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Interviews Faustcoven

Interview with Faustcoven

Interview conducted by Cluedo

Date online: September 9, 2005

Onwards to the second installment of our interviews with BARBARIAN WRATH bands. FAUSTCOVEN are one of the more recent signings to the label. At first, supporters of BW were somewhat taken aback by Black Goat's decision to sign a Norwegian band to his roster, given his loathing for the prevalent style of "Black Metal" disseminating from that nation. One spin of FAUSTCOVEN's debut album and our fears were put to rest…this was no Norsecore…it was SATANIC DOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!

What were the reasons behind forming FAUSTCOVEN? Why did you choose the name FAUSTCOVEN?

I wanted to create music in a style seemingly forgotten by that time. Not the black metal who was currently sweeping the charts, so to speak. Something sinister and above all heavy. Making something different without being "experimental" or "avantgarde", and avoiding that dreaded trebly sound. With this as my goal, the name Faustcoven seemed appropriate, as I think it gives the sense of something removed from the modern world and being fittingly omnious.

Could you elaborate on the concepts and themes that are the bedrock of FAUSTCOVEN's music?

Horror themes are prevalent in my lyrics and as they go very well with the mix of heavy doom riffs and the eerieness of black metal melodies. The tongue in cheek, and rocking vibe is also there (without any ironic distance though), as is the distaste for organized religion in my lyrics. I'm influenced by doom-metal like Saint Vitus, Pentagram and Candlemass, black metal like Venom, Hellhammer, Bathory, Darkthrone and Mercyful Fate, and classic metal like Black Sabbath (above anyone else), Manilla Road and Cirith Ungol. I also love the NWOBHM-scene with great bands like Witchfinder General, Pagan Altar and Angel Witch.

With your busy work schedule and all the traveling you do, how do you manage to stay focused on FAUSTCOVEN? When can we expect new output and will it differ in any way from your previous recordings?

I don't manage, really. Work and travelling have taken their toll, and even when I have had time to sit down, inspiration didn't magically appear. It has been better lately, and I've kept finding time to write songs I now feel good about. As far as I can see now, the new record will be very heavy, and perhaps be a bit doomier than "Halo...", still having a bit of variation in tempo and approach, but maybe a bit less mid-tempo and a bit more slow songs. I am still in the process making it, so it's still hard to say definitly, but at least I can guarantee that if it isn't heavy, I won't release it. It's safe to say already now that it won't contain a lot of surprises, unless, of course, you are easily surprised.

Within FAUSTCOVEN's context, what are the pros of using a drum machine as opposed to a live drummer? Conversely, what are the advantages of having a live drummer?

Pros is that it is very very convenient to use a drum machine, as it can be done from my own home, and that I get the absolutely final say in how it will turn out. The sound is also somehow easier to control. Live drummers are good, when you find the right one, because of the sound and feel of a human drummer. Less static, groovier and heavier if things are done right. Also a drummer can bring something extra to the music, details I didn't think about. You lose some of the control, but gain a more organic sound and a more classic metal feel.

You have stated on your website that you do not want anybody else involved in FAUSTCOVEN, yet, if I am not mistaken, a session drummer was used on the debut full-length. How personal is this project? Do you not wish to have FAUSTCOVEN play live? If this is so, what do you dislike about playing live?

The premise of not having anyone else involved in Faustcoven was drawn upon past experiences with the difficulties of gathering a band, finding time to practice, and also the wish to be 100% in control. When I was releasing my debut I wanted to take Faustcoven one step further from the demos, and hence I sacrificed some convenience and control for the sake of real drums. Terje is an excellent drummer (now playing prog metal with Anti-depressive Delivery), and a good friend. Unfortunately we had a bit too little time to prepare and also for recording, which makes the sound inconsistent on the record, and not crisp enough, making the whole album a bit too muddy. Faustcoven is 100% my vision and taste, with me doing everything but play drums on the record, and that's just as personal as it can get. As for playing live, I think it's great, but I can't handle both vocals, bass and guitar, which means I need 2-3 other people (drums, bass + vocals). With me prefering to handle guitars it might sound a bit different with a new vocalist too. I don't dislike anything about playing live, and think a lot of Faustcoven material would be pretty good for a live situation, but for practical reasons I don't see it happening anytime soon.

According to the liner notes of the debut album, you draw inspiration from movies such as THE WICKER MAN and THE TORTURE CHAMBER OF BARON BLOOD. Would you care to comment on this, and also expand on your other sources of inspiration and how they influence your songwriting?<|p>

For me, old horror movies perfectly express what I want Faustcoven to be about. The feeling they give to me of something out of this world is just so infinitely more satisfying than their modern counterparts that it's just ridiculous. Modern horror is all shock and effects while the films of old knew how to slowly build a foreboding atmosphere. While the acting and effects is often less than credible, it's the feeling of venturing into forbidden territory that lingers and stays with you long after the movie has ended, while they rapid cuts and cheap "surprising noise"-shocks of modern movies is forgotten the minute the credits roll onto the screen. I still to this day cannot watch the end of the Wicker Man without getting goose bumps, and it's one of the most satisfying and disturbing endings in movie history. And the entire movie has just been dedicated to building you up to that moment, drenching you in the atmosphere of this isolated community. Amazing. As for other sources of inspiration, I mentioned some of the most important in a question above. Movies like Ninth Gate, The Devil Rides Out and Witchfinder General should also be mentioned.

I'm sure you are well aware of Black Goat's aversion to the style of "Black Metal" which emerged from Norway in the Nineties. As such, it came as a great surprise to many supporters of BARBARIAN WRATH when they found out that a Norwegian band had been signed to the label. Would you care to comment generally on the relationship you have with Black Goat and BARBARIAN WRATH?

It has worked out very well I think. I am and was a great fan of many of his releases, and the philosophy of this label, so I was very excited to be signed by Barbarian Wrath. I had not planned to go searching for any label at that time, and had wanted to release three demos first (the third of which was to be called "The Halo of Burning Wings"), but when the opportunity arose I couldn't say no. I am not making music to earn money, and the great advantage for me with being on a small label is that there is no pressure of what to do, and when to do it. The line of communication is very direct, and he is utterly reliable. For him, I don't think it was an issue signing a Norwegian band as long as I fitted his label's profile, but to many people who had followed the label closely, it must have been quite a surprise. I guess most of that surprise was eased when they heard my music.

Did you consciously isolate yourself from "Norsecore"? What were the factors that contributed to you choosing the style of Black Metal you play?

Well, I am still a fan of some of the pioneers from Norway, but in sound I am pretty isolated from that scene. I do like Gorgoroth's "Under the Sign of Hell" (to take one example), that does not mean that I want to sound like that. The thing for me was that the sound became so overused and sterilized that I just got sick and tired of listening to the next norwegian band doing the same thing as 749 other Norwegian bands had done better than them before, while the pioneers became more and more sterile in sound and songwriting. The conventions of the style also became a trapping for these bands. Necro production? Check! Corpsepaint? Check! Blastbeats and tremolo "riffing"? Check! It's like taking what was originally a good idea and nice addition, like carbonizing beer, and overdoing it to the point where you have all foam and no beer (if you see what I mean). I wanted to do something completely different, something darker and heavier. I also am heavily into old doom metal, and saw that the sound and heaviness of bands like Saint Vitus and Pentagram was very compatible with the more evil and frentic approach of Bathory, Venom and Mercyful Fate. And I just loved the idea of combining it into something both heavy and sinister. As removed as I am in sound from the other Norwegian bands, and having little real contact with them, I don't conscientiously distance myself from them. Surprisingly for many (I presume) I will release a split 7" with Koldbrann who definitely sound like old norwegian black metal, which I'm sure some will react negatively to. I really like the dissonant aspects of Koldbranns music, and have had some contact with their vocalist, which is a great guy. Besides, I think it will be a fun and unexpected combination. I'm also very happy with the song (which is called "Orgy in Sodom"), and look forward to this release which will be released hopefully in the close future by cryptia productions.

What is the status of OBUMBRATA? Do you devote the same amount of time to this project as you do to FAUSTCOVEN?

Disbanded due to lack of time from everybody involved (there you have a band vs one-man project argument in favour of the latter). We have a second demo still missing vocals, containing 5 songs, which I think turned out great musically, and which I am really anxious to finish and release some day. But I no longer live in Trondheim, and the vocalist has moved to the USA, so I don't know. I suppose in this day and age the distance is not a real problem for making some measly recordings, and we are still in contact, so maybe I should get of my lazy ass and try to see this demo finished.

I understand you sang on a BLACK MOON RISING track. Are you seeking to be involved in more projects or was this just a one-off thing?

With my schedule I definitely consider it a one off thing. But it was great fun, except that I strained my jaw, which was actually quite painful for a week or so. Suffering for art is to be considered a good thing I suppose. Never say never, though. If Maiden has a spot open for a 4th guitarist with some fresh dance moves for a tour and a record, I won't definitly say no. Seriously though, I would love to have time to do a couple of side project Ep's more classical metal related, but given my time I find my efforts best put into Faustcoven alone.

Karate seems to be an important part of your life. How do martial arts tie into your worldview? Is this a conscious effort on your part to facilitate the 'militaristic' aspect of Black Metal via concepts of discipline, strength etc?

My dedication to my sport and for heavy metal exist in different planes. The music I play is undisciplined, primal and untamed. In martial arts it is all about controling my feelings and constant self improvement. Karate to me is about emotional restraint and technical exellence, my music is about technical restraint and emotional excess. The only place they converge is when it comes to the use of instict. I rely upon instinct in making music, and I have to let instinct guide my actions in Karate. If you during a fight stop to analyze, you will find yourself staring down the barrel of a fist. But when I hear the word militaristic and black metal mentioned in the same sentence, I have the disturbing image of a pimplefaced, skinny guy proclaiming himself the next supreme elite-ruler of mankind in the name of Nietszche and Hitler, from the dark realm of his moms basement. That might just be my imagination though. So I guess the answer must be no to the question whether it's a conscious effort.

Apart from Karate, music and movies, what makes Gunnar Hansen tick?

Books, hiking and travelling to foreign shores. I love reading, everything from the classics, history and science, and even more low-brow authors like Stephen King and Dan Brown. I have the luxury of having my own dedicated library in my house, where I enjoy dusty old books in the company of excellent, smokey single malt whiskies from my collection.

I'm out of questions. Thanks for your time and good luck with the recording of the new album. Please add anything you deem necessary.

Thanks for showing interest in Faustcoven. I will be back with a guitar and more prophecies of doom and misfortune in a not too distant future. In the meanwhile look out for the split 7" with Koldbrann to be released soon on Cryptia productions. I want to encourage everyone reading to go listen to some Manilla Road, Cirith Ungol or Witchfinder General, while they treat themselves with a cold beer. Cheers!

Other information about Faustcoven on this site
Review: The Halo Of Burning Wings
Review: The Halo Of Burning Wings
Review: In the Shadow of Doom

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