En prat med John McEntee…..
Av Rune

John McEntee er hjernen bak det amerikanske death metal bandet Incantation. Han har v�rt med fra starten av og er eneste gjenv�rende originalmedlem i bandet. Laurent fra Listenable, bandets plateselskap, hadde gitt beskjed til John at undertegnede sv�rt gjerne ville ha en prat i forbindelse med bandets konsert i Oslo 4. november, og da jeg m�tte den meget hyggelige og sympatiske fyren, var det ikke nei i hans munn. Og det var en veldig pratsom kar jeg traff backstage f�r helvete br�t l�s p� John Dee da Oslo fikk bes�k av de 4 bandene som deltok i Clash Of The Demigods Tour 2004.

ET � First of all, welcome to John Dee, Oslo and Norway.
JOHN � Thanx, it`s good to be here.

ET – Is this your first time here?
JOHN � Yes, this is our first time here, and definitely looking forward to it. We have just been in Sweden for our first time, and that kicked ass so�

ET � You are doing 3 gigs here in Norway in 3 days. What are your expectations from the fans here in Norway, also known as the home of the black metal?
JOHN � I really don`t know what to expect. Since we never have been in Norway and never seen Norwegian shows, so we don`t know what to expect. There will probably be some old school fans that are looking forward to check us out who never got the opportunity. We are hoping that we can do a great show for them and hopefully gain some new ones as well. I don`t necessary think that Norway is so black metal as the world make it out to be, but the bottom line is that our music is dark and blasphemous and hopefully the Norwegian fans will like it.

ET � Do you listen to black metal yourself?
JOHN � Some, but not primarily. I`m more of a death metal fan, I like black metal, but I like the raw, aggressive, the type I consider real black metal. Not necessary the bigger black metal themes with atmospheres and stuff. I`m more into bass, guitar and drums kind of black metal, but it has to have some sort of dynamics. For me it is, out of the nineties style of black metal, Darkthrone �A Blaze in The Northern Sky�. That I like a lot, I think it is good and has a lot of dynamics in the music. It`s not one feeling through the whole album, it has a lot of different moods and stuff. I am a big fan of Immortal, especially �Pure Holocaust�. The vibe of that and Battles in the North is something I really like, but overall I`m not a huge black metal fan. My opinion is that the black metal went too far away from its roots. For me a lot of black metal did the same thing as death metal did in the mid nineties, where death metal went more commercial. There is still good stuff out there, but the bigger stuff that get a lot of press is more commercial, not my style. I am more meat and potatoes kind of guy. It doesn`t matter if it`s mixing of ideas as long as the fundamentals are proper, I don`t care.

ET � I guess it�s suitable to congratulate with your latest album, Decimate Christendom. Can you describe the album with your own words?
JOHN � Thanx. I am happy with the way it came out. It is pretty close to our vision, and usually when we record an album it comes out a little different than we originally planned. It doesn`t necessary mean better or good, but it came out close to how we hoped the songs would come out. I feel that the album has a more lively feeling to it, viciousness and more tact to it; it has a real sound to it. It almost sounds like a live album, but well produced and everything. It has that lively feeling to it. I think it`s important for our style because it is hard for us to get out the raw energy while we are in studio which we get on a live performance. It`s closer to a live performance, so we are really happy with it. We like the facts that it is a wide variety of songs on it. It`s not one basic pattern through the whole album, it got some different feelings. I can`t complain about it, it`s nice to do an album and feel satisfied, you know.

ET � It`s been said that we Norwegian are pretty slow when it comes to this type of dark metal. The album need a lot of time before we decides what we feel about it. But we hear new parts/elements in the songs every time we play it, and the album gets better.
JOHN � Well, that is good for us, because it means that the album isn`t one dimensional. A lot of albums are one dimensional, you hear it the first time and you know exactly what it is. We hope that our albums are a little deeper and not just an average death metal album. It`s more of a dark album and is how we feel. We didn`t make an album for the fans to like or not. We made an album we feel is true to ourselves, expression of ourselves. People are going to like us for us being us, that is what we`re trying to do. The magic is gone in the music if you always are trying to copy stuff, trying to follow trends. That is not really being creative. Creative is look into yourself and do what you feel is right. You have the choice between making commercial music you know that people are going to like or you can make music that is important to you. But if you don`t write music that`s important to you and do really well, you can`t play to anyone than yourself, because you choose to make a path that`s not within the trend.

ET � Back to Decimate Christendom, I think I listened to the album about 25 times before my review was done, and still I felt that I wasn`t done with it, hehe.
JOHN � Hehehehehe. It`s like a never-ending book, hahahahahahahahaha.

ET – You�re the only remaining original member and it is said that this is your band. Do you have any thoughts on that?
JOHN � In a way it is true but really it`s not. Whatever what the line up is, it`s always teamwork in what we do. It`s not like Hitler or something are in the band telling everyone to do that and do that. It`s more that I try to find people who have similar vision. The vision of the band always stays intact with me, I think. I just try to find people that can relate to the music I am trying to write. And with the line up we have now it`s really good because we all are focused on the same. Everybody understands what the band is all about and everything. Actually, I, Joe and Kyle are a well working unit. Everybody put a lot of effort into the album, from songwriting, lyrics, production and vocal patterns. It wasn`t just me telling people what to do, everybody was there and everybody had inputs. It`s really great because through the albums the pattern has been me writing most of the stuff and where I was telling people what to do. But this time it was more of a group effort. I think this album is above an average album for us because there was different feelings than maybe I wouldn`t have seen myself. That kind of stuff really helps out, it`s easy to start repeating yourself.

ET – How has it been through the years with different line up changes?
JOHN � It`s a mixture, some stuff is great and some stuff sucks. It sucks when you have people that you believe are going to be in the band for a while, but they freak out for some reason or something like that. It sucks when people start to get different vision in the band, but working with so many different people is also cool. You learn a lot from different musicians. I have been working with some really horrible musicians and I have been working with some really great ones. In one way or another you learn something from everyone, no matter if they are great or bad. I think it has helped us a band to get more knowledge in songwriting. But like I said, the current line up it is a perfect mix where everybody is giving 100 percent.

ET – Reputation as one of the hardest working bands around?
JOHN � Hehehehe that was written by the record company, hehe. We do work hard. It is hard to play raw aggressive death metal for so long as we have. It`s not a commercially based type of music and there is not a lot of money in it. But we do what we wanna do and has been doing that since we started. Most bands have to work really hard to get a decent level of success. It`s part of being a metal band, you have to take the good and you have to take the bad. It is the way it is.

ET – Incantation has often brought with them new bands touring the states / known to lend a helping hand to other bands.
JOHN � Yes, we have brought a lot of bands over. It is a mixture of wanting to help out in the underground and to give the fans a good show. One of the bands we are touring with now, Krisiun, we brought them over in 1999. And it went out very well. They weren`t very well known in the states and we knew that if we brought them out on the road with us, we knew it would be cool for people to hear a new band and stuff. We have a reputation in the states for touring with good bands even if people doesn`t necessary know who they are. Usually our opening bands will and have been interesting to check out for the fans. A part of helping the underground scene is to help other bands too. Other people helped us in the past and gave us opportunities so we are willing to help out other bands and to have a great time. A lot of the bands we are touring with we are good friends with so it`s cool.

ET – Do you feel that you have reached your goals with your music?
JOHN � It`s hard to say, I don`t have like a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow or anything. You do it because it`s natural to you. I don`t mind success, but I don`t like sell my firstborn child for it. If we get any popularity we want to get it by being ourselves. Our goals are more self-fulfilling, I am satisfied with the new album that we did and it`s a great accomplishment of the band. I think if we were trying to be trendy and try to make money, and then your goal would be like selling 100000 records or something. But if you make a record that is more personal ���. Well��.. I do not know if I have reached my goal yet, I really don`t, hehehehehehe.

ET � How has this tour been so far?
JOHN � It`s been totally awesome and all the bands are totally cool. Everybody gets along very well and the shows have been killers. The average has been around 300 every night which is good for this kind of tour in Europe. Some nights have been better with between 400 and 500 and some nights have been a little worse with around 200. But with the average on 300 that is really good. We have been doing other smaller tours in Europe and it has been closer to 100 and 200 on the shows. It`s been a great opportunity for us to play for new kids and there is a diversity in the bands. All the bands are aggressive and brutal, but in different ways. Ragnarok is more black metal, Behemoth is somewhere in the middle between black metal and death metal. They are starting to get really popular and bring out a lot of people to the shows. Then there is Krisiun which is more brutal and then you have us which are more traditional old school death metal. I think it`s good because everybody is bringing something to the table. The fans get a chance to check out bands they might not know or something. There are older people coming out to see our show, while with Behemoth a lot more new kids comes out, so it is good because the new kids get a chance to check us out. Even some of the black metal fans, that comes to see Ragnarok, they get a chance to see us too.

ET � Some might think that 4 bands are too much for one night.
JOHN � Yes, there is always some people who goes to see just us, some to see just Behemoth and so on. Some people know what they like and they wanna see the band that they like.

ET � I guess you have started on your next album already.
JOHN � Yes, we have some ideas ready about what direction we wanna go. It is not 100 percent done. We wanna keep the aggression and the live atmosphere that we have on Decimate Christendom, but we also wanna concentrate some more on the mid tempos. Try a little more diversity on the mid tempos. Try it from some different angles, but it will still be Incantation. Still be sincere to the old school style because that is what we wanna play. We have a couple of songs that we kind of trashed for this album. They were two long doom songs, together they timed in for like 20 to 25 minutes long. I don`t know if we are gonna use them on the next album, because they are a little bit long. We were originally thinking of putting together an EP with more doom stuff, just for shits and giggles you know. But we ended up deciding not to do it. The tracks we might end up use as bonus tracks or something. But a 15 minute long bonus track is a bit is a little bit eccentric, hahahahahahahahaha. That takes a lot of studio time also, hehehe.

ET � Are you happy with Listenable and the work they have been doing for you?
JOHN � Yes, totally. Without a doubt it`s been the best European label we have been on. We have had disastrous situations with our labels in Europe. Candlelight was just a waste of time, Relapse was a waste of time, and Nuclear Blast was also a waste of time. It was horrible, none of the labels believed in us. They can`t release a record if they don`t believe in the band or they don`t believe they can make some money on the album. Somehow they need to have some kind of ambition. Listenable has that, and I have been friends with Laurent, the owner since the late eighties. He knows the band and he knows what the band is about. If it is someone who understands our music and our band, it`s really him. They have been phenomenal because we can night and day that we are working with somebody that believes in the band. Things in Europe are starting too look better. We get a proper amount of publicity and we are on a great tour like this. So we can`t complain at all. You know Laurent is a little bumped out because he really wanted to release our last album as well. But our US label convinced us to go with Candlelight, and that was just the worst thing ever for us. All Candlelight cares about is Emperor and Zyklon. It`s great for those bands and I have nothing against those bands, but if your not those bands, you`re fucked, hehe. And that is no good. Why put out a record for a band if you`re not gonna do anything with it? It`s better if they didn`t release it, it`s as simple as that. Before we released it we thought that Candlelight was a great chance. Zyklon was everywhere and they did great promotion for them, so we thought that maybe we could get something close to that. But we got nothing.

Og med det avsluttet vi intervjuet, men det kan sies at samtalen fortsatte og det kan herved bekreftes at John McEntee er en meget hyggelig og blid fyr som har sine egne meninger og som han ikke er redd for � snakke om.