Posted on by Oran

In his most candid interview with Overdrive to date, Behemoth frontman, Nergal, aka Adam Nergal Darski, tells us about the new ‘Me and That Man’ album [due for release this Friday], working with GHOST frontman Tobias Forge, new Behemoth music, his outlook on life post-cancer, and much, much more…

Photo – Down the Barrel Photography, exclusively for www.overdrive.ie © 2021

Having interviewed Nergal both in person and long-distance a few times before, one thing that is abundantly clear with Darski, is that he’s a brutally honest and engaging interviewee.

Today is no different. The fallout from the lockdown/restrictions seems to be gripping the frontman’s thoughts today as he sounds frustrated at first, stating that he wants to “get back out on the road and tour again“.

Who can blame him? Darski has been keeping furiously busy behind the scenes with writing new material for Behemoth, the planning of two ground-breaking live-streams, and the imminent release of of ‘New Man, New Songs, Same Shit, Vol. 2‘ [Friday, November 19th via Napalm Records], however with no sign of restrictions lifting any time soon, the frontman is beginning to feel the grip of cabin fever…

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OD – Let’s start off with Me and That Man. For those that don’t know, ‘Vol 2‘ is due for release on November 19th [this Friday] and we’ve already had the pleasure of hearing a few singles from the album.

With regards to ‘Vol.1‘ and this new album, what was going through your mind when you were selecting the tracks for both albums, all the while, trying to keep some kind of identity for each album?

NERGAL – I just go with the flow and take is as it goes and fuck around with ideas. There is no strict plan. The whole process if very fluid. Basically, when I do the recordings, I then collect everything together and then try to see which songs works best… or has the best vibes. Then I just shop around for another artist who I feel would be a good fit for certain tracks.

Then the album just grows from there. That’s when it really becomes an “album“. It’s all about singles these days, however I still work in the traditional sense of approaching with an LP in mind.

OD – Tell us about the new single which features Mary Goore aka Tobias Forge of GHOST [released today, see below].

NERGAL – It’s a funny story …. I’ve known Tobias for a long time. We crossed paths at some festival many years ago and I just introduced myself to him, and we became buddies ever since. We would see each other every now and then on different occasions. I remember him coming to Warsaw with GHOST, and I picked him up and I took him to my Barbarian Shop where he got his hair cut, etc. and we just really maintained a friendship.

So, when I had this song, I immediately thought of Tobias…and his voice, which was just perfect for what I was trying to achieve, with the overall vibe of the song. I remember sending him the rough track, and he was like; “Awesome! It’s like a Rockabilly/Motörhead kind of vibe, with an up-tempo/Western feel“. And he was totally into doing it.

But then we had some issues with the lockdown/restrictions and it wasn’t easy to move around, so he [Tobias] suggested that rather than doing it remotely, we actually do it in his studio because he stated that he prefers that and likes to have an in-person “dialogue” during the recording process.

I didn’t think twice about it! I just booked my flight and went straight to Stockholm where we spent most of a full day in the studio and yeah…the rest is history.

OD – Did you both work on any other material during this session, or was it just ‘Under The Spell‘?

NERGAL – No, it was just this single. He [Tobias] was right in the middle of demoing new GHOST stuff, so basically, him taking this time off from his own stuff and focusing on my single was a great favour to me. He’s a very busy guy as well, and I’m eternally thankful for the time he put aside to do this with me.

Not only did we manage to create what is probably one of my favourite Me and That Man songs, but objectively, this song has massive potential, and I think people will dig it a lot. It’s a great composition and with Tobias’s vocals and the lyrics … it’s pretty fucking awesome.

OD – Being the unpredictable person that you are, is it wrong to assume that there will be a ‘Vol.3‘ in the works, or will you be taking things in a different direction with Me and That Man going forward?

NERGAL – As for now, I want to move on and not really repeat the formula. I kind of explored my ideas on the last few albums and had the opportunity to work with some amazing artists.

I’m kind of fulfilling my dreams also, Behemoth is not really tailored to collaborations with other artists. Some bands’ love doing stuff like, like Hatebreed, Trivium and Machine Head, that but it’s just not for Behemoth. We had one track with Niklas Kvarforth for ‘A Forest‘, but apart from that, we’ve not really done any other features with other artists.

So, to get to work with such a broad range of fantastic artists for Me and That Man, this was a great opportunity to do something very cool with some of my old friends, and also the new friends, I’ve come to meet because of this project. To be able to be adventurous with art/creativity was always the goal for M&TM, and I really think that’s what I’ve achieved. I get to do things on a very big scale with Behemoth, while M&TM gives me a space to release my demons, which is cool as fuck.

OD – Let’s talk, Behemoth for moment. The recent live stream of the bands’ 30th Anniversary was another smash success following the much hyped, ‘In Absentia Dei‘ back in 2020. Considering the success of both livestreams, did this open your eyes in perusing even more extravagant virtual events going forward or even a full-blown movie?

NERGAL – No! First of all, I’m tired and frustrated. I really miss the world. I want world to unplug ASAP, or I’m just gonna fucking jump out the window, or off a bridge. If it wasn’t for COVID, these two incredible live shows would not exist.

It was good to expand our potential to that level and remember if it wasn’t for lockdown, we would have been on tour. For us to be able to celebrate our 30th-Anniversary in that way, under the circumstances… it was cool. Whether Behemoth makes it to 40-years… who knows? I’ve got to be realistic here. It’s Extreme Metal we’re talking about. We can go for another few years, playing this music, raising the bar, and just delivering the quality as best we can. But, I want to do it in the regular live, face-to-face environment!

What do we do from here? The next logical thing to do in light of raising the bar on the live streams, is to make a movie! If there is anything coming after these live streams, it’s gonna be a movie… or nothing. I’m very much an “all or nothing” kind of person, so I wouldn’t nor will I ever commit to some half-assed project to just earn some money, or to appease someone. NO! NEVER! If I’m gonna do something like that again, it’s got to be huge, big-as-fuck, in your face project, or stay home and do nothing. Go big, or go home. Nothing in between.

OD – So, are you thinking of something big at the moment?

NERGAL – For now I’m feeling happy and fulfilled. The reactions have been nothing but excellent, which is expected because we know how much time and effort went into the planning and the execution of both live streams, and that is amazing. But now, I really need to get out on the road and back in front of people.

OD – The continued cancellation of Behemoth tour with Arch Enemy, Carcass and Unto Others has yet again, been postponed until Autumn next year. In light of this, has there been any advance on new Behemoth music, or plans to record when you should have been on the road?

NERGAL – The music is ready. Just give me the signal. Give me the green light and we’re gonna flood the world with Behemoth. What we have cooked up here is pretty fucking epic, and I mean that! I stand by that statement.

Every word and every note has been prepared with meticulous detail. I’m not in a position to say much about it right now, but all I can say is that there is a fucking huge, big-ass package of vision and voice.

OD – Next year will see Behemoth finally return to a Bloodstock for your second time as headliners [the first being in 2012, after his recovery from Leukaemia Cancer]. Seeing as this if finally a chance to celebrate the bands’ 30th Anniversary in true Behemoth style, have you any plans for something extra for the live show?

NERGAL – I have to say, after I recovered from Cancer and we were aspiring to get somewhere with our music, I remember we were asked to headline Bloodstock and I remember talking to my bandmates and saying: “I don’t believe we’re a headline-level band“. I really thought we were to small a band to take on a billing like that.

The line-up was crazy for me! It was us, Machine Head and Alice Cooper! With loads of huge bands’ on the bill also [see below].

Bloodstock gave us this opportunity and in some ways it was like they [Bloodstock] believed in us more than we did ourselves! Then it turned out to be such an amazing, epic show, where we brought big production and it all went to plan.

That experience got me thinking: “Hey, maybe we can really do things like this. All we need to do is be confident and push harder, harder“. So this time around, [August, 2022] Behemoth will push as hard as we can at Bloodstock. We’re gonna bring as much as we can to that stage. It’s gonna be bigger, better and more spectacular, and epic! I’m eternally thankful to Vicky [Hungerford] and all the rest of the Bloodstock team for this opportunity to once again headline such a great Festival.

Considering where we were as a band the last time we headlined BOA, it was just a strange time. I had just recovered from Cancer…it was a very difficult time but we were hungry. The way that show played out for us was just incredible. I love Bloodstock and can’t wait to get back there.

Tickets for Bloodstock Open Air 2022 are on sale NOW via this link.

OD – There is no question that you have endured a lot of challenges in your life, however, one that keep reoccurring is the assignation of your character, and religious beliefs, most specifically from Polish authorities over the years.

This led you to launch ‘Ordo Blasfemia‘ [click here] a retaliation to “Article 196” of Poland’s criminal code, which represents “offending religious feelings through public calumny of an object or place of worship”.

Since launching ‘Ordo...’ have you noticed an increase of people that have registered and supported the campaign, and also, have you witnessed a change in discourse surrounding this subject…a change in opinion from those that had originally opposed the freedom of speech regarding religious beliefs?

NERGAL – Yeah, I was really overwhelmed with the positive response. I actually confronted a lot of shit and criticism from my Polish countrymen about this,. They have said such things to me like: “Oh, you shit money, yet you are asking people to donate?” My thoughts on this are: “Yeah, I do have money have already invested in those cases for the last ten years which has cost me a fortune already. If you don’t want to donate and support, then don’t do it!” These people that are criticising me…I bet never spend a dime on anything.

I was very vocal about this. I spent my money in a very smart and intelligent way…I hope [laughing]. I got a some other great people involved with my video campaign, other artists, important people, intellectuals. I had all kinds of people… I had fucking Catholics involved also! Intelligent Catholics…which does happen from time-to-time [laughing].

Photo – Down The Barrel Photography for www.overdrive.ie © 2021. All Rights Reserved.

I wanted to show that this article is just wrong, it’s backward and primitive! It brings us back in time. That’s what I’m saying…loudly! IT IS WRONG and we need to fucking take it down!

That article exists in other countries also. It’s such an old, out-dated article that is usually never really taken out and used against people as some sort of tool, however in Poland, most Conservatives, Nationalists and Right-Wing people stand by Article 196. I don’t agree with their ideals and they use this against me. I’m an easy target for them. So, I’m just one big scapegoat for them.

One day I woke up and got another fucking accusation from them, then another one, and another one! I just cried out loud to the Universe and asked for help, saying: “If anyone wants to help with this, here is a way you can?“, and the reaction/response was amazing! I suddenly had power, energy and time to continue with my fight against this.

OD – How are things right now between you and Polish authorities?

NERGAL – Right now it’s in sleep mode. I’m not an activist 24-hours a day. I’m an artist, I want to play music live. This campaign is not my day job, and even though the numbers that are signing-up to the campaign are growing every day, I know that the funds that have been raised are going to be spent again to raise awareness and it will just keep on going that way until change comes about.

There are other smaller artists that are also getting in contact with me. People that have also experienced the same accusations/treatment regarding Blasphemy, etc. These cases are mounting up, and we are becoming stronger with each one.

There have been situations in Poland where the police have entered art galleries and removed paintings from the walls because they deemed them too offensive! You can’t do that! That’s like Nazi Germany!

© Down The Barrel Photography, exclusively for www.overdrive.ie © 2021

This is Central Europe…in the 21st Century, not Palestine! We’re not in Syria, or parts of the third world, which are fucked. This is in the middle of the most civilised part of the world, and this shit is still happening? It is outrageous, and should not happen. It really enrages me.

OD – Do you feel that thing will eventually change?

NERGAL – Yeah, I really think the tides will eventually turn. I just need to keep my fight with them. I need to persevere and keep pushing for this absurd law, and the censorship that is involved with it, to be dismantled.

I know for a fact that I’m not doing anything wrong here. There’s no criminal deeds happening here. It’s just me being me. Me being an artist, fighting for the most basic democratic law…and that’s it.

OD – From an external perspective it seems that in light of you confronting cancer, the negativity and constant persecution from your own counties authorities, you have overcome a lot and have really become very confident and zestful by nature. Would you attribute this to the fact that you survived what many have not?

NERGAL – Absolutely!

OD – In light of this did you make a decision to live your life to the upmost in all aspects…with no regrets?

NERGAL – I became uncompromising when making life decisions. It’s all or nothing with me. If I do something, I just go for it and I don’t want to waste any time. This is the only life that I have…or that I’m aware of, and I just want to squeeze the shit out of it.

I really do live my life to the fullest and that’s my formula.

OD – When you look at yourself now, compared to who you were when you started out in Behemoth [as well as all your other projects] are you content with what you’ve achieved so far, or do you feel you have a greater purpose/mission in life?

NERGAL – I know that some of the things that I do, inspire other people. [Pauses] Let me put in another way. In my pre-Leukemia days, I used to over think everything. For example, I’d debate with myself over something as simple as posting a picture online, thinking: “Should I post a picture of me just doing something goofy“, or “If any fans of Behemoth see me doing Yoga, will they think any less of me?

Back in the day, I would have these stupid thoughts and nowadays, I’m just like:”Who fucking cares? I am who I am, and if they don’t like it….fuck them!? Then I eventually regret posting the picture.

I did some things in the past that were not the best idea. As I said, I’m an impulsive kind of person, and yeah, sometimes I’ve done some damage, for which I’m sorry. There have been some actions that perhaps in hindsight, were not so smart on my behalf, like the “Anti-Antifa” stuff ,which I got a big backlash from. I know it was not a smart move, as with some other stuff.

Every now and again I tend to post some things that cause upset with other people…and I think:”Shit, perhaps I shouldn’t have posted that“, but then again, that’s how I live. I’m a very spontaneous kind of person.

OD – Considering so much has happened since releasing your autobiography [2014]. are there plans to update it with a second edition, or perhaps write an entirely new manuscript?

NERGAL – Yeah, there is a plan. Maybe not to update the book but I don’t want to spoil much but put it this way, I take lots and lots of notes [Laughing].

Me and That ManNew Man, New Songs, Same Shit, Vol. 2′  is set for release on Friday, November 19th via Napalm Records. Order you copy here.

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Catch Behemoth on tour across EU/UK next Autumn with Arch Enemy, Carcass and Unto Others [see below].

The band will also be headlining Friday’s main stage at next years’ Bloodstock Open Air Festival [UK] sharing a bill with Mercyful Fate, Lamb of God, Exodus, Testament, Vio-Lence, Dimmu Borgir, Dark Funeral and many more.

Behemoth’sIn Absentia Dei‘ live album/BluRay arrives on 17th Dec via Nuclear Blast. Pre-order your copy here

Tickets are on sale NOW via this link.

Oran O’Beirne

www.overdrive.ie © 2021. All Rights Reserved. 

Live photos – Down The Barrel Photography