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Interview conducted September 29 2013
Interview published October 01 2013

After successfully touring all over the world in support of their latest album, Serpent Sermon, Marduk are now wrapping it all up with seven gigs in Sweden. Being one of the best black metal acts of today, I was thrilled to get the opportunity to talk with guitarist and band founder Morgan Håkansson about the current touring as well as the future plans for Marduk.

Bjorn: First of all, thank you very much for taking the time to speak with me late on a Sunday evening.

  • Morgan: Oh, that's nothing, thanks for calling!

Bjorn: Okay, so you guys recently toured South America. From what I understand, it's pretty different to tour there compared with Europe?

  • Morgan: Yeah, it's a very different experience. The audience there is dedicated on a whole different level. Many have lived under religious and political oppression so having a black metal band come play there is a huge deal for them. It's really a kick to perform for such an audience, where it almost gets chaotic at times.

    Many bands just do a European tour and then they go over to the U.S. and that's it, but we want to break ground everywhere, in every country where we have fans. We want to bring our music to every corner of the Earth and play in places that many bands never come to - such as El Salvador, Colombia and Irkutsk in Siberia - and the audience is always great in these places.

Bjorn: So I guess the audience was the best thing about the South American tour?

  • Morgan: Definitely. In Europe it's easy to see a lot of metal concerts all the time, so there's a more relaxed attitude towards the whole thing, with many people standing quietly and filming with their phones.

Bjorn: I was just going to mention that - there's always a handful of people that seem to be filming entire gigs during concerts here.

  • Morgan: Yeah, on many gigs I've been to, and played, there's been people in the front row filming or taking photos during the entire gig, never looking anywhere but on their screen. Then they go home and post it on Facebook, and I just don't see the point in that.

Bjorn: What was the worst thing about South America then?

  • Morgan: If you absoutely have to find something negative I guess it's that they have kind of a different philosophy over there, arrangement-wise. Thing that take 45 minutes in Europe - sound checking and so on - might very well take four hours there. It's not that Germanic order that we're used to in Europe, where things go smoothly and efficiently, and if the gig's delayed a couple of hours, no one really cares.

Bjorn: It's become pretty common for bands to play entire albums live but you're taking it to the next level, playing two whole albums on your European tour this winter. Where did that idea come from?

  • Morgan: Well, we've played the Panzer Division album a couple of times, and it's been appreciated. It's an album that we hold close to our hearts and we wanted to do something special after wrapping up the Serpent Sermon tour, so we just decided to play it on the entire tour.

    However, it only takes roughly half an hour to play it so when we discussed what other songs to play we realized that it's 20 years since Those Of The Unlight was released. So we decided to play it as well and we're really looking forward to it - many of our fans weren't even born when it was released!

Bjorn: So the Swedish tour that's starting next week, will you play Panzer Division or Those Of The Unlight then or will it be a more traditional set?

  • Morgan: No entire albums, no. It'll be a more traditional setlist in line with the rest of the Serpent Sermon tour. We haven't really reached Sweden yet on this tour, except for occasional gigs here and there, so it'll be great end the Serpent Sermon album cycle with a proper tour in Sweden.

Bjorn: I heard that Alan from Primordial will be accompanying you guys on some gigs, is he flying here from Ireland just for these gigs? I'm holding my thumbs for Gothenburg, by the way.

  • Morgan: Yeah, he appears now and then like a jack-in-the-box, you know! He'll join us for at least three gigs to do Accuser from the Rom 5:12 album. He comes to Sweden every so often and has a lot of friends here so it seemed kind of natural to ask him to join us. And yes, he will very likely come to Gothenburg; probably Stockholm and Norrköping as well, and perhaps someplace more.

Bjorn: If we look ahead a bit, when can we expect a new Marduk album?

  • Morgan: In the second half of 2014 if everything goes according to plan - we easily have material for at least two albums already! We usually work separately and don't really write songs together and so when the winter tour is over we're gonna meet up after new year's and try to piece together the album, see what fits and what doesn't.

Bjorn: Many people were thrilled when you released the Iron Dawn EP in 2011, as a sort of sequel to Panzer Division Marduk. Are you guys planning any more war-themed releases in the future?

  • Morgan: Sure, why not? We have a lot of ideas that probably will materialize sooner or later. We'll see if anything of it ends up on the upcoming album or if it'll be further down the line.

Bjorn: For some reason, war-themed music is very provocative to many people, especially if you compare with other art forms, such as movies, and you've had your shares of controversy due to this. Do you like to provoke people, to a certain extent?

  • Morgan: No, we've never really cared about what other people think and what might be provocative or not. But as you say, it's really strange that there's such a low tolerance for these themes in music, but whatever, we do the music we want to do and that's it.

Bjorn: It's seven or eight years, I think, since your last live releases. Have you thought about recording a new live album, or a DVD?

  • Morgan: Not really, it's not something we're planning for and there doesn't really seem to be a whole lot of interest for it. But we are playing with the thought of doing something innovative of the DVD format, not just a gig from start to finish. I don't want to say too much at this stage, and we'll see what comes of it, but it will be something new entirely!

Bjorn: So, after almost 25 years in Marduk, where do you find your inspiration?

  • Morgan: I find inspiration in little things, it could be a photograph or something that evokes a certain feeling that I elaborate on. I don't really get inspired by other bands, and in the rare cases that I do it's by some kind of music that really has no relation to Marduk. For instance, I can get inspired by dark, heavy industrial music playing in the background while I'm doing something else.

    I often find inspiration in war, as well. There's just something about a 72-ton, thundering war-machine that makes my creativity stir in a whole other way than, I don't know, sitting depressed by a pond and looking at swans.

Bjorn: You don't find it harder to write music with every release then?

  • Morgan: On the contrary, I find it easier and easier to write every time! We're not trying to Bathory anymore, which we perhaps wanted in the band's early days. We have our own formula that works very well, and we do our own thing entirely.

Bjorn: The current Marduk line up has has been intact for seven years, and the three albums that has come from it have all been praised. Is there a harmony in the band right now?

  • Morgan: Harmony... is there such a thing? (laughs) No, but we're a really fucking well-oiled machine where we're two people that are interested in writing songs and two people that are interested in the studio work. This is great, because we who write are not interested in the studio work at all. However, although Mortuus and I write most of the music, everyone bring ideas to the table in some way. And Devo does phenomenal work in translating the ideas into something concrete in the studio so we've never felt the need to bring in an outsider for the production. We like doing everything ourselves.

Bjorn: And this setup works well with Century Media, I guess?

  • Morgan: It does. I felt kind of natural to partner up with them - they're professional, hard-working people who do a really good job. And we've been absolutely clear with the setup, they have no input on our music, our lyrics, our visuals or our vision, otherwise it never would have worked. We do our part and I don't really care how they do their part, as long as it's done well.

Bjorn: About the music business in general, what do you think about streaming services, such as Spotify?

  • Morgan: I guess I've always been kind of reactionary when it comes to new technology. When I've found something that I'm content with I don't want it to change too much. I see the need for Spotify and so on today and I don't really think it will harm music in the long run, and it's of course great that it's so easy to reach out with your music today. People always said that cassettes would kill the music business but that never happened either. But I can say this, I'm glad to have grown up in a time where everything was a lot harder than it is today, with tape trading and so on. I would go around waiting for weeks, checking the mailbox several times a day, waiting for a live video tape with Possessed. And then when it finally came the quality was so bad that I couldn't see shit, but it was still awesome, you know?

Bjorn: What do you think about the future of Marduk? Will you guys still be around in ten or fifteen years?

  • Morgan: Sure, why the hell not? I can definitely see us still going strong in fifteen years, sort of like a black metal Motörhead. They're a huge source of inspiration, by the way - always doing their own thing no matter what. As long as we have the energy we'll keep going and honestly, I'm in better shape than ever before, both physically and mentally. So we definitely have a lot more to give, the flame is still burning strong.

Bjorn: Okay, that's all I had for now. Thank you so much, again, for your time. And good luck with the upcoming tours, I'll see you in Gothenburg.

  • Morgan: Anytime, thanks for calling!

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