Behemoth's Nergal opens up the new Me And That Man album and his gang of all-star collaborators
Adam 'Nergal' has spent the last 20 years building himself a fearsome reputation and fanbase in Behemoth, his savage and controversial black metal project.
But, in 2017, he showed off a very different side with a new project, Me And That Man.
Me And That Man saw Nergal team up with folk guitarist John Porter for an album of dark folk songs, Songs of Love and Death.
Sadly, somewhere during the promotion and touring for the album, Nergal and Porter parted ways, leaving the project solely in Nergal's hands.
Instead of replacing Porter for new album New Man, New Songs, Same S**t with one person, he has been replaced with a whole host of people.
Among the guests on the album are Slipknot's Corey Taylor, Trivium's Matt Heafy and Mastodon's Brent Hinds, with each track featuring a different guest.
We spoke to Nergal about why he decided on this approach for this second LP and how he'll pull this off in the live arena...
You’ve been very busy with Behemoth, when did you find the time to make this record?
"I’m busy by nature. I like it when there is traffic in my schedule, I find that I work better under pressure. I have no problem balancing Behemoth and Me And That Man. People see me as a workaholic, that’s because I love my job and I’m super passionate about what I do. However, I make sure to book a proper holiday two or three times a year to recharge."
When did you decide that you wanted to have an album that featured so many guests?
"I decided to feature a mix of guests during the early stages of making music. I’m a huge fan of collaborative projects like Probot by Dave Grohl, The Desert Sessions by Josh Homme, the band Unkle and the debut solo albums by Toni Iommi and Slash. I wanted to use the same formula."
"I realised that there were a whole bunch of artists with amazing talent that I could approach, including some dear friends, dear friends who are way better than me. I wanted to redefine the band, so by doing this, we made something very different from the debut album. The collaborations work really well and add colour to the record. They make it very diverse and versatile."
Were you able to record in the studio with most of them? Or were the songs created remotely?
"If I had decided to invite everyone to the studio, this project would have cost 10 times the budget and take years to finish! Thankfully, by digitalising our world we were able to communicate quickly through social media and get s**t done, without losing any quality, time or money."
"Pretty much everyone apart from me recorded their parts in their own home studios. Volbeat's Rob Caggiano set up a studio in the back of the tour bus to record his parts on the go. These days, a lot of bands work this way."
How did you decide on who to collaborate with? And did you get everybody you wanted?
"I listened to my gut feelings. I really felt that 'Run With The Devil' needed crazy, out-of-this-world vocals, which lead me to Jørgen. We connected on Facebook and he happened to be extremely co-operative, very responsive and really dedicated to the project. I got the guy I really hoped for. Every guy has a different story, a different mood and different sound. 'Coming Home' was originally written for Ville Valo, but it didn’t work out."
"So this was handed to one of my all-time favourite vocalists, Madrugada's Silvert Hoyem, who shaped it into the amazing product it is now. 'How Come?' felt right with Corey Taylor, he can do anything with his voice. I have a very narrow vocal range, all my life I’ve been a screamer – I can only sing certain stuff. So 'Mestwo' was tailored to my voice."
What kind of album is this lyrically? Is there a theme to it?
"The record is built from the essence of Rock and Roll. Some of these songs are written with a wink in a humorous way – whilst other songs were intended to be more serious. Some songs are poetic and simple - no bulls**t, no metaphors. Just me telling my stories, or the other guys telling theirs. Most of them are pretty dark; 'Burning Churches' can be perceived as a humorous song, whilst simultaneously being centred around serious themes like crimes against the church and paedophilia among the clergy."
Which song on the album came together most quickly?
"Originally, 'Coming Home' was a song I wrote around the same time as our debut album, Songs of Love and Death’ We waited for the right time to release it, so that was ready to go. Honestly, most of the stuff would be done within minutes! I didn’t spend longer than 20 minutes on a song – it all came together so quickly."
New Man, New Songs, Same S**t is a great title. When did you settle on it? Were any other titles in contention?
"The title is cool! I knew Songs of Love and Death could be perceived as a bit pretentious, so I wanted to loosen up and relax the next title. This record included some more humorous factors, so I approached this with a new ideology which can be interpreted in many different ways. And what does ‘Vol 1’ suggest? Obviously, it suggests continuation! There are exciting things to come…"
At the moment, you're booked to play quite a few festivals this summer, are you hoping you might be able to get a few of your guests along to sing with you live?
"That is the plan! With Me And That Man, we can’t be sure what’s going to happen. I’m curating a very open and flexible project. On this upcoming Polish Tour, we’ve invited Jørgen Munkeby to become a fixed member of the band. But we’ll switch it up across other shows which will ultimately change the sound and presence, so no two shows will be alike. We’d love to get the collaborators to perform at as many live shows as possible, so we’re already having those conversations."
You’ve got one UK show lined up, is that going to be all or can we expect more?
"The plan for the London show is amazing and we can’t wait to hit the stage, but obviously there are concerns around the Corona Virus which could change things. The situation changes hourly and we are keeping a close eye on developments. But know this - if the show doesn’t happen now, it will happen later!"