Hey what’s up, man?
Good! How’s it going?
Thank you very much, it’s fine. This is Zsolt from Hungary, from the Hungarian metal webzine kronosmortus.com. And it’s a huge deal for us to have the opportunity to do an interview with you, thank you!
OK, no worries!
I suppose, everyone feels like being in Hell during our conversation! 🙂 How do you feel like in Canada? Why do you think it’s a good place for you to live?
Oh, you mean America? It’s okay, it’s rather hot now. So, like as we’re doing this, it’s like 95 degrees probably. So, we’re inside, we’re okay, but it’s pretty shitty during the day when the sun is out.
I see. Anyone actually who knows a little bit about the music of Profanatica will surely feel that this is the real, completely and absolutely evil, dark black/death metal! When was actually the first time you develop your art as some kind of a response to this twisted world? Who were your main influences?
Probably early on: Hellhammer. And at the time that we heard Hellhammer, we, of course, we had Venom and like Slayer and Celtic Frost, but when we went back and backtracked and I heard the Hellhammer EP, that’s and the Sodom EP too, In the Sign of Evil – that’s what I wanted to do. So even though I liked Slayer, Venom, Exodus and all those 80‘s style bands, I kind of didn’t give a shit about them when I heard the Hellhammer and Sodom EPs. And then of course, Possessed’s Seven Churches in 1985. For me, at least vocally, it was a huge difference between what everybody else was listening to, which is like Slayer and Venom. And so that was like the beginning of it. And back then I would kind of ditch bands thinking like we already have Venom, we don’t really need Metallica kind of thing, you know, or we have Morbid Angel, we don’t really need Slayer. This is going back to the first unreleased Morbid Angel album. And of course, their demo.
I see. And what was your life like when you were young? How different was your way of thinking compared to the other kids? How many friends do you still have left from your school days?
Maybe one or two. My way of thinking was similar to now, because I would say I’m artistically smart, so I’m only smart in that particular area. And my ability to kind of play the whole tape through. I could hear something once and be like, ah, this is not for me. Or yeah, when you’re a kid, like you spend money on an album, you want to bring it home and like it because you spent money on it. But more often than not, it was only like back then bands would have a one fast song on the album. And everything else to me was garbage. So, for me growing up was like, I kind of always thought I knew for myself better than other people knew for theirselves. I don’t know how to explain that.
I see, I understand it. What kind of concerts did you go to during this period (I mean, when you were younger)? Do you have memorable experiences? Would you mind talking about them?
I could. I saw Metallica with Cliff Burton in the mid 80s. So that was really good. And Slayer I saw on Rain and Blood tour – that was really good. And both of those bands, I’d say that I was impressed with. Meaning like at the time I was a lot younger than those guys that I looked up to them, of course, and didn’t have the feeling at all that I could do better than them. It was something that I’d want to like attain for myself one day, if that makes sense. So back when I was a kid, I’ll say that I enjoyed music more until I started getting decent enough at it that I could do my own thing. And when that took over, I don’t like this fact, but I kind of stopped enjoying it a lot more than I did when I was younger. Because I always have this background thing going out of my head. And I really feel that everybody should have that if you’re a serious musician. At least your self-talk should be: I could do better than that guy in vocals or I could hit harder than that guy in drums. And I don’t really see that a lot in today’s music scene. Obviously, I’m not going to name names because I might run into somebody, really, you know, it’s like the Internet’s around now. But I don’t… I see a lot of worshiping. Bands worshiping other bands instead of their… themselves and their own projects. So, I would say that’s the main difference when I was younger: I enjoyed music more. I got to see Ozzy when he was good back in the day. And Judas Priest, I’ve seen a number of times. Maybe Judas Priest was my first show, actually, Defenders of the Faiths because I’m older now, so…
OK, let’s move on to your music. You are definitely one of the top bands in the frontline black metal scene and you have been around for over 30 years (even though there were certain breaks). If I know it right, in the beginning you had more fans in Europe compared to the place where you lived. How was it possible? Didn’t they really understand what you wanted to express in your music?
I think the answer to that is pretty easy in that… the first thing we put out that had good distribution was that split with Massacre for Osmose and since that was a European label, they were able to get it out way better than the Weeping in Heaven 7 inch, which was put out in America and of course our demo by us. So, we had way more people in Europe interested in us than in the US because it hadn’t caught Black Metal style or at least the aesthetic hadn’t caught on here yet. People were just getting into Death Metal at that time. And I remember thinking, well, we had long talks about it, like, at rehearsal on the way to rehearsal. What has taken so long for people to get in? Everybody’s so slow! Like we went through all the death metal stuff at that time period. And we’re kind of like sick of it by the time we did our own thing. Almost. Because we had gotten into it so early and wrote to bands and gotten their demo, whereas the average metalhead that have to see something like 50 times in a magazine and somebody would have to play it for them. And there was a giant lag in… When we recorded something or came out with something, there was like a long period of time before people ingested it. If that… if you know what I mean.
It’s quite uncommon that drums and vocals are provided by the same person. Do you think this may be one of the reasons that you manage to make these extreme tormented vocals and sounds? Is there a connection between these two things? In what extend do you think it makes the band different from other bands?
Nothing to me per se, but people bring it up all the time. So obviously they’re going to notice if I’m singing and a lot of people that have… are getting into our stuff that really, truly like it, saying: “I’m surprised you were playing drums and singing. I mean, I’ve had the material, but this is the first I’ve seen you. And I never imagined.” So, there’s like one or two downsides and that is while I can do drum fills in the middle of vocal patterns, I don’t really like to – It’s a little bit of a pain in the ass, but depending on how comfortable I feel, I definitely could do it. So, there’s not too many limitations except for… I would like to be like in the front, kind of pointing and yelling directly at the people. That’s really it. But as for terms of correlation. I can’t think of any.
What would you say about your current bandmates? What can we know about them? What is it that you guys have in common?
It’s a little bit different than it was back in 1990, because my bandmates in 1990 were more… while these guys that I’m with now are like old school we kind of… I went to school with my bandmates. We were in the same high school in 1990 so… We had a love for what was the beginnings of US black metal, and mostly when we would like drive around to and from school or to band rehearsal or to our jobs, we were listening to old punk mainly and not too much metal. And… I would say the difference between these guys that I have now are the acceptancy. Back in the early 90s not everything was accepted as it is now. You really bang could do a ridiculous string of albums in a row that are like complete shit and for some reason the people, the metalheads… they still like that band. They’ll admit “oh, yeah, they’ve had a couple of crappy albums, but let’s hope for a good one” – whereas back to… where, I don’t know, maybe like age 12 or 13, if somebody did that, I’m like I’m never listening to this full shit again: they clearly changed, it’s not the same band! So, the big difference would be the acceptance, where I’m like… oh this this is garbage! if somebody, you know, our guitar player is a way younger than us, and he’s more open-minded. So, he likes a lot of different type of metal and a lot of different type of punk and hardcore, whereas we only like a certain… like a really… small boxed-in piece of that. But back then – I don’t know how long you’ve been in the scene, but – you know, before the internet, you couldn’t really do stupid shit, or you’d get called out on that. Somebody would write you a letter: “how could you did pictures using this imagery?” or… you know, used to get letters all the time like “what kind of Satanism do you guys practice?” – because you mentioned this book and that doesn’t fall in line with this! And that It was kind of very judgy back then, so you kind of… you could do whatever you wanted, but you had to kind of believe it and we always did.
I see! Then back then you started with several demos, and then came out the cultic “Weeping in Heaven” EP in 1992 or something like this. Can you tell us about these albums? With that, I’m completely convinced people of who you were and what you wanted to do through these albums?
I did, but again when like.. when the “Weeping in Heaven” 7-inch came out people were… I’m not gonna say we thought they weren’t ready for it, because people were just getting in, because… I don’t know, where this lag comes from. I guess like the majority of people, takes a while for them to listen to it or to even get a hold of new music and then say: “oh, I do like this, or I don’t like it”. But we were kind of… we always thought we were like way ahead of what we liked and what we wanted to play. I would say looking back that conveyed what we were about, like our message of blaspheming all that is holy.
You then later on continued this blasphemous journey together with bands like Masacre and then Impiety. How did they become your favorite bands at that time and which way did you share the tasks with them to conquer the Earth together?
I would say that whenever we have, there’s two black metals. There’s the European style black metal, and then there’s the American style black metal. And US black metal is more of like a sound or a style than it is a location. So, the bands that I like are like old Impiety, Morbosidad, Absu, old Rotting Christ. Almost… even though Impiety came a little bit, a hair later, that these bands are kind of playing their own style and you know, blasphemy, black witchery, more black/death metal than what people call your black metal now. Because the music was very heavy and aggressive and hateful almost. And wasn’t copying 100% Bathory like everybody does. So like Bathory for me was a big influence, especially the vocals and how evil everything was, but we didn’t rip it off. Like, we had our own concepts and ideas and I think that a lot of bands are just kind of copying that style. Like our influences since they’ve been with us for so long, are… they’re already built in! So, there’s a difference between you can’t get the influences that you grew up with out: they’re going to show up somewhere. There’s a difference between that and then today’s youth. saying “let’s make a band that sounds like a copy of this band and this band put together”. So, when we meet with like-minded people for like a split, I think it’s a good thing and you could hear it right away that we’re both kind of have the same goal, both bands.
I see. Then there came a small break and then the full-length albums – 5 up to 2020 in total. When and in what kind of moods were these songs written? How different are the ways each albums were made and your states of mind… how different are these states of mind compared to the early years?
It’s hard to say because… it’s… Here’s one thing that was different: the amount of stuff that I listened to. Of course, new bands came out since. Like the old days, when we were like practicing to record the split there was nothing like that out that we’d heard. Actually, there was like the Impaled Nazarene demo which we were big fans of and like friends with them and an old Beherit and Blasphemy. But there was just a couple of those bands. Everything else was like death metal back then. So, our train of thought was… more… We have to like destroy all these other bands that was like more important to us coming up with something more evil and tighter and a little better than just being like “oh this is great, let’s do something great too.” Like our main goal was to destroy those other bands that even that we looked up to. And when we did took a break and then reformed for like the first full length for Hell’s headbagers, we… Our thinking was different and we always did and do whatever the hell we want to do, but there was a more “should we try something new a little bit”? And we’d be like, you know, makes some stuff a little bit more doomy and slow… We always go with what feels natural anyway, but it took… it was a little harder for me to get rid of some of the newer stuff that I heard that I liked. So, while it’s a hundred percent original, I had to kind of sit by myself for a while to get the vocal patterns down and try hard not to let any new influences come out. Because those by that time the internet’s around – at least for us -, and lots of new bands, and music’s a lot, you know, very accessible… Different kind of process plus the guitar player who played on the split who wrote the whole split was living in another state, so we were just trading tracks and I sent him some drum tracks, he put a couple of riffs to it and emailed it back, so we kind of did it like that. It’s… instead of jamming live. You know… because it was… he was… I was in New York and he was in Atlanta, so it was kind of difficult: we’re both working and didn’t really have time to get together.
I understand the process. Yeah. So now we are in the present, and actually I gotta say, fuck it: you’re still fucking amazing!
Here we are at the gateway to the sixth album, and luckily, I’ve heard it and it’s absolutely flawless. How did you do that?
So, my cardio is a lot better than it was and I started taking the band 100% serious. And when I say taken it serious, it didn’t mean… doesn’t mean that in the past that I was like, uh, yeah, “that sounds cool – let’s just go with that”. It was more of a “now I have some time and a mission to devote to this and I’m going to do it for real”. I want to say that started around the Altar of the Virgin Whore EP, where I said: “let’s just kind of do this hard”. And for me, I’m 53 and I feel like I’m slowly coming into my prime that I for sure hadn’t hit it yet, because I worked a lot on cardio, a lot on vocal patterns and breathing exercises and for me, I’m pretty straight. I don’t drink or smoke or do any kind of partying, just extreme amounts of rest and water before we play a show and… We got to practice for close to a year these songs before we hit them and we made sure in the studio that we kind of played them hard the way we would live. And hopefully that that kind of came across.
Actually you’ve never been famous for making changes in the sound, which is absolutely fine. But how much do you think you’ve changed as a person in the last thirty years? How different would you say your current music is compared to the early demos?
It’s funny because I showed somebody one of my kids, like a video clip of our first show back in 1990, and they said your vocal sound exactly the same and I’m like “Really? That’s pretty good!” I’m like I like to think they’re better now because I’m able to do more, because I don’t run out of gas so quickly. So once… for me, my only change is working on myself and taking it more serious. Like I still have the exact same outlook is when I was a kid. And yeah, that’s what I’d have to say.
At concerts, how do the crowds behave? How amazed are they at seeing you live? What can you see on their faces? Do you talk to fans after the concert?
Last time we did… This is like a kind of sour subject with me, ‘cause the last European tour we did. And here’s the thing: it depends on who the promoter is, and how many people he has, like on his reach. And we had like some bad luck last time this spring, because the band I was gonna help support from Portugal backed out like days before we left. So, we had to search for first some openers and local promoters on that level for each country. Besides, maybe four were really poor, you know, meaning they were like shitty, so… They did the best they could, so they say to sell the package, but there really was no good package to sell, so it was hard being by ourselves. It’s… so, with the exception I wanna say… alright, let me try to remember! Sweden was good for us, Italy is always good for us, Poland is really good, and Czech was really good. But everywhere else for me… last time was a lot of standing and staring and arms folded. As like the European people – a lot of them – were like taking within. So, I do talk to everybody and walk around I could sign stuff, take pictures, and… I’m a metalhead too, so I don’t hide: I definitely walk around and like to meet people, and we have a lot of friends everywhere now. For instance, when we were in Spain, I commented about how shitty the crowd was. They were standing so far away from the stage, where, you know, maybe 10 or 15 feet from where the front of the stage was, and they were back. And I had to like kind of yell at them to get them to move forward a little bit. There was zero movement. But it does depend on the promoter, because when we toured with Watain and Rotting Christ, we played in Hungary – it was pretty good for us, I don’t know if you were at that show…?
No, unfortunately not.
But yeah, I don’t know what that is with the Europeans standing there with their arms folded. I think that they said they’re taking the whole experience in – and I said then take it in somewhere else. ‘Cause we don’t need like cardboard cutouts at a show where this is the difference, in cultural difference and personality too, because when we played in LA, this last run, from the second we started to the second we’ve done, like mayhem hard headbanging and people kind of wailing at each other which I want and I like, but there is the distinction again between like death metal and black metal, so… You know, you go to a death metal show, people aren’t really afraid to move – they are headbanging a little bit. But of course, we have friends that like Archgoat for instance – very heavy band and I’m sure they would like to see people going crazy and headbanging hard which when they play in America they certainly have that. But I don’t know what are your thoughts on people just standing there?
It depends on the crowd. Actually in Hungary… I’ve seen crowds with a lot of movements and I’ve seen crowds standing. So, it depends really on the show and I don’t know, maybe the weather or the people’s mood. I really don’t know.
Yeah, it’s kind of a toss up. The one thing I’ll say is that we have a lot of younger people getting into Profanatica. So, I appreciate that. And we’re not the type of band that people will pretend to like. So that we have that going for us like when the new kids coming up. They – a lot of them – hear it and they’re like, no, that’s not for me. I don’t like that shit. So, I mean, I can’t say for everybody, but I mean, like in a general sense, the people that are young and getting into our stuff, they seem to really like it and kind of do a little research and see where we’re coming from.
Talking about different genres, how many different ways do you think we can approach this kind of devilish black metal sound?
So, we did on Hell’s Headbangers, we did that six song Pale Fuck 7-inch. I don’t know if you’re familiar with that. What that is like our interpretation of a lot of D-beats, punk D-beats thrown in with some cross-type of changes. So, I was always fascinated by like early Misfits and Samhain, because back then they had like the sound, the look, their logo – they kinda had it all back then. And this, like horror punk – I liked that a lot. So, there’s a lot of different ways, I think it’s not just, you know, designated towards that like, classic black metal sound.
And talking about the lyrics, has your opposition against Christianity ever caused you problems? Do you think it ever will a turnaround in the way religions are approaching reality? Do you think people will ever turn to the real, pure life?
Slowly but surely. Yes, it’s caused personal problems where people will, like excommunicate themselves from me, or like, my wife – because they’re like, your husband’s band scared me, blah, blah, blah… Those people always… it was just an incident and I said I’m sorry about that, I feel shitty about that, but… And I always have backup here with my family and close friends, but, you know, I’m not trying to like alienate somebody else’s relationship. And that does happen from time to time. But 100% of the time, the people always come back and apologize and say: I’m sorry, I was being stupid. You know, if somebody asked me, we’re going somewhere: “please don’t say this or say that – I won’t, if they ask me. But if they don’t ask me, then I’m free to do and say whatever I want. But of course, I could read this situation.
Yeah, sure! Will we have concerts in Europe? I’m sure a lot of people would love to see you here and hear the new songs!
I hope so – 2024. Our only problem would be to get another good package over there, because people have like real jobs and real lives. So, we need to go when we go over there for like, let’s say, 22 to 30 days with no days off. That’s kind of like how we run it. And our biggest problem is getting a really good package over there that fits. We had a good package here in America with Austin Panzerfaust from Canada. And that is pretty much everything. So, I’ve reached out to a couple of people. I can’t say who yet, but if I gave you the list of people, we asked to come with us in Europe to the spring when we went, you would be like, oh, that’s too bad. You know, that would be a perfect fit! We thought of everybody, but for some reason or another – it’s usually work-related – that nobody could do it.
These are good news actually, so I’m looking forward to see you! Could you just please in a couple of words describe your new album “Crux Simplex” available from September in a few words, because it’s one hell of a big deal for black metal fans that it will finally come out!
Oh, thank you. I would say it’s a strong blasphemic album with good sound that fights against all fear. That’s it. And that’s what our angel with the trumpet and the penis stands: it’s a strong symbol against fear. And really these organized religions, all of them is just fear mongering and a business. It’s a hell of a business. It’s a way for them to make money. And it’s kind of like a real force to be reckoned with.
As someone from Hungary, I would like to ask you, what do you think of the recent release of Attila Csihar of Tormentor, entitled The 7th Day of the Doom?
I don’t think that I met. I met him in Hungary. I don’t think I heard it yet. So, I’ll have to check it out. But we did meet him. He came to support, when Watain and us with Rotting Christ hit Hungary, he was there. And I… awesome guy. He’s such a great guy and his brother – he introduced me to his brother and he’s down to earth and I like to be like that too, because there’s a lot of rockstar bullshit in the black metal scene. Is it good?
Yeah, I think I definitely suggest you to give it a listen. Thank you very much for the opportunity – I think I used all my time.
Okay, all right. No, I raced home from work, so I wasn’t going to be late, because I guess Will has been setting these up and he said your website, you know, your webpage has like a pretty good following of true people. I said, alright. All right, so just.. could you let let Will know what are you going to do? Are you going to write something based on like our talk?
I will actually transcribe the whole interview and and put into the website in English and in Hungarian too
Excellent. All right.
Thank you very much for the opportunity! It was it was very nice to to meet you and I actually really should bow down before you because the content you’ve created and present to us is extraordinary. Thank you for everything and I wish you all the best for your future and for the band.
Thank you. I’ll meet you in 2024 will be there.
All right. Thanks, man. Have a good night.
Thank you, same to you!
The interview was taken with Paul Ledney on 07.09.2023.