Despot was formed in 2008. It’s a one-man-band, so I’m the only person involved. I had been involved with metal music since 1997 but took a long break from playing and writing music in between 2005 and 2008. I co-founded the infamous Unholy Massacre and Necrocult bands way back in the 1990’s. Other than that I’ve been working my ass real hard since I was 18.
Black Metal means different things to different people. To me it’s a venue for exploring the darkest, most uncomfortable themes aesthetically, musically and lyrically. When I write Black Metal music I don’t look for the obvious, post 1990’s influences, but rather I like to think of what I do as tainting more traditional Metal with perverted and schizophrenic Black Metal sensibilities. I chose Black Metal because, paradoxically, even though it has one of the most ridiculously close-minded fanbases, it’s also one of the sub-genres of Metal who’s seen the most experimentation.
Evolution of the initial musical and thematic elements:
Despot originally started out as a rather unambitious project. My first tunes were traditional Black Metal, firmly rooted in the Norwegian tradition from the 1990’s. I had taken a long break from playing music and this was all I could come up with; that kind of Black Metal is totally in my comfort zone – I’d been playing this kind of stuff for over a decade. However, after the Cold Deliverance EP my confidence and my chops had built up again and I begun adding more elements to my music. By the time I released the first full-length there were very few similarities between the new and the old Despot.
Ideas about the album:
I’m not 100% happy with Satan in the Death Row, of course. I didn’t have enough time to fully realize what I had planned. I was working 3 jobs at the time and was about to move to a different city. Some of the tunes, like the title track, Egregious and Matriarch came out all right, but the others suffered from my lack of time. Overall I honestly think the album is very strong and the lack of polish kind of added an angry, disgruntled character to it. The production is not good at all, but it is what it is.
The reception has been very positive. It’s a divisive album, for sure; it’s not a typical Black Metal release so people don’t have a frame of reference when they approach it. It’s certainly not for everyone, and, as much as I hate to say this, some people just don’t “get it”. It’s not like you need to be an intellectual to “get it”, you just can’t listen to Satan in the Death Row with the same expectations of a traditional Black Metal release. That being said, most reviews have been very supportive and encouraged me to move on with the band. (Thank you!)
Not at this point. I’d have to hire musicians to play with me and at this point it’s impossible for me to take a break from “real life” and concentrate 100% on the band. I may do this in the future, but right now, no way.
I’d also like to add that being in the studio writing songs and experimenting with the musical and technical possibilities is a blast for me.
I just began a very ambitious project for Despot – a monument to long-term thinking. I’m currently writing music for a trilogy of EPs titled The War Poems. These EPs will be released in between full-lengths so it will take me at least 6 years to release all 3. The plan is to release a full length album every two years with an EP in between. Musically these EP’s will allow me to explore different textures and themes without compromising the core of Despot’s music. It will be quite an adventure.
Lyrics, themes and concepts:
I don’t like exploring the same themes over and over.
My very first demo had an almost anarchist feel to it. The second was an almost Pythonesque satyr of Abrahamic myth. The Cold Deliverance EP was about the illusion of relevance we humans have even though we live in a small piece of rock helplessly floating in an infinitely large universe. Satan in the Death Row is all about religious and ideological persecution.
The War Poems EP’s will be based on poems written by soldiers during WWI. There’s quite a bit of breathtaking poetry from that period and after reading a lot of these poems and songs I simply had to write something based on them. Although the theme of war has been explored in Metal since the beginning it’s usually done either in a very romantic, almost grotesquely apologetic style or in an anti-war protest type of way. My idea is to explore the negativity, the hopelessness, and the surreal emotional conditions of the people who were actually there. The War Poems are not going to be War Metal releases – they will be deep and emotional.
Me me me me me.
The music I write is a reflex of all the great music I listened to throughout my whole life. To name a few bands that have a special spot in my heart: Celtic Frost, Bathory, Iron Maiden, Running Wild, Candlemass, King Crimson, Black Sabbath, Metallica, Sarcofago, Sodom, Slayer… the list goes on. I’m also influenced by classical guitar music, especially those from the Classical period of common practice.
Preference; cater to the audience or music for its own sake:
Considering my weird and schizophrenic music, this one’s easy: music for its own sake.
Definitely Satan in the Death Row. But the Cold Deliverance EP is also an interesting listen and some people prefer it over the full length.
Look forward to the first “The War Poems” EP later in 2014. Another full length is coming in 2015 and, as is expected of me, it will be very different from everything that I’ve done before.
You can find the “Satan in the Death Row” full length at Despot’s bandcamp page as a name-your-price download (no minimum, so you can download it for free!). You can also stream it entirely on bandcamp. It’s also available on iTunes.
And it will soon be available on Amazon and several other popular digital music stores.