DATE OF INTERVIEW:
2nd February 2008
ALAN 'NEMTHEANGA' AVERILL
(Alan Averill on Primordial's first experience of playing in the States)
"...there was not a spiked armband, or Beherit shirt, or bullet belt to be seen, it was all like uniform, power metal friendliness!"
Alan backstage at Camden Underworld, London, 2nd February 2008
Photograph copyright © 2008 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
Interview & Photography by Mark Holmes
MD: You’ve been signed to 4 different labels over the years - how does Metal Blade compare to your previous deals?
AA: Easily the best. There’s no comparison between liars and cheats and dealing with other musicians and honest people - no, I wouldn’t say that in respect of Misanthropy or…Cacophonous were okay, they just…things just didn’t happen the way they could’ve done.
MD: What about Hammerheart?
AA: Fucking Bullshit. Liars and thieves. Erm…
MD: Say no more!
AA: When you mix business people with musicians, it’s a direct recipe for fucking disaster. People don’t know their rights; they don’t know what they’re signing; they don’t know what they’re entitled to, and no-one tells them, they just fucking steal it.
MD: You’ve very rarely played over here in the UK over the last few years - is that a lack of promoters booking you, or any other reasons for not coming over here?
AA: To be honest with you, it’s often because you get treated like shit.
AA: Yeah. The UK is usually the worst place to play in all of Europe. You always have the worst rider, the promoters treat you like absolute crap. I know the metal scene has undergone a huge resurgence here in the last couple of years but, the thing is, we don’t really…we’re getting to the stage now where we’re that old and we have obligations that we can’t just fuck off on tour for a month, so playing in Hull on a Tuesday night means I can’t play in the Ukraine, so you have to make a choice. I understand now that festivals are killing touring, so if we play on a big stage at Wacken, we’ll probably play to more English people in the crowd than we would by touring the UK for a week. I don’t mind coming here, but it’s er…these days, gigs are almost like at a premium for us because we’re just not able to do what we could’ve done when we were 21, and that’s probably the reason why. I mean, if we did a tour with, for example, Amon Amarth, and happened to play five days in the UK, then great, but to come over and play on a rainy Tuesday night in Torquay or something just doesn’t fill me with glee.
MD: Yeah, and staying at Fawlty Towers!
AA: Yeah, it’s not to sound like I’m a rock star or anything, but sometimes we can’t just do everything we’re asked anymore. If we did every gig or tour we were asked this year, we’d be playing four months of the year.
MD: And your lifestyles don’t cater for that now.
AA: Oh, we just can’t do it. Realistically, you know, we could probably do it okay financially, but we just can’t do that stuff anymore what with work and kids and mortgages and families and stuff. When we were 20 maybe, but…
MD: …not now!
AA: Not now. I mean, there’s no particular reason - maybe it will happen, I don’t know.
MD: You played your first American show in 2006 - how was your music received in the States?
AA: Very well, yeah. We were kind of a bit of the wildcard because the other bands were Viking metal, and they didn’t really know what to make of us because they weren’t too sure who the Celts were or something like this, you know. We aren’t either! They’re super friendly, super nice - we were almost over-bowled by how positive and enthusiastic everyone was. And another thing that really surprised me is when we play in Europe we still get necro people, black metal people, you know - Order from Chaos; Blasphemy; Beherit shirted people - in America, it was almost uniformly Rhapsody and Sonata Arctica shirts.
AA: Yeah, these are the people who buy Viking metal in America.
MD: Are you going to travel to Italy to do that?
AA: Maybe. I don’t know yet, I don’t know. We haven’t worked it out yet. The last one I went over and didn’t have any ideas for, and just did it on the spot. I presume that’s what they want me to do with this one.
MD: I listened to some stuff recently - it’s beautiful music.
AA: Ah, it’s a heavy album, but most people didn’t get it or hear about it. That’s the nature of that kind of music.
MD: You recently wrote a letter to Terrorizer complaining about…
AA: I didn’t write a letter to Terrorizer - they printed an email conversation between me and the editor.
MD: Ah, right, because you were complaining about a fairly explicit racist remark against…
AA: No, I didn’t…this really pissed me off. This was an email conversation that was about several different things, and they took an excerpt from that and printed it. And at the end, I realised my initial burst of fucking fuck you-ness when I wrote that email was not right, and I was essentially acting as like the PC moderators that I rally against, so I realised that. Instead, they fucking printed the thing. They never asked me could they print it. It was a personal email; it wasn’t a letter to Terrorizer.
MD: Ah, right, ‘cause it looked like you’d just got angry and…
AA: Yeah…no, well that’s…ah, it’s fucking bullshit.
MD: How about the apology they gave, it was quite a lengthy…
AA: I didn’t even read it. I knew what it was about, blah, blah, blah, and I know they got a lot of other emails from lots of other Irish people because there were a couple of remarks in that magazine from that particular girl who reviewed that…now I understand that the views in that particular review could be construed either way, but she made a couple of other offhand remarks, I don’t know if she had some fucking former Irish boyfriend who fucked her around or something, but there was a tone, and there was a tone in the introduction to our interview and in our review, and if I read Irish, or Emerald Isle, eyes are smiling bullshit again, it’s just something else.
MD: Yeah, it’s quite shocking for Terrorizer to publish some of those remarks.
AA: I just, you know, do they…if they have an Enslaved review and go Ivar’s too fat to be a Viking and blah, blah, blah…and they treat all bands from other countries with a degree of reverence and respect that I think sometimes is lacking. So fuck it, I didn’t write any letter, they just said we’ll print that, so…
MD: That’s interesting. I understand you paint backdrops for bands for quite a reasonable price as well, I hear - do you get many requests for these?
AA: [laughs] Erm…I used to. I don’t really get the time anymore, but I’ve done hundreds of them, mainly for Irish demo bands. It’s just if there’s lads living round the corner, and they’re some death metal band, I’ll do it for 120 Euros or something.
MD: Do you still take business from wherever in the world?
AA: Yeah, I mean I’ve done Death Angel and Melechesh and stuff like that, but mainly it’s just Irish demo stuff.
MD: I might be contacting you soon about that then - we’ll be needing some banners.
AA: Yeah, yeah, cool, yeah.
MD: Is your artwork limited to band backdrops, or are you interested in other forms of painting and art?
AA: I am, but I can’t sit in front of a computer for ten hours a day and do Photoshop, I don’t have the patience for that. I get asked by people to do album covers because I think they’d like to have my name on the CD booklet, and they say how good might it actually be, and I say I’m not good enough to do that, and also I don’t have the patience and my back is too bad! [laughs]
MD: So it’s all hand painted what you do?
AA: Yeah, yeah, if I paint something, it’s hand painted.
MD: The good old way! The last time I saw Primordial was at Bloodstock in 2002 when you still had a fair old mop of hair. Why did you decide to get rid?!
AA: A mixture of nature and just being sick of it! I got tired of it, man. I got tired of having long hair - I’d had long hair since I was 13 or 14 and…
MD: …and just one morning woke up and thought…
AA: …yeah, fuck it!
MD: I’ve read you describing yourself as a ‘metal nerd’ in interviews before in terms of all the bands you’re into - are there any up-and-coming bands out there you want to recommend to people you think are worthy of attention…like the first band supporting you tonight?
AA: Yeah, Mael Mordha, they’re an Irish band, yeah, that’s cool. I like lots of modern stuff; I mean, this year you’ve had great albums. There’s been Warning; Melechesh; Marduk; Watain; Wolves in the Throne Room, you know, there’s loads of good stuff…Reverend Bizarre, bands like Adhur, there’s Anal Vomit, there’s fucking Goat Semen, whatever. There’s tons of new bands out there, you just have to fucking look for it. And generally, it’s all under the radar of the mainstream, you know, I’m not interested in any big label bands.
MD: Finally, what aspirations do you have for the future of Primordial, or do you not think ahead too much to the future?
AA: I don’t think too much at all. There’s no compromise…that’s it! [laughs]
MD: Good final statement! Well, thanks very much for your time.
AA: No problem.
MD: And you’re under that label in the States then?
AA: Yeah, I mean there was not a spiked armband, or Beherit shirt, or bullet belt to be seen, it was all like uniform, power metal friendliness! [laughs] But that was okay; although it was quite strange.
MD: Well there was a crowd there to see you, so that’s cool. I gather there’s a new Void of Silence album in the making - have you recorded your vocals yet?
AA: No, I haven’t done anything yet.
Official Primordial Website:
Official Primordial MySpace:
Metal Blade Records Website:
A Journey's End (1998)
Albums & EPs
Demos & Other
The Burning Season (1999)
Spirit The Earth Aflame (2000)
Thanks to Andy Turner at Metal Blade for arranging the interview.
Thanks once again to my ever supportive girlfriend, Hannah, for recording the interview.
And a huge cheers to Alan Averill for his time.
Storm Before Calm (2002)
The Gathering Wilderness (2005)
To The Nameless Dead (2007)
Dark Romanticism (Demo) (1993)
Split 10" EP with Katatonia (1996)
Dark Romanticism (Re-issued Demo with Bonus Tracks + Live DVD) (2004)