Ablaze – 2001
Rahab interviewed by Florian Dammasch of Ablaze (Germany).
1. There are not too many BM bands in the Dutch scene it seems, in fact only Liar of Golgotha is pretty well-known, and Altar is no BM band at all. Nevertheless there’s no band with the quality standard of Ordo Draconis. What did you do different (and better obviously) than other bands, what makes you so special? Does it make you proud to be the top of a whole country’s BM scene (I’m sure you are!)?
Rahab: No warming up rounds – a tough question to start off with! Let me start by saying that I consider the composing and playing of music as an artistic expression. I do not think art and competition go together. So I’ll have to answer you question negatively – I am not proud of „our position“ in the scene, because I don’t think in such terms. I wouldn‘t be able to think of a criterium to determine a band’s ranking…. But if one would suggest it should be sales-figures, bands like Liar of Golgotha and Cirith Gorgor are way ahead of us. However, I most certainly am proud of the things that we have accomplished with Ordo Draconis so far, with the recent release of our debut full-length album „The Wing & The Burden“ as a highlight for the time being. Since each band has their own goals as for what they want to achieve, it’s pretty difficult to speak about a „quality standard“ in general terms. The fact that music is subject to preference/taste colours one’s judgement as far as the quality of band goes. I wouldn’t dare saying there’s no other band around in the Dutch black metal scene applying the same qualitity standard as we do. To me it’s kind of irrelevant too. Within Ordo Draconis we have our own goals and the band-internal quality standard is the only one that makes sense to me. Eversince we started out with Ordo Draconis we have applied the basic rule „either we are going to do the things we do as good as we can, or we won’t do them at all“. We firmly believe in the things we do and the music we are creating and this makes it easier to invest in that. I can only tell you why Ordo Draconis is so special to me – Ordo Draconis‘ music is a projection of my being which reveals my core, my essence. I have a very strong „relationship“ with our songs and an even stronger one with specific individual parts/riffs – they all carry a certain charge or burden, that I added when I composed them or heard/played them for the first. I think I am able to recall the specific circumstances of composing for my entire contibution to the bands work. Apart from the music itself, the synergy within the band is very dear to me. Ordo Draconis consists of five individuals with their own view on things and their own personal qualities. So far I think we have succeeded pretty well in setting collective goals and maximizing the usage of our individual qualities to the band’s advantage.
2. Ordo still is a rather young band, actually such mature bands are mostly already older than you. What gives you these visionary, unresting spirit to play music and to work so hard to realize these goals?
Rahab: I think there are two aspects of importance. First the urge to create, music in our case. I get a great sense of satisfaction out of composing and I love it‘s dynamic process, sometimes devastating, sometimes leading to euphoria, always exhausting, yet never boring. When the transition from soul to mind and from mind to the various instruments is made succesfully there is this orgasmic sensation – maybe that sounds silly but it’s the closest comparison I can think of in terms of intensity and euphoria. It should be clear that our music is very personal to me as well as to the other band members. It’s only logical then that we want to „preserve“ it in a way that honours our songs, so by recording them decently. The second aspect deals with the presentation and the spreading of the music. The urge to compose will always be stronger than me and if other people will hear what I’ve created or not is subordinate, or even irrelevant in that matter. However I would be lying if I was to say that I don’t care at all about what other people think about our music. Ordo Draconis‘ music means a great deal to me and it surely gives me satisfaction if it means something (special) to others as well, if they can relate to it in some sense. We all are proud of our creations and we want to present to others what we have made. Apart from personal taste and a longing for perfection, it is only practical to present your material in a decent way, in order to reach as many people that might like our music as possible.
3. Imagine Ordo would’ve been founded 10 years ago, in the beginning of the 90s. Do you think it would’ve been the same revolutionary music like it is today, or did you need some „idols“ to influence your work? What would be the position Ordo had if you had started 5 years earlier with the same standard like today?
Rahab: I really don’t know what would have happened if we had started out 10 years ago. The music would have been different for sure – we were different persons back then obviously and many musical influences have affected me in these last ten years. I’m not too fond of the word „idol“ – it brings to mind a certains association of worship, but of course there are bands and artists, both in and outside the metals scene, that I respect a lot and that have affected me in my musical development. This holds for every band member, I guess. In the end every musician has his or her influences, that’s simply inevitable. It’s just a matter of how one deals with these influences. It has never been our aim to copy another band, we try and blend our influences together to forge something new. I do not think I am the right person to comment on weither or not our music is or would have been revolutionary. During the first couple of years it has struck me a couple of times, like “If only we had been there a little earlier, things would have been so much easier with fewer bands around and stuff“… but we weren’t and I guess I prefer looking at the band’s future. Throughout the existence of Ordo Draconis I think we have grown more and more self-conscious; we know our qualities and our restrictions and I am pretty much at piece with that. There are still so many things I would like to try and experience – it’s more constructive to work towards future goals than to mourn over possible opportunities if the band would have existed earlier, I think.
4. You’ve sold over 1000 copies of your demo tape, which is more than impressive for today’s standards. The material on that demo still is very good I think, and you’ve already re-recorded „A Crimson Dawn“ for the album – so, will you use the songs from that demo anywhere again? Are there still request on the tape?
Rahab: I almost totally sure that we will not use any more songs from „When the Cycle Ends“ in their original form. We re-recorded „A Crimson Dawn“, because we had the opinion it could have been better than the demo-version eversince we recorded. The flutes were already intended for the original version, but it was impossible to properly record them back then. Though I generally prefer the first version of a song – I guess my rather conservative character is to blame here – I think we did a good job on this one. The CD-version is more aggressive and thet suits the song and I really love Bob’s guitar solo, playing in harmony with the low whistle. I would like the idea of using the main theme from „The Nightwander“ someday, but I still have to find a suitable purpose for it. Don’t know if it will ever happen. The demo tape is as good as sold out. Over 1200 copies have been spread and indeed there’s still a request for the tape
5. After the demo your style changed quite a lot, became much more independent, aggressive and „own“. What caused that radical and fast development within only about one and a half year?
Rahab: I’m not able to point out a specific cause – in my view changes never have been that radical. There never has been a point where we said: “Now we are going to do things differently!“. The only reason I can think of is a development in composing/arranging-skills as well as in playing skills. I mean, when we recorded our demo-tape Midhir and myself were handling our instruments less than a year and you can imagine that technical capacities sometimes were an obstacle in realizing what we really wanted. Apart from that, I guess the start of a band is characterized by a period of crystalisation – everything has to take shape: the division of tasks within the band, the way of composing, of communicating as well as an understanding about and a view on the music itself. I’m not saying there’s no development in such matters today, but back then Ordo Draconis was a tabula rasa and that’s not the case anymore. As for the speed of our development, I think it’s mainly due to ambition to improve, to become a better musician and a better composer. We constantly try to push our limits a little further and I guess our general approach towards our music helps to improve: In principle the composition as such is „sacred“ and it often happens that we have a long way to go, when the composing is done, before we actually are able to properly play the parts. It’s always an interesting challenge though and I have the belief that the compostion has to big an intrinsic value to simply adjust it to where you’re standing as far as playing skills go. I can imagine that the results of this approach were most noticable during the earliest period of the band’s existence. The steps of progress are always the biggest at the beginning of a learning-curve.
6. Already back in 1999 it was obvious that Ordo aims for higher goals (in the artistic sense) than most bands ever will. What might be the final endpoint of the development you’ve taken, what is the „ideal“ you try to reach?
Rahab: There’s not a fixed „final destination“ – I think that would only have a stagnating influence on the band’s development. The development of the band is a goal in itself: improving our musical and composing skills in order to capture the specific atmospheres and emotions we want to express. I think that emotion and atmosphere are the essential in music and all the means that enhance them are justified. Of course we have a number of dreams and things we want to realise. In order to get there we do set „short term goals“. There is a number of musical challenges I want confront myself with – simply ideas of things I want to try and if they work out, we’ll incorporate them into a song. Quite some examples of that can also be found on „The Wing & the Burden“ as well, like the re-arranged „Danse Macabre“-part in the song „Necropolis“, the canon-piece (where all the instruments play the same thing, but not at the same time – intentionally;-)) in „Tiphareth- the Burning Balance“, a re-arranged part of a piece for classical guitar by Carcassi to which we added a second guitar part in „the Rite…“ and so on. Current future dreams are the realisation of our second album and to do some touring.
7.„In Speculis Noctis“ has been sold as a demo-cd, it was a highly professional release though that could’ve been easily released by a label. Don’t you think it hinders the right sight of people on your work to degrade such a release to demo?Rahab: I don’t see it as a degredation. When we made „In Speculis Noctis“ we wanted to make a statement with that release, like „this is what we are capable of on our own; we believe in what we’re doing and we dare to invest in it ourselves“. The statement was not only addressed to others, but also to ourselves. I am very proud of that release and I am happy we did things the way we did. We had received a contract-offer from a record label after „When the Cycle Ends“, but since the demo-tape was more like a polished rehearsal recording, we wanted to gain studio-experience before recording our debut album. I think it was a wise decision to do so and we benefitted a lot from it while recording „The Wing & the Burden“. The basic purpose of the recording of „In Speculis Noctis“ was a demonstrating one – even the title of the MCD refers to its demo-character. „In Speculis Noctis“ simply is what it is: a (professional) demo and I see no use in calling it differently.
8. Over 1300 copies have been spread of the MCD, which is again fantastic and more than most labels sell of an average release. How were you able to do that, and do you think it was the perfect help for any label you may have signed to? Have you ever heard of such a selling success a band without a label gained in the end of the last decade?
Rahab: I’m not exactly sure about the amount of copies sold, but at least 1300 indeed. We thought it was particularly important that as many people as possible would get ahold of a copy and would hear our music – therefore we created a scenario in which we would succeed in breaking even, but would still be able to offer the CD for a low price: 10 guilders (about 9 DM). Since the whole lay-out of the CD is prodone it was easy to convince people to buy a copy. At the Dynamo festival‘99 alone we sold 500 copies in 2 days. I think we spread about 25000 flyers and did quite a number of interviews, also in bigger magazines like Legacy, Legion and Rock Brigade. I really must add that we were very lucky in getting a lot of wonderful help and support from friends – something I am incredibly thankful for. I guess it is always good for a label if a band is already know in the underground before they are signed –I mean, it is likely that it will offer some guarantee in the sales. On the other hand, before we got signed I had this thought that labels might think we would be to stubborn and too much perfectionist, wanting to do things our way. I was afraid that this could stand in the way for us to get a record deal – fortunately it didn’t eventually. I really don’t keep track of sales by other bands, so – no I haven’t heard of other private releases selling this well, but that might not be that strange considering my ignorance on other band’s sales. I know that the demo-tapes of Sirius and Ephel Duath should have sold 1200 and over 1300 copies respectively…
9. In general, are you of the opinion that it was the right decision to do a second „demo“? Is there really such a vast improvement on the album compared to the mini?
Rahab: No doubt it was the right decision – the first time in the Excess-studios for the recording of „In Speculis Noctis“ we still had to grow accustom to the way things go down in a studio. It was a good idea to do this before recording our first album. I remember I was very nervous the first time – for the recording of „The Wing & the Burden“ we were much better prepared. We had done a pre-production in our rehearsing centre, where also studio equipment is present. My entire attitude towards the recording itself was better I think, I felt more of a constructive, ambitious tension then a suffocating fear that things might not turn out as good as I wanted them, which had struck me the first time I was in the studio. I certainly think we have improved a lot on „The Wing & the Burden“ compared to „In Speculis Noctis“. We have chosen for a more transparant sound, in which all the individual instruments a separately identifiable. On „In Speculis Noctis“ there were constanly parts that seemed to drown. We make a kind of music that is pretty difficult to produce I guess; it’s rather stuffed, lots of things going on and a lot of details. I think it was quite a challenge for our producer Hans Pieters as well to find a right balance in two or three guitarlines and two or three keyboard lines played at the same time. Apart from that, our improved playings skills allowed us to have a more transparent productions, because there were fewer flaws to be covered op by effects. I think the production is a very honest one. As for the material on the album itself – though I don’t like the expression too much, I guess you might call it more mature. It’s much more complex when you analyse it, but as I mentioned before the atmosphere should take up the central place in our music, so it was a challenge to create music that can be listened to at several levels. I wouldn’t like it if our music would become inaccesible due to technical twiddley bits – playing skills are subordinate to the songs, not the other way around. I think we have succeeded in preserving the atmosphere and making the songs more adventurous, both to play and to listen to. This makes things more interesting for us.
10. About one year ago (is it really that long ago… ?!) you got in contact with the German label Skaldic Art. Probably it would’ve been possible to sign with any other label I’d say. Tell the readers what caused you to choose Skaldic Art, what’s so special about the concept, what is important for you with a label in general…
Rahab: At the end of 1999, with the help of a very dear friend, I got in touch with Vratyas Vakyas who had just released the first two albums on Skaldic Art (by Furthest Shore and Obsidian Gate). He was the first to show a strong interest in a cooperation with Ordo Draconis after the release of „In Speculis Noctis“. We had a great number of long conversations during which we discussed practical as well as ideological and philosophical topics, not forgetting the German policy towards killer dogs and a desire fluid chocolate pudding!! It was clear from the start that the right intention was there with both parties. Being an artist with a strong longing for artistic freedom himself, Vratyas created a label policy in which the artistic achievements of a band take up a central place. All label activities are done in a continous consultation with the bands, so that everything may be done as much according to the ideals of the bands as possible. Since Ordo Draconis have strong ideas about how we would like to see things, this is as an aspect that appealed to us very much. Not to create any misunderstandings: Vratyas is not some kind of label-slave who does everything „his“ bands tell him to; freedom only excists within restriction and it has a „price“: personal responsibility. Through Skaldic Art, Vratyas offers potential: opportunities that bands can either take or leave. In either case, they’ll have to take the consequences of that. In my view that’s no less than reasonable. Another interesting consequence of Vratyas‘ approach is respectful and friendly relationship between the individual bands on the label; bands show interest in what the other bands are doing and are trying to support eachother and to help eachother out. I think that’s pretty unique The most important things we demand from a label in general are total artistic freedom and decent conditions to record and release our albums (especially sufficient studio budget, and decent promotion and distribution)
11. How high do you rate the chances of a good development of both the band and the label in co-operation? Will Skaldic Art grow with the help of Ordo, and vice-versa? Do you have any expectations by the way concerning the work the label should do?
Rahab: I am very fond of figures, but I don’t think I’d be able to make an adequate estimation of the chance of a good development for both parties – it’s not that I am that sceptic about the odds. Skaldic Art’s label policy deserves a lot of respect in my view, but it’s not without risk. Though sticking to ideals can be very rewarding and is a whole lot more important than making lots of money, it sometimes has a high price in financial terms – I hope that will never be an unovercomeable issue for Skaldic Art. Of course I hope we can grow together and that our cooperation will be fruitful for both parties, but it is impossible to actually predict such thing. The only thing that I do know for sure is that we will, or as a matter of fact, already are doing our very best to support both Ordo Draconis and Skaldic Art. Both band and label are convinced of eachothers qualities and are both optimistic and curious about how things will develop with the new releases (apart from „The Wing & the Burden“, Obsidian Gate’s second album „Collosal Christhunt“ has just been released).
12. Is the relation you have with Skaldic Art’s boss Vratyas Vakyas an uncommon, special one you wouldn’t expect actually? How important is it for you to have such a personal relationship in a co-operation?
Rahab: It’s not the kind of relation I had expected myself at first instance. I had expected a more formal understanding between band and label… and the formal part is present, there simply is more. I think I was pretty reserved at first instance – I mean, I am walking around in the underground long enough to know it’s wiser to be cautious than to fully trust someone at first instance. Even if there are no bad intentions, people often say things in their enthusiasm that they simply are not able to realise. I guess that’s only natural – though I think I am reasonably selfconscious and down to earth, I can’t deny being guilty of over-enthusiasm occasionally. Anyway, Vratyas‘ competence came shining through soon enough and I opened up more for the informal contact Vratyas wants to have with „his“ bands. We are in frequent contact and have developed a personal friendship over the last year that is very dear to me. Occasionally we meet each other. I can’t tell how important it is to have a more personal understanding or even a friendship with one‘s label-boss, for I have no comparison. I simply know I am happy that things are the way they are – Vratyas is an animating, inspiring character, who I respect and with whom I can disagree.
13. The preparations for the album „The Wing & the Burden“ have been vast again, you even did a complete pre-production on your own. What was the reason to do that, and did it help anything in order to improve on the final production?
Rahab: The reason for the pre-production was to get a clear sight on song-parts that would need adjustment and to get a view on songs/parts that deserved extra attention in the preparation. Apart from that, such a recording is perfect to practice at home by playing along. Though it was a costly effort, I think it payed off. For me it was a good indication of what remained to be done before entering the studio. It was also the pre-production that made us decide not to use any distortion on the bass-guitar
14. Long before the final recording of the album it seemed to be clear the both Bob and Moloch intended to leave the band due. Again, what have been the reasons for these decisions? Did it influence the enthusiasm and skills in the band in any way? In the end, it turned out that both members decided to stay. Did the rest of the band have influence on that or did they do that on their own? Finally, Ordo is an order, and somebody can’t leave an order that easily – did that problems strengthen the order in the end?
Rahab:The whole situation had it’s roots in private life – I don’t want to comment on that. Due to this there arose a tension in the band. We came to a point that it was necessary to have a good conversation and so we did. The outcome was that Bob and Moloch would leave, but not before the recording of the album was finished. They saw that it would have been to big a loss if they wouldn’t at least complete what we had been working for all this time. From that point everything was clear and the tension had gone – we only focussed on recording the album as well as we could. Though the loss would have been incredible, the rest of the band respected their decision and aquiesced in it. Ordo Draconis would have continued without them. The recording of the album, the whole way towards it and the final outcome were very special for all band members and led Bob and Moloch to re-evaluate their situation and made them decide to continue with Ordo Draconis, which is the best outcome I could have wished for. In some sense the arriving departure of Bob and Moloch did influence our enthusiasm and our skills. The album would be the final chapter of a certain stage of the band. And because there was no case of personal wars going on inside the band and we had been together for four years, we were extra motivated to create something beautiful for this final chapter to which we could all look back with pride. If we had any influence on the choice of Bob and Moloch to stay, it would be that we left them their own choice, which we would respect no matter what. Haha, it’s not really like we are an hermetic order, though the line up has been stable for over 4 years. The decision to leave was very hard on them – it’s not like they were keen on quitting or anything, and even if they would have left they probably would have stayed involved as session members („You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave!“). I can affirm that the whole situation has strengthened the band; it are such events that make you realise that you really have something special going on!
15. Is it possible that some members of the band have very different tastes concerning music and style in general? If yes, did that ever cause any problems for the cooperation and the aims in the band?
Rahab: Na, I won’t deny that we are a bunch of stubborn bastards with different and diverse tastes for music. But that is something we new from the start and I think we have found a way to deal with that. Of course there are moments of discussion and arguing, but never in a hostile way. In the end we all have the same goal: creating music that means something to us. We respect eachother for being perfectionists and each one of us is self-conscious enough to know he (including myself of course) isn’t the easiest person to deal with. Most of us are open-minded to experimenting and incorporating new influences into the songs. Like I mentioned before – all influences and means are legitimate as long as the help in creating a certain atmosphere. Bob and Moloch have a second band (resp. Bad Wurm and Dark Remains) in which they can use their creativity for other styles of music. I think the diversity in musical taste has only enriched the band, I don’t recall situations were it lead to problems. If someone comes with an idea that the rest of the band doesn’t like, even after experimenting with it, we just drop it…
16. The style on the album hasn’t changed too much, it has become technically more skilled, more mature and ripe and sometimes more aggressive, but still focussed on the atmosphere. Where do you see the „big“ differences to the former recordings? In my eyes it’s a pretty complete sounding album, showing an own style in all songs.
Rahab: It think I already answered most of this question in my answer to question 9. I pretty much agree with your description of the changes (technically more skilled, more mature and sometimes more aggressive, yet still focused on the atmosphere… could have said so myself, hahaha – I’m going to plagiarize you on this one in interviews to come ;-)) Na, the changes you mentioned are big enough for me, together with an improved production and better and more inventive composing. The next release might see some more radical differences, we deliberately shifted those songs to the next album. But like „The Wing & the Burden“ compared to „In Speculis Noctis“, it will still be recognisably Ordo Draconis.
17. You’ve compared yourself to Dissection or Arcturus during the times of the first demo. Both CDs show that you’re much more independent than you probably guess yourselfs – so, you aren’t still of the opinion you can be compared to any band, are you?
Rahab: I wouldn’t put it as strong as to say we compared ourselves to Arcturus and Dissection – the flyer says „somewhat in the vein of…“, just to offer some kind of reference. I think it’s inevitable to give at least some clue or direction of what you sound like as a demo band. As a matter of fact I think it’s still important, I mean, not in the sense that we are copying the bands we mention or that there is a close comparison, but that our general approach is about the same. Apart from the fact that I would never have the arrogance to label our music „totally original“, it doesn’t say shit either… because what does „totally original“ sound like? It’s more useful to name some bands, like Emperor and Arcturus for instance… I think these bands could give some indication of what we sound like.
18. Most of the music on the album is very well-balanced between guitars and keyboards dominating the atmosphere, which is very seldom actually. How do you compose the songs, still like the years before or did anybody become the musical mastermind in the meantime?
Rahab: No, the way of composing is still the same – we have juste started to use computer sofware to help with composing – the first experiments have come out well. The „division of tasks“ hasn’t changed much – there is not one musical mastermind in Ordo Draconis. Midhir, Bob and myself are responsible for the basic ideas and song-structures and we arrange the songs with the entire band. In the end everybody is responsible for his exact parts to play, but we always try to preserve this balance you mentioned. We still work from a basic concept or theme for a song, before composing it. The lyrics are written after wards.
19. Do you write the lyrics to finished songs, or totally parted of each other? Is it important that both fit together concerning the atmosphere? Do the members who don’t contribute anything to the lyrics care about their contents though?
Rahab: No, the lyrics are written when the music is finished. The lyrics are to delicate a matter to be written separately – they have to fit into the music perfectly in order to obtain the right synergy between lyrics and music. Like I mentioned before the subject or the concept for the lyrics is already detemined before the composing of the music, so from that point on, our lyricists (Moloch & Midhir) can already start working on what they want to put in, but content only take their final shape when the music is ready. I should add that it has happened that Moloch completely revised his lyrics, because the initial ones didn’t satisfy him anymore. I think everybody in the band cares about the contents of the lyrics, though not to the same extent. Since there’s a link between the lyrics and the music it’s almost impossible not to care about the contents. The topics of our lyrics generally interest me as a person and I always read the lyrics to a song as soon as I can. Because I really like a graceful use of language, figures of speech and the use of metaphors, the lyrics of Midhir appeal to me most and we sometimes discuss them. I think his poetic expression and his use of the English language is of a standard seldomly seen in the black metal scene, even with bands who have English as their native language. A complaint for some might be that his lyrics are difficult to understand, because of his extensive vocabulary and the use of abstractions. Moloch’s lyrics are much more direct and easier to comprehend for „sheer mortals“ like myself, though his references to the occult are often beyond my knowledge. For „The Wing & the Burden“ he also started using historical events as topics for his lyrics, like with „The Rite of Catherina de Medicis“, which is interesting I think.
20. You’ve written about themes that are not very typical for BM bands I’d say (and actually Ordo isn’t a common BM band…), even if they fit into a certain „dark“ scheme. Do the two writes identify themselves with the themes the other one writes about as well, and is it possible for them to express the most important things they like to say by writing lyrics?
Rahab: For Moloch it’s a necessity to identify with Midhir’s lyrics, at least to some extent, because he handles the vocals. It’s hard for me to judge to what extent the two of them identify with the lyrics written by the other one. I do not wish to speak for them. I can only guess about the second question too and I prefer not to – you really would have to ask the two of them.
21. The production of „The Wing & the Burden“, carefully listened to, is one of the best productions that have been delivered during the last two years in that style I’d say. How would you describe the main charasteristics of your production, and why did you choose the Excess Studio? Do you think it would’ve been possible to get the same result in another studio as well?
Rahab: Well thank you for the compliment, though there is always space for improvement, we are indeed quite content with the production ourselves. I would describe the production like clear, balanced and definable, but still with power. We returned to the Excess Studios for a couple of reasons. First, we were happy with the job Hans Pieters did on „In Speculis Noctis“. I think he’s a pleasant person to work with and having worked with bands like Sinister, Danse Macabre, Houwitser and After Forever to name but a few he’s pretty experienced. Second, we were already familiar with Hans‘ way of working and the Excess Studio itself, so we immediately felt at ease with that. And third the studio is not too far from where we live so we could go home and didn’t have to get bored stiff in the studio when there was nothing to do. In another studio the result obviously would have been different, but it might have turned out equally good – as long as the equipment is there, there is an experienced person present as a producer and we feel at ease recording, we may get a good result anywhere. A return to the Excess Studios simply was the most obvious choice and it’s likely we will record there again
22. You’ve mentioned two things long time ago concerning the album – the first one was „maybe we’re going to use some electronic beats“ and the other one was „probably we’re recording a song that has a pretty folky theme and differs from the other songs“. Well, nothing has become reality in the end. Why not?
Rahab: Hey, don’t give up on me too soon. We did compose a track with a part which has electronic beats, but we decided to shift it to the next album. In general the next album will see a little more experimenting in the rhythm section, I think. However there’s not to much I want or dare to say about it – sometimes views change. The song with the folky song was intended to be recorded during the „In Speculis Noctis“-sessions. There wasn’t enough time though and since the song sounds rather different from the other material, it was the first to be left out. I don’t think we will ever record it in it’s original version, but it’s very well possible that we will use some of the riffs for a future song. The song was called „The Ritual“ and it was unique in the sense that it is the only song we ever composed to whom somebody outside the band contributed the lyrics. We never played the song live either, wouldn‘t have been the same anyway, because it was supposed to contain a rather long accoustic part.
23. Did you already receive any reactions from fans, magazines etc. for the album? I can imagine that not too many people will comprehend the essence of the Ordo sound, not explore the depth you have. Would you limit the circle of Ordo-listeners if possible, or would you regard it as positive if everybody tries to listen to it?
We didn’t receive that many reactions yet – at the moment that I am writing these lines the album isn’t even officially released. But the response we got so far is pretty good, but still diverse. Some have told me it’s quite a lot in the vein of „In Speculis Noctis“ and others said it is way more complex and that it’s difficult to comprehend the songs at first instance. As a matter of fact the latter is entirely what we had intended – listening to the album should be a challenge!, an adventurous journey on which you discover new details with each hearing for a long time. However it’s not intended to be so complex that the complexity becomes a barrier for experiencing the atmosphere of the songs. The music can be listened to on more than one level. I once said myself, that after the recording, I wanted to be able to listen to the album and discover new details myself despite the fact that I was involved in the composing; well that’s something we succeeded in. An interesting aspect is that the people outside the metal scene that I demonstrated our material to, were very impressed. At the end of last year I had a guitar teacher over at my place who had graduated music school and had transcribed clavesimbel pieces by Bach to classical guitar. He was interested in what I was doing with Ordo Draconis, so I put on an advance of the album. He must have told me at least 8 times that he was very impressed by our music… he only couldn’t appreciate the vocals, haha! I guess it should be clear from our approach to our music that we want to offer as many people as possible the opportunity to have a listen. It’s not our aim to keep our audience restricted – on the other hand we won’t make any musical consessions in order to reach a larger audience. But I do hope many people will make the effort to have a listen to „The Wing & the Burden“
24. On the release party you did in March you’ve invited 100 listeners to be present, not more. That seems to be very personal. Is Ordo’s music „personal“ music as well, nothing that could be played besides watching TV or in a club maybe? If you like, tell something about the success of the release party and for what purpose you’ve done it.
Rahab: The release-patry was not a matter of personal invitation or anything. We held our CD-presentation on the 10th March in Gouda in a place called „De Gonz“. This simply felt right, because it is there, that everything started and where we did our first gig and so on. Many regular visitor accompany us on gigs, no matter where we play. We have a very loyal following – somethig to be vey grateful for! I was one of the best days I can recall, with so many great friends being present, our label mates Vindsval opening up and playing an excellent and succesful gig and our own gig was one of the best we ever did I think. The moments of holding our debut-CD in my hands for the first time and sharing the happiness and relief with the people who realised this work will stick to my mind, always! The party afterwards was great as well, as well as the response from the audience that seemed to be impressed. What the purpose for the release-party was? Celebrating our debut album, an effort for which we have worked our asses off for 4 years, with people who care about Ordo Draconis, like our music or what ever… To me our music will always be very personal of course – the first couple of dozen hearings I wasn’t able to do anything apart from listening and sitting paralysed. I don’t think there’s any use in saying where, under which circumstances and by whom our music should be played. I know I prefer to listen to it when I’m alone.
25. In the very nicely designed booklet one can see that all members wear paintings, live you’ve played without make-up. Most people say only „true BM have the legitimation to wear paintings“, and in fact you aren’t. When and why do you it though?
Rahab: The use of corpse paint has been a personal matter and a personal decision ever since the very beginning of the band. The last couple of gigs no one in the band has used it, which doesn’t mean no one will use it ever again. To me corpsepaint is a form of dramatic expression, an emphesis of the contrast in myself which shines through in our music… as such it can impossibly lose it’s meaning, which it obviously hasn’t. However, there are a number of practical reasons, which led to not using corpsepaint by me. Like I said – it is an emphasis, not an essential to me, and I decided I wanted to focus on the essence: our music, at the moment. In a live environment that is easier for me when I don’t have paint my face half an hour before I get on stage – I prefer to prepare myself in a different way. As for „most people“, maybe some of them would care to explain to me, why it wouldn’t be legitimate for me to wear corpsepaint. I do think Ordo Draconis play true black metal in the only sense that is relevant: that it is sincere, that we are true to ourselves. We do the things we do for a reason and most of the time those reasons are well thought through. We do not need or want a fake image to appeal to other people – this is the same kind of basic principle I already mentioned in the question relating to Skaldic Art: the artistic aspect of the music should always be the essential. We are not going to make music and create an image of ourselves that’s miles apart from who we are and what we want to do, just to sell more records or to get more publicity. There is something like personal integrity and violating that (i.e. pretending to be something you’re not), is even worse than musical prostitution (making a kind of music only because it appeals to others) in my view. I have been wondering through the black metal underground for over ten years now and I think that is quite some time to think over ones personal views concerning the music, the scene, etc. I wonder what convincing argument „most people“ might have, that would deny me the use of a well-thought-through and suitable emphesis of the music that I have (partly) composed myself. Apart from that, I am always kind of curious what criteria people have for judging how „true“ a band or a person is. I sometimes have the impression that „most people“ (for I don’t believe it are most people) have the interesting and sophisticated belief there exists a connection between „trueness“ and „playing skills“ analogue to the Heisenberg-equation. (for those, less engaged in quantum physics: the more you have of one, the less you have of the other)
26. For gigs you have a female session bass player. What can you tell us about her, except for the fact that she’s very beautiful and seems to be a good musician? 😉 Why did Moloch decide not to play bass anymore, not in the studio nor live?
Rahab: At a certain point Moloch mentioned he wanted to entirely focus on his skills as a frontman and a vocalist. I also believe this is the field were his main talents lie. The bass hanging around his neck had become a burden to him in giving the performance he wanted to give. So he decided to quit playing the bass. For studio activities this was no problem at all, because our other guitarist Bob handles the bass in his second band so he could easily fill the gap while recording, As a matter of fact it was even easier to match the guitar and the bass-parts. For playing-live there was a problem. Fortunately, Moloch knew somebody perfect for the job, namely Digna. At first instance she would only play along for a certain period, but things worked very well: we got along fine on a personal levels and her skills as a musician are excellent apart from the fact she really bangs her head off on stage. So we decided to have her as a permanent session bass-player. Unfortunately, she recently had to quit her activities for Ordo Draconis because of her graduation and her own band Imbolc, which is one of the best upcoming bands from Holland I know by the way! They play fast black metal double vocals and with touches of Naglfar and Aeternus, with some death metal influences as well. They recently recorded their first demo which should be available soon and which I strongly recommend! At the moment we are looking for a new, more permant solution for the bass-guitar live.
27. You still have, with a full line-up, the opportunity to play concerts. Will you use that chance as often as possible? There are some rumours of a tour with Falkenbach you may support if possible. Any other plans for bigger concerts? Festivals maybe?
Rahab: Until we have a permanent solution for the bass, we will not actively search for more gigs I guess – for the gigs that are still planned, Moloch will handle the bass again. There are no huge gigs or festivals planned. We all have rather busy lives with demanding jobs and studies. Then there are things like relationships, second bands and hobby’s like Arco’s designing activities and his Moongleam Distribution and for me Mandrake Magazine. Since there are only 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, it wouldn’t be possible or at least desirable to play each week at least two gigs. But one or two gigs a month is perfect. It would be fantastic to support Falkenbach on a tour! Let’s say, I heard the rumour as wel. The intentions are there, now let’s see if we can make it work. It’s something I have dreamt of since we began – to go on a tour. My ideas about touring are really not that romantic, I just want to experience it at least once. And of course it would be great to play as a support act for Vratyas‘ Falkenbach, since there is mutual respect both on a musical and a personal level. I do not think the gap on bass would offer any serious problems for a tour, even if therr wouldn’t be a permanent solution then, I think finding a temporary one should be too big a problem.
28. Surely you already do have ideas for new songs, and I have to ask that: how are they going to sound in your opinion? What will change on the next album? Choirs maybe, that would suit quite well… 😉 You’ve told me once that you like Indian traditional music. Will that influence your sound in the future, both music-wise and in „ideology“/contents?
Rahab: At this point about 4 new song-structuress are finished, but I wouldn’t be able to give an general indication of the development. Two of the songs are part of trilogy, a rather ambitious project about which I do not want to say too much at this stage, because it will only give rise to expectations that we may not be able to meet in the end. The whole thing will have to crystallize a little more. We will need to make quite some efforts to make the whole thing work and it’s absolutely sure we will need help from outside the band as well. I am searching for the right people to do the job. I can say that it is our intention to experiment some more with vocals and rhythms… so choirs… who knows? I have a rather broad taste in music nowadays. Next to metal and classical music, I listen a lot to Dead Can Dance, Loreena McKennitt, Faith and the Muse and Govinda. Wordly and traditional music in general interest me, though I do not have a very large collection myself. A friend of mine introduced me to some traditional Indian music and I thought it quite interesting. I doubt it will have an enormous impact on what Ordo Draconis sounds like, but of course it does influence me to some extent and it might always lead to some experiment. From an ideological point I don’t think there will be any influence.
29. You’ve planned to record two songs for your solo-project some time ago, that seems to have been canceled in order to make the Ordo album as perfect as possible. Are you going to work on it again now? Any news about how it would sound, any details?
Rahab: It’s not a solo-project really, it is rather personal though. As a matter of fact these are the two songs of the trilogy I just mentioned – initially there were only going to be two songs, but it turned out a third one would fit into the concept as well. So the project wasn’t called off, it was only shifted to the next album, because it would have been too ambitious for a first album or a 7“. I think I have told everything I wanted about the songs in my answer to the previous question. If I ever will do a solo project besides Ordo Draconis, it is probably going to be on acoustic guitar. Most of my contribution to our music is composed on acoustic guitar, but throughout the years I have composed a number of pieces that I do not wish to, or can’t be used for Ordo Draconis. I guess I would like to record those once, but we’ll see.
30. Alright then, seems to have become a longer interview though… 😉 Are you a friend of „last words“? If yes… if not, tell something different. 😉 Thanks for answering!
Rahab: First of all, a major thanx to you for this fantastic interview as well as for everything you have done for us in the past. I think I have said more than enough to hold my piece now. People interested in knowing our band some more can also check our website at www.ordodraconis.com, where they can download some of our music. Hopefully we’ll be able to do a number of gigs in Germany soon!