The Return of the King, Jouni Havukainen, in Athens for ETOR’s Dark Ambient Fest is a unique chance for the audience to participate for one more time in the magic of In Slaughter Natives on stage. ISN is maybe the most known band in the industrial scene nowdays. For more than 30 years Jouni Havukainen experiments with his own special sounds of martial industrial, dark ambient and heavy electronics and he always surprises his faithful fans with the different and new elements in his music.
Starting with a cliché question! What’s hiding behind the name of the project, In Slaughter Natives?
Jouni Havoukainen (JH): From the beginning, there lay no deeper meaning behind it; I just liked the words combined. But in time I realized it actually had some layer of meaning.
You originate from Linköping, like Karmanik does and Tomas Pettersson from Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio too I think; even Cold Meat Industry was based there. I can recall that between the late 70s and mid 80s Linköping had an impressive punk scene for such a small town. There were IQ 55, Raped Teenagers, Etiquette Mona , Ewing Oi, Zeb And The Fast Ones, Järntvätt, Kakelhundarna, Huvudtvätt, Att Mörda En Överornad- just to name a few. There were even songs like the IQ 55’s “hit” back in 1979, Livet är en bluff – Life is a scam, that could belong to some of the Cold Meat Industry artists that later appeared. So is there something special about this small town, Linköping, musically or otherwise?
JH: Linköping was a small town at that time with a population of around 100,000 and with very few amusement options. You could count birds, consume glue, steal cars or get involved with music. Of course you could make a combo of the above and all your needs and demands would be fulfilled. I don’t know if music had a stronger grip in Linköping compared to other Swedish cities, but it sure was a massive movement there. Every other person had a band or was a member in one and everyone knew each other. It never made any difference what kind of music they made or what direction they were going towards; music was music and many wished to open up and find new ways to create. There can’t have been many who grew up back then and didn’t come in contact with the punk scene in Linköping. We shouldn’t forget to mention Spy, WBT and Lowriders. Indeed, Cold Meat Industry was based in Linköping at first and many of the early bands came from Linköping or nearby. Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio, In Slaughter Natives and also Deutsch Nepal, Raison d’etre, Archon Satani, No Festival Of Light, Inanna, Puissance and, of course, Brighter Death Now.
It was almost ten years since the release of your 2004 album ‘Resurrection – The Return of a King’ when in 2014 you stroke back like a thunder with the equally majestic ‘Cannula Coma Legio’ album. Hope the next one will not take so long! Are there any plans for a release in the near future?
JH: Well, the ‘Cannula Coma Legio’ was actually a side release. It contained songs and re-works intended as sound media for 10-minute, extreme body art performances made by a good friend. In time they became several, leading to more and more material just lying around. There are plans for several releases but none is finalized. One of them is ready but we have no release date yet and there are two which are more or less ready. I can’t give any details yet but there will be info in time. About the main release, who knows, maybe it will happen around 2024.
It seems that every ISN release is somehow like the return of the King. How does it feel to be almost like a legend inside this scene?
JH: Legend or not, what is most important is to be able to say to yourself or feel that you are progressing without walking the same line the over and over again. I don’t make— and it’s never been my intention to make— music in order to be liked. I create it for me, because I have a need. If others like it, it adds an extra dimension of pleasure.
The themes of your songs deal with some of the darkest aspects of being human. Do you believe that the dark human side is something that got stronger or weaker during history?
JH: Depending on what part of that side you are looking at, both yes and no. I would rather see it as something transforming. Certainly, many things and beliefs are fading. No light without darkness.
After many years you re-released ‘Mort Aux Vaches’ on vinyl. There seems to be a vinyl revival over the last years. Do you think this general vinyl revival and demand from a growing part of the audience is based on nostalgia, some kind of fetishism or something else?
JH: I actually don’t believe in the vinyl thing. For me it’s just an overpriced media carrier. Complaints have echoed in the past about overpricing in music, but now there seems to be no problem with spending a fortune on vinyl releases. Well, if people are happy with it, then I’m happy for them.
What is your personal definition of being alive?
JH: Mind your own, avoid subordinating, stay away from collecting points for correctness, if possible, save a large amount of respect for others or others’ values, but don’t walk the line, take as much time as possible with nature and create as much as possible; it doesn’t matter what as long as you create.
You recently moved from Sweden to Germany. How is Germany compared to Sweden?
JH: Differences are minimal generally; shit still smells like shit here and joy usually lines up in similar ways. One difference is that in Germany you don’t get ruined if you enjoy consuming alcohol-based beverages. Would I wish to change back to Sweden? No, not at all. I have my wife here, I feel at home and I can fully concentrate on creating.
It’s not the first time you are playing in Greece so you are a bit familiar with the Greek audience. What should they expect from the return of ISN in Greece for ETOR’s Fest? Any special message to them?
JH: They can definitely expect to have a great time with the fantastic line-up. I’m really looking forward to this with so many good old friends gathering, almost as a family meeting. The ISN performance will include two parts: one part with unheard material, perhaps some from the non-standard ISN and another part concentrated on more well-known material.
You have been over here recently, you’ve met people, seen how things are and, as it is worldwide known, Greece has been going through a severe financial crisis for the last 5-6 years. What’s your view on that?
JH: I wish I could but I can’t say much about it. I have spent too little time in Greece to notice or experience it for real. There will be a turn for the better, hopefully, very-very soon.
Photo Credits: Anastasia Andreadou (2nd one)