Thank you Philipp for taking the time for us.
In 2016 you released a powerful new album called Das Ende Aller Lügen, some call it a milestone!! So Congratulations on that. It was released nearly 4 years after the last album: Guten Tag...
Although the other albums weren’t that far apart. Which raises the question; Why did you make us wait that long?
Well, we definitely worked longer on that album than we did for the albums before. We wanted to do the perfect album and it took its time. And when the album was finished, it was like we were happy with it, but right now there’s again some things you would like to change; in the sound or in the lyrics or anything. I think it’s not possible to get the perfect album, it is always just an impression of the time in which you are writing the music. But we are really happy with the album and thank you for the nice words.
I think a lot of fans are really happy too. What can you tell us about that period in between. So you worked a lot on the album, but other things maybe?
Well we did a lot of touring, through Europe, through Northern America and also did a lot of summer festivals. So it was playing live ‘time’.
That must have been great!
What was your favorite show?
Ehm, well there were a lot of them, Graspop for sure was really nice. Yeah, I think Graspop.
If I may say so, I think this is your best album yet; it seems you evolved as a band, both musically but also emotionally maybe. Can we say its a more mature album?
Yes, probably, yes. Did you also hear the English version?
Yes, I did.
And which one do you prefer?
I think I still prefer the German better, because in translation emotions get lost a bit, I think. The same with other bands that do it; Debauchery does that as well. And I think it was written in German...
And you can hear that, it’s more emotional.
It’s...Yes, it has a better vibe, I think.
Can we state that you found your signature sound with this album?
Well our sound constantly changes, I don’t know if you heard our EP we released yesterday?
That’s the next question. *laughs*
Ah, ok Perfect. So this is again another sound, I think Varg is always on the move. Whenever you release an album, in our heads we are already one step further, so we will always change and maybe we will come back to some old sound, like we did on the new EP, and maybe one album after that we’re going to have something completely different.
The album shows some interesting opposites; it’s more melodic, but has also an aggressive vibe to it. And although it has some very brutal riffs and energetic drums, it really shows emotion. What do you think about that?
Thank you very much for the nice words. Yes, I think thats correct. Yes, I’m happy with it, yes.
Would you like to elaborate on that?
I like the album. I think what you said is right. I’m really happy with the album. *laughs*
We are too. *laughs* Where in the past you tried to avoid political views, this album opens with Der Große Diktator, which is a catchy but aggressive song with a strong message, Can you elaborate on that? Why you chose it perhaps?
When we wrote this album there was a lot of changes going on in the heads of the people. I don’t know if you know about Pegida? It’s like a big demonstration of ten thousand assholes that are right-winged in their heads that hate refugees and want their country for themselves and these demonstrations got bigger and bigger and not only right-winged persons were involved but also the ‘normal’ persons got ‘in’ with this big movement. And it was time to tell the people: Wake up! Don’t be fucking idiots.
Yes, ‘What’s going on in the world?’
So you do have a kind of mindset about what’s going on in the world right now?
Yes, we have, but right now we think we got to political with this album and we want to focus on the music and not the politics, because most of them are assholes and we don’t want to care about that anymore.
This album seems a bigger production than your previous albums. Does your signing with Napalm Records have anything to do with that?
Well, honestly not, because the album was finished about one and a half years before we released it. But you’re absolutely right, we took about four months or something, in the studio, instead of six to eight weeks, which was our normal studio time. So we really worked a lot on that album. The sound evolved and yeah...
Being a hurdy gurdyplayer myself, I was pleasantly surprised when Anna Murphy from Cellar Darling started singing at the beginning of Totentanz. In my opinion it’s a beautiful duet between the two voices. How did you come to this collaboration?
Well, our very first European tour in 2010 was the Paganfest, was together with Eluveitie and Finntroll. And Anna Murphy was playing in Eluveitie at that time and we got close friends. She also played the hurdy gurdy at the song Rotkäppchen and we are still in contact, and we are just good friends and... so why not do a nice feature?
So you added a friend to your album?
Yes, absolutely. That’s what we do often. Up until this album almost all of your lyrics were in German. But this album you have a 2-disk digipack with one version in English.
Why is that?
Uhm, probably the main reason is because I love the songs so much that when the album was finished, I still wanted to work on it. So I thought about what I could do, because the songs are finished. And then I thought, ok, there are so many people around the world asking what our lyrics are about. And it’s not only like English speaking people want to know what it’s about but also French people, Mexican people, Russian people. So it’s not possible to translate the songs into every language, because I simply don’t know every language. So it was the best way to do an English version and give everybody around the world, who is willing to translate from the English version to his native language, to give every one of them, an impression what the album is about.
So do you have a lot of problems with the language barrier? ‘Cause I can google what the lyrics are in English for instance.
Well, actually we don’t have any problems with that. So whenever we tour we always sing in German, even if there’s an English CD we always sing in German, ‘cause it’s our native language and it’s the source of our sound. But we wanted to give any other person that doesn’t know the German language the possibility to hear the song and understand what it’s about while he listens to the song and get an impression of the emotion.
Why the choice for a complete CD with the lyrics, you could have just simply print the lyrics next to them in English for instance.
Because I think it’s different if you for instance hear a German version an read English lyrics, than to hear the version and feel it in the same second. So that was..
It’s more an emotional thing again?
I personally I think the German version is more powerful, but I think it is more accessible to the English people or the other native speakers as well. If I’m not mistaken you released an EP yesterday called Götterdämmerung containing 4 songs. What can you tell us about that?
Götterdämmerung means twilight of the gods and the main title song Götterdämmerung is about a warrior who is very successful and who feels himself like a god. And he wants to know his fate, so he goes to the Norns and he sees that his fate is mortal and he’s upset with that because he thinks the gods don’t have the right to live forever if he doesn’t have this right. So he wants to fight against the gods; and this is the main title song. Well Hel, the second song is about the goddess of hell in the Norwegian mythology. Beißreflex is a very aggressive song about the wild animal living in anybody of us. And Knochenpfad is a very atmospheric song about the price to go to hell and back.
So it’s based on mythology from the North. All four songs.
Absolutely, well not really, because Knochenpfad is based on the mythology of Charon (Greek). In Germany we call him der Fährmann. But it’s all based on mythology.
You started touring Wolffest, today is the first show. Are you excited?
Well, yes! *both laugh*
How did you prepare for this tour?
Well honestly we didn’t prepare so much in the rehearsal room, because right now all of us live in very different parts of Germany and Austria. So it’s hard for us all to get together at the same time. It’s not like 5 years ago when we could do a rehearsal every second day, because most of the guys have to travel about 4 or 5 hours to get to the rehearsal room. But we prepared by ourselves and then we met for 2 big weekends, and that’s it.
Ok. Any personal preparations? Things you do before you go on tour?
Well, today I listened to the songs of the set twice, while driving in the car. And basically that’s it. We did a good soundcheck today and played a lot of songs to rehearse them again and I think the people can expect a great show.
Ok, we’re very excited. Your tour is mainly in the weekends, how does that coincide with your personal life(s)?
Well it’s a good possibility, because most of the guys are working in a standard job from monday to friday so if you only tour on the weekends they can take a day off on fridays and that’s it.
That’s what I thought. You (Philipp) and Silvester founded the band back in 2005. Did you have any expectations? And were they met?
Well, actually it was quite funny, because we met in a bar for the very first time. After that Silvester went with me to my parents house and we played poolbiljart there and listened to music and decided; Hey lets do a band together. And we didn’t know yet where it was going to take us. But we listened to the demo of Equilibrium, which is another German pagan metal band, and we both liked this demo so we thought; ‘Why not go in this direction’.
So that was it?
That was it.
And did you have any expectations then or did it just start-out as fun?
Well no, it was basically 2 guys wanting to hang out together and play music. At that point, I was the guitar player so it was easy for Silvester and me and to just rehearse together, him and me, no other people were needed. But a lot of people decided to play with us. And well now we have the final Varg line-up.
What does VARG mean to you personally?
Well, it’s like a second family, because we are doing this for about twelve years and, me and Silvester, we had so many good times and we were also there for each other when we had bad times. Actually last Christmas Silvester was with me and my family together and this is what Varg is about; it’s a big wolf-pack, and sometimes you’re going to bite another wolf, but in the end we’re the wolf-pack.Yes, so really a big family.
The name VARG means wolf in Swedish, what does that mean personally to you?
Well, Silvester decided to take that name for the band. For me it just means wolf, we’re the wolf-pack, alike wolfs. There’s no big thing about it.
So it’s more a Silvester thing. What’s the meaning of the red and black body-paint?
Well, it was warpaint in the beginning, like tribal warpaint; here you have black stripes and the rest is blood. But we changed and evolved it a bit with the shows that followed Das Ende Aller Lügen. And right now it’s kind of unique what we’re looking like, you’re going to see it.
And is it always the same? Do you have a signature face or just every time is different?
No, I think it’s different every time. It looks similar many times, but there is no; ‘You look like this, you look like this.’
Where do you draw your inspiration for your music?
In life, so...
Absolutely, it’s not like we decide in the second week of may we’re going to write a song or anything. It’s like when you feel the music and you want to write a song, you write a song. It can be ‘cause you just met your grandma and she is ill and you’re sad about it. Or you just went home from a great concert and you’re inspired and want to play music yourself. So it’s always different, but when we write songs it’s always with a lot of emotion.
And whats the pagan part in it?
Well the pagan part is our root, we kind of got to go back to the roots with this Götterdämmerung EP, and we kind of like this Northern mythology.
You refer to yourself as a wolf-pack, you call your fans a wolf-pack if I’m correct?
How do you see your fans, ‘cause wolfs are very loyal, do you see your fans like that?
Absolutely, the relationship between Varg and the Varg-fans is very, very close. In the last 10 years there was nearly no concert where we haven’t gone out after the show, to meet the fans, to talk, to sign their CDs and everything. And there are so many fans that are there every year at any concert around their hometown we’re playing and it’s just amazing. They live Varg and we also live Varg, so that makes us all the big wolf-pack where everybody is welcome.
It’s a big family.
You have some big summer-festivals coming up; RockHarz, Masters of Rock and Graspop for another time. Graspop says its for the first time.
Actually we don’t play Graspop do we?
I found it on the Graspop website; it says you play there.
Well, that’s new to me.
Well, I’m looking forward to that. *laughs*
Maybe I have to ask our booking agent because I don’t know about it, maybe there’s a second band called Varg, because I really don’t know about it. I know we play Masters of Rock, we play RockHarz festival and we wanted to play Graspop but... Maybe it worked. I don’t know yet.
I think it did, because I saw your picture with the red and black.
Any other festival names we missed?
Well, there is one, and now you got me, *both laugh* *Hey, was ist das dritte festival das wir spielen?* (What’s the third festival we’re playing?) *WGT*
Wave Gothic Treffen Leipzig.
Ah yes, it’s Wave Gothic Treffen, yes.
What will the rest of 2017 look like for you?
Well we’re going to calm down. *laughs* We toured so much in the last years that now it’s time to concentrate on everybody’s personal life, to concentrate on what is the next step for Varg. So we told Napalm Records that we’re not going to release the next album within the next year or anything, but we’re going to release it when we feel like we’re going to release it. And they are happy with it. We are now doing this tour to get some emotions and impressions to play live and then I think there’s going to be a time where it will be silent around Varg, and we’re going to focus on what’s the next step, and the next album,
and then we’ll come back.
Writing in your own time, when you’re ready, you’re ready.
Yes, well the next question was about future albums, so you already answered that. Maybe the start of 2018, or later?
Well, I don’t want to say anything, because right now I could imagine it would take until 2019 or 2020 until we have the next Varg album. But it’s Varg so it can also be that on Christmas you have a double album. *laughs* You never know.
When you’re ready, you’re ready.
We are going to wrap this up, so thank you very much for your time. Any words you want to say to our readers from Metal on Loud Magazine?
Well, thank you very much for listening / reading, have a great time and enjoy Varg. See you on the road.
Ilona Tychon & Jose Eerens