What could be more rewarding than fighting old ladies for the last of batch of gingerbread men? Or sitting in the congested mall traffic? If you don’t know the answers to those questions, we’ll stop being emotionally unavailable for now and fill you in. The answer to all of those questions is simple, chatting with Empyrean Throne’s frontman Andrew Knudsen, silly!
The elusive and badass vocalist opened up to our dumb interns, Jennifer and Santi, about himself, Empyrean Throne’s debut album Chaosbourne, and their current tour. That’s right, the quintet decided to spread some X-Mas joy and will conclude their conquest here in our beautiful city, Whale’s Vagina, USA (Yeah I went there, and yes I’ve slapped myself) A.K.A. San Diego at the Brick By Brick on Dec.23. After exchanging greetings, and after Knudsen told that fierce Texas storm they were caught in to shut up, this is what they chatted about.
Ugh Metal Staff: Metal has an infinite amount of subgenres, why did you guys decide to go with Black Metal in particular?
Andrew Knudsen: I think it’s the one that resonates with us the most in an interest level, a spiritual level, and I think it’s something, in our being, [that] is drawn to. When you have an intense connection with something and you’re drawn to some form of some expression then it’s not right to deny yourself that passion.
UMS: The Rock genre in general is filled with so many great bands, is there a particular band or artist that influenced you guys?
A: We get a lot of Dimmu [Borgir], other contemporaries such as Watain, Septic Flesh. They bring something special to the table, something unique. Of course the symphonic element is sort of an easy thing. I’m kind of into this band called Hermh they’re from Poland, and they sort of do the symphonic, blackened death sort of thing.
UMS: That’s a great arsenal to be inspired by.
A: It’s not just black metal bands or death metal bands there are other influences outside of the genre of metal that we take or thrive our inspiration from. I’m into film scores, we all have collectively our favorite classical composers as well. Gustav Holst is one of my favorite composers.
A: It doesn’t need to be, in terms of influences, pigeonholed, in the metal genre. You get inspiration from any sort of musical outlet that helps the creative process. It can come from anywhere.
UMS: That’s great man! Not a lot of people like to admit that classical music is their influence. Classical music is another underrated genre that not a lot of people want to admit that they listen to.
A: Yeah to me it’s silly. When Beethoven came out with his symphony people were actually terrified of that shit because they hadn’t heard anything that sounded that powerful before.
UMS: He was the original metalhead!
A: Oh yeah, absolutely.
UMS: What would you say was the main inspiration behind Chaosbourne?
A: Oh man…
A: We wanted to tell a story, take the listener on a journey and one that, interestingly enough, sort of mirrored a personal journey that we were going through when working on the album. This is a concept album where we deal with a lot of Lovecraftian, gothic kind of theme. Everyone that worked on it, they sort of put part of themselves in the record and it was really cool, and it makes it special for that first debut release.
UMS: It’s interesting that you mentioned Septic Flesh earlier and all these other great classical composers, there are so many beautiful instrumental pieces in this album. Did you have that in mind when you were making the album?
A: Oh yeah of course. The first piece of the puzzle was to get on paper the story that we wanted to tell, and then various members shook up parts of the story that they felt spoke to them the most. The album is broken up in to three different acts and each act has its own personality with what’s going on in the story, and while each act can stand alone, they feed into each other that was our goal.
UMS: What can we expect to see from you guys in the future in general?
A: We’re on our first crusade that’s taking us deep in to the heart of Texas here, and the gnarliest Texas storm that we’re being forced to slave our way through…
A: We’re definitely going to be pushing this album so our prime focus for 2018 is touring. Needless to say we didn’t have any idea for the follow up release to the debut, it’s something that’s sort of in the back of our mind. We have a general concept, a layout. I know that our guitarists [Spencer Strange, Mike Brennan and bassist Gray] have been working on riffs, Leviathan [drummer Levi Xul] has been working on some stuff on his end too. Right now it’s all about giving Chaosbourne that proper send off to its home planet.
UMS: (Chuckle) Is there a band or artist you would like to work with in general?
A: Well you know we’re always open to collaborating with like minded individuals. We are playing with Scour [Phil Anselmo’s project] and we would certainly love to get together with them in the future. Bands that are out there pushing the envelope, making an impact, we want to be part of that, and it doesn’t necessarily need to be a black metal band. We would like to get out there do some really good tours with some other hungry artists.
UMS: Your name popped up in the Sicarius music video, and when I was reading through it, it said you were the director. How was that like? And are you expecting to do more in the future?
A: I have my special credentials in Television and Film Production. I edit all of our music videos that we have. But I love directing music videos it was a lot of fun! The shoot with Sicarius was really cool it was sort of a last minute thing that was thrown in my lap and I had the opportunity to help the boys out. If more bands wanna do a thing then they’re more than welcome to reach out to me!
UMS: It was gnarly! The video came out really well and complimented the video nicely. Is there a particular music video director you admire?
A: Oh man. Mmmm… you put me on the spot.
A: In terms of music video director I think it would be really fun to work with the Grupa 13 guys, the stuff that they’ve done with Behemoth and Belphegor is really cool. The gal [director Joanna Rechnio] that worked with Nergal and Me And That Man [Singer/director Olga Czyżykiewicz] that’d be cool.
UMS: I like your way of thinking, you’re open to the universe! Does Empyrean Throne have a pre-show ritual?
Even though Mother Nature retaliated and dropped the call. The interns were relieved when Knudsen informed them they were all still alive and continued.
A: We do have our preshow rituals as well umm… I won’t discuss any of those here, that’s private talk.
UMS: That’s cool everyone has their own, we have our own we fumble around a lot [before a show], that’s our little ritual.
A: To each their own I guess!
UMS: Now going back to tour life, what was the craziest experience you’ve had on tour so far?
A: Geez, well this one has been full of them.
A: Day 1, we had a transmission issue so that was cool. In El Paso, some guy came up to me and was like “Fucking awesome set!” and then he just like headbutted me like right…
UMS: Oh my god! (Laughs)
A: He had this big smudge of war [paint], and ash on his dome and I’m like “Whoa what?” and then he proceeded to buy all of us a round of beer. It’s fun going in to these new markets seeing when your music really resonates with someone and how amped they get over it. Sometimes we’ll be in the middle of selling merch then some guy comes out of the wood work like “YOU GUYS!” But it’s really nice to get that positive feedback.
UMS: Never a dull moment!
A: If that’s gonna be on our tombstone “Never a dull moment” it’d certainly be a good fit there.
For those in Modesto, be sure to catch Empyrean Throne tonight at The Other Place and pregame for Christamas tomorrow (12/23) at the Brick By Brick in San Diego where you can get your tickets here! Be the next fan that will get super amped and get your copy of Chaosbourne here and see what we thought about it here!