Interview (ENG)

Interview with Belzebubs : Family Black Metal

Cette interview est également disponible en Français.

Belzebubs is the concoction of the Addams Family and Ozzy Osbourne, cooked in Scandinavian black metal culture and served in a perfectly mounted sweet and spicy Comic.
Sløth’s family and friends are the most adorable demon’s summoners you will see onstage.
JP Ahonen, creator of the comic and the band which was supposed to perform his very first concert at Hellfest 2020, gave us some of his time to discuss his feelings a year after the publication of his first clip and on the particular situation of the band at the moment.
Wear your most beautiful Corpse Paint, welcome to the black and white world of Belzebubs.

JP Ahonen – Photo credit Marjaana Malkamäki

Hello JP! Let’s begin with some simple questions, how are you doing? What are you doing during the lockdown?

Hi there, I’m doing ok here, thanks for asking. I’ve just sort of juggled work and family throughout the lockdown. The kids (all three) have been at home, so it’s been difficult to find the time to work during the days. I’ve ended up adjusting to an early morning shift, meaning I get up at 4:15 AM and work until noon or so, and then we switch with my wife.
Can 100% NOT recommend.

Credit JP Ahonen

How would you present Belzebubs to someone who doesn’t know the concept yet?

Belzebubs is a cross-media beast combining comics, music, animation and everything in between, really. Its black, blast-beating heart is the comic, documenting the daily lives of your average devil-worshipping family, their relationships and the sluggish evolution of Sløth’s (the father’s) hapless black metal band.
The group has signed to Century Media, and has been described as a black metal version of Gorillaz, which, makes sense I guess, but we’re doing our own thing here.

Credit JP Ahonen

You first have created Belzebubs as a comic, where did the idea come from? And when have you decided to start a real band?

The comic started out as a self-therapy project about five years ago when I was clawing myself out from a burnout and depression. It was very spontaneous at first, but I had a good time with the concept and theme, so I decided to start taking it further. I started publishing the strips online on a weekly basis, and since Belzebubs was my first webcomic, I wanted to test out things that weren’t possible in print—animation, music, linking different sizes and formats, etc. The initial plan was to make everything on my own, but then I started bouncing ideas with a musician friend of mine, and eventually with a few others, which led to a demo, which led to a record deal, etc. A real snowball effect.

BELZEBUBS – Cathedrals Of Mourning

Your first album, Pantheon Of The Nightside Gods was released one year ago and has directly been described as one of the best Black Melodeath album, reaching the top charts in Finland and Germany, whilst the clip of Blackened Call has now nearly 2M views, did you expect such a feedback?

I never really expect anything, or well, I expect nothing and prepare for the worst, haha. We all put in our hearts and non-existent souls into the record, so I’m very glad it got the praise it did. But we all knew people would be put off by the image, too, which is a pity but also kind of understandable, if one doesn’t take the time to think and dive into what we’re doing here.

BELZEBUBS – Blackened Call

Speaking of musical style, why did you choose the melodic part of Black Metal, over something rawer and Trve, as we could have expected in the comic?

The band’s sound evolves into a new direction when Sam, their new drummer, jumps onboard, so the idea behind their style is written and developed in the comics, too. Belzebubs is all about venturing into new uncrabwalked territory, anyhow, being trve to yourself instead of a specific image or preconception of what a band or genre should sound like. We’ll have time to reveal what the band sounded like with their prior EP’s and demos later, but now we wanted to build an album that tells multiple stories. Not only is it a concept album about the ancient gods and cults in Belzebubs, but it also serves as a sort of three-act story about the band’s evolution: the first songs are more in the vein of the older Belzebubs, the middle part is the contemporary song-writing, and the latter half bleeds into the upcoming stuff.
Some people have mistaken the two instrumentals,
Nuns in the Purgatory and Maleficarum as part of the actual record, but those are bonus tracks.

JP Ahonen – credit Marjaana Malkamäki

Before all the cancellations, you were about to begin your first tour this summer, starting with Hellfest, one of the biggest French festival, and then playing in some other big European fests, always placed quite high in the lineups while never playing any show before, how do you feel about this ?

We’re right where we should be? 😉

You have invested a lot to prepare a real show, without revealing any details, how do you see the future?

Yeah, we’re in a shitstorm right now for sure, but so are a lot of other bands, festivals, staff members and technicians, too. We’ve indeed invested a lot of time and money for the upcoming shows (been working on those since last August), but now with the cancellations, we’ve ended up with just a heap of debt. I’m currently working on a plan B, though, which would hopefully help us pay our bills but also get some new content to our fans on the same go. We hate asking for money, so a simple Gofundme campaign isn’t an option, we wish to offer something in return.

Credit JP Ahonen

If there was only one album left in the world, which one would it be?

 Ooof. That’s an impossible question, I can’t answer that.

What is your favorite French Metal Band?

It’s a tug-of-war between Alcest and Gojira, obviously, but I have to throw in that I liked the debut album from Demians back in the day. Haven’t heard anything from them in years, though.

Credit JP Ahonen

Some questions to the band:

Which band would you guys like to tour with?

Obesyx: I-I’d just want to tour. Period. Let’s start from there. I’m not picky.
Sløth: It’d be an honor to hang out with Borknagar, True North was fucking amazing!
Sam: Porcupine Tree or Opeth!
Hubbath: With my groupies.

Credit JP Ahonen

Hubbath, do you think it is the curse of Hellfest 2013 that occurred again this year?

Hubbath: Yes, obviously.
Sløth: There is NO curse, Hubbath. Hey, dude. Wake up.
Obesyx: Ok, there goes again. Staring into the abyss…
Sløth: I, too, stared into the abyss yesterday.
Obesyx: Did it stare back?
Sløth: Yes, but it pretended not to notice.

Do you have one last thing to say to your fans and readers?

Thanks for reading if you’ve made it this far. Hope to see you on the road next year! Stay safe, stay healthy, wash your hooves.

Many thanks to JP Ahonen for allowing us some of his precious time.
Follow JP Ahonen on Instagram and Twitter, Belzebubs on Instagram, Facebook and Tumblr.
Belzebub’s merch is available at Backstagerockshop.
For any other informations on the band, please raise Hell.

Credit JP Ahonen

Interview by Victor for Concerts de l’Est