesome recipe and – although personal life is always at the front – there is little distinction of importance here. It all just flows and mingles really…
Summon: Who are some of your musical influences?
Nekron: Like I hinted at above; the strongest influence lies within, the flow of ideas and the uncontrollable urge to bring forth the dark aspects of the soul. Where these ideas come from and what ultimately drives them; I have no exact idea, or – better said – wouldn’t betray the source and give any away if I had some…On the side: I am profoundly influenced by my heritage of the Icelandic sagas; most predominantly the poetry, as well as depictions/endeavors of great artists, writers, musicians, actors and poets (too many to name here…). Anything to do with the great art of self-expression, really. Yet I am more attracted to the mind and personae that lies behind the creative effort, rather than the outcome, which (much like what you see with RÁN) is just the tip of the iceberg. Another great influence (and one that can not be underestimated) are the friends, the fans and numerous acquaintances that so benefit our effort with their feedback, own manner of creativity, as well as generous show of enthusiasm and support. This is really what keeps us above water and has much to do with the way that our music will develop in the future. It is not to say that we aim to sell out and let go of our own urges in favor of what the ‘fans want’, but rather to showcase our awareness that the creative line of communication runs both ways and that we fear not to recognize it for what it is.
Summon: Which current bands?
Nekron: I’d say the way to best explain this – or indeed to look more directly at RÁN’s sources of influence – would again be in a 3-way approach. More fitting, I dare say, rather than merely naming a few bands. More importantly since there are influences that touch us more profoundly than others. That said; the very base of influence (and one that is beginning to gain predominance in certain aspects and structure of our music) would be Motörhead. Plain and simple! The very thing that set us off, that compelled me to act and get things going, was the song ‘Rock Out’ (Motörizer). Lemmy’s influence is not to be underestimated here, but funnily enough I might add (for the sake of confusion) that what got me to dig down deep into Motörhead after several years of distance, was in fact Abbath’s tribute project ‘Bömbers.’ That might indicate at how things circulate within the aspect of influence…Secondly, would be the vast amount of music (Metal, Punk, Hardcore/Grindcore) that belongs to the 80’s/90’s era. We’d be talking roughly ’85 to ’95, but this should not simply classify RÁN as ‘oldschool’. Rather amplify the main source of influence from that period and the pure essence of music in that time rather than sound alone. Bands like Living Death, Overkill, SLAYER (of course), Morbid Angel, Immortal, Mayhem, Enslaved, Bathory, Sodom, Kreator, etc… Still, the chief influence here in many ways (and not just musically and lyrically, but in demeanor, performance and even sense of professionalism and attitude) would be British Thrashers ‘Onslaught’. Still, this would be hard to perceive as it is very transparent. In fact we do not sound like Onslaught at all, but the inspiration is there alright. Incidentally, these guys are touring the U.S. at this time, and I would strongly urge anyone not to miss out on the opportunity to see one of the finest acts of Thrash Metal in this world, or any other for that matter. The third plateau of inspiration would, somewhat obviously, be what each member of RÁN brings in individually. I mean, we all come from different angles and bring in various elements of favorable styles of music. I for one prefer extreme, aggressive and powerful metal; fast and furious. Ranging from Hellish Black Metal, through ripping Thrash and all the way to massive Death grind, even 80’ Hardcore/Grindcore/Crossover. Speaking somewhat generally for the rest of the team: Aesthyr favors quality Speed/Thrash Metal and Melodic Death Metal alongside predominant Black Metal bands (anything with expressive use of guitars I warrant), whereas Rephaim – as far as I know – prefers anything of the Melodic and Atmospheric genres of Symphonic Metal. However, we all seem to connect on Thrash and Speed Metal and that’s where the key combination lies…
Summon: What is the band like when you play live?
Nekron: Well, our songs are certainly geared for Live performance. I mean, much of this stuff I can play blindly and that does allow for an elevated approach to crafty showmanship. That said, we take things forward at an easy and natural pace; letting our own flavor of mannerism rise and shine alongside the music we wish to bring forward. Obviously, there are many great performers out there that for a long time have clearly demonstrated how things can be done good and proper. All in all, a matter of observation and study, and I see little harm in being influenced here and – as much as with anything else – find our own way from that point on…To where we will boldly go and I can say there are certain things we intend to experiment with, and bring to our show in due time; some of which have not been done yet to my knowledge. If these ideas work out, it will make for a Hell of a good spectacle that will leave people stunned, to predict in the very least. I can promise that!
Summon: Have you guys ever played in another country?
Nekron: Not yet. Well, not as RÁN anyways, but that is about to change and we stand ready to perform anywhere – pretty much – at any given time and on relatively short notice. We have some good friends and supporters, who are pulling and pushing their weight in our favor and we are extremely grateful for that. Seems that playing abroad is merely a matter of time…
Summon: How big of crowd shows up at shows usually?
Nekron: Haha! With only one show on our record, that one should be easy enough to answer, but – true to form – I am sure to find ways to take my response a little further…As for our first show and the birth of RÁN as such; there was a small crowd of enthusiastic friends and would-be fans that made for an atmosphere so fitting the very first show. Made it all the more personal and it feels good – even appropriate – to be able to relate to them on account of the occasion as such. The venue was in the middle of bloody nowhere and hard to find. Hell, we even had one ‘very special’ friend who spent 2 hours on the train, just to get there, only to end up walking about the shady, industrial suburbs of Amsterdam for a good while, without even spotting the bloody place. Still, a beginning is a start and it was well worth the effort and the outcome…And there are more shows coming up, and I do have the feeling that one thing will lead to another. All at a natural pace and (more importantly) at the right place, at the right time preferably. We aim to stand out and give the best performance possible; no less than that, and I do believe it should pull the crowds in as our name begins to match our talent and would-be prestige. Now, or further down the line; just a matter of getting there. We have a good chance coming up on the 21st of April and that should demonstrate (a little better) what we are all about. In the end, we do not care much how many people show or how grand the venue is, as long as things go down smooth and we all have a good time. I think most upcoming bands would proclaim the same and we’re no different there…
Summon: How is the crowd response when you play?
Nekron: In tune with the above answer, I’d be somewhat restricted to refer to our first gig only. No harm in that though and certain people (who were present, and who’s opinion matters greatly to me, as they are well versed in the ways of Metal) expressed their surprise at how well we handled ourselves. A praise of promise that we seek to live up to as (like I said earlier) anything short of our very best, is something we won’t tolerate. As for future responses: Let the crowd do what the crowd does as the crowd please, and we’ll be likely to enjoy every minute of it no matter how it goes.
Summon: What do you think of the US Black/Death Metal Scene?
Nekron: To be honest and from what I can tell from the distance: I think it’s about as ‘alive, undead and kicking’ as can be! Sure enough – judging by some voices – things can always be better, but there are some dedicated, great people over there, alongside some damn good bands as well. Come to think of it, I wouldn’t fear for the American scene at all! As I regularly correspond with some of our U.S. based friends, fans and allies, I must admit I am sometimes a little overwhelmed by the sheer enthusiasm and support that we seem to be receiving over there. East- to West-coast and anywhere in-between: All great show of true Metal spirit and I would want nothing more than for RÁN to cross the Atlantic and bring down a score of venues. Raising absolute and everlasting Hell to the honor of our American brothers and sisters!
Summon: What do you think of the Overseas scenes?
Nekron: Meaning, I gather, anywhere but North America; it would be the same story (without doubt) and I would surely struggle to contain my enthusiasm and eagerness to bring our music to the Metal community at large, no matter the exact place. Thanks to the internet (Facebook in particular) I have been able to enjoy the long-distance company of some truly awe-inspiring people from all over the world and I can foresee that the Metal forces are far from exhausted. Fresh bands are popping up left to right and massive festivals are still taking place (seemingly on the increase) and some great bands are still apt at taking Metal music to new frontiers. Come to think of it, I dare proclaim I’ve never seen as much strength in the overall scene as today. Many of the veterans are back with full vigor (take Onslaught as an example) and still quite capable of showing the rest of us ‘how it’s done! Concept and style of ‘nearly’ any genre is still on the ‘invent’ and there is motion everywhere, and where there is movement, there is ‘life’ so to speak…Hell, today is a great place to be – in the company of great people – and we look forward to participating in as much of it as we are ultimately offered.
Summon: What are some of new favorite black metal/death metal bands?
Nekron: In the nowadays ‘rise and fall’ of many promising bands (some of whom showcase immense abilities) it is as easy to name a handful as it is to leave out the predominant ones. I reckon I would hand-pick the following, knowing it is a futile effort and that I will, regrettably, leave out many that deserve a mention: Some fresh bands that I’ve recently come across, would be: Blodsgard, Djevelskult and Thyruz, and I should add the great ‘Dauden’ to my list of intriguing acts that I’d recommend to all and sundry. All Norwegian from what I best can tell. Call it a matter of nostalgic (genetic?) preference…As for recent local or Dutch/Belgian acts, I do like Infestis, Plaag (awesome Black’n Roll signed to Vrangsinn’s Misantrof label) and of course Servantum (not my usual cup of tea, but these guys rock hard!)…And I would take the opportunity to mention Sammath. Not a new band – not by far – but back with a vengeance and a fresh release, locked and loaded, and ready to by fired upon the World like a storm out of Hell! I am just stunned by the fury of it…Other bands that I favor would be U.S. outfit Secularis (excellent, sword-wielding, pagan Black/Death Metal with some great guys who actually know how to use a sword), Mausoleum (Horrific Death Metal worth a good listen), Truppensturm (about as brutal as it gets…) and Icelandic Doom act Hylur (no releases as of yet, but some great tunes on their Reverbnation site).
Summon: When do you guys plan on writing any new material?
Nekron: Well, our stage set-list is quite solid now and we are steadily adding new numbers to our repertoire, currently sporting more than enough to fill an album; a matter of some urgency as we do need to keep up with the flow of writing. To speak of which, I dare predict a release this year; most likely a (crude) full album promo or something along those lines, and if all comes to be, we might be pushing our weight with that one in the autumn, hoping to catch the welcome ear of a would-be promoter and/or label. The new material is developing nicely; still straightforward, brutal and evil as Hell, but further emphasizing the contrasting elements of all-out Rock’n Roll havoc, even drawing upon influences of Glam-/Shock-rock where inspiration demands. Where others fear to trudge, we shamelessly venture forth…None-the-less, we still stick to the original concept of RÁN and within that work of frame we won’t easily give in to current trends, but rather continue to hone our skills and – slowly, but surely – let go of all hindrances (influences?) to the full expression of our own, particular idiom. However it goes, I can promise it will be furious, relentless and downright lethal!
Summon: What does the future hold for the band??
Nekron: With a gig coming up in a few weeks time, and plenty of opportunities to play further on, I’d say: Times are great and spirits running high in the camp! Our session drummer (Rephaim) is really coming through for us and the hunt for his eventual (full time) replacement is bringing some worthy candidates into our scopes. As I mentioned just now, we will be scouting for promoters and labels; all easy going though, and at a natural pace. We are the path to our own perseverance and will stop at nothing to get where we are ultimately headed; patience and realism at the fore though. The tunes are flowing and ideas pouring forth at an unparalleled rate. The urge to make our mark is driving us forth with unquestionable dedication and I think full recognition is merely a matter of time. We are RÁN and we are coming!!!
Thank you for your time and the questions. Rock and Rule…\m/
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