On the most recent episode of clown's conversation series in his Electric Theater, revered frontman and extreme metal pillar Nergal of Behemoth checks in for a lengthy discussion about the realities of being a touring musician during the era of Covid.
Keeping the focus of the exchange to the last year of being home, removed from the rigors of the road, both clown and Nergal found themselves in a position that allowed them to regroup and appreciate the best parts of being home for an extended period of time. With no deadlines and no obligations on their time, both creatives found themselves with the ability to reinvesting their art and to be able to do so In a way that was at their own pace.
Looking ahead to the future, both Nergal and clown come to conclusion that the world will look very different as people get back to some semblance of normal. The proliferation of the vaccine and a better understanding of the virus will mean a different way of doing things that make the era prior to Covid a bit of a relic. In much the same way the world changed significantly in the months following the 9/11 terror attacks in New York, Covid will forever change how the world does things moving forward.
As one of the genre's most articulate personalities, any conversation with Nergal is always a compelling listen. Stream the entire exchange with Nergal of Behemoth and clown of Slipknot on the latest installment of the Electric Theater below.
2:18 - Right away it's Nergal that fires off the first question, asking clown if Slipknot is recording. clown explained that his typical rotation requires a good six months to feel like he is completely off the road. The first three months his body rests, the remaining three months he gets his head right, then he spends the next six months enjoying being home all over again. During this extended time off, clown has just decided to get to work on his music and doing so without the typical pressure and timelines. It's nurtured his creative side and being able to work from home, he can work at a pace he feels comfortable with.
8:00 - Catching up with Nergal, clown also detailed how he pursued his green thumb during the lockdown. Inspired by his mother, who he cites as a master gardener, clown really immersed himself in the craft and found a connection with nature that centered him in a unique way. clown would go onto explain a story about a monarch caterpillar he saw and recalled seeing when he was a kid. It fascinated him so much that he began looking into whether the monarchs were coming back - he couldn't figure out why it had been so long since he had seen one. Long story short, a friend stopped him and explained that they never went away, clown was just able to see them again.
Using the story to explain his tunnel vision focus on his art and his art alone, this time away from the rat race has really afforded him the ability to connect with his environment in a formative way.
11:57 - Right as Covid hit, Nergal was set to begin another tour with his other project. He began looking at his calendar and realizing that he wasn't affording himself enough time off. Though he enjoys a proper holiday every so often, he wasn't finding the time to thoroughly decompress.
14:10 - As weeks turned into months, Nergal found himself realizing that he couldn't remember that last time he went so long without deadlines and time obligations. What was especially liberating was that he wasn't reliant on touring the business of Behemoth to sustain his life. Citing that a chair has four legs, he explained that his chair has seven legs and that kind of safety net has allowed him to enjoy his time off without being panicked.
15:17 - Nergal would confide that he very much enjoyed the ability to work on music without timelines during the lockdown. Comparing it to the working environment of the 90's, Nergal said the for the last 15 years have been a cycle of write, record, tour, repeat. To be able to reset has been a liberating experience.
17:35 - Finding a silver lining to the last year, Nergal shared that he was thankful for the way that the lockdown really forced him to slow the fuck down and appreciate his time, instead of just filling it.
19:11 - In discussing what life will be life post pandemic, Nergal shares that he doesn't believe that things will ever go back to standard of normal that people know prior to this era of Covid. That's not being pessimistic, that is just his honest assessment.
20:22 - While clown agrees that normal won't return, he doesn't think that is necessarily a bad thing. Citing the need for people to be healthier, more considerate and more conscientious, the idea of keeping masks around might not be a bad idea.
22:13 - Comfortable with change, clown stipulates that its only if that change takes away his ability to connect with the fans as a performer will that then be something he takes issue with. Practical changes like masks and temperature checks aren't an issue for him.
27:45 - While no one has a timeline on when things will be resuming with some sense of normalcy, both clown and Nergal do agree that the light at the end of the tunnel is at least now somewhat visible. Nergal shared that he got his first dose of the vaccine and believes that the sooner everyone gets on with it, the better off everyone will be.
30:43 - In discussing a new normal, clown shared that while he hasn't had a flu vaccine in 20 years, he does understand that in order to resume touring and visiting other counties and connecting with fans again, the vaccine is something that is going to be required.
34:59 - Nergal shares his belief that the Covid vaccine will be treated very much like a passport. Before you travel anywhere or check into any hotel, proof of your vaccine will be required. He also compared the current wave of objection to the vaccine from people to the same objections people once had to seatbelts. Eventually, the change just becomes part of a routine - normalized.
38:17 - Hinting at the seedy side of the Covid-era, clown shared his interest in seeing what kind of changes happened from those in power while the rest of the world was being required to stay indoors. "No one sleeps on a year of humans being locked away and not react on it."
40:35 - Though the first half the quarantine was a welcome respite from the rigors of the road, Nergal now finds himself growing impatient and missing the tours. "Without the interaction, what's the sense of my art?"
42:36 - clown took it a step further and explained that Nergal's impatience is at least in part, anticipation. Correlating the release of elephants back into the wild because there was no tourism, clown explained the last year as a necessary reset button.
47:25 - Aside from the changes that are to be expected post-pandemic, Nergal appreciates that the situation has afforded just about everyone a new perspective. That change of mindset from such a drastic shift in lifestyle allows everyone to approach their craft in a different way, thus making improvements. All this aside from the extra time this has afforded people to slow down, heal, and regroup. He correlated that to his craft and the kind of time he has been able to invest in his music.
50:45 - Given the slower pace of life and the reshifting of focus and priorities, clown ponders that maybe this was the world's way of giving it's inhabitants the ability to start anew and get re-centered. The toughest part of this time for clown however is that he constantly thinks about the people that have suffered even more during this time. He cites the homeless problem as an example.
55:38 - Closing out the conversation, Nergal said that he has thought about the worst case scenario and what life would be like without touring entirely. The conclusion that he did arrive at was that his final tour was with Slipknot, a era he defined as the peak of Behemoth's career. It's something he says he is eternally grateful for given the experience, the spectacle, and the opportunity.