Interview with vocalist and guitarist Heergott
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: February 22, 2021
Magoth is a German Black Metal band, formed in 2011, who released three solid studio albums between 2017 and 2020 and have been able to build up a firm foundation for their melodic, powerful and atmospheric Black Metal, which also has lots of ice-cold Nordic feeling to it. The band is on its way to the top elite of the Black Metal genre if they keep on pushing the limits within their music and prove that certain things can be achieved if there's enough determination and passion behind it all.
The band's latest album, Invictus, also reached a couple of curious ears at the precious headquarters of The Metal Crypt, which made us even more curious and excited about them—so much so that we wanted to reach out to the band with some questions. Mr. Heergott, who started this creation some 10 years ago, kindly stepped in and killed our curiosity about the band... Well, read on yourself!
Hey, Mr. Heergott? How's life overall in Germany these days, nearly one year after this global pandemic hit us? Totally tired of all of these restrictions, lack of gigs, etc. already?
Heergott: The last concert I could attend was in February 2020, just one month before the first lockdown. Since then, I'm living in a permanent hiatus where social life is reduced to only being able to do your groceries while everything else like cinemas, bars, clubs, etc. are closed. It's exhausting. Let's hope the mass vaccination will bring this nightmare to an end, soon.
ALBUM NO. 3. —INVICTUS
As for more uplifting new, you guys released your third full-length studio album, titled Invictus, at the end of November last year. What was it like to work on the album and do you believe that with this album you basically took everything on the next level artistically?
Heergott: The work on the album was pretty easy-going since I've been able to return to my ''normal'' writing schedule and take the time to write and refine the material without a certain release date. I also had enough time to incorporate some new and fresh ideas like using a bottleneck in ''Cain'', work with synths and even hiring a speaker for the spoken parts. So yeah, it is definitely a whole level up artistically.
What kind of things make you really pleased and happy about this record?
Heergott: ''Ikaros'' was a song which was written during the songwriting process of Zeitgeist: Dystopia but had been refused by the other members, while I strongly believed in this song. Now it is on Invictus and has been referred as one of the best songs we ever released by a lot of fans and that makes me especially proud. Also, I was able to find top-notch musicians who stand behind me no matter what happens and I'm proud that all of us together recorded, in my humble opinion, the best Magoth record so far.
Was the making of this album, all the way from the songwriting process to the actual recording process, a painstaking ride, from your point of view?
Heergott: To me the making of the album was pretty relaxed this time. The ideas came naturally and free from being forced to stick to any kind of concept, especially after returning from my 6-week stay in psychiatry, where I was able to gather some strength and mental headroom for my artistic nature.
IN CREATIVITY, FINDING CERTAIN MOODS IS IMPORTANT
Whenever some of you get into the songwriting mood, what types of details do you try to pay extra attention to, to make sure it will fit the concept of the band's high-profile sound?
Heergott: It's very important to me not to copy and paste ideas or song structures that have already been played over and over again. Most of the time I'm seeking a certain mood or sound that somehow goes hand in hand with my feelings and thoughts which apparently seem to be a bit uncommon most of the time.
I found the album very entertaining because there's a pretty strong melodic Swedish Black/Death Metal vibe of the early/mid-nineties, giving out some flashbacks of such names as Mörk Gryning, Throne of Ahaz, Setherial, etc., without aping any of these bands directly. How do you see the No Fashion Records/Black Sun Records era, with all those bands that were signed to them, as an influence and inspiration for you and Magoth?
Heergott: These artists sure had an impact on me as a young listener but, to be honest, I didn't follow their way for at least 10 years or so. The aforementioned Swedish Black/Death Metal vibe comes quite naturally since I've changed sides from a regular listener to a producer/artist a long time ago and just occasionally listen to newer artists/productions.
Is there any particular record from this period of the Swedish underground Black/Death Metal scene that you somehow look up personally?
Heergott: Not really, to be honest.
DON'T BE SHY AND BREAK SOME EXISTING RULES
Where do all this shameless progressiveness and ominous atmosphere on the new album come from?
Heergott: It's important for me to come up with music that doesn't meet the audience's desire for the old, comfortable music from the early '90s, but come up with something ''fresh'', which doesn't necessarily mean it has to be all new. I listen to a lot of progressive stuff and odd music, because it gives me another angle on song structures, while Black Metal alone only operates within a pretty tiny place with certain rules. I like to break these rules but still want to maintain a listenable and interesting result.
What about the album artwork on Invictus? Would you share some thoughts about the concept behind it? Who created it?
Heergott: The artwork was designed by Riaj Gragoth of Luciferium War Graphics. The artwork contains a lot of symbolism and I'm glad to finally get the chance to explain what is going on there:
First of all, you see the cave entrance from our first album, Anti Terrestrial Black Metal. On the first artwork, we entered the cave in the search for wisdom, which we have found within the cave on our second album, Zeitgeist: Dystopia, with an engraved stone plate, which we called ''Triconicus''. That symbol contains the three stages of life: rise, zenith and fall. It's a rule which doesn't only apply to us humans but everything in the universe such as planets or even the universe itself. It's a cycle we're all stuck in.
On the artwork of Invictus, however, you see the cave entrance in the back, because it didn't lead to wisdom but triggered a lot of negative things within the band, which finally led to a big split and I'm the only one who survived.
The hydra stands upon and crushes the aforementioned ''Triconicus'' under its weight. It is surrounded by the exact number of heads, which have been cut off during the band's lifetime so far, but already has three new heads.
So, you see, it all has a certain meaning behind it and I'm very happy with the result, since it already says everything that had to be said.
How did you end up signing a deal with Ferocious Records? Was it a complicated process?
Dylann from Ferocious Records asked us if we'd like to collaborate with his label for the next record. We also had a couple of requests from other labels but his offer was great and he's also a really nice and professional guy, so we signed the contract for one album and haven't looked back ever since.
Have you had any further negotiations going on with this label regarding the band's future releases, or do you want to keep your eyes open for other opportunities as far as record labels are concerned?
Heergott: Our deal is for one album only. So, if there are some labels interested in collaborating with us for our already planned next album, we'd gladly get in contact with them!
BEING INDEPENDENT MEANS FREEDOM
The previous two albums were self-released. Is there a reason why you trusted this DYI method instead of trying to find a suitable label to take care of the physical releases of those albums?
Heergott: Our focus has been on maximal control over our art. Both albums sold out pretty quickly, so we've been right with our decision because it opened us the possibility to build up a financial background for some future projects. But on the other hand, you take all the risk money-wise and a professional album production is pretty expensive.
How important yet essential is using some sort of a dress code for you guys, especially when you want to pose in some promotional pictures or dress up for a live performance? I guess white sneakers, Hawaiian shorts, etc., aren't meant for your band, eh? ;o)
Heergott: It is very essential to us to match our musical approach with our visual appearance. Corpse paint also means some freedom, especially on stage, since it's not me in person people are looking at but my ugly inner self, which I've just learned to accept that it is also part of me.
Talking about the promotional aspect, you also made a lyric video for "Ascension" which has nearly 10,000 views on YouTube at the time of writing. Congrats for that! Do you have any further plans to shoot a real band video in the coming months, just to increase your chances to get more attention for the band?
Heergott: Yes, a music video is planned but the actual COVID-19 restrictions made it impossible to implement our plans yet. There's not only going to be a classic music video but also a live performance video, so stay tuned!
THE FUTURE FOR GIGS IS ON HOLD
Planning the future is, of course, important too. With nobody knowing when it'll be possible to play live again, what other plans do you have for the band? Is your main focus on the new material, or have you tried to be optimistic and booked some gigs later in the year?
Heergott: We haven't booked any gigs so far this year because I'm pretty pessimistic that any kind of show will happen in 2021. Our booker just thinks the same, so we're focusing more on live appearances in 2022. Maybe we're gonna write some new material within this time, there are already some great ideas in stock!
Well, I think I ran out of questions for this conversation, so if there's anything else that you would like to share with us, please be my guest... ;o)
Heergott: I think everything has been said.
I, for one, would like to thank you for your precious time in getting this interview done and wish you all the best with some new conquests of the band! Now you are entitled to the last commentary...
Heergott: As I said in another interview before. During my time in psychiatry, I learned a really important lesson: even if there are some people who think this is not the case, there's no one in this world more important than you. It doesn't mean you need to be socially awkward, but always stand your ground and listen to your gut feeling, because it is always right!
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