Interviewer: Cameron Edney - http://insideout666.mysite.freeserve.com
After a fifteen year hiatus Celtic Frost
are set to make the comeback from hell! Hailing from Switzerland,
metallers Celtic Frost who are one of the bands responsible for the
extreme metal movement as we know it formed out of the ashes of Hellhammer
in 1984. The band has gone on to achieve worldwide success releasing
monumental metal masterpieces such as Morbid Tales, Cold Lake and
Vanity/Nemesis. ‘Monotheist’ the much anticipated soon
to be released album which has taken four years to complete is sure
to raise the bar for all extreme metal bands and will go down in history
as one of the greatest if not greatest Celtic Frost to date. Over
the years the band has had it’s share of line-up changes &
differences but the guys are back and stronger than ever. I caught
up with co-founding frost bassist Marin Eric Ain last week to discuss
the new album ‘Monotheist’, the possibility of an Australian
tour, stories from the past and much more. It’s time to take
metal to extremes with Martin Eric Ain.
Metal Fanatix: Hi Martin how’s
Martin Eric Ain: I’m fine Cameron,
just been doing the interview marathon, getting everything ready for
the release of the new album, preparing for the tour. I guess we’re
busy as hell. We haven’t been this busy for quite a while, how
Metal Fanatix: I'm doin' very well mate
thanks! Martin first off, I want to thank you for putting some time
aside to speak with us today, let’s jump straight into the new
album ‘Monotheist’, it’s taken sometime to put this
one together, were you guys ultimately happy with the outcome?
Martin Eric Ain: Yes definitely, we’ve
been working on this album for four years and we’ve gotta be
happy otherwise it’s just four years of life wasted on something
that you’re not happy with. We deliberately took our time and
we financed everything on our own cause we wanted to be as free as
possible. Of course it was costly, but it gave us the freedom to do
what we wanted to do. I’ve never been happier with any album
before this one.
Metal Fanatix: Now Martin, it’s
been thirteen years in between albums, it’s safe to say the
direction will be different to previous Celtic Frost releases!
Martin Eric Ain: I would say yes, it’s
as much Celtic Frost as any of the vintage albums, maybe even more
so then some of those. On the other hand it’s Celtic Frost in
the new millennium.
Metal Fanatix: Can you tell us how the
first encounter back in the studio went after such a long time apart?
Martin Eric Ain: The first encounter
wasn’t in the studio. Tom and I tried to get together in 90/91
but we both weren’t ready, we both had different agenda’s
and so on. The first time we talked was in 99’ when our record
company suggested that we must re-issue the Celtic Frost back catalogue,
and that was the first time that we really had to get together and
talk about our past. What to do with the music, the records and of
course we also pondered the questions what was it about Celtic Frost
in the first place that made it so interesting or so influential?
What about us? How much of it was our relationship? The chemistry
that we got working was one of the reasons why or was it just the
right place at the right time? Of course we didn’t have time
to properly answer those questions but we felt back then that this
would be something that we’d like to pursue. When Tom approached
me in 2001 to do so I guess I was just stupid enough to say yes [laughs].
Metal Fanatix: [Laughs]
Martin Eric Ain: And from there on this
was as much about recording an album or writing songs as it was about
finding the relationship between Tom and me or becoming a band again
and forming a unit. This is one of the reasons why it took for years.
It’s really hard to describe the feelings that went into it.
I think the best way for people to know how it works emotionally speaking
is to listen to the new album. It’s the most emotional, the
most honest & spiritual album that this band has done thus far!
Metal Fanatix: When it came time to
write for the new album how did you guys approach it? I mean did you
just rehash old songs you had worked over the last thirteen years
or did you come up with a whole new batch?
Martin Eric Ain: We didn’t rehash
any old songs whatsoever, the reason we didn’t do that was cause
one of the first things we said to ourselves was if we want to do
this, it has to be Celtic Frost now, it has to be music that comes
from us the way we feel it now. We didn’t want to fall into
the trap that a lot of bands from the eighties or the seventies are
falling into when they try to comeback. They try to rehash the glory
old days and they go back and say what was it that people really liked
about the band? They loved this song, they loved that song. Let’s
do something like that, and what you get usually is bullshit! As close
as we got to rehashing any old material was when we jammed on ‘Procreation
Of The Wicked’ when we were auditioning Franco Sesa our new
drummer because he needed something to be able to play with us during
the process. We have written a lot of material, I’d say about
three albums worth of material. We started experimenting; there was
stuff that we recorded that doesn’t have anything to do with
Celtic Frost. We took a complete liberal approach just the way I guess
we always did. If you listen to the back catalogue of Celtic Frost
and check out our past between 1984 ‘Apocalyptic Raids’
by Hellhammer & Celtic Frost’s 1988 ‘Cold Lake’
you have got five albums that sound completely different from the
Metal Fanatix: Now the new album was
produced by yourself & tom & you also used Peter Tagtgren
who has worked with Immortal, Dimmu Borgir etc was there any reason
you guys decided to have Peter come in on the album?
Martin Eric Ain: Well, we had recorded
material through-out those four years. We did most of the recording
sessions and the mixing sessions which is the beneficial side of recording
with technology today. You can set up a studio in your rehearsal room
if you’ve got a computer and now how to hook up your microphones
and do hard disk recording. We knew we wanted somebody who was really
accomplished and knowledgeable on how to work with this technology
and how metal music should sound and can sound nowadays and at the
same time he knew about celtic frost and the legacy of celtic frost.
Peter was just the right person who we came into contact with that
had all those different facets that we were looking for. And at the
same time he was an accomplished musician himself with Hypocrisy and
Pain those two bands where he’s basically the singer and the
main song writer and also an accomplished technician so I guess we
just got lucky.
Metal Fanatix: Now ‘Monotheist’
will be released later this month through out Europe & the United
States, do you if there has been a dates set for Australia and Japan
as of yet?
Martin Eric Ain: I’m not certain
with Australia to be honest. I think it will be released in Australia!
I think Century Media has their offices there in Australia right?
Metal Fanatix: Yeah mate I believe so!
Martin Eric Ain: I’m not certain
of the dates. I will have to check on that. I know on the 26th it
will be released in Germany Austria & Switzerland. The 29th it
will be released in the rest of Europe, the 30th in North America
and we have just confirmed that it will be licensed and released in
Brazil as well as the rest of South America and it will be licensed
to Mexico & japan but I’m not sure about the release dates
Metal Fanatix: Martin there have been
many fans ask why Ron Marks had no involvement in the album and upcoming
tour. I spoke with Ron back in October, he was hoping back then that
if something was to happen then he would be apart of it. Since then
there has been some back and forth comments made by both Tom and Ron
on the topic. What are your thoughts on the situation?
Martin Eric Ain: Well, the last time
I seen Ron was at the studio in Berlin back in 1989 for ‘Vanity/Nemesis’.
I think that was the last time I had properly spoken with him if I’m
not mistaken. When we approached doing the new album Tom had talked
to everybody who at one point or the other was seriously involved
with Celtic Frost. He spoke to Curt Bryant, he spoke to Reed St Mark
and he spoke to Ron Marks. We took into consideration who we could
be working together with to create this album, and it was clear quite
fast that we wanted to work with Erol Unala who we had worked together
with for five years at the end of Celtic Frost. So guitarist wise
I guess Ron was out of the question quite early on. Different issue
with Reed, he was the original drummer that we had auditioned to do
this album. The first reason that we didn’t have any drummer
to work with for the first year and a half, almost two years, writing
the songs for this album just didn’t work out with Reed because
of several differences. He didn’t even come over from the United
States to Switzerland to begin with and that already caused some difficulties.
But anyhow after it didn’t work out with Erol we were looking
for a guitarist that would be a tour replacement. Ron wasn’t
the first one to pop in our minds. We wanted to try somebody different
and someone who would be a possible permanent member of the band.
We knew that Ron wouldn’t be that person although he would be
the perfect guitarist to tour with I guess, he’s definitely
an accomplished musician and we’ve seen his musicianship, technical
capabilities and skills. We just knew personality wise it most probably
wouldn’t work cause it didn’t click in ‘Vanity/Nemesis’,
it didn’t click on the ‘Pandemonium’ tour, you know
how it is.
Metal Fanatix: Mate I want to talk to
you about life on the road, you guys are about to embark on a massive
tour of Europe and America. How’s the itinerary shaping up?
Martin Eric Ain: This tour will be the
most extensive that we have ever done, right now we are playing sixteen
festivals in Europe, some of the biggest metal festivals there are,
the rock-it festival which is 40,000 people with full force, the metal
punk rock festival which is 50,000 people we will be doing 50 - 55
shows in North America alone. It’s going to continue, South
America is in talks, Asia is in the talking also Australia for that
Metal Fanatix: Actually I was about
to ask you about the Australian tour. I’ve heard rumors that
you guys would be here by the end of the year! But nothing’s
obviously confirmed yet.
Martin Eric Ain: No nothings confirmed.
I don’t know if we will get there this year. It may be next
year actually but we’re almost touring for three months just
in the United States then we will come back and have a few weeks off.
There are already talks of a proper 30 - 40 date European tour and
we’re like “whoa guys”. Of course we want to do
this and we don’t want to take it easy, we want to do it properly.
Metal Fanatix: Will you guys be filming
any of the festival performances or other shows for a possible DVD
Martin Eric Ain: Yeah we’re planning
on filming them. I mean, how often do you get the chance to play on
a festival in the slots that we’re positioned in especially
headlining some of these shows. There will be some moments that will
be unrepeatable again and of course how many bands are there that
come back after fifteen years that have had that kinda impact on the
scene? We’re respectful of the fact that this is a unique situation
and we’re grateful for that. We know that this will make for
some great footage that people might cherish so we will record some
of those shows and see if we can use them in the future. We don’t
want to tape just the festivals and just release the festival footage.
Of course this will be the first proper Celtic Frost DVD and I think
in a way it will have to deal with the history of Celtic Frost, maybe
an anthology? There’s a couple of bootlegs from the United States
from back in the eighties, there’s three shows that I know of
that we have bootleg footage from and it’s quite good quality
too and there’s all the old video clips that we did. We’d
also like to do one of those special shows, a one off special show
specifically for a DVD. There are several ideas out there right now
that were pondering but I don’t want to go into details too
much right now.
Metal Fanatix: When the time comes to
work out the set list, do you find it hard to choose the right songs,
I mean there will always be fans who want to hear the old stuff and
the occasional obscure song and of course you have to play some new
tracks. Do you find it hard to make a set that is for fans of all
Martin Eric Ain: Well, first of all
we are planning on playing a ninety minute plus show, so I guess we
will definitely have time on our hands to dive into the past as well
as be able to represent what the band is about now. So we’ll
be playing songs from ‘Morbid Tales’, ‘Pandemonium’,
‘Monotheist’ we’ve even got a couple of ‘Hellhammer’
songs on the list that we’d like to perform from time to time.
Metal Fanatix: Do you do anything specific
to warm up & prepare for a show?
Martin Eric Ain: Yeah, just the usual
fiddling around on the neck and maybe going through a couple of arrangements
in my head, playing them through to get myself focused on the instrument
& the performance then to literally warm up the body. What I usually
try to do before a show for at least one or two hours is to seclude
myself as much as possible, no people around besides maybe the band.
Lay down maybe even sleep for half an hour or so before a show, just
to calm down and focus. It’s the things I’ve always done
and still do.
Metal Fanatix: Mate, over the years
you have shared the stage with so many great bands. Who have you enjoyed
touring with the most and could you share a story from the road with
Martin Eric Ain: Ya know back then we
never toured as much as we probably would have done if we existed
in the last fifteen years. Nowadays it’s much more structured
then it was during the eighties. Definitely my favorite tour of all-time
was U.S.A. 1986 along side Voivod. There is definitely some memorable
moments from that tour. Speaking of Voivod the first show we ever
did in North America was the World War III festival in Montreal late
1985 from memory, We came over from Switzerland and Destruction came
over from Germany for their first tour of North America as well. We
played alongside Voivod; it was a great bill and a fun show to play.
Funny story, I almost broke Tom’s jaw back then. I was trying
to swing myself over some security barriers, Tom stood beside me and
swinging myself over the barriers with my boot I hit Tom’s jaw
so hard that I could hear it crack.
Metal Fanatix: [Laughs] Oh he must have
been happy [laughs]!
Martin Eric Ain: I had dislocated his
jaw about two hours prior to our performance at the World War III
festival. The very first time in North America about three and a half
thousand people there, a lot of press and a lot of interest. This
was the very beginning of the extreme metal movement or whatever you
want to call it. Off we go rushing to the Montreal hospital sitting
there in line, somebody comes in bleeding from his guts, somebody
having almost cut off there hand, it was really bizarre, we’re
there in the emergency waiting rooms waiting, and waiting and they’re
saying “oh you will be next” and of course there is always
someone else coming in that’s got something worst. So they always
get first preference. We realized that the clock was ticking and the
pain started setting in. Once he saw the doctor we realized that we
had about forty five minutes before we had to go on. I told Reed that
I was so ashamed and so worried that I couldn’t speak. The doctor
realized what was going on and he sedated Tom with the sedatives that
he had, which was most probably morphine! We went back and performed,
kicked ass. I think that’s the only single time in Tom’s
life that he’s ever taken drugs. You can imagine how I felt;
I didn’t feel too good myself.
Metal Fanatix: Being a member of such
a successful band I would imagine you get asked some pretty weird
questions from time to time. What’s the strangest/scariest question
you have ever been asked?
Martin Eric Ain: Recently the strangest
question I was asked was if Tom would have been a women would I have
Metal Fanatix: [Laughs] really?
Martin Eric Ain: Yeah, yeah just like
two three weeks ago I was asked that question. I was speechless for
a moment and was like um alright, ok. Well I’ve never pondered
that question and I don’t think I ever will. But there ya go!
Metal Fanatix: [Laughs] How about rumors!
What’s the craziest rumor you had ever heard about yourself
and or the band?
Martin Eric Ain: I can’t recall,
I usually put them out as soon as they come in. oh I don’t know,
the classic one is that Tom is dead or had just died or something
like this, the usual. I couldn’t recall one right now actually.
Metal Fanatix: Celtic Frost is a band
that have influenced many of today’s artists, who were you surprised
to learn was a fan of the band?
Martin Eric Ain: Actually by now I’m
not surprised by anyone anymore. The first time you hear that we were
influential on Nirvana and Marilyn Manson you go yeah right, influence,
where on his ass? I mean if the pope was to call and say hey you guys
that kicked ass we’d sort of expect it. I know it sounds preposterous
but I mean I was sixteen when we started out with Hellhammer and all
of sudden boom. Who would have known that it would have started the
black metal wave as we know it? It wouldn’t have existed if
it weren’t for bands like Venom, Bathory and Hellhammer. You
read the quotes from different bands, it’s been in Kurt Cobain's
diaries and then you read it in writings from Marilyn Manson and you’re
like ok! I don’t know where the influence is there. Of course
I’ve heard it on Nirvana’s ‘Bleach’. At first
I didn’t but then after hearing it again, I can hear some of
the Celtic Frost grooves in there. But basically it’s just crazy
I would have never of expected this. I think it’s amazing and
in a way I’m really grateful & thankful and on the other
hand I just think one has to give a flying fuck [laughs].
Metal Fanatix: There have been so many
highlights in your career, obviously playing such a big part in creating
the extreme metal movement & influencing many of today’s
bands are on this list, what else would you say have been your greatest
achievements to date?
Martin Eric Ain: Still being alive I
guess, well come to think of it that might not be a great achievement
at all [laughs]!
Metal Fanatix: [Laughs]
Martin Eric Ain: Maybe we would have
been better off if I had passed on earlier, I don’t know [laughs].
I think ‘Monotheist’ is our greatest achievement right
now. Speaking for Celtic Frost this would be our greatest achievement.
I think it’s a great achievement that Tom & I could get
back together again and rediscovered our friendship and what it was
about. We were able to tap back into our past and what it meant to
us in the first place being able to work together and create music,
become a creative entity, this is an achievement. This was hard work
and it took a lot of time and passion.
Metal Fanatix: In your honest opinion
what do you think about the direction that hard rock and heavy metal
music has taken over the last few years?
Martin Eric Ain: So much has happened
since Celtic Frost ran its course the first time around. There have
been a lot of great changes, a lot of great sub genres coming into
it. It’s really hard to explain all of it. I really followed
it all quite close you might say, the entire development of heavy
metal and all its sub genres. I think in the last couple of years
in a way it became more of one scene feeling again like it did in
the eighties, where the entire thrash metal movement or the extreme
metal movement started to came into place. Can you imagine a band
Celtic Frost being out on the road with a band like Running Wild or
Helloween or Anthrax at the same time? There was a time where you
had black metal and death metal and they didn’t want to have
anything to do with each other, they especially didn’t want
to have anything to do with power metal or melodic metal. Nowadays
I think there’s a realization that this is just all one scene,
the one thing is not that different from the other in a lot of ways.
I think it gives metal a form of unit that I think it didn’t
have for quite a while
The problem nowadays is that there are thousands and thousands of
bands. The more there are the more generic that most of them are,
so much is repetitive. So many great bands have fallen by the wayside
because of this. In France alone every month you’ve got two
hundred metal albums being released not just local bands but international
bands also. Now in every average metal magazine they have between
fifty and eighty albums reviewed who is supposed to listen to all
those albums, buy them and get into all those bands you don’t
have a chance. Back in the day when we started out there were a couple
of dozen bands around there was probably a couple of hundred bands
when we started out but now!
Metal Fanatix: Now it’s such a
competitive market, it seems that not too many bands have the longevity
in the industry anymore. They make one maybe two albums and then there
is someone brand new on the scene!
Martin Eric Ain: Yeah that’s right,
and if they’re not knowledgeable about the business and the
business dealings, how to get there music out on a continuous basis
without selling only twenty records or by playing enough shows to
make a living they will fall by the wayside quite fast which is the
Metal Fanatix: You’re absolutely
right there, Martin what advice would you give to up and coming rock/metal
bands trying to crack into the business?
Martin Eric Ain: Oh I guess it would
be threefold. First write your own music, try and discover within
yourself what is you want to do, don’t try to follow a scene
or listen to what people tell you what is the right thing to do musically.
Be creative on your own, try to discover your own means about how
to make music. Second thing is to realize that this is a goddamn business
and you have to learn to deal with this business and to work it as
a business if you don’t you’re lost. You can sit in your
room and continue to play music, but if you don’t wanna go out
and confront people it will never work out. You have to be able to
realize how this all works. Get yourself a lawyer before you sign
any contracts or get somebody who knows what this is all about before
you sign anything away. It only takes one signature to sell your soul
to the devil. The third thing is that you have to realize that it’s
about communication, this is about the people that you deal with on
a daily basis, and you should respect them. Especially those people
who are enabling you to make music, be it your social surroundings
or your band members. That is the advice I would give to any young
Metal Fanatix: Awesome mate, now over
the next twelve to eighteen months you guys are going to be extremely
busy on the road and so forth. When you do get time to yourself, what
do you enjoy doing?
Martin Eric Ain: Well, I read a lot.
This is my way of relaxing and calming down. This is my way of heading
to different worlds you might say, other people travel I read.
Metal Fanatix: What is the one band
you never want to hear again & why?
Martin Eric Ain: Is there a band I never
wanna hear again? Hmm! There are a couple of bands that I’m
not really interested in and when I hear them played I’d prefer
to shut it off, it can be any style of music that I think is un-inspirational
in the sense that I think it lacks identity or it lacks attitude when
it’s just going through the motions or rehashing something that
somebody else did way better before. There is no particular band where
I would have to say “Jesus Christ, get it away from me”.
Metal Fanatix: Really, wow I can think
of a few [laughs]. Martin I know you still have a ton of interviews
to do today so we will leave it there. I want to thank you once again
for taking the time out to speak with us today and wish you guys all
the best out on the road & with the new album. Do you have any
last words for our readers?
Martin Eric Ain: Famous last words are
always a difficult. We really hope to make it over to Australia for
the first time ever! Let’s see if it comes to pass. I’ve
never been to Australia. A lot of my friends have been to Australia
and have played concerts there and we’ve heard the Australian
audiences are really great and we would love to come over there and
check it out for ourselves. Let’s face it for me rock music
started with AC/DC, basically Australia is the motherland of rock
music for me. Cameron I thank you, take care hopefully that we get
over there soon.
The long-awaited Celtic Frost masterpiece ‘Monotheist’
will be released very soon via Century Media. Make sure you pre-order
your copy now where all loud and aggressive albums are sold!
To keep up with all the latest Celtic Frost news make sure you check
out the following websites:
- Official Celtic Frost Site
- Celtic Frost MySpace Site
- Dedicated to 40 years of hard rock & metal music
Don’t forget to catch Celtic Frost touring
in upcoming months at the following venues:
Sat 06/10/06 Solvesborg, SWE Sweden Rock Festival
Fri 08/04/06 Wacken, GER Wacken Open Air
Tue 09/12/06 Springfield, VA Jaxx
Wed 09/13/06 Springfield, VA Jaxx
Thu 09/14/06 New York, NY B.B. King's Blues Club
Fri 09/15/06 New York, NY B.B. King's Blues Club
Sat 09/16/06 Montreal, QC Le Medley
Mon 09/18/06 Toronto, ON Opera House
Tue 09/19/06 Pittsburgh, PA Rex Theatre
Wed 09/20/06 Cleveland, OH House Of Blues
Fri 09/22/06 Detroit, MI Harpo's
Sat 09/23/06 Chicago, IL Vic Theatre
Mon 09/25/06 Winnipeg, MB Royal Albert Hotel
Wed 09/27/06 Calgary, AB The Warehouse
Thu 09/28/06 Edmonton, AB The Starlite Room
Sat 09/30/06 Victoria, BC Sugar Nightclub
Sun 10/01/06 Seattle, WA El Corazon (Formerly Graceland)
Mon 10/02/06 Portland, OR Roseland Theater
Tue 10/03/06 San Francisco, CA The Fillmore
Wed 10/04/06 San Diego, CA House Of Blues
Thu 10/05/06 Anaheim, CA House Of Blues
Fri 10/06/06 Anaheim, CA House Of Blues
Sat 10/07/06 West Hollywood, CA House Of Blues
Sun 10/08/06 Tempe, AZ Marquee Theatre
Mon 10/09/06 Las Vegas, NV House Of Blues
Wed 10/11/06 Englewood, CO Gothic Theatre
Thu 10/12/06 Albuquerque, NM Sunshine Theatre
Fri 10/13/06 El Paso, TX The Zone
Sat 10/14/06 San Antonio, TX Sunset Station
Mon 10/16/06 Lawrence, KS The Bottleneck
Tue 10/17/06 Sauget, IL Pop's
Thu 10/19/06 Fort Worth, TX Ridglea Theatre
Fri 10/20/06 Houston, TX Warehouse Live
Sat 10/21/06 New Orleans, LA House Of Blues
Mon 10/23/06 Saint Petersburg, FL State Theatre
Tue 10/24/06 Fort Lauderdale, FL Culture Room
Wed 10/25/06 Lake Buena Vista, FL House Of Blues
Fri 10/27/06 Atlanta, GA The Masquerade
Sat 10/28/06 Myrtle Beach, SC House Of Blues
Sun 10/29/06 Fayetteville, NC Jesters Pub
Tue 10/31/06 Charlotte, NC Tremont Music Hall
Thu 11/02/06 Norfolk, VA The NorVa
Tix on sale at the usual outlets
All dates are correct at the time of print
© Cameron Edney May, June 2006 Not to be re-printed in any form
without written permission.