NOCTEM – Interview, 14/06/15
We rarely see national bands with an impact inside and outside our territory, but there are a few that are quite known internationaly. NOCTEM has a bit of both, but it seems that the Valencians have focused on outdoors’, as they have visited many European countries in very few years. China was one of their last surprises, so I bit curiosity’s apple.
Subterráneo Heavy: Welcome again to Subterráneo Heavy. Who´s answering these questions and what are you listening to meanwhile?
Exo: Hi again! It’s a pleasure to talk with you again. Exo, guitarrist of the band, listening to All Shall Fall from IMMORTAL.
Subterráneo Heavy: Nowadays, you are one of the most international Spanish bands. You are constantly announcing new gigs abroad. Are they more affordable than Spanish dates even after including accommodation, trips and general expenses?
Exo: Well, the conditions are different nowadays, we’ve done more than 14 tours, so our conditions are evolving all the time and we don’t have to put money to tour Europe, something very necessary in the first tours, because you have to promote yourself. It’s not matter of being more or less affordable, the real market for Extreme Metal is located in Europe and in the tours we do with bigger bands from our genre; this gives us the opportunity to perform for bigger audiences. All the tours and shows we play in Europe are organized by promoters, organizing it ourselves would be something crazy.
Subterráneo Heavy: It is not something new to us the fact that there are many Spanish bands with more recognition outside our frontiers than inside (as WORMED, THE SEED, AVULSED, yourselves …). Why do you think this is happening? Do you believe that, for a band as NOCTEM, it is better to be focused on international promo and fans rather than national?
Exo: I think there’s no market for extreme metal in our country, simply as that. This would be different with our same aesthetic but a much more mainstream music. Against all those who criticized us, we’ve made our style harder and dirtier (in a good way), our new sound. To all those who thought we were a one album band, we’ve demostrated we’re here to stay and we’ve managed to evolve all these years, if not … we won’t keep playing nowadays.
Subterráneo Heavy: Let´s talk about China. A country which had no international metal bands on their stages until 2005 (the Italian power metal combo LABÿRINTH opened the gates). There, you played 17 concerts in 24 days. Why China? Potential audience, somebody gave you the chance…?
Exo: We’ve been presented to Mort Productions through a friend of us and they really liked our style, so they offered a tour in China and the release of Exilium in their country. After several months of negotiation, we finally reached an agreement and fixed the “Exilium China Tour 2015” for March/April. It’s a completely different country to anything we visited so far, we heard really good things about touring in China, and the surprise was big. As we arrived to Tianjin, first show, and went on stage, was the first time for us to hear the people screaming so loud that they hid the music. They really feel the shows, like it’s the last concert of their lives, awesome. Of course, Chinese people is way different and strange, at least for us.
Subterráneo Heavy: I honestly know very little about Chinese tendencies music-wise, is extreme metal popular over there? How is the crowd?
Exo: There’s not a big scene there, they are discovering it, so, if a band from the West goes there to do a tour, that’s a BIG event. As I told you, the crowd was 10/10.
Subterráneo Heavy: China has a rigid political system, and that makes me wonder if you have gotten in any kind of “trouble” since, usually, animal guts are located over the stage as part of your shows. Was this fact a problem at some point? Did you have to modify your performance somehow?
Exo: No, not really, we were expecting all the time that police arrive to any show and take us arrested to the embassy; luckily it wasn’t like that. About the bowels, all the people were amazed about it. I remember one day the staff of the show were a little bit worried because they were not finding blood for our show, so they told us it was very difficult to find human blood, because it was very expensive. We didn’t pretend to throw human blood to the audience, but we were surprised to know what they are capable of.
Subterráneo Heavy: Currently, it is almost impossible to get a crowded venue in Spain. How was the Chinese experience, did you get sold out on any of the gigs? Which was the average number of attendees per concert?
Exo: In Spain, extreme metal does not mean sold outs, unless you perform at big festivals; so we were very surprised about the assistance in China. We did a few sold out shows, 300-400 people in the crowd. The audience was composed by metalheads and a lot of curious people.
Subterráneo Heavy: Just before you flew to the East, you presented the band’s new members, but, even though you already had a new guitarist, Ben Parakinen (COPROLITH) toured with you in China. Was this an isolated collaboration, like Cristóbal´s ([IN MUTE]) with TAAKE, or will he be playing the international gigs with you?
Exo: It was a timely collaboration, althought we do not discard to count with both for future tours. NOCTEM‘s tour life is very busy and not all the people is available to go with us all the time; lucky of us, we count with great friends/musicians in the scene. For the moment, the current line up will do the upcoming tours.
Subterráneo Heavy: Talking about changes. As I already said,there are some new members in the band: Ethell (Guitar), Varu (Bass) and Voor (Drums). NOCTEM has had a few line-up changes; don’t you find sufficiently committed people to become into a solid combo? Are you very rigorous, or is it just difficult to find people who can or are willing to get involved?
Exo: We did a big line up change a few months ago, I know a lot of people was a little bit shocked about this, but it was something casual; we just waited a little bit to announce the new line up, because it was a situation that changed through time. Ul is right now working in China and Vhert had to leave the band due to personal reasons, so we part ways in a very friendly way. We’ve always been very demanding, but now we found a line up we connect with (not underestimating anyone). We know NOCTEM tours a lot, and its hard to be available for this all the time.
Subterráneo Heavy: After China you went back to the road, but once again outside Spain (Germany, Austria, Serbia…).Your next national show will be at FESTIVAL ACORDES DE ROCK. Will you be presenting your third album around Spain? Or are we just going to see NOCTEM in some Spanish festivals?
Exo: We’re going to perform in 2 festivals this summer, Acordes de Rock and Ruedas de Metal. We’re not going to do shows, because we’re immersed in the composition process of our upcoming album. We’re starting to get tired about touring all the time.
Subterráneo Heavy: Thematic costumes (renewed for their latest album with Ary Angelique’s designs) in addition to blood and guts. What do you want to transmit with the band’s aesthetic? Did you ever consider that this type of thematic could lead the audience to misinterpret, or even underestimate, your musical proposal?
Exo: Darkness, decadence, not wearing the typical Black Metal costumes, as we think those are threshed nowadays. Well, Black Metal is a very criticized genre, so we received very positive reviews and other non so positive. This is something that happens at the beginning, when you’re a new band and all the people are discovering you, is way different nowadays.
Subterráneo Heavy: Exilium’s promotion is keeping you busy. Is there any time left to work on new songs, or is it something that you are going to put off for a while considering the pressure of being in tour?
Exo: These days we’re composing the new songs for our upcoming album; we’re doing it slowly, because there’s no easy to create a fourth album after three records that have marked an evolution. We don’t know how to tour and compose an album at the same time; if we’re touring, we’re focussed on the shows.
Subterráneo Heavy: I believe that you have always been improving in terms of musical composition, outshining each one of your previous records, always within your own well defined style, so what is left for NOCTEM to offer us?
Exo: I think we have a lot to offer yet, a much more different and personal proposal. I really think we did not reach the “sound” or the “album” of our career yet.
Subterráneo Heavy: I have no further questions for now. Would you like to add anything else? Thank you very much for your time.
Exo: A pleasure for me to answer all your questions. See you all giving 100% this summer !!!