For our final interview, I picked The Meads Of Asphodel as they are and have always been one of my favorite acts of all-time. There can be no question that Running Out Of Time Doing Nothing is the band running on all cylinders and lyrically could not be any more relevant in this day and age. I greatly enjoyed this conversation so much that I’ve included personal responses and clarifications to a few of the band’s answers here and feel that they were sufficient enough to post in most cases.
The Grim Tower: Let’s start out with the composition of this album. First of all, it’s been a long time since Sonderkommando and I wasn’t sure what was going on with the Meads camp exactly. How long has this one been in development?
The Metatron: This has been weaving and spinning on threads of woe for a few years now. We have had a few split releases out, all leading up to this release.
TGT: There’s a little bit of everything going on here. Aside from black metal and punk, you’ve got prog, disco, synths and more. Describe the process that it took to build this album. Is Mirai Kawashima also featured on keyboards this time around?
J.D.Tait: The process has generally stayed the same. I go into a time period of discover, searching for new artists and rediscovering some old from genres across the board. I also get inspired by the atmospheres generated by places, ancient, new and in-between. A kind of psycho geography, trying to capture an essence of something I can’t quite place my mental finger on. Then I just start writing and recording the demos. With past albums I have also worked with Metatron’s concepts which act as signposts as to where to drench myself for inspiration.
Metatron: Mirai is featured on the split pre album release ‘Imperial East West Onslaught’ with Rethro from China. This features four non-album tracks and Mirai is on one track titled “The Angel with one eye.” He always adds his own style to the songs.
My Response: Fascinating, J.D Tait. I also feel that with writing an album, it is important to get out of your comfort zone and you gentlemen have definitely done that. As far as Mirai is concerned, the man is a treasure to this genre of music. He did to black metal what very few can ever say they accomplished – he made it his own. You can even hear that in the chemistry of the early Meads releases. These days I find myself greatly missing that kind of innovation. Several modern black metal bands are just regurgitating the old sounds to the point of monotony.
TGT: Lyrically, there’s a lot to do with hate. As of the past couple of years, the US has never been more polarized. It is even more frightening that you’d imagine. The okay symbol is now racist. Using the phrase “clown world” and clowns in general has become racist; which has upset a lot of real clowns. I can’t believe I’m even typing this. I often wonder what dimension I’ve woken up in. Then you have Metal Sucks, which has gone out of their way in order to gain clicks and ad revenue to demonize every single band member who may have shaken hands at a show with a person who may have been a supremacist twenty years ago. From my recollection, the number of actual NSBM acts has always been rather small, and the number of actual Neo-Nazi imbeciles have been rather small as well. Why are we now looking for them under our beds? Hasn’t this caused all of us just to hate each other more?
Metatron: (Laughs) I have looked into to this a lot lately, so here is a long [but by no means conclusive] answer to a very complicated issue [made simple by simple headed morons.]
Judas Priest’s Rob Halford once remarked that metal fans are the “most tolerant…the most open-minded, the most loving, the most accepting of all the kinds of music that we know in rock’n’roll.” … And he is right. Of the forty years that I have been into extreme metal, I have probably only met five racists, so this whole NSBM witch-hunt in Metal is nonsense. I have never ever met a Burzum or Graveland fan who has been turned into a Nazi by listening to the dark side of metal music. And anyway, what the fuck is a Nazi? [Aren’t they all dead?]
To begin, let’s define the problems within the NSBM umbrella. Racism is the belief in the superiority of one race over another, which often results in discrimination and prejudice towards people based on their race or ethnicity. This obviously fits in with Nazi ideology which is – National Socialism, more commonly known as Nazism, usually characterized as a form of fascism that incorporates scientific racism and antisemitism. Fascism is a form of radical authoritarian nationalism, characterized by dictatorial power, suppression of opposition and control of industry and commerce.
This premise apparently gives us the cornerstone of NSBM. [As if 100% of NSBM bands observe this extremely intellectual premise. Most NSBM bands are degenerates, like the masked ANTIFA thugs who hound the rest of us.] So we have for the most part a micro small minority of Metal bands supporting this Nazi doctrine who are apparently fascists, antisemites, and fervently loyal towards a long obliterated Germanic political system. [Probably 1% adheres to this in all its intricacies and political pit falls.]
Antisemitism is the main bug bear that everyone has with NSBM. Antisemitism of course; is a worldwide inherent problem for many nations and having nothing to do with Nazism. This xenophobia has been going on for hundreds for years and human beings are racist for many other reasons. NSBM thus becomes a beacon for a small minority of lonely, dysfunctional antisemites in Metal who most likely have no Nazi ideology. They are just plain and simple racists. Add to this NSBM tag, the Nationalist/ Patriots with a fear of losing his or her identity, who dread their culture being gazumped by foreign immigration and we find another Nazi trait, but by no means exclusive to Nazism.
Metal music has always been peppered with far right fascinations. Look at the following Metal affiliations with far right symbology and none of these bands are deemed Nazi worshipers. For instance, it has a far more Heavy metal impact to feature a German Tiger tank or a Stuka, than a Spitfire or a Russian T34. Motorhead are prime candidates for this. Slayer’s logo [Jeff Hanneman was a WWII enthusiast] and the track, “Angel of Death” courted Nazi controversy. Saxon’s Wheels Of Steel logo also has a dubious Nazi look about it. Motorhead’s logo has an iron cross dangling from one of the hog tusks. The Heinkel on the Bomber album reflects Lemmy’s love of the era. Lemmy stated about his Nazi collection, “I don’t only collect Nazi stuff, I collect objects from all the ‘axis countries.”
The KISS logo had the 3rd Reich thunderbolts in place of the two S’s in their name. Between 1979 and 1980, the similarities became too much for the German government, which began confiscating albums and banned the KISS logo entirely. (The band eventually had to create a separate Germany-specific logo that features two backward Z’s.) Also in March 1978, Peter Criss and Paul Stanley were on tour in Japan dressed as Nazi officers. [Imagine Dimmu Borgir doing that now, the shitstorm that would court!!] We also have images of Metallica and Motley Crue giving Nazi salutes. All in jest, all in good taste? Some would argue against that in this day and age.
Remember, Black Metal is naturally agnostic and consumed by anger, so it should not be such a shock to find NSBM within its shadow. If hatred is what NSBM is all about, then even by omitting this from Black Metal, we still have enough hatred to gloat upon. Black metal has a theatrical for the most part, hatred of Christianity and conjures up such unpleasant slogans as “Jesus is a Cunt”, [Cradle of Filth] or “Fuck me Jesus” [Marduk], that is deeply offensive to some folk and yet black metal fans dismiss it as humorous. But of course that’s all okay… [Sarcasm intended]. Has Black metal got a racism problem? From what I can see, no it doesn’t. Has society got a racism problem? Yes, it has. It always has and always will.
To conclude, the stigma attached to the Nazi is amplified by the very nature of their industrialized extermination of a race. We tend to disregard the following deaths of innocents to the point of “who gives a shit”. Stalin was responsible for 40 – 62 million deaths. Mao Zedong was responsible for 40 – 75 million deaths. Such is the potency of the Nazi brand. Where Stalin and Mao limited there atrocities to their own countries, Hitler committed his atrocities in Europe and Russia, amplifying his deeds to a wider audience.
An interesting allegory – If Hitler, Mao, and Stalin, were arrested in (present day) Canada:
• Mao would be charged for manslaughter
• Stalin for second degree murder
• Hitler for first degree murder
My Response: I have to say, I’m quite amazed at the WWII influences in classic metal, but it made sense. Not so much in a Nazi semblance, but because metal has always had a very masculine, warlike nature about it. Metal music was simply not made for people who like to frolic among the daffodils. Though as you’ve stated heavily here, that doesn’t mean that any listener shares the same sentiments as exemplified in the lyrics or imagery. If that was the case, we would have had a large amount of serial killers acting out the lyrics of nineties death metal. I lived through the entirety of the nineties and certainly don’t recall such a thing ever happening. As far as racism is concerned, I do not think it needs to be musically related. People will find things in which to exert prejudice, regardless of who they are or what hobbies they choose to partake in. I don’t believe there’s ever been a situation where a human listened to a type of music and decided to become racist because of it. There are societal and environmental, as well as nurturing factors that play a role in human behavior.
I do need to clarify however, that Ace claims that there was no intention to use the lightning bolts in the KISS logo as part of the SS. He claims that “they were just cool lightning bolts” however you wish to take this explanation. There is very little said about the SS uniforms in Japan though, which even I found odd as two members in KISS are of course, Jewish.
TGT: What are your thoughts on social media these days? Much of the hatred that you speak of on numerous tracks was sparked wholly by social media. By someone being given a pulpit to say whatever they pleased and gaining followers in the process. What’s more, is that some of the creators of social media have come out to say that they do not use these programs and feel they’ve created a monster. There’s no doubt in my mind that these programs have permanently rewired the brain. There is even talk of a civil war because of the amount of political polarization in this country, and regardless of the fact that humans have been killing each other for thousands of years over ideology, I thought that maybe things would change this time around. This album seems to be the perfect soundtrack for that.
Metatron: Social media has given everyone a platform to voice their opinions. It is toxic, as well as enlightening, but the fine line between is fragile. It is human nature to be contradictory, oppositional and argumentative and thoughts prior to social media were for most of us left in our heads; but now we can vomit forth our worthless opinions on anything and everything upon one and all. This detracts from the reality of our world and plummets us into a cultivated mental condition of anxiety and self gratification where we pursue as many likes on Facebook to convince ourselves that we are greatly loved by people we do not even know.
My Response: This is possibly the best answer I’ve ever seen regarding social media and it’s effect on our culture. Social media is detrimental and might be responsible for some of the largest divides that we have ever experienced in human civilization.
TGT: Since I’m speaking of civil war and death, I’ve also noticed that a few tracks speak of death. As we begin to climb higher up the mountain as it were; we think more and more of our own expiration. I also caught that your mother passed during the writing of these sessions, which was no doubt an immeasurable loss. How do you regard the end? Have you come to accept it?
The Metatron: I carry a knot below my rib cage constantly, a reminder of my own pain that I live with every day. I cannot say with any conviction that there is no life after death, but I do know every existing presumption is pretentious at best. All religions have their own take on what lies beyond our last breath and none are correct. I believe the meaning of life is what we do between the day we are born and the day we die. To maybe leave the world a better place in some small way is good enough for me.
My Response: I’m a hopeful bastard, but doing what I want to do in this life is sufficient enough; should no afterlife be presented.
TGT: There is some interesting talk about the whole universe being a series of simulations and the fact that we could be in one or several of them at any given time. If that’s the case, it seems that whatever was in control of running the simulation went to go grab a beer and hasn’t returned for several ages. What do you think about this theory?
J.D. Tait: Why not? It has more logic and scientific theory to it than what we’re presented with on a daily basis in the world we perceive.
TGT: This seems a bit silly to ask in lieu of our current state, but how could we make things better for all people? What are some steps that we could take to ensure that some semblance of normalcy and not the chaos of the age remains intact for at least several hundred years?
Metatron: Take away social media and focus on the children. Teach them tolerance, teach them compassion. Parents who indoctrinate children with hate are themselves problematic and this is, and has been the poison of our world since humanity crawled upon its beautiful surface.
TGT: I also noticed a few points on the political crisis in Israel. Obviously, our president supports Israel for some reason that seems to even escape a few of his voters, but from what I’ve heard there is a great deal of turmoil between the Jews and the Palestinians. Apparently, if you oppose the actions of the Israeli government, you’re somehow considered an anti-Semite, which doesn’t make any sense. That’s like criticizing Canadian policies and being anti-Canadian. For those who aren’t actually keeping track of this situation, what is going on over there and what do you think that people need to be aware of in order to remedy it?
Metatron: The Middle East has been destabilized by Western intervention, from Syria to Libya and of course Iraq. There is no doubt Iran is on the radar. This will leave Israel free from serious attack. Whether you believe this is a great Israeli/ American master plan or not, the fact that it is happening is a tragedy for the Middle-East.
I feel for the plight of the Palestinians, but I do not condone the violent Islamic religious oppression these people are subjugated with. I am aware the Israeli’s have a more westernized belief system, but that does not excuse them from their humanitarian obligations.
My Response: Agreed. I wish there was something we could do for the Palestinians in this technologically advanced world, but for some reason no one has suggested any intelligent means to solve the problem.
TGT: Do you believe in some sort of multi-cultural global elite? Are powerful people really pulling the strings in society or are people in general just stupid?
J.D. Tait: I personally know the strings are being pulled, that a lot of people are stupid and that a lot of people who appear stupid are actually brainwashed. Some elements of my beliefs could be seen as conspiracy, these beliefs are based on the evidence I seek out, who knows how true they are. We can only draw our own conclusions, but other elements started in belief and became knowing. For instance when I first heard from someone close that cannabis oil (real cannabis oil – Rick Simpson Oil / Shona Banda Oil , not the bull shit the mainstream peddle) cured not only cancer but a myriad of other ailments I laughed and scoffed (keeping in mind I’m a hardened puff head). But then through a series of multiple experiences and applying scientific principles to these experiences I’ve had it proved to me beyond any doubt that it works nine out of ten times. This in turn led a new perception of the world with an inside view of the strings being pulled in many a varying direction causing noting but pain, misery, miss-education, corruption, death and profit. On one hand I hate it with a passion, trying my hardest to fight it and on the hand all you can do is admire the subtly and genius of the sting pulling.
My Response: I want to add something here for all those who may look at J.D. Tait’s comment and mistake it for some sort of antisemitism due to so many half-brained theories about a “secret Jewish conspiracy to take over the world.” First of all, I also know that there is a great deal of pull in the world. Whether it is being pushed firmly in the direction that these multicultural individuals want, is another thing entirely. Notice that I used the word “multicultural” there. When a group of people conspire towards a common goal, I do not think that race, nationality, sex or any of those things matter. The only thing that does matter however, is the obtainment of money, wealth, power and control. In fact, the great divide that we’ve been experiencing is a result of orchestration by these groups through the media. The media is after all, what everyone seems to pay attention to and if fake articles and satire have shown us anything, it is that people will believe what sounds good enough to them. That in all actuality should be quite scary. It also a surefire sign that the thought control is working. Remember, the only thing that frightens these kinds of people is when the common man unites with his brothers and sisters in order to make a great change.
TGT: Finally, what are some things that you find enjoyment in as of late other than creating music and what are some films or literature that you might recommend for Meads fans in general who want to study more on the topics you’ve mentioned here?
Metatron: I am a father so I have my children to raise. I cycle miles and miles to chill, and listen to many forms of music from raw black metal to the Dandy Warhols. I am really into Finsterforst of late, a great atmospheric pagan style band from Germany.
J.D.Tait: – I enjoy playing golf and baseball pitching. I also follow Arsenal and the San Francisco Giants (Yes I’m just as brainwashed as most). As I mentioned before I enjoy exploring. Just exploring the countryside, cities and places with a unique past and at all times of day. Which leads me to recommend the TV miniseries Chernobyl. Having visited Pripyat recently the attention to detail is incredible and drenched in a realistic bleak depressing atmosphere. If you want to cheer yourself up afterwards, then the black comedy Catch-22.
My Response: I have heard quite a bit about Chernobyl recently, but it is also there that I have to state a wide belief in viewers that the show displayed an actual telling of the events of the incident. It didn’t. Several people believe that it actually occurred in the way that HBO has fictitiously set-up, which again brings about easily influenced thought control; though that is not the case. I’ve posted an article debunking these claims as well as the widely held theory of what a chemical contamination would actually do to the human body. I remember being scarcely frightened by the Fukushima-Daichi reactor leakage several years back, and that of course is due to this widely held belief of many people involving nuclear disasters.