Interview: Ancient VVisdom’s Nathan Opposition
While I tend to be juvenile and ignore bands that seemingly come from out of nowhere and get everyone all moist in the pantaloons (i.e. Ghost, Rebecca Black, etc.), I couldn’t ignore Ancient VVisdom’s infectious hymns to Satan on their newest album, A Godlike Inferno. Ancient VVisdom is not a metal band, and A Godlike Inferno is not a metal album, but I find their music - as subjective as this term is - heavy.
There is no denying the novelty appeal in catchy, even pretty, hook-heavy odes to Ol’ Scratch, woven with distinct pop sensibilities. I’m not saying Ancient VVisdom are a novelty act; on the contrary, I find, beyond the subject matter and questionable choice of bedfellows, that AVV are a solid, and possibly even unique, rock band.
But AVV doesn’t need me to be a marketing rep for them; they already have Satan doing their PR, and he seems to have that role nailed down, as AVV are ascending like they traded their souls for rock 'n' roll. The following is a sporadic email exchange that occurred over three to four weeks in the swank comfort of my stationary hardwood "computer chair" with Nathan Opposition (vocalist, lyricist, composer, percussionist), who may have been emailing me from the crossroads, the seventh circle of Hell, or perhaps Cleveland.
- Bob Furtado
What are Ancient VVisdom's origins, and what is your mission as a band?
Ancient VVisdom's origin is divine knowledge unknown to most .VVe founded our band in Austin Texas, inspired by blues, rock 'n' roll, the ancient teachings of Manly P Hall, god-like rock stars like Morrison, and altered realities. Our mission is to inspire, enlighten, and travel the vvorld with our teachings, to inspire others to be inspired.
Things seem to be happening really fast for you guys. Fans, critics, and musicians dig you, you have major tours on the horizon. The album is all over top 10 lists of the year. How do you account for this, and how do you handle it as a relatively new band?
It’s all about the music, the vibe, the timing, everything happens for one reason or another. Everything will fall into place so vve are letting it go. VVe've all been playing music for a long time and it's great to still be able to. AVV is ready for anything and everything. I foresee new albums and touring! I am grateful there are so many people who dig. Plus it's all about the music and that is the biggest compliment to us.
How does the writing process go for AVV? Is it exclusively a Nathan Opposition project?
In AVV everyone puts their mark on the song writing. Everyone involved adds their unique swagger over it. For A Godlike Inferno, I wrote the lyrics, the concepts, the melodies, the root notes and structuring, for about 85% of the record, and then Michael and Ribs added their influence. Ribs wrote the music for “Devil Brain” and Michael wrote the intro to "The Opposition" and the music to "VVorld of Flesh". I want to utilize all our talented people in AVV and have records to come have everyone writing for it. Like a Kiss record.
People have been comparing you to Alice in Chains, Simon and Garfunkel, and the like. I personally don't hear it - in fact I can't recall another band that really sounds like you at all, which, honestly, is a feat in itself. Having said that, when you started writing for Ancient VVisdom, did you feel you were on to something unique? Did you have an idea of what you wanted to sound like?
Thanks. Yes, AiC is a comparison I believe because of our vocal harmonies and our acoustic layer, vve have had a lot of great comparisons. VVe had a firm idea of what vve wanted for A Godlike Inferno, but then were able to experiment in the studio with certain things, like keyboards and percussion layers, etc. Going into the writing process with AVV, vve all have a ton of different musical backgrounds and musical tastes. VVe wanted to add elements of a lot of different influences and, since it came naturally, everything blended into being what it has become. Some blues, some folk, rock 'n' roll, metal, a little something for everyone.
Non-secular music is typically, in my opinion, boring and unmemorable. Why do you think that the marriage between rock and Satan is such a successful one?
The rebel spirit is what binds Satan with rock. Satan is the ultimate rebel. Rock ‘n’ roll music has always been a place for rebels. To me it makes good, good sense, yes it does.
You sing the praises of Lucifer, the Opposition. Is this reference in a theistic sense or of a symbolic nature?
In the ancient sense, Lucifer is the light bearer and catalyst for all change. It's also Satanic in a sense of self-enlightenment. It's an idea that has always intrigued me and I enjoy making it my own. I tend to play on the duality of good and evil and leave the individual in question. If they are unsure of which side they stand and if there is a side to stand on, aside from their own. Either that or they are driven towards conviction as to what they believe. Either way is fine with me.
Many bands/artist adopt a diabolic or Satanic image, even going so far as to claim to be Satanists or practitioners of magick (thelemic, chaos, etc.) But then it is revealed it was merely as façade, or shtick. Do you have any thoughts on this?
Let me start by saying, I do believe in certain types of magic. I also think people who use these powers for personal gain have used these practices for the right purposes, but saying it was just a façade means they are only betraying themselves in the long term. Whether they wish to say it was a façade or a shtick, or if they are firm believers, wouldn't differ from the fact that their form of magic has succeeded in some way by means of creating change. In some way it has changed the course of what they would have been had they not used it as a ploy. So I guess in a sense they are only fooling themselves into not believing in something which has worked for them, and made them who they are. That is who they are, whether they want to accept it or not. It's no longer up for them to decide.
Do you find your live performances, which are clearly ritualistic, are successfully initiating people into that divine knowledge that you previously mentioned and to what ends?
I find our live performances, or live rituals, to be self-rewarding. They are purifying. They are cleansing of the mind's palate, if you will, for me. And if someone in the audience walks away with something, then it's even more rewarding, especially for them.
Will Ancient VVisdom become a bigger production in the future, additional members, more involved stage show, etc.? What would you like Ancient VVisdom to evolve into, if anything?
VVe've been talking about adding percussion players live, and more string layers like cello, violin, or upright bass, which is on the album A Godlike Inferno. VVe've also discussed getting a saw player on the next album.
Ancient VVisdom could easily fit with many different bands touring/show-wise. Are there any bands you would like to tour with? Also any artists you see yourself collaborating in the future?
AVV could tour with whomever. Even when vve do gigs with bands outside of our sound there are people who really enjoy what vve do with rock ‘n’ roll. Bands vve would like to tour with: Black Sabbath, Danzig, Alice in Chains, Rob Zombie, Alice Cooper, King Diamond, Marilyn Manson, Mastodon, the list goes on. There's too many to list them all, but you get the general idea. I'm collaborating with a doom folk project called Roses Never Fade. It's very light and moody. Sounds like “Black Bird” by the Beatles, with grim lyrics. It's nice. As for other collaborating, vve (AVV) are working on a new LP and there will definitely be some surprise guests on the album.
Can you tell me a little bit about the split you did with Charles Manson, obviously a controversial person to associate with in any context. What were the motivations behind that?
I found out it was possible that I could get some new Manson material for a split, and it was around the same time Ancient VVisdom had recorded a session. I had the idea to do a split and Star and Grey Wolf (Manson sycophants) were keen on the idea of doing a split record. It all fell into place from there. No real motive other than to put out our first release.
Do you feel this Manson split helped or hindered the band? Surely some people would avoid this release because of who he is and some would, for the same reason,, seek it out. Did you feel his material was something that needed to be heard or did you feel Ancient VVisdom's music needed to be heard by Charles Manson's fans?
When it comes down to it, I wanted to do a split as a first release. I found out that this was possible and put the gears in motion. I didn't really consider how it would be taken, but our songs are a lot darker than Charles Manson's songs on the split. He's singing about drinkin’ whiskey at the train tracks and very bluesy influenced stuff. Our material is comparable in that aspect - the two AVV songs on the split are very blues-influenced, vve were listening to a lot of Townes [Van Zandt] at the time, and Lightnin’ Hopkins, so it was like that but with AVV's lyrical content.
How was the album received and was it instrumental in AVV's ascension?
There are people who dig it, people who don't, but I enjoy the record and so do my friends.
Any closing words?
In closing, apply 'do as thou wilt' - only be realistic within your means. You'll get realistic results. Never betray your magic, because it’s already who you are, and always follow through with anything. If you're falling, dive. Hail everyone.
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Ancient VVisdom - "By Fire Light"
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Ancient VVisdom - "VVorld of Flesh"
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BUY A GODLIKE INFERNO
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