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Albert Witchfinder (Reverend Bizarre)

Interview with Albert Witchfinder from Reverend Bizarre
by Yiannis Doukas at 09 December 2007, 6:53 PM

This name is as heavy as their music. There is no need for any special prologue, REVEREND BIZARRE's last album is another perfect doom metal jewel. I just want to thank Faye for her help for this interview and for being a lunatic fan of this band. Doom On!

Hello Albert. How are you? First of all, deep congratulations for all your musical creations. Let’s take the REVEREND BIZARRE path from its beginning back at 1995, a year when you recorded the Lohja – Era rehearsal tape. What was the lineup back then? When Juippi left the band? You were also in KLV? When Void embodied with the band? Are there any songs from KLV that found a place in REVEREND BIZARRE recordings?

Hello there. How am I? I have been much worse, but let us say I am slightly anxious, quite much stressed and bit tired. At the moment I am also highly inspired and focused in my work and also very creative.

I don’t remember much about those sessions…not even was it several different sessions. You see, that tape is just some free jamming and few riffs we had. It was never released and I do not even necessarily have it all myself. We were more like dreamers than a real band back then. I and Juippi were also drinking quite much. The lineup was me, Juippi and Peter. Juippi really never left the band and there was a period when it was me and Juippi keeping the idea alive. We were rehearsing just the two of us for a while.

Then, when I moved to Turku too, REVEREND BIZARRE sort of stopped being a band. It did not take a long time before we continued, but as me and Peter now lived in the same town, which was different from where Juippi was, we thought we needed someone to sit behind the drum kit before we could rehearse and play with Juippi again. This someone was Void, with whom I had already been playing in KLV. Well, he never left the band either and the rest is history…and, literally, right now when the band is no more.

Some of the KLV songs became REVEREND BIZARRE songs…like The Hour of Death. Some riffs were also taken from KLV and were re-arranged. I did so many songs for KLV during 1994 - 1998 that I still have material worth of several albums. I will play some of these songs or parts of them with THE PURITAN.

We are arriving to 1999 with the recording of your first official demo Slice Of Doom. Did you do any gig back then? Is there any detail you want to share with us of these days?

Those where happy days. We were excited to do those recordings and there was not so much pressure in our actions yet. It all became few years later. We had not done any gigs by then, but we played our first gig quite soon after the demo was out. The demo was recorded in Lohja and Turku. I am happy that the initial sessions took place in our original home town. I have good memories from those days, even when we had some troubles as usual.

If I asked you to bring to your mind all of the recording sessions you made with REVEREND BIZARRE, which was the most fascinating? What were your emotions as a band when you knew the III: So Long Suckers recording would be your last one?

They were all fascinating in some sense, even when most of them were pure mental torture. Harbinger Of Metal was the hardest one to do. I ended up in psychosis after the mastering of that one. Return To The Rectory… was more fun to do and I was very drunk when doing the vocals. The debut album was of course the first bigger studio project for us. Lots of things to learn, lots of fights. Crush The Insects was almost like going to work. This was because I did not want to re-live the Harbinger days. The last one was interesting and pleasing to do, except when it comes to editing and mixing. And it has to be pointed out that in our methods ’pleasing’ could mean ’suffering’ to some other bands. We never went the easy way. REVEREND BIZARRE was a long and hard lesson for all of us, but I am glad I made it through…or actually I did not as I had to jump off the train, but thanks to this our career as a whole can be viewed as a success now. We finished the thing before it started to suck.

It’s too sad that there are not much documentation from these sessions, just some photos and written text. It would be fun and partially tormenting, to watch some video footage.

Are there any recordings left for future releases? The cover on BEHERIT? By the way it was a real surprise in your live here in Greece.

That song will appear on our split with ELECTRIC WIZARD. Besides that one we have four other songs still waiting to be released. All of the others come from our last ever sessions which we did after So Long Suckers. The songs will appear on splits and one compilation.

It’s impressing that all your releases are perfect in all their details, I mean from the covers ’till the artwork in the edge or the back of CDs and vinyls. Do you consider that an album must be a complete piece of art despite its music? What is your favourite REVEREND BIZARRE cover? Is there anything hidden behind these mushrooms in that of Slice Of Doom? Do you still like it? By the way, the Tschechonin cover in Slave Of Satan is great.

This is exactly how I think and this is the reason why I have to have so much control over all the aspects and why I am sometimes so hard to work with, same time also easy, because I give all the instructions. I just know how the things should be and how they also will be, if there just is time to make everything perfect. Of course you can’t avoid errors.

My favourite cover must be the one I designed for the last album, and it is not just the front cover but the whole thing. It is just as I wanted it to be. If there are some hidden messages there in that painting I did for our demo, they are not the ones you might be thinking. We did not use mushrooms.

Is there any hidden concept in III: So Long Suckers about women? On the one hand Teutonic Witch and on the other the lyrics of Sorrow or One Last Time. Also what is this Kundalini? I remember an old song of SIGH in their first album with this name.

Yes, and as they are bit hidden on the album they shall also remain hidden here. If I wanted to explain those things more I had already done it on the booklet. This last album mirrors my real life. When it comes to Kundalini, I could tell you many things about it but I encourage you and the readers to find out yourselves. It is easy nowadays. I just say it is a serpent sleeping in our spines waiting to be summoned.

Can you enlighten us with the lyrical theme of Anywhere Out Of This World. It’s a very emotional song, one of the best for REVEREND BIZARRE.

I am glad to know you like that song. It is one of the more important ones to me. I COULD tell you more about it but I won’t. The lyrics combined with the musical structures and elements will reveal all that I want outsiders to know about the thing. Maybe one day when I am old, if I ever live that long, I will start talking about these things.

In most of your titles I see a concept of three words. You know Slice Of Doom, Harbinger Of Metal, So Long Suckers, Slave Of Satan, Crush The Insects. Are you an ANVIL maniacs or something? Also does the title So Long Suckers go to some people?

No, we are not ANVIL maniacs. Actually, back in the 80’s I never listened to their music even when I knew about them. Some of their songs give me good laughs, but still I would not call myself a fan. Sorry! The title of the last album has few different meanings and levels. For our friends and fans it is said in friendlier tone than to some others. We were one with our audience. We were ugly bastards, but so was most in our audience too.  

REVEREND BIZARRE are dead, MINOTAURI are dead, there is only SPIRITUS MORTIS left. Is there any other band from Finland in doom that means a lot for you? Except doom are there anything else metal genres you like a lot? What bands?

No, not really. We had very strong brotherhood with these bands. It would be hard, maybe even impossible to feel the same with any other bands. OAK did a great tape some years ago and now they will return. I expect much from them.

I like some black metal, BURZUM, old ULVER and MAYHEM, DRUDKH, the first EMPEROR recordings, some IMMORTAL, BENIGHTED LEAMS, DEATHSPELL OMEGA, ILDJARN, STRIBORG, XASTHUR, MAGANE, JUDAS ISCARIOT, SIGH and so on, and of course old and real heavy metal. Is GODFLESH metal? I do not care… I love them no matter what they were. GALLHAMMER is somewhere there in grey area. They are one of my favourite bands. Same goes with BORIS and QUEST FOR BLOOD. I do not listen to metal music all the time. Actually most of the time I listen to something else. Right now I am listening Japanese traditional music. Very minimal and marvellous.

What follows after REVEREND BIZARRE? I see you are into a lot of bands. Can you inform us about them? Will you continue with ORNE? What about ARMANENSCHAFT? I read somewhere that is close to ILDJARN. Is it true? ILDLARN was one of the best black metal bands ever.

Nowadays the only bands for whom I write material are THE PURITAN and ARMANENSCHAFT. Both bands will have 12s out soon. ARMANENSCHAFT is very insane and primitive metal. I love it and feel good to do that stuff. ILDJARN comes to mind yes, but it is also something else…something original. ARMANENSCHAFT is definitely not for all. Check out the Psychedelic Winter LP and THE PURITAN’s second offering The Black Law. THE PURITAN has been described as most misanthropic music ever. Hah hah. Actually our message is positive, even when its form is total darkness and sonic cancer.

I will be doing vocals for AZRAEL RISING soon. It is bit more melodic and melancholic black metal. Peter will go on with ORNE. It was his band anyway. I won’t be there anymore. He has also his new Doom Metal band now. They are called LORD VICAR. First 7 coming soon!

Are there any songs left with THE CANDLES BURNING BLUE? Is there any possibility for this band to come back from the dead? I see you’ll have some releases with KLV. Can you talk to us about that? Are there any future plans for this band?

There is the whole second album of THE CANDLES BURNING BLUE, which was never totally finished and which will remain unreleased. Some of these songs appear on live recordings somewhere. I do not think THE CANDLES will return, if not in some earlier form for some special shows. It would be nice to play some of the early songs and then go though all the periods.

KLV’s old material will be released soon. Some of it will come on CD in Chile and some even earlier material we release on CD-R by ourselves. I would not mind recording some of the existing material in a real studio. There are many songs that were never played with the band.

The length of REVEREND BIZARRE songs gives a ritualistic, hypnotic and spiritual air to them without losing your ultra-heavy metal sound. How do you achieve this? What was the exact formula for a composition? Someone brings some ideas and then you jam and extend them or you have it all in your mind from the beginning?

It was very natural and easy. At least for me composing music has never been too hard. I just get that material from somewhere. We never jammed or discussed much about the songs. The songs I did were in most cases ready to be played and recorded. I did very finished arrangements and all. I just told the others what to do. Peter’s songs were also very finished. We did not spend much time together and in the last few years we did not rehearse at all, except for few times before recording sessions. Before the final album we did not rehearse at all the three of us together.

Imagine a world without music (now, I’m thinking it again, this world is shit). What would you like to be? What is your favorite color? Your favorite food?

I do already now many things…I draw, I walk around in the woods, I write… If there would not be music at all, there would still be sounds all a round us. And sounds already are music in some sense. If you find them you already create music. Maybe I would find music and bring it to the people. And this world is shit even with all of this music, and partially because of it. I am not really a hard core music fan. I love many other things too. Still music is important to me and in many ways one of the best forms of art as it can be purely abstract.

I do not have one favorite colour. I like for example forest green and olive green. I do not eat meat at all. I like some Chinese, Nepalese, Thai and also Mexican foods…but also falafel if it has right spices and of course pizza.

Finland looks like the perfect country for us outside, from the economy ’till the care things. Is it true? What are the advantages and the disadvantages of living there?

To really answer this one would demand an essay really…So I just say that yes, this is a good country to live in. I have seen many places and I always like to return here. Sadly we have lots of ignorant and stupid people here, but then again they are everywhere. My reasons to be critical about human race are based on the people I have seen around anyway. I like the fact that we are in many ways far from everything and still we have all the needed connections. We have our own original culture and language and we have four seasons which I love.

I love the nature and honesty and straightness of the people. You really can trust most of the people here and if they promise to do something they usually also do it. Of course there are exceptions also. In the way I think I do not really care so much about any borders. People are different and same time so similar. I am very interested in different cultures and especially those of Asia. I could imagine living somewhere in Japan or Malaysia or Singapore or even Vietnam one day.

Are you satisfied with the whole road that REVEREND BIZARRE walked on? Would you wish some things to be different? Are you pleased with the people’s reactions? Also, do you believe that art can exist without people seeing it or hearing it?

I am. And obviously art can’t exist without anyone hearing or seeing or feeling it, as to my understanding thought itself is not art yet. BUT I do not think art demands any audience to be art. If I create piece of art and keep it to myself it is still art. I myself like to offer my works to other people though.

Albert, it was an honour for me and really THANK YOU. If you have something extra to tell us feel free to add it. Hope to see you again in Greece.      

Thank YOU. It was nice to answer these questions and sorry that it took this long. I truly hope I will return to Greece as a performing artist one day. I surely will return as a visitor anyway. I have been few times there and if I would have some money I would visit your country much more often. My near future won’t be financially too secure so the only hope is that THE PURITAN or ARMANENSCHAFT is invited to play there. I wish all the best to the readers and all the friends of mine and us there. Take care!


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