It has become really quiet around Germany’s LUNAR AURORA lately and some of you probably figured that the band doesn’t exist anymore. Well, it couldn’t be further from the truth! Aran, Whyrhd and the guys are actually more involved in writing and recording their black hymns than ever before. So, in order to give you a little update on their latest activities and to return the band a bit more back into the spotlight again, we contacted vocalist Whyrhd for the following, brandnew interview…
After having been actively involved in the deepest underground for about eight years by now, without ever gaining major attention, I was wondering where your motivation still comes from these days?
"It is what it has always been, since we started out: the internal craving for creating music. It sounds unbelievable simple and somehow it is really as simple as it sounds. Our motivation never came from anything outside of our souls. It is neither the need of earning money nor the lust of gaining attention and fame with our music. It is only the endless strong need to create music that keeps us going."
I could imagine that it must’ve been a lot more enjoyable being in a Black Metal band back when you originally started out than some years later… I mean, a lot of the mystery that was surrounding the scene in its early days more and more obviously got lost due to countless bands that started to put on corpsepaint in order to get a record deal during the big Black Metal sellout a couple of years ago… So, how did you "survive" that period, which I personally would consider a real nightmare in terms of real creativity…? Have you ever been so fed up with all that, that you were kinda close to throw in the towel completely?
"We never even thought about giving up LUNAR AURORA as the whole development of that scene had never anything to do with our music. We always concentrated on our innerselves, we never accepted anyone or anything to interfere with LUNAR AURORA except ourselves. From day one it only was important for us to create music that expresses ourselves, coming together at the rehearsal-room and to record some songs from time to time to listen to. The mysticism you are talking about only got lost for those who never carried it deep within their souls. Spirituality and mysticism will always walk with the ones who bear it deep within and those who are looking for it will discover it (again), now as the blinding glare of the false prophets is fading."
What actually lead to the decision back then to start up your own Black Metal band? Have you all "just" been fans prior to forming LUNAR AURORA or did you already write and perform a different form of music and then you simply evolved into the Black Metal genre? What were your biggest musical "heroes" when you started out?
"Before bringing LUNAR AURORA into life nearly all of us played together with other people in other bands. Nathaniel was in a 1987 formed band that played a little bit punkier version of Venom, Aran played together with our later session drummer B.C., but don’t ask me what it sounded like. I played in a band that performed music in the vein of Joy Division and Christian Death from 1988-1991. It was a lot of fun and a start to learn to handle the instruments, but nothing serious and not really satisfying, but who cares. It lasted until the beginnig of 1994 when Aran and myself got to know each other. Lots of discussions and talking about spiritual and musical matters followed until we knew that we simply have to create something together. Since we both had a very Black Metal influenced musical background it was obvious that our band’s music would also go into that direction, but from a much, much more spiritual side of view than anyone else had done before and it should be more than just a band. Of course we are influenced to a certain extend by the stuff we listen to musically which was and still is Bathory, Darkthrone, Beherit, Samael, Master’s Hammer, Celtic Frost, Possessed, Venom (Live), Mayhem, Necromantia, Sarcofago, Burzum, all that old and elder stuff, but we never thought: “We wanna sound like… we want to be like…” It was like: “Let’s create and look what it sounds like” and it became LUNAR AURORA."
Unlike many other bands that simply write about Satan (and connected clichés) in order to fit into the Black Metal genre, you’ve always been taken your lyrics a lot more serious and therefore a lot of them are probably always written in your native tongue. What inspires you in this department and why do you actually write some of the stuff in English, which must be a lot more difficult for a German who’s out for quality?
"Spiritual themes are what our lyrics reveal. Things that shape up from our souls are the inspiration for them. They are about the spheres, spirits, the soul, life and death, hell and agony, development of the spirit and soul, the moon, the stars and the energy behind it… but it is not just the description of a picture, a scenery, a development or whatever, but also the energy that walks with the words and this mostly works better in our native tongue. Sometimes it works better in English, then we use that language."
There’s also some titles in Latin – does that mean you also write lyrics in that language or is it just the songtitles? What fascinates you so much in this language that you continue to use it?
"It is too difficult to write a complete lyric in Latin, if you want to write it correctly and do not want to rip off ancient scripts. Sometimes Latin phrases bring something to the point and then we use those, as songtitles or a line in the lyrics. Take the title of our 4th album e.g., “The Art Of Dying” sounds that feeble and wimpy that one can’t bear that, but “Ars Moriendi” sounds really strong."
I suppose that not too many are aware of the fact that LUNAR AURORA is still going strong these days and that you have recorded a shitload of new material ever since your last official release, "Ars Moriendi", which is already about two years old by now… Tell us a bit more about what kind of material you have recorded already and why there’s still no new release availble from you guys?
"In the summer of 2001 we recorded an album called “Elixir Of Sorrow” which was our 2nd and last album for Ars Metalli as we fullfilled our part of the contract with that recordings. But that shitheads at Ars Metalli fucked the whole thing up by lies and non-correspondence and so the album is somehow put on ice. In these sessions we also recorded an exclusive song called ‘Alone In The Dark’ which was supposed to be featured on a split EP with bands like Mightiest, Secrets of the Moon, Nagelfar etc. The orginator of that project somehow disappeared and none has heard from him since ages. So also that release is more than unsure. In the beginning of 2002 we recorded a song called ‘Der Leere Thron’ which shall appear on a LP called “Wurzelgeister” which will feature shitloads of bands. Due to the fact that it is always difficult to work with that much bands this release has not happened yet but should in the near future through Ketzer Records. In the summer of 2002 we did our 6th album entitled “Zyklus” but due to the fact that we had all that shit going on with Ars Metalli we just are able to negotiate with some labels for some weeks. But I guess it should not take too long ‘til it can be released."
Your debut album "Weltengänger" has recently been licensed by World War III Records for the US and also "Seelenfeuer" is supposed to come out overthere a little bit later… Any expectations when it comes to the American market? How’s the response on LUNAR AURORA in the US compared to other countries? Is there a real Black Metal scene that also supports releases that are not of the CRADLE OF FILTH and DIMMU BORGIR type?
"There are no expectations we have on that subject and I don’t know anything about the American scene. As far as the utterances of our webmaster are concerned we get good response from there, but as always, there are more important things than that. Besides that, there is just a every now and then communication with WWIII so we are not that good informed about that matter. I always say, as soon as only one guy understands what LUNAR AURORA is about, it was worth the whole thing, be it a concert or the release of a recording."
Back when that album originally came out you have often been compared to several bands from Norway, older EMPEROR in particular – has that bothered you in any way? Did the comparisions change over the years? I mean, did people notice that LUNAR AURORA have a unique style on their own?
"It did not really bother us being compared with EMPEROR, it bored us at some times to death. Within a very short period of time we stop thinking about what is told and written about us, especially in the press. I mean if you release an album and read a review about that and the only thing you discover is a review of your sound, how serious you think one can take that?! I guess it often is the inability of people to deal emotionally with music. Just remember how many comparisions are drawn that couldn’t be more misplaced. And at some point of time the comparisions stopped somehow, maybe because people noticed that there might be something unique in our music or whatever, who really cares. All that never changed anything in our lives. And I think one has noticed over the years, if one compares the development of EMPEROR and us, that we are really two completely different bands and must have always been… hahahahaha."
I find it kinda surprising that except for ‘Rebirth Of An Ancient Empire’ (which ended up on "Weltengänger") no other demo track of yours ever resurfaced on any album or 7" or whatever… What is the reason for that? Do you consider those songs as not good enough anymore or is it more because you would like them to remain exclusive to all those who supported you from day one and own the very limited demos?
"Few years ago we thought about doing a new version of ‘Eye Behind The Clouds’ from the first demo, but we realized that we should not do that. In the first place because the songs on every release (demo or album) are closely connected by emotions. Recording one song again meant to tear the whole thing apart and that is not what one should do. In the second place the original recordings sound somehow always better."
It’s a very fashionable thing to re-release demos on vinyl and / or CD these days, so have you ever been approached about that already as well? If not, would you agree to those kind of re-releases if the conditions would be acceptable?
"We got many offers to do so but always refused that we see no sense in doing so and we want to pay tribute to our supporters from day one that their limited demos are the only versions that exist. I mean they are surely to get by tape-trading for those who don’t have them yet."
You’ve had quite a lot of line-up changes already, when it comes to your drummers and keyboard players… Could you summerize what mostly lead to those changes and who’s in the band nowadays?
"Biil our first keyboard player left LUNAR AURORA after the recordings of “Weltengänger” in autumn 1996 because of decisions in her private life which she could not combine with being in the band. In November of the same year we got Sindar, who is Aran’s brother, on the keys. It was somehow funny as he did not want to join at first, but Aran and me talked him into the band very massively, so he had no other change than to show up at the rehearsal room. Since then he is with us. In the summer of 1998 Nathaniel had to stop playing drums as he got a knee-damage and so he had sadly to quit, we often tried to get him back into the band on bass-guitar or guitar, but he refused as he sees himself as a drummer and didn’t want to play another instrument. So we had to ask Aran’s old friend B.C. to help us out, we got him as a session drummer in autumn 1998 and recorded the “Stargates…” album in spring 1999 with him. After that recordings he somehow disappeared for some months because of some private things and we tried out Narg from Funebris as a drummer in autumn 1999. Somehow it did not work as Narg’s style of playing did not fit in LUNAR AURORA, so all of us agreed that we should stop that. Luckily B.C. solved his problems and we could get him for one more album behind the drumkit, “Ars Moriendi” that was. Afterwards he moved to another town and was not “available” for us anymore. Being aware of the fact that the source of suitable drummers was exhausted, Aran took over the drums, passed the bass-guitar to Sindar and I took care of the guitars, in September 2000 that was. Somehow we got a closer contact to a young and powerful drummer during this year (2002), a guy who was in our surroundings for some years already but somehow unnoticed because of his silent character. So it happened that in Oktober 2002 he started rehearsing with us and it worked out just great. Profanatitas he is named."
You also weren’t really the luckiest band when it came to your record labels so far… Voices Productions and Kettenhund Records closed doors kinda quickly again and I haven’t really heard too much from Ars Metalli either lately. So, what’s the current situation there?
"I would not say we were not lucky with our labels as the only negative thing was that they happened to live not that long. Everthing else turned out to be really great. In comparision to what we got to know from other bands and their label-situation, we had something like a paradise-like situation. So we have a deep respect for Voices Productions and Kettenhund Recs. for what they have done for us. We would like to hail and pay our tribute to Andreas Lacher who had to leave us tragically by the hand of a poser psychopath. Our situation with Ars Metalli turned out to be really annoying, because the correspondence became worse with every new day. And since one year there is nothing left at all. We did not get any response on e-mails, phone-calls and letters since one year at all. So I can’t really tell what is up… But now as the contract is over we don’t care and can start with new things. As far as I heard from others, Ars Metalli turned to ashes anyway."
I know it must be kinda boring for you, but as a lot of people are probably not aware of LUNAR AURORA’s entire career, I was wondering if you could maybe introduce each of your releases so far in a few words… also mentioning good and bad aspects of the song material that appeared on them.
“A Wandering Winterdream Beneath The Cold Moon”, 1st demo in October 1995. A harsh and primitive demo with some really great riffs, shrieky vocals, not really killer, due to a throat infection I head during the recordings.
“Auf dunklen Schwingen”, 2nd demo in February 1996. The songs are played much too slowly.
“Weltengänger”, 1st album, for Voices Productions, in August 1996. A bright album, a bit too bright for my taste but really powerful.
“Seelenfeuer”, 2nd album, for Voices Production, in February 1998. A very complex album with long songs. A piece of art not easy to deal with. Bad point, none of us can remember how to play that very long songs.
“…Of Stargates And Bloodstained Celestial Spheres” 3rd album, for Kettenhund Recs. in March 1999. Shorter songs again, very swampy guitars and atmosphere in general, sadly some meaningless riffs on it, but a great overall atmosphere.
“Auf Einer Wanderung Durch Goldene Sphären” split 7” EP with Secrets of the Moon, in spring 2000. Features an exclusive song called ‘Auf Einer Wanderung…’ which was recorded during the “Seelenfeuer” – sessions. Not that complex as the “Seelenfeuer” album.
“Ars Moriendi”, 4th album, for Ars Metalli, in July 2000. A harsh and unfriendly album, a cold and deadly atmosphere. Great songs which could have been a bit more extreme, but we are quite satisfied."
As far as I know you haven’t really played that many live shows yet, so what is the reason for that? Lack of interest from your side or lack of offers from promoters / clubs / other bands? Tell us a bit more about those few selected shows you did so far and how they turned out for you?
"It is neither lack of interest from our side nor from other sides. Many gigs we were not able to do because of the line-up problems we had. Furthermore we wanna keep a LUNAR AURORA live-gig as something special and we hope to be able to organize them more as a special event in the future. The first gig we did was in spring 1996 together with Impending Doom and Temperance in Fulda. It was really chaotic but a cool evening. I can remember Balor from Morrigan “stage-diving”, it was great fun. The 2nd gig we did together with Nagelfar, Mightiest and Nordlys in Bad Wörishofen. It has been also cool hanging out with the guys from the other bands. The 3rd gig we did in Ulm together with Secrets of the Moon, Suidakra and Noctivagus, it was somehow a cult-gig as the surroundings were great, the bands were great, the audience was cool, the location was cool. At the 4th gig we opened up in Munich for Emperor, Bal-Sagoth on their European Tour 1997. It was a bit strange situation opening up for a tour-package as a local band. We got along good with the other bands and got treated fair from the others, except as some arrogant behaviour of Emperor’s drummer Trym, that dwarf, if I would have gotten no problems with the law because of money, I had pulled him his ears long, that fucking wimp. After that we did a gig in Landshut with Desaster and Dark Fortress, again cool evening, nothing spectacular. Then we did no gig for 3 years and in winter 2000 we returned in Munich opening for some local known dark Rock bands. That was quite funny, because as we started playing the audience’s eyes seemed to fall out of their heads. I guess many people thought that they went to the wrong concert, hahahaha. One week later we did our last gig so far in Leipzig. It was a bit a chaotic situation as there should play some other bands with us then those who were there. Somehow it was again Mr. Dobbersteins inability in organization. But I must emphasize that the crew of that club was extremely cool guys and they saved the evening…Thanks!"
What have been the latest albums and / or demos that really impressed you? Do you still follow the scene with interest or is it more like, you only get to hear new stuff every once in a while?
"For about half a year I am following the scene more intensively again.There are shaping out some really strong hordes again. INQUISITION’s “Invoking The Majestic Throne Of Satan” is really killer. Also the albums of GRAVEN and ARMAGEDDA were extremely strong. NAGELFAR’s “Virus West” was really refreshing and also DESASTER’s blackened Thrash is always great to hear. Also GRAVELAND released some great stuff. But the best Black Metal band of the last years was and still is PAYSAGE D’HIVER and DARKSPACE from Switzerland, and there are some really strong albums yet to come. So after the downfall of that “big Black Metal scene” there is growing a small but dedicated horde and that is extremely great."
As this interview is meant for an online magazine, I was wondering how important the internet has become for a band like yours? Would you say it helped to get your name out more? How about your own website, which not really seems to be up to date anymore… aren’t you really interested to constantly refresh the site?
"Let me put it this way, the internet is really great for information as those can be spread quickly, and as this it should serve humanity. Everything that goes beyond that I refuse to accept. I don’t know if it has helped us, it somehow makes it easier for people to contact us. I guess it is more useful for (web)zines because of the extremely updated information, that is really cool. On the other hand it supports laziness and let everthing drift into something virtual, that’s shit. We will keep Black Metal as something organic, something real, never let it become something virtual. So in the future we will for sure keep our homepage more up to date. What you get is information, nothing more and nothing less. If someone wants extras he / she has to do something for it, I piss on those internet junkies who wanna get everything via mouseclick. I do not want to have anything to do with virtual beings who do not really exist anymore."
Before we end this interview I’d like to give you the opportunity to fill us in on the latest happenings in the LUNAR AURORA camp. So, what are you currently up to? Any new material in the works maybe or releases that are coming up or anything? The closing comments are yours – all the best!
"Well, now as we got Profanatitas as our new drummer we are at the moment recording material for a split LP with PAYSAGE D’HIVER. This LP will be a limited vinyl version and be released in first half of 2003 by Eternity Records. Besides that we are working on stuff for a 7th album. Furthermore we are trying to get all that recorded stuff released. Hail to all souls out there who kept, keep and will keep this spirit alive and thanks to the ones who supported LUNAR AURORA in what way ever. Highest appreciation appertains to you Frank for your support throughout the times and for staying so strongly a music-fan and zine-editor without becoming arrogant as so many other editors did because of their thirst for primitive and cheap might. May the moon bless your paths."
Official website: http://members.aol.com/LunarAurora/