Thursday 27 January 2011

Interview with Stian of Metal Merchants Festival & Devil

Norway's Metal Merchant Festival is in its third year showcasing the best in old and new metal, with all participating acts sharing the same ideal - the classic underground metal sound, metal the way it should be.

I caught up with Stian, one of the festival's curators and member of Devil (who also play the festival) on his crusade to bring the true metalheads what they want. Devil kindly donated their demo for free download, after the interview.

AFITFOG: So, firstly, just wanted to ask you how the festival came around. How come you decided to start doing it in 2009?
Well, it was a summer night in 2008 at (fellow MMF organizer) Ronny's porch, when we were complaining about all the bands we never had been able to see. We decided to give it a shot and check with some bands and Artillery was the first band we agreed on, and luckily they loved the idea and said yes to do the first festival. From there the ball just kept on rolling.

Do you think underground metal is more popular than it was in the 80s or 90s due to it being more accessible with the internet, etc?
Totally! For instance, an extremely unknown band such as Devil have now distributed 5-600 copies of a demo that came out late last November. Back in the day, we would maybe have been able to trade 100 in a year's time. I love that bands can make their music available so easily, that helps us making sure that we seldom miss great new bands. On the other hand, it's easy to romantisize the "golden age", as there was a special thrill in trading tapes, waiting for bands you had no idea what would sound like, being the first of your mates to discover a band and such. But you know, the chase is better than the catch. All in all we're much luckier now. And people that don't understand that, really have misunderstood that it basically is about THE MUSIC!

How did the bands that are playing come about, did you select them personally? Also, aside from some of the recent cancellations, were there any other bands you wanted to play?

There are always bands we want to see but that can't make it. Equinox from Norway is a good example on bands we've been pushing on but never been able to get together for a show. Other bands come as a surprise even to us, as we thought they were dead and buried - such as Dark Quarterer. But mostly it has been me and Ronny raging through our record collections and trying to get a hold of old heroes and the occasional new band, of course. There are a helluva lot of great bands out there now that sounds as old school as anyone; In Solitude, Negative Plane, Hour of 13, Witchsorrow and Age of Taurus, to mention but a few in different genres.

What does the future hold for the Metal Merchants Festival? Are you looking at expanding it if the demand is great enough, or do you want to keep it as a small festival?
As for now, we're actually calling it quits for today's model of Metal Merchants. The other guys are getting more and more busy on other fronts, and so am I. We pay for almost everything out of our own pockets, and that's no way to run a festival when you're just a regular Joe. I hope someone will offer to take the torch and continue the festival, with me, Ronny and Sigurd involved on a lower level. I wouldn't let anyone use the name without me having a saying when it comes to booking. MMF is about no compromise, and that's how it will stay.

Also, your new(ish) band Devil is playing, how did you guys come about and what sort of show can the horde expect?
Actually, it's PRETTY MUCH the same story with Devil as it is with MMF; basically with me and Ronny drinking beer. We were talking about how we wanted to turn back time, not only on the festival, but also as a band. The first reference was Pentagram, although we've landed just as close to other bands such as Witchfinder General, Trouble and Holocaust. As for shows, we are a rock 'n' roll band playing heavy rock, so we will be trying to give the audience a good time. A decent show with classic metal effects will be high on the agenda, but no "evil rites" or "black masses" or what the fuck people call their gigs nowadays. It's all about the way of Kiss, Motörhead, Venom or Maiden. You will be more likely to see a Harley Davidson than some stinking roadkill on a Devil's night out! We might have cool shoes, but no way we're gonna stand around looking at them while there are fellow metalheads and hot chicks in the audience!

The Metal Merchants Festival takes place this Friday and Saturday, January 28th & 29th, in Oslo. All details are here.

Devil (Norway) Magister Mundi Xum (2010)

1. The Arrival
2. At the Blacksmith's
3. Spirit of the Cult
4. Time to Repent
5. I Made a Pact
6. Welcome the Devil

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