Veil Of Thorns in Wounded Magazine (1994)
Feasts… Without beginning, without end. In the vast obscure halls. Souls separated from humid walls, from coldness and stupor… They drink the wine of blackberries, tears ooze from invisible depths of their hollow eyes, they drop and clink like a crystal, merging with violin’s chords of grim cemeteries.
The stream of feasts… Those souls are lonely, they come for they could leave. For heartwood turns numb. For ebony tears frozen. Furious wind dragging ripped eyes of the hanged, tears heavy curtains apart… Guests begin to stumble along… And when gun dogs jump on the oak tables and start to lap the blood turned wine from silvered cups, when the candles are out, with every part of my body and every cell of my brain I begin to feel irrepressible desire for Dark Music!
Wounded: Let’s start from the usual introducing of Veil of Thorns’ members. When and why did you start this band?
Emerson: Veil of Thorns is me and Chris (Dogface) McClain. Chris plays bass and I play everything else. We both instruct Ruddy Bitch what to play. I started this band early in 91 with a couple different people who proved not to be right for what I had in mind. I wanted to have a band that couold handle experimentation, that didn’t worry about trends. At the time there were hardly any gothic bands in Boston, and I wanted to help build more interest in more artistic and dark music.
Wounded: As I understand there are quite a few releases you put out with Veil of Thorns, could you name them all? How do you feel about your older songs now?
Emerson: ‘Legemet og Stemmen’ is the only release that has a title. There was one self-titled full length tape release in 92 and one two song tape released in 93, both with the original line-up. The older songs are to safe, in my opinion. For the first line-up I had to keep in mind the limitations of the older members so it was only so far I could take it. With Chris, there are no limits.
Wounded: ‘Legemet og Stemmen’ has a really dark and depressive feel to it. Has it been reached intentionally or perhaps it comes spontaneously? How important are surroundings when you write your music?
Emerson: I never think consciously about making my music dark. I don’t find dark music depressive, nor have I encountered many depressed people in the Gothic underground. I have always preferred the night and rainy days. I prefer winter to summer as well. Surroundings are of paramount importance when I am creating anything. As far as physical surroundings, all I need is silence, for I am not usually in my body when I am creating.
Wounded: Having your origins in Norway, was it difficult for you to adapt in America? What are the differences between American and European people in your opinion?
Emerson: Moving to America was quite traumatic. It was quite an extreme change, as I moved from Bergen, which is a decent size town, to an American small town. Americans are currently living on the sweat and blood of past and future generations, and soon the price for the party will have to be paid. There are cultural differences between Europeans and Americans; Europeans have cultures and roots and Americans don’t. Americans are clones for the most part. They think life is a TV show, and they think TV is life.
Wounded: Cultivating the Norwegian theme, what do you think about events in the black metal scene where Norge seems to have a strong leadership?
Emerson: I think it’s sad that they seem to be turning against each-other. There are many contradictions there. I have read comments from both Fenriz (Dark Throne) and Count Grishnakh (Burzum) that they like the church because it oppresses people, then they speaki of wanting to destroy all that is connected with the church. Their misanthropy is something I can agree with, we do not enjoy freedom because most people can’t handle freedom. There is a potential for a new paganism fit for the new magickal aeon rising from what they are doing. I am curious to find out what occult work they are taking on and to what ends. There is much that needs to be done, and what we need are people with convictions and a will to act in this, the Aeon of Horus. As I said before, I think it’s sad that the casualties are the Black Metal satanists themselves. Euronymous is a great loss to the scene. The church isn’t the only enemy, the global takeover of American consumerism is far more insideous and dangerous. I don’t think they need to worry about the Christians. The beligerent hysteria of the fundamentalists and political gameplaying of the pope are the death spasms of the old order. The craven patriarchy of the last aeon is drowning in its own waste. The spirit that was made to hide in is restored to its rightful place and the planet to the living at long last. This is a theme that runs through all my work. The Norwegian scene is producing some of the best music I have heard since Celtic Frost’s glory days. I think we have only just begun to see what they are capable of. The creativity and spirit that goes through the scene is immense and unstoppable.
Wounded: You’ve also been involved in death/thrash bands before Veil of Thorns got started. What caused you to leave them? Do you think death/thrash was too narrow to express yourself?
Emerson: Theath/thrash metal in itself has no limits as far as I’m concerned, but the people I was working with had no interest in growing or experimenting. Many of the songs we now play in Veil of Thorns are songs I wrote while in those bands. Most of the musicians I came across in the American metal scene were more interested in guitar strokification and showing off than creativity. One band threw me out because I buzzed my hair off.
Wounded: How would you describe your music to somebody who hasn’t heard it?
Emerson: I don’t know if I could. Maybe dark classical r&b goth with hip hop beats…
Wounded: Some people say Anton LaVey’s satanism reflects humanism in general. What’s your standpoint here?
Emerson: I haven’t made myself familiar enough with LaVey’s work to comment at length, but I have read some of his writings and many people I respect are involved in the Church of Satan. He may not be in complete agreement with this, but I think the Satanic philosophy is essentially Thelemic, in the way it involves total control over ones actions and environment, as well as ones responsibility for both oneself. His approach to ritual and the occult falls somewhere between theater, the theories of Jung and the skepticism of Ayn Rand. He knows quite rightly that A is A, but as opposed to Ms. Rand and the Randroids, he’s move on to figure out that B is B, though he seems loath to admit to the existence and usefulness of the rest of the alphabet.
Wounded: What do you think about usual Gothic Rock issues such as vampires, castles and general image? Does this interest you?
Emerson: It takes one hell of a writer to get my interest up on vampires. I have battled with several of the psychic variety, and hope to avoid them in the future. I would love to live in a castle some day surrounded by chosen family. The best Gothic imagery deals with dark beauty, transcendence and facing the unknown without fear.
Wounded: a question to satisfy my own curiosity (hopefully someone elses too): What sort of town is Brookline? Do you like living there?
Emerson: The reason I chose to live in Brookline instead of Boston itself is that there are trees and secluded areas to be alone in, and there’s a vibrant Jewish community in Brookline which gives the neighborhood a flavor of its own, and means that we have some excellent bakeries, as well as a larger number of people with whom one can discuss kabbalah, the torah and myhology.
Wounded: How about the business side of things concerning Veil of Thorns? Have you been offered any contract from record labels? Would youn like to sign with a major?
Emerson: So far we only have offers for distribution. We will ahve something available through Nightbreed soon, so that will be the best place to get our stuff in Europe. We will be looking at labels once the new thing is out. We have no interest in sucking corporate cock.
Wounded: I was astonished by your impressive artwork no less than your music! Is that a hobby for you or something more? Who are your favorite painters?
Emerson: My art is indeed a very serious pursuit. I’m actually much better known for my art than I am for my music in the States. There are so many painters I admire that I always give different answers every time I am asked that question. Edvard Munch, Altbrecht Durer, Dali, Goya, Peter Milton, I could go on…
Wounded: Well, I guess it’s about time to reveal a thing or two about your other band – Choronzon. It sounds really original, having a slight Industrial feel to generally dark atmosphere. How far do you plan to develop this project?
Emerson: Thanks for the compliment. I aim to take Choronzon as far as it will go. I feel the latest demo, ‘Emotional Hunger’ is a good start, but it is only a small step. I want to bring back some of the more ritualistic and disorienting alements in combination with the new musical elements. Seeing as the project is just me at the moment, there will be no gigging in the traditional sense for Choronzon. If conditions are right, I may make some of the private rituals a more public performance.
Wounded: Who is your god?
Okay, this is where my questions end. There’s no necessity to add anything from myself. I just want to thank P. Emerson Williams for for answering my questions and tell you to write him and hear some of the mysterious and dark emotional music from Veil of Thorns. Carrying their tape in your hands or listening to the music you’ll feel that you have a part of their souls, not just a lifeless product as in so many other cases…
Interview by Minda Lapinskas
Introduction by Ugnius Lioge translated by Minda Lapinskas