Christian Larson is a busy man. In addition to fronting US melodic black metal outfit Necrofier, Larson sings in heavy metal torchbearers Night Cobra and books Houston’s premier trad metal event, Hell’s Heroes (already sold out for 2022). Decibel caught up with Larson shortly following the release of Necrofier’s latest album, Prophecies of Eternal Darkness, to talk booking, recording, Necrofier and Night Cobra, the pandemic and blacksmithing.
Do you want to give us a rundown of the various bands you’re involved in?
For a long time I played in Venomous Maximus. Venomous ended and I was already talking to [Insect Warfare/Malignant Altar drummer] Dobber [Beverly] about “Let’s do a black metal band,” so after Venomous ended, we kind of put everything into that so Necrofier started really quick. We got an EP out quick and then we were working on the record and life just kept pushing things back until we were going to record and then it was a pandemic.
So you put out Prophecies of Eternal Darkness on Season of Mist earlier this year.
We recorded it summer of 2020 after we kind of figured out “OK, cool, we’re not going to die.”
That is how that felt.
The first month of that shit was “What’s going on?” and then it was “OK, none of us do anything publicly for work so I guess we can all hang out. This will be alright.”
How’s the reception to the record been?
Everything’s been really positive. I think most of the reviews are like 9/10.
The record is selling well, there’s some really good responses through social media and stuff. There seems to be a good response from the black metal community in general, even in Europe and things like that. I didn’t really know how American bands go over there playing black metal.
You guys have that very melodic Scandinavian vibe, so I can see how that goes over there.
Straight up, that’s what we were going for. We were sitting there worshiping at the ’90s Scandinavian black metal altar. I feel like this should go over well with these dudes.
Since most of the writing was done before, there wouldn’t be a pandemic wall but in the process of trying to record this record and get it out, did you ever feel disheartening? Was it a struggle to get the record done because of the pandemic and how it affected your outlook?
At the beginning of it, I didn’t have much to do. Luckily my venue made it and I worked through the pandemic—some parts I was working part time and sometimes I’d be back to full time—but it gave me time to actually work on things without distraction.
I got to focus on a lot. I wrote the lyrics during the pandemic, so I got to spend more time doing things I don’t usually get to because I’ll be distracted trying to figure out a million other things. Doing shows for a living but also playing shows, all that extra stuff that takes up all my time, wasn’t there. It gave me more time to actually do what I wanted to do and get through the mixing process and mastering, there wasn’t any impending “hey, we got to get this done.”
We got to spend as much time as we wanted to. I was kind of worried that we were going to shop a record that I swear every label is losing their mind and no one can tour. That ended up working out well.
Waiting around for the vinyl stuff, we turned in the record and we were like, “When are we going to release this? When are we going to release this? OK, we got a date! Everything’s cool, who cares?” It gets bad sometimes though. We recorded that and we recorded the Night Cobra record this last January. I have two record that aren’t even out and no one even knows it’s happening. I feel like I’ve productively spent my pandemic time but it’s real weird.
The Night Cobra record, Dawn of the Serpent, is that the same situation, written before the pandemic?
We just ended up jamming the whole pandemic because we were like “Cool, nothing else is going on. Practice on Thursday.” We wrote that whole record during the pandemic and then recorded it.
Would you say kind of a similar experience to the Necrofier record where you had the time to work on it so you felt like you had time or did you encounter more issues because you had to write during the pandemic?
Probably about the same thing where it gave us some time. We were supposed to turn it in in March and we weren’t done, so [I asked] “How long is this production time?” and they’re like “10 months.” I was like “Cool, I’m not going to give this to you for another month and a half because I don’t care.”
There’s no reason to rush this, it doesn’t matter.
In general when I do bands, I try to press our first thing. In Venomous, I pressed our first record and EP. Did the same thing, we self did the Necrofier EP, Night Cobra the same thing. I’m used to, you can get tapes or CDs in a couple weeks and vinyl used to be three months and I’m like “Man, three months is a long fucking time,” which sounds hilarious now.
Other than Covid issues, what was the experience like booking this year’s Hell’s Heroes festival? Was it pretty easy to do?
I had a decent amount of bands that were on the one before. I made another day, though. In the past, I’d been thinking about making it two days. I feel like people will travel more for two days and if it hasn’t happened in a few years, let’s make up for it like this. I went with some of the bands I had before and then it was like a whole new list of “Cool, let’s go after this” but since there wasn’t much else going on, it felt good to work again.
It came together almost the way I wanted it, which doesn’t always happen. I also chased down a bunch of dudes—some of them don’t play that often or maybe they don’t play, it’s not like I’m calling someone’s agent most of the time for some of these bands.
It has a nice mix of the Dark Angel, Candlemass, Cirith Ungol bands and then the Sabres and Bewitcher and stuff like that.
Luckily the heavy metal world, I’m into that. The newer bands are somewhat easier for me to do. I have a list.
You’re kind of booking your own personal taste.
I had kind of thrown around the idea of doing it forever but Houston’s not the coolest city. Shows don’t do as well as they do other places. I was really worried about doing it and tried to get it rolling and never did, then Jarvis from Night Demon, when he got Cirith going, I was like, “Can we do Cirith?”
So when I booked Cirith, I went down the list and they there like “Who’s playing this festival?” and I was like “Cirith Ungol” and they were like “OK, we’re in!”
So you wouldn’t want to slow down or anything?
There has to be a balance, so you do this and then I need to take a break from this. Writing-wise, I’ll be like “OK, I got all this done” and instead of rolling into something else, I’m like, “Cool, I’m not going to do anything else for a few weeks or a month.”
In general, in life if you don’t take breaks from everything and relax, at some point it will just overload you and you’ll be burnt out. I didn’t used to think this way. Always doing stuff, if you’re not doing anything, you’re just wasting time. Now I’m like if you don’t take time to take a break and let yourself recharge, you’re just wasting time.
There’s more to life than metal, got to stop and appreciate that stuff too.
Once you finally got to the point where you’re actually doing it, you have all this other stuff that you’re into that has nothing to do with it. It could be cooking, camping… you can’t do this every second of your life.
On some of this stuff, albums, art, I completely obsess. Even the Hell’s Heroes poster, I’ll spend weeks being like “What should we do? What’s the concept?” or with bands it’s way worse.
I’ll pick up weird things at antique stores and be like “We can use this in a video!” or “We can use this in a photo shoot!” [Blacksmith] Jason Tarpey’s made me multiple swords and daggers and he just made me a sickle. In the Necrofier videos, it’s in some of the old-school promo shots, Jason Tarpey made that. When he started doing that, I wanted to commission something and he was like “What do you need it for?” I was like, “I don’t know, it’s gonna end up in band shit somewhere.”