Saturday, July 7, 2018

Interview: Kyuho Lee (MADMANS ESPRIT)


    From the realms of experimental post-black, I bring you the mesmerizing, agonizing sound of MADMANS ESPRIT! Straight from Seoul, Kyuho Lee is here to talk about his journey and give us some insight on the new album 무의식의 의식화 (Conscientization of Unconsciousness), that you can pre-order HERE !

pdn: Hello, Kyuho. It is an honor having you here! First, please tell me a bit about how Madmans Esprit was born and respectively, when and how did you start getting into music in general?

Kyuho: Hello, Madmans Esprit was formed in 2010 if my memory is correct, there were a few people who had the same interest in music as me, we’ve been knowing each other for awhile and I had a couple of songs to start a band. Both of my parents have a very deep understanding of music, since I was little I grew up surrounded with classical music, jazz, pop, rock and metal. Like waking up in the morning listening to Beethoven’s string quartet and going to bed listening to Pink Floyd’s The Wall.

pdn: The atmosphere in your music is truly wistful, with a good dose of lethargy. At the same
time, your previous album contains very in-your-face titles, with some sexual innuendo. Is there any way you can explain how you created these connections?

Kyuho: I like to hide meaning in between texts. It might seem very in-your-face, but mostly, all of my texts always lead me to almost the same conclusion through differently written words. Life and death, existence.
I always have this idea that everything is one, and one is everything. Not in political meaning, in almost Buddhistic sense.  

pdn: What are the main themes that drive you when you write music? Please tell me about what inspired you on Nacht, versus what inspires your next release. Judging by the difference in song titles, the theme or just the way of expression will be a bit different maybe?

Kyuho: NACHT is a very dark album. It includes various suicidal emotions, sadness, anger, emptiness... I write music always very impulsively, nothing is in plan most of the time. It’s just how I am, how I exist. It’s still the same.
The next album will include a larger variety of emotions, it shares the certain ‘Madmans Esprit-ish’ atmosphere with NACHT, but the emotions inside are much more specific and even the text can be read just as emotional poetry or even as a very political statement.


pdn: Speaking about your next album: do we know the release date? I want to make sure we excited folks mark it in the calendar. What can we expect, how would you describe it as a teaser for us, in addition to the video sample below?

Kyuho: The new album will be released through the German label ‘Gan-shin’ on 1st of October. But there will be a pre-order for a signed copy soon which you can get shipped earlier than that. I put my entire 4 years since NACHT in the album. Only the very best. All the music I listened, all the emotions I felt throughout those 4 years. I guarantee you a very odd but very satisfying, genre-breaking masterpiece. 
pdn: Being as dedicated as you are, how do you share your time between Madmans Esprit and your other band, Ms. Isohp romatem?
Kyuho: Also with Human Traces, I basically work 24/7. I don’t have any other hobby. I don’t sleep that much. It’s just constant works one after another then it somehow works out. Depending on which band has which activity at the moment, I focus on different things.

 
pdn: I understand you had health problems and were hospitalized some time ago. No need to go into detail more than you feel like, however I am curious: to what degree can you confirm the famous concept of art being born as a result of painful problems?

Kyuho: From the conversation I had with my friend yesterday, people say “they sold their soul to devil”. There is a boundary in art, which you can not cross over unless you cross the boundary of sanity at the same time. If you want to remain a decent, healthy human being, your art will stay in that decent, healthy and harmless safe space. Art should be threatening. Art can be an ultimate weapon that destroys us all, but also can resurrect us all from the ashes. That’s what only art can do. What can not kill you will not make you great.

pdn: Who are your favourite artists, the ones you can relate to best?

Kyuho: Dir en grey, Shining, Radiohead and Sukekiyo.

pdn: I know you went back and forth between Seoul and Berlin for a long time. Which were the most prominent differences between the life you had in each place?

Kyuho: Quality of life. It is a waste of time to say how fucked up  South Korea is as a country in comparison to Germany. In the sense of human rights, labour rights, sexism, racism and so on, South Korea is nothing compared to Germany. No wonder why South Korea has the highest suicide rate from OECD countries.
And well, if I can add, there is almost no music scene. The entire country is devoured by factory pressed K-POP shit.  
pdn: What are your future plans, both musically and personally speaking? Maybe a tour and we can catch you live? ;)

Kyuho: I’m currently planning a tour in Asia. Hopefully in the near future I can go back to Europe and have an European tour, too. As for personal plans I don’t have much to say, I don’t have much else than music.
pdn: Thank you so much for this conversation, I definitely appreciate it. Is there anything you would like to add for our readers, anything at all?

Kyuho: Thank you very much, too.
I would like to thank the people who read it until the end. Please stay excited for the upcoming album, it won’t disappoint you. Hopefully, see you all at some shows, too.

https://www.madmansesprit.com/ 
https://www.facebook.com/madmansesprit
https://www.instagram.com/madmansesprit/
https://twitter.com/EspritMadmans

Monday, October 30, 2017

Interview: Juha Kylmänen (FULL NOTHING/ REFLEXION/ FOR MY PAIN)

  From the heart of Finnish melancholy come supergroup For My Pain, Reflexion, and of course, Full Nothing.  Also formerly performing on vocals in Eternal Tears of Sorrow, Juha Kylmänen's  voice gave all of these projects a unique note and an amalgam of feelings. It is an honor to have him here today for a little chat. Enjoy, guys!

pdn: Hei there, Juha! Firstly, could you please elaborate a bit on the times when you started getting into rock/metal and then actually becoming active musically?

Juha: I think it was my brother who introduced me into 80's rock at first place. Queensryche, Tarot, Twisted sister, Y&T etc. was constantly played in our house. When I was about 12-13 I met a friend who had a band and with him we started composing our own songs and listened music aaaaall the time. So i started as a drummer but ended up to vocals since nobody else wanted to sing. We formed our first metal band "Predominance" and played shitty weird songs named "Braindead" Evil´s dead, Dark Forest etc... ouh.. sincere and happy times indeed... We even made a show in our school at winter 1993.. I think.  After that I met the Reflexion guys when I was doing a demo for Predominance and joined them as singer.

pdn: You have made a lot of music that meant a lot to many. Tell me, is Full Nothing your main project at the moment, or are you working on anything else in parallel?

Juha: Full Nothing is my main thing in music now. We are finishing the second album soon. Next week we are going to Stockholm for a month to mix the album there. It's not a far out trip for me, but I bet that the Argentina guys will be surprised much more =)  The freezing weather mostly I think. I'm also doing a lot of recording and producing work to other bands in my studio nowadays. To be honest I haven't stopped writing music, nothing like that .. I'm composing all the time, but only time will tell where my songs will end up ..maybe some secret projects going on... hahahhah =)  

pdn: What about For My Pain, as I've seen, the official status on some sites is "On Hold". Are there any known chances of resuming the short-lived yet really successful "formula"?

Juha : Hmmm.. At this point, I must say " No comment" on this one. You can decide is it a good or a bad news. 


pdn: Even though the elements make it pretty clear, I'd prefer to let you tell me: What are the main sources of inspiration when you write music? We can get caught up in certain moments, scents, emotions etc... And did these change along the way or you seek your muse in the same things? Also, any "rituals" you have for when creating?

Juha: This changes for me a lot. I must say that my personal life affects to my songs the most, obviously.. Since they are pretty much stories of my own struggles in here spiced with something we call " Lapin lisä". Means that I tend to push the stories to the point where reality meets imagination.. or something.  I can't really create my inspiration.. its more vice versa.. I start to paddle when the flow of inspiration arrives. I've also learned that years as we call.. our age, changes the perspective how I write. The only hard part in writing is the self criticism... It destroys 90% of the new ideas... so that is what years gives to composers.. but I try control it by getting drunk enough to forget the fact that Im old. =)
 

pdn: Which was your favourite show to play overall, and why? What made it stand out?



Juha: I have to say that all the Russian tours have been the best. Reflexion was very welcomed band there always and people were kind and  simply loved our music. We had.. well and still have some very special friends there who made our tours to work perfectly and they made the trips easy for us. We just enjoyed the playing and everything else was taken care of, that's what makes a perfect show to happen for me. 


pdn: There are many sides to being a musician, no doubt. But what is the most rewarding thing about being part of the music scene as an artist for you, personally?

Juha: Well, it's simply the fact that I can create something that gives a platform to enjoy and flow thru emotions. To realize that someone can experience happiness, love, crisis, darkness any great emotion by listening my music. Also I have to mention the fact That music has given me an opportunity to work all around the world. Especially Full Nothing,that have opened the door to visit the beautiful Argentina.

pdn: Favorite bands growing up? And if you had to choose only five albums to listen to for the rest of your life, which would these be?

Juha: The Cardigans "Long gone before daylight".  The doors "The doors", GNR "Use your
illusion II", Carcass "Heartwork"  Mr.Big " Lean into It".

pdn: Are you involved in any other activities that you are passionate about, outside of music?

Juha: I love fly fishing, MTB, Single malt whiskey and making love (last two works also combined).


pdn: Are there any plans for the near future? Can we expect a new release or tour, maybe?


Juha: Yes! As I said earlier .. Next week we are heading to Stockholm to mix the new Full Nothing album. It will be mixed by Mr. Dave Castillo. He was chosen to do the job among many other top of the line mix engineers in the world, simply based on the work he has done in the past. Amazing guy. The new Full nothing album will blow your mind! Its an unbelievable creation of music. Biggest production in my entire musical history, even all the albums I've made so far would be combined. The new album will contain string scores played by The Bratislava string orchestra. Having real string scores on the album is a huge dream come true to me and now its finally happening, it's awesome! There will be also some new faces/voices featuring on vocals with me. The whole making the album process has been an unbelievable adventure to me and this album is a creation of no compromises. We have put all the effort to make it sound just like we want. As you can see I'm veeeery excited !! 
 

pdn: Thank you kindly for your time! Is there anything you would like to add for your friends and fans in closing?

Juha: Thanks you! Follow the upcoming Full nothing news, I can assure its worth it =) Take care now, bye bye then =) 

https://www.facebook.com/fullnothingmusic/
http://www.fullnothing.com/
https://fullnothingmusic.bandcamp.com/album/full-nothing
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfSFQVu1Fvd8qF6xr2-cKrw


Thursday, March 23, 2017

Grá - Ramsvarta Tankar (NEW VIDEO OUT!)

   Swedish black metal act Grá have just released their new music video today, March 24, 2017. Here's “Ramsvarta Tankar”, by Carnal Records, March 24, 2017. You can find my full interview with frontman Andreas Heljarmaðr HERE . Enjoy, folks! 








http://grahorde.com/
https://www.facebook.com/graofficial/
http://grahorde.bandcamp.com/
http://www.youtube.com/grahorde 

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Interview: Blake Judd (NACHTMYSTIUM)

    Probably one of the most appreciated psychedelic black metal bands, with a tumultous background. Wicked music, intertwined with the vicious claws of excess. After a long time of quasi-silence, Blake Judd is here to discuss some black metal, an ample story telling the nightmarish years of addiction, successes, as well as things he is now less proud of. And most of all, plans!

pdn: Hello, Blake. Thank you for accepting to have an open conversation with me about your creative, yet turbulent implication in the metal scene.
Please tell us a bit about the time you first got into metal; what were your favourite/ inspirational bands, and usual activities that you used to love, that kind of came with

the music.

Blake:
Hello, Laura!  First off, I’d like to open this interview by thanking you, specifically, for reaching out to me, wanting to do this interview. I have been completely silent in the music press since very shortly after Nachtmystium’s final album (“The World We Left Behind” LP, 2014, released worldwide on CD / gatefold double LP and digitally on Century Media Records) due to the turbulent and awful state that my life was in at the time and continued to be in for quite sometime after. We’ll get into all that here in the following questions, though.  Now, to answer your question….the first metal music I ever heard was around 1991, and it was Metallica’s “Black Album” and Guns N Roses “Use Your Illusion” albums….just whatever tracks were getting played on the radio at the time.  I was about 8 or 9 years old then.  I just remember being blown away at how heavy sounding those songs were (especially the Metallica tracks they were playing….I remember really getting hooked to the track “Wherever I May Roam”. That song is what officially turned my into a metal head and changed my life forever.)  As I grew older, I progressed into more extreme and underground metal stuff.  I was probably 11 or 12 when I first heard Slayer’s “Reign in Blood”, and then I was turned onto the Emperor self-titled EP and Enslaved’s “Hordanes Land” EP (which had been released together as a split CD by Candlelight Records.  That was the first extreme metal I’d ever heard at all, and it completely changed my life forever.  I knew the first time I heard “I Am The Black Wizards” from that Emperor EP that I had finally found the music style I’d been looking for my whole life.  The rest in history, haha!

pdn: Which band would you say was the most fun to tour with so far and why?

Blake:
Oh wow, thats a tough question, and for many reasons.  First off, I was so blessed in terms of having been able to tour as much and as frequently as I did between when Nachtmystium started touring in 2005 and our final tour in 2012. I got to tour with many bands whom I’d been a big fan of for many years, and also bands whom I became a big fan of as a result of touring with them. I can’t really think of any bands i didn’t have a good time with, to be honest with you. However, if I had to pick three bands we toured with just off the top of my head whom I had a really memorable time with, I’d have to say: 1. Watain.  We did their first ever U.S. tour in 2007 along with Angelcorpse.  That tour was absolute chaos and so much fun. 2. Eyehategod and Brutal Truth in North America in summer of 2010.  Just an awesome tour package and everyone in both of those bands were so cool and fun, plus it was EHG’s first tour in close to a decade as I recall, and it was also Brutal Truth’s final shows before breaking up after a long career pioneering the grind movement, so it was a huge honor to have been able to be a part of that.  3. Cradle of Filth North America March/April 2011. I am not really a fan of COF’s music, but they were the nicest fuckin’ guys and easily one of the biggest bands (in terms of success and drawing very large crowds) we ever had the opportunity to do a full tour with. That was the longest tour we ever did (7 weeks) and we were direct support to them for the whole thing, so we got a 45 minute set every night, got a proper sound check every single night and we were making enough money that we could afford to have a full road crew on that tour, so having our own front of house soundman playing in very large theaters every night resulted in us sounding about as good as a band can sound in the live environment, plus we had the best live line up we ever had during that time period and we were ridiculously tight...so, put all those factors together and the result was a very successful, extremely fun and extremely lucrative tour for us.  I truly felt like we had “made it” as a band on that trip. Those were the 7 most rewarding weeks of my life as a member of Nachtmystium.  A decade of extremely hard work and dedication really paid off on that one, I felt.

pdn: If you could pick three albums to take with you on some empty planet, which would those be? (Except your own releases, haha!)

Blake:
Pink Floyd - “Wish You Were Here”, Ministry “Filthpig” and a tie between Placebo “Without You I’m Nothing” and Swans “White Light From The Mouth of Infinity”.  Those are four of my very favorite albums of all time.

pdn: You have made some statements that show you don't like bands labeled as "modern black metal" too much. What are the bands that, opposingly, you do love that had are legendary and you feel have never mixed outside elements with BM? I also have a feeling you don't like the limits that labeling implies, judging by your impulsivity in sound (which can be much more expressed)

Blake:
As for black metal, Burzum has always been my favorite BM band. I feel the first four Burzum records embody everything I love about the 2nd wave style of BM that was primarily coming out of Scandinavia in the early-to-mid 90’s. The atmosphere, the production, the hypnotic, droning vibes of many of the songs (especially on the latter two of the first four albums) all perfectly embody what I love about that style and that era of BM.  No one had ever done anything like it before.  Its truly innovating music and to this day, it still makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up when I hear it. A few other bands I really enjoy who arr active today and doing very creative, ground-breaking and boundary-pushing work, I feel, are Blut Aus Nord, Deathspell Omega, Deafheaven, and Leviathan. Those bands can seem to do no wrong in my ears.

pdn: You were involved in several bands on the Nachtmystium, that started as a side-project itself, yet it might somehow be the one you are closest to, maybe? These bands shifted between members a lot. How much do you think that affected the outcoming music?

Blake:
Well, the bands i was most active and involved with were (obviously) Nachtmystium and Twilight.  Twilight was just a studio project, though.  Not so much a band.  Both bands / projects definitely had a rotating cast of characters over the years though, and that certainly affected the music coming our of both bands. Nachtmystium’s line up changed frequently generally because I needed people who could keep up with the relentless touring schedule that I liked to keep. The second someone couldn’t keep up with the touring, they were generally replaced. I tried to keep line ups that got along well together as long as possible, but it seemed like there was always someone on their way out and someone new on their way in in that band. Of course, this affected the bands sound. As for the records, though, I did the majority of the song writing (contrary to what some assholes on the internet like to say...nothing offends me more than reading people making the comment that I didn’t write my own music in Nachtmystium. I didn’t write all of it, but its fair to say I wrote 85% of it, at least. Chris Black, our long-time producer, helped me tremendously with arrangements and lyrics, however. That was never denied or a secret, though. I hired him initially to help me do the things I was convinced could be better. He really helped me glue my ideas together and take my vision for what I wanted the band to sound like and really perfect that vision.  We made a hell of a team, in my opinion.  Add Sanford Parker to that equation when we did “Assassins” in 2007 (he stayed on board for the following two full-length LP’s and a slew of EP’s in the wake of that record as well) and we had the perfect team for Nachtmystium between the three of us, and subsequently made our three best albums together (“Assassins: Black Meddle Pt. I”, “Addicts: Black Meddle Pt. II”, and “Silencing Machine”)  With Twilight, the core of the music writing was always handled by Wrest (Leviathan) and myself, and the lyrics / vocals (and a song or two worth of music) was always handled by N. Imperial (Krieg) and then we’d add different folks to the studio line up to kind of add to our foundation on each record.  Namely, Malefic from Xasthur on the debut self-titled album in ‘04, Aaron Turner (Isis), Stavros Giannopolous (The Atlas Moth) and Robert Lowe (Lichens / OM) on “Monument To Time End” in ‘09, and then Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth) on “Beneath The Tridents Tomb” in 2012.  So, thats where the variations in the sounds of those albums came from.

pdn: You've released an LP with your side-project called Hate Meditation in 2013, "Scars". It is a little bit different than Nachtmystium, not as experimental. Was there a source of raw black metal lurking inside that needs and outlet sometimes? Do you plan such projects in for the future?



Blake:
Hate Meditation is a project I formed in 2003 basically to pay homage to bands from the 90's second wave of black metal that got me into the genre in the first place. Ildjarn, Von, Beherit, Profanatica, Blasphemy, etc were all big influences on the intial demo, "Condemned To Death", that I recorded in 2003 and released only about 20-30 cassette copies of. The project then laid dormant for many, many years. In October of 2012, I finally put a line up together that consisted of would-be Nachtmystium drummer, Sam Shroyer (who played on the final Nachtmystium album, "The World We Left Behind", in 2013), and Job "Phenex" Bos, a Dutch guy who had been playing synths for German black metal band Dark Fortress, whom supported Nachtmystium on a thorough European headlining tour in April, 2012. Thats how I met him. We decided on that tour that we should work together, and then I met Sam while record shopping one day in Chicago shortly after that tour...and hence Hate Meditation was reborn. The "Scars" LP (released on Indie Recordings, Norway on CD, LP and digitally) was more influenced by the early 90's Scandinavian black metal recordings that I adored growing up. Theres a very obvious early Emperor and "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas" influence on the album. I'm quite pleased with how it turned out and that also, after nine years of procrastination, I finally somehow managed to write, record and release the album. That record was made during the height of my heroin use. How I managed to get it done still blows my mind, considering what a mess I was. My (now ex) wife and I had just split up in August, 2012 and I was absolutely spiraling more out of control than ever in the months that followed. Anyways...as for projects in the future like Hate Meditation, or another Hate Meditation record....I'd say both are highly unlikely. I've made plenty of black metal records. If i start a new band or project, chances are it won't even be a metal band, much less a black metal band or project. My interests creatively lie way more in the indie rock / shoegaze and electronic spectrum these days.

pdn: The last Nachtmystium album "The World We Left Behind" was either loved or hated. Do you feel like the opinions are honest or they come affected by the personal problems, as in some people cannot separate artist from music?

Blake:
I can say with almost total certainty that 90% of the negative reaction to "The World We Left Behind" had nothing to do with the music within the album. Some of Nachtmystium's best material is present on that record, and fans who looked at the album objectively nearly all agree with that point. Sure, like any of our (and any other bands) records, theres certain songs that aren't as strong as others, but overall it's far from a bad record, in my opinion. Considering I used a bare bones line up during the initial recording sessions (me, a bass player and a drummer wrote and recorded that album before the other two people credited on it stepped in to add their contributions) and I handled literally 90-95% of the writing musically along with 100% of the lyrics, which I hadn't done since "Instinct: Decay" on the musical side of things (and lyrically since "Eulogy IV"), I had gotten very used to the group effort working with people like Chris Black and Sanford Parker, both of whom had massive influence creatively on both "Black Meddle" albums and "Silencing Machine". So, all things considered (and the fact I was still battling serious heroin addiction throughout the entire recording session, which included me being in withdrawals aka 'dopesick' for half or more of the recording sessions due to the fact I intentionally went to Wisconsin, far away from Chicago, to record the album for the specific purpose of getting away from the distraction of drugs during the sessions) I think I did a pretty good job. I don't really care if people like it or not, that was never my concern making any of my records, but I think its unfortunate that some fans of the bands previous works shunned the album because they chose (or continue to choose today) to not be able to separate the art from the artist. That's the way it is though, such is life. I know I put my heart into that album as much (if not moreso, because I knew it was going to be the last one) as I did any other previous record of mine.

pdn: You have admittedly had substance abuse problems over the years. What was the worst experience you've had during your darkest hours?

Blake:
Indeed I have. I have been battling addiction in one form or another since I was a teenager.  Well, actually, I’ve been battling addictive behavior my whole life.  I am the text book example of an addict, behaviorally.  Unfortunately, I made the mistake of starting to use drugs at a very early age. Like most drug users, it began with pot, drinking and psychedelics like LSD and mushrooms in my early teenage years.  When I was 17, I tried cocaine for my first time (ironically, the same year I started Nachtmystium) and I fell in love with it immediately. I also tried ecstasy for the first time around this time, which I also greatly enjoyed. This was the beginning of a long run of abusing hard drugs. I could never get enough. It became a part of who I was. I “wore it on my sleeve”, so to speak.  Anyone that knew me through these years knew me as the guy who always had a bag of something in my pocket and that I’d do just about anything I could get my hands on and put up my nose.  However, I never touched heroin (or any opiate, for that matter) or anything that involved a needle throughout my early and mid 20’s. I stayed away from drugs like oxycontin and heroin because I knew I was an addict and that if I started playing with that shit, that’d be the one that would “get me”. Boy was i right. When I was 27, I had an accident.  In March, 2009, I slipped on a wet floor in a grocery store and I broke my left leg (during the recording session for Twilight’s “Monument To Time End” album)  The injury was severe enough that I had to have a major surgery and I was then stuck in a wheel chair for the better part of 3 months while I healed up from the surgery. With this physical recovery, I was prescribed percocet (a name brand pill for oxycodone, which is the same drug in name brand Oxycontin, just a slightly smaller dose than what you find in Oxycontin pills)  Having no tolerance for any opioid drugs at this point in my life, though, these pills were a real heavy dose of opiates for me and I found myself REALLY liking the pills and my physician had no issue refilling the prescription for me any time I asked him to during the 3-4 months after my accident and surgery. Right off the bat, I was taking 4X the prescribed dosage 3 to 4 times a day.  By the time I had healed up a few months later, I was full-blown addicted to the oxycodone painkillers and when the doctor was no longer prescribing the pills to me, I immediately found someone who could sell them to me illegally. This is where my full blown addiction to opioid narcotics began. Within a matter of about six months after I had healed from my accident, I had moved on from the percocet to high dose (40mg, 60mg and 80mg) Oxycontin tablets and 8mg Dilaudid tablets, and also gone from orally injesting and crushing / snorting the pills to crushing them, dissolving them in water and injecting them intravenously with a needle. Once I crossed that line, that’s when “the plane started to descend” towards its inevitable crash, so to speak. It was no longer about getting high to “feel good” or “have fun”, it became “I have to do this in order to function or feel ‘normal'”.  Things got real dark in my life, real quick. The needle use began right at the beginning of 2010. However, it was about 9 months before I was physically addicted to the point that I was getting “dope sick” (which is when an opioid user goes into physical withdrawals.  Being “dope sick” is, without a doubt, the most miserable, uncomfortable physical ailment I have ever experienced in my life. I, like every other opioid user, would do just about anything necessary to ‘keep my sick off’, as junkies say.) The only reason I was able to get away with doing the drugs the way I was doing them (IV) for as long as I’d been doing them was because I toured so frequently, and I couldn’t obtain these types of drugs on a daily basis on the road, and if I brought any with when I left, they were gone within a few days, as I am not able to control or ration out a certain amount per day. If I have pills or heroin, I do it until it’s gone.  Oh yeah – heroin.  Keep in mind, by this point, mid-2010, my pill source had dried up and new federal laws had been passed in the United States making it much, much harder to obtain strong opioid pain killers, as the “opioid epidemic” had begun in the States and people were dropping like flies from overdoses nationwide…enter heroin into my life.  Cheaper, stronger and extremely easy for me to get. I was living in the Humboldt Park neighborhood on the infamous west side of Chicago, which, to this day, it’s probably safe to say it’s the epicenter for heroin in the United States. At least in the midwest. Chicago’s west side is also the largest ‘open air drug market’ in America. By ‘open air drug market’, I mean hard drugs like heroin and crack cocaine are literally for sale out in the open on just about every street corner, made available by violent street gangs that control the neighborhoods.  If the police come and shut down a corner operation, it’s really just a mild disruption.  Within 2-3 hours of any bust, theres a brand new group of guys out on the corner picking up right where the guys who just got popped had left off. There is no stopping it in this part of Chicago. It’s been like this there my entire life, and I’m sure it was probably like that before I was born. Having traveled as much as I have, I’ve experienced shitty neighborhoods in other cities around the world, and never anywhere in the world that I’ve ever been have I seen anything like what goes on on the west side of Chicago in terms of drug sales / availability. It’s insane. I’ve seen some really terrible shit being over there as well.  I’ve seen a teenage kid get his brains blown out right in front of me literally 30 seconds after buying a bag of dope off of him in September of 2015. I’ve been shot at by being in the wrong place at the wrong time and had a handgun round pass my face so closely that I could feel the heat and smell the gun powder. I’ve witnessed people doing absolutely unimaginable shit to get their drugs. I’ve lived in abandoned buildings because I let things get so bad after my music career completely fell apart (in the wake of me fucking a bunch of people over on orders and, rightfully, getting called out on it very publicly) that I wound up homeless for about a year during 2014-2015. You ask what the worst part of my battle with addiction has been?  Losing a life that 99% of musicians could only dream of having that somehow I was blessed with because I was too arrogant and too stupid to stop when I had the chance, a million different times, before shit got that bad. I thought that I could skate by using heroin and that somehow I’d be spared the inevitable guaranteed consequences of heroin addiction because I thought I was just that smart. My ego and arrogance were unparalleled at the height of Nachtmystium’s success, and I deserve every fucking thing I got in the long run. And I’m glad it all happened the way it did, because I had to go through the shit I’m sharing with you in the interview right now in order to become the somewhat decent, humbled person that I am today. My success with Nachtmystium in combination with the fact that I was on drugs that completely destroyed any mild grasp on ‘reality’ I may have had prior to getting hooked on smack resulted in me becoming an egomaniac of biblical proportions. Me today would’ve probably tried to fight the me of four or five years ago. I was such an asshole because I was so fucked up out of my mind all the time, and I was somehow getting away with it and I just so happened to be good enough at making music and handling the business side of things that I was able to make a living off of it. Earning my living this way allowed me to get away with and afford doing drugs in quantities (and at financial costs) that most people that use these drugs wouldn’t be able to sustain for a fraction of the amount of time that I did it. I had a $150 to $400/day heroin habit during the majority 2011 and 2012. I got married in the summer of 2011 (believe it or not, that lasted all of about 14 months…poor girl, I feel terrible for having put her through that. I hope some day I’ll get to apologize to her and have her know I actually mean it.) and if you look at photos of me from the wedding, I literally look like a skeleton covered in grey skin. My face is all sunken in, I look like a zombie.  It was really, really bad. I didn’t realize just how fucking awful I looked until after I decided to get sober in October of 2015.  I’d finally had enough of being on the street, lying and cheating and hustling every minute of every day of my life in order to buy a drug simply so I wouldn’t get physically sick from not having it.  It finally dawned of me that I didn’t need to continue living like this. I used to pray (literally) that the next shot would just kill me, because my life was so miserable. I’d fallen so far from what I once knew my life to be just a year or so before this, it seemed impossible to be that it’d be possible to snap back from it. And also, what did I have to “go back to”? I’d think that all the time. I’d lost all my friends, my music career was long gone and wasn’t going to be able to be esurrected because I fucked that up way, way too much (I’m still shocked I’m even asked to do an interview today…), I had no money, no job, no where to live, no family within 500 miles except for an aunt and uncle who (like everyone else) had had enough of my shit and theres no way they were going to suddenly be like “Oh yeah, Blake, come move in with us!”  Getting out of the hole I was in seemed completely impossible. So, my thought was “one of these days, I’ll just over dose finally and die”. Well, that day never came, as much as I would hope it would and I’d try to make it happen. After seeing that kid get his brains blown out all over the sidewalk right in front of me and then a week later nearly getting shot myself being in the wrong place at the wrong time, it dawned on me that yeah, I was probably going to die out on the streets – but it wasn’t going to be some peaceful, dreamy over dose…no, someone was going to fucking kill me or I was going to get killed by some kind of violence just by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The thing I was even more afraid of than that, though, was to go to jail again…for anything, for any amount of time. As most people reading this probably know, I was arrested in October of 2013 on a theft charge (I pawned my roommates guitar for drug money, and he figured it out and called the police to get it back…can’t blame him for that) and I spent 29 days in Cook County Jail in Chicago…the largest and most dangerous county jail in America.  I’m white, and I’m not in a gang.  Not a good place to be in that situation.  The only reason people didn’t fuck with me when I was in there was because I was so fucked up looking and covered in festering open sores from being a dope fiend and not using clean needles…I had all kinds of pussing abscesses and shit all over my arms, hands, wrists, legs, feet, etc…anywhere I could stick a needle pretty much.  I think the only reason I didn’t get beat up (or worse) is because the would-be aggressors were too afraid they’d catch something if they touched me.  Seriously.  It’s embarrassing to say that, but it’s the truth. I hate to admit any of this shit to anyone, but to be able to say it publicly today is very therapeutic for me.  It’s humbling.  I’ve been to the bottom. I know what hell is like, and I survived it and made it back to tell the tale. Anyways – to finish my thought on why I decided to finally get some help….the thing I was more afraid of than dying a violent death on the street was the very real possibility that I’d get arrested for something (probably drug possession, because aside from that, I really wasn’t much of a ‘criminal’ on the streets…I just begged for money generally, I wasn’t like robbing people or shoplifting, etc like a lot of people do) and that I’d wind up back in jail. I was on probation for the two years during which I spent a good chunk of that time homeless, and if I got popped for anything, I was going to go to jail for that charge AND have to serve out the rest of the probation sentence in prison. Nothing scared me more than the possibility of going back to jail or even worse – prison. So – the day I got off probation (October 17th, 2015), I walked my ass into a hospital and checked in to detox and said ‘send me to rehab, please, or I’m going to die’. They did. And it worked. Somehow I’m ok today. If you’re interested in all the details of what I’ve done since then and more about my recovery, there is an extensive audio interview I did recently that will be up on youtube here in the next few weeks that goes into all the details of what happened since then. In a nutshell though, I went to 30 days of inpatient rehab after 12 days detoxing in a hospital psyche ward, and upon completion of rehab, I immediately came to Louisville, KY (I have family here) and moved into a half way house, got myself a job and started taking recovery very, very seriously. It’s not been perfect, but today I’m still employed, I have a roof over my head, I don’t live in a recovery home / halfway house anymore, I’m certainly not homeless, I’m not on heroin and I’m still alive.  Can’t say things are just amazing, they’re not, but my life is a hell of a lot better than it was and I can look at myself in the mirror today and have respect for the person looking back at me. I appreciate things a lot more than I ever did before. I’m not the egomaniacal prick that I was for many years.  I’m honest today, always, with everyone. I don’t fuck people over anymore. I don’t think I’m untouchable anymore. I live in reality and I’m grateful as hell for what little I have built back for myself. That’s all I can really say.  I’m like a completely different person. It’s nice. My family tells me they like me a lot more than they used to, haha, and that’s a good thing. I have some new friends here, I have a little money in my pocket (not much, but I can pay my bills and shit at least). The best part is that I don’t have to be “Blake from Nachtmystium” anymore.  I’m just me today. Everything about who I was was a big fucking show.  It was a façade to hide from having to be myself.  I was never comfortable in my own skin, which is why I was so attention hungry. I needed validation. That’s why I had to get on stage and perform for people…I wanted to be important, and it was all rooted in insecurity. The one thing I can say is this: Nachtmystium’s music and lyrics are extremely honest.  Probably the only honest thing about me during that time period in my life. The struggle was real, and it’s presented in the music…which is probably why the band did well. What people were hearing (and still hear when you listen to it today) is someone truly struggling with life, and black metal was the perfect medium for me to express that through. I am glad I went through the extreme highs and lows I’ve been through, because today I can be somewhat comfortable with myself and I know that I’ve seen it all. I know what its like to be in a big band, and I also know what it’s like to be homeless begging for change.  It’s been a wild fucking ride and I have a story I can share with people now that maybe will help someone like me from making the same mistakes I did. I’m hoping that I can share my story with as many young people that are struggling with a drug dependency issue as possible and maybe, just maybe, it will save even just one of them from going through the hell I put myself and so many people who care(d) about me through. If that happens, then I’ll have done my job. That’s all I have to say about that.

pdn: Let's talk to Nachtmystium fans for a moment. The problems you have had seemingly brought them some bad experience buying band merch. Is it true that you are planning on some redeeming acts to combat the situation?
In such chains of problems and hard times for everyone, gossip always pops up at some point to expand outrage. What could you claim was the most atrociuos lie you've heard concerning you and your bands.


Blake:
I’d really like to give the people who made orders from me their money back someday, and I’ve vowed to do that IF and WHEN I can afford to, but I don’t know if or when that day will ever come. I’m starting from the bottom here trying to build a life for myself coming from nothing, so I barely can afford to take care of myself at the moment. What I’m hoping to do realistically is to get this collection of unreleased material I have released at some point in a nice CD and vinyl package, and send every person who didn’t receive an order at some point (who would like a copy) a free copy, along with anything else I can scrape together to throw in for them. That’s more realistic than me suddenly having thousands of dollars available that I can afford to throw at that issue. If I had a big wad of money, it’d be a different story, I’d do it in a second, but that’s not the case and anyone who thinks it is is out of their mind. Hopefully some day I’ll be able to do what I’m talking about with a free release of some sort, or perhaps I’ll get real lucky and come into a big pile of money somehow at some point down the line, but I’m not going to count on that.  As for the atrocious shit people say about me, the things that bother me the most that are absolutely not true are the following: FIRST OFF, my girlfriend I had since getting clean passed away in January, 2016.  She was also a recovering addict. That’s how I met her.  Anyways…she relapsed on heroin while I was literally at a 12 step meeting on January 18th, 2016 and I came home to our apartment to find her dead on our bathroom floor. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever been through in my life and some fucking pieces of shit online who don’t know me or her from a fucking hole in the wall had the audacity to suggest that I “killed my girlfriend” or that I had gotten her to start using heroin again. Not the case. I haven’t touched the shit since I got clean last October and I was doing nothing but trying to help her (and me) stay clean and rebuild our lives. Her death was a tragedy on a level greater than anything I’ve ever dealt with in my life, and if anyone thinks for one second that I did anything other than try to help that girl, they couldn’t be more wrong. Also, they better pray that they never meet me and let me find out they ever said something like that. The other thing that really bothers me is when I read people suggesting that I didn’t write my own music. But that’s petty compared to the comments that have been made regarding Megan’s death. That’s really the thing that bothers me the most. However, in the wake of reading that shit being said regarding Megan’s death, I decided to completely stop reading / paying attention to any of that shit and certainly am not reacting to anything I may hear about or accidentally stumble across.  These idiots that are still worried about me or what I’m doing when I’ve been completely out of the picture for almost three years now really need to get a fucking life. My success in life today is the best revenge towards those wankers. So they can all kiss my very-alive and very-sober ass. 

pdn: We all know that overcoming the effects of such is very difficult, how did you manage to decide to start your rrecovery

Blake:
I think I covered this in the answer to question #6.  Again, theres a very in depth audio interview that will be up on youtube here in the near future that will go in to great detail regarding all that stuff if anyone is interested in all the gory details of everything past, present and future regarding my recovery.  The main thing I can say is that I’m focused on it

and it’s worked out well for me so far.  I’m just taking things ‘one day at a time’ (as cliché as that sounds, it’s truly what you have to do when you’re recovering from an addiction as serious as mine is) and so far, so good.

pdn: Where do you stand at this moment in the process?
What are your near-future ambitions musically? What about future plans on a personal level?


Blake:
Again, one day at a time. Where I stand at the moment in the process is this: I didn’t get high today.  I am going to do my best not to get high tomorrow. That’s about as far out about it as I think. Anything more than that is overwhelming and unnecessary. It gets easier and easier every day because it’s just so not a part of my daily routine at this point that I don’t even really think about it. Plus, my life is SO much better than it was a year ago and two years ago and three years ago, that the idea of putting myself in a position where I could be back in that place is sickening to me and seems really, really stupid. So, I just remember where I’ve been and keep trying to take it ‘one day at a time’ and as long as I keep doing that, I’m pretty sure I’ll be ok. As for musical ambitions, I finally just got a new guitar of my own for the first time in probably close to 2 ½ years. I’ve played when I’ve had the chance in the last couple years (it’s pretty much only been possible ever since I got clean, but I haven’t had an instrument of my own again until just recently) I got a nice Washburn electric guitar from a friend of mine as a gift recently and I’m really psyched about it. I’ve been playing quite a bit. I have a bunch of new material written, but I have no intentions or plans for what I’ll do with it. I don’t see myself starting a new band or anything at this point in time.  Maybe some day, but we’ll see. I’ve got a lot of other work to focus on regarding my life and getting ‘me’ together before I can be worried about something like that.  I’m sure some day I’ll play music with people again, but I don’t see myself pursuing it the way I did with Nachtmystium. I don’t have any desire to go out and tour again or any of that. I’ve done that already. I want to do something new with my life.  However, I do still love to play and I can’t help but to write music when I get the chance because it’s just something I do and have always done. It’s almost like I ‘need’ to do it….I know other musicians know what I mean by that. As for my personal future plans – I’m just working on getting through my first year of being a contributing member of society again. After losing Megan, I’ve decided I’m not going to pursue having a relationship of any sort for quite a while. I need to just work on myself. Get total self-sufficient and used to being in the swing of normal day-to-day life before I can take on too much more. I’ve never had to live a ‘normal life’ with a regular job and shit…remember, I started Nachtmystium when I was 17 and other than that and running Battle Kommand Records from the time I was 21-26, I have never really done anything else work-wise, so I’m like a 33 year old dude learning to be an adult for the first time, haha, it kinda sucks, but whatever…I’m looking at it as a new adventure. I’m enjoying living in Louisville for the time being, but I think at some point in the next year or two I’m going to find a way to move out west. I’ve always wanted to live in the desert somewhere for at least a year or two, maybe in the high desert in southern California, or in Nevada somewhere. Think I’m going to try to find a way to do that. Go experience something totally new. I’ve got nothing to lose. Louisville is cool, but this is merely a place for me to learn how to get back on my feet. Once I’ve got this ‘adulting’ thing all figured out, I’m going to go do some livin’ in a new place and experience some kind of new adventure in my life.

pdn: Thank you so much for having this chat with me! Is there anything you would like to leave your fans out there, in closing?

Blake:
Thank you so much for being willing to talk to me and to give me a platform to share some of my story. I hope that maybe someone reads this who is inspired by it or it helps them in some way. As for my fans, thanks to all of you for the support over the years. And to anyone who may have fell victim to my bullshit when I was in active addiction, I am sincerely sorry for hurting you and letting you down  If I can make it up to you all somehow, someday, I will. And finally, to all the people whom have written me on facebook or sent an email to the old band account expressing their support or just sending me positive vibes regarding my recovery, you guys don’t know how much that shit means to me. I’ve gotten more of those messages than I could’ve ever imagined, and every single one of them touches my heart and gives me strength I didn’t know I had to keep pushing forward coming back from the hardest thing I’ve ever been through in my life. I love all of you and I wish each and every one of you nothing but the best. Thanks again, Laura – and thanks again to all of you who have taken the time to read this.


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