We chatted to British Black Metal band CODE at Damnation Festival. Andy and Mark told us about the band, what they have been up to, what you can expect from their new album, their future plans plus more.
This is Lisa Fox from Rock Sins and I’m here with Code.
M: My name’s Mark and I sing.
A: I’m Andy, I play guitar.
A: Thank you very much it’s nice of you to have us.
So how’s it going first of all, how’s things?
A: It’s nice I think everyone’s quite excited but tired today, it’s a combination. High energy followed by extreme collapse afterwards, I think.
So what can we expect from the show today?
M: Well we’ve got songs from each of our three albums that are out at the moment so a range from the stuff we did back from the early 2000s to now, and we’ll be doing our best to show everyone what we’ve been about since we started.
So you guys were just finishing up on your fourth album, what can you tell us about that?
A: It’s been extremely amazing to be in the studio. Genuinely very, very exciting indeed for us but it’s been a very strange run-up to the album. I was heavily medicated for quite few months having not been very well, so it’s got a very weird angle, this whole album, I don’t really know what to say about it.
M: Yes it’s going to be very, very, very different. It’s probably best to wait until people can hear it to see how different it’s going to be, but I think it will be quite challenging for a lot of people. Challenging for us too, as well, but we’re really, really, really pleased with it. I think it’s the best thing we’ve done to be honest.
So you do think that your old fans will embrace it or do you think it’s going to create some new ones?
M: Absolutely no idea. Absolutely no idea, I mean how much things have changed since the first one to where we are now is quite a big jump and lots of people have come along with us which is really nice. What we do has a bit of a left field twist to it but there’s a lot less rooted in the early 90s black metal, which the early stuff was so if people have got an open, it’s still us, so if they can grab hold of that then they come along with us.
Hopefully they’ll embrace it.
M: Yes. Yes.
So how do you think that black metal is received in the UK compared to Europe?
A: It’s got a lot better in the last four or five years I guess, for quite a long time black metal was a bit bland, unlike the late 90s, the early 90s was a good time. The late 90s not so good and now it’s picked up a lot and there’s an awful lot of different angles to the way people are dealing with it, which is really good. Lots of good bands from the UK at the moment but there’s always a really big demand for it in mainland Europe anyway.
Some of my friends live in Norway, and over there black metal is everywhere, almost the equivalent that we would have like pop music over here…
A: Yes it’s down to the proportion of people that are into it and it’s actually a recognised cultural export in Norway because of what happened and also the amount of attention that a small country got from the rest of the world for their musical export. With this country it’s not the same, you know proportion wise. It’s a very, very small number of people who actually do this music.
M: You’re going to attract different people aren’t you? So if you have a culture that’s celebrating something like black metal, which over here is still meant to be subversive isn’t it? It’s meant to be a subversion of something. If it’s your mainstream then you’re pulling in different people with different ideas much more populist ideas, and you’re maybe not getting the same angry, pissy, hit-you-in-the-face people that you might have done, so maybe it’s not a good thing that it’s so popular.
I think black metal is such an intelligent genre, and a lot of the public can’t that. Would you say that’s something you’d agree with.
M: It can be but on the other hand there’s the really primal numbskull stuff is actually amazing too. I love hearing the most brutal blasphemy bands doing their thing as well, there’s nothing intellectual about that but it’s amazing so you can read a lot into it, black metal is a very diverse genre in that respect.
So what have you guys been up to this year other than recording the album?
M: Well a lot of the time since the beginning of the year was writing it, so there’s all that period we’ve been busy, and we’ve also done a few gigs this year. I can’t remember how many we’ve done…
A: Just a couple I think, we had to wait for me for an awful long time because I was zonked out my head, so the band had to deal with that. We had a few gigs we couldn’t do but luckily that’s come to an end, so now we can do this show. It was in doubt whether we could for a bit but yes it’s all looking rather up at the moment.
Well that’s good. Do you want to talk about what’s been wrong or do you want to stay away from it?
A: Oh no it’s just general structural problem, I was over-medicated and I was on another planet for quite a few months.
Mind you quite a lot of bands survive like that for non medical reasons
A: You were talking about black metal being, perhaps, an avenue for clever people to go in to. Lots and lots of black metal, lots of people have moved in to prog and the last Code album had lots and lots of prog edges to it and I think that’s where we’ve headed along because you know this man finds challenges and goes and seeks them out in musically. So lots of those sort of minds head towards the progressive.
Prog’s definitely having a massive resurgence at the moment. I think I’m quite intrigued with where music is going to go next to be honest. There’s so many genres and sub genres.
M: It’s a weird one isn’t it, because you’ve got, Djent is meant to be progressive isn’t it, the idea is a progressive one. I should probably bite my tongue about now.
A: Naming a genre about an onomatopoeic musical thing is a weird thing anyway but yes. I think bands have been sprinkling prog in metal since it began in the early 80s really. It never goes away, people always want to challenge themselves a bit and do things a bit out of the norm and it’s a bit of an easy catch all in a certain way. Prog music these days is quite retro in its outlook, trying to recreate what was progressive in the late 60s and early 70s, and by its nature that’s not progressive anymore so it’s kind of a weird thing anyway.
That’s true actually, because it’s a complete contradiction now isn’t it, calling it prog.
M: It can be, it can be, yes, definitely. Definitely.
So how do you find being on the road? As you just said not the most of adventurous of bands, how do cope of the road?
M: It’s brilliant actually because in the past we’ve been on the road with different bands and different levels of recklessness. If you’re radically different to the people you’re hanging out with or travelling with it can get really quite, quite uncomfortable for one or the other. To find a group of people who you know have a laugh with, and you’re not going to have trouble getting them in to the bus.
A: No everyone’s quite disciplined because we want to do the next show. That’s the thing isn’t it? We’re actually interested in the performance being an artistic thing as well as the music being written as an artistic thing, so no-one’s a mess.
That probably works better for you.
A: Got some horrible stories from the past but it’s not at the moment.
M: And we’re not 20 years old as well so that sort of impulse has sort of gone quite a lot, you know what I mean. You want different things the older you get.
Well you say that, look at Ozzy Osbourne.
M: Yes well it just depends on the person.
I’m really excited about this new album now because I think hearing something different from you is going be intriguing.
M: It definitely is different, that’s the one thing you can be sure of.
And when’s the release date?
M: February, that’s the plan, if we get everything ready in time, which we should do, hopefully February. Some songs will be out to listen to in December and January sort of time.
A: It’s been a very fast process indeed. It’s been organic and moved fast.
M: Yes and for the first time we’ve not paid any attention to what our preconceived boundaries of what our music is or what metal is for example.
A: Absolutely there is no boundary.
You’ve just been creative.
Do you have a title for it yet?
M: We do.
A: We’re going to hold on to that for a little bit because obviously between now and February there’s a few months and…
And you might change the name?
A: Absolutely it could change. It could change.
You don’t want to say it’s called one thing and then go oh no actually it’s…
A: In the meantime, do you want to make up a title.
You could call it anything, you know.
A: Yes. I don’t know. ‘Extraordinary Luminescent Prolapse’.
I’ve completely lost my trail of thought now.
M: Prolapse will do that to you.
Yes, the word prolapse has definitely made me just go blah and have an absolute brain fart. Oh, I wasn’t I was going to ask if you have plans for touring and festivals next year?
M: We’ve got a few shows this month, we’re playing in Romania in a couple of weeks and then at the end of the month we’ve got three shows in Holland then after that nothing, which is good, because we’ve been working quite hard for quite a long number of months now, then we’ll see what happens next year.
Yes then it will all ramp up to the album won’t it?
M: Yes whatever that brings, yes, so we’ll see what happens.
So the site that I am interviewing you guys for is called Rock Sins, what would you say is your biggest rock sin? I’ve had all sorts of responses to this question.
M: I like Striker.
A: I genuinely don’t know, I mean. What as in booze or…
It could be anything. It’s up to you.
M: We’re quite a straight-laced group of people actually so we haven’t got any ridiculous stories or anything like that really.
A: There’s a borderline, puritanical edge going on, so it’s not terribly exciting. I can’t think of any terrible stories.
M: I’m going to stick with Striker.
A: Let’s stick with that move on.
Fantastic, thank you very much.
Interviewed by: Lisa Fox
You can follow Code (also sometimes seen written as < c o d e > or < code >) on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/codeblackmetal.