PRIMORDIAL – Honorable On Their Own
Evolving from their Bathory/ Venom cover roots, Irish metal veterans Primordial are comfortable in their own shoes. Content to come out with music on their own terms – at their own pace. As the best bands should not be forced to unleash material before its time, and as a result we continue to hear pinnacle releases from the quintet. "Where Greater Men Have Fallen" is the latest full-length, another 8 tracks of heavy metal that pays homage to the old while also giving hope to the new breed.
A busy slate of interviews as vocalist Alan Averill is a wanted man these days to talk to regarding Primordial. Due to our Skype internet connection struggles on both ends, the conversation may seem a touch shorter than normal – but I do think there are some important points that he did share and should be further food for thought to weigh, digest, and discuss amongst your friends.
Your new album is "Where Greater Men Have Fallen" – gaining major acclaim as being album of the month in 4 of the major metal magazines in Germany alone. Did you know after writing and recording this how special of a record you had created?
"Primordial has been one of those bands I suppose that critics like to love. The nature of the music itself may be difficult in and of itself… I’m not going to say criticize, given the individual nature of what we do."
Eight albums into Primordial’s career, how difficult is it to channel original words and music without necessarily repeating previously charted waters?
"It is difficult. All the way around. We’ve forged our own path and created our own sound, our own signature things that are relatable. And sometimes we say to ourselves in rehearsal ‘this sounds like something that we did 10 years ago’, we sort of think it is okay sometimes to rip ourselves off because we created this angle in the first place. We are not really a professional band, we don’t make an album every year, we make an album every 3-4 years, and people that like the band understand that. It’s not a business, we don’t have to do anything. It can be difficult when you are putting pen to paper to find new things to write about, it comes eventually. Anything except the morning, I am a night person when it comes to creating. I hate dealing with the morning – especially when it comes to sitting in airports half the time."
(Photo: Gareth Averill)
Looking at your vast discography through the years, which album(s) would you say were the game changers in terms of establishing Primordial with your fan base?
"I suppose "Spirit the Earth Aflame" is pretty important. The music became weightier, more serious, and much more focused. I still think a very strong album that showed a different level of maturity. I suppose commercially you would look at "To the Nameless Dead" as kind of our ‘black’/ Metallica album, of what we have. That was the right tone at the right time, and then "All Empire Falls" video became commercially acceptable. Everything just dropped at the right time, the perfect storm for us. Those are the most important ones I suppose."
Do you have any fond memories of the Hole in the Sky Festival through the years -as you used to come as a guest even when Primordial wasn’t on the bill?
"Yes, sure. It was really good people, a music-lovers festival. It wasn’t oriented towards any sort of commerciality, a good atmosphere, not too big. I’m not really into the cattle market festivals."
What would surprise people to learn about you when you have down time away from Primordial and all of your side band action?
"I don’t know, I kill prostitutes for a living! No no, I’m kidding. I play a lot of sports, and have always kept a balance in my life. I’ve been a part of sports teams and have old friends who have nothing to do with music or anything like that. It’s nice to be able to get up on a Saturday morning and play sports for a few hours with a completely different bunch of people. They have no comprehension of the fact that I play in a metal band.
How is the touring shaping up for the rest of 2014 and early 2015 – are there specific areas or bands/ festivals you would like to attempt on this go around?
"I think we are going to try to make every gig more like a Saturday gig, where you have this kind of focused attention. It’s still a work in progress where we will be going."
If you had the opportunity to hold a seminar in regards to improving the state of heavy metal currently, what topic(s) would you focus on?
"Nearly all of the good music being made in heavy metal is happening in the underground. I think that by and large what represents commercial heavy metal in the last 10-15 years nearly to a band has been awful, deplorable. I feel sorry for kids growing up who listened to Bullet for My Valentine when I had Metallica – Master of Puppets. In the 1980’s very often the biggest bands were often the best bands, that’s not so anymore. One of the biggest problems right now is that we are witnessing and living in an age whether it’s music, cinema, writing, where we have a dumbed down period. The ultimate victory of popular culture or popular music is to make people think that it’s okay as an adult to absorb entertainment that is made for children. So right now the metal scene is obsessed with cartoon novelty. If you look in the mid 1990’s bands who were really popular could be like Type O Negative, dark music. Type O Negative would never be popular in 2014, people don’t have the attention span now or the will to engage in that sort of thing. That dark on any level, people want cartoon novelty. Everything that is popular these days has to have a gimmick.
Is that why Primordial will always be a band that lives for the underground, because the type of music you write and perform does possess that depth beyond a surface level?
"Most of them don’t want to be reminded of how dark the world is. They don’t want to listen to a song like "Ghosts of the Charnel House" which is about institutions. Primordial stands in opposition to all of the novelty. We live in an age where people aren’t calling out enough idiots when they are being idiots. You want to spend time listening to gimmicky music, you’ve stepped out of the critical equation. Your opinion doesn’t matter as much as someone who engages in the world that we live in, creating things on a different level. Like X Factor culture, if this is where you get your creative prompts from well then I’m sorry, you aren’t in the conversation anymore. That’s a problem with social networking, and online engagement- people who shouldn’t really have opinions about these things, they have opinions, and some call it the beauty of the internet, but I don’t. Primordial are anti-heroes of the mainstream, we’ve come to represent something serious in an age when most people are… society tries to disengage them from looking at the world in a serious way, creatively I think. It’s called inactive humanitarianism – just liking a page is not enough."