From METAL WORLD UNITED we are honored and happy to be able to interview the famous German musician Rene Wagner, better known as “Ash” and for being the leader and founder of the powerful Black Metal band NARGAROTH. First of all we want to thank you for accepting the interview, without any further details, let’s begin:
1. Tell us a little bit about how you lived that first wave of Norwegian Black Metal, what do you remember from those early years?
ASH: “Back then the Metal scene was much simpler and most of the extreme Metal was simply called Death Metal. I was introduced to it by some peers that were into Metal as well and was quickly intrigued by the raw sound and the self-administration. Most known bands back then were with labels and many US Death Metal Bands dominated the marked. The old Death Metal bands suddenly changed appearance and switched from leather and spikes to jogging pants and jams and that was something many metal heads in Germany didn’t like at all. So the new wave of underground metal was quite a welcomed change. I liked the seriousness we believed these bands had (now we know it was often more image than reality), but man…it was a great, mysterious and wild time. Especially in East-Germany where many laws were disbanded due to the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989. I don’t wanna be a teenager again, but these times were filled with lots of story material. And we lived in the real world and not in the virtual Web.”
2. From your point of view which were the first Black Metal bands from Germany, the question comes because many times there were bands that were only known in their country of origin but not outside of it.
ASH: “Hmm, I think what one was exposed to did depend on where you lived. In the analog world back then, connection wasn’t that easy. What comes to mind though was Baxaxaxa, Desaster (never liked them, but they were present) or Ungod. They were there quite early. And even if it is a complicated matter, Absurd was there very very early too with many connections to Norway, long before most German BM bands could say this about themselves. Mahemic Truth was another early band. Eminenz, Andras or Nema were names in East-Germany. Anyway, there have been probably many other bands as well.”
3. Rene “Ash”, is a very communicative person with the media and with his fans, something unusual in Black Metal artists, why this type of interaction or this way of being?
ASH: “Well, rather lately when I asked specific question on the NARGAROTH FB page. Fans spend a lot of money and dedication. Also, over the last 30 years I have learned that a little communication effort here and there helps to prevent false information become rumors that become truths that appear on Wikipedia. I am not too high up on a horse to communicate with fans and actually answer their questions, especially when I started with a question or a provocative statement in the first place. Also, I am always close to my fans, especially in Latin America. When I was need while I was homeless, it were Latin American people who offered a place to sleep, a room to stay, some food or transportation. I will never forget that.“
4. Based on the above, it is of your knowledge that you have many followers in Latin America where you have played in several countries, even in Venezuela, where I am from in particular, do you remember anything of that visit?
ASH: “Oh I do. They took all my US dollars upon entry at the border, hehehe. We had a great meal, saw great hospitality and then show was really cool. What was the club name? Something with Rouge or so. Great evening. I hope the political situation would change and I could return.”
5. In Colombia something unpleasant happened as was the death of a NARGAROTH fan, and you allowed her sister, or you all allowed her, to go on stage to say a few words, then I don’t know if the next day or later you accompanied her to her sister’s grave, what do you remember of those moments? Why did you do what you did?
ASH: “If it wasn’t for the Latin American fans, Bogota/Columbia in particular, NARGAROTH would not exist anymore. The story behind the death of Marcela (her name) is sad and closely connected to NARGAROTH. It was my obligation to be present, learn about it show my respect.“
6. In Chile you didn’t have a pleasant experience, as it was that the organizers did not comply with what was agreed, so you had to go to the social networks to ask for help to the Chilean fans, help that fortunately arrived, many versions of what happened have been read, what is your version of the facts? You keep in touch with the fans of the band who reached out to “help”?
ASH: “Another example of fans helping the band. The organizer “ran off” just leaving a note that he ‘cannot do it’. I think he underestimated the costs? I don’t know. He claimed he left us because we wanted more money, but that is not true. We had a great time, cool concerts – and then he was gone. I posted it on FB and an hour later many fans were there to help out. That is a close as it gets when it comes to being a family.”
7. We already talked about the stories that have happened to you in Latin America, tell us about the positive, negative, funny, sad experiences that have happened to you during your many performances throughout Europe.
ASH: “Funny,.. well it is funny when you are on stage doing what you do and then you see your parents in the crowd. It is great support but also feels a bit … weird. I cannot remember much negative from Europe other than people stealing or sabotaging your shows because of envy or jealousy.”
8. You are a hunting enthusiast, we see it in your different social networks, what is your favorite weapon for hunting and why?
ASH: “At the moment a 1988 Marlin in 30-30. It is a reliable lever action rifle that is perfect for hunting in brush landscapes for medium size game. With a hot load you can take down bigger game, but I would select maybe a 30-06 or 7mm magnum then.”
9. In case an intruder enters your house, what weapon would you use to defend yourself.
ASH: “I have a Smith & Wesson MP2 9mm on my bedside as well as a Smith & Wesson Revolver in .357 magnum. Additionally we have shotguns and AR-15s in the house.”
10. For you, what are your 3 favorite NARGAROTH albums, and why?
ASH: “Herbstleyd” – the longest creation time and the album that started it all. “Geliebte des Regens” – slow, monotonous and trance inducing, that is my BM style. “Jahreszeiten” – great concept, good lyrics and quite inspired.“
11. When can we expect a new album from the band?
ASH: “Hopefullt 2022. I have recorded an album in 2014 and it has to be mixed and released.”
12. Why NARGAROTH hasn’t been able to have a “stable” line-up so to speak, what is the reason for this?
ASH: “That is a general issue of a sole project. Many musicians need a band with many concerts. I cannot provide that. I have a job and go to work for a living. I cannot provide for a consistent income for professional musicians who make a living of playing live, you know? And, some musicians are just assholes and it’s not a good fit. Beliath is the best musician I ever had and he is with me now almost 10 years.”
13. What do you think about the Black Metal bands that cover their faces, it is said that it is a new trend in Black Metal, like corpsepaint was in a first moment, what is your point of view about this subject?
ASH: “They are very popular. I personally don’t like any hoodie band. But, that is just my opinion. Their popularity among the scene and all the copy-cat bands out there show that there is obviously a fan base for that. I prefer to show my face. No need to hide.”
14. Thank you very much for your time, maybe some words for your followers in Latin America?
ASH: “Thank you so much for all of your support and passion. If it wasn’t for you, NARGAROTH wouldn’t exist anymore. Siempre Fiel!”