Interview (June 2010)
Hello! How are you at the moment?
Tere! What could you expect from a man who had his beers on ice and liver on fire through all the weekend. The routine blue monday condition for me. Feeling too old to live, too young to die.
Sorts plays somewhat primitive black metal. Was this the obvious choice when Sorts was born? What is black metal to you as a music style as well as an ideology?
When Sorts was brought to life in late 90's, both Gates and I were huge Darkthrone fans, so the early demos of Sorts sounded pretty much like DT itself. I guess your question has inspired by our first EP "Made in Nightonia", which is indeed primitive. Today we have recorded new material for debut full-length album, which is different. Less blast beating, more epic harmonies etc.
As for the ideology, we both have had our times in more or less ideological bands for almost twenty years. So it's natural for us now to leave behind all "preaching" and just get lost in music itself. Which, of course, doesn't mean, that we have nothing to say.
What is the birth story of Sorts?
Gates previous bands The Grey Calamity and Thy Lord were pretty much put to eternal rest at the time.
I had my own black metal project Pirit, but it was inactive for several reasons. It was the time when a lot of new black metal bands were born in Estonia, everybody was creating his own band suddenly or playing in many bands simultanously.
So we were asked to join Manatark, which we both did. A little bit later I also joined Loits, but it was not enough. Gates gathered Sorts to fulfill his tremendous urge to play some real old school stuff. And guess what? I was in immediately. We had some rehearsals and recorded some demos, but the time was not right. All members back then were very active in scene, playing in various bands such as Manatark, Loits and Tharaphita. Obviously it took most of our time so the Sorts was put aside. Gates recorded one track, "Demons on the ride", all alone and it was the swansong of the project for more ten years. Now, a decade later, we're starting the madness again as the full time commitment.
I have understood that Sorts has something to do with their landsmen Loits and other various musical acts. Could you tell me a bit more?
I was involved in Loits from it's day one, almost ten years. Gates joined us right after our original guitarist's death about a year later. We both took part in song writing process. So when you hear our full-length album one day, you'll probably find a lot of similarities between Sorts and Loits musically.
What do you think of the current state of black metal? Both in general and in Estonia.
As my musical taste mainly other fields than black metal or metal at all, I'm not very competent person to give you any deeper analysis on black metal's current situation. Basically I'm a bit too old to look for excitement in looking for new bands etc, I'm pretty much stuck in the bands I enjoyed back in nineties, i.e. Darkthrone, Satyricon or Emperor.
As in general the pioneers seem to take long steps to move on (or even away) from what they did 10-15 years ago. Satyricon's two last albums are their best in my opinion, the same goes for Enslaved (I hate their last, though, too much art and fusion for me). At the same time Darkthrone seems to take it's steps back to the time before their birth. What I mean is that they were always like a last stronghold of so called true Norsk black metal and now they have added some more everyday rock'n'roll and even punk attitude to their appearance, which, as far as I know, is really appealing to many, but for me their last two albums present something I've always disgusted in metal, the beer & fun-mentality.
But it's not any big mystery when it comes to Nocturno and Fenriz, they've always had this healthy amount of sarcasm with them. And I can still enjoy their gigantic back catalogue. I like new Burzum very much. It's nothing special comparing to modern black metal bands, but it still is very good album, good old Burzum at it's best. Beherit's comeback album was surprisingly good. I'm not gonna give you any names from Estonia, because I'm not into the younger scene. Maybe you should try to google the bands Sõjaruun, Urt or Bestia, these are nothing much for my taste, but I know that they're respected in UG scene. All I know is that Manatark is working on their new material, the wind also whispered in my ears, that Loits is preparing for some new stuff later this year.
How has Sorts been accepted among the listeners?
As we only have one MCD out so far, I can tell about the responces to this piece. Regarding to the reviews in Estonian metal media it seems that those into black metal are satisfied, hopefully our upcoming album won't disappoint them, because it sounds a little different, being more structured, more mature. At least Drakkar liked it enough to offer us the record deal.
Any interesting stories behind the lyrical world of Sorts? Your previous release, Made In Nightonia, introduced an interesting term "Nightonia". Can you tell us what it's all about?
Well, first of all, the lyrics come very easy to me. It's like when someone tells me that we need three lyrics for tomorrow, I'll just need half an hour and there it is. I think the everyday life is overloaded with stories, you just need to pick the cream from the top (or the deepest shit) of it all Sometimes it's something a person said in TV, sometimes it's your own dream, whatever. Sorts lyrics deal basically with hate (the fuck off!-way), emotional vacuum etc., but I prefer to look at these topics through the eyes of the stranger, the sharp ironic eyes.
Estonia surely does have it's influence to our lyrics and the twisted concept behind them, but it's nothing to do with patriotic or romantic declarations. It's just that we were born here and can't change that, like you can't change your fingerprints. As Estonian I can't see things through the eyes of Italian person, as a man I'm not able to think like a woman etc. Some of our lyrics directly mention Estonia and Estonians, but in very twisted context. When I say "We are the evil bastards and we're gonna kill your children", it may not necessarlily mean, that I'm serious.
Once again, it's basically reflection of how some not-so-friendly peoples see us, it's not very nice vision, heavily influenced by politics and propaganda. I just try to adopt these views, playing with words, and combine them with the essence of an average Estonian. The result may sound absurd, hostile and far from truth, but that's how I see it. This is where the idea of Nightonia comes from.
"Night" in Estonian is "öö", Estonia is Eesti. So it's just another word play, Eesti=Öösti, Estonia=Nightonia. Many of my country mates might not agree with me, but when I look at the big picture, the Nightonians is exactly what we are. Always too sarcastic, cynic, joyous for others misfortune and non-intelligent rednecks to the core. And don't get me wrong, I'm not whining here. I'm myself one too, can't help that. To be honest, I can't see what's wrong with that, for me it's ok.
We drink alot and when we're not commiting suicides for a while, we love to think that we're the Singing Nation. I guess this depressive mentality is rooted in our melancholic climate (you, Finns, should know of what we're talking about!) and the violent historical experience under the Blood Red Star (which, on the other hand, has the great side effect on us, almost every Estonian is an "commiephobe").
What are your plans for the future?
As we re-started Sorts, we were planning to set up a live-band, but for several reasons the topic is now thrown off the schedule. The main concern at the moment is to get out our debut "Schwarze Estnische Schweinerei" and after that we encapsulate ourselves in the studio again. As for the longer perspectives, I am gonna die one day (old but healthy, I hope), don't know about Gates' plans, though, hah.
And last but not least; the word is free. Is there something you want to say to the people who might be reading this interview?
As you could see, my English is really poor. But come on, my mother language is Nightonian of which I'm gonna give you the world's most beautiful sentence: "Türa kõndis trepist üles, puts oli karvupidi süles" Thank you very much, welcome to Nightonia!
(Interview by Airut)