Pure Holocaust Zine
Author: www.metalprovider webmaster
Date: September 2004
© pure Holocaust Zine

1. Let's talk about "Zobena Dziesma", it's a full folk music inspired album. What were the reasons to release an album like this? When and how born the concept for this album? How has been the response from the fans and the media towards this pagan/folk album? How have been the reviews?
R: Hello J. and Chilean metalheads! Here is SKYFORGER singer Peter in line. I must tell you very much sorry about huge delays with interview, this is part of me, i am simply too lazy... This i got very lately, so i was told that it is last time to fulfill that. Hope you all there are not too angry... Ok, concept for this our folk music CD was born when we thought of idea to put all our folk songs on one CD. You know, we were performing the same songs on our metal albums and in live concerts, so our close friends and fans came up and said - why you don't make a CD?
This lasted for quite a long time, maybe 2 years... then we got some money from government folklore programme and that opened doors for us, becayse we were able to pay some money for studio etc. Literally this was more pushed up by our friends than for band. Right now we are lucky that it turned out that way and we feel quite satisfied with album. People seems to like it. Recently i was in folk festival and saw many younger metal kids singing these songs and that was overwhelming! Saleswise it is also very succesful album, considering that we released it by ourselves and have not done a single promotion- we have run into second thousand of CD's.
Reviews are only a few, but they are good. You know, we don't send around promo packs at all. We leave it for free flow and maybe this is right haha.. 'cos we can see is band is popular without any promotion.
2. About this album, you have said instead you're satisfied with to play these traditional songs, you don't feel to stay at the same level as other bands in your country playing; this kind of music. Our point of view ( Pure Holocaust crew) about this matter is you've reach an excellent musical level without problems. After months since the album's release are you thinking the same? Let us know more about?
R: I don't know.. You know we are not pro folk musicians at all. Our biggest work is with heavy guitars, but folk CD was more a for soul and fun. Actually it has turned out to be a good release. Of course, much things could have been done way differently, because we came into time restrictions in studio and had to finish things more faster than we wanted. But i guess, we did a decent job and musicianship level is quite ok. I think that we could do more better if given proper support. But that is not possible because folk music CD is not that what labels want to look for...
3. Prior the recording sessions of "Zobena Dziesma"- all the songs to play were clearly the defitive set or some songs were excluded? Is this a conceptual album or have a main concept behind all the songs like "Latvien Riflemen"? If there is a concept, what is it?
R: The main line of folk music album "Zobena Dziesma" (in English "Sword Song") is songs about war and mythology of ancient Latvia. This is what we wanted to do, this is where we are coming from. These songs were performed by our forefathers and their forefathers in quiet evening at bonfire when horses are resting after long, hard ride; or again before the fight, when you have to put arms on and you go into war to defend the native lands. We are fans of such thematics and did that in our own way. We had some more songs in mind, but simply of lack of time didn't use them for album. Themes of folk songs match the traditional topics which were important 1000 years ago - horses, love for homeland, devotion for ancient gods or similar subjects.
4. Let's talk more about "Thunderforge". Your latest album was released through Folter Records in Germany, how you got a deal with them? How many albums you signed for? How has been the relationship with the label, are you satisfied with their work?
R: This is work of our manager Andy. He did a big search for best label and finally we choose this one. We spent a lot of time for that actually. You know, getting the contract done etc. Initially we did one album deal, because you never know, maybe this is not going to work. But we have seen that all is quite ok and now we have signed again for Folter our next releases. I have to say, that we are satisfied with their work and we have atchieved some certain success in comparision with our first label Mascot Records. Folter records is not maybe that big, but you know i better prefer to be priority band on small label, than one of hundred bands in some major metal producing company. But never say never. We are getting out vinyls, we are doing tours, we are getting some royalties - that all was not available before. So, i'd say, we are very satisfied.
5. For me "Thunderforge" is a very mature album and the band's most extreme release, I would like to know what keep your interest on such pagan/ancestral subjects? How was born the main concept behind this album and how was the writing until the album was finished?
R: I had in mind that idea about Latvian myths and ancient topics quite a time ago. One thing was to escape from usual "battle" topics, another one was to push the band's development into another direction. I guess, this was maybe a slightly unexpected move for somebody, as with this album we moved even more away from black metal standarts. In opposite, press reviews and general fan's response on concerts are simply great. They tell that "Thundeforge" is the best example of fusion of metal and folk music into one. That is what i read from various reviews and that makes me feel allright. At beginning we were quite scared- but what if people will not understand us?
What if they will turn down the album? Luckily now we feel that we have done right thing and SKYFORGER has done a good album again. Concept for album is made by me, i did all lyrical side, band was involved mostly in music. Writing process was very painful. Yes, this was the longest recordings we have ever done. We started to write album and record too, when we didn't have any label. It was total jump in cold water and total belief that we we will find it. Some of band members after year hiatus was close to quit the band, but luckily all was solved. But from another side, this gave us time to think more for details and get better sound. We did recordings something like one year hehe.
6. Your second album, "Latvian Riflemen" is my fave one, the one I like most, (obviously, I like all your other releases) because it has an interesting concept behind it and the lyrical topics are not the typical (stories about 8 Latvian riflemen batallions in WWI). Also is very remarkable the intensity and dedicated work as a band for this recording (for your historical researching work).
Let's talk more about the creation porcess of this album, it's atmosphere and all the historical analysis you have done, and what is the meaning of this album on your discography, because you have done a jump from the ancient traditions/life lyrical concept to a more contemporary one but keeping your roots on your land; are you more proud of this one than your previous efforts?
R: I can say that i am proud of this album! This showed SKYFORGER in that time period. Ok, let's start for beginning. After "Kauja Pie Saules" album i was thinking for next subject for album and then suddenly i got some books in hands about Latvian Riflemen in First World War. At first i did not care much about that because i believed that all real heroes was into olden past. But then i got more into subject and i understood that this is phenomena of modern times! These people lived just 100 years ago and were maybe of our grandfather kin. I started to gather books, read a lot about Latvian Riflemen and i can confess, i felt a strange feeling that i must do album right now about them. It was unexpected for fans, of course, but it was natural move for us. History and heroes is what interests me most, and Riflemen is pure example. Music for this album came out from all our hearts and it was quite easy to lay down the riffs and compose the lyrics. In process to get deeper in subject i visited battle-fields with bicycle, did photos, studied in library.
Btw, my granfather is also witness of those days and i have spoken with him, though he was born a bit later. For those who don't know what is Latvia Riflemen, i can say that they were the first national troops in history of modern Latvia and they got independence for country paying by own blood and lifes. They were simple people of same kind like me - peasants, students, factory workers etc. Their only wish was to defend country against incoming German forces and they succeeded. Later after war, all nation gathered money and made a huge monument for fallen heroes. Still i count that sound on album could be much better, but that was due to limited possibilities of studio. In "Thunderforge" we got better sound, because studio was improving all the time.
7. Looking in the past, what feelings and memories have you of your early days, like about the "Kauja pie Saules" for example? Or even earlier, the "Semigalls' Warchant" demo days?
R: Well, what can i say? I can say that back then we were much more naive and enthusiastic than now. In 1995-1997 we were not really professional and our demo recordings were done in two weeks. We could not sleep and wanted to hear result as fast as possible. Also that time was when we rehearsed even in nights, and hoped that we can atchieve some major success. But after some years we stayed more mature and understood that things are way different. I remember that our first shows were total madness, i was running with sword and once club ceiling was seriously damaged haha. Rigt now, we have calmed down and better concentrate on proper playing.
8. Let's talk more about the band. As a fan, I really enjoy with each and every release of Skyforger,and of course, I like some tracks more than others, those that catch more my attention, with these ones I can easily connect with your intensity and epic/pagan feelings. For this reason I would like to ask you about some songs and I would like to know about what they're dealing of, and what they mean for you as band:
- Viestard's fight at Mezotne
R: This song is from first album "Kauja Pie Saules" 1998 and lyrics deals about ancient Semigalls' chief Viestards who defended the region against German crusaders in 13th century. This happened at Mezotne castle hill. I think that this song should be done more professional way, if i'd do it now.
- Latviesu strelnieki (Mainly the military chorus at the beginning)
R: That military chorus is national song with which Latvian soldiers went to the front. This is popular now, and it was popular back then. The verses are easy to sing and lyrics tell about two doves which fly into sky, and two brothers who rides to the war. Both ride and sing, but their sister stays in home and gives them adorned battle cap. etc etc. This is quite sad song, nobody returns. This chorus is sung by band and we get that heavy footstep sound in studio when we brought there some very heavy concrete plates. That was hell of a job, because studio then were second floor hehe. After that comes heavy part, i used lurics of Latvian poet Alexander Caks, who was himself Riflemen, and after war wrote many books about it.
- Naves sala
R: Song, which we play often at gigs, one of my faves. It is about the most horrable place - historically it was called "Death Island". It was key island for defending the capital and Germans attacked with poisoneus gas, that was tipical for WWI. More than 5000 Latvian people died there...
- The shortest Night of the year
R: Well, here i try to let my fantasy fly, as if there are some mystical heaven man, which brings the summer and takes away the cold weather. He rides on horse and celebrate the summer solstice, which happen on 23.june. This is biggest national festival for Latvians.
- Warlord of the night sky
R: This song is about Moon, he is the one which gives power against the enemy and he helps to brave warriors to fight. Warriors are here meant Semigalls who are fighting against crusaders and believes that Moon will help them.
- Where you'll ride brother?
R: Here you can hear teamwork of men and women choir, because song story requested that. Sisters ask to brothers - where are you going? They answer - to defend our lands. Wheh you will come back? When that war will be over. And so on... but final is that comes back only horse and they understood that brothers are killed. Another heart breaking song. We used my and drummer's girlfriends for recordings, they are professional singers. I guess, not bad at all song.
- Neighed the battle horses ("Zobena Dziesma" version)
R: Ok, here is new version of 1998 year song, because we thought that was a bit poor in sound, also we laid down better choirs. Also instrumentation is better now, basically on all album we tried to make all instruments clear and massive.
9. Let's talk about history, the band and your land: You come from Latvia, a country that is almost unknown here in Southamerica. Can you talk us more about your land, not necessarily just music, like culture, people, economy, etc? How is the life nowadays after all those years under the Soviet politic system?
R: Well, i guess this is quite ok here now. When communists broke up, life is getting better. Now we are into European Union, but i personally don't know will that bring any wealth. People here are very kind and helpful, and mostly Latvia is very pagan country, we have much of pagan heritage preserved up to these days. Economy is going up, but still pure. We are just trying to catch the level of western countries. I can say, that life 14 years ago was total desaster, because communistic regime killed people, forbid freedom of speach, also it was totally stupid economically. Luckily now all is going to better side. If you want to know more, try to search internet, i am sure there are lots of information about Latvia.
10. Well known is for everybody that in the current world there is no interest to appreciate nor to teach the ancient traditions, there is no respect towards the original cultures of each country, maybe in favour of modernism, the technologic advance, the economic success or simply for ignorance, arrogance and in the worst cases, for the fear to face the born of an extreme nacionalim. In your case, as individuals and as a band, show a big knowledge, admiration and pride for your culture and your ancient pagan roots, what's your main message, what we can easily listen in your music and lyrics. When and where born this interest? Is that teached by your families, or in the school days or just born as a personal need to learn about your roots and spread them through the (extreme/pagan) music?
R: Probably the latter. I guess we are all right people in right time and place. I am metalhead but my deep interest and love is for folk music and history, how all that was before our time... In family and school i was not taught to do this or that, but i simple evolved that way. Also all members of band are quite deep in folk music, because that is integral part of our Latvian lifestyle. We can hear that everyday and that is probably the best thing. Now, when we are in Europe, i can see that money rules the people's minds, they don't care much about their heritage and roots.
Economical problems and modern shit influence their minds, they forget what is nature, how to be in contact with animals. I want to say, that i am not living in forest too heh, but i think, that is sometimes reasonably to think what was before us and where we go now... When i think such places like modern London or New York, where all shit of the world is gathered... I can tell that we are going soon to the end of the world. People has forgotten what was essential for their forefathers and don't care about youth- instead they better buy some Pokemon for children or similar shit. In some ways, in beginning we wanted to tell kids that there are another way, i guess that we have made some marks on their minds.
11. Looking your logo, we can see a well known pagan symbol - the "firecross". The most people (and ignorant) thinks you're connected with nacional socialist movements, even, after you've declared a lot of times that you have not any relationship with the current NS tendencies. (including that very clear sleeve on your Latvien Riflemen album "No nazi stuff here" ), but instead these declarations, have you had any problems with this pagan symbol on your logo? Any pressure from "certain" people against you?
R: Here is simple answer needed. In beginning it was necessary, but not now. Doing many interviews and during these years, i guess we have gained some attention and people know what we are about. I mean, those who are interested in music. But for those who are new, this will be subject of trouble. In our recent Europen tour we had to cancell some clubs, because owners thought that we are nazi band and feared to make gig. This is complete bullshit and incompetence at highest level!
Europe will need much of time to recover after WW2 and its heirdom. I think that we also do a good job by telling that this symbol is pagan one and not that what they want to see. I know, that every weekend in Germany there are movies about how bad was Hitler and nazis. Ok, they were. But in the same time, where are movies about communistic dictator Stalin? He killed twice more people as Hitler... I think, that they simply need to be more educated about past, history, and then they will understand who is who. Right now, we are ok, no pressures at all. Even more, we have German label and all is at best order. We are not going to change logo by no means, that would mean wimping out for us.
12. When I contacted you previously this interview, I was happily surprised for your friendly and quick answer. Also I was checking the forums in your site, and I saw you (and your manager Andy) are very involved with them, because you're always caring of answer and to talk with your followers. About this matter, I'm sure you're concious that to keep contact with the fans and the media is very important. (Hard to imagine nowadays in the worldwide underground metal scene, where sometimes the misanthropy reings supreme in the media hahahahaha). What's your opinion about if the fans have an influence or must to have influence in your work?
R: Yes, i've got this from him haha. He is very communicative person and spends much time working for our band, i even would not know what to do without him. Andy is right now on summer metal festival holidays, but we keep in touch. Yes, that contact with fans is important for us, we always invite fans to talk and empty some beer etc. This is great i think. Maybe they can bring up some new ideas, topics and they also are main motive why we keep on going like band. If they are no fans, there are no reasons to work anymore. I guess, that they don't have any influence of that what we do. This is SKYFORGER who decides what we are doing, not fans.
13. Now, let's talk about tours and stuff. Sometime ago you went on tour with well known and incredible German bands like Menhir and Trimonium through Europe. What do you think about this tour? How was the response of the people in the shows? Please, talk us more about this tour, your relationship with the bands, etc.
R: Yes, this happened in February through 5 countries - Germany, Holland, Belgium, Austria and Switzerland. I must say that this tour was incredible from all facets, organization was perfect and we first time did fly to concert place. All gigs were well promoted and decent crowd came to support all bands. Our tour mates Trimonium and Menhir turned out to be very well guys and we spend very nice time with them. This was the best tour for us, considering shit what has been before, it seemed like dream come true. And we headlined for the first time as well. I hope that we can get soon back to tour. I think that our next tour will happen again in February and Folter Records will get equal tour support acts.
14. Until now, we here in South America, haven't had the privilege to see you alive (we have just check your gigs through some clips via internet), Talking about this, how can you describe a Skyforger show to somebody who have not see you ever alive? What can we expect at a Skyforger show?
R: Maybe one day we are able to come for gig over there haha... If there are trustful promoters, then get in touch. But it seems to be just like dream now. SKYFORGER gig is not very different of many metal bands shows, we are trying to play as energetic as possible. I think that songs are what push the crowd, but not hype about the band. Also we try to emphatise the atmosphere by using the ancient clothing and maybe some swords etc.
15. Checking the news on your site, I could read you have plans to re-release the "Semigalls' Warchant" through Folter Records on CD. What is the reason for this re-release? When will be available?
R: Yes J, we are working on that right now. This will be demo album and we compose three more new songs. Plus i guess CD will have lice CD-R concert clip. The reason of this release is to give possibility to listen to our first material, which is long out of print right now. We get many emails and requests for that, so we talked with label and they agreed with idea. We only need to make more material to release it properly.
Also we will make normal booklet, old photos, stories, remastered sound, you know, all that - to give listener the best possible. Back in 1997 it was small tape limited to 500 copies. Now band has got bigger and lot of people are interested to hear the beginnings of SKYFORGER. We plan to release it in November/December this year. Also we will release both previous albums on rich vinyl versions also this year by Folter Records, so all Skyforger albums will be available on this format.
16. Is there plans to re-release any older stuff like the limited tape "Uz Karinu Balins Jaja"? As I know, it has unreleased stuff and was only released on Latvian territories.
R: You know, there are no such tape, this is one song by such name. We will include that in forthcoming LP version of "Latvian Riflemen". This song came as bonus to tape version in Latvia. I think, that we should have put that also in Latvian Riflemen CD, but somehow this didn't happen.
17. Are there any plans to release any live stuff, like a Home Video, Enhanced CD? We have seen some live shows and clips on internet like "Naves Sala".
R: We have gathered material, but still we feel that this is not time for that. Right now, we will give fans simple live video on demo album release. "Naves Sala" is simple live shot and it definitely is big shit. We have a lot better live recordings in stock. Maybe in future we can do some limited release for fans for such stuff... but nothing is sure. But one day it will happen.
18. Are you working on new stuff? What can we expect for the new album?
R: Hmm, cannot say much yet. We are putting together tracks for demo album, after that we will work with full force for new album. Right now, maybe you know - our long time guitarist Rihard has quit the band, there was personal problems and he also didn't supported band in right way, so we let him go. We have now two new members - new guitarist Motors (ex-Heresiah) and folk instrument player Kaspars (bagpipes, pipes, kokles etc.) I feel that they will bring new blood inside the band and all feels great. We can expect maybe faster album, but with more folk motives, because we need to give Kaspars freedom to play as well. But overall i am not competent to answer yet. Ask me after one year haha.
19. About the scenes: the Latvian, European and Worldwide ones...What do you think about the Latvian metal scene? What's it's level? What bands of your country can you recommend us?
R: Latvian metal scene is very small and we have maybe some 4-6 serious bands. And there are some ten more smaller bands. I could not recommend any band of here, i either don't know them or don't like them. European and Worldwide scenes... this is hard to say for me. I can say that i have stopped to buy CD's as i did some years ago. Somehow i was way younger and much more hungry for metal music. I am happy that old bands like Saxon, Motorhead, Iron Maiden, Manowar are still going, because they can still cut it. Overall i can say that very less bands impress me these days. In home i mostly listen those countless heavy metal bands or folk music. I can only say that all bands have rights to exist and try to survive. Well, i guess i gave you some crap answer haha...
20. Skyforger is self proclaimed "Latvian pagan folk metal band", honestly I'm agree with it, because this reflects completely your music and position. But there are a lot people that classifies you as another viking metal band. What do you think about the Viking metal scene? Feel you closer ot this concept or kind of bands? Do you like this kind of music?
R: Yes, that is still remained on website from younger days of maximalism. Now I don't think much of forms, styles, definitions etc. Anyone is free to call our band as he seems fit. We are labelled as black, pagan, viking, folk/metal, war, folk/rock, etc many other styles, but to me is essential that feeling given by music. I agree with name - Pagan Metal, because in our lands there were not Vikings. They were from Scandinavia, therefore it should be right that Viking Metal bands are from there. But it is close, we are joined by one sea, and i understand those people. I like some Viking metal bands like Bathory, it was major influence to us years back. It depends from mood, if someone gives me CD, i can listen and like that, but maybe after day, i don't remember band's name hehe.
21. About your musical preferences, what kind of stuff are you currently listening? Any artist in particular has kept your attention?
R: I listen many bands now from Mp3 files to discover some new bands. BUt mostly i am stuck by old favorites, some traditional heavy metal bands like Running Wild, Judas Priest etc, then maybe thrown in some few black metal and some folk music artists. I cannot name any specific band honestly.
22. What do you think about the scenes on countries like Russia, Lithuania, Estonia or Poland? What do you think about bands like "Obtest" or "Graveland"?
R: Well, these all are our neighbour countries. We have done a lot of gigs in Lithuania, there are many our fans, because our languages are almost similar. In Estonia we have been three times and are going to give a concert in December there since two years gap. Russia and Poland is still countries where we have never been and i don't know will that happen anytime soon. Poland, i heard, have some bad scene for underground metal bands, they want only big and famous bands. Russia again is quite a dangerous country from point of security, i guess it will take time to get things together for them. But we would love to play anywhere, simply have not had any invitations also. I know Obtest, we have been on Christ Crushing European tour in 2002 and i must admit that we had bloody good time together! They are best Lithuanian pagan metal band and it is natural that we are friends. As for Graveland, i cannot say much, i have heard their albums, but i found them somehow not interesting enough.
23. What is your opinion about the current black metal scene? The resurrection of the underground movement with thousands bands born, releasing stuff, etc. What's your opinion in particular about the yet mighty Norwegian scene, and the Swedish and German ones and bands like Darkthrone, Bathory, Burzum, Immortal etc?
R: Black metal once was our source of inspiration. I can say that Skyforger is trying to find own place in music, but we will always like black too. I am always curious what old band like Darkthrone will come up again, we were quite taken away when we discovered this band. As for Norwegian scene, i don't know, maybe it sounds very clithe, but i guess, that most of so called cult band are dead or changed. But that is nothing bad, things always change in world. I only don't like when labels sign various shit bands and promote as biggest sensation, only because they are from Norway. Sad, but it's a fact, if you are not from Norway or Sweden, then it is much harder to "get into eyes" of some label managers. Overall i think, metal is getting stronger again, zillions of bands are letting out albums, but i feel that only old bands keep the whole scene together. Without them metal scene would be fucked.
24. I would like to know your position about religious matters , mainly Christianity and the Islam? These ones have any influence on your country and it's religions? I'm asking this because here in Southamerica we can feel the pressure of Christianity/Catholicism at a state level, as a censor and moral advisor, have you the same problems there?
R: This is easy question for me. I can say, that i don't like it, i fucking hate that shit! In Latvia luckily people still are very pagan tradition minded, and it's up to anyone to trust to some wooden cross or not. In comparision of western countries or USA, we are lucky. There are total darkness of free human mind. You know, these people are simply too weak and they need someone who would direct them and tell them what to do. I found that very stupid, but that is always been in people character. And if taken in whole measure, all religions are the same shit, only packed in different wraping. All of them possess the will of man and gives back fake illusion of safety.
I better prefer to be alone and trust to myself, then to somebody else. It's not very big secret - church nowadays has turned into money making machine. They have big relations between politicians, that's why they will always have official proper view. Not to talk about all that sodom-necro-pedo shit, what those priests turn out every month. This is just of nothing to do and too good life. People are goats and they are trimmers. In Latvia fucking christian party wants to get catholicism in school programme, but this will not go through, most of society is against this damned brainwashing. I condider that a decease and it must be erased from the Earth. In our latest album Thunderforge is a song "Woman of Serpents", which tells about historic case of opening of new church some couple centuries ago. In first day came down Thunder and lightnings and split it into half. That was probably a pagan revange haha!
25. Have you any knowledge on the South American scene? The same goes for the Chilean scene? Know you any Chilean bands?
R: Yes, reading some metal magazines i have noticed some new bands blazing out some fierce works, for example -Krisiun. Then was Sarcofago, of course Sepultura hehe.. but I must say that your scene is quite unknown for usual European metalhead. But i am sure as hell that you have big scene. From Chile was not Pentagram? I have read some interview with that band. And i also i know that Chile is responsble for giving birth to Tom Araya hehe! He is not really my fave singer, but I respect their music.
26. Any last message for your South American/Chilean fans? Thanks for you time! Hail Skyforger and Andy!
R: Thanks very much for your interest in Skyforger and doing this interview. Sorry again for big delay. To those who have not heard Skyforger i can say, check us out if you like some pagan/black metal stories with small folk ingredients, so to say. We would be happy to visit Your country one day but i can say, that this will never happen because we are very far away, sorry haha. Listen to metal, drink a beer and bang your head! That is all i wish for you all there to do whole day! All the best! Nothing is forgotten, nothing will be forgotten!