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Mikael "Pope" Popovic (Year Of The Goat)

Interview with Mikael "Pope" Popovic from Year Of The Goat
by Vasilis Odontidis at 21 February 2013, 5:03 AM

In the very end of 2012, “Angel’s Necropolis”, the debut album of Swedish Hard Rockers, YEAR OF THE GOAT, hit the Metal surface with a blast. “Angel’s Necropolis” is a record that is like being drawn directly from the 70s, having great melodies, progressive elements and epic tunes. Vasilis talked with Mikael “Pope” Popovic, in the ancient halls of the Metal Temple, about the new album and its recording, the metaphysical concepts of the record and got the promise that more stuff from YEAR OF THE GOAT are on the way. 

​​​​Pope, keyboardist of YEAR OF THE GOAT is here with us to talk about their debut album "Angel's Necropolis" and other interesting stuff about the band. Hej Pope and welcome to the Metal Temple. How are things? ​​​​

Things are quite all right, we’re really happy the album is out and that some people seem to really like it.

​​​​Let’s start with the basics. Who, how and when began Year of the goat to exist as a band? ​​​​

In 2006 Thomas had vision of sorts, from one day to the next he knew exactly what he wanted the band to be. He joined forces with Misericordia drummer Fredrik Hellerström and Per Broddesson from his other band Griftegård. He was kind of busy with other projects as well, Bokor and Dead Pulse, this is why it has taken so many years for the band to go from the start to the first release in 2011. The songs from the 2011 EP “Lucem Ferre” where pretty much there from the get go. Some members have come and gone for different reasons before the line up we see today.

​​​​You have recently released your first full length album "Angel's Necropolis" and I regard this as one of the best releases of 2012. Tell me some things about your first release. ​​​​

Thank you! When the recording of the album first took place the main idea was to make a pretty slick album in praise of Lucifer. Believing him/her to be quite a slick fellow we figured that it was the way to go. I believe we have created what we set out to do and are happy with the way it turned out. We wanted to, in our own way, celebrate the true beauty of Lucifer and all he/she stands for.

​​​​What is the lyrical concept of “Angel’s Necropolis”? ​​​​

The lyrical concept is one of rebellion. An alternate version to the events described in the book of revelations if you will. The album is also a gospel in praise of Lucifer, the most beautiful of angels and bringer of light, and those who follow him. Musically we want to pay homage to those who came before us, those who are with us today and to those who will follow.

​​​​How would you characterize your music, to introduce it to somebody that has never heard of you? ​​​​

Straight forward hard rock with a progressive touch where the melodies, riffs and lyrics play a big part.

​​​​ “Angel's Necropolis” sounds so live and organic. How did you achieve this sound? Was it just the recording setup or you tried other things also? ​​​​

This is a tough question, good job! I will try, at the best of my ability, to do it justice. The sound is pretty much what it sounds like when we get together for rehearsals. It’s a very “straight forward putting microphones in front of whatever you want to end up on the recording”- set up. The difference might be that our rehearsal room is less than flattering when it comes to basic acoustics. We use tube amplifiers and probably some classic settings when it comes to distorted and clean guitar sounds. The Mellotron might be a part of the organic sound as well, the flutes, strings, organs, vibraphones etc. are sounds played by humans on actual instruments and where originally recorded onto analog tapes. We care a lot about what goes into the microphones. What goes in is our first priority.

​​​​You make very clear, as a band, that through your music and lyrics you are worshippers of Lucifer. Do you consider yourselves as just a band or something more than that? ​​​​

I’m not sure it is all that clear, I’m not even sure if it is possible to worship Lucifer, it sounds like a contradiction to me. If Lucifer is the opposite of God, then, perhaps, worship is out of the question, because if God is “good” and Lucifer is the opposite, “evil”, then maybe the opposite of worship is not to worship? Ha ha, I love this question, it had me thinking, that’s a good thing. If Lucifer is a symbol of enlightenment and facts rather than man made fairytales and blind belief, then worship is, perhaps, out of the question as well? If Lucifer is the symbol of fulfillment of self, then maybe Luciferians worship themselves?
We ourselves are a band that plays music, six individuals with six minds and six lives of our own, of course with some other common denominators, but we as a unit are nothing more and nothing less than that.

​​​​Usually in metal music satanic lyrics are used by bands that belong to the extreme genres of metal. Didn’t you think that it would sound strange the combination of heavy rock with satanic lyrics?​​​​

Again it depends on the eye of the beholder. If one believes Lucifer and Satan are one and the same, theistically or atheistically, one could call our lyrics “satanic”. Another person might make a distinct difference between Lucifer and Satan, in that case our lyrics, that mention Lucifer by name, couldn’t be considered “satanic”. If we think of the word Satan as being the word for Adversary or Opposer rather than an “evil” entity, then our lyrics could be considered “satanic”, since we paint a picture of Lucifer opposing God.

Well sorry about that, I tend to get a bit philosophical about these matters. Regarding your actual question; music with “occult” or “satanic” themes, if you like, in the lyrics existed long before “extreme genres” of metal and will probably continue doing that.

​​​​A lot of new bands, especially from Sweden, are taking a 70s shift in their music and these releases are receiving rave reviews. Do you think that there is a new wave of Swedish old school heavy metal is happening? ​​​​

I’ve seen it happening for well over ten years, and maybe now the world is ready for it. We live in a time where more music is available to us than ever before, I think this has played a part in the development of the “scene”, people recommend old obscure sixties and seventies bands to each other and the influences can be found by the click of a button. The online stores and streaming services has made so much great older stuff available to us nowadays. The record stores of the past couldn’t keep all that stuff in stock and there wasn’t a financial incitement for the labels to release that old stuff again. Now there is, and it’s there for us all to enjoy and be inspired by.

​​​​What are your plans for the future? I have seen you have already got some live dates but other than that? Plans for a new album anytime soon? ​​​​

We’re constantly writing, ideas are piling up and we will probably start recording some stuff sometime soon. No rest for the wicked.

​​​​What are your influences as a keyboard player and as a vocalist? ​​​​

I enjoy melodies that are direct and underlying motifs that find their way into your sub consciousness. During different parts of my life different things has had an influence on me as a musician and as a person. I find it hard to point to any direct influences, hopefully I’ve come to the point where I’m no longer a sum of my influences, but rather a vessel for what needs to come out. I tend to really enjoy those who do what I myself cannot do, and since I can only be me and nobody else I end up enjoying a lot of stuff. Ha ha

​​​​Tell me three things you like and three things you hate. ​​​​

I like people, life and artistic expressions. I don’t see myself as a hater, I do however strongly dislike it when people try to impose their groundless beliefs on others, the unjust treatment of ones fellow man and profiting on the expense of the well being of others.

​​​​Well, thank you very much for your time Pope. It was great to have you here in Metal Temple and congratulations again for such a great album. I am eagerly expecting to hear new material from you soon! You are free to close this interview as you see fit! ​​​​

Thank you for taking your time and for the kind words. 


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Edited 28 May 2023

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