XASTHUR was always known by many as one of the veterans of depressive black metal. A lot has changed through the years and we got the chance to talk with Scott about the transition of where he was before and where things are now.
MP: Please introduce yourself:
SCOTT: Hello, my name is Scott.
MP: What got you into music?
SCOTT: It’s been around me, in my life a lot since I was growing up.
MP: Xasthur has been described as depressive black metal, do you agree with this?
SCOTT: Yeah, I suppose in the past. I put a lot of negativity into it and just dwelled on that, that’s about all it was good for.
MP: What inspired the music and lyrics behind Xasthur?
SCOTT: In the past, hate and observations. Putting a mirror in front of people, provoking and taking my anger out that way. Maybe it was real when I look at the anger that’s thrown back at me. Maybe I was naive enough to believe that for a number of years. That’s all over now and not who I am. After a while, it started seeming one dimensional to me, then zero dimensional.
I can’t make happy songs today, but I can look around at the world we live and wake people up, warn, help etc… it’s more reality than emotions nowadays. Many of my writings are stories I’ve seen, been involved with, but also things you’ve seen, I want to write about things I can relate to and what some people can relate to as well. It’s about taking a look at ourselves, our surroundings and doing something about it, the idea to provoke a change, ones for the better, its about seeing and thinking. They’re lyrics that make us question our lives, some thoughts, situations and peoples we don’t think about. I consider what I’m writing these days to have better intentions, you could even say I changed my tune, a number of years ago already; yeah I know, that kind of thing isn’t supposed to happen. I want to be more honest and less vague with what it is that I do. As opposed to “how can I make this seem dark and black metal enough” isn’t very honest.
MP: You worked with someone named “Ritual” in the earlier days of Xasthur, how was he introduced into the music and what was his reason for leaving?
SCOTT: That was a friend I had for years named Mike, he was staying in the same town with me for a while and played drums while he was around, this was many years ago though. At the time, I guess he just helped cause no one else would do it, but it wasn’t really his type of thing. I also don’t know who gave him the name ‘ritual’, probably something else the internet made up or assumed.
MP: You’ve worked with other bands before, can you talk more about this?
SCOTT: There’s not much to talk about, I never played with any of these bands, never wrote with any of these bands and they surely wouldn’t have done the same for mine. I speak from experience and from giving it a try, that’s how collaborations go, bullshit and not about the music, there’s usually a pimp or a vampire behind it, looking to collect money, notoriety or both. I hope this trick isn’t working anymore and music listeners have wised up to it.
MP: How did you come to work with Sunn O))) and Twilight?
SCOTT: If I don’t have anything nice to say, I won’t say anything; that’s the best I can do here. These collaborations were not something I looked for or sought after. I will never collaborate like this again.
MP: Your video for “Walker of Dissonant Worlds” featured a view into the streets of Los Angeles and those struggling with homelessness, can you elaborate on the meaning behind the video and song?
SCOTT: It’s the world Robert and I live in, basically, the one we see. If we, us ‘normal’ people are struggling, we’re not too far away from becoming what’s in the video. It’s a hell that’s real. If it’s a place not too close or far from you, be glad.
MP: Some time passed between 2010 when you announced the end of Xasthur and now, what made you decide to stop Xasthur?
SCOTT: I used the name nocturnal poisoning for about four or five years, that didn’t work out very well. Xasthur is back now, I’ve returned to the name again since early 2015, it’ll stay that way, but the ‘black metal’ Xasthur is definitely over. Bringing back the name isn’t going to help a great deal, because musically and lyrically, I’m doing something better now, what I want to be doing and something that isn’t marketable. On the other hand, people need some familiarity, like the name Xasthur, or else what I’m doing these days will go unheard all together.
MP: Your music has returned as acoustic but defined without a genre, is there is a reason behind this?
SCOTT: There’s a lot of reasons for this, because I should just play music. It’s hard to live up to whatever you say you are, there are some people in the world that might not want to do what they’ve pigeonholed themselves as 20 years later. I’d only give myself a genre name that doesn’t exist or not have one at all. I’d rather have people figure it out, I’d want people to think for themselves instead of telling them and having them automatically agree on what I sound like or what kind of music it is. I think people expect musicians to sound like other ones or write about what other ones do, but what’s the point, we already have plenty of those.
MP: What made you decide to return as an acoustic project and no longer black metal?
SCOTT: There were no new black metal riffs, ideas or lyrics left in me, I think that’s the case for many b.m bands too, but they’re gonna continue with it anyway, I’m not. I don’t believe I can do anything new with black metal music, inventing your own kind of music is something new to me, whatever it may be. With acoustic playing, many new chords, other styles of music and other ideas started coming to me that I would’ve never thought of or dared if I was still forcing myself to do the metal thing. I found out that finger picking was something I was better at and I started writing complete songs and not just a couple ‘dark riffs’ or makeshift ‘songs’ because of it. Acoustic playing is like a well that never runs dry for me.
MP: What made you change the name to Nocturnal Poisoning?
SCOTT: The ending of xasthur, of course the name nocturnal poisoning didn’t leave much of a hint as to who was making this other music.
MP: Are there any new plans for your music?
SCOTT: Yeah, I’ve been working with multiple people the last year or so, Christopher and Robert. I want to make the right moves with it, do things right, not be on some label etc. In 2016– more shows and a new record after taking 2015 off.
MP: What would you say about the metal scene and music nowadays?
SCOTT: Well, I notice the word ‘different’ is thrown around in metal a lot but I don’t hear anything new or different about it because the template or foundation is always the same. I think the only way to do something different is by not trying to do it anymore. When you’re trying to be some kind of band, that’s all you’re gonna be and that’s what someone else is doing too. Don’t worry though, you’ll still have an identity or a personality if you should become bored with metal or know where to look for something else, you just don’t know it yet.
MP: Any last words?
SCOTT: Subject to change, try it sometime. Thank you for this interview and your time.
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