A few months ago, while working on an assignment, I interviewed Stefán from Árstíðir Lífsins. Skardus was mentioned during our chat while we discussed the root of all things and some people’s love of the cassette format. The bands are linked, close relatives even, as the members shared the stage under the moniker of Eldborg and released a cassette demo in 2009 named “Ut i det fjerne”.
To cut a long story short Skardus are a German Black Metal band that was formed in 2008 and has released two cassette demos, “Demo I” & “Demo II”. It had been my intention for a while to interview Skardus and after my chat I sat down and scribbled down a few questions and sent them to Jan, Skardus’ drummer. So, enjoy our discussion, the scenery & the sounds. Afterwards you might like to Enter Skardus via the band’s Facebook page. How many Skardus’ are in that?
C: Perhaps, if you wouldn’t mind, you could start this short conversation by telling us the story of your second demo tape. Why does it only carry the humble title of “Demo II”, why is it only limited to one hundred copies and why did you choose to release a demo instead of going the route so many bands try to go after the first one and try to get an album contract?
S: Greetings! With our second demo we continued the rather simplistic path. Since we didn’t have any idea for a catchy title we decided to stick to “Demo II”. The quantity of 100 copies is a reasonable number for a band of our level. Our first demo was nearly sold out when we recorded Demo II so 100 copies is okay.
From my point of view it is very important for a band to become a real entity first. That’s why I don’t like it when bands release albums to quickly. There are many cases in which musicians should have spent more time rehearsing and becoming said entity. Furthermore, I am a huge fan of demo-recordings. They usually have a very unique and rough atmosphere.
C: Both your demos have been released on tape format, so the question here is what it is about the cassette format that appeals so much to the members of Skardus that both demos of the band have been pressed on tape? In an unrelated interview Stefan, who plays now in Árstíðir Lífsins but played with some of the members of Skardus in Eldborg, said that you had a lot of affection for the cassette format so is there some kind of a connection that you consider the cassette to have to Black Metal?
S: Well, we released both our demos as a CD-R, too. However, this was merely a concession because many people don’t own a tape deck anymore. The reason for choosing tape as the major format was that tape is the best way to release a demo. It is kind of a tradition from the early days when demos were only released on cassette. Furthermore, it is a statement against all this bedroom Black Metal projects which are redundant in my eyes.
C: This should perhaps have been the first question but what does Skardus mean and why did you choose to have it represent what you are doing right now?
S: Skardus derives from the Lithuanian language. It means brusque or rough which is a good description of our music. Furthermore, it isn’t connected to Tolkien or old Scandinavian mythology. This doesn’t mean that we aren’t interested in these topics but today there are way too many bands like Fenrir, Odin, Orc etc.
C: As I guess you have been a fan of Black Metal for a long time I would like to know what era of the genre you hold dearest and if, you could be more specific, there’s a country you prefer more than other when it comes to Black Metal?
S: I can only speak for myself here. However, all members of Skardus prefer the Norwegian Black Metal from the nineties. This does not only include Darkthrone and Burzum but also acts like, for example, Ulver, Enslaved and In the Woods.
The geographical aspect isn’t that important. Every country has its own type of Black Metal, though. Black Metal should be “a source of ecstasy and inspiration” as C.L. from Acrimonious stated. That is all that matters!
C: To go on a bit with this subject what do you think of the German Black Metal scene as it is today? Do you keep up-to-date when it comes to local releases or does the modern scene not interest you?
S: I try to keep updated on current releases from Germany. Sadly, there are only very few good bands. When it comes to traditional Black Metal (which means occult lyrics, spikes etc.) the only good and active bands from Germany are Katharsis, Nargaroth (older records) and Thorybos. Everything else is pretty much pointless. However, there are good German bands like Lunar Aurora, Drautran or Wolfhetan which create great music. But I wouldn’t categorize them as Black Metal in the narrow sense.
C: We live in re-issued times so where do you stand when it comes to the re-issued classics? We’ve seen various labels, big as well as small, re-release classics from the Norwegian, Greek and Italian hordes so what is your take on all this; a much needed addition to make the foundations of the scene easily accessible to the youth of today or a way to earn a quick buck?
S: I think rereleases are necessary, especially when it comes to vinyl. Why should I pay a fortune on Ebay if I can get a proper rerelease of the record? Collectors will always get the first press, with or without reissues. Nobody is forced to buy reissues.
C: As we near the end of the road we put our focus back on Skardus again. We covered Urður’s part previously in the interview but what about Skuld and what does Verðandi hold in store for Skardus? Another demo? Another tape release? What is it that lies in the near future of the band?
S: We are currently trying to spread our demo to mailorders and labels. In the near future we will be playing some concerts but nothing is fixed yet. After that, well, we will see what will happen.
C: A classic question when it came to the old fanzines, that wanted to venture a bit outside the box, past the leather and spikes and the chains, was to ask if you the bands drew influences from other places than just music. So, as a last question I ask Skardus what it is besides the bands of yesteryear that the band draws influences from?
S: Pretty much from life itself: nature, personal struggles.