:: The Signvm Imperii staff talks, today, with TRIARII, a reference act for the martial industrial genre.
:: Hello, Christian and welcome to SI. We’re all preparing for the upcoming event in February 2015 in Bucharest. Would you like to tell us, in short, for our newer readers, who is behind TRIARII and when did you start?
TRIARII is a one-man project and was founded in 2004 by me. Of course I’ve worked with music for many years before. A friend of mine brought me in contact with the former label Eternal Soul Records and they had the courage and interest to release TRIARII. Unfortunately the label stopped its work in the beginning of 2014.
For several years, I’ve been live supported by the label chief himself and Axel Frank of Werkraum. Nowadays, I am live supported by Nicolas van Meirhaeghe of EMPUSAE.
:: Your last performance in Romania has been monumental and has remained with us for a long while. Is there anything that has stuck to memory since then?
Oh there are several memories still present. It has been a great club and atmosphere, great hosts and I’ve been surrounded by many friends of other bands. We do not see each other that often and so this gathering in Bucharest made it memorable.
Besides a few unwanted political ideological narrow minded people, the audience was enthusiastic, friendly and generous.
I’ve recognized a fascinating language. Bucharest itself was quite disturbing for me. Old buildings from the era of the Art Deco / Art Nouveau. Quite sad to see how shabby they partly were; crumbled and in bad condition. They must have been very beautiful in former times. On the other hand several new capitalistic malls and the socialistic signature of the Ceausescu regime. All side by side… Impressive, but still disturbing in a way.
:: On the same note, is there anything special that you’re hoping for with your next visit?
Of course I hope for a great show that pleases the fans and for a good time with the hosts and the audience. In opposite to last time, we are able to stay a little bit longer in Bucharest, so I hope to see some more of the city.
:: Before we delve deeper into the symbolism and ramifications of TRIARII: if you were to be able to silently observe any moment in history, any place, what would you think would be interesting to see?
Though TRIARII comes along like a bombastic overrun, my main focus actually lies more on the subtle things. I am not interested in visible descriptions and obvious actions and appearances, because I think that they are mostly false or at least partly incorrect. Indeed I’d like to observe all those situations where political decisions between empires, politicians and emperors have been made. Irrespective of the outcome that we know from historical literature. Everything we present as human beings is often covered; to protect ourselves, to appeal, to hide our innermost thoughts, feelings and longings. The obvious visible output is not always displaying what’s really going on inside.
:: TRIARII eulogies Europe both as symbol and geographic reality. Are there still perennial values that cement an European unity?
First of all the geographical reality of the continent itself. Besides people in history who often tried to shift borders; but that belongs more to the longing for extending a single country. I can accept the definition of the European continent of nowadays. I don’t believe in a all those manifold visions of pan-whatever-unions who are claiming certain territories.
I still believe in the Europa of cultural co-existence; where different people do have different opinions, different languages, different cultures and living in different countries with their borders that they were fighting for; to accomplish and becoming what they are today. The huge diversity fulfilled its function for years and decades. I appreciate that my neighbor countries are different. It contains the possibility of enrichment and still leads to me to myself; where I am from and where I belong to. As long as you have an open world view, your restriction of your cultural identity can make you open for the others around you. Sounds like a paradox, but I think it worked like that for a long time.
Trying to make Europa a kind of hardcore-economical-super-state, where everybody is equal in the sense of irrelevant, is no good. I appreciate the European union as construction that makes trading and traveling easier, but the doubtful story that one currency makes everything better for every citizen is not proven for me. So far it brought many positive effects for a few and a lot of negative effects for the majority of people.
:: Amongst the traditional values of the past era, it is sometimes harder to find new genuine values in the third millennium. Do you think we’ve managed to completely erase our capacity for valor, or is it in fact a hidden backbone of the 21st century that we’ve yet to fully grasp?
Humankind accomplished traditional values over several decades and centuries. In past times, those values differed a lot and they’ve changed over time. They’ve been edited and transformed to what we find suitable. And they will change again. Maybe backwards to an earlier point, maybe transformed to something we cannot think about right now.
Especially nowadays, I see, that traditional values becoming more and more important. People do rely on them because they experienced them as helpful and suitable. In times where social, economical and political structures are going to erode, people are falling back onto traditional values because they are giving shelter and keep us grounded; as long as they are not too hardened.
The challenge is, not to fall back into structures, which already have been experienced in an inoperative way. Foreign structures and anything new often causes fear. But to generally refuse them and falling back into old well-known structures often means to make a roll back and to repeat without accomplishing something helpful for the future – but doing all faults over and over again. The task is, to carry useful traditional values to the future, to look at new structures differentiated and then to select and to separate the useful from the irrelevant. Carrying the old traditional values without forgetting them but enriching them.
You can see what the fall back into old structures brought… Mostly irrational fear, war and the denial of structures or ideas that are much more easy to integrate than people think.
Nonetheless, traditional values are important. A root that formed cultural identity, has its influence on personal structure and can be helpful for accomplishments in the future.
But of course, humankind is quite restricted; so we will walk on with our traditions on our back; but only in very small steps. We will accomplish something, then denying, falling back; not onto zero, but to a certain point in the past, accomplishing something new, moving forward, denying, falling back… Moving slowly forward by repeating.
:: War is a constant theme on TRIARII albums used to “document the misery and cruelty of war and destruction”. Would a technological war be a good material for a TRIARII record?
War is a constant theme for every human being alive. The themes on the TRIARII albums appear provocative and sometimes striking, but in the end it all goes down to our innermost feelings and beings. The warfare that took and take place is just one of the biggest and most obvious forms of a disastrous expression.
Metaphorically, we are all going to war many, many times in our lives; and it doesn’t need to appear like the historical wars we know. It is very subjective. We are fighting opinions, we are fighting people, we are fighting against our inner drive, etc.
The human being is constructed to destruct things and then to start over again. Renewal, blossom, war, destruction… and renewal again.
So yes, war also contains relief and is the most destructive way to cause a change… if it is for good or for bad needs to be decided afterwards.
Everything that lives, needs to die… sooner or later…. why should this not count for ideologies, political systems or states? We are way too small and unimportant to think that we or our creations are eternal.
Besides that, a technological war is none of interest for me to work on. The music of TRIARII doesn’t suit that theme. It would be necessary to step into very artificial synthetic-techno-sounds; and those would not fit to the sound of TRIARII… But who knows.
:: Listening to a song like “On wings of steel”, it comes to mind the figure of Mishima and his mystical relation with hunting planes. Is it this machine-man symbiosis that gains new meanings in wars, a prefiguration of the new man or do you rather visualize a reinterpretation of the Greek-Roman hero in the future?
“On Wings of Steel” refers to the lust for destruction and depravity. Referring also to the wars of the 20th century where airplanes came up and a huge industrial step forward made it possible to bring such new forms and possibilities to destroy ourselves. For TRIARII, it is the proclamation to destroy the world from high above; to let something reveal that might be better than what stupid humankind is doing.
:: The culture of German expression has succeeded in drawing attention with its expressionist sharp and bombastic style. Once past the so-called Werther syndrome, the German becomes firm, resolute and positively affected. Can you illustrate in few words the German spirit?
I hardly doubt, that the so called “Werther-Effect” stands in causal relationship to a kind of “German spirit”. Although in historical incidents, the behavior of the Germans often was quite self-destructive and very aggressive, I would not describe them as suicidal. Maybe narcissistic when it comes to their belief and in a way convinced by what they do.
Maybe I am wrong, but I think the Germans are not more or less suicidal than people in other countries. I think the rate of suicides in a country depends more on personal issues and on facts like the lack of sunlight, political oppression or loneliness.
I can agree, that there are differences in the way of how to express and how to handle situations and issues, but I assume that this has more to do with social-cultural and social-emotional sources. I am just one person, so I definitely cannot generalize my behavior and spirit and make it one for all Germans.
Many people having the prejudice, that Germans are firm, resolute, quite unhumorous, always on time, exact, strict and accurate, parsimonious, very much down to earth, conservative and restraint. Prejudices are often quite helpful to categorize people; there is no other need for them. They are partly containing truth due to experience, but are also partly false and embellished to concretize in a simple way.
Some of the prejudices from above suit me, some do not.
:: If you were to choose between a concert playing Wagner versus one with Brahms what would you head for? Or you have other classic composers on your list?
I would go for Brahms. I understand, that my huge orchestrations are partly compared to Wagner, but actually I don’t like Wagner that much.
:: Can you recommend us some albums that you’ve cherished most in 2014, and some of your all-time favorites?
No, not really… the more I am involved into music, the less I am listening to music that is not made by me.
:: Nowadays you perform live with Nicholas van Meirhaeghe (Empusae). How did you come across him?
I met Nicolas a few times on various concert occasions.
After the split up with the other live supporters, he offered to step in.
Nearly everybody who comes across TRIARII first assumes something radical or politically doubtful, but he understood the intention and what’s behind it and can support what I do. To work with and to display any forms of “isms” doesn’t mean necessarily that you support them.
Meanwhile we are having a very good friendship and I’d call him one of my closest friends; though he is far away in Belgium and we do not see us that often.
:: Do you have plans for a new TRIARII release? On what project(s) are you working these days?
Yes I do have several ideas and plans for future releases.
2014 was definitely a very bad year music-wise. The same I hear all around me from my musical friends and partners. It felt like an invisible border, like a bubble where creativity was forbidden.
The “Muse” is like a lifetime partner. You cannot force her to appear when you want it. The attempt to do so mostly ends up badly.
After each release, I need time to rest, because it steals so much energy. It feels like being completely empty and exhausted. The title of “Exile” already contained the announcement to make a withdrawal. I’ve focused on my new life on the countryside close to the German Alps and on other personal things. I’ve started again, but the sudden and unexpected end of Eternal Soul Records made another change necessary. There are several ideas and concepts which are taking too much time and which are way too big to bring them onto one release. I needed some time to accept, that some things are impossible… at least at this point.
In the meantime I’ve increased my working possibilities.
I am quite a perfectionist when it comes to my own creations and even if everybody would be fine with the result, it is mostly not assured, that I am thinking the same. My inner drive pushes me to make it better, bigger and more complete. It’s getting worse from release to release. On one hand good for the results, but on the other hand quite a handicap sometimes; to try to fulfill something that maybe cannot be fulfilled this time… maybe will never be fulfilled.
At the moment I am working a lot for the new TriORE album. The theme concept and several songs are made… But still a few steps to go. TriORE has always been a kind of “side-kick” for Tomas Pettersson and me and should not interfere too much with our main projects. So the only matter that plays a role, for finishing the album, is time.
The EP “Farewell all my Cumrades” is already late but we hope to release it as soon as possible.
I am in contact with a label that I am considering to work with, but we will see if my high requirements on quality and the CI of TRIARII and TriORE can be fulfilled.
My high claims, restrictions and requirements have always been worth it.
:: Is any collaboration with other artists possible in the near future?
Yes it is… if nothing serious interferes, it will be born, raised, finished and released in 2015.
:: As with many bold ideas and imposing presences in the cultural world, there come some controversies along the way. Would you like to add a message to our readers about the core essence of TRIARII, what drives you forward?
As I’ve already mentioned many times before: “Art is never only left or right nor is it only black or white… Life is not that simple.”
If people accept, that everything that appears contains something under the surface, and are willing to let the bombastic overrun of TRIARII opening a gate to the innermost; to let it happen and then try to see and feel what’s happening inside – with all the inner refusal, compliance and any other feeling that might appear; far beyond any stupid ideological restriction; then you might be on half the way to understand.
I can understand, that living a life in ideological restriction is much easier,
because very much is predetermined. This kind of simplicity makes life much easier, but it means to neglect or to segregate a huge content of personhood and human being.
Humanity was not only made for this.
:: Thank you, Christian, and looking forward to seeing you in Bucharest in February.
answers by Christian Erdmann
photo | Christian Erdmann. TRIARII. Courtesy of the artist