Interview : Finnish Black Metal Band Förgjord

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Förgjord are, in my opinion, one of Finland’s supreme black metal exports, and to have them feature on Wyrd Words & Effigies is an honour of the highest degree.

What’s Förgjord’s back story? When did the band come into existence?

It was almost twenty years ago when Prokrustes formed the band with two other members. Soon I was asked to play the guitars. Nothing at that time was done, only few rehearsal tapes with four tracker, but it wasn’t serious cause some of us were just learning to play their instruments. Must say that it was fucking frustrating times. And soon those two other guys left the band, luckily. It was only then when two of us were left, we chose the name Förgjord as a symbol of our visions. We’ve been friends, or more like brothers, since we were kids.

We have grown together to heavy metal, then to thrash, seen the rise and fall of death metal, and finally felt deeper in to the depths of black metal. So if you can see Förgjord more like a brotherhood than a band, then one sees that it’s always been there. That’s one of the reasons why we’ve done this so long without splitting up, even if there has been big moments of silence between releases. Nowadays we are more complete when we got BLK to play drums. Now there is three members under the banner of Förgjord we have been more active than in many years.

There’s been a number of name changes within the band’s history. What made you settle for and what is the meaning behind it?

Those “name changes” were in our early days. But cause we didn’t had any demo out, we were free to change the name whenever we wanted. You know, we hadn’t any demo out so we could work as untitled or try different name ideas. Gotta confess that some of those ideas were quite embarrassing and full of clichés, but we were young, naïve and the flame has just started to burn. But when name Förgjord was chosen, then we were ready. And that was something like 15 years ago. It’s been a long time so I can’t remember how we found the name, must be something that we found from a book. Name “Förgjord” is Swedish word (and Swedish is second official language spoken here in Finland…) and long story short is that it means “cursed” and “destroyed”. But it isn’t simple like that. In old times people were really scared of bad things (fex, bears, demons, gods) so they tried not to speak their “true names” out loud cause they thought they would invite the bad things to them. If someone said the name out loud, the he/she was cursed (aka “Förgjord”) It fits really well for us and I can’t think any other name, not a single one. It’s been burnt to our hearts so deeply, so even if the name (or the band) dies out, the scars will be there forever.

The music world has changed almost beyond recognition since Förgjord was established. How would you describe your journey through the changes, and what are the benefits of being in a band at this current time?

Most notorious change is that nowadays everyone can record anything really easily. And that isn’t any good thing at all. In the old days, bands needed to go to real studios just to make a demo. It cost so much that none would go there unprepared with unfinished songs or without rehearsing. Even four tracker equipments were pricy then. We used four tracker but couldn’t afford it, so in first years we had to loan one. With four tracker you have to keep things really simple. It’s just four tracks for drums, bass, guitar and vocals so you couldn’t always do what you dreamt about. No doubling the guitars, no backing vocals, no proper mixing etc. And what you played was there, you couldn’t just copy-paste over the mistakes or effect guitars afterwards during the mixing. It was just you, your playing skills and your riffs, music on its purest form. We had our own ways for example recording one guitar track with drums to the drum track or used bass as a second guitar and stuff like that.

That was then and this is now. Of course we too have upgraded our recording equipments but those days have taught me that things need to be simple. One just can’t hide behind sugar wall soundscape just to hide that their songs suck. Many people do that, even I have tried use too much tricks but then went back to my roots again. I still have two four trackers in use.

I don’t want to evolve as musician cause I want it to sound pure, fresh and ugly. Progression is regression in our way of black metal. In matter of fact I don’t see any benefits in being a band these days. Maybe it was “cooler” in our younger days, but nowadays I don’t see it that way. Förgjord isn’t a band like I said. We don’t jam in our rehearsal place or go there to “have some fun with friends”. It’s our instrument to express our feelings and visions. Together we are just stronger than we are as individuals.

You state that for Förgjord black metal is first an ideology, then music. Can you elaborate on this?

Think I already commented about this above. But I think that ideology comes first not only in Förgjord’s case but it should come first in all black metal. Remember that its BLACK metal and not black METAL. Of course our lyrics present our ideology, but it’s also present in song structures and the way it is presented (musically and visually) Black metal isn’t just cool sounding music, it’s elitist and dangerous, or at least it should be.

The music you cast out into the world is unapologetically raw and aggressive, powerful and enormously diverse. I found myself repeating tracks four, five, six times because their content was so utterly absorbing, and they invigorated me. There was always another layer to discover. What is your song writing process, and how do you know when a song is done?

Usually it takes several months when I won’t touch any instruments at all. I need to get ideas and visions to my head and soon they start to grow bigger and bigger. And after that I have to grab the guitar and let it burst, have to let demons out. So usually I sit down with my guitar until the song is ready from start to finish. Let’s take this month for example, it was at Samhain (30.10.) when I did demo of first new song for our forthcoming release. Now, after less than four weeks, I’ve composed and already demoed seven songs (something like 30 mins). So at this time I’m really inspired and try to get these feelings, demons, melodies and lines out of my head. It usually takes a month or two, and after that I’m done and exhausted and don’t need to touch guitar for the next half-year or so. I can’t and don’t like to compose with schedules. If I have to play something when I’m not on my inspired mood, it turns out nothing but shit and it really frustrates me. That’s one of the reasons why we don’t like to jam/rehearse/do gigs. I know that it’s quite unorthodox way to run a band, but it suits us best. That’s how we can keep the quality up.

Finland unleashes some of the strongest black metal acts. What are your feelings towards the music your fellow countrymen create? Do you feel a strong sense of pride?

Finland is a small country so almost everyone knows someone who knows someone. So circles are small and that suits for us. Luckily Finnish mentality is full of pride and honesty, so there is lots of self-respect and that means quality. Without any self-respect everyone would flood markets with half-assed releases.

Which bands would you say fuel your creative fire? Do you primarily find inspiration in early black metal or is there a craving for new sounds?

We don’t take any clear influences. By that I mean that we don’t follow any particular bands but more the overall old school mentality. Black metal once was pure and ready so it don’t need to evolve. We try to keep our music pure but still fresh.

You weave intelligent themes in with your releases, and this is something I really admire. Can you talk about the themes you’ve explored, and possibly some you’re interested in covering within future releases?

We try to speak from our hearts. So we don’t use just one particular theme in our lyrics but say whatever there is in our minds. Be it different feelings (hate, despair, madness) or different happenings (murder stories and other tragic happenings from Finnish history). Finnish man’s mind is dark and we have some really tragic stories where mind collapse and blood shall flood. Some of those happenings haven’t ever clarified and we are possessed of those old stories. Take songs like “Suohauta” (Kyllikki Saari’s murder) or “Tulilahti 1959” (double homicide of Eine Nyyssönen and Riitta Pakkanen), there one can find mysteries that haven’t ever revealed. They are national mysteries in here like Jack the Ripper or Zodiac killer are to the wider world. And in our forth coming releases one can hear stories of “Surman virta” (about local man who hanged himself in a shallow shed by the river after stabbing his wife) or “Kerpeikkari” (about Juhani Aataminpoika who killed twelve people in his killing spree in 1849) Those stories are really important for us and present Finnish history’s darker side. We just have recorded new split CD with Nekrokrist SS and are now doing forthcoming releases. So we are really creative these days. From now on one doesn’t have to wait several years between new records.

What plans does the band have for 2014?

Like stated above, we have recorded a split (or more like a collaboration) CD with our comrades Nekrokrist SS. I know it pisses many people cause we play with an “evil NSBM band” but that’s not the point. NK-SS have been our friends since the beginning, so it was natural to do split with someone who is so close to us. We have talked about a split for several years, but at summer we managed to finally create it. And when I mentioned that it’s more like collaboration than a split, it’s because we did some special tracks which involves members from both bands. Just wait and see. Even if that split isn’t out yet, our forthcoming release is already composed and we started to record it. I know it’s a cliché to say this, but one can expect our strongest material in years. Or best maybe even ever.

Where can we find Förgjord on the web?

We don’t have a website because we don’t need one. We only have a Facebook infopage. One can drop an email to us and ask whatever he/she wants and we shall reply.

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