by Kim Kelly
Earlier this year, it seemed as though Canadian black/death Satanists Weapon were still at the top of their game. 2012 saw the release of Embers and Revelations, their most ambitious album to date and their debut for heavyweight label Relapse. They’d hit the road for a successful North American tour with Marduk and 1349, and endured the dissolution of a proposed Nachtmystium/Jarboe run. Previously, they had made a triumphant appearance at the underground wet-dream-turned-shitshow that was San Antonio’s Rites of Darkness II in 2011 to mark their first gig outside of Canada. Logic dictated smooth sailing ahead.
More recently, Vetis Monarch revealed plans for Naga: Daemonum Praeteritum, a 10-year anniversary release that collected Weapon’s three pre-album demos & EPs, and chronicled the band’s first blighted years and move from Bangladesh to Canada. Its May 31 release on Daemon Worship Productions would ultimately serve as the band’s final will and testament, though, as Monarch began dropping hints that this would be the last we’d hear from them. Things were changing. The Weapon frontman cut his hair, began selling off his metal T-shirts, and became even more withering in his usual vitriolic condemnations of “metal warrior” culture.
Nearly a month later, it was official: Weapon had returned to the ashes and dust from whence they came. Bummer.
Once the air had cleared and he began to tire of being badgered with questions about the breakup, we spoke to Vetis Monarch to get his final words on the matter. As per usual, he hasn’t got anything very nice to say.
Some time has passed since you made your final announcement on Weapon’s non-future. How has your life changed since band practice and lyrics stopped dominating your attention?
It’s up to every individual to define his/her own idea of success. To me, Weapon was a successful band. We released a body of work which I am fiercely proud of, and we functioned as a working band without ever apologizing to anyone for what we did and how we did it. Black/death metal was never meant for “nice boys,” and during Weapon’s existence we adhered to that mentality and lifestyle 110 percent.
My life has changed for the better, in that I am no longer starving and struggling to pay my bills, ha ha. Living off of this music is near-impossible nowadays, unless of course you’re playing Swedish girly-ballad rock or whatever is hot right now. The fire in me has not disappeared; it has just shifted direction. I am finally putting my college education to use, and I have immersed myself in the corporate world; a paradigm shift, indeed. Instead of flying Vs and occult literature, now I dwell in KPIs and profit margins. It’s new and exciting.
How have your friends and fans reacted? What about the label?
My friends who really know me have been very supportive, albeit very surprised. This band was all I talked about and committed myself to for the last 10 years, so it’s an adjustment for them as well. The fans were surprised and confused, I think. There was an outpouring of support and best wishes on our social media, which was cool to see.
I’m not sure what Relapse Records thinks about all this, since I haven’t talked to them in quite some time. I can’t imagine they were pleased, but it is what it is. From my side at least there is absolutely no animosity towards them. Relapse Records was a really good label to be on and work with.
The band’s demise didn’t come as much of a shock to anyone that knew you. The signs of an oncoming change were everywhere, and when you broke the news, it served as an emphasis, not a revelation. So, once and for all, why did you decide to end Weapon?
For two reasons: First of all, because I felt myself stagnating. I could sit down today and write a new album, but it would just be a black/death metal record by the numbers. As long as I have been involved in metal, I have vehemently chastised bands that lost the edge but kept shitting out albums because it’s pretty fucking easy to make formulaic records. If I’m going to starve and be broke, I’ll at least do it while I can be proud of the music I make. So, continuing to release sub-par music under the banner of Weapon would have been grossly hypocritical, and I’m not comfortable with that. Believe me, it was not an easy decision to make. It took about six months to wrap my head around this.
Second reason (and less importantly) – in my experience, 90 percent of metalheads have been some of the dumbest and most ignorant people I have ever met. I no longer wish to be even remotely associated with that brain-dead, gasmasked goat culture in any way shape or form. Not that Weapon ever pandered to that specific bottom-feeding niche, but they’re around, and I felt myself being dumbed down by even hearing these so called “elitists” have conversations about their patch vests, the latest third rate war metal franchise or the newest oxymoronic “anticosmic” band ripping off Thomas Karlsson’s words and book cover.
What outside factors contributed to the situation? From an outside perspective that saw only the Relapse deal and the tours, it seemed as though Weapon was doing better than ever.
Weapon WAS doing better than ever; we had a lot going for us in terms of our success. Of course, the internet warriors have speculated that there was too much in-fighting and that I allegedly relapsed on drugs. All bullshit, of course.
I just want to do different things with my life. I have outgrown the “metal lifestyle.” In an old Order From Chaos interview, Chuck Keller talks about the three-album rule – “after three albums, bands start to lose it.” Evidently, we aren’t exempt from said rule.
You’ve always been vocal about your opinions regarding the negative aspects of “metal warrior” culture, and have recently distanced yourself from it even further. What about metal has driven you away, and what about it keeps you from breaking ties completely?
I think it’s this misplaced sense of entitlement that they harbor; a lot of talk and very little to no follow-through. Black metal fans especially are some of the blindest and weakest sheep within metal culture. Original thought is almost as rare as a set of balls. People seem more than content to shamelessly ape the work of others, and then they act like they are part of some exclusive club because “insert name here” wrote a riff on their demo-sounding album, or because they play live in a band that was once notorious. It’s all very high school.
The singular thing that keeps me from breaking ties completely is the music itself. I truly love metal music, especially death/black metal. I am listening to Antaeus as I type this, and prior to that I was listening to Chtle’ilist. And that’s what I am interested in at this point as far as metal is concerned: quality music from quality bands.
Now that you’ve had some time to take stock, looking back upon the band, what would you say was your proudest moment? Do you feel more freedom now, or is it tinged with regret?
Performing at a packed House of Blues on Sunset Strip in Hollywood was definitely a special one. Doing our best record with Relapse Records is up there as well. And of course there are several tales of debauchery and not-so-legal activities that are best kept internal, ha ha…
I wish we had started playing live sooner than we did, but there was always lineup issues surrounding that kinda thing. I think we had a good run. I certainly feel more freedom now because the music is personal again! It’s mine and mine alone, and I am only a listener. I can stroll downtown as a sharp-dressed man with Bestial Warlust blasting in my headphones, and not have to worry about some pothead degenerate yelling “SLLAAAAYYEERRRRRR” at me across the street because he thinks he recognizes me or my Demigod shirt. There is absolutely no regret surrounding that.
What kind of impact has Weapon ultimately had upon the way your life has turned out? What has it cost you over the years to keep this band alive?
Well, more than anything else, I have experienced life in a real band. That’s not something anyone can teach you how to do. It’s dirty, tough, uncertain, chaotic and a ton of fun. Weapon has taught me a lot about the music business, and by extension, about business, period. But more importantly, I’ve learned about my own strengths and weakness – doing something for 10 years with ups and downs will do that.
What advice would you give to a young new extreme metal band that has just started playing?
Do it well, or don’t do it at all. There are more than enough hobby bands as it is.
You’ve buried Weapon. What now? I can’t imagine you being happy without some kind of creative outlet, musical or not.
But at the moment I am happy without some kind of creative outlet. I doubt that I will ever commit myself in a serious band again. Weapon is done. I have moved on. There are many books that require my attention.
The last words are yours. Thanks, man.
This is possibly the last time I will talk to the media about Weapon. Nothing else really needs to be said. Our music will do the talking.