"It's like Tarantino movies. People die, but you keep on laughing!" - hmv.com talks to Me And That Man
Those of you who know Adam Darski will probably know him better as Nergal, frontman of death metallers Behemoth, but his new project Me And That Man sees him go in a rather different direction.
Me And That Man sees him team up with folk guitarist John Porter for an album of dark folk songs named Songs Of Love And Death (you can preview and purchase it on the right-hand side of the page) and we spoke to him to find out why he fancied a change...
How did this project come about? Where did the two of you meet?
"We met about four or five years ago, I don't remember exactly now. We both contributed on a cover song, 'Highwayman' by Johnny Cash. John played his part on the track but we never physically met, he just nailed it in his home studio. The song turned out great. When John signed a deal with Mystic Records, which is also Behemoth's label home in Poland, I decided to give him a call."
What happened after you did that?
"We sat together in a local restaurant in Warsaw and shared views and opinions. I told him about my idea of the two of us doing a side project with music driven by guitars and two male vocals. He liked that! Shortly after, we met in his home studio for a jam and things started rolling! It was pretty organic and spontaneous, I'd say."
How did you arrive at this sound? It's very different from your day job in Behemoth...
"John's made this kind of music for most of his life. Me And That Man's sound is much closer to what he does solo than what I do in Behemoth. The thing was that I was always into that kind of artist. Artists that channel their inner darkness using completely different tools than we extreme metallers do."
Were there other artists you looked to for inspiration?
"I've loved Leonard Cohen, Johnny Cash, Tom Waits, Nick Cave for at least two decades now. I've been exploring the genre more and more, now to the point of sincere adoration! As a result, I felt an immense need to balance out my emotions and do something that'd be musically opposite to what I do in my day job."
What kind of album is this lyrically?
"It's dark. It's super emotional, but there's some humour there as well, especially when it comes to John's lyrics. The song may contain a fatal story in it, but it's like Tarantino movies, you know? People die, but you keep on laughing! My stuff is super personal, but then I use completely different techniques to express myself on this project. First of all, it's my regular voice and second, I write very simply. It's very straight up, there are not many metaphors and deliberately, I'd use cliches and forms that have been part of rock and roll forever, yet they still have their striking power. I love it. I've found new ground here."
When did you settle on the title of 'Songs Of Love And Death' and how did you come to choose it?
"The original title was Love Is A Dog From Hell, but that's a Bukowski book title. After talking to the record label, we decided we'd better change it in order to avoid eventual legal problems with whoever inherited Bukowski's rights. I've had the Songs Of Love And Death title in my head for quite some time, then as we were deciding what to do, Leonard Cohen died and I read it as an omen. Bingo! Here's a sign we should use his paraphrased classic as our album title. It looks good. It's a statement and it perfectly represents the content."
Were there any other titles in contention?
"No, not really..."
What was the song on the album that took the longest to get right?
"I'd say the process goes really quickly for me, from the initial idea, the spark.. the first chord or a verse until the song is done. I mean if it takes too long, there ain't no song, right? I remember it took me a while to find and complete the chorus for 'Cross My Heart...'. It wasn't easy, it took months to put all the ingredients together, but when it came to it, the main part was recorded live and real fast."
"For some of the songs I would go back and revisit them because I wasn't entirely happy with my vocal performance. So in some cases, months after the song was finished, I would go back and do some verses again because I wasn't very happy with the original take. But I don't this much because this music is meant to be simple, and it all comes from intuition, not analysis."
And which came together most quickly?
"Well, 'My Church Is Black' was done real fast. 'Sirens' was recorded by John in his studio and I bet it was his first and only take."