First of all, after the trilogy which ended with '(Hordalands) Doedskvad' I understood it was originally the plan to lay Taake to rest. Options were like playing in another band (Carpathian Forest as a bass player for instance) yet this year news reached me that you were nevertheless returning with Taake and a new album. What was the main reason for you to take up Taake again?
My only plan since the mid-90's was to complete the “Nattestid...Bjoergvin...Doedskvad” trilogy. After that, I was fed up with rehearsing, recording and performing, so I took a break from it all to nurture my mental health. My only official statement was that Taake was put on ice, I never said it was to be laid permanently to rest. Anyway, in my isolation I started recording some primitive back-to-the-roots tracks all by myself and realized I was much more comfortable working alone. I was still not ready to plan an album, so I released various spilt EP's preferring to stay underground. However, my creative spark grew stronger again and more and more songs were made. When finally ready for a new full-length album I chose to simply name it “Taake” since it marks a new beginning as a solo project. As for side projects, I am now a full time bass player in Slavia, as well as Deathcult. Both bands are rehearsing new albums these days. I recently did guest vocals for Nattefrost again and there is talk about contributing to other bands too.
The new album is on the one hand typically Taake yet on the other hand also different from the three previous full length albums. I have some questions about that coming up. First of all, this time you refrain from using I to VII and came up with actual titles. A gesture to the fans (when speaking of Taake, one always has to name the album and the track number) or was there another reason to start with full titles?
The trilogy albums were all concept albums, so it was natural to name the tracks only with numbers. There is more variation between each lyric topic on the new album, thus separate titles. I never think in terms of “gestures to the fans”. I do whatever feels right for me in Taake, it is up to our audience to take it or leave it.
Another difference to previous albums is that this time you did it all alone. Especially on 'Doedskvad' you used several musicians and guest musicians. Why did you prefer to do it all on your own this time?
I have always had a very specific vision for how I want my recording results to be. But upon choosing to involve other musicians for the recording, it's only fair to let them contribute with their own playing style and interpretations of my ideas. However, I've decided that there's no room for such compromises anymore, I need to have everything completely my way from now on. No offence to my former bandmates, but I do not particularly enjoy cooperating with other individuals in the recording process when it comes to my own music.
The first three albums were recorded at Grieghallen. For this album you chose to record with Bjørnar Nilssen: how come this change of recording process?
I wanted to try something different and was impressed with Bjørnar's previous productions. Also, Grieghallen is quite expensive and we never had a big enough budget to have enough time there. I think each album we recorded there suffers from the short mixing process.
Like just said, personally I think that this 'Taake' album is on the one hand a typical Taake-album, and on the other hand it differs from the three albums from the trilogy. This is kind of an album that needs to grow on me, where as the other albums, with sharper hook-lines and stuff, immediately grabbed me by the throat. What is your view on that?
I can agree with that. I do realize that this album usually has to grow on people. Nevertheless, in my opinion it is a more even album, with basically each song being equal in quality.
Again the album finishes with a very lengthy song: this time 'Velg Bort Livet' lasts ten minutes, way lengthier than the average. On the albums 'Nattestid Ser Porten Vid' (last track 9 minutes) and 'Hordaland Doedskvad' (also 9 minutes) you did so as well. Why do you think it is best to close the album with such epic long songs?
I am always very thorough with the order of the songs for the best effect. But the fact that the last song on each album is longer than the rest of the songs, is merely a coincidence.
The second song and video 'Umenneske' has some guitar parts that remind me, more than other songs, of Bathory. Is that a coincidence betraying your possible roots or have you chosen that kind of riffs deliberately?
I guess you mean PORTRAYING my roots? I would never betray my roots. If anything, I'm more true to my old school roots on the new album than ever before. Pre-Norwegian Wave bands like Bathory, Hellhammer/Celtic Frost, Destruction, Sodom, etc. have always been important inspiration for me. I am aware that this shines through stronger on the new album.
Taake is one of the few bands that has a distinctive sound which separates the band from all the others: any specific chords or equipment you use to accomplish this unique sound?
I suppose this has a lot to do with the fact that I never learned to play guitar, so I use some unusual chords. I am not at all a technical guitar player and my knowledge about the instrument itself is rather limited. But I never bothered to try to develop my skills, as I prefer to have my own style to keep my expression as unique as possible.
In retrospect: did you like it better this time doing it all alone or will you use a full band in the future when recording, and why?
During this last album I was much more comfortable with just me and the producer in the studio and will continue with this arrangement for future recordings. I don't see any reason to include other musicians when I am capable of performing it all myself.
On the artwork of the album the pictures of you remind me a bit of Ozzy's 'Bark At The Moon', a bit like a wolf so to say. Is there a reason behind the poses or just a twist in the beholder's (in this case: me) eye?
The cover represents the occult spirit of the foggy forest-grown mountains here in Bjoergvin.
Taake often points at the negative aspects of human life. Is there still a man with ideals behind the mask of Hoest or can it be considered as the reason why Taake, like so many other Norwegian black metal acts, displays a misanthropic nature?
Apart from wanting to awaken national pride and cultural nostalgia in my Norwegian listeners, I want to remind that Hell is right here on Earth and that humans can be demons if we just sell our soul to the Devil.
You founded a sublabel of Dark Essence called Svartekunst Productions; is that for artistic reasons (easier for royalties and copyright) or political reasons (like to avoid a potential boycott for other bands and to keep this your personal battle)?
Svartekunst is not at all a sublabel of Dark Essence. I founded it to have more control over my work. I own the rights to “Nekro”, “Helnorsk Svartmetall” and “Taake” myself. I chose to licence the CD version of the last one to Dark Essence and Century Media, but will release the vinyl myself.
You got into a lot of trouble because of the 2007-show in Essen. You actually explained several times why you used a swastika, yet it comes back every time, and even led to boycotts, including from bands like Kreator. As a Taake-fan myself I often wonder why people don't seem to take your answer serious, yet no one complains about people with for instance shirts with a portrait of Che Guevara, a man who not only was a rebel but who not only had executions arranged yet did them themselves, over a hundred to be specific… Going on about the subject: it is as if people judge black metal musicians from out of their own prejudice, and if you explain the backgrounds they still won't listen. How many times have you asked yourself whether it is has any use at all to explain the things you do on stage if people don't take the trouble to actually read what you are saying?
I have asked myself that around 88 times. But I'm not surprized. People are as short-sighted and ignorant as always. Things seem to be slowly changing though, several of the biggest German metal magazines have showed their support by requesting interviews lately and we have plenty of concerts booked in Germany. An annoying thing is that all interviews ask about this and even all reviews mention it in the introduction. However, it's now time to move on, there's been enough focus on this episode. It was not at all meant as a publicity stunt, but displaying another symbol of evil to put it shortly.
Although the lyrics are in Norwegian, and on the albums written in Futhark-runes, you have put all of 'm on your own site in normal current characters. Is that at the special request of the fans or do you wish to make it possible to spread your messages to those who take the trouble of speaking Norwegian?
The whole idea to have the lyrics in futhark runes in the booklets is to strengthen the overall Norwegian feeling of the release. But on the homepage, I do not mind displayng them in the Latin alphabet. There have been numerous requests to translate the lyrics, but they simply don't work the same way in English. My writings are meant for Norwegian people anyway.
At the moment it seems as if the line-up for live shows is you, V'gandr on bass, Skagg and Dommedag on guitars and Thurzur on drums. On the other hand, you have used a lot of different musicians in the past. Is Taake Hoest plus guest musicians (especially since you recorded the new album all by yourself) or is it your ideal to have a steady line-up and it is a hard matter of finding the right people, both on a musical and a personal basis?
Dommedag was fired a year ago (for stealing from the rest of the band) and was replaced by Skrubb. Furthermore, Skagg had to take a break from the band and is for the time being replaced by Aindiachai (Slavia). Yeah, it's hard to find musicians who meet all the required standards. They have to be good enough musicians, look confident and ugly on stage and get along with the rest of the band on a personal level as well as sharing our basic ideology and message. I'm satisfied with the concert line-up these days and hope they will all stay with me for the future.
I know that there are several shows and tours upcoming, like in Russia and a European tour for the summer of 2009 is being planned right now. Which details regarding time and countries can you give us already as where we can expect Taake on stage the coming year?
We have planned over 20 concerts for this year. Check out taake.theblacksun.org for details.
When do you plan to start working on new material, and will that be a single or again a full length album?
I think I did enough split EP's and such for now. I have five finished tracks for my next album, so it might not take as long as before between this one and the next. I might do a “Helnorsk Svartmetall 2” before the next album, since I still have some rare and unreleased recordings from 1996 and onward.