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 Plaag Interview

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Jedi Master of Metal
Jedi Master of Metal

Zodiac : Aries Metal Reputation : 89
Join date : 2012-01-06
Location : Walker Louisiana

PostPlaag Interview

Somber Von Plaag

Black ‘n’ Roll Messiah

I recently had the opportunity to review the album UGH! By the band Plaag and became a fan of what Vocalist/Composer/Artist Somber Von Plaag has named “Black ‘n’ Roll”. Somber hails from Belgium, and is looking to take his vision worldwide. I spoke with Somber about Ugh! And his vision of black ‘n’ roll and here’s what he had to say:

MSM: Hails Somber! First let me say that Ugh! Is an exciting album! From beginning to end, the music just really kicks ass! I love the way you meld the different styles together to create the unique sound of Plaag. Is there a “secret recipe” to your writing, or does it just flow from you?

Somber: Thank you very much for your kind words Sir. There is no secret recipe at all to it. As you say it kind of flows indeed. It just feels natural to me I guess. I like to keep the sound underground and I love simple kick ass rock ‘n roll riffs and that’s basically it. As far as the melding is concerned I think I just unconsciously blend all the influences I grew up with.

MSM: How has the response been to Ugh?

Somber: Oh very positive to my own surprise. I mean here’s a chap sitting at his desk fooling around with his portable studio thingy he just bought and having lots of fun at it. He posts two songs on myspace, the try out ‘Vaderland’ which is on the album and ‘Black Metal Rising’, an adapted version of CCR’s Bad Moon Rising (which is not on the album because Mr. Fogerty didn’t grant permission… I wonder why haha), and things just started rolling from there. I decided to make an entire album just to see if I would be able to pull it off and of course to finally say what I have to say about certain things, and ‘UGH!’ Is the result.

MSM: Will you tell the readers what the term “Ugh” means to you and why you chose this term?

Somber: There’s nothing to it, it’s just a word I love. And it kind of reflects the in your face mentality Plaag stands for.

MSM: Is Plaag currently playing shows, and if so where and when?

Somber: Plaag did two shows so far which were both fun and wild as hell and the response from the crowd was amazing as well. At the first show people were singing along to ‘Christmas Time’ already so I think we all (both band and crowd) got what we wanted out of those performances.
However currently I disbanded the live project to focus a bit more on a Norwegian project I became involved with. It’s called Negativ and has some amazing Norwegian black metal musicians in it. Since working with Norwegians on music has always been a dream to me I tend to give that project all my attention as well. It’s simply not compatible with weekly rehearsals and hassles about shows and stuff.
Plaag was never meant to go live anyway but now that I tasted the stage I must say it appeals to me as well so we’ll see what the future brings on that.

MSM: Can you explain to our fans what your definition of Black “n” Roll is, and how you came up with the sound?

Somber: Oh but you’re over crediting me here mate, nothing I do hasn’t been done before already. In my opinion I didn’t come up with any sound at all. I just do what I like to hear myself and that’s it basically. If anything I actually hesitated to bring the album out because of the sound. I thought (and still think) that the sound could be way more raw and balanced but since my lack of experience in recording this is the outcome. So be sure the next release will be better on those fronts. The ‘sound’ will still be the same (same equipment) but I will put way more attention to the mixing part this time. It’s a learning process and I’m autodidact on everything so… we’ll see.
Black ‘n Roll to me should be catchy, mean, nasty, sarcastic and in your face.

MSM: I know that you recorded Ugh! And also did the artwork! Can you give us some insight into the mind of the artist such as initial concepts to the final stroke of the brush?

Somber: Eternal war, that’s what’s in my mind. Good, bad, moral, immoral all these things clash and give me inspiration. Also global madness, human stupidity, religion, warfare,… it’s an endless list of songs and paintings right there.

MSM: How was your experience in the studio recording Ugh! And what is your most memorable experience during recording?

Somber: Most memorable was recording and writing ‘Christmas Time’. It started in the shower… I was humming the chorus like out of nowhere. I ran into the studio part of the house and wrote and recorded it in less than three hours. Never did a song or a painting came more natural to me than that one.
Note when I say studio part of the house I actually mean my kitchen. I’m a poor artist so I gotta work with what I have ☺

MSM: When playing live, how long is the preparation needed for putting on the corpse paint? Also I love the version of corpse paint that you wear, how did you come up with the idea for that?

Somber: It usually takes me about 30 mins.
Well since Plaag is a sort of homage to the Norwegian black metal scene I use the imagery and vocal style of bm but that’s as far as it goes. I will never be so cocky to pretend I have the skills to create the art the Norwegians are creating, so many bands copycatting that and failing at it miserably already. The world does not need another one.
Same with the paint, I use the initial bm corpsepaint but added a twisted smile to it to bring alive the sarcasm Plaag contains towards everything.

MSM: What are your thoughts on current Black Metal bands, and also how do you feel when mistakenly placed into that category?

Somber: Oh I don’t really mind being mistaken for it I just want people to get what they are looking for and if Plaag is presented to them as a black metal band they will not get what they want because it simply isn’t. Black ‘n Roll is indeed a more accurate description. It’s dark, filthy and it rocks like hell.
My thoughts on current black metal bands? Hmmm, no thoughts really. I consider very few bands to be black metal as I know it.

MSM: What are some of your favorite bands and also which bands influenced you?

Somber: Gehenna, Darkthrone, Sarke, Carpathian Forest, Taake, Nocturnal Breed, W.A.S.P. (with chris holmes), Hallows Eve, Tankard, Destruction, Bathory, Motorhead, Carcass,… haha you get the idea.
As far as influences are concerned I think it’s obvious that all the above have been an influence and apparently Satyricon as well haha. Never been a big fan of them myself but if people hear Satyricon in Plaag I can only take that as a compliment because they (Satyricon) are where they are for a reason, they are true artists.

MSM: Ugh! Was released through Misantrof ANTIRecords. How is the relationship with the label and what goal is the label trying to accomplish?

Somber: The anti-label is the brainchild of Carpathian Forest’s Daniel Vrangsinn. It’s an answer to the ‘established’ order of major labels. It’s goal is to provide it’s artists with all the freedom they want/need and to deliver a platform for the artists to spread their art. They are succeeding very well at it and I like that concept a lot. I pay for everything myself for the releases and they provide me with a solid network and base to start spreading it. It’s effective and no strings are attached.

MSM: Are you currently working on a follow-up to Ugh! And if so, what can fans expect?

Somber: Yes I am working on a new EP with a videoclip as a bonus on it. More perversity, more catchy headbanging rock ‘n roll and above all even more misanthropy ☺

MSM: I know the Europe still has a huge metal scene. What are your thoughts on the scene, and how has it changed over the years?

Somber: I am totally not in the scene man. I have no idea to be honest. I tend to stay indoors a lot and live life like a hermit. People are too frustrating in groups to be with.

MSM: What do most Europeans think about American Metal?

Somber: I don’t know. I for myself like some American metal bands a lot. Sacred Reich, W.A.S.P., Morbid Angel, old Megadeth, yes even Disturbed now and then. Oh and you have the mighty Testament of course!

MSM: Do you feel that metal has lost anything over the years, and what changes would you suggest to bring metal back to a more pure state?

Somber: Metal has lost a lot of it’s initial magic. I miss that a lot. I don’t think we’ll ever be able to bring that back though. The times are way more raw and harder now. I truly miss the 80’s

MSM: On a personal note, you are an artist as well as musician. Which style or styles of art do you delve into, and what artists do you admire?

Somber: I love the classics like Jeroen Bosch, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Dali,… but I also like more modern stuff like H.R. Giger and consorts. I tend to like the ‘realism’ artists a lot. I recently discovered this amazingly talented German artist Ina Helmers, she is amazing at her photo like portraits of black metal musicians and other subjects. I can spend hours looking at art like that.

MSM: What musical training have you had, and do you feel that “proper” musical training is the key to quality musicianship?

Somber: I had no musical training whatsoever, it’s all autodidact. I am not a very talented guitar player neither though haha. As long as it shreds and rocks I am happy with it. I don’t have the need to be able to play 20000 notes in one minute. That holds back a lot of the catchyness I miss in music these days.

MSM: What instruments do you play (types, brands, etc.), and what are the differences in the equipment that you used during recording and playing live?

Somber: I use a BC Rich Warlock Neckthru NJ series, Fostex portable studio, Shure microphones, a Yamaha Jazz Bass and Redrum for drumprogramming. On stage I only use the Shure microphone ☺

MSM: Hopefully you will be bringing the show to the U.S. soon! Are there any plans for a tour?

Somber: No plans yet. Whenever a genuine management comes to me I will be happy to try to set it all up with them but on your own it’s simply unaffordable to make such plans. But it would be killer to do so!

MSM: In closing, let me say again that Ugh! Is an excellent CD and that black ‘n’ roll is a welcome change in a sometimes stagnant realm! Thank you for taking the time to speak with us and letting our readers know more about you and your music. Is there anything else that you would like our readers to know?

Somber: Well thank you very much mate.
I’ll start recording for the next release in September. I hope to have it all finished soon so Plaag’s next release, the ‘Fuck You Metal From Hellgium’ EP will be there for you early 2012 if all goes well.
Also recording for Negativ is gonna start pretty soon so I am stoked to give my best on that too.
Thank you for the interest and support!
And… Ugh the world!

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