Marduk Guitarist ‘Evil’ Talks ‘Serpent Sermon,’ Being Banned From Belarus + More
We recently had the pleasure of speaking with Marduk founding member and guitarist, Morgan ‘Evil’ Steinmeyer Håkansson. You may have already read the guitarist’s official confirmation of the 20-year rumor regarding him owning a piece of late Mayhem vocalist Per ‘Dead Ohlin‘s skull and brain matter following his suicide. Now, we give you Loudwire’s full interview with Marduk’s ‘Evil.’
Before Marduk’s headlining gig in New York City, which was also the day before the band’s latest album, ‘Serpent Sermon’ was released, we spoke with ‘Evil’ for an exclusive backstage interview. Along with speaking about ‘Serpent Sermon,’ we also conversed with the black metal guitarist about touring in America, religion + Satanism, being banned from performing in Belarus, Russia, and much more.
Check out Loudwire’s full interview with Marduk’s Morgan “Evil” Steinmeyer Håkansson.
I think the last time you guys were here in the States, you guys had some problems with your visas.
Not last time, we had problems earlier on in 2009 because for some reason one of us took such a long time. We were supposed to do a tour with Mayhem, so we got the visas when there was three days left of that tour. It’s always been a problem because we have to fix someones paper, then you have to book appointments with the embassy and it’s a longer going process. And when you do complete your application and all the information, it can take three days or months to get the visa, but this time around has been working well — the last two years now.
So that didn’t have anything to do with the content of your music?
No, nothing at all to do with that.
I checked out your setlist from your Baltimore show and I couldn’t help but notice that your setlist was really all-encompassing throughout a very large part of your career. Is that important for Marduk when you’re crafting your setlist?
Yeah I think so. I believe you’re never stronger than your latest release and you should push what your doing at the latest, but I mean, we don’t play so many songs from the new album because it’s just coming out you know? But we’ll do like two songs from the new album and then we will also try to get more or less one song from every album to try to, since we have done 12 albums, try to get something from the past and a bit of everything.
What would you say is the most predominant topic on your new ‘Serpent Sermon’ album?
I think its very diabolic album, probably the most diabolic one we have done in a long time, even though all of them have been, this one is so obvious and so straight forward and in its message. It’s clear and i believe that the title ‘Serpent Sermon’ is a genuine reflection of the whole concept of the album, you know?
So very much more leaning towards the religious aspect and not any World War II themes?
We had a little bit. Thats also why we did the ‘Iron Dawn’ EP because we didn’t want to mix the topics on one album so we did the ‘Iron Dawn’ EP last year right before we started focusing on this album.
A lot of black metal bands during their careers, especially when they have been around for a long time, a lot of them change their direction. You guys, I think, have been straight-on for most of your career. How have you been able to do that without sounding stale?
I don’t know. I think we have a burning ambition and a dedication to what we do and I think you don’t even think about it — you just march ahead. We believe in what we do, so we just let the energy flow and see where it takes us and we’re not that kind of band that has to be experimental for the sake of just being different. I’d rather do, you know, unleash what you feel is coming from within. That’s more important than trying to develop a certain direction. We just do what we do.
So there is no desire to integrate other kinds of influences into Marduk’s music?
No, not really. If it comes naturally we will do [it], but it’s not like we sit down and plan that we have to develop a certain way or anything like that. So we don’t have a desire and we don’t believe that’s important. It’s just delivering a message and doing it as hard as you can.
This tour has a very, very great lineup with 1349, Withered and Weapon. Are you a fan of these bands? Did you choose them yourself?
I was not very familiar with Weapon before it was booked, but I was very familiar with 1349 and Withered. I think it’s a good combination of bands and it’s a solid package.
It very much is. With your side project, which was called Devil’s Whorehouse — the name has been changed to Death Wolf. What’s the reason for that change?
We just came to a conclusion that it was time to move on, that we have outgrown the name and the vision we had. We would always be kind of looked upon [as] some kind of Misfits tribute band, and I think the band developed in a different direction. So you just naturally think to change the name to something that even more reflects the spirt of the band.
Death Wolf was very inspired by Glenn Danzig, the Misfits, Samhain and everything that he’s done. Are there any other punk bands that have inspired Death Wolf?
Not really a lot actually. For me it’s hard to say what band that inspired me. I mean, for me it’s just doing something different, a bit heavier maybe than Marduk because [we're] using the different vocals I would say, but not really influenced by any other punk bands. I think maybe it fills an empty space between metal and punk of something like that, but still with a little bit of a darker touch.
What is it about Glenn Danzig in particular? Why does his work appeal so much to you?
Because it’s genuine and he’s always [been] one of those artists that have remained true to himself and [has] always done what he wanted to do and didn’t give a f— about anything. I mean, I think all the bands he has had — for example Misfits, Samhain — that’s all been different and the styles and still something unique that inspires many people.
People have also been paying tribute to you. I’m not sure if you are familiar with the show ‘Metalocalypse’…
I’ve heard about it, yeah.
Well, they payed tribute to you in one of the episodes. They had a place in the show called ‘Marduk’s Mini-Golf.’
[Laughs] Yeah, it’s flattering in a way that they even think about it you know? It’s nothing that I really pay attention to, but it’s flattering and I mean, I don’t mind. I haven’t seen it, but I’m sure its amusing.
Also what I found very funny was when a while ago you did this interview with an older woman…
Yes, I will never forget that. That was also bizarre because she really didn’t know what we were into doing. She probably was sent to do the interview with the band, so it was just like, you know, this bizarre situation. Like, “Okay you could be anybody’s Grandmother.” [Laughs]
That’s what made it so great — those two polar opposites.
I just had to sit there and be polite to the old lady. [Laughs]
Obviously you do a lot of interviews, was it kind of refreshing to do something a little different?
I don’t know if it was refreshing, it was just different in a way you know? Yeah, you know, you do so many so every one of them is so different, you know?
With your music being so inspired by religion and Satanism and such, I find it very interesting that your home country of Sweden, is a very non-religious country when you compare it to a lot of other countries.
Yeah, maybe if you compare it, for example, to our neighbors Norway, I would say it’s very less religious, but we [Sweden] have that part as well. [It's probably from] people being more educated from whatever you want to call it … or enlightened. You [America] have more religious oppression. You see it more so over here than in Europe.
With America being such a religious country, does it almost feel like you’re stepping into enemy territory?
No, not really. I mean it’s not only the country it’s continent. So you see so many different things and you meet so many people. You meet a lot of friends and people who share the same emotions and ideas. So it’s not only just over here.
In the more religious places that you travel to, do people ever come up and try to confront you about your beliefs?
That was a long time ago, it happened here in the ’90′s and it was kind of enjoyable to see them flee the place you know? [Laughs] But no, not really. A few weeks ago we did the tour [date] in far-east Russia, which was supposed to be in Belarus, but in Belarus, which is the last dictatorship, the General Prosecutor forbid us to play.
Thats kind of a compliment.
Yeah that’s what I was saying when people were asking me about that. Because they [General Prosecutor] said, “They (Marduk) are preaching Satanism and being offensive to all of our Christians in the country and they sing songs about death and the third Reich and their music can only be described as destructive.” And we were like, “Yes, correct.” I can accept it you know? But it’s stupid with the dictatorships forbidding music. I mean it’s 2012. He was correct and it was flattering that [censorship] still happens, so it was an energy boost. [Laughs]
Marduk are currently on their North American tour with 1349, Withered and Weapon. You can buy Marduk’s latest album, ‘Serpent Sermon’ here.