Toby Knapp interview with Transcending the Mundane Mag
Hey Toby, thanks again for the interview.
1. Definitely excited that there's a new Waxen coming. How do you feel about it?
TK: After the last Waxen album, 2019's 'Blasphemer in Celestial Courts', I decided I was done working in the Black Metal genre. I didn't like what people were doing with it; movies, popular culture, BM side projects of "Rock Stars", post Black Metal....hipsters taking to Burzum. I never quit listening though. I just suddenly had all this music coming to me and it was dark. I call it non cathartic Black Metal because I don't think BM is a social celebration. It's EVIL. The new Waxen album is totally fucked.
2. How does it sound compared to the previous albums?
TK: It's very raw and hateful yet musically progressive. It's such a strange mixture happening. It's like you're listening to a Burzum album and suddenly Ritchie Blackmore shows up to play a guest solo. It has the adrenaline of Slayer's "Reign in Blood". It works you over for 30 minutes and does not let up.
I think it's the best Waxen album since "Fumaroth".
3. How did Ahrin come to join you on this recording? What do you feel he adds to the Waxen sound?
TK: Ahrin is a good friend of mine and I've been a guest on some of his works. We have the same taste in music and there's a lot of camaraderie there. He sent me some drum tracks a few years ago of him just blasting away like Hellhammer. It took some time, but I was finally able to place some good riffs to his drum tracks. He doesn't play on the whole album, I mixed it up so he weaves in and out of the songs. He starts the record and he finishes it. It makes the album I think....everytime the listener might tire of the drum machine, he comes bashing in!
4. You've been working with Moribund Records for a few years now, what's it like working with someone like Odin who is also so passionate about metal?
TK: Yes, since 2010 and this Waxen album will be my 10th release on Moribund. I'm very proud and he gives me total musical freedom. If it weren't for Odin and Moribund's steadfast backing of my work, I would have put the guitar away years ago. We believe in what we are doing. We're old men fighting for Metal!
5. I also really enjoyed the new Onward album, I think the speed metal sound gives a new edge to the band, it must've been weird not having Michael Grant singing though.
TK: It was, but when I heard Robert Van War's vocals, I thought it would be cool to have Onward mk 2......a Speed Metal band but not quite Thrash Metal. A hint of melody and tons of guitar. With Onward's "Reawaken" the guitar was taking a back seat. I gave Michael total freedom on that album and I feel there are too many vocals. It's a feast for his fans I'm sure......but with the new Onward sound, I'm trying to shed the connection and comparisons with other bands people lump us in with. This has caused our fanbase to change and I'm fine with that. I don't like post 80's Power Metal or Progpower Metal. I like Heavy Metal.
6. I know you worked with Dean Sternberg on Where Evil Flows, I've been a fan of this vocals and playing since he sent me the Within Another demo over twenty years ago- are you still in touch? What's he up to these days?
TK: Dean's a massive talent and I'm happy with our collaborations. We don't speak anymore unfortunately. I hope he's happy and well. He's always got a project going on because he's so versatile and a multi instrumentalist with an excellent voice.
7. I admire your passion for all types of metal, besides your solo stuff, Onward, and Waxen- any other recordings planned for this year?
TK: I was working on a solo album and got really bored because I was writing stuff I could barely play and I just dreaded going into the recording room and tracking. I put the solo album away and started work on this forthcoming Waxen album. I'll get back to the solo album and we'll do another Onward album this year. I work non stop. I think I'll just remain in the Onward, solo and Waxen cycle.
8. People are obviously aware of your lead guitar capabilities- I've always thought you were underrated as a rhythm guitarist- do you find it easier to come up with cool riffs or the shredding, but memorable solos?
TK: Creating good riffs and good solos can be difficult. Sometimes my riffs are locked in but my soloing sucks and vice versa. I still have a ways to go. I'm nothing near the guitarist I want to be. There are small traces of the sound I'm looking for on the Onward album and new Waxen. I still have to practice constantly, it's so easy to get lazy and lose skill. I'm really trying to avoid that.
9. Lyrically, Waxen comes from a dark, brutal place- why does it seem society is going backwards and not learning the lessons from past mistakes?
TK: I think people are seeing how controlled we are, how our freedoms are being stripped, up is down, right is wrong. This is a bad time. The whole world has turned upside down. I don't have a place in it, I just have to navigate through it until my end. I've been telling people nuclear war is on the horizon and all my predictions on the "how" have
fallen into place. NATO is going to get us all killed. Hopefully I'm wrong. I dwell on it a lot.
10. Who are some other musicians you would love to play with on future endeavors?
TK: Well, I almost joined Mayhem in 2009 and still have contact with them a bit. It would be great if that finally came to pass. I doubt it though. I actually got to work with one of my biggest influences, Mathias Kamijo. I played 3 or 4 guitar solos on his 'Dead Earth' project. Those Algaion albums he did had a big impact on me decades ago that still resonates.
11. Any final comments? Please add anything we missed. thank you again! BVP
TK: Thanks so much for the support and interview. Look out for Waxen's "Die Macht Von Hassen" on Moribund Records in late Spring/early summer 2023!
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