1) Growing up, who were your musical influences?
This should be disappointing, since I'm not able to tell about how my older nephew gave me a Metallica tape when I was 12. I had nobody that could teach me the cool stuff, except for my dad, who was into Pink Floyd-Led Zeppelin-…, but who listens to his folks when he's a kid? So in the beginning there was Michael Jackson, which evolved into gangster rap and nu metal in my early/mid-teens. Later a friend passed me a Cradle of Filth cd and I honestly was convinced that this was the extremest band in the world, haha. Around the same time I discovered Iron Maiden, Pantera and Type O Negative in the local library and shit went downwards from that point on.
2) How do you think the metal industry has changed within the past decade?
The last couple of years have been amazing. Metal has had some terrible years in the early years of the new millennium, which even led to a collapse of a big part of the underground around 2007 all over Europe, but it's gaining strength again. Bands, venues and organizations are popping up everywhere and I honestly believe things haven't been this interesting and fresh in over 15 years. Of course the mainstream is shit and this isn't bound to change anytime soon, but why the hell would we care, since it does not represent metal in any way and never will.
3) How involved are you in choosing your album artwork?
I try to involve myself as much as possible. Since I’m responsible for the lyrics and the biggest part of the band concept, I feel that for a big part I’m also responsible for the artwork. I don’t mean this by creating the artwork or by deciding on my own who should do it, but by introducing the artwork to the world that we try to create and by guiding him and/or her throughout the finer details of the album concept. The person who was responsible for getting us in touch with Threadbare Artwork was Reinier though, so those credits go to him exclusively.
4) Tell us about the metal scene in Ghent/East Flanders?
Pretty hard to answer, I could name a shitload of Belgian bands, but I’ve no idea which ones are actually from Ghent or East Flanders. Saille isn’t even really from Ghent, we’re from all over the Dutch part of Belgium and before I moved to Antwerp I even lived 2 hours from Reinier and Jonathan. Ghent was simply chosen because it was a handy cross section. Our newest guitar player, Collin, is actually the first real member that lives in Ghent.
Anyway, Ghent is doing good these days. After the closing of ‘The Frontline’ (imagine a Belgian metal CBGB’s) things looked dark, but the void was quickly filled by ‘Grimm Gent’, an organization of youngsters with a great underground mindset who are organizing shows on a regular basis and provide stages for bands both locally and internationally. They even got their own venue recently, so I don’t think we’ll lose track of ‘em any time soon.
5) How do you think the band has evolved since "Irreversible Decay"?
The songs have become more guitar based, unlike those from Irreversible Decay that where written with keyboard in mind. Actually, keyboard in general has become less important for the band, which is quite ironic since it was our former keyboard player that started it. With Gnosis we also aimed for a more aggressive and less ‘easy-listening’ sound. More dissonance, a sound that’s more raw than anything we’ve done before and more meaningful lyrics.
6) What would you say is the main theme Saille represents as a band?
There have always been 2 core themes: The first being ’The Beauty of Destruction’ and the second being the concept of ‘Saille as a teacher’. The former was heavily used for Ritu (death rituals) and Eldritch (Lovecraftian horror and cosmic nihilism), but became less important (although not invalid) for Gnosis. The latter, though, has always been present and became a ruling theme for Gnosis, since it delves pretty heavily into the whole concept of godly knowledge.
I believe this is the most prevalent theme at the moment, ‘Saille as a teacher’. We try to reach out to the listener, hand them some basic concepts and hope they pick up something useful.
7) What drew you to the symphonic aspect in black metal?
Personally, I couldn’t care less about symphonic black metal. And honestly, before I joined them, Saille was one of the few symphonic black metal bands that didn’t annoy or bore me. I even believe that the ‘symphonic’ label doesn’t fit us at all, especially with the new album. We usually stick with ‘Epic Black Metal’, but that’s probably also a misnomer. Several other members of the band have another opinion about this and truly enjoy this subgenre, however. And Dries was obviously greatly influenced by several bands when he wrote Irreversible Decay, no use in denying this.
8) In a genre that some consider stagnant, how do you keep your music fresh?
Always push for better than your previous work. This doesn’t mean we should reinvent the wheel, but experiment, try new things and add the right amount self criticism. Our previous album ‘Eldritch’ was a slight failure on that part, to be honest. Not saying that it was a bad album, not at all, but there was no evolution between it and Ritu. And if there’s no evolution, if it isn’t better, why bother? Bolt Thrower got this right when they decided not to release the successor to ‘Those Once Loyal’, truly a decision that deserves admiration. Anyway, we feel that Gnosis is a better album than anything we have done before, and if
9) Do you feel Satanism has dominated the genre? And if so, where do you stand on the subject?
The problem with Satanism in black metal is that a lot of it is fake, misinterpreted or purely a way to piss off Christians in a childish way and it always has been like this. There are very few 80s bands that can honestly claim some form of Satanism, the 90s Norwegian scene was nothing more than a couple of teens pushing one another to be as extreme as possible and 2000+ the inverted cross is nothing more than the mandatory metal symbol. It’s sad actually, since (black) metal without some form of ideologie/rebellious philosophy is an empty shell to me. But there are bands that are/were quite serious with their ideologies and are being a major influence to others as we speak. Take for instance the Unholy trinity Dissection/Watain/The Devil’s Blood with their anti-cosmic ideologies or the French black metal scene with their more ‘urban’ Satanism. 3 bands and a scene that inspired dozens, if not hundreds of individuals and bands to actually cut the crap and do some serious studying instead of just inverting a cross and telling ‘Jesus to go fuck himself’. I truly believe that Satanism within black metal finally has grown up. And as I said earlier, things haven't been this interesting and fresh in over 15 years.
Satanism according to Saille: We’re a non-religious band, mainly because the band mostly exists of a(nti)theists and projecting Satanic imagery would be completely dishonest. We do not shy away from a healthy dose of symbolism, philosophy and rebellion though. And this reflects in the lyrics and concept of Gnosis, where we reach out for the Promethean flame and Luciferian ideal.
Satanism according to me: I walk on a spiritual path that I call Luciferianism, one that needs several more years of study before I’ll feel even slightly comfortable in explaining my vision of it. If that day actually ever comes. An easy way to dismiss of the question, but also the most honest answer you can get at this point.
10) There's a faint hint of Emperor influences in your music, such as on "Plaigh Allais". How important do you feel is it to take what's come before and mold it into something new as you do?
That certainly is a compliment and, I’m happy to say, one that we get to hear quite lot lately. But let us be honest, a band is always the sum of ‘those who came before us’ and there’s no shame in that. In our case that was a whole lotta 90s black and death metal, combined with classical composers. Chances are that these composers are the reason why people claim that we have this ‘new’ or ‘own’ sound.
11) Lyrically on the new album "Gnosis", how did you attempt to progress from previous albums?
Normally I start writing the lyrics when I receive the finished songs. I did it like this for Ritu, Eldritch and songs of my old bands and it has always worked so far. For this album I tried another strategy and, based on the books I read, wrote pieces of text before I even heard a single song and afterwards tried fitting them in. Let’s say it’s work in progress. I’m not unhappy with it, but it needs a little refining.
Anyway, thank you so much for the questions!
Saille is about to release Gnosis on March 13th, so go get yourself a copy!