The Devil’s Blood – Interview with Selim Lemouchi
Dutch Occult rockers THE DEVIL’S BLOOD continue to seduce audiences worldwide with their enchanting hymns and blood-drenched rituals.
Conjuring chaos on the current Decibel Magazine Tour with In Solitude, Watain and Behemoth, Beyond the Dark Horizon sat with The Devil’s Blood mastermind Selim Lemouchi prior to taking the stage in San Antonio, TX [April 29, 2012]. Lemouchi discussed the hardships of touring and the band’s second, latest opus, The Thousandfold Epicentre.
Beyond the Dark Horizon: Your fan base is quite varied, Satan has even connected you with black metal acts like Watain. How has the overall tour been going so far?
Selim Lemouchi: Things are going really well. I’ve personally never cared for concerts where all the bands are playing the same type of music. That explains my lack of inactivity in the European black metal scene for a long time. To me it was a bunch of boring and unnecessary pretense, without any real substance. I’d rather stay home. I think the American public at least to this point has been really appreciative that there are 3 bands on the tour who all approach a similar ethic but from a completely different perspective-musically as well as spiritually. And I think that is being appreciated greatly. We had this strange day yesterday in Oklahoma city where another tour was added to the show with Cannibal Corpse and other bands like that. We were quite skeptical about that because we were performing before a large crowd that mainly listen to bands like Cannibal Corpse and perhaps Behemoth. So we were kind of curious of how it would turn out but it went rather well. Once we are on stage, we don’t concern ourselves anymore with what anyone else might think or expect. We just do what we feel is right at the moment.
Selim Lemouchi: As far as transformations go, as soon as we enter the stage we are not the same people that we were five minutes before. It takes lots of concentration to block out the spiritual matter that one might be concerned with on the day to day basis, especially on a tour setting like this one- where everything revolves around this big clock where everything is moving slowly and you have to be part of that machinery all day in order to be where you need to be. Doing sound check, changing strings…they become a burden on your shoulder and make you tired, draw you back and make you irritable, prone to violence and alcohol abuse-all that stuff. But then there is this half an hour before every ritual begins and in that case I mean half an hour before In Solitude begins, where we can witness them becoming more and more in tune with what they are doing. That helps us bring down our stresses, headaches and all that stuff to be able to focus on the reason why we are there. We make every room our little temple, our house, our alter and we’ll project what we desire to see.
Beyond the Dark Horizon: Much of your artistic and musical work deals with death. Elaborate on its importance and the symbolism of blood.
Selim Lemouchi: The blood for us has a double meaning. You have the metaphysical meaning, a component in a spell or ritual. There it represents the blood of the slain but also the motives of life and death. The other part is very important for us. For us it becomes a mask. Not from in which to hide behind but one to maintain a new persona, maybe even less of a persona and more of a ghost. And this ghost is no longer stressed with the day, as we discussed earlier and becomes a free spirit, engine to manipulate reality in his own personal way, with his instruments, with his mind and his power and his entire being. That moment when the blood is put on is the bridge that you cross and do not return. The only way back is completing the rite in ritual which is what we try to do everyday.
Beyond the Dark Horizon: Simply put, The Thousandfold Epicentre is one haunting album. The eerie chaotic elements present meshed with the vintage rock n roll sound and drive, invoke a vintage, yet new dimension of atmosphere. What are your overall thoughts on this new album?
Selim Lemouchi: I’m immensely proud of what we have made and immensely satisfied with the results. It’s always a hard and troublesome road from conception to birth, shall we say. There’s always bumps in the road but I think we managed to deliver something which is truly unique in many ways and I feel tremendously excited to present it to the world.
Beyond the Dark Horizon: In comparison to The Time Of No Time Evermore, the band’s sophomore effort pushes the experimental/exotic vibe even further. You found your niche. Do you agree?
Selim Lemouchi: Well I guess that’s the way it turned out. I write all the material at home and give everyone their part to rehearse, so the method of working was still pretty much the same. Having said that, we did however experiment in the studio with the possibilities of sound, space and time even.
Beyond the Dark Horizon: Having worked with Void Studios again, tell us about your relationship and how their expertise was crucial to the finished product.
Selim Lemouchi: The engineer that works at Void studios is a very good friend of mine. I’ve worked with him on several projects from the early to mid-nineties. We’ve come to know each other as great friends and creative entities as well. So the working relationship itself is extremely comfortable. Every idea is met with the same kind of criticism. Every idea is also truly weighed on its own merits and there is never any ego around when it comes to which idea is the better one. We always listen to the results and try to figure out the best way to meet our common goals, which makes being in the studio for two months very bearable.
Beyond the Dark Horizon: Atmosphere is key. Discuss the importance of atmosphere/studio environment used when creating The Thousandfold Epicentre.
Selim Lemouchi: Atmosphere is always important. Certain things require certain atmospheres and if you are working as seriously and as hard as we are then the atmosphere needs to mirror that in a way. It needs to be a clear aura of the things you wish to project. In our case we always work with a skeleton crew which means that everyone actively working is not allowed in the studio. Not even the record label people, management or whoever might be interested…friends and family, everyone is kept outside.
Beyond the Dark Horizon: Take us back to the beginning… Tell us a bit about how the idea of The Devil’s Blood project formed in your mind and how your sister got involved as vocalist.
Selim Lemouchi: There was never really a concept or idea, it was a stream of coincidences and happenings basically. For a long time I felt disenchanted with music and art in general because I didn’t feel a possibility to use it to speak to my personality and the things that I was going through and the things that I found to be true and untrue and the moment I decided to drop all the pointless bands and careers, I took up the guitar with a completely new intention. I did not know what was going to happen. I figured I’m a guitar player and that’s where my talent lies so why not try that. And the first few Devil’s Blood songs rolled out fairly easy and trying to sing one of them myself, which was not really a big success, I came to the problematic issue of who am I going to allow to speak with my words and why. The only one I could think of was my sister. I called her and she came over and that’s that basically.
Beyond the Dark Horizon: Spiritually and musically speaking, how has The Devil’s Blood blossomed/progressed from the bands conception?
Selim Lemouchi: We have progressed in many ways. We have become much more professional in the way that we undertake these endeavors. We’ve become much more tight as a band and as a unit. As musicians we have all played lots of music and learned about music and we’re doing that learning together. What benefits the individual immediately benefits the whole. With the new drummer and guitar player, everything has been up a bit. We’ve upped the stakes of ourselves.
Beyond the Dark Horizon: The band has gained widespread acclaim and is sure to grasp North America by the throat with the recent collaboration with Metalblade Records. What’s next? What would you like to achieve and explore?
Selim Lemouchi: That’s a great question. I don’t think I ever thought much about that. We are hunters and scavengers, who just wonder through their little corner of the world and just take what ever we can. We are always hungry and with this insatiable desire to exclaim what ever was given to us. As long as we are able to do that on any level of success and with acclaim to a certain degree, I‘m not talking about the acclaim from press or record labels but from those very sparse individuals we know whose opinion matters to us. As longs as all those things are there then it could be here, South America, it could be China for all I care. We just want to do this as much as we can.
Beyond the Dark Horizon: Any last comments for fans and those who are about to discover The Devil’s Blood?
Selim Lemouchi: Open your mind.