AMAZING FANS PART 2/5
Here is the another part of a series of features where we want to pay some tribute to our amazing fans. The initiative is solely meant as a positive incitement to make our fans come forth and to make them shine. This should not be regarded as subject of marked analysis, “best-fan-competition” or whatever. Ideally we should have made such a tribute to each and everybody, but unfortunally that is just not doable. Decisions have to be made and lines have to be drawn, but we would like to thank everybody that left a comment or sent a message in order express their wish to participate!
The interviews are conducted by me(Øystein) to make the whole thing more personal in a world of impersonal commercialism. I have done my best to make this an interesting- and personal- feature. But keep in mind that I am no professional interviewer and excuse me any blunders that may occur.
The photos herein are used with kind premission from the interviewee/s.
Here is the second part of the “Amazing fans” series. This time around we are heading to Essen in Germany. For any band on tour Essen is dear place to be due to the always great audience and the legendary scene(hence: Kreator and Sodom)- some may even say that Essen is the very heart of the metal scene in Germany(Well, yeah, I am a huge kreator fan!).
A while ago this brother in metal launced some photos of his amazing Bork- collection on Facebook along with pics of his tattoo’s. His dedication and loyalty towards BORKNAGAR- and metal in general- are undisputable and we are proud to have such a great guy around.
So fellow metal lovers- say hello to Mirko!
Fan since: 2001
Ø: First off, I would like you to introduce yourselves with your own words.
My name is Mirko, i`m 29 years old and live in Recklinghausen, Germany, which is located in the Ruhrarea of western Germany. Right now, i`m working as a barkeeper at a Hardrock/ Heavy Metal Bar (Cafe NORD) in my town of birth, Essen, while i`m waiting for my diploma in education.
I`m into Heavy Metal since the second half of the 90ies, starting with the usual suspects MAIDEN, METALLICA, MANOWAR, etc.
Nowadays i`m more underground focused, especially in early 80ies NWOBHM, US Metal, Doom Metal, but as well in AOR and 70ies Prog Rock . Drifted away from the extrem Metal stuff in the recent years
I do possess a total of 31 Borknagar records, which includes all of the CDs (inclusive some promos) and almost every single vinyl version ever released. Actually, number 32 is on its way into my shelves, because I just ordered, some days ago, the last missing one: The self-titled debut as the first press on Malicious Records. Then I will have every single one of them. Actually, I really don`t know, how this things started. I mean, why have ONE record five or six times?! It doesn`t really make sense at all. Just saw some nice record, that I did not had in this version, and wanted to have it. And when I realized, that I already had some records in different versions, I went for it and made it my personal quest to get every record in every version. Not quite like bringing the one ring into Mordor, but i`m fine with that!
Don`t know by now, if I will continue to collect the other CD versions… should be pretty hard to get some of the russian bootlegs… But the Tapes are already on my list!
And the reason for hardcopies is pretty simple: The whole process from open the sleeves for the very first time, bedding the vinyl or CD on/in the player, putting down the needle or pressing the “PLAY”- button is some kind of a sacred rite. Then sitting down, looking at the cover or reading the lyrics gives you a better connection to music, than just starting youtube or clicking a mp3 file. This shit ain`t real to me.
For me, as a music lover and collector, there is no other way. Every single records has been played like this (and I have already 1.668 records in my shelves) and it wont change.But I could ask you a similar question: In a digital world, why designing a cover, a booklet? Because, this is what music should “look” like!
Ø: And I have seen your tattoo(s), which is amazing. tell us about it? Should we(BORK) feel proud or should we feel guilty?
I don`t feel special about having a band tattoo. Many friends and guys I know have band tattoos, such as IRON MAIDEN, SODOM, KREATOR, RUSH, MANILLA ROAD, MERCYFUL FATE and so on. But I like to see it as some kind of a wedding ring to the love of my life, even knowing, that my love is a bisexual polygamistic bitch in this way, hehe!
And the reason for the lyrics on my chest as simple: I consider it as a personal credo, a philosophy to live on. “All The Ways That I Have Been/ All The Stars That I Have Seen” means to me, that with every personal change, every evolutionary step I take, comes a new view on the things in life. We receive a new angle to look and interpret the things that happened and happen or even may happen. This perception has become pretty important to me, even if this should be obvious.
Don`t see a point in feeling guilty for you guys. You create music not only to express yourself creatively, but to connect to people in a special way. You are writing lyrics not only to tell little stories about fighting a dragon with your bare hands or because it would sound way cooler if someone sings along, while you guys are playing your instruments. Sometimes, the artist wants to send a message through the song or his work in general and if only one person in this whole messed up world gets this message, you guys have done your work. Change the world of only one person for the better by making him think and realizing things or giving him something what means so much to him, this should give you a good feeling, pride and creative satisfaction. Or just smile, because you are creating something, that makes other people happy!
Ø: To me as a musician located in a small village in the northern part of the hemisphere, it’s amazing to see how far out in the world our music reach. Would be great if you could describe your first encounter with the music of BORKNAGAR? How did you first hear about the band?
I first heard a song from a sampler in 2000. The sampler was called “in The eyes Of Death II” and the Song was “Ruins Of Future”. A friend of mine came down to my place and said:” I think, you gonna like this one” (I was pretty much into Vintersorg these days). And he was right, I did like it. But I did not blew me away. 6 Month later, I read in a mail order, that Vintersorg joined your ranks ( I already forgot about “Ruins Of Future”), so I decided to order it, without hearing anything of this material.
A week later “Empiricism” arrived and this time, your music blew me away! The combination of Black Metal with progressiv and folk elements hit me so hard, I never really recovered from that!
Ø: What is your favorite BORKNAGAR album and why?
I will go with EMPIRICISM! Not only, it contains some of the best songs you guys have ever written in every single aspect and the emotions I connect with that album are unique to me.
And sometimes, it is just like that. The best feelings on a Borknagar album I have, are when i`m listening to EMPIRICSIM!
Ø: From my point view good music always connects on an emotional level and very often emotions relates to situations in life. David Sylvian’s “Gone to Earth” is such an example for me- every time I listen to this album- it revokes good memories and profound emotions connected to the birth of my first child. Is there a BORKNAGAR song or an album that has a similar impact on you?
In first place, if music, what song ever, does NOT touch you on a emotional level, its just noise but no music at all.
And personally, this record would be EMPIRICSIM! It was with me ( in good and bad) and gave me some inner strength during my late teenage years and beyond, when I had some difficult times. But I think, it`s a little bit to personal to discuss stuff like that on the internet. When we meet next time, I would love to tell you about it, while having a beer, but under those circumstances I would like to keep things in private. Hope you guys are okay with that. (Sure!- Ø)
Ø: What is your most precious BORKNAGAR item(s)?
I got some pretty valuable Borknagar vinyls and some stuff with a more emotional value: One the one hand, I (will) have the debut on vinyl, first press and the actual album URD as the US ONLY, limited to 100 pieces golden Vinyl of URD. And the green one. But I actually doubt it, that this one will raise in value that much. But the golden is expected to do.
The debut on “Malicious Records” and the golden vinyl of Urd were the ones, that were pretty hard to get, when you don`t want to get ripped off by some jerk, who bought it for 15$ just to re-sell it on ebay for a 100 $, knowing that these records are hard to get and that some die-hard idiots will pay a buckload of money for it. But sadly, this happens a lot nowadays.
On the other hand, I have my first 6 albums on CD signed by the lineup of 2009, the drumstick, which I caught at the Oberhausen show Dave played with, the setlist belonging to that show as well and the shirt to that “Tour”.
Ø: In your opinion, what makes BORKNAGAR stand out from the rest of the bands in the current scene?
I think, that there are some bands out there, that sound unique, doing their stuff against all odds and won`t compromise! You can pick a random song of those bands and you will recognize them, as no other band has this sound, this complexity, those lyrics, these singer(s) or just that kind of songs. Those bands are (among others) PRIMORDIAL, ENSLAVED, SOLSTAFIR, OPETH and, of course, BORKNAGAR. There are no bands out there, that actually sound like they do. This is what matters and gives you a “stand alone” character.
And to me?! I don`t know, if you can describe it with words, because music should touch you emotionally. It`s just this special kind of feelings I have, listening to your songs. It`s from just thinking about the lyrics, up to raise fists and bang my head!
Ø: Obviously, there is no sun without a shadow. Is there anything regarding BORKNAGAR you don’t like?
Actually, there are two things: 1. It`s the same old story: Playing live! I know, we`ve been over this a dozen times and I do understand the reasons behind it, I really do, but as a fan, I still can be sad, that I can`t see my favorite band live on stage once a week or so
2. Your problems with a stable line-up! Since I first noticed the Band, you had some lineup changes. Like most of the bands have. Some guys left and returned (Jens, Simen) and left again (Jan Erik), some guys just left (Asgeir, Dave). And I see the points, why some of them left. But I hope, that this one will last for some time.
Ø: If there is anything in specific you are wondering about regarding BORKNAGAR- now is your chance to ask?
How is your songwriting process within the band? I mean, there are at least 4 songwriters with their own projects in the band. Every single one of them already added one or more songs to an album, so i`m kind of curious how you guys communicate your musical visions to the others. Have you, Oystein, the last word on the songs, have the other guys a free hand on their instruments or is it more a democratic, that you decide as a group what solo, what vocal lines (`cause you have also 3 singers) would fit in here best?
Ø: Well, over the years I guess I have established some sort of personal routine when it comes to songwriting- both physical and mental. I usually start out with scratches of a few songs, as I need more than just one song in order to “calibrate” the direction, tone or call it what you want. When I have a collection 2- 3- 4 songs I usually send the material (so far) to the rest of the guy’s in the band and we start working from there. The crucial point here is that we need a worked-through musical/lyrical foundation, a starting point so to speak. You may say that I conceive the basic ideas and draw up the framework, but in terms of evolving the material into actual songs we’re all involved as equal contributors. I try to make pre-productions that give the nessesary “space” for the others to “flower on”- so my scratches are by no means finished material. When recording, we often work in our respective studios on individual basis and send material back and forth. But we usually gather up when we do certain parts of the recordings (drums etc.) and the final mix. It’s all about striving for the optimal working conditions, so that the barrier between us and our musical visions gets as small as possible. When we record and produce the songs we basically try to let the music do the talk amongst us. I mean, we can talk about ideas for ages but in the end of the day it is the musical dynamics that are important. And that is the beauty of the process- the music evolves along the line- and we can never really foresee how an album turns out in the end of the process. And there are basically no limitations or directives for the contributions- an idea too much is better than an idea too short. Sometimes we need to discuss approaches and specific ideas regarding this or that- obviously- but usually things come by instinct and fits right into the scheme. You know, over the years we have established some sort of creative tradition within the band, so we are all more or less familiar, and hopefully comfortable, with how this musical machinery works and what actually fits the musical approach of the band. It runs quite smooth I would say….:-)
Ø: Beside music, what brings your “life in balance”?
There`s is really something beyond music?! To be honest, music is properly the only thing that is always around me. Starting my CD player is the second thing for me in the morning, just after starting the coffee-machine! Depends on the mood I am in, what kind of music it will be. I listen to music, while i`m doing stuff at home (and I guess my neighbours, too), while i`m on my way to work, at work and on my way back home. The only reason, why I don`t listen to music when I`m going to bed is, that my girlfriend would properly kick my ass!
Besides that, I really enjoy riding my bicycle for some hours off and on the road, going out with my lads and raise hell, or just staying at home with my girlfriend.
I`m pretty much into science-fiction and comics since I was a little boy, so i`m quite sure, you can call me a nerd, with the total package, lightsabers, Star Trek uniforms (okay, I wont fit in there anymore), moving Rorschach mask and so on. And i`m really into MMA! Practicing karate and brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for quite some time and staying up late to see some good Per-Per-Views!
To express myself creatively I do some paintings. The motives are various. Landscapes, nerd-stuff or just what comes into my mind. It`s no real art at all and I don`t consider myself as an artist, but it`s good enough to decorate my place.
Ø: How is the metal community in your area, if there is any at all?
We do have a pretty healthy and large community here in the ruhrarea! It´s some kind of the german Bay Area, where some pretty big bands are from, such as “Kreator”, “Sodom”, “Grave Digger”, “Axel Rudi Pell” (just to name the big ones) or the new german underground hopefuls and “Mercyful Fate”- fans “Attic”.
We have a lot of Metal clubs and bars around here, where almost every week is at least one concert to go to. And since Heavy Metal pretty much arrived in the mainstream, a lot of people are listening to it and it seems, its getting bigger day by day. Sadly, a high percentage of them is just listening to it, but don`t get really into this stuff.
Ø: Do you play any instrument yourself? Or, even play in a band? Or in other ways involved in the scene?
I used to play bass guitar, but since I havn`t been playing in a band since school (nothing really serious those days), I just stopped. I`m more into listening music than playing it nowadays.
And yeah, i`m still some kind of involved (in a creating way) into the “scene”, since we started to raise a nice and “for free” festival under the banner of my place of work, the “Cafe NORD” with bands like SODOM, ENTOMBED and many small and local bands. Roundabout 2.000 people attempt every year.
There was a Heavy Metal Fan Club I was in as well, until we decided to split up. For seven years, we organized parties or shows with german Black/Thrash legends DESASTER or METAL INQUISITOR. Was quite a fun time, back in the days!
Ø: Thank you so much for the interview! Is there anything you would like to say, state, reveal, promote or even rebel against. The stage is yours!
I just want to thank you guys for being a part of this feature! Hope to see you on the road again some day.
Stay true, be yourself!
Cheers and a great salute Mirko for participating in this inerview!!