I bow before your debut album! I am highly interested in how long does it took you to record it and how did you composed it?
Thank you very much for those words, we’re glad you like the album that much! Well, the material presented on “Throne of the Depths” derives from a time span of about 4-5 years. We started working on these tracks shortly after the recordings of our demo in 1999 and had finished most of them until the year 2004. Then the making process of “Throne of the Depths” started, but not before 2005. That was hard work, both in the studio and while mixing and producing the whole record. One could say the recordings went very slow and arduously, on the other hand they were pretty creative since we had no real time limit in the studio, but couldn’t work on it every day. That meant also that we had the possibility to lay down the work from time to time to get new inspiration. The mixing process took another two years, until summer 2007 actually. So, in the end, we have to thank our producer that he granted us the possibility to use so much time, but everything could have been a little bit more rapidly at the same time. Anyway, the result was satisfying, that is the most important fact. Main songwriter has always been our lead guitarist Winter, while he was supported by our old keyboarder Mondgarmr, until the latter left us in 2005. A few others contributed to “Throne of the Depths” and brought in ideas now and then. I am the main text writer, while the second vocalist, first Oluf, then Thamuz, wrote some lyrics too.
DRAUTRAN´s discography regarding to it´s date of birth is not so big. How come that you were silent for so long and then you released so high quality record?
That is right, we have only released two records in nearly 12 years. But let me ask you: what does the amount of records say about a band’s artistic quality? A lot of bands have a gigantic discography with thousands of demos and records, but in fact released too much crap. But this is another story… With DRAUTRAN, things have always been different, unconventional so to say. We’re no lazy bastards so to speak, but we never felt the urge to rush either. Since we started, we always tried to push our material to the limit, so we’re completely satisfied – that takes time. We are no perfectionists, not at all, but prefer to release something highly sophisticated instead and something which can comply to our high demands on the perfect atmosphere! Another reason why it took about four years to release the demo-CD was that these four years were exactly the time we needed to finish the tracks on it and we had no real drummer before late 1998. The first counts for the four years of the song writing for “Throne of the Depths” too, that was simply the time we needed. And you know, as time went by, our premises changed: family, jobs, study. That slows down. However, we wish we could have been quicker now and then…
Listener can found on “Throne of depths” almost everything what makes black metal beautiful. Are the individual songs compromise between the each band member or you intended to do so from beginning?
Thanks again for your words, it is a honour to hear such a fine, unpretentious description as your first sentence. The material is no compromise, not at all! But for the reason that Winter is the dominant song writer, he is somehow the one who offers most creative impulses where the music of DRAUTRAN is heading and what the musical substance consists of. The relationship between him and the rest of us could be rather be described as a mutual understanding. We share the same views on what is right for Drautran and what is not. If I should describe our “musical footprint”, I’d say that Drautran’s music is most likely arousing feelings of tempestuous brutality and a cold, gloomy and all-consuming atmosphere, while the music itself is the perfect blend of nostalgia and originality. Everybody in the band agrees on the fact that DRAUTRAN will always be fast, complex and tempestuous music on the one hand, and rather calm, majestic parts on the other hand. Winter would never introduce something anyone in the band would consider as “alien” to Drautran’s quintessence. At least I think so, he he… The same counts for the lyrical concept. Our music and lyrics have always been the way we feel to write them and that will not change, at least not without leaving the artistic paths we wander with DRAUTRAN. So you could say everything developed naturally right from the beginning, yes.
Recently many “funeral black metal” bands appeared, but I would classify DRAUTRAN somewhere else. I feel melancholy from your music but it´s not so desperate..(Like there is some light of hope visible at the end.)
I am not quite sure what this style of “Funeral Black Metal” you talk about is really… you mean these “depressive Black Metal” bands like SHINING, XASTHUR, FORGOTTEN TOMB and so on, those who want to appear as misanthropic and suicidal as possible? Well, DRAUTRAN is not really a Black Metal band in the conventional, primitive understanding. And for sure we have nothing to do with all these suicidal Black Metal bands. We have no satanic image nor do we integrate Anti-Christian topics in our lyrics – at the most, a few hidden remnants can be found in our early days. Our conceptual quintessence is rather exceptional, but quite hard to explain… you know, I don’t like to categorise our music, but for the sake of simplification we call it “Pagan Black Metal”, as we have a lot in common with these two extreme Metal subgenres, both music- and lyrical-wise.
Firstly, one could call us a Pagan Metal band, because our concept is Nature-inspired. Certainly, Nature plays an uttermost important role for us. But be aware, we are not simply one of these bands which is transfiguring and romanticising Nature to something that is solely dreamlike, peaceful, anti-urban, anti-human, untouched and untamed, or those clowns who sing ridiculously about forefathers, drinking culture and who pervert mythology to a boring, dreary world of fairy tales. We focus only on a few aspects of Nature, namely her cruel, frenetic, forceful and chaotic energies, as well as the everlasting cycles that lie behind these aspects. What is important to mention is that we have a strong affinity to our homeland here in Northern Germany, right between the North and Baltic Seas, and its coastal culture. You could see that in our artwork and I guess even feel that in our music, but more on a sublime level. Drautran’s quintessence is closely connected to the spiritual side of the element water and the ocean itself. The ocean’s mightiness, its tempestuous storms, and the weather over us are indeed surprising natural forces. Our label Lupus Lounge describes us as “furious and highly atmospheric Pagan Metal that descends upon the listeners like a storm surge to inevitably sweep them away”. I think there is some truth in that.
Secondly, and on the other hand, one could say we are a Black band, because the main subjects in Drautran’s concept are quite classical and constitutive for Black Metal – but can be found in Doom and Death Metal too. You know, most of the Drautran members are great Doom Metal worshippers, and that is based on the fact that well all like atmosphere full of gloom, despair, obscurity and misery (right now I am listening to magnificent “Ecstatic Fear” from Austria). Thus it might be no wonder we describe the brutal and sinister faces of Death, the process of dying and spiritual reflection upon this in our lyrics. But everything is interwoven with topics from nature philosophy, Norse mythology and history… And we are very fond of Old Norse literature like the famous Poetic Edda and to a lesser degree Skaldic poetry. Furthermore, the lyrics are influenced by the works of many modern authors, but only to have to be named, for instance the Icelandic poet Grímur Thomsen and predominantly, yet on a more abstract level, the most prominent German poet Gottfried Benn. Again, you find the mighty oceans’ call here and, on a rather allegoric and abstract level, thoughts about the world’s current state of mind. Here, between and within all these things, you find the melancholy and gloom again you attested our music. And the oceans are the perfect picture, symbol, metaphor or whatever to show this struggle every human being has to fight in life, additionally, the catharsis and regression he has to undergo: We all have to die, sooner or later. What becomes of the spirit, the mind, our existence? As you can see this is more a spiritual approach, and we leave the question, if there is hope or not, to the listener, we don’t want to give the listener any standardized statement or any enforced “set of emotions”.. Great to hear you sense hope in our work though.
You cohere acoustic moments with metal, I would say almost extreme metal. Vocals are almost equally extreme. Is it important for you, musicians, that the music reflects everything what can listeners mind accept and fill its passion for more to maximum?
Again I am not quite sure what you mean here. If I understand you correctly you mean this ambivalence, the constant change of fast and tempestuous music on the one hand, and rather calm, majestic parts on the other hand, with acoustics now and then, yeah? Yes, this variation is uttermost important for us as a band, and in my humble opinion, this has become one of the trademarks of DRAUTRAN. I think we have achieved something unique and inspiring here, which offers a lot of emotions to the listener – and this is what good music is about, right? To touch the listener, to move him somehow… and of course also the vocals should be both as extreme and as variable as possible.
I as a Czech unfamiliar with german language have a difficulties with guessing what are the lyrics about. If they are conceptual and elaborated… Could you tell us what is the album about, with which themes does it deal with and if there some similarities with the experiences of your life?
Blutaar: At first, let me tell you that we offer lyric sheets of both albums for download, they include comments, background explanation and thought-provoking impulses, written in English, so everyone interested is invited to read them. They can be downloaded from our website, which should be online before Jul 2007, our can be requested directly from me, at [blutaar at web dot de]…
Otherwise: I think I have given you a very good idea and introduction what “Throne of the Depths” is dealing about two answers ago, right? The lyrics are much elaborated, I think, at least did we work a long time on them, and to a certain degree do they deal about life and existence in general, indeed.
You hadn´t choose crystal clear production, fact which can discourage someone, because some musical lines are lost in the sound. I think that you hit the spot, but you should vindicate your sounding.
We tried to find the perfect sound that fits our music, both regarding the brutal and tempestuous side and the more serene and calm atmosphere. Main focus lies on the guitars. I think we succeeded to a high degree, and this production might not be 100% perfect nor is everyone totally content with his instrument’s sound, but the result is excellent for the band as a whole and this is most important. Sometimes an instrument or the vocals get lost, of course, but we are not BURZUM or DREAM THEATRE, but something in between. Of course this is not the sound narrow-minded people would hear, be it people who only listen to crystal clear, showy and theatrical chart music nor people limited to utterly bad Necro/ cellar sound. But these people wouldn’t listen to our music anyway so it doesn’t matter…
Keyboards are the dominant instrument in the music of DRAUTRAN. Where are not guitar dominant, keyboards will take it´s place, that´s for sure. Do you intended to make DRAUTRAN more atmospheric?
I strongly disagree: The guitars are the dominant instrument, not the keyboards. 90% during the time you listen to our compositions the guitars lead our music. The keyboards have the role to support, strengthen and intensify in the background, not to take over. Even a song such as “Dusk of the Fimbulwinter”, where the keyboard plays one of its most important roles on the whole album, the lead guitars are still the main “conductor”. That will never change; the keys will always be secondary.
Together with colegues from the redaction, we agreeded that yours novelty is so remarkable that some big label could find you. Are you ready for the option that you will come out from black metal underground and you become a band playing on a big festivals and so on? Would you be attracted with this kind of career?
As you might now, we stayed independent for about 10 years. During this decade did we receive many offers from smaller and medium indie labels, both in Germany and abroad. First this year, 2007, shortly before the final release date of “Throne of the Depths”, we have signed to German Prophecy Productions. This label might not be the record label where a band will have its greatest commercial success, but that doesn’t matter, does it? Prophecy Productions is a quite professional label, their name can guarantee high-quality, emotional and esthetical music and they do their promotion and distribution work very well. Additionally, it is most important that they share our idea that music has to be highly aesthetical and exceptional – something they do in fact, just look at our label mates. So for me, I classify them as “big label”. Long before we signed to them we highly appreciated what they did and what they released, and it is some sort of honour to be among those few and selected that signed to them. Ok, enough ass-kissing now, ha ha…
Until now, they have done a good job and there is no reason for us to change our status, and we have signed a contract for five full-lengths. Our reputation in the Underground is surprisingly good and I see no reason why a little bit more attention in the media should change that. We’re not a band that will sell its dignity and independence, just to sell a few thousand copies more and to make more money, you know. The signing might have given some impulse and fresh wind, yes, and, if we would manage to get a full live line-up again, maybe we’ll do some more gigs/ touring during in the future. Time will tell.
Well how do you like the recent assemblage of black metal bands into more commercial spheres? Do you support the True underground mentality or do you think that it doesn´t matter?
Blutaar: To be honest I don’t care so much, neither about these shallow phrases like “true”, “commercial”, or whatsoever, nor words such as “success” and the “career” you mentioned before… I can only speak for myself but I am somewhat sure the other members in DRAUTRAN would agree on this: I am listening to all passionate and sincere music, music that has a sophisticated concept and more thoughtful lyrics too (that does not mean music or lyrics have to be demanding but can be quite simple…). A band that manages to convince me with its music and concept is a good band, and band that plays crappy music or uses lyrics full of rubbish and nonsense is a bad band. There are no other criteria. It doesn’t matter to me if a band sells 100 or 100.000 albums, as long as I can see that they do their job well and do not bow and listen to others then themselves. Any other behaviour from my side is immature. Why should I stop supporting a band only because they reach more people and become more famous, as long as they stay convincing in their approach? That would be childish and is in fact, at least in most cases, based on the fact that such a person wants to be something he or she are not… elitist, true, clandestine. I don’t now. “His bark is worse than his bite”, one says…
However, to be perfectly honest with you, the amount of “commercially successful” bands that play bad music, are ridiculous or seem to be unreliable might be slightly higher than the amount of bands in any “Underground”. Thus, you’ll find more honesty and sincerity in the Underground I guess. On the other hand, the amount of crappy and childish bands seems to be higher here too. So I rather stick to my own criteria and keep on looking for great bands everywhere!
You set the quality bar with your debut pretty high! Do you have some concept to where can your music progress? Well, I think that most of the listeners will await at least same performance as you did with “Throne of depths”.
Thank you again. What the future brings is impossible to say, especially concerning the way we will handle our music. But one single fact will be sure: We will stay true to ourselves, as we have always done. Drautran will always be fast, brutal and atmospherical music, combined with an aesthetical aura, both visual-, lyrical- and music-wise. It will always come straight from the heart. And as long as we as artists keep on seeking to create something aesthetical, independent and exceptional, I see we are able to progress. We are all very satisfied with “Throne of the Depths”, but we haven’t reached our peak yet.
In year 2000 you recorded “Unter dem banner der nordwinde” demo. Can you introduce it somehow? Is this record still available from somewhere? What about putting it on your internet page which is under construction?
Well, “Unter dem Banner der Nordwinde” (“Under the banner of the north winds”) is our first record, we prefer to call it a demo as it inherits this status in our hearts. It recorded during 1999 and subsequently self-released in late 1999/ early 2000 as a more or less professional made CD. This record brought us overwhelmingly much attention and praise in both the German and international Underground and public. The 1000 copies we made did sell out quickly, but the demand for it only rose throughout the last years. People pay much too much to get an original copy. Luckily, the internet and several download portals made it possible for many more to listen to it. Anyway, we thought about re-releasing it on Vinyl for a couple of years, and, as you suggested, wanted to put it on the website for free download. Well, now, together with Prophecy, the situation has changed: We decided to make a CD re-release now. Although it is too early to tell something concrete how this will look like, I can tell you that everyone knowing either us or Prophecy Productions must be quite confident it will be a decent, highly aesthetical re-release. If you liked “Throne of the Depths”, you will possibly like “Unter dem Banner der Nordwinde” too, even though it is somehow archaic in comparison to our first official album.
That´s all from myself, thanks for your great music and I believe that the interview wasn´t boring. We wish you the best and last words are yours…
Thank you for the great interview and good luck with zine. We invite your readers to check out our music. Pagan regards and thousands hails to all fans, bands, magazines and distributors who did support us so far! A big Fuck-off to all Gothic pussies, fascists and weekend-Metalheads. Stay brutal!!!