About Me

Interview with Dornenreich

Dornenreich is an Austrian band that has been creating powerful and intense masterpieces ever since their inception in 1997. They started off by playing Black Metal but have evolved their sound with each album. Eviga, the mastermind behind this act, has shared his some of his inner thoughts about the band, their sound and their recently released new album “Du wilde Liebe sei”, via Prophecy Productions with Metal Imperium. Keep on reading...

M.I. - Dornenreich released the first demo in 1997... so, 24 years have passed, would you say you have the same passion now as you did back then? If not, what changed?

After having thought about it for quite some time I dare to state that I am as passionate as I was when I was a teenager starting the band, however, now – unlike the years of adolescence - I am even totally conscious of why I am doing things the way I do them. All my current decisions nowadays rely on a much more naturally grown fundament of experience as an artist and as a human individual and the decisions benefit from a widened horizon. So, all in all, it might be a fact that I am even more passionate now than I used to be when it comes to the conscious intensity and multifacetedness of my present expression and approach. 

M.I. - What was the best moment of your life as a member of Dornenreich? And the worst?

Without any doubt the withdrawals of former band members were the worst experiences both artistically and personally but these experiences also started the biggest and most important phases of growth for me, as an artist and as a person, so as I am thinking back, now I tend to say that even these worst moments – in the end – turned into some of the best as it deepened my whole way to perceive and approach the world. 
Referring to the best moments I would have to cram countless memories from the road, from concerts and from the studio sessions into this one big best moment (laughs) – that in the end does not exist. You might share the experience of memories tending to merge as time goes by, so possibly there is this best moment that consists of all these countless splinters of memory which results in this special warmth that floods my chest when thinking of it… 

M.I. - Is there a particular moment / album / situation that you have gone through with Dornenreich that you would gladly delete from the band’s history?

Of course there are some moments and experiences that were hard to take and just plain painful in the very situation they happened and took their full effect but, as I pointed out above, those were the moments that resulted in very fruitful constellations and projects later on in our history. So I hesitate to and finally refrain from deleting anything (laughs). 

M.I. - Eviga has once said that Dornenreich has always been based on intuition. What does this mean exactly?

Nothing is preconceived when it comes to the musical core itself... So there are no melodies or harmonies in the beginning that I would just use to build something from. It's always like that: I pick my guitar and start playing. I dream on the instrument and, all of a sudden, new melodies or harmonies just come to me. And that's also something that is truly magical to me – and I like to keep the core that way. Of course the final elaboration and all the final arrangements are done very consciously, - but the core relies on going with the intuitive vibe which turns into a song by and by. 

M.I. - If you were just starting Dornenreich now, how different of a band would it be?

When going through our discography one might discover the fact that we actually reinvent and reestablish the band with every new album for we really go with our intuition – and this intuition leads us to new artistic shores and adds new colors on every album in the most natural of ways.  
However, sometimes I – without any doubt - feel the weight of having a long history and of people who might have their preferences concerning our discography which they also communicate but in the end we only feel obliged to our very own inner urge to express and we go with it, so, in a way, we actually restart the band with each and every new album and I truly feel that I am totally free in my expression with Dornenreich. 

M.I. - The band has been quite consistent in the time gap (3/4 years or less) between albums but 7 years have passed since your last release. Before “Freiheit” you had already predicted that it might be the last Dornenreich’s studio-album or the last studio album in a long timespan. Why? Why has it taken you 7 years to have new material ready?

In the first place back in 2014 I felt that it would be wise to take one step back consciously and to communicate that, too. After eighteen years, eight albums and countless concerts and tours I deeply felt an urge to examine and realign my artistic approach. I wanted to gather at the original source of my creativity and motivation to express. And I wanted to do so in all consciousness and in all silence (apart from some further concerts and tours that we played in the course of the last years). 
Furthermore, after our release tour we had played for ‘Freiheit’ in May 2014 I had to set the direction for some professional tracks in addition to the music as I also work as an academic librarian at the university in part time. I did all that to create a solid fundament for further artistic adventures and projects, too. So, the break from studio work was a conscious decision we made in favor of Dornenreich and artistic expression in general in the end even if that meant that we had to reframe and refocus certain areas and aspects of our lives primarily. 
During this first phase after the ‘Freiheit’-tour I watched and observed narrowly how my love for artistic expression would appear anew in the light of the pause that we had communicated publicly. And I did not have to wait long as new ideas just came into existence in 2015 already as naturally and intuitively as it has always been in my case whenever I – I would actually put it that way – dream actively on my guitar. And it was a very important experience for me to perceive in all clarity how interwoven my personal life and my urge to express existential thoughts and feelings are. 

M.I. - “Du wilde liebe Sei” is the title of the new album. What’s the main difference between “Freiheit” and “Du wilde Liebe sei”?

After ‘Freiheit’, which had offered many of our former core elements that we had developed over the years, we wanted to build something new upon that fundament and we wanted to discover our artistic expression and its sonic possibilities anew, too.
The combination of a deeply organic, powerful and maybe even hypnotic and shamanic-seeming braiding of percussion and prominent bass guitar with – in a way – sculptural, palpable and permeable electric guitar and layers of yearning and epic violins, acoustic guitars and voices to us seemed apt in order to see something comprising and thrilling take shape that one has hardly ever heard or – let’s say – experienced before. 

M.I. - Having the word “Love” on an album title is something most of your (older) fans probably never expected of you. When did this idea come to your mind?

In a way you are totally right (laughs). However, looking back I would say that one of our key characteristics has always been our – let's dare to call it – courage within the realm of grim metal to really open up and incorporate even emotional fragility, so we had lyrics dealing with love even on our first releases. 
As I have always dealt with existential and often abstract themes lyrically – such as transitoriness, fear, courage and, lately, freedom (= ‘Freiheit’ in German) – it felt natural to deeply dive into the vast fields of ‘love’ finally by means of a conceptual album that tries to approach this topic and all assumptions, manners of appearance, its facets, aspects as well as the massive misunderstandings surrounding it that often result in emotional or even physical cruelty and pain. Thus, there is a lot of pain and darkness and there are even moments of despair on this album, too, that are audible as intense dramatic suspense.
My starting point this time was some kind of irritation as I truly perceive it to be strange that all of us seem to talk about loving this and that day by day and want to be courageous and free whereas hardly anybody seems to really know the actual meaning of courage, freedom or love. 

M.I. - The titles of the tracks seem to be quite introspective, deep and even philosophical... (at least, according to the translating app I used as I don’t understand German at all), what themes are addressed in the lyrics this time around?

The album is ambitious and has to offer numerous keys but for now, within the scope of this interview, it would lead too far to point out the aspects of each and every song but I would like to emphasize that especially the tension within the human individual’s heart between the desire for self-assertion and freedom and the desire to devotion and belonging to me is the central conflict this album relies on. In psychology one can find the term ‘lack love’ which hints on the behaviour and condition of an individual that is needy without any actual self-awareness or self-acceptance. So, on a deeper level some of the songs also deal with love as some central sort of self-care and existential as well as conscious connection, some of them deal with love as some kind of quality of life, of existence that understands love as inexhaustible source within the individual.

M.I. - The album’s been out ever since the 11th June. The comments online have been incredible but how about the reaction from the media in general?

Now, some weeks have passed and I can sum up that actually the big majority of reviews and media response is very positive. People really seem to approve of both the emotional depth as well as the totally fresh and organic sound that makes Dornenreich sound like not other band on this planet - in general and on this very album in particular.  

M.I. - When you released the last album “Freiheit”, no one would imagine that 2020 would be such an awful year for us all. Has this virus had any influence on the final result of the album? Did you make any alterations due to feelings / emotions/ difficulties (or whatever) the virus brought upon you?

No. All the music and even the lyrics were finished before the pandemic started to take over all our lives. It only affected the record when it comes to the fact that we had to postpone the mix and mastering of the record from April 2020 to August 2020 which resulted in an even more focused and deliberate final phase of the whole process which also gave us more time to come up with very detailed editions of the album offering numerous photographs and liner notes. 

M.I. - When did you start working on the new album? How many years or months has it taken you?

The actual song writing took place between 2015 and 2018 primarily but we kept the process vital until the very last days of the mastering when it comes to arrangements in order to keep the process as immediate and authentic as possible in spite of the fact that it expanded over a period of seven years eventually. The recordings where done between January 2019 and June 2020. 

M.I. - “Flammentriebe” got outstanding reviews and I read an interview in which you said you were “scared” of those wonderful reviews, because it couldn’t get any better! Do you still get “frightened” when writing new material? 

To me, it's only natural that one is interested in critics and response to a certain degree and negative reviews in particular are welcome too as long as they are profound and not just empty judgements like 'this is shit because it's shit” for detailed response always offers a perspective that I myself could never ever have as I am so deeply involved in the creation. Back then I just wanted to point out that it was a thrilling experience to receive that many extremely overwhelming reviews but I have always been focused on my intuitive approach, I really do, and many of the decisions we made throughout the years were nothing but commercial suicide for sure – when looking at them from a business perspective here which I obviously never do (laughs). 

M.I. - Have you ever read a Dornenreich review that either made you laugh or offended? Do you read them at all? Or do you prefer to avoid social media and their negativity?

Well, I would put it that way: there seem to be many people – and even so-called journalists out there – who would give everything for a cheap laugh and social media provoke this kind of trollish attitude per se as we all know all too well. We have always been a band that polarized, that is, we got strong reactions both euphoric as well as full of disgust. But I like that. In my perception the only dangerous response for an artist is indifference. 

M.I. - All your cover artworks include nature. Why have you opted to do it this way? What’s your connection to Nature?

As I perceive it one can find wisdom within the smaller and bigger cycles of nature. The outer and inner journeys of the human individual are connected with nature and therefore I consider it to be apt for a band like Dornenreich that deals with existential themes to work with nature at a respectful and often symbolic level. 

M.I. - The band’s been on a long-term relationship with Prophecy Poductions, ever since the release of “Her von welken Nächten” in 2001... haven’t you ever been approached by other labels? Why do you remain loyal to Prophecy Productions after all these years?

We have been contacted by other labels over the years, yes. But artistic freedom is crucial to us in every aspect of our expression and Prophecy know that and meet this non-negotiable standard as hardly any other label would or even could, I think. 

M.I. - Of all of Dornenreich’s concerts, mention one that you remember fondly and tell us why please. 

To break it down to one single concert is simply impossible in our case – and I will tell you why in all details necessary:
Whenever we enter a stage we let ourselves be taken on an intense journey by the music. We react to one another, to the location and to the energy among us and the audience. We really intend to live through the music together with our audience and we dedicate ourselves to this very moment totally. There’s is no click-track, there is just pure will to express, energy – and a lot of sweat (laughs). 
Obviously the two shows (metal as well as acoustic) that are documented on our live dvd (‚Nachtreisen‘) hold a special place in my heart but actually I enjoy every single opportunity to live through the music in a live context together with our audience because there is a tremendous exchange of mutual passion and energy happening every time. And of course I will enjoy it even more – and more consciously, too – when we will be able to reenter the stage for the first time after the pandemic paralysis at this year’s Prophecy Fest in the cave of Balve in September. 

M.I. - In all the years of Dornenreich, you only played a few shows in Portugal. Do you have great memories of them? When can fans expect you to return?

Well, over the course of the last 25 years I have visited many countries with the bands I play live with (Dornenreich, Empyrium, Sun Of The Sleepless) but the warmhearted hospitality in Turkey and Portugal was something that I really kept in mind. What I will never forget when it comes to Portuguese dedication is that back in 2010 the local promoters of Barroselas Metal Fest built an extra stage outside for our acoustic show exclusively (; we actually played two shows in 2010 both acoustic and metal). That's passion! They really wanted us to get the best conditions possible and they really wanted to do justice to the intimate and special character of our acoustic setup. 
We hope to return to Barroselas Metal Fest in the years to come – and we have always kept in touch over the years since our shows in 2010. 

M.I. - How are things regarding the promotion of the album? Any planned gigs already or tours?

In all probability this year will see us perform at the Prophecy Fest in Balve exclusively. But we have ambitious and special plans for our return to more stages next year as one can imagine … 

M.I. - If you could pick 3 bands to accompany Dornenreich on a worldwide tour, who would you pick and why?

Primordial – because of their organic, hymnic and passionate artistic heart; Madder Mortem – because of their immensely multi-faceted emotional intensity and Solstafir – because of their authentic melancholy which appears strong as well as fragile at the same time.

M.I. - Dornenreich have started off as a Black metal band, so I believe playing in churches never crossed your minds back then. How was the experience? What was the main difference when compared to a regular venue?

In the end churches are just exquisite buildings that invite to connect with one's spiritual depth – and they are offering uplifting acoustics, so for us playing with our special acoustic line-up (voice, percussion, acoustic guitar and violin only) it has always been a dream to play in churches one day for we knew that the uplifting atmoshere and acoustics of these locations would unfold a special synergy together with our dynamic and emotionally intense artistic approach. 
Apart from the acoustics the most important difference compared to 'regular venues' was the way people behaved inside the churches. They seemed to be more focused, embraced and also physically relaxed because of the simple fact that they could sit down and let themselves be carried away by the music and the overall-atmopshere of the moment. 

M.I. - Artistic expression unites people of all cultures... which are your favourite forms of art? As a musician have you become friends with other artists while on tour? Do you usually take the time to become acquainted with the local art of the places you played at? Is there one that impressed you at all?

I adore many forms of art be it painting, serial story-telling (dramatic tv shows), literature or land art but I have always been mostly fascinated with music as it manages to capture most emotional experiences as they unfold, as they progress, as they – plain and simple – take place within time. To me personally music is the most universal and vital form of art. 
Yes, I made friends with many artistic souls I worked or toured with over the years – for instance with Tenhi, Of The Wand And The Moon, Empyrium or Agalloch which resulted in various shared concert adventures and unfogettable moments within the scope of the last 20 years. 
And yes I really try to become familiar with local art and local mentality whenever we visit other countries with Dornenreich – and they are all impressive and inspiring within their very own scope and according to their long grown identity and tradition.

M.I. - Do you have a guitar or any other instrument that works a bit like a kind of lucky charm, that you feel “lucky” when playing it?

All kinds of drums and percussive instruments (laughs). My hidden passion is drumming without any doubt. That's also what dellights me the most about the new album: finally, I could get across this passion by means of using all these percussion instruments that one can hear on that very album. 

M.I. - Austria is home to some of my favourite bands, namely Dornenreich and Summoning. Do you have a theory onto the reason why Austrian musicians tend to create such awesome music? Is music a mandatory subject at school? Are there many incentives for children to play? Do you believe learning music makes a difference?

I have often thought about the fact that Austria actually has quite many highly individual and artistically distinctive bands, yes. But until today I don't really know the reason for that (laughs). Actually, I don't think that our educational system includes more regular musical education than other Western or central European countries and also don't think that Austria offers significantly more incentives or a special impetus. 
When it comes to technique and knowledge versus intuition and passion I would say that technique and knowledge are useful for sure but in the beginning and even in the end it comes down to the strength of one's own intuition, will power and passion. At least that's my personal experience as a person that has been classically trained on acoustic and electric guitar for many years but who is still relying on intuition and passion in the first place of each and every new song. 

M.I. - Does the Austrian government support culture? Has it given any extra help and support to artists in these covid days?

As always it depends on whether or not one's approach is considered to be 'culture' by the authorities in charge. As far as I know there has been a certain basic support for some artists but I don't know the details for Dornenreich is a band that has never ever demanded any support or public funding. And I am proud of the fact that Dornenreich is a truly independent band in every aspect of the term I have to say. 

M.I. - If you were the Minister in charge of the Cultural Department of your country, which measures would you take?

Well, to keep it realistic and quite simple here I would try to provide the public with as many places and venues where cultural encounter, exchange and development might happen be it rehearsal places that are really affordable or even for free or be it numerous venues for all kinds of artistic expression because that is something that crumbles by and by these days as I see things – and even more so after the financial drought of the current pandemic. 

M.I. - When you’re not playing your own music, how do entertain yourself?

I read a lot - especially non-fiction books as many of them go through my hands as I am in charge of the buildup of the inventory of the local university's library where I am working as scientific librarian part time. Besides, I spend a lot of time in nature and also spend quite a lot of time with my passion for well narrated dramatic tv shows. 

M.I. - Has any band or musician recently caught your attention for the quality of the music? What have you been listening to recently?

Quite many actually... My artistic horizon is widening continuously... 
I spend time with expression that touches me in one way or another. So, here is a tiny list of some of the music that is on heavy rotation here at the moment. How comprising an entire list would be you can imagine:
Djerv, Aldous Harding, Kampfar, Oehl, Suspiria (OST 2018; Thom Yorke), Faber, Midsommar (OST 2019; Bobby Krlic), Dodheimsgard, Kvelertak, Misfits, Madder Mortem, Kerstin Blodig, Omnia, The Doors, Hexvessel, Primordial, Type o Negative. 

M.I. - Have you ever thought about how different your life would’ve been if it weren’t for Dornenreich? Do you regret any choices you made along the way, that may have potentially affect all of your life (musical and personal) or would you do it exactly the same way all over again if you got the chance? 

A popular way to answer this question is to claim that one would do everything again exactly the same way and that one does not regret anything – and that, to me, hardly ever feels honest. 
What one can say in general is that life is vast and our time as human beings is very short compared to that. Furthermore, the decisions one makes also mean that one leaves other things, potentials, chances, people behind in order to go with this one choice at a specific point in time. You know, nobody can get everything. And personally I would not like to put it pathetic by saying that I sacrificed a lot to let Dornenreich become that vital and artistically intense but I surely made decisions and I surely didn't walk down many other paths while I walked the individual path of Dornenreich. 
Over the last 25 years there also have been numerous desperate and very lonely moments that I had to live through and there – without any doubt – are certain things that I would do or approach differently when I would be given the chance to go back in time but all in all I am deeply satisfied with the decisions I made and I could imagine myself as – for instance – a dedicated psychiatrist or dubbing actor or film editor but I can hardly imagine myself as deeply happy as I perceive myself today as the truthful and independent artist I have become. 

M.I. - Do you have a final message or thoughts you’d like to share with your Portuguese fans and Metal Imperium’s readers? Many thanks for your time, Eviga! All the best!

Dear Sonia, I just want to express my heartfelt gratitude for your continuous support over the last twenty years, actually, since the very day I was lucky enough to meet you back in 2001 during our first European tour with Marduk... All the best!
And to all the people who read this: if you want to discover something deep, intense and varied that unveils a unique atmosphere and sound, too, give our new album a listen. 

For Portuguese version, click here

Interview by Sónia Fonseca