Before Ireland's most popular metal band Primordial take the stage in support of Abbath's first ever London show, eGigs manages to capture outspoken vocalist Alan 'Nemtheanga' Averill over a bottle of red wine and a chinwag on the serious business of Primordial, the band's appeal to both extreme and melodic metal adherents and how he solely managed to get Sweden's black/thrash alcoholics Gehennah recording an album after nearly two decades.
How are you, Alan?
How does it feel to play with Abbath?
He's alright. We know him from before – we went on tour fifteen years ago, actually one of the last Immortal European tours…maybe they did one more festival tour in 2003 but the last big tour they did in Europe was 'Damned in Black' in 2000 and that was with Primordial. We did 30 days, 25 days so we've known each other a long time. He's a fucking great guy; he's a funny person. It's good.
Going back to your last album 'Where Greater Men Have Fallen', how would you say this album compares or contrasts with previous Primordial material?
It's just the same old shit! No….I don't know really. We only make an album every three or four years. I think the most difficult thing about being in a band once you've been doing it for a certain amount of time is to be able to step outside of the creative process and be able to think to yourself “Has this still got some energy? Is it still relevant?” After eight albums and 25 years of playing with these guys, since we were fifteen and sixteen years old, most heavy metal bands make their best albums in the first one or two. You know, you're young, dumb and full of cum and you want to take over the world and that's when the best heavy metal comes out. Older bands - they don't care about new shit that comes out, they're in their comfort zones out of all of that. We used a new producer, new engineer, new studio and it's just a very important thing to be able to step outside of the process and go: “Am I still as committed as the younger guys?” and I found I was so…that's the short-long answer.
Your lyrical themes are very inspired and for 'Where Greater Men…', you've said that you were particularly inspired by the Chicago World Fair in 1893. This dramatic sense of worldy change that you explored remains relevant even in 2016.
The point was that you take 1893, the Chicago World Fair and building a city within a city to show off basically the technological potential of the next hundred years, which ended up being ways to kill more and more people - you know, the splitting of the atom and that kind of thing. Then we look at let's say 1990 – 2000 and it was unrivalled prosperity of the West, the emergence of the new middle class – only the Balkan wars was a small exception – there was the expansion of the European Union and this began to unravel sometime after the early 2000s, as in a hundred years previously began to unravel before the First World War and that's when I looked at where we were standing 100 years apart and the progress we…that was how it started. It's not all about that but it was the first point began there, all the lyrical stuff. Some of it's about all the cheery stuff, like 'Ghosts of the Charnel House' is about child abuse by the Catholic Church. Saturday party nights, you know? 'The Alchemist's Head' is about William Blake.
You're very serious with your lyrics. Do you aim to inspire the listener or create some kind of call to action?
We're a bunch of Irish messers; we have a sense of humour but not with the music. There's no single…
It's just serious business.
Yeah, spend enough time around any of us and we're…you know. The way I look at it is this: I don't have any kids. If and when I do, whoever that unlucky woman is, and those kids grow up to be teenagers and they see me and they go: “You spent your life singing about killing zombies, fast cars…”I'd feel embarrassed so I feel if there's a continuation of the great cultural and literary people that inspired me and I know that sounds pretentious but that doesn't really bother me. We didn't know any other way. Even in '91, it had to be that serious. I know there are plenty of people who don't need serious lyrics; they just like a big 'Empire Falls' chorus.
Why did you chose 'Babel's Tower' to make a video for?
It was the first one that we made and we thought that was the best song and we made the album, released it and people thought it's not the song that they liked. We were like: “Ah okay, we thought that this was the song from the album that people would like.” But they said: “No, we like this one and this one.”
If you had the foresight, would you have chosen another song first of?
No, not at all. My cousin made it. He edits videos – that's what he does for a living anyway– so it was a very interesting process to go out and actually do a proper video. It seemed to have helped because younger people now consume music through Youtube and if you have a reason to be connected to you…I don't know, I don't really like analysing all that stuff but if you look at the algorithm of people who watch Primordial videos, they watch it for four minutes and fourteen seconds and the average is about two minutes so make of that what you will. It's good we made an – well, we make such long boring songs anyway – odd video. It was cool; it was good. I don't have much patience as you can probably tell but making a video was far more painful.
Primordial is a band that appeals to fans of melodic metal who don't like anything extreme but also those addicted to extreme metal who dislike the melodic. Why do you think you appeal to both contrasting fans?
Because we paid the dues. We've been around a long time. Most black metal bands, some bunch of Scandinavian hair farmer pretty boys maybe with their faces painted, are too afraid to get it. To me, Candlemass is heavier than most black metal bands. Black Sabbath is heavier. I'm not interested in extremity or speed. We do play some fast bits but…we've played Gotik Wave Treffen, the biggest gothic festival in the world. We've played that four times.
Four times? That's impressive.
Also a month ago we played with Accept and Hammerfall so don't ask me, it just works that we can somehow. Hammerfall smelt very nice when they walked by, very clean [laughs]. It's weird. The black metal people give us kudos for being around a long time and not having compromised or changed and that's important. Some people were there in 1991 but for somebody who's into Iron Maiden or heavy metal, they're like: “Oh, he's singing.”
In an interview, Gehennah from Sweden said that they started recording an album after a long hiatus because they think you spoke to the guys at Metal Blade and Metal Blade then got in touch with them.
Yeah, I signed them because we were in a football match together. I go to this festival every year in Sweden called Metallsvenskan to play football. The guys started a football match, I went on the team to play and so it came from a football match.
So you went to Metal Blade and said-
Thank you so much.
Ha ha! If it's any consolation, they're shit footballers but nice guys.
You've mentioned your other project Blood Revolt (with the guys in Revenge) might be working on a new album.
Yeah, we're going to make it harsher, more Revenge. It's a conversation for nine months.
Do you think next year could see a sophomore album?
I don't know, maybe November or December or something.
It's very different – it doesn't just sound like a synthesis between Revenge and Primordial.
People either hate it or love it but it's okay if you hate it. It's a hard listen.
Reverting to Primordial, you've come very far and as you said earlier, it's important to keep the energy and passion. Where do you envisage Primordial from this point? It seems like you've really reached a pinnacle. Where next to conquer?
Mexico [laughs]. I don't think of it. It's an institution in my life that we all live with. When we don't do something, we don't see each other, we don't hang out, we don't rehearse. We get on with our lives and then we see each other. We don't think about it. We don't make plans. As long as it still sounds like we mean it then we do it.
You've said in other interviews you aren't working on a new album at the moment. What are Primordial's future plans then?
I don't know. We're going on tour with Svatidaudi and Ketzer then we're doing festivals. I don't know. I've become more of a non-committal passenger when it comes to the organisation. I want to go to South America, and more eastern…we've started to play in Russia and Ukraine. We're trying to play in Belarus and Georgia. We're trying to go to Mexico and South America so just lumped into a different city.
Do you have any final words for the readers of eGigs?
What are you doing on the Internet? Go out, do a line, drink a shot, get laid. Fucking hell. Get off the Internet! GET OFF THE INTERNET! Those are my final words.
Thank you so much for the interview.