NACHTMYSTIUM Interview with Blake Judd
XM: Are you the only original member of the band?
Blake: Yeah, yeah, I started the band when I was 17 years old with guys I went to high school with, I haven’t played with for over 10 years now, I’m the only original guy left.
XM: How come you’re the original member? What happened to all the other members?
Blake: It was only a two-piece when we started, just me and the drummer. Five and a half, six years, we didn’t play live, I mean, we played a couple shows in there and I put a band together for up until 2006 we didn’t have a full band until we started touring all the time.
XM: So, up until 2006 how did you tour with two members?
Blake: Oh we didn’t, we were in high school, haha well…not ‘til 2006, it was 2005 when we started touring, we probably played a total of 4 shows before that, we just put out vinyl and CDs, and we were just a recording studio band.
XM: So which member did what? Did you do the guitars…?
Blake: Yeah, I did the bass, guitars, vocals. I did everything except the drums, on all of our records up until “Assassins” in 2008.
XM: For the current line-up right now, is it solid? Do you have permanent members?
Blake: The guy playing bass for us tonight is Will Lindsey, who was on our last record, Stanford Parker is playing synths, he’s the guy who records all of our albums, he play synths on our record. Charlie Fell has been playing drums for us since we recorded that, we haven’t had him because we had a session drummer, and we hired him on afterwards and Andrew Marcoszewksi is the second guitarist who is a returning member who played in the band between 2003 and 2005, moved to Arizona for a few years, moved back and rejoined and now he is home.
XM: Is this the second type of line-up or have you gone through more than that?
Blake: I’ve gone through like 18, 19 members. It’s always kind of been my thing…I’ve always wanted to have a permanent band but I’ve also wanted to tour all the time, was always confused when had a normal job, and do what normal people do. And trying to find four other like minded people, it took a few years. We drew some people who have to wait, until I found people that were truly dedicated to being touring musicians, you know, and fortunately we make enough money that you could, we all live modestly, but we pay our bills so when we go on tour we have enough to cover our shit up, so it’s all good.
XM: How come it’s gone through 18 line-up changes?
Blake: People buy houses, get married, have girlfriends, have jobs, need insurance, need this, that and another thing. There’s been that and issues with people, just about any situation you can imagine.
XM: So then I guess that makes you the only true…metal fan?
Blake: Oh, I wouldn’t say that, I’m just the most dedicated person for this particular project. The guys that I am with right now, they’re all road warriors and they also have a touring band so Will has been a drummer for a long time and plays some Indian, Drew and Charlie have a band called Lord Mantis signed by Candlelight Records, so they tour, so we’re all busy with this shit.
XM: What brings this current line-up together and makes it stick, rather than the last 18 or so line-up changes?
Blake: Everybody is dedicated to traveling all the time, that’s all that it was. Not everybody can do that, we played 150 shows last year. A show every three days, you know, like all year I’ve been through all of Europe 5 times. Once for a tour, toured a few festivals, did a bunch of shit, United States 3 times last year, ummm soo it was just an issue of finding people that travel all the time and you can get along with.
XM: Do you find that the people you have now are more dedicated than the previous?
Blake: Oh yeah, absolutely, I’ve been with most of these guys for over a year now, touring. Will, Stanford and I have all worked together. Will wasn’t in the band ‘til the last record, Stanford and I have been working together for 4 years, but he has been…namely more a recording engineer, makes a lot of money at home and records pretty big bands, so there is no pulling him away from his work. We can pay him a rate that made sense for him to not to be at home, you know what I mean, so…we’re fortunately now at that point.
XM: So then, do you find that people nowadays are more into the money than the art?
Blake: No, we’re just all adults and have bills to pay. You can’t have a normal good paying job, it’s not possible, so…we’re out on tour for almost two months right now, you can leave your job or you can leave your job for two months and come back and still have it, you know what I mean. So, we all work at bars and things like that, when we’re home in between tours, other than Stanford who’s like a recording engineer.
XM: How has your tour been? Where have you toured so far?
Blake: Well we didn’t do anything until this tour, and we started this in Texas, went all the way up to the west coast, all the way up to Vancouver, set back and cross to Calgary, Edmonton, where we haven’t been before, that was really cool. Came down, did Cochane, Denver, went back to Chicago, where we’re from, and from there we’ve been to Detroit, Pittsburgh, Columbus, Ohio, and now we’re up here [Toronto] and it’ll take us all the way over to Quebec, and Montreal, then we come back down to Philadelphia and New York, New Jersey etc. And work our way down to Florida and the tour ends at Atlanta, Georgia.
XM: Is this your first time in Toronto?
Blake: No, we’ve been here numerous times actually, we’ve been here with Boris, been here with Marduk, uhh we toured..Headlined a show here last September and we we’re here years ago with 1349 so this our fifth time in Toronto.
XM: How does Canada compare to any other country?
Blake: I love it here, the crowds are great. What we played to you tonight was maybe the most enthusiastic crowd we’ve had during this whole tour.
XM: You’re not just saying that right?
Blake: No, no, I’m serious that was a great crowd, the crowds here respond, people show up, people buy merchandise, people seem appreciative to have bands come to you, you know. When you live in a major city in the U.S. and you’re spoiled, you can go see any touring band anytime they come through, and you know, they’re just, there, for you. Here, people make you feel like they’re happier for you here.
XM: Do you see any major difference between Canada and any other country?
Blake: Ummm, wouldn’t say that, necessarily. It’s just a good METAL community up here, you know. It’s definitely a different kind of country, different than the United States, as an American, I can tell apart from them even in a foreign country even though we speak the same dialect of English for the most part at least in this province and the Western ones but uhmm, it’s a cool place man, I really like coming here, always enjoyed it quite a bit.
XM: Considering the numerous line-up changes you’ve had, what would be the most important factor in trying to maintain a solid partnership with your crew members?
Blake: More or less, being able to deal with each other for, you know, 150, 160 days a year in a vehicle like this, you know. That’s stressful; put 5 men together in close quarters for months on end you’ve got interesting results. Fortunately everybody in this group knows each other really well, we’re all professional, we all understand and respect each other enough to make sure the ball keeps rolling.
XM: What’s been the ultimate award in achieving music?
Blake: Umm, for me, I just love meeting fans, like what we do, and there’s nothing better than having someone say that something you made did something for them somewhere or another, so that’s the most rewarding thing for me for sure.
XM: Is there a specific effect you want to cause in the audience?
Blake: Naww, not really, I just want people to listen, and they do.
XM: Just want them to understand.
Blake: Yeah, and so far so good.
XM: Have you ever had an experience where an audience member spooked you?
Blake: No, we’ve never had anything thrown at us, never been beaten, might’ve had someone heckle us years ago or something.
Blake: Yeah, when we were kids, when we weren’t so good maybe, ummm noo it’s been a really long time since anything like that has happened. We’re a pretty intimidating group of dudes too, I wouldn’t throw anything at us too, so…it’s a quick way to get stabbed haha
XM: haha … would you prefer to play in a small venue or like a huge stadium?
Blake: Uuuhhhh I’d rather play at a smaller place than a huge place for sure.
XM: Why’s that?
Blake: More intimate. I mean there’s a certain level of achievement you feel when you play at a huge place, but it’s also very impersonal. Often times are very corporate in terms of how the places are run and managed, you know, you’re treated like a fucking commodity, not like an artist in this environment a lot of the times. So I’d rather much deal with…you know, I like what we just did tonight, that room, that kind of show, that’s what I’d like to do every night. That small, the medium sized clubs is what I am into.
XM: Is there a specific message you want the fans to come across from listening to your new album?
Blake: Uhhh not really, Nachtmystium has always been a band that tells stories, essentially, you know, we focus on our personal lives in our lyrics and themes and..
XM: …more esoteric?
Blake: Yeah, kind of, for sure. And umm we’re certainly not political in anyway, not trying to convey any message or theology or anything like that, we’re just, uhh, just making music because we have to. It’s just what we do, we’re not going to try and dress up and make it about anything other than our real lives, ‘cause our real lives are what we experience the most.
XM: I’ve noticed halfway through your discography you’ve changed direction, what made you move away from the black metal?
Blake: I got bored of that, basically. It’s a tired genre that has way too many bands trying to do the same thing, and it’s a genre where people haven’t gotten very experimental and very creative and I see it as a beautiful opportunity to do something different with a foundation that I love, which is Black Metal, which is still our sound, but we do a lot of different things in it, to try to make it a…you know, more our own, that’s why.
XM: Do you find that the classification of a band strengthens or weakens the name/reputation of the band?
Blake: That’s an interesting question…ummmmm, I’m not too sure, I know I don’t like to be easily categorized, I think that if you’re immediately tagged, someone says you’re this or that, that means that you’re doing something that already exists. You’re re-creating an idea or style that someone has already laid the groundwork for, now, it’s impossible not to do that on some level, everyone is influenced by something, but what, where you draw your influences from, and which influences you allow to come out through your music and your own personal creative outlets that’s up to you, you know. That’s where you can take, you know, other ideas and things that have influenced you and make your own mesh of those ideas and influences and that’s what I try to do, and I try to reach and draw from influences of mine that are not commonly found in Black Metal music, and that’s kind of what helps us stand out in our community.
XM: In your opinion what separates a good Black Metal band from a bad one?
Blake: Ummm I don’t think there’s anything cheesier than a bunch of guys on-stage wearing corpse paint that aren’t 100% sure of themselves, watching a nervous band up there trying to bring this very savage and nihilistic, you know, ideal, to stage and stand there looking unsure of themselves, looks pretty funny to me. Ummm I think that if you’re going to play this kind of music, you got to be fuckin forward thinking and strong headed and it takes a certain type of individual to really present it in an appropriate way, especially if you go the corpse paint, spikes are out, I only know one active band that does that in a way that I find to be interesting at all, and that’s Watain, ‘cause it’s real and I know those guys and I know what they’re about and know what they do on and off stage and they’re the real fucking deal. So if you’re not, at least similar to that I probably wouldn’t like it too much.
XM: So then would you say that Black Metal is slowly dying off?
Blake: No, not at all, I think it’s more abundant than ever, it’s just boring and washed up and redundant. There’s not a whole lot of creative happening in the majority of bands, new bands today, that I heard anyways.
XM: What’s your opinion on Christian Metal?
Blake: I don’t really have one man, it’s probably the same as like the really retardedly satanic bands, I think it’s stupid, I think deities and theologies in general are stupid. So, I don’t really adhere to any spiritual theology myself and I don’t generally tend to be attracted to other people that do, in any way.
XM: Has the band evolved from the first album much?
Blake: Oh yeah, absolutely, the band has grown as I have grown older, the band became an adult. The band was born as a kid, or as a teenager and now has turned 28 years old haha with me, so we’re getting older, I started making this music when I was 17 and I’m 28 now, so things are very different than what they used to be, naturally my music is different than the band’s, which I think is a little more mature.
XM: Do you find that it is easier or more difficult to write music as you go along?
Blake: It’s actually more difficult to write I think as quality, well I mean, we have great deal of material to being with, there’s lots of music to take whether it’s good or not, it’s up to whoever is listening I suppose. I find it hard to feel like I’m doing something fresh, that’s the only way ill record music, is when I’m certain that what I am doing is exactly what I want it to be and the stakes are higher these days, when you tour with bigger bands, so we can’t be writing bullshit, that’s doesn’t fuckin work in this world, so I uhh, I’m very picky about what we keep and don’t keep and so on and so forth, it’s a little bit harder, but you know I’ve got my time for it thought, I’ve dedicated enough of my life to this band that I can focus on it pretty much anytime I want to so that feels like a nice added bonus to the hard work I guess.
XM: So does the band have a group effort or is it mostly one person in charge of the grand scheme of things?
Blake: Well it’s a little of both these days, early on it was mostly me, but now, I have intentionally picked and selected people to make records with, who I want to be creative with and I invite them in, well take my little foundation that I have here and as a group we try to turn it into something greater than what it is and that involved the artistic input from the people involved, so “Addicts”, “Addicts” is our most recent album, it’s the biggest collaboration we’ve ever done and everybody on that record wrote something, you know it’s not just me, having a bunch of people playing shit that I wrote. It’s a bunch of people playing stuff that they wrote and it all works together really well.
XM: Do you find that an album created by one person is..i guess in a way, more ‘vibrant’ than a group effort?
Blake: It can, it can be, if, you know, someone’s vision is unique and awesome and if they can execute it themselves then sure it’s definitely more straightforward with directional of that person because it’s he or she making it but umm in our case, uhhh I think our albums become more vibrant with…like, I look at myself as a producer in a sense, in that I think instead of “okay, this is the kind of record I want to make” so the musicians I know, who makes the most sense to make this album with me. And that is kind of what a producer does, the producer pulls people together and pools ideas and brings in session people and so forth in you know big music, real you know, fuckin big budget shit, so I at a very microcosmic level try to do that with the band and try to make sure that I am putting together the best group of people to achieve the general idea that I have and in doing so I have asked those people to come in and be creative alongside me and they are the people that I know that like and do what they’re interested in, the band, and now we’re kind of on a roll, pretty permanent group right now, so I could say it went well.
XM: Would you say that Black Metal bands aren’t as easily accepted outside of Europe?
Blake: I don’t think that’s entirely true, we’ve been able to rise up to a point where we can be on the cover of ‘Terrorizer’ alongside Emperor, and have been always called a Black Metal band. So there is a certain extension, like I said I listen to so little Black Metal these days, and paid zero attention to what’s going on with it, these days like im really not, well informed enough to have an opinion about what’s happening with that genre these days.
XM: What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear ‘X-PLOSIVE METAL’?
Blake: First command in war by Sodom, first song off of uhhh, fuckin’, what is that on…Persecution Mania, or is it In The Sign Of Evil…”Persecution Mania” …yeah that’s what I think.
XM: What’s the one album or musician you would like to work with?
Blake: Ummm if I could collaborate with anybody…at this point in time?
Blake: I’d love to work with Al Jourgensen from Ministry. They are one of my favorite bands for a long time, I remember, what we’re doing these days more like Ministry than what we have done before, I’m not saying we sound like Ministry but we’re more working with the kind of things they did and they’ve been very influential on our most recent record and what we’ve been working on now. That would be really cool.
XM: and you still listen to Ministry right now?
Blake: Yeah, all the time.
XM: So do you find inspiration still nowadays?
Blake: Hm, absolutely. More so than before probably.
XM: Why’s that?
Blake: I don’t feel as restricted by the genre that we’re part of.
XM: Do you find that the modern METAL scene has more restrictions than ever before?
Blake: Probably, I mean, again I find that the best way to be creative as a guy in a METAL band is to not to listen to other METAL, pay attention to what music I like, some music is METAL some music is industrial, some is country, I like everything, and I just do what I do and don’t really worry about what someone else is doing, that seems to work pretty fucking well for this band.
XM: Do you have any final comments or anything to promote the band?
Blake: We’ll be back, sometime later in the year probably in Toronto. Thanks for the interview.