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Triptykon

Twee edities van Lords Of Metal geleden kon je lezen hoe Tom Gabriel Warrior uit de doeken deed hoe Triptykon was ontstaan. De bedoeling was om dit interview een vervolg te geven tijdens het Roadburn festival, ware het niet dat een aardige financiële crisis mijnerzijds behoorlijk wat roet in het eten heeft gegooid. Je mag rustig weten dat ik de Nederlandse belastingdienst de nodige keren heb vervloekt voor het feit dat ik Triptykon kon missen door een (naar vermoeden) administratieve blunder van de afdeling zorgtoeslag, die op dit moment nog steeds wordt uitgezocht door de nodige belastingconsulenten. Daarmee krijg ik Roadburn natuurlijk niet terug. En tot overmaat van ramp vond de heer Fischer dat hij genoeg gezegd had over het album. Daar ging mijn tweede interview, maar gelukkig kon ik het vuur aan de schenen leggen van V. Santura, de gitarist van Triptykon, die tevens belast was met het schrijven van twee nummers op het briljante 'Eparistera Daimones', als engineer heeft gefunctioneerd, als co-producer en als verantwoordelijke voor de eindmix. De klok staat op vijf voor zeven als een vriendin van mijn vrouw belt. Of ze het kort wil houden, de man verwacht namelijk een belangrijk telefoontje uit Duitsland. Klinkt natuurlijk heel interessant. En even na zevenen ging de telefoon en had ik een goed geluimde V. Santura aan de telefoon. De man bleek een ware spraakwaterval en we konden inderdaad even wat dieper op de cd ingaan die voor 99,8% zeker op nummer één zal staan in mijn jaarlijst.

Door: Wilmar | Archiveer onder different metal

First my compliments on 'Eparistera Daimones', I gave it a 100/100 because it was flawless, a perfect listening experience. I can imagine that it must have been a huge task for you and a big responsibility. How do you look back on the recording process?
You're right, it was quite a responsibility and I was fully aware of that, the weight that I had to carry on my shoulders together with Tom. For the recording process it was actually very good and productive and in the end it turned out very good in my opinion. I am pretty satisfied with everything, but the pressure during the whole production process was very high. We all had this feeling for various reasons. The 'Monotheist' album of Celtic Frost was qualitative extremely high and I knew that we had to achieve something that was at least as good as 'Monotheist', yeah that was a high pressure [laughs]. But I think it turned out well.

Would Celtic Frost still be together, you were supposed to work with them on the follow up to 'Monotheist'...
Probably yes. We were working with the other guys in Celtic Frost on vague ideas, nothing was completely planned. I would at least be involved in the recordings as a technician or something like that but before the final plans were made for the follow up to 'Monotheist' the band broke apart. It never happened anyhow, but I think ...

That would be a pressure as well...
Yeah absolutely, but... you know when we started recording 'Eparistera Daimones' we intended to do the recordings in my studio and probably do the mix together with Philip Schweidler who did the final mix of 'Monotheist' but at the end of the recordings we decided “OK, let's do it by ourselves, let's give it a try” and... yeah [laughs] everything happened like that.

It turned out really great. I do have to admit that when Tom told us you were also contributing that I was a bit sceptical. I feared a more modern black metal influence in the sound, but you proved me so wrong. The two songs you wrote are amongst my favourite tracks ('In Shrouds Decayed' and 'Descendant', ed. Wilmar). Do you see Triptykon as a means to show another side of yourself music wise, or did these songs just come natural?
I think both. It went natural, because I played sixty shows with Celtic Frost and playing in a band like Celtic Frost and feeling this intense music that doesn't leave you unaffected as a musician. That was an experience that deeply influenced me and inspired me as a songwriter. And playing these songs so often they became a part of myself in a way as a musician and it was just a natural way to create music similar to that. I don't try to copy Celtic Frost with the songs that I write for Triptykon. But it was just that groove and heaviness and the atmosphere of the music that is very close to me. I didn't have to change anything of myself, it was just a natural creation process.

Something struck me when I was looking at the booklet of 'Eparistera Daimones', and that is Tom not playing guitar on a couple of songs: 'In Shrouds Decayed', 'A Thousand Lies' and 'My Pain'. Why did you do all the guitar duties on those songs?
Well we just shared the guitars. On some songs Tom basically played all rhythm guitars and some songs I basically played all rhythm guitars. On most of the songs there are harmony guitars I played or harmony guitars that Tom played. There are only three songs on which not every guitar player is playing on. For example 'Abyss Within My Soul' all rhythm guitars are played by Tom, there are just a few tiny parts that I played there. So on the other hand in 'In Shrouds Decayed' or 'A Thousand Lies' I played the rhythm. It was just like that we think that it's better for the song when the rhythm guitars come from one hand basically. Because the phrasing is more similar and it sounds a bit tighter and better. And I feel really comfortable with the really fast stuff like 'A Thousand Lies', so I played the rhythm on that song, Tom did on others...

Another thing that pops up very often is the name A. Acanthus Gristle. Who is he?
[laughs] Well that is an interesting question. I [laughs] I have been reading a lot of interviews with Tom and I have been surprised that nobody else has asked that question, or not too often. See it as a riddle.

An anagram?
Yeah [hesitates] yeah maybe an anagram...

OK, let the mystery be a mystery…
I just don't want to tell you more about that.

I understand. What also struck me about the album is that the cover art and the portraits made by Vincent Castiglia are in complete balance with the musical content, it all has this darkness over it. Especially the portraits that Vincent Castiglia made are remarkable. Are you satisfied with the likeness?
Yeah I am totally honoured that Vincent did that for us. I was there when Tom met him in Zürich and I was surprised that he said “yes” right away and that he really wanted to do it. The crazy thing is he actually did it for free, I feel extremely honoured. I mean it's in a way an awkward and strange feeling that there is an artist who is painting your face in his own blood...

Yeah, that is really weird..
It is really weird. It's a strange feeling and on the other hand it's an immense honour and I truly like what he did. I think he spent lots of work, energy and research into these paintings. I actually would be surprised if I would not like what he did because I am familiar with parts of his other art and I really like it. His art generally.

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Yes it's quite astonishing what he creates. Something else I want to discuss about 'Eparistera Daimones' is that there is a certain flow on the album. But with the songs 'Myopic Empire' and 'My Pain' that flow is a bit disrupted. Was that intentionally?
Well we were thinking very long and very hard about the order and in which order we should arrange the songs on 'Eparistera Daimones'. It's good that you think there is a flow, because that was entirely our intention but we tried on one hand to create this good flow but on the other hand we wanted to create contrasts so that the album is never getting boring. So we decided we needed a last calm moment before the final monster 'The Prolonging' follows and it was a pretty natural choice that 'My Pain' would be the second last song. That 'The Prolonging' would be the last song was obvious, because after 'The Prolonging' you can't play anything else anymore. And 'Myopic Empire' just felt right in that position on the album.

I understood that there were three other songs recorded. One of them is 'Shatter' that ended up on the Japanese pressing of 'Eparistera Daimones', so what can you tell me about the other two?
Well there is one song that a lot of people are familiar with and that is 'Crucifixus'. That has been on our MySpace page and we are using it as a live intro now. The second song called 'Shatter' is indeed on the Japanese version. It's a song with a more gothic touch I would say.

Yeah we heard a snippet of it on a Japanese site
OK. The third song is 'I Am The Twilight' and we were actually thinking of putting this song on the regular version of the album instead of 'Myopic Empire' to be honest. Yeah we were not sure which song to put on, first we wanted 'I Am The Twilight' so we suggested that to Century Media and they were more in favour of 'Myopic Empire', so we went with that. It does have something special with that piano break and nothing like that is happening on the rest of the album so maybe for the flow of the album that song is more special. So we decided to have 'Myopic Empire' on the album instead of 'I Am The Twilight' although I think it's a very strong and very heavy song. But we want this song to be released at a later stadium, so that is why we got the idea of the EP. The reason why we didn't have the song on the album together with 'Myopic Empire' is a very simple one because with that song the album would have been too long to print physically on one cd. That was the hard part of compiling that album: we had ninety minutes of music and you can only fit seventy-eight or seventy-nine minutes of music on a cd.

It would have turned out as a double cd
And have a double cd as a debut would not have been a very wise choice I think. It would have been too much probably.

Not in my book... You already started performing live, how the shows in Rostock, Essen and Tilburg went?
Well on the bottom line I am very satisfied with it. [laughs] The first two shows in Rostock and Essen were very small shows, we didn't promote the shows too much so they were not so crowded but that was good because we didn't want a big audience for first warm up shows. We considered Roadburn as the official live debut of Triptykon. So we wanted to do two little show, just to gain some stage experience. I think the first show in Rostock went pretty well, the hall was ice-cold and maybe we were a bit stiff on stage but musically it was already really good. Essen was not bad I think and Roadburn was absolutely awesome for me. It was amazing to be back on such a big stage together with Tom and I was extremely satisfied. Tom was not a hundred percent comfortable onstage because the monitors with the vocal sound sounded really dry but nevertheless I had the feeling that it was a real good show and it was received by the audience extremely well, in my opinion. You know when Celtic Frost broke apart two years ago I was afraid that I would never be playing on stages like that with Tom or anybody else in Celtic Frost. So it was an amazing feeling to be back after two years and play shows like that.

But you were not only there with Triptykon, you also performed with your other band Non-Euclid. How does it feel to be the support and the headliner at the same festival?
Completely shit for frantic and I am not sure I want to do that again. I was regretting it some time before the festival that I agreed on playing there with two bands because it was extremely stressing for me. You know, Non-Euclid is not a band that is rehearsing on a regular basis, it's more like a project for special occasions. So we played songs that we have not performed for two years. We didn't have much time to rehearse so we had three rehearsals so I felt a bit insecure onstage. It kind of annoyed me. After the show I was a bit angry because there were a few fuck ups that actually happened on the point that I predicted them [Never question Murphy's Law, ed, Wilmar]. That annoyed me. I was pretty angry after that Non-Euclid show, not that it was a bad show, but I am pretty self critical and when not everything is going well I can be angry with myself. So I was just going back to the hotel, have a nap and try to calm down and gather concentration for the Triptykon show. The Triptykon show went absolutely great for me so the end of the Roadburn festival felt really good to me.

On a positive note. The Roadburn show stood out for the dynamic background. Is that something we will see in the future of Triptykon or was it specially for the Roadburn performance?
Ah, no that was especially made for the Roadburn performance. We could use it for other occasions but I am not really sure about that. It looked great I think. I didn't see anything of it. A couple of days before in our rehearsal room I saw a portion of the videos projected, but how it looked onstage I really saw that on YouTube. [laughs]

That was where I saw it as well, but it looked really great
Yeah I mean it was mainly done with parts of some twenties horror movies, an aesthetic that I really like. Yeah it made the show really special with all these projections.

Last week we got the news that Peter Steele suddenly died of presumably heart failure, and you have toured with Type O Negative back in 2007. Having known the man personally, how does this news affect you?
I heard it in the morning after the Essen show. I came out of the bathroom and Norman, our drummer, he was looking on the internet and told me “hey Peter Steele is dead”. I was actually quite shocked and disappointed. When you met him in person and he suddenly dies, it surely affects you. The tour that Celtic Frost played with Type O Negative was probably the best tour I played in my whole life. I will never forget that month we had together. I was secretly hoping that Type O Negative and Triptykon could do something in the future together but of course that will never happen again. It was a serious shock so it ruined my mood for that day at least I have to admit...



Yeah it was also no secret that Type O Negative were the kind of pranksters too do all kinds of shit on stage. I remember a video of 'Into The Crypts Of Rays' where I believe it were Peter and Kenny that came walking up on stage to do the chorus...
It were actually Johnny and Kenny... That video that you are talking about is live in San Antonio. The funny thing is that Type O cancelled that show for reasons I am not supposed to talk about. But Type O cancelled and only Celtic Frost played with the support band Brand New Sin, but nevertheless Kenny and Johnny came on stage to sing with us and I find that a very cool gesture I think... But actually they came onstage every show on that tour during 'Into The Crypts Of Rays' and also 'Circle Of The Tyrants'. And the other way around we came always onstage to sing 'Black No. 1' with them so it was really a friendship between Type O and Celtic Frost.

And then the death of Peter Steele becomes a real sour fact...
Yeah...

Well over to more happier occasions, 'Eparistera Daimones'. The reviews are going from 'good' to 'excellent'. How do you cope with such positivity?
The response was overwhelming and some times I just cannot believe it because I have barely read anything bad about 'Eparistera Daimones' and some reviews are absolutely amazing, just like the 100 out of 100 points [laughs] at Lords of Metal but when I saw that we had 10 out of 10 points in German Rockhard magazine I could hardly believe it. Only once in the two years a band gets 10 out of 10, we got 15 out of 15 in German Legacy Magazine. You know I tried so hard with Dark Fortress to become album of the month in German Legacy Magazine and we were always number 2 or number 3 and never number one but now we finally succeeded [laughs]. But the list goes on and it's kind of crazy. It also creates an immense pressure for us in creating the next album because how can we... outwork... the success of 'Eparistera Daimones'... Still I am pretty sure that we can create something... BETTER... but then still the pressure will be very high for the next album.

Well I should say 'create something YOU would like to hear....'
[laughs] Yes of course. That is always the thing with music. You have to create music that comes out of yourself and that you would like to hear yourself. If you try to make something of which you think that it would appeal to the fans, that's the worst thing you could come up with, in a way creative suicide. We never pursued any formula of what might appeal to the fans it is just a big surprise that it is received that well.

Yes, what also stands out on 'Eparistera Daimones' is that it sounds very emotional, very alive. How do you achieve such a liveliness... I don't know how to put it, it almost sounds warm yet dark and heavy, not as cold as the Satyricon productions, they sound really cold you know. But 'Eparistera Daimones' has this warm, heavy, dark liveliness...
I think the emotions are there because they are sincere. The emotions are there in the songs itself, in the compositions. There is a lot of anger and hatred in the songs that Tom wrote because he was coping with the split of Celtic Frost which was not a very positive thing [laughs] That had a huge influence on the emotional side of Tom's music and I will put all my dark energy into music and that's the way we do it. That's a good question how we keep the emotions during the recordings... I don't know, we just play the song with a certain feeling. You know, what we don't do what is common in modern metal productions is the use of a constant metronome. We work a lot with tempo maps. We first rehearse the song in the rehearsal room as long as we think that it sounds perfectly right. Then we record them with a shitty microphone and then we create tempo maps that follow the speed of the best rehearsal recordings that we ever did. We use these tempo maps as metronome tracks for when we are recording the drums so this is the way we got this really 'live' feeling. The other thing is that we didn't use any triggers on the drums, there is a bit of trigger on the bass drums but nothing on the snare or the toms. You only can do that with a drummer who hits the drums really hard and with a constant beat so on most of the metal productions you could not do that at all but with a guy like Norman we are in the lucky position that we can work like that. That helps a lot with making the music sound more alive. The other thing is that we don't edit too much with the guitar. Tom stood in the recording room and you hear all the feedbacks and all the noises that came out of his amps, it just came all naturally out of the box. These are techniques how to keep liveliness.

Did you also think to yourself to stop at a certain amount of takes? I remember being in the studio with my own band and the producer kept going on like 'one more, and this time the killer' when we already thought we had the right take there. Did you decide to stop pushing the envelope?
No, we just recorded as many takes as was necessary. We all had a vision of how it was supposed to sound. We also had a vision of perfection, and not perfection that it all had to sound in grid, but more that it sounded right to us, that it sounds as it is supposed to sound, the phrasing, microtiming and all that... Sometimes we used first takes and sometimes we did plenty of takes just as long until we were satisfied and that's all, there are no limits how many takes you would do. When it sounds right, it sounds right I think. No matter if it is the first take or the fiftieth take.

Are there any plans for touring right now?
There are a couple of festivals confirmed but you can read that on the MySpace and the official webpage but I am sure you did that already...

Yeah I am fishing for a scoop...
I mean... There are plans going on and I am pretty sure that we will play a full European tour and a full US tour by the end of this year, there are some things that need to be finally negotiated but I think we will play a European tour at the end of this year around November possibly...

OK, but I read in another interview with Tom that he is planning to go back into the studio in 2011. Do you have the time for that?
I think that we should go back into the studio in 2011. Now it's 2010 and we recorded the album in 2009. You know, labels need three to four months time in advance to promote an album so I think it would be good to have a follow up to 'Eparistera Daimones' two years after the release, so if we want to keep that pace we have to go back into the studio in 2011.

Do you already have new material ready?
There are a couple of ideas I think, we have not been rehearsing on new material yet, we have been rehearsing our live set especially for Roadburn. But from now on we will go back to the rehearsal room and try to work on new songs. I think Tom already has a couple of ideas for new songs. And a lot of ideas that did not work on 'Eparistera Daimones' so there are already a lot of ideas going around so I guess it's just getting back to the rehearsal room gather ideas and try to work on them.

Nothing concrete, just ideas...
Exactly yeah.

I have one final question for you. There was this blog entry on Tom's Delineation II blog with a certain review from a certain Erich Keller, that was quite negative. He addressed the entire band while his 'argument' is with Tom. How do you deal with such annoying figures?
I did not care about that at all. I have been reading about a hundred reviews and all were amazing. I was about time to get a shitty review [laughs]. I don't know the exact background on this, all I know is that Erich Keller has a serious problem with Tom and anything else than this review would have been a big surprise. It was obvious that this guy would write something bad about Tom's new band. It's something personal, it's not very objective what he is writing so that is something I really don't care about actually. It would be something different is somebody is a real die-hard Celtic Frost fan, a person whose opinion I would really value, if such a person would write really bad about Triptykon or the album than it would be something that would make me think about things, but this doesn't matter to me.

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