First of all, congratulations with the release of 'Homage To Martyrs'. How are the first reactions?
Generally, the reaction has been positive, although there have been a few negative opinions ventured. Some reviewers have admitted they found it a bit too extreme. This is not surprising and we never imagined it would reach such a wide audience when we were in the middle of the writing process. It is certainly not easy listening and probably requires a few spins to get a handle on it. The other criticism made is that it is too short, which I suppose is a fair comment. In our defense, we could easily have made it longer by utilizing more repetitive verse and chorus structures. However, I don't mind leaving the listener hungering for a little more. I read your review by the way. I thought you captured the point in a nutshell brilliantly. I couldn't have written a better interpretation myself.
Thanks. This is your third release. In what way would you say it differs from its predecessors?
We have progressed as musicians and songwriters, and would like to think that is reflected by the new album. Better use is made of the leads and there is more melody in the rhythm guitars, although on the whole it is probably heavier than our earlier material. Most importantly, the sound is far superior to any we have had before.
You are signed with Metal Blade, a major label in the metal world, and they even opened their site with the news of the release of your album. That must feel like a tremendous honour, doesn't it?
It shows that Metal Blade have been pushing it pretty hard, which is great. The most satisfying aspect for us is the guys there seem to genuinely like the album a lot. We are pretty much unknown as a band so it took some courage for them to sign us.
Metal Blade announced your album as ferocious, lightning-fast, brutal and they even stated that it evokes a shock equal to the release of 'Reign In Blood' at that time. Despite the fact that is a big pile of compliments, were you happy with that announcement? I mean, this is some comparison, right?
It is not one we would have made, but it does seem to have attracted some attention, which I guess is the whole point of the exercise. Metal Blade probably feels they should have released 'Reign in Blood' back in '86 - as I understand if they still had Slayer under contract at that point. So I guess they are in as good a position as any to make the call. Whatever their reasoning, the only similarities I see are the uncomplicated approach and the short length: a half hour, full-blooded attack.
Is it hitting on any bit like you hoped?
Well, yes, this is what we aimed to inflict.
Your band consists of members of Destroyer666. Which part of Razor Of Occam in particular would not fit in with Destroyer666, or vice versa?
Destroyer employs all the tricks of dynamics: melancholy guitar intros, big build-ups, majestic choruses and so forth. Part of the reason we don't use any of these techniques with Razor of Occam is to keep the lines of demarcation clear. Instead, once we have our foot on the throat we don't let up.
Destroyer666 has resided in The Netherlands for some time, haven't they?
Not anymore. Destroyer is spread across Denmark, Germany and London.
Apart from that, what is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of The Netherlands? No need to spare us on this on, by the way.
The Netherlands is a country of villages and villagers, some of the nicest in the world. They are often criticized as a relatively mute audience and I put it down of the unpretentious character of the nation. Don't let it fool you though; they are some of the most passionate and ardent devotees of metal around. Remember, if you ain't Dutch, you ain't much!
Now how should I respond to that? Well, it's about you, so I'll go on with the next question. Your roots lie in southern Australia, don't they. Label me ignorant, but I couldn't here specific influences from that neighbourhood. Where could I have heard them?
If you heard me spoke, you would not mistake them. Amazingly, it appears the Australian accent did not quite prove thick enough to make it onto the album.
What was the first reason to start this band anyhow? And why did you decide to make it a thrash based black metal band?
After years of playing in other preexisting bands, I felt it time to start my own. Naturally, you play the style that matches your personal tastes.
Speaking of black metal, two prominents have recently mad the news. Gaahl of Gorgoroth for exposing his gay sexual orientation and Kristian Vikernes of Burzum, who got released out of jail. What's your opinion on both these occurrences?
The first is quite amusing. Of course it is not without precedent and it has probably generated a fair amount of publicity for them. As long as he doesn't expose any of his sexual orientations in my vicinity I couldn't care less. As for Vikernes' release I am sure it is a great relief for him. He went in a boy and has come out an old man, denied the best years of his life.
I guess the part of Gaahl is about the general view on it. In the first stages of black metal, inspired by bands like Venom and Bathory, there was great gulf of theistic Satanism. This later was followed by the mythical primal gods worshipping, mainly in Norway and then followed by many bands that harnessed war themes within their lyrics. Where do you stand?
Hopefully at the vanguard of the next stage, where we will begin to see the power of reason feature more prevalently. Metal, as an artform has matured in many ways and it is only right that the lyrical side should continue to evolve.
Modern Satanists claim that they do not worship the personifications of evil, but have a great sense of striving for ultimate freedom, both religious and personal, especially sexually. Is it an aspect that you would consider attractive, whether it was in connection with any organization or not?
Sex is a fascinating topic, one still shrouded in a degree of mystery. On the face of it, asexual reproduction would seem far more efficient. To take a classic example, suppose you have two rabbit colonies, one composed of a sexually breeding pair and the other a pair of asexually reproducing females. If each female produces a pair of viable offspring each generation, then after three generations the sexually reproducing colony will have sixteen members while the asexually reproducing colony will have swollen to number fifty four. So why don't more species opt for the asexual strategy? Well, it seems that the short-term benefits may be outweighed by long-term disadvantages. The asexually reproducing colony consists of genetically identical individuals. Since there is no variation for natural selection to get its teeth into, there is little capacity to evolve in response to environmental changes including new diseases. However, there are a few species around the world that have opted for this high-risk strategy. Although they mainly comprise monocellular organisms, there is a celebrated case of an asexual species of lizard in southern California. It appears that at some point in their evolutionary history they made the switch between reproduction strategies, doing away with the wasteful male gender. The possibility of it happening to our own species therefore cannot be discounted - how different society would be in a world of genetically identical sisters! I won't go on but there are many more fascinating implications of sex, not least the inescapable fact we have evolved an irrational obsession with the rubbing of genital organs. Maybe the subject deserves the devotion of a song. I can't imagine though that Satanism has anything sensible to say on the matter.
I've heard about the theory, yes. There even is one in which people without specific gender would be born pregnant. But I think the human mind is too complex to mature in such a short notice. It may sound superficial, but I celebrate the physical means. Right, something else. Your bandname is derived from a philosophy that (in an nutshell) stated that it is always better to stick with facts, instead of making or even adding assumptions. Could you tell us why you particularly embraced this principle for your band?
Clearly, the existence of a god is not evidenced, is unnecessary, and does not add any explanatory power to our understanding of the universe. I was particularly taken by the image of the razor slashing the throat of the god of Bronze Age scripture. Add to that irony of the razor having originally been developed by church theologians, never suspecting it would be turned on their deepest beliefs.
What would you say inspires you most to write your songs?
It is hard to say. Writing a good riff is like having a shit. You can't force it: when it is ready it will come out. Sometimes I do find that a touch of the Dutch herbs can have a laxative effect.
Well, that is one aspect we are famous for internationally, I guess. Is there any aspect in metal nowadays you truly hate? Apart from annoying Dutch interviewers, of course.
I am past the stage where I claim to know what is best for metal. It is pretty hard to ruffle my feathers these days.
You will be playing the Hells Pleasure Festival in Germany, alongside Pentagram and Absu, don't you? Do you have any personal ties with some of the bands that are playing there?
Yes, I know the brothers behind Agatus and Zemial from back in Australia. I have met a few guys in the other bands as well. It will be a great weekend.
I am sure you will gain a lot more fans out there, if you somehow manage to present your recording quality to a live audience. Are you well prepared for that? I can imagine that it is not an easy job, being your sound engineer, is it?
We are ready. It is true that this stuff is not as enjoyable to play as Destroyer sets for example. There is inevitably a lot of sweating, swelling and cramping on stage, and we can't afford to drink much before we go on. But we still enjoy it.
What can people expect, when coming to your shows?
A headache in the morning.
It would almost be ridiculous to ask whether you still get nervous for gigs or not, with the experience you have by now. Yet, do you or anyone in Razor Of Occam have any special things he does to get ready?
The music is very demanding to play so it is very important for us to warm up the hand muscles before we go on stage. If not all sorts of cramps will inevitably develop and that is not a pleasant experience. On some occasions, my thumb had swollen to twice its size by the second song making it impossible to hold a pick. There is nothing you can do about it though; you just have to struggle on.
Are there any places you like playing most (or least)?
My personal favourites are Paris, London, Finland and Poland.
So, now the album is out, what will be your main ambition for the next three year and do you think you will be able to uplive them?
We have never been a band to make grand plans; we just take it as it comes. I think in three years we should have another album out. That may seem ambitious given the time it took for this one, but we always look to learn from our mistakes.
Whatever it will be, be aware of the fact I support you without reservations. Hope others will do. That's a friendly way to say goodbye, so I guess I will, then. Bye for now. Is there anything I forgot to ask about or you would like to say in general?
Your support is much appreciated. Onya!