Gunther Theys (Ancient Rites)

Hi, what are you guys up to with Ancient Rites right now?
A German tour agency organised a European headline tour scheduled end of the year. Another tour through Skandinavia, Estonia, Lithuania and Russia is planned early next year. An Australian agency proposed a headline tour as well. And we are invited on a tour through South and Central America in the near future. I think we will not be home too often the following months.

I have heard that "Dim Carcosa" have got very good reviews, I quote:"There hasn't been one bad or even mediocre rated review written!!!" (on the website, News-section). How does it feel? Are you satisfied with the record?
It is true we never received such a positive response. I am satisfied with the interaction between the different music styles on the album, compositions ranging from several kinds of Metal to Classical and Folklore. How these completely different genres become one logical whole. I would like the album to be remembered as an authentic, timeless one, a record that offered a different breeze within our style. When an artist/perfectionist looks back on his previous work he will always detect things that could have been done better but it is important to stop working on your creation at one point or the work will NEVER be finished. I feel delighted to have been a part of "Dim Carcosa" as it was a constructive process working on such an intense album.

Will the AR story go on? Do you think you will continue for another 10 years?
The older I become the more bands I play in. At this moment I take part in 4 different bands! All of them operating on different musical fields and all signed to a record company. This leaves a lot of room for experiment and future releases. Other bands are DANSE MACABRE (Goth Rock/Industrial), IRON CLAD (Heavy Metal/Folk) and LION’S PRIDE (Oi!). My musical career never looked as good as it does today with records and videos coming up from all these bands. The hunger to create increases so I guess A.R. will be around for quite some time still...

Do you listen to black metal? What do you think about the black metal-scene at the 90´s and the scene today? My opinion is that the pure form of Black Metal is dying out (or dead), but the music form will still go on, but with more musical influences from other genres.
I still listen B.M. but mostly 80’s/early 90’s releases. I have been active in the B.M. scene since the very beginning back in ’81. With ANCIENT RITES we always had an own identity/approach which separated us a bit from the rest of the scene. But without any doubt we have build a road for the new B.M. generation together with acts such as MAYHEM, BEHERIT, SAMAEL, SARCOFAGO, ROTTING CHRIST, IMPALED NAZARENE and a few others. Pioneers hardly ever gain the recognition they deserve. Many new kids in the scene only know the new generation B.M. bands who either sound Skandinavian (primitive and brutal) or Gothic (more commercial, keyboard orientated) and find it hard to accept bands who sound differently as real Black Metal. Yet one shouldn’t forget that when we started EVERY band sounded different and original. Same goes for the originators such as BATHORY, VENOM, HELLHAMMER: each band had its own style. Today the scene is overcrowded with copycats and manufactured, hyped and artificial bands who simply profit from the current trend. There are new bands I respect and appreciate but I do not like all these imitations who spoil the scene. This “overkill” of uninteresting releases definitely harms the scene and eventually will bring the style in discredit. The Cult is turning into a Circus, it occurs to me that many bands are more concerned about their corpsepaint and “evil” poses than their music. Also in Heavy/Power Metal too many bands are imitating the 80’s Heavy Metal bands without offering anything of their own. It is a general phenomenon. In my book copies NEVER are as good as the originals. Being a musician myself enables me to have a look behind the curtains of the music industry and I must confess I do not like everything I see. Even our cult is corrupted to the bone and all is about money (even positive reviews, interviews can be bought). Managers, major labels and mainstream press make or break a band, only depending on how much money is invested and spent on the “product (band)”. I always have this feeling that the scene was more pure and real years ago. I remember as if it was yesterday that in the early 80’s it was very common to be into different styles of Metal. Metalheads were banging their heads to bands like MOTÖRHEAD, ANGELWITCH, MERCYFUL FATE and SLAYER in the local Metalpubs and went to see groups such as POSSESSED, VOÏVOD, SODOM or CELTIC FROST in concert and equally loved it! It were different times and all A.R. members belong to this old generation who stood at the cradle of Black Metal and embraced the new child without rejecting the past and traditional Metal that had coloured our earliest youth. There almost was like a brotherly, tribal feeling between Headbangers. Things were less complex and somehow I have a feeling even the most popular bands were less manufactured. Maybe nostalgia is playing tricks with my mind but at least that’s how I experienced and lived the old scene. Of course there will always be great bands that keep the Flame burning. No use to complain about it, I have seen many subcultures turn into a trend. B.M. unfortunately and obviously is no exception.

Ancient Rites have had some troubles with beeing able to play live, because of fanatics and political extremists etc. What is the worst thing that have happend on a concert?
Oh, we have been under fire from many different corners. It happened a few times that “heroes” hidden in the crowd tried to harm us physically by throwing glasses or burning projectiles while we were on stage. A few concert promoters received bomb threats as they allowed us to play. Some organisors cancelled our shows but we from our part tried to organise other gigs in a near by town or other venues as we refused to be intimidated by anonymous cowards. One must not forget Black Metal was not as popular or accepted as it is today and the events in Norway put a dubious light on the scene. We were one of the only B.M. bands that toured intensely at that time which of course made us an easy target. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, the more they tried to grind us down the more stubborn it made A.R.. It had a reversed effect on us. One can burn people but not a person’s thoughts.

What do you do when you are not in the studio, or out touring?
Answer tons of letters/e-mails/interviews, rehearse and work with the three other bands. Music dominates my life. Much to the regret of close ones who often don’t get to see me for months. It’s a lonely job but I am addicted to it anyway. On my rare free time I travel the earth as I cannot resist the urge to wander. In between I work long hours in order to pay my bills as in this music industry usually everybody gains except the artist, sad but true. Still I consider myself a privileged, rich person (not in a material way but I have seen already so much of this world because of the bands and gained another kind of wealth)...

Will there be any live performances in Scandinavia soon? Specially in Sweden?
This past week we have toured Finland for 10 days with DANSE MACABRE. Last year we toured with ANCIENT RITES through Finland. There have been negotiations between Swedish and Finnish promoters but somehow the Swedish dates got cancelled. I hope we will be get a chance to play Sverige in the near future.

Thank you for taking time to answering theese questions! Good luck with Ancient Rites!!
It was my pleasure David. Good luck with your publication.

The interview was made by: David A, 2001

Ancient Rites are:
Gunther - vocals, bass
Walter - drums
Erik - guitar
Jan - guitar
Day Wouters - keyboards