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Tom G. Warrior (Triptykon)

Interview with Tom G. Warrior from Triptykon
by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos, Maria Voutiriadou at 17 November 2010, 2:11 AM

This was one of those occasions were you have some much questions on your mind that everything seems frozen. Seriously, you have a ton of questions and you are unable to pick the best ones and do the interview. So, this interview with Tom G. Warrior took the path of such a pleasant conversation that it didn’t feel like an interview. Tom is so honest and down-to-earth person that is almost shocking. I just wish we had more time…

So, Tom how were the European live dates?
It was fantastic, especially in the festivals. Probably you are getting the same answer from all the bands you are asking; but truly it was absolutely great. We played in front of huge crowds under fantastic organizations. We will do a headlining European tour next year.

 Next year? Probably with a new album?
No, man this one has been out for just six months.

Yeah, I know that but it was a hidden question to ask you about the next TRIPTYKON album. Do you have anything in your mind about it?
I am working on it. I have new material…

(interrupting) Can you write music when you are on the road?
Not actually, but I constantly write down notes. I do not write only music; sometimes I describe a certain mood that I am in and lyrical sketches like certain ideas or entire paragraphs that I plan to use. My cell phone and my laptop are full of these sketches.

So, in your writing process the lyrics come first?
No, it is always the music. Apart from “The Prolonging” that closes the album the music comes first. It is an extremely difficult process for me to write music. So, I write all the time in order to have enough material to work on. Later on I choose what to keep and what to throw away. Usually, I write five time the material that actually makes it to the album.

Do you have any special way to get yourself in the mood to write music and lyrics?
No, there is no scheme. I am a very honest writer and any song can happen at anytime. I have to be in a certain mood but this can happen in any case. I do not write music according to a routine or a specific formula.

What about the atmosphere in your music; it is so dark an evil…
(interrupting)That’s not difficult to understand why; if you look at my life you will understand the reason. The darkness is very honest…

You know I am reading “Only Death Is Real” and I kind of understand what do you are saying. So, how does it feel having your life in a book?
It feels good. I am fascinated by this. I am a huge book collector and in fact the books are everything to me. I always had the dream to write a book but I did not believe that it would ever happen. I look at myself very humble so I did not think I could ever be a writer. So, having released two books it is amazing! It is too much for me to register. I feel honored that someone is publishing my books. It is an amazing feeling looking at my book among the ones that I cherish.

Did you find it difficult bringing to mind all those harsh times especially during your childhood?
Yeah, it was extremely difficult. That’s why it took me five years to write it down. Me and the most of the members of HELLHAMMER did not want to be confronted with that period of time. Musically it was a fantastic time; but everything around it was difficult. The music had absorbed us and I had to reach my 40s to really comprehend that period of my life. It was so bad that I had it pushed in the back of my mind. This also happened to the rest of HELLHAMMER members of different reasons. So, yes it was difficult. And in fact writing lyrics is almost that difficult. Writing lyrics for TRIPTYKON was a painful procedure because they are all personal. I do not write abstract or historical lyrics. Everything comes from inside and are full of emotion. Sometimes it takes me months to write just a few sentences.

Is it like a healing process for you?
It is something like that but not an actual healing. It is a far path to heal. Otherwise everybody would write down some lyrics and everything would be fine. That’s not the case. At least for myself; I cannot speak on behalf of all the writers. I find it hard to express my feeling in words so that is why it takes so much time.

I have one more question about the book; you are describing a press conference that VENOM did back in the 80s where you stood up and threw your demo tape to Cronos.
Yeah I sitting right in the front…

Did you ever talk to Cronos about that?
If I remember well in 1989 Cronos was opening for CELTIC FROST when he had his solo band named CRONOS in a gig in New York and he did not talk to us at all. We had different camps for both bands so, we didn’t talk about. I am not sure he even remembers about that; it was ages ago. As far as I know Mantas is writing a similar book to mine about the early days of VENOM and I am really curious to read it! A friend of mine told me that he has a ton of memorabilia so it will be fantastic.

That’s very good to know! But, let’s go to the TRIPTYKON album. You have a lot of Greek based words; do you have a special connection with the Greek language?
I cannot speak Greek but one of my favorite reading topics as a child was of course ancient history. I read a lot in order to escape from reality and since ancient Greek history is huge I read a lot about it. As I said, unfortunately I do not speak Greek but I have a lot of friends who do and are helping me. I am very interested in ancient civilizations like the Greek and the Roman; back in my childhood the word was so bad to me that I had to turn into the Ancient civilizations to understand things and escape.

And what about the title “Eparistera Daimones”? Is there a special meaning behind the title?
Yeah there is personal meaning behind that title that is connected to the situations near the end of CELTIC FROST. There is also a bigger symbolism like a comment about the world we are living and how it is. I am extremely disappointed by the behavior of human beings in this planet for ten thousands of years. All we do is fight, lie on another go to war, destroy animals and nature and in fact all of these are reflected to many lyrics of mine.

..and what about the band’s name; TRIPTYKON, is this connected to the three bands, HELLHAMMER, CELTIC and this one?
Exactly! I love the medieval paintings that are in three parts and I think their concept is fantastic. In May 2008 when I formed TRIPTYKON I felt that it was like the completion of painting with the third part.

In this North US tour you have with you YAKUZA and 1349; were you involved in the selection of the supporting bands?
Of course, I have been friend with 1349 for many years and in 2006 I had a fantastic time touring with them. So, they were an obvious selection. YAKUZA were suggested to me by the record label so I did check them and I was blown away. I know that many metalheads might have a problem with them since they are very unconventional but if someone approaches them without prejudice he will be blown away. Their music is so full of emotions and atmosphere and they are using many different instruments, they are fantastic. I have watched their set many times and they are great.

We will give them a chance tonight. Now, I have a question that you might not want to answer…
(interrupting) I will answer to anything.

Ok, so here it goes; what happened with “Crystal Lake”?
You mean “Cold Lake”?

Oh yes of course. Sorry about that…
That’s fine you cannot make it worse than it already is…

So, why did you change CELTIC FROST sound that radically?
First of all this is an easy to answer question. I always do what I think is best for an album and that period of time I felt that was the way to go. To me art is not playing safe; it is risking your career. If you are constantly repeating or copying yourself or others then this has nothing to do with art. Art is staking your entire career by supporting an idea of yours no matter if it works or not. It does not really matter. Art also is provocative and bolt so I was never afraid of trying something. On the other hand the album itself was an utter failure. Just because I have that courage doesn’t mean that I will always succeed. I’ve made many mistakes in my life and with musicians sometimes mistakes happen in public. So, that album is my prominent mistake ever. It was maybe an idea that could have worked in some circumstances but the way it was executed was dismal. And of course I take all the responsibility for this since I was the only old member of CELTIC FROST. The production, the photos, the lyrics, the songs, the artwork are crap; everything that CELTIC FROST stands for have not been fulfilled in that album.

That was bluntly honest!
You know something, I have to live with that. I cannot gloriously talk about the good albums. I have to accept that “Cold Lake” is also my album and take responsibility. Now, I have my 13th album and looking back I see just one failure a lot easier. If “Cold Lake” was my last then it would be very difficult to live with. Always knew in CELTIC FROST that we would fall in our faces and fortunately it happened very early. I am not going to do the same mistake again!

You have said that art is taking risks; so, what was the risk in TRIPTYKON?
Well, the risk was deciding to leave the established name of CELTIC FROST behind. Everyone in the music industry told me to take the name of CELTIC FROST and release a new album. If I had done that it certainly would have been a lot easier. I would be in a comfortable level filling bigger venue and having huge crews. But I decided to be honest since it would be an acting standing on stage pretending that it was CELTIC FROST.

So, it wasn’t a legal problem about the name?
No, it wasn’t. And I am very sure if I’d asked Martin (Eric Ain) to use the name he would say yes. After all he was not going to use the name. In fact the fight was not between Martin and me, it was with another guy. Anyway, the risk was abandoning everything I had fought for 25 years and start basically from scratch by forming a new band just hoping that the fans would give us another chance. And this is just the first step for TRIPTYKON; it would take many years to even get close to what CELTIC FROST achieved. There was no guarantee that people would accept developing CELTIC FROST music with a new band. There is nobody more surprised about the positive reviews on our album than myself. I have been doing this for a long time and I knew that there was a chance to lose my entire career. But I wanted to be honest rather than go and like a circus on the stage and call it CELTIC FROST.

 I have to admit that by reading your book it is like I already know you. You seem that you haven’t changed from that time.
Hopefully I am a little more mature as a person and as a musician. When I look at those photos I am thinking that I did have a lot of courage to do it but also I was very naive as a person and as a musician. So, now I am very happy being here doing what I love in my 47. Back then I could not perceive myself in my 40s and definitely I did think that I would be able to say that I am happy. I thought that I might have turned like those people who have completely given up on their lives. And I haven’t given up on my life, I still create music and doing what I really love. I am perfectly fine!


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Edited 28 January 2023

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