Finnish controversial Black Metal outfit Horna are about to unleash yet another split, the 19th of their career, with Pure. The band’s mastermind Shatraug took Pest Webzine inside a quick “journey” through the main ideals, thoughts and inspirations of the band… read on…
The band celebrates 25 years this year ever since its formation... how proud are you?
I don't really think about it that way, rather surprised Horna is still around but I never had any plans or expectations how far this would go 25 years since. Now I can confidently say I will be making music until my dying time and Horna will certainly go on as long as it feels right.
Have all these years changed your perspective on life?
Hatred has new forms and targets, spiritual growth has been enormous and yeah, we all have families now but one thing that never changed for me is my passion for music and the occult.
The band’s latest album was released 3 years ago. In 2018 you’ll release a split with Pure. This will be your 19th split. What’s so special about splits?
It's always been about celebrating a union with another band, for one reason or another and for us to bring into attention of our fans some bands we personally like, and, in process of doing so perhaps also have fans discover something they will enjoy as well.
Are you preparing material for a new full-length?
Yes, I'm constantly writing even when there would be no "motive" to do so. Inspiration should never be controlled but let flown when it chooses to manifest. We have just finished a special release in support of our tour in Japan in which we have revisioned a collection of old never before recorded songs, some dating as far back as 1994. This will be a strange release to some and a curious visit to the past for others, showing a lot of different influences from earlier days.
Shatraug is the one responsible for the majority of the work… how big of a responsibility is it?
As the founding member there is no Horna without me, never was and never will be. All members have artistic freedom to work on their own as they wish, though. Any band to remain prolific and true to certain vision there always has to be a primus motor, a devilish driving force behind it all...
What changed in the Black Metal scene in these 24 years? Do you believe the scene is stronger or weaker now?
Weak. Back then it used to mean quality if a band actually had an album out, but now it just means labels are forced to push out mediocre, or worse, releases just to stay afloat. There seems to be no judgement or critique about many things, just like all today's social safe space bullshit and other harmless shits. Black Metal is not for you to feel safe, it's an open challenge.
I read that your best live experience has happened in Colombia. Latin American fans are known for their enthusiasm. Would you agree? How’s your fanbase over there?
It's been very good, but the experience can only be as good as organization behind it and we've been fortunate to have great experiences thanks to local management done perfectly.
Shagraut once said and I quote “On most live rites I elevate into a trance-like state of mind and don't even notice if there's nine or nine hundred people witnessing it. Horna is demonic energy unleashed”. How do you do that… through meditation, alcohol, drugs, how?
Through music itself. I write only music that touches my own soul and performing live brings it to fullest extent. Music has always been the most primal way to meditate and find trance, ages back.
The band will finally be playing in Japan this year… what are your expectations?
Hah, I suppose the audience itself will be quite the same, curious to see what the reception will be like, however we are enthusiastic about local food foremost. Simple pleasures in life.
The band just welcomed a new member recently, Vnom. How do line-up changes affect you as a band? How complicated or easy is it separating from members?
Each line-up change brings about new energy and ideas, but fundamentally "nothing" changes. I have no tolerance, patience or use for people I don't feel comfortable with and whom can't be trusted in doing 100% what they're expected of. That being said, during recent years, line-up changes have occurred only for one reason - the person leaving has needed to do something else in his life. We haven't had any real problems about it.
Horna has been very active live even when there’s no new material to play… how important are live performances for you? Do you prefer playing in smaller or bigger venues and why?
Horna is a genuine live band and to me it's one of the biggest reasons I live and breathe. Either you love it or you hate it, because to tolerate all the travel and sleepless hours you really have to find something special in live performances. I like smaller intimate venues, closer to people and also for the simple reason they are usually there for wanting to, not curiously checking out whatever band is playing at that stage of a big festival etc...
What are your thoughts about Antifa? Has it messed up with Horna’s lives so far?
Since forever. I would even support their fight against real nazis, if they ever dared to go against them but has anyone seen it happen, anywhere? Black Metal bands make an easy target.
After the problem with Blastfest, have you turned down any other offers due to the antifa bullying you once mentioned?
No, we have not.
Of all the gigs you’ve played, which one do you have the fondest memories of?
Ah, this is too hard to say, or remember. As I've mentioned many times before I often don't recall having been on stage but safe to say, any such gig has been great.
The band’s official website horna666.com hasn’t been updated for 2 years almost. Why? Is your Facebook page the place to look out for new information?
There hasn't been much to do about it. I personally don't like websites too much so nobody really takes that good care of it either... Facebook, despite its flaws, is working rather good for all social news and needs.
Do you think there should be more loyalty between bands of the same genre?
No. Just because someone plays the same kind of music, even remotely, doesn't mean it would automatically make us "brothers". If your band sucks, it just sucks. I won't tell you otherwise to make you feel better.
Which bands do Horna identify more with and why?
Impossible to say. We identify with ourselves.
How’s the current Finnish Black Metal scene?
The same as it's always been, full of irrelevant bands doing music, with occasional exceptions here and there, now and then. I keep to myself mostly anyway.
“Satanism is the ever-lasting search for inner enlightenment and wisdom, honour and pride.” How important is it being a Satanist for a Black metal musician? Can it be dissociated? Can a black metal musician not be a Satanist?
To me there is no Black Metal without the satanist's vision involved, otherwise it's just music, which these days seems to be majority of bands... Black Metal is the Devil's gospel.
How do you feel when you see bands that used to label themselves as Satanists now saying they are not and going all commercial? Is all publicity to the genre good publicity?
Traitors, turncoats, quislings. Someone to claim they're no longer something they represented themselves as means simply that they never were in that position or status to begin with. Changing religion to money is a sure way to reveal the less worthy.
After so many years in the music industry… what saddens you the most about it?
Digital, soulless mass productions or mediocrity.
Have you ever thought about giving up your musical career? What keeps you going on?
So far, no. It keeps me alive and as long as I'm inspired, I have a reason to live.
What can fans expect of Horna in 2018? Any special celebrations?
Diabolical live rituals and that special release for Japan I mentioned earlier. This one will be announced soon enough in detail.
Interview by Sonia Fonseca