Monday, January 4, 2010

Beltane Interview

1. Can you give us a brief history of the band?


Ok, Beltane began as a project that I decided to start in mid 1993, however I consider the official start in October ’94, when I recorded a song called ‘Into the Night’, playing all the instruments myself. From there, it developed into a three-piece band with Dyrkyn on drums and Thyiendalen on bass. Apart from a few glitches that lineup lasted from 1994 til 1999.
The next period from 2000-2003 was fairly dormant until I reactivated the project with Kvathairein on bass and using drumtracks instead of a drummer. On the (southern) Summer Solstice of 2004 we made a recording that became the first release of our Seasonal Release programme.
2006 saw Dyrkyn return to the band and also Noslohcin joined on guitar, so for that year we were a four-piece band. In late ’06 I met Baphgirl, and things started to change.
Early 2007 I left Nelson to relocate to the Manawatu area in the North Island, and Baphgirl, who had become my partner, took up the role of bassist and we returned to using drumtracks for live shows. Things have been much more successful since locating the band in the North Island – in ’07 and ’08 we played many more shows than Beltane has done in it’s entire history before then.
For the last half of ’08 until now, we have been pretty much focusing on the recording side of Beltane, and recently also on the online presence which has been paying good dividends. We have also started working extensively with contributing artists; one of these being Kvathairein, who has been making some great contributions.
For a more detailed history, have a look at the timeline on our Myspace page.

2. How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard you before?

The core ov our sound is Black Metal, and although we do venture into other styles the BM essence is usually preserved in the guitar sound and in many ov the vocals. However we are quite diverse and bring in elements ov Gothic music, Industrial/Electronica and aspects ov other metal genres from Hard Rock to Death Metal. We also experiment with including symphonic instruments and sculpted noise sources in our sound.

3. What releases have you put out so far?
Pre-Seasonal Releases:
Rehearsal April 5 1995 (Cassette, currently unavailable)
MCMXCIX (3 track CD, currently unavailable)
Rehearsal at Irongate 2004 (Bonus CD-ROM content on Cape D’Evil & CD from Lifespan Records)
Seasonal Releases:
Summer Solstice Live ’04 (Live Album)
Equinox Upon Fairfield AE05 (MCD)
WSOV (MCD)
The Brook Project VE05 (MCD)
Midnight on the Glen SS05 (MCD)
Autumn Craft 2006 (MCD)
Solstice’s Altar Returns – Winter6 (MCD)
Her Spring Eyes VI (MCD)
Jera (Album)
Jera 2 (Album)
Cape D’Evil (MCD)
…Through Darker Seasons (Album)
Shadowplay Desolate (MCD)
Summer ov Skoth (MCD)

4. What are some of the best shows that you have played and which crowds would you say are the craziest or best?
For the old lineup ov Beltane, opening for Impaled Nazarene was pretty cool. The Darkness Gathering ov 2003 was a great show, and about the best kind ov live comeback you’re likely to get. The 6/6/06 show was really cool because…well…it was the 6/6/06!! For the current lineup we played extensively in 2007 & ’08, and the shows at the venue ‘Valve’ in Wellington, New Zealand were consistently some ov the best as we had fun, had good audience response and made money, which always helps! ;)
Sadly, Valve is no more. Some new people have reopened it as ‘Hole in the Wall’, but they haven’t returned any ov our messages properly about booking a show.
The craziest show is easily when we played ‘Dannypalooza’ in Dunedin (New Zealand) in Feb 2008.

5. Are there any plans for a U.S tour?
Not really.. Unless someone with the wherewithal in the U.S took a severe liking to us and made it happen. We have been in contact with some people in Canada, so touring there is possibly more likely, but even then it’s a long way off.

6. How would you describe your musical progress over the years, I heard an old song on YouTube the other day and it sounded like a different band?
I would definitely say our songwriting is getting better, both in terms ov the quality we can achieve and the speed at which we can do it. Since we record on every Solstice & Equinox we make a lot ov CDs, therefore we need to write a lot ov songs. Practice makes perfect, as they say!
The song you saw on YouTube is called ‘Emily’, and probably sounds completely different to any other song on that CD (Jera), as all the songs do. We are a very diverse band and no two songs sound alike..! Someone recently described that song as sounding like "old Pentagram", which is kind ov funny as we have never heard them, hehe..
As for the productions, the quality ov these has improved over the years. I would describe our earlier Seasonal Releases as having a somewhat ‘underground’ sound, whereas the later ones have moved over into the professional sphere. I think the change here came really abruptly between the ‘Jera’ & ‘Jera 2’ albums, and probably has much to do with improvements in mastering techniques. In fact at some stage I’m planning on re-mastering the ‘Jera’ album, as I feel I could bring it up to nearly the standard ov ‘Jera 2’.

7. When can we expect new material?
If we’re working on a new EP, it’ll come out 3 months after the last release. If it’s an album, it’ll come out 6 months later. However, we update our Myspace tracks every 3 months regardless.
Our current project is a re-recording ov our ‘MCMXCIX’ (mini CD), since it’s the 10-year anniversary ov this release! We are very excited about this particular project, as the drumming is performed by Mark Dubanowski who lives, and recorded the parts, in Scotland. It also features our former bass player, Kvatharein on rhythm guitar, who recorded his parts in Wellington on the Equinox Eve – the same time we were recording our parts in the Manawatu Gorge Cemetery. It’ll be out in early June, we expect. Since it’s only 3 tracks, it will also feature extensive bonus material as CD-ROM content, probably Beltane’s 6606 performance.


8. What are you listening to nowadays and what are some good bands that you would recommend?
Well, as you could imagine working on Beltane how we do, means we spend an unholy amount ov time listening to Beltane tracks in various stages ov completion. We actually enjoy listening to our completed productions, and while this may sound narcissistic, if someone doesn’t like their own music, why should they expect anyone else to? (imagine a chef that didn’t eat his own food!!!) (
In the car, we constantly listen to Hades – Again Shall Rise & Bathory – Blood Fire Death, as the CD player is fucked and will only play those two CDs! Also as we are developing Satanica as a proper label now, we listen to a lot ov material that’s sent to us for release. We usually do this while we’re washing the dishes, and if we don’t get anything new the dishes mount up!
I’m a traditionalist, so I recommend the classics.. Bathory, Darkthrone, Celtic Frost, Venom, Mayhem, Burzum, Cradle of Filth (yes, CoF.. HA HA! Mainly their earlier stuff, but also their Sony album ironically), but I also like stuff which is not metal like Funker Vogt, Covenant (EBM), Beherit’s electronic stuff (I do like their metal stuff too ov course), Inkkubus Sukkubus, and The Mission, Fields of the Nephilim, etc. A fairly obscure metal/gothic crossover band, I think, who deserves more exposure is Willow Wisp. And while we’re on that, Fleurety, Summoning, Kreator and Coroner are great too.
Baphgirl’s tastes veer into the more industrial/electronica realm – Rammstein, Funker Vogt, Assemblage 23, Covenant, Blutengel, Front 242, Das Ich, Switchblade Symphony, Neuroticfish, And One, Cruxshadows, VNV Nation, Project Pitchfork, Astral Projection.. to name a few ov her favourites.

9. What are your main influences music wise or non music wise?
The aforementioned classic bands were certainly an influence in the fact that they made me want to play Black Metal. However I don’t think we’re actively influenced by anyone, musically, to a great degree. So in an ongoing way, other influences do indeed play a greater role in our music. The seasons are a very strong influence, which we have deliberately designed into Beltane to be this way. Life influences a great deal ov our lyrical output, and since we are Satanists, it’s essentially a life viewed from that perspective.

10. What role does Celtic Paganism play in the bands music or life?
I was born on Walpurgisnacht/Northern Hemisphere observed day ov Beltane. That’s basically how we come to have this name. I don’t consider it an accident that I was born on this day. Although we are Satanists, we are unlike many Satanists, Pagan as well in terms ov observing the Wheel ov the Year and using sympathetic magick. We are certainly interested in all things Celtic and Irish (especially the lighthouses), but we don’t restrict ourselves to worshipping Celtic deities, in fact as Satanists, we don’t worship ANY deities. We do use them in ritual magick, but are just as likely to use Norse/Greek/Egyptian & Sumerian ones in these workings as well. We do enjoy it when a riff comes out with a Celtic flavour, though!

11. What are some good books or films that you would recommend?
Books: The Satanic Bible. Everyone should read this book..! The Lord of the Rings (read the damn book!) Anything and everything on the Occult, The Lighthouse Stevensons by Bella Bathurst, Lords of Chaos, if you’re interested in the history ov Norwegian Black Metal.
Movies: Apocalypse Now. This should be watched often and in many different drugged states. Dr. Strangelove, the Omen series, Preaching to the Perverted, Secretary, Death Tunnel, The Lighthouse (by some Swedish dude.. look it up on YouTube), I strongly recommend you try to obtain a copy ov Mourning the Ancient’s video –  HYPERLINK "http://www.mourningtheancient.com" www.mourningtheancient.com & all ov Paul Douglas Valentine’s stuff on YouTube (PDValentine).
Baphgirl recommends these books: Anything by Terry Goodkind, Sara Douglass, Tad Williams, Charlaine Harris, Raymond E. Feist & the late David Gemmell.
And these movies: Harry Potter series and porn.

12. How would you describe the metal scene in New Zealand and what are some good bands that you would recommend from your home country?
In the last 10 years, the scene has expanded massively. Alas, most ov that expansion has come in the form ov fuckwits. Most NZ bands are nothing but sycophantic fanboys, pallidly imitating their overseas heroes in the hope they’ll get laid. It’s a pity we cannot answer questions like these without taking interviews in a somewhat negative direction. We find the New Zealand scene nearly totally unsupportive ov Beltane and completely reluctant to give us the acknowledgement we obviously deserve. For all the bands that have played at the shows that WE organized in ’07 & ’08, not a single fucking one has returned the favour. This is why we have moved towards looking to the international market.
However, we do have some friends so I’ll recommend them. Sounds of Vengeance, Varraghor, Malevolence, Zspyne & Execrate/Pevertor.

13. Any final words?
Anyone who would like to hear more ov Beltane and purchase our CDs can do so at  HYPERLINK "http://www.myspace.com/darkgodbeltane" http://www.myspace.com/darkgodbeltane . Also you can check out our website  HYPERLINK "http://www.angelfire.com/band2/beltane" http://www.angelfire.com/band2/beltane . Remember that our CD prices are in NZ$, which are only worth just over half a US$, so they’re less expensive than they look! You can also obtain our releases as digital(MP3) releases mailed directly to your inbox. Contact us about this, for prices etc.

14.Thanks for the interview?
Yeah, cheers for the interview. It’s been an interesting afternoon filling out these questions, especially question 11 hehe.. ( We wish you the best for your zine, and keep in touch and we’ll keep you up to date with info and new releases to review...!

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