Interview with Frozen Glare Smara (guitar, vocals)
Interview conducted by Lars Christiansen
Date online: November 8, 2006
Beatrik have been disturbing the murky waters of the Italian underground black metal scene since the late nineties, lashing layer upon layer of dirge-like evilness upon listeners' ears firstly with their raw Darkthrone-like debut, and then with their second more dirge-like, funereal release "Requiem for December". Thoroughly impressed by one of, if not the most cold and desolate bands to surface from a country of such warm climates, Lars Christiansen managed to track down main man Frozen Glare Smara, to find out what's going on in the world of Beatrik nowadays…
(LC) Greetings Frozen Glare Smara, and thanks for taking the time out to answer my questions. Am I right in the understanding that the actual name Beatrik comes from ancient tales of an old, murderous hunter? If so, why did you decide to name your band after him?
(FGS) Yes, that's correct. Back in 1998, when I decided to found my own band, I thought it was a good moniker. In that time there were several bands with the name taken from local tales, books, etc. but I wasn't really interested to take this name from the usual shitty "Lord of the Rings" nor "Nordic tales", so I chose it from an ancient tale from my region. I think it's still very original and there's no way it can be confused with any others.
(LC) Also continuing on the theme of names, where did your name 'Frozen Glare Smara' come from? I notice that you also are in the band Tenebrae in Perpetuum under the pseudonym of Atratus – why do you choose to use differing pseudonyms for your different projects? Do they differ due to the fact that different parts of your personality and emotions are put into each band perhaps?
(FGS) Smara comes from another ancient tale. It means death. Atratus means "dressed in black, in mourning" in the latin language. In the beginning, nobody knew that I was involved in Tenebrae In Perpetuum also, 'cause I didn't want people thinking it was a so called "side-project" band. For this reason I preferred to choose another name, but now all know Beatrik and Tenebrae In Perpetuum have the same line-up. However, as you mention, these two bands permit me to express my different personality sides so two different names are still good.
(LC) Moving on, It's now been well over a year since 'Requiem for December' was released by Avantgarde Music. With plenty of time for it to sink in for listeners, how has it been received by fans in your opinion?
(FGS) The second album from every band is a problem always, especially if it's different than the previous. The guys that loved the first chapter want another work like the previous but it isn't always possible, of course, so some are disappointed. Instead the other side of the fans liked the new album more than the first. This was the case for Beatrik also because the two works are indeed very different. I'm still very satisfied about "Requiem…" album and I know there are a lot of guys that like it more than the previous, reading the review and the mails I got from the fans. This second one is surely deeper, both musically and lyrically and really full of mournful and desperate feelings, much more so than "Journey…" album.
(LC) How do you go about creating a Beatrik song? Can you compose at any time, any place, or do you have to be in a certain state of mind? Also, I hear you are not a fan of rehearsals. Do you think this adds to the dejected reflection of life that your music becomes, writing in solitary confinement?
(FGS) All the music I write is synonym of loneliness and isolation, I think, and therefore it must be composed in this kind of condition. As usual, a Beatrik song is written by myself and then, when it's almost finished, I rehearse it with the drummer Vidharr. Sometime we start to rehearse not one song only, but an entire album, some weeks before the recording session. Yes, I'm not a rehearsal lover also, not only because I live not so near to Vidharr, but 'cause we don't have a complete line-up at the present time.
(LC) Was there a specific reason behind why Beatrik moved more toward a doomier approach for the 'Requiem of December' album, compared to the more black metal styled debut 'Journey through the End of Life'? Will there be an evolutionary change again for the third album?
(FGS) One of my purposes for "Journey…" was to create a real sad and melancholic Black Metal album, but with "Requiem" I went to make a total desperate and "suicidal" work. During the composition of this second one I was listening to several Funeral Doom bands and they gave me some very good ideas. With Beatrik, I don't like to write any copy-cat album so, the third work will be very different again. After two year of total inactivity, in these last months I re-started to compose some new Beatrik song and now I hope the new work will be released during 2007, maybe in autumn. It will be very slow and sad again, but the sound should have been quite different, with a lot of clean guitars and some piano/keyboard passages, but not in the shitty "gothic" way, of course! The music will be still be accompanied by the usual totally desperate vocals.
(LC) Was the move from Total Holocaust Records for your debut CD (generally a raw black metal label) to Avantgarde Music simply a coincidence, seeing as your style of music also went through somewhat of a transition at the same time?
(FGS) When I had the finished master CD in my hands, and also during the composition and the recording session, I ultimately understood this album wasn't adapted for a "raw Black Metal" label like THR so, I started to search for a new one. I thought Avantgarde would be ideal for us, and after they have listened our work, they proposed us a deal. I'm still very satisfied about this 'cause I'm sure Avantgarde is the perfect label for our band.
(LC) On the topic of labels, what do you think of labels such as Total Holocaust limiting albums to 1,000 copies (as your debut on CD was, I believe). I hear that you had hoped originally only to release the albums on vinyl too – what was the initial resentment behind releasing them on CD format?
(FGS) In the beginning I thought the only vinyl version should been good to begin spreading our name, but then I thought it should been better to press some CDs also to get some further coverage. I'm a vinyl-maniac and I think it would've been great to release our album on "black wax" only. Unfortunately it isn't possible, if you hope to spread your work as much as it deserves. I respect any label that prefers to limit their releases, but in these more recent years it seems the tendency is to release unlimited CDs in the main, with even THR changing its ideas in these areas too.
(LC) Which bands would you say have inspired you to play music in this style the most? What style of music made you first want to pick up a guitar?
(FGS) I started playing Metallica and Slayer songs when first learning guitar, but the bands that influenced me musically in the beginning would have to have been Darkthrone, Manes, Emperor, and the Scandinavian scene in general. During the years I have been influenced by some other kind of music like Funeral Doom (Skepticism, Thergothon, Worship, etc.) and some Cold Meat Industry bands (Desiderii Marginis, Raison d'Etre, Letum). Now I'm not directly influenced by any band in particular 'cause I think I have found my own path.
(LC) Looking through the booklets of both your albums, the lyrics are filled with misery and despondency. What would you say instigates the utmost desperate and moribund of your lyrics?
(FGS) I'm not interested in any kind of propaganda. The lyrics describe my thoughts, visions and dreams only. When the music is desperate and mournful, the lyrics should be the same…
(LC) How do you go about creating the design for cover artwork to portray the music enclosed in each album? Do you leave that to the artist, or do you have a set images in your head of what you think would be most fitting?
(FGS) The painting of the first album was done by the ex-singer of Chelmno, Vidharr's Black Metal band. He's a really great artist, as you can see. The front cover was painted for "Journey…" album exclusively. I will probably use his paintings in the next album also. However, all the artwork and all the photos of "Requiem" was done by myself.
(LC) What do you think of the metal scene in Italy at present? Do you feel part of it at all?
(FGS) It seems there are several good bands in Italy today, which are respected in the foreign countries also, from the underground. I think we haven't a collective "scene", but a lot of little scenes with different characters. I don't feel that we're into the national scene, I think we belong to a little scene of the north-east of Italy where there are bands like Near, Lorn, Chelmno, Beatrik and Tenebreae In Perpetuum, of course.
(LC) I noticed you are also contributing a track to the anticipated Northern Silence 'December Songs' Katatonia Tribute CD. How did that come about?
(FGS) Yes, I'm quite satisfied about our cover-song and about this tribute in general. A couple of years ago Malefic of Xasthur told me there was a label (Northern Silence Prod) that was to organize a Katatonia tribute, so I contacted them 'cause I like Katatonia's music. We decided to record our version of "The Northern Silence" song from their '92 debut MLP. After two years of delay, now it seem the album will be released this December on double CD, double Digipack and double LP.
(LC) I also hear that Bilskirnir were due to have a track on the aforementioned tribute, but were removed due to Northern Silence not tolerating their National Socialist politics. Do you think politics have a place in music?
(FGS) I didn't know about these problems with Bilskirnir… I think you should be able to talk about all the topics you want in your own music. I'm personally not interested in politics in music and I wouldn't listen to a band only because they are N.S. or communist or whatever. I listen to it if it's interesting only, of course.
(LC) OK, well that about wraps it up. Thanks once again for your time, I'll leave the final words to you…
(FGS) If anyone is interesting in seeking out our stuff, it's now spread by our official distributor: www.bwdistro.50megs.com. Our official site is www.beatrik.com for MP3 samples and further information.
Well, thank you for you support in Beatrik, Lars! Regards.
|Other information about Beatrik on this site|
|Review: Requiem of December|
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