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|with Lex Icon on Feb 19, 2003|
A new album, a new style for The Kovenant. Reason enough for an interview with frontman Lex Icon. A nice chat about apocalyptic visions, upcoming world wars and the failing of humanity.
|All the questions I had about the re-release of “In Times Before The Light” were answered by Pieke, and can also be found on our internet site, so that provides me to aim completely for the new album, “SETI”, which was quite a surprise for me.|
Yeah, for everyone I think. It’s different.
|Could you give me a really small history of the band, our readers might not be so familiar with your music?|
I started the band in the summer of 1992. So with Covenant, we are going to celebrate our 10th anniversary. Psy Coma joined in 1993. Hellhammer joined later in 1996. That’s basically the story of the band members. Our name changed because there was an EBM-band walking around called Covenant as well, so we changed ours. We started off as being sort of an extreme metal band. Nearly like a black metal band with satanic influences in our music. We’ve progressed from that style on. SETI is our fourth album and all the albums have been pretty different from each other.
|That’s exactly a point I wanted to point out, since “Animatronic” even entered the German Alternative Charts, so you’d sort of expect a continuing music style. How do you explain that, to change your style, again?|
Well, it’s sort of a natural evolution. We’re not like Mayhem, we don’t play one style of music. Also, Animatronic was recorded some years ago, so of course, there’s some sort of an evolution. I like a band like Bolthrower or AC/DC, but they always make the same music, and I’ve never been a big fan of that attitude. In Times…was recorded ten years ago and Nexus Polaris seven, so obviously there’s an evolution within the band.
|After Animatronic, Angel joined from Apoptygma Berzerk, he seems exactly the sort of person I’d expect to bring these influences into your music.|
No, the whole album was made by me and Psy, we wrote all the music. I’ve known Angel since he was like 7 years old. The Kovenant was the first band in which he played, later he joined Apoptygma Berzerk as a session musician, but he contributed not enough riffs to say he’d cooperated in writing the new songs. He helped, but I wouldn’t say he wrote the songs. In fact, the person that should be held responsible for these influences, is Erik (Zeromancer). He added the electronic elements to the music. Animatronic already had the electronic influences, but that album always was sort of black-metal styled and Erik completely changed that. Also, Siggi had some influence within the music. It’s just sort of a natural evolution. The older you get, the different the music you’re listening to gets.
|It’s pretty funny to hear you talking about Erik and Zeromancer, because that’s exactly how I was introduced to your music.|
Well, Zeromancer is actually just a copy of The Kovenant, you know.. (laughter). No, they’re great band with really nice people and it really helped a lot with Erik helping the band, because he showed us how we could be more involved in the electronic stuff. He never influenced the writing, but just added the effects and changed some sounds. Fact is that all the songs are made by me and Psy, and I wrote all the lyrics.
|You actually used computers for the writing of this album. This was the first time you did that?|
Yes, this was the first time we used computers to write the music, without even playing together. We’d just e-mail the stuff we wrote to each other and put them on a server. It’s a really different way of creating music, but it’s really interesting. The female vocals on this album are done by Eileen. She’s a 50-year old member of the German House of Opera. A very professional artist who sung her lines, better than the one we previously had. She came into the studio and finished all her lyrics within a few hours.
|A bit faster than you, I heard your voice abandoned you once again.|
Yeah, it’s sort of a disease. It infects my voice and I can’t even talk at that moment. I’ll have to go back to Norway. It’s a very complicated story.
|But you did spend six months in the studio to record the songs?|
Everything was finished when we went into the studio. It wasn’t six months altogether, but more like two weeks here and a few days there. I never actually saw Hellhammer once. He’d just record his drums, and when he came back to Norway, I’d go over there. So, the computer helped us knowing what we wanted to sound like, whilst with all previous albums some songs were recorded in the studio. The song “New World Order” was actually completely written in the studio, but SETI was 100% complete when we went into the studio. It was better doing it this way, for the kind of style we wanted.
|And how about the lyrics?|
No. They were written after the album was finished. Before, when I wrote lyrics, I wanted to write lyrics to the music, and use the emotions you’d get from the music. When you hear a song like “Jihad” for example, you might think something like “crazy Muslims, blowing up people, being religious fanatics”, I wrote this just because I wanted to tell that.
|The lyrics are mainly about the failing of humanity and the failing of God. Can we see a thin red line leading toward Animatronic, which didn’t exactly show respect towards religion?|
Yes. The whole essence of The Kovenant is very anti-religious. I see religion as the greatest threat to evolution and also to humanity. It brings out the whole Judas-aspect to humanity. We’re not a satanic band though, The Kovenant is more about being anti-religious.
|The word “Satan” can therefore never be found within your lyrics.|
You’re right. In a song like “Pantomime” for example, I saw this huge thing with horns, without actually mentioning it. Neither do I use the words “Satan” or “devil”. But it’s very anti-religious, yes.
|How do you think this anti-religious statement fits in with the new album title?|
I think it fits in really well. SETI, the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence. We couldn’t find any intelligence on earth, so we had to look for it elsewhere (laughs). But it’s also very metaphoric for humanity. Also, it’s about aliens in a symbolic way. I really don’t like writing about fiction, but prefer doing reality. I’m a very big fan of old science-fiction movies, “Planet Of The Apes” and “War Of The Worlds”. Especially “Planet Of The Apes”. I see it as a metaphor for what can happen to humanity. Not that everyone will turn into monkeys, but it’s more the McDonald’s style, which everyone follows brainlessly. If enough people say that God is cool, then more and more people will say it as well. On the song “Neon” I describe the ‘golden arches crucifix’, it can be compared to the one McDonalds uses…(laughter). I write in a symbolic way, but not too difficult, easy enough for most people to understand it. On Nexus Polaris, I wrote stuff about dragons. More poetic, in a way. Using dragons as old superstition for what they would call extra-terrestrials or supernatural stuff.
|Last question about the lyrics. Can you explain what you’re trying to say with the very last sentence (“In a nuclear war... All men will be cremated equal!”)? What do you think of the upcoming war?|
I think it’s necessary. American people have a lot of guts to go through all this. This whole stuff about needing oil and stuff, is just plain bullshit. It’s not about oil, but about terrorism and about people being oppressed and about the Muslims. The Islam is a dangerous religion, because it doesn’t help people to involve in anyway. It just causes war and conflicts. In a nuclear war though, everyone will be cremated equally, doesn’t matter whether you’re a Christian or a Muslim. So, I’m very pro-American, yes. (laughter). All the lyrics can be found on the website, though. It’s such a useful tool, the internet and the computer. If it works.
|If it works, yes. Like your internet site?|
We had www.kovenant.com, but it was actually stolen from us. We owned the name and bought us, but they just came in and bought it from us. Then they’d say “you can buy it back” so I said fuck you! So now we’re using Gen Tech Ranch; which was actually meant to be a song on this album. We’ll include it on the next album. It’s about genetic engineering, about the future, the genetic technology. The essence of humanity, for playing God. I mean, who wants to have a mutilated child? Why wouldn’t you ‘fix’ your baby when you notice this child is gonna be born with 3 arms or 1 leg or so? It’s fascinating to see how it’s done. Sorry to hear about those religious freaks and morons who think everyone is going to look the same, which is bullshit, since everyone already looks the same. Everyone dresses the same. “Gen Tech Ranch” is gonna be a cool song, it’s about 90% finished now, the music and the lyrics. So, about the new Kovenant album, we hope to record it this year if we have time of early next year.
|About time, the album has been perfectly timed to promote it on festivals? Are there any confirmations as of yet?|
Two. We’ll play at the Inferno festival in Norway (headliner), and the Summer Breeze festival in Germany. But more will come. But I don’t know yet, we’ll wait until the album is released, March 31st. The club tour will be huge. We’re gonna tour more than ever before. Instead of doing 14 shows in Germany, we’ll try to do 3 or 4 shows there and visit more countries, so we can play more countries. We’ll bring a lot of cool material, with red lights and video screens which will add a wonderful effect to the show. A warm-up band isn’t confirmed, but I talked to Peter from Hypocrisy, and we might bring his band Pain along. We’ll try to make it a sort of cyber-metal tour, and not bring Immortal or Darkthrone. We had planned to go on tour with Samael this year, but something else came in-between and we had to cancel it. We’ll just see what happens, we’re still looking for other bands to join us.
|There is a big market for black metal lately, Satyricon have signed to EMI, and Cradle of Filth is signed to Sony. Has The Kovenant been approached, because your previous album sold pretty well?|
Yes, we were. We were asked by Warner Brothers, but we said no. They were going to pay us less, and we wouldn’t have any control at all. We’d be the company bitches. With SETI, we’ll see what happens. It’s our monkey. I just don’t wanna work at McDonald’s and play in The Kovenant at the same time. There’s no way I’m going to work in a fucking bookshop, it’s got to do something with music. I like writing band histories but there’s no way in hell I’m gonna work at McDonald’s or a fucking bookstore. No way!
|Last question, the first edition of SETI, I read there will be a limited 2CD-set?|
Well, there will be two versions at the same time, one limited edition with bonus tracks and the original version. We’re gonna put a needle in the jewel case. Take a look at the cover, do you see the baby and the needles on the left side? We wanna put a needle in it on the album. One version will have 12 songs and the other will have 14. A Metallica cover is on the special edition. Other bonus material will probably be included in a forthcoming DVD-release, which we’re putting together. A sort of a documentary about the band. And, to celebrate our anniversary, we want to release a special CD with remixes, covers songs and bonus stuff. Somewhat like a mini-DVD with a bonus disc or so. We’ll come up with something.
|OK. That was it, have you got anything you would like to mention to our readers?|
Buy the album! Don’t download it, just because you got the internet. In the end, there won’t be any bands left, except for the Backstreet Boys, Linkin Park and that crap. Just buy it, no downloads. Oh yeah, support the war in Iraq!!
Images taken from the official site: www.gentechranch.tk