(In this post we welcome back metal interviewer Karina Noctum. In this post she talked with Dagon of the black metal band Inquisition during the Under the Black Sun festival in Germany this past summer.)
Inquisition is a pretty special band for me. I got my first Inquisition tape when I was a child, I was 13. It had a great impact on me on many levels. It was pretty surreal to finally get to talk to Dagon in the woods outside Berlin after so many years. We did this interview in Spanish, so have that in mind.
Inquisition started in South America, how did that influence the band?
I was really young when I moved to Colombia. I was 11 years old at that time. I think the social environment had an impact on me. I was there in the 80’s when the drug-related violence was at its worst. That kind of violence is what Black and Thrash reflect.
There were some metal bands from that time that had an impact on me. Colombian bands like Parabellum, Reencarnacion, inspired me a lot. I took those influences and combined them with classics like Venom and Bathory. But more than anything it was the discipline. It is hard to believe, but Colombian musicians are very disciplined. Colombian culture is pretty strict, at school and everywhere, so it shaped my character. I also took Classic guitar lessons for 8 years with Ciceron Marmolejo, he is pretty renowned there. Through him I learned that there is a spiritual side when it comes to playing.
What have been the biggest obstacles you had to overcome to get where you are now?
I think the biggest obstacle is to give something different, something other bands don’t have. To find your own musical identity. No one is going to be 100% original, but you have to find that 1% that makes you different from other bands. I think it is important to respect the genre, respect the unofficial rules, but at the same time you have to add something unique. I don’t feel I’m taking risks when I add something on my own. I don’t do this for fame or money. I mean it can be difficult to find your own identity, but that’s what I strive for, authenticity and that 1% of originality that makes us different from others.
How important is freedom of speech in Black Metal?
This is a genre in which we are allowed to express ourselves against everything and everyone, unfortunately we have lost some of that. It seems that Black Metal has become some sort of religion, but art is not religion. Religion has dogmas and sacred rules and if you don’t follow them then you are doing wrong. Some people in the Black Metal scene are confused. This has become a spiritual movement, almost religious to some, and once you make it religious you create barriers, a circle that limits the genre both musically and ideologically.
I think Satanism is the best symbol for Black Metal because it represents total freedom, and only ignorance and stupidity are the worst sins. Religion is not a form of expression. When it comes to Black Metal we should be allowed to express ourselves to the max, but in order to do that we must offend some people and at times it is the fans who get offended because you include racist symbols. And yeah I want to talk a bit about what happened, about the swastika issue and the problems we had.
The swastika is not illegal, but it offends people because of something that happened 50 years ago, and I think is pretty hypocritical because racism, elitism, segregation, all those things have been a part of this world for millenniums. Black Metal refers to European culture, but we can’t forget that genocide and racism have taken place within South American ancient civilizations, for example, also in Asia. Black Metal depicts that dark side of humanity, a side we can’t hide. That’s why it is important, that’s why freedom of speech within Black Metal is important.
When I compose I can’t stop and think how this or that will have an impact on my band’s popularity. I can’t start analysing everything. What we did, we did it years ago. We were naive and thought that no one would ever get offended. But now we have understood that freedom of speech has a downside and when you play with fire you may get burned.
Tell us about the literary influences in Inquisition’s lyrics…
Edgar Allan Poe is my main influence when it comes to style. And Aleister Crowley too, not his rituals, but the way he writes, even though he wrote under the influence of drugs. The lyrics in The Return…… and Under the Sign of the Black Mark have influenced me a lot. Those are really aggressive and mystical lyrics, but at the same time they aren’t complex or cryptic. I like cryptic lyrics, but not those that are so abstract that they end up having no meaning at all. I want people to understand them.
Because is important for you to give a message, right?
Yes. I like Burzum’s lyrics, especially the first albums, and I think he was inspired by Poe. I was inspired a bit by the Grimm brothers too. I like to get my inspiration from non-metal sources because I don’t want to end up copying other bands. Poetry influences me a lot.
You have covered the style, but what about the ideology?
It’s all about my own thoughts. My own spirituality is being reflected in my lyrics. It has a lot to do with what I have seen and read. It is mostly related to science. The new discoveries, like the new telescopes in orbit. Not many people are aware of the fact that there have been lots of discoveries in the past two years when it comes to Astronomy. I take that and I begin to reflect and start asking myself questions and then those reflections take a poetic form.
Anything you would like to add?
We will be touring the US in October and November with Carcass, they invited us. Obituary too, then we will head to Australia and New Zealand. In January we will be back in Europe, it will be the first tour arranged by Rock the Nation from Austria. Then we will be touring the whole of South America in May and June. We don’t want to go back to Europe next summer because we don’t want to have people fed up.
This was a surprisingly great interview. Respect.
Damn, I would love to see that Australian tour. Road-trip anyone?
Though I think he needs to STOP talking about the swastika thing. It doesn’t really make much sense… I don’t think “hypocritical” was the word he was going for.
Anyway… anyway… good little interview.
Yeap it was hipocrita in spanish. Same word, same meaning. I got it on tape.
Sorry, I wasn’t meaning that you got the word or the interview wrong, merely that calling it “hypocritical” makes no sense, as far as I can see!
Well that was a really lame explanation he gave for using swastikas and flirting with Nazi ideology. Since racism haven around longer than WW2 it’s hypocritical to be offended by a swastika? Say what? Sure you can’t limit yourselves when you compose, but you can definitely limit yourselves before releasing it to the public, draw a totenkopf on your cock and start waving it around.
Damn, these guys never stop touring.
Which is great for the rest of us!