As usually goes on the festivals, everything was in less than organized chaos, which includes the interviews.
There was some complications and a game of broken phone with the organization but luckily Tom Warrior and Mia Wallace were pros and very down to earth individuals with me who were a nervous wreck.
With the two hour delay the photographer who was supposed to film the interview had already left to do his main job, but luckily our little conversation was captured on audio.
This is one of those days when you meet your idols and they are annoyingly humble.
Thomas Gabriel Fisher, ladies and gentlemen.
Hi, this is Tomislav from Antichrist metalzine, we here at Wacken and with great honor and great privilege we have here with us the legend: Thomas Gabriel Fisher. Tom, thank you so much for your time.
Tom Warrior: It’s a pleasure to be here with you, and the legend is sitting right next to me. (Pointing at Mia Wallace)
Please introduce yourself.
Mia Wallace: I am Mia Wallace, bass player in Triumph of Death, bass player and co-writer with Tom G. Warrior in Nyerth and the bass player for Abbath.
So we will talk about some Triptykon stuff, some old material and some new material. The first thing is Triumph of Death; why now and what is the reason of revisiting Hellhammer days?
Tom Warrior: The timing is basically a coincidence, I had the idea for many years starting when I reformed Celtic Frost. Martin and I talk about a lot about the old times of course. Every time we met we had endless discussions about the old times. We started to re-analyze the old work without the personal baggage, just musically. And when I did the Only Death is Real book which deals with that time brought me even closer to this. By the time we did the second Triptykon album in 2013 I started asking my friends if they were interested in participating in doing something like that.
A few years later I meet Mia, she was looking for a new band and I helped her to establish a new project which eventually became Nyreth. As we stayed in contact and we worked very closely with the music I told her about this idea and I can see that she was very excited about it.
She was the final kick, she really encouraged me, she help a lot behind the scenes to make this a reality and of course I asked her if she wants to be a part of it then. The idea existed for many years but the catalyst was meeting Mia and working Nyreth. We share similar roots.
This is your fifth gig as Triumph of Death at Wacken; what’s was the crowd’s reaction and what’s your reaction playing these songs again?
Tom Warrior: My feeling is absolutely positive. I know it’s strange in a context of Hellhammer and extreme metal but to me it’s a lot of fun being on stage. The people in the band are all my friends.
Like in Triptykon.
Tom Warrior: Yeah, they are my friends and that’s why is a lot of fun to play with these people. As with the audience I really did not know what to expect but so far (touch wood) we were very lucky, we had extraordinary audiences, even in festivals were is not specifically our audiences. Within the band is sensational, I’m really enjoying playing with these musicians.
Lets now talk about something new: your new project Nyreth. On your blog you said that is a companion piece to Triptykon. How does the idea of you two working together how will this be different from Triptykon or more like an extension of it?
Tom Warrior: I will let Mia to explain the origins of Nyreth but the music I personally would describe as something very dark, but not traditional metal, with a lot of sensuality.
That sounds like your music.
Tom Warrior: It’s actually not too far from Triptykon but it does a very different feel.
Mia Wallace: Basically Tom gave this idea because I was left with not band, I played music for 21 years and unfortunately my bandmate died of cancer so I did not wanted to go on with his band.
Tom convinced me to form a new band but unfortunately nobody wanted to give me a chance to form a new band, because nobody liked the idea of giving a woman control of a band.
So Tom gave me this chance saying why don’t we build a band with all basses and I was like “oooh shit, yes”. In this project, I’m putting all the music which was refused by my previous band that was very restricted, a traditional black metal band. These ideas are very much outside this kind of music and Tom said to me “this music actually rules!”.
Tom Warrior: The more we brainstormed the more we build this project. I was honestly wowed when I got her demo that I started to write music too. The music was so good that inspired me to write and to be a part of it too and started to write together. We discovered that we had chemistry when we write music; it was honestly like writing like Martin Ain. It was the first time since then that I felt an artistic connection with someone.
Mia Wallace: Absolutely, we also discovered that we have not the same but very similar style in composing music because I have to be honest: I always worshiped Toms music because without him genre like black metal would not existed.
Tom Warrior: She worships my music, but not me.
Mia Wallace: Stop it!
Tom Warrior: Mia was attracted with this story of Nyreth and working with Mia sometimes I think she is the impersonation of Nyreth. I don’t mean in a negative way, I can be a demon too, you have to be if we play this kind of music. A part of you has to be interested in the occult and we both have that component and personality.
On the new Triptykon material, there almost five years since Melana Chasmata…
Tom Warrior: … it’s embarrassing I know…
… and I was like where is the new album coming out?
Tom Warrior: We did a lot of Nyreth recordings last year and we prepared this so Triptykon was unfortunately a bit in the background. We were commissioned to do the Requiem at Roadburn which a one year of work which was huge burden on my shoulders. But I’m working on new Triptykon material; right before we came here I was working on new Triptykon songs.
I also just came from Germany where we mixed the Requiem and right now is scheduled to be released as standalone album in November and that’s going to be the next Triptykon album.
The proper Triptykon studio will be out in 2020.
I watched the H.R. Giger documentary and I was so happy that you are in it.
Tom Warrior: So was I. It was a huge honor.
I really see the connection between you two: when you see his yard, his house, he really created his own world like you did with Hellhammer, Celtic Frost. Not saying fantasy world but a reflection of you. How’s was the feeling when he said you can use I, Satan painting for To Mega Therion? I think it really pushed the boundaries of what a good cover must be for a metal album.
Tom Warrior: You must also understand at that time that we were nobodies, we contacted Giger before our record deal, we were unknown, we had demos. In Switzerland nobody believed in us, people laughed at us, it made us outcasts.
We had nothing to lose, so we wrote to Giger who lived like 5 minutes from us and we expected to hear anything from him. Out of the all people in Switzerland he was the only to actually listened to us, give us a chance and talk to us.
Not only had that he given us the cover for free, he listened to the music and can see the connection. I was a child, a teenager. I mean, I was shocked and honored; I think I thanked him a ten million times. He became our mentor.
I did not know that this friendship over the years will become something even more profound. But you know, I’m honored and happy to be in the documentary but in Giger world I’m a nobody.
Giger is really a genius, on a level of Hieronymus Bosch or Dali. I have to work very hard on the music and he has this god given or satan given talent and its about time that someone made a documentary about him. Like us, he was pushed to the underground.
You also work as a co-director of his museum…
Tom Warrior: … which is more of an honor, many years ago he made his wife director of his museum. When he died she felt very alone in this duty of carrying the museum.
She knew that Giger and I were very close and asked me if I want to be the co-director. First I thought that she was joking. I told her that I don’t deserve this honor, I have huge respect for this, but she was serious and she made me the co-director.
I’m still learning to come to terms with that. It’s an amazing opportunity, I’m very proud of that and I do hope I can make something positive out of it.
I think its very suiting because you understand his works, same as he understands your music back in the day.
Tom Warrior: I think that Carmen (Gigers widow) understands where my strengths are. I have connections; I used to talk with the press, I’m used to do interviews… all these things: publicity, making a concept. She has other strengths that I don’t have.
Mia Wallace: He’s the most loyal person.
Tom Warrior: For better or for worse, yeah. I always thought I owned something to Giger, even after his death. He was my mentor, and he was by my side again when I formed Triptykon. I always thought that I need to give him something back. I offered him five times to pay for the cover the first Triptykon album and he always said no.
He said let’s do another cover together and he never excepted any money. I always felt that I need to give him something back.
Mia Wallace: He is very protective of his art.
Last question, with Wacken not turning 30 years, what do you think is the main factor of its longevity?
Tom Warrior: I think because metal, at least a large part of it, is honest music. You see today’s music which is big right now: pop, hip-hop, r˙n˙b… this is usually a very honest music written by suffering people but by now it has become an industry. Everything about it, every detail is manufactured. Everything in this kind of music is designed for a target group, It’s very dishonest.
Metal of course is also an industry but much more honest and is much more on human level and gives this feeling of being together. I think that has a lot to do with it.
A lot of our music is still honest, played by actual people, not by computers. Unfortunately, there is a trend for that too, I don’t think that’s good. The more honesty it is, the more longevity you have.
That’s why your music stands the test of time. Thank you so much for the interview.
Photos by Marko Despot Miranovic