“Never stop the Madness“ – a slogan used by many black metal bands to show support of drug culture. For Nachtmystium, the slogan is more a way of life than an endorsement of narcotics – 2012 has been a crazy year for the Chicago quintuplet; Roadburn, the release of ‘Silencing Machine‘ and Twilight member Jef Whitehead being handed two years‘ probation for aggravated domestic battery. Frontman Blake Judd gives Angela Davey all the gory details and explains how he stays sane in an industry where the insanity is relentless.
A renegade amongst its genre, Nachtmystium’s ‘Addicts‘ raised many an eyebrow. The many frowns that ensued after its 2010 release would have rocked any lesser band to the core. Guitarist and frontman Blake Judd couldn’t care less about what the critics think, but new album ‘Silencing Machine‘ is being received pretty well upto now. ” I don’t make records for what the critics say about them,” he says. “Nachtmystium makes music that we like and feel passionate about. All I can say is that I made a record that I’m really happy with and I hope that other people enjoy it as well. If not, who cares? All of the feedback I’ve gotten or read online so far says that they really like the record though. I’m very excited about this new record because I feel like it’s very different than the rest of the catalogue. Sure, it’s reminiscent of ‘Instinct: Decay’ but it’s a different vibe on this record. The production is amazing, the songs are good and the vibe of the record is pretty intense.”
Blake’s confidence in the new album may have something to do with the fact it’s heavily infused with industrial – a form of music that has a history with the Illinois-raised musician. “Growing up in Chicago, industrial music has a storied past here,” Blake says. “I grew up around that music and I have a lot of respect for bands like Nine Inch Nails and Ministry. We all do, honestly, so this was a natural progression of the experimentation on the past couple of Nachtmystium albums with a bit of a different focus than before.” Despite the band’s love of industrial, a collaboration with Trent Reznor is not on the cards, although Judd certainly doesn’t rule it out as a possibility if the offer came along. “I don’t think that I will ever collaborate with Trent Reznor but, if the opportunity presented itself, it’s something that I would definitely be interested in. I think he’s a great songwriter and that he makes very interesting musical decisions.”
Speaking of which, ‘Silencing Machine’ has seen the five-piece make some interesting decisions of their own. Unlike past albums, the output was reflective of a team effort this time, as Judd explains. “The full band was involved this time around. We all wrote together – especially Drew and I – and created these songs together. This was one of the first times ever that I’ve had a full band write a Nachtmystium record with me, as I usually just hire session guys and spend the most effort on writing the record. But it was great to have these guys involved this time around and I think we created something really unique and interesting.”
Hearing how the new songs translate on the live stand will be a fascinating prospect too. At Roadburn this year, Nachtmystium treated fans to a live show of ‘Instinct: Decay’ in its entirety. But apart from Roadburn and a few European dates, they’ve been absent from gig line-ups across Europe and the UK. Blake lets us know how the band intend to rekindle their presence further afield. “We definitely plan on coming back to the UK and Europe in support of ‘Silencing Machine’,” he confirms. “I personally love to play outside of the US as the audiences are very different and it’s cool to see how far Nachtmystium’s music has reached. We are planning a tour over there for the early part of 2013 and we’ll definitely be coming back for festivals. We are planning a huge North American tour for the fall right now and then we’ll be coming back to Europe shortly after that!”
If we’re lucky and they do choose to ride east and entertain us, surely there’ll be a couple of their unique cover songs on show too. In the past, Nachtmystium have gained an infamous reputation for putting a black metal spin on classics such as ‘The Wolf’ by Motorhead, ‘IV’ by Goatsnake and ‘Roseclouds of Holocaust’ by Death in June. But how does the frontman select the right song to cover? “For me, I have to find a real connection to a song before I want to cover it. There are a lot of bands that I love but I would never cover. I look for songs that are very dark and relatable to what Nachtmystium is all about but from a different point of view. Most recently, we covered ‘The Eternal’ by Joy Division. That’s available now on the ‘As Made’ 7” that we released as a precursor to ‘Silencing Machine’. It features Chris Connelly which was really cool to work on because I have so much respect for him and the bands that he has been a part of.”
In his spare time Blake listens to Deathspell Omega, Drug Honkey, Katharsis, Darkthrone, Burzum and Ministry. Another of Blake’s hobbies that was put on the backburner pending Jef Whitehead’s arrest was side band Twilight. For fans that have been pining for something new since the release of ‘Monument to Time End’ two years ago, you’ll be pleased to know that the future is looking bright once more. “Twilight is about to start writing and recording a new album,” Judd reveals. “We have a lot of interesting things happening with Twilight at the moment. A new record deal, some interesting collaborations and just the fact that this will be our first album in a few years – all exciting stuff that I’m looking forward to! Who knows, we might even try to play live sometime!”
‘Silencing Machine’ is out July 31st on Century Media.