Bane and Illusion Interview
Mark Hensch chats with the one-man enigma known as Bane and Illusion! How will this Finnish project continue to balance its supposed goal of paying tribute to 2nd Wave Scandinavian black metal while combining such worship with drifting ambience? Read on to find out!
HHH: You make it clear this act has been kicking around for ages, but you took a while to record. What held you back, or better yet, what inspired you to put everything to tape?
Eirik: What held me back were my commitments to other projects I was currently doing at the time. After I had recorded the demo I wanted to take the time to write my first novel - which I did between December 2005 and May 2006. After completing it, doing some searching for a publisher and coming up with little to no luck I decided to take a quick break… even if I was already five chapters into the sequel.
HHH: You also mention on your band's biography page you originally hailed from Canada before relocating to Finland. How are the atmospheres/cultures between these two nations different and how has it changed your band?
Eirik: I couldn't even begin to explain the details of atmosphere and culture changes between the two "worlds". I could easily write an entire essay on the shock one goes through changing from North America to Scandinavia. To point out a few simple and easily understandable subjects, materialism, consumerism and capitalism rules in America (when ever I refer to America I mean USA and Canada, that is how North America is referred to here). In Finland those simply do not rule over other, more important, values. Care and nurturing for nature, respect of wilderness and love for family and each other are very important and prominent values in this lifestyle.
As for the music, well there will be huge influences on future work. It is almost "natural" to associate black metal with darkness, black, Satan, worship and whatever else fits into the monarch. I admit that I was doing this too and yes I realize there are musicians who strive on these symbols. But the more I look at the entire picture of Earth and the different mythologies and lifestyles the more I understand that what is unknown to someone who say; lives in suburban America and drives their car 10 minutes to work instead of walking, never having to do any real laboring for life essentials besides going to the supermarket; the more I begin to realize that this dark desolate music is about these exact unknowns. If you don't know what is out there then it appears as dark, scary and completely distorted when compared to someone who may live completely surrounded by said lifestyles.
Of course all the influences I am having now cannot be implemented in a single track or even collection of tracks. I am trying my best but I can only tackle one subject at a time. I hope to make it very clear from the opening track of any future releases exactly what the entire concept is. These influences will be fluently blended into the sound of Bane and Illusion. The ideology of the band and lyrical symbolism will always be changing but I believe the sound will stay relatively the same.
HHH: Seeing as you are a one man black metal band, I figured like most bands you'd play under some fake daemonical moniker and name your band after that. Rather than follow this trend, you gave yourself a much broader identity with the name. How did you choose this identity and what does it mean to you personally?
Eirik: I believe it will be clear with future releases exactly why I had chosen the name I had and the actual name I had chosen for myself. Like I said before, black metal is associated with the unknowns of Satan and absolute dark. I am going to spend my energy and creativity exploring lyrical areas that center in on different types of unknowns rather then the black metal unknowns that we already know.
HHH: It is implied on your myspace page that your goal with Bane and Illusion is to further the exploration of Second Wave Black Metal and primal ambience that that period had before the eruption of the Third Wave of BM. How accurate is this statement, and how will future Bane and Illusion releases reflect this mission statement?
Eirik: I think the second wave of black metal had a move definite motive and a much stronger ideology then what is happening now. The idea of being the opposite of commercialized death metal and nu-metal and instead taking the time to explore different aspects of mythology, life and the unknown are much stronger themes then war, Satan and the apocalypse. Yes, these are strong words with strong themes but they are very easy topics to write and create music about. In order to advance in life and educate yourself you have to challenge yourself. Sit down and ponder, "How can I implement Freud's theory of dream analogy into my music?"
Of course that is just an example.
I plan to do the best I can to keep my own sound but pay tribute to those who started (as I see) the best part of black metal. I want to expand my lyrical theme beyond the "boundaries" of black metal and explore as much as I can. Teach others things they either don't know or know very little about. If it doesn't make me a black metal band anymore that doesn't matter. I don't care for labels. I labeled myself black metal in the first place because my first recordings could only be described that way.
HHH: The debut album can be downloaded in full for free off any number of webpages the band has. Most black metal artists would never do something like disseminate their music so freely, so why do you ignore this mode of thinking? One would think you wouldn't mind making money for your work right?!
Eirik: I ignore that mode of thinking because I believe the "mode of thinking" the majority of the world is locked in right now is not right. I want to distribute my music freely for a number of reasons. I want to be heard. I want people to listen to my music and my lyrics and hear what I have to say. Maybe it will draw interest into my other writings and if that was to happen then I could begin introducing them on my websites. Eventually it would be nice to find a home on some indie record label and allow people to purchase the music on CD, tape, whatever it may be, with professionally made artwork, inlays, etc.
Of course the album is available for purchase directly from me. I sell CD-R and tape copies. It costs 5 € for the shipping and an extra 2 € to cover the cost of the CD/tape. As you can see I don't make anything from it. I'm not a capitalist. I don't sit down with my calculator and figure out how much money I will make if I sell 50 copies minus my expenses. It doesn't matter to me, I would rather pay 50 € to have 50 copies sent out to people around the world as long as my music gets heard.
HHH: What inspires you lyrically? Your lyrics seem to be dark, but never evil in the way bands like Mayhem were. There are also plenty of references in there ("Lord Andrus Kalgan" springs to mind, the title alone) that seem rather obscure. Care to explain any of these, or should listeners ponder them out for themselves?
Eirik: Listeners can ponder them as much as they want. The theme is so obscure that it will never be figured out save for a few people who have read my first novel. The entire album is a concept written about the darkness and evil that is slowly plaguing the realm in my first (fantasy) novel "Realm of Kelevara - The Darkness Unleashed". It is unpublished and sits on my laptop in 2nd draft form so anyone who reads this will be out of luck if they go searching for it! (Actually if anyone is interested in reading it they can e-mail me baneandillusion (put the at sign here) hotmail.com)
There are many references to Satan, Satanism, etc, etc but they are only to help give a picture to what I am explaining. Satan is not Satan. Satan is the referring name of Lord Kurne, the dark underlord of Kelevara. Lord Andrus Kalgan, well I don't even know much about him yet. The official lyrics on the official website will give you as much insight about that character as I personally know right now.
The entire concept of the self-titled release gives you a perfect example of what I mean when I say exploring the "unknown".
HHH: The music itself retains a hypnotic, droning buzz that is surprisingly clear but never anything but the rawest of noise. How did you pull off such an atmospheric sound?
Eirik: I can say that this style of sound was developed through many wiring and back wiring of amplifiers and effects back on top of each other.
HHH: Seeing as you are a one-person outfit, what hope is there for Bane and Illusion playing live? Have you considered rounding up any fellow musicians and turning this into a stage presence anytime soon?
Eirik: Until I actually let this project surface to the public I had never thought of doing any kind of touring. I have been asked about it continuously by fans and I've thought about it but I don't know what my answer is yet. There is so much I want to accomplish at my desk with my paper, pen and mind that there could possibly be no time. It may turn some fans away because of how popular live shows are and seeing the musicians create their magic up on stage, but it is not for me. Of course the future can change this train of thought.
HHH: Your music has diverse range of influences. What bands drive you to create music like this, and what are some of your favorite acts?
Eirik: Definitely Burzum. That would be the first act to ever come to my mind. The lyrical theme, vocal tracks and moody melodies strike me as some of the best metal there is. Darkthrone is another; some don't like it because of the continuous droning riffs that "seem to continue forever", but that is the beauty of black, dark metal. It can be as simple as two riffs repeating for 3-4 minutes or as complex as solos, bridges, breakdowns, ten fifteen riffs, do what you may. Also Darkthrone inspired me while I was searching for my guitar distortions.
Some parts of my music, such as the last few minutes of "Old Raven Court" are highly inspired by Strapping Young Lad. I'm Canadian, I grew up in the same area as Devin Townsend and I've listened to his music for a number of years. I think it would only be natural to use his insanity as an influence.
HHH: Last question! What does the future hold for Bane and Illusion? I saw somewhere you may be releasing two separate albums, one entirely black metal and the other straight ambience. Any truth to this rumor?
Eirik: Yes, I have two albums in the works. The first release will most definitely be the completely metal album. It is very much a Bane and Illusion sound but I believe it has more of a viking/pagan approach then the style of black metal done on the first album. Also it will be quite clear even from the album title what the concept is. The second album is indeed straight ambience. It is a collection of tracks I have been working on since I began to re-recording of the self-titled release. Some are such as "Primeval Oath Broken" and inspired by later Burzum and others are very much soundscapes and exploring my own mind and stretched imagination. This release won't see release until it is completely ready, though I can tell you that the title of the album is "Demisolace" and the idea of demisolace is a continuing theme throughout the album.
I am hoping a Jan-Feb release for the black metal album and a late spring/early summer for the ambient (depending if all my plans go accordingly. And unless something drastically happens and I suddenly get signed to a label I see these two releases as being completely free as well as available for purchase as hard copy CD-R or tape.
Thanks for the opportunity to answer these questions and give people a more of an insight of what Bane and Illusion truly is.
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For the record, no one should miss this album as it can be downloaded in full (and for free in true D.I.Y. fashion) at this link
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