J. Bennett of Decibel magazine recently conducted an interview with former HELLHAMMER/CELTIC FROST and current TRIPTYKON singer and guitarist Tom Gabriel Warrior. An excerpt from the chat follows below.
Decibel: In some of the early TRIPTYKON-related postings, one gets the sense that you harbor a certain amount of resentment towards [former CELTIC FROST bassist] Martin [Ain]. Is that the case?
Tom Gabriel Warrior: Well, I harbor a huge amount of animosity towards CELTIC FROST's final drummer [Franco Sesa]. What I feel for Martin is a huge sense of disappointment that he would forsake something so sacred to us like CELTIC FROST — something that basically represents the work of our lives and the sum of our friendship, a friendship that has existed since Martin was about 15. I'm four years older, and that friendship endured for 25 years, so that he would let that go down the drain disappoints me. But there's no animosity towards Martin on my side — just a tremendous sense of disappointment.
Decibel: So, what happened, exactly? He just didn't want to continue with the band?
Tom Gabriel Warrior: Everything connected to CELTIC FROST is very complex, and it's difficult to explain in the few lines you get in an interview. So, nothing I can say right now will do the actual situation justice, but there were several personal problems. Most of all, I could no longer tolerate the utterly egotistical megalomaniac behavior by the final drummer. All of this would have been no problem if Martin and I had stuck together. Martin himself, at the very end, said, "If you and I would have spoken with one voice, he could have never done all this." And I couldn't have said it any better. But the thing was that Martin was utterly burned out by touring, by creating albums for years, by personal misbehavior, so when I really needed him, he was nowhere to be seen. By his silence, he agreed to the demise of CELTIC FROST. That's possibly the easiest way I can explain it, but this is a process that took place over a period of years.
Decibel: On your blog, you mention that you and Martin signed an agreement in 2005 that neither of you would continue CELTIC FROST without the other. You also say that much of the music on the TRIPTYKON album was originally intended for the follow-up to "Monotheist". That being the case, to what extent is TRIPTYKON just CELTIC FROST without Martin?
Tom Gabriel Warrior: That's exactly what it is — absolutely. You have to understand, there's two levels in a band. There's the musical and artistic level, and then there's the personal level. And as far as the musical level was concerned, I was one hundred percent happy and fulfilled in CELTIC FROST. I was very happy that we reformed the band; I was extremely happy that we focused so much on making "Monotheist" an extraordinary album — that we didn't just shoot out the album for a check from the record company, but instead took five and a half years of endless songwriting and production to make sure the album really was CELTIC FROST the way we see it. We didn't let ourselves be affected by management or record-company deadlines or whatever you have in the industry. So, I don't see a single reason why I should interrupt that artistic flow. I wanted to make many more albums with CELTIC FROST, and that's essentially what I'm doing. Some of the material for the TRIPTYKON album was written when CELTIC FROST still existed. Some of the other material was written afterwards, but it's me, and I know how I write, and I wouldn't have written any differently if I had been in CELTIC FROST. To me, this is the new CELTIC FROST album with a different rhythm section, basically.
Decibel: And none of the material was co-written with Martin?
Tom Gabriel Warrior: No. Martin to me was very important as a songwriting partner in CELTIC FROST, but as everybody knows who reads the credits, he wrote about 50 percent of the lyrics, but very little actual music. What was important to me was the chemistry and the chance to discuss every little detail in CELTIC FROST. In this way, he shaped a lot of the things in CELTIC FROST, but he was not a direct songwriter. His biggest contributions as a musical songwriter were on "Monotheist", some 24 years into CELTIC FROST's career. I've been the main songwriter, and in TRIPTYKON I suppose I will continue to be that.
Decibel: Just one more Martin question, and then I promise we'll move on…
Tom Gabriel Warrior: [Laughs] Look, I'm a fan, too. Ever since I was a child, I've been a heavy metal fan and there have been bands that were very important to me and things happened behind the scenes that left me puzzled, so I myself — as a reader of magazines — always wanted to know what happened. If a band is important to you, you're curious about these things, so I totally understand.
Decibel: How do you feel Martin's absence in TRIPTYKON, then?
Tom Gabriel Warrior: Well, I'm speaking totally honest with you here. This is one of the first interviews I've given for the new album, so I'm still in the mood to be honest. I'm probably gonna lose that willingness soon [laughs], but I can tell you that when CELTIC FROST fell apart, I was very intimidated about starting a new band. I hadn't been writing music without Martin for many, many years, and I myself was very curious how his absence would affect my songwriting. Being intimidated changed while I was working on the TRIPTYKON album, and nobody was more puzzled by that than me. But I felt liberated because in CELTIC FROST, every song I would bring into rehearsal would be dissected and rearranged and discussed over and over again and at the very end, they would arrive at what I had brought in originally. Maybe that's a constructive process in a democratic band, but for me it was extremely tiring and it really hindered my songwriting contributions. It became a drag to bring in new material, and that's why "Monotheist" took five and a half years to complete. Writing for TRIPTYKON, I felt mentally liberated because the songs ended up being exactly the same as how I wrote them.
Decibel's entire interview with Tom Gabriel Warrior an be found in the magazine's May 2010 issue, which will be available in stores at the end of this week. In the meantime, you can order a copy at link textthis location.