Behemoth’s Nergal Embraces ‘Necro Blues’ With Me and That Man
Wouldn’t it be a boring world if everything was black and white? If there were no surprises and everything just continued on, predictably and without nuance? It would be a life held captive by monotony. Luckily, Adam “Nergal” Darski doesn’t approach his creative life in this manner; instead, he chooses to explore the harmonics and possibilities of expression. Widely known as the frontman of Polish black / death metal band Behemoth, a band that has pushed the boundaries of extreme music with their high-intensity records and lavishly produced live performances, his new collaboration with John Porter — curiously named Me and That Man — may come as a surprise to the typical metal fan. Their brand new record, Songs of Love and Death, recently released on Cooking Vinyl Records, ranges from desolate highway song “Cross My Heart and Hope to Die” to the more upbeat blues romp “My Church Is Black.” Running throughout the record is a palpable sense of loneliness, and constant motion that calls to mind the finest work of Nick Cave and later-period Swans.
Me and That Man is a departure from your work with Behemoth. What was the inspiration for the project?
I just had this bug in my head, this attraction to more primeval, “rootsy” sounds. I’ve been doing interviews, and they were accusing me of being a King Dude rip-off! As much as I respect T.J. [Cowgill], Me and That Man doesn’t really sound like King Dude. About 14 years ago, I started this band called Wolverine, a kind of bluesy, Danzig-inspired thing. It was a long time ago; I always had this attraction to that kind of sound. In the meantime, I’d just be getting … I’d been collecting different kinds of inspiration and flavors. If one day I was going to come up with that kind of band, it’s going to have way more flavors than me and my love for Danzig.
If anything, I see King Dude as a Death in June rip-off, where Me and That Man has more of an American roots, blues or country type of thing. It conjures up images of desolation, the desert, loneliness.
Me and That Man is the music of the road. The song “On the Road” is a perfect portrait of what the band is all about because the road is a metaphor for life, a constant journey that you’re on. There’s not much philosophy behind it; it’s very simple, unlike Behemoth. With Behemoth, we are just blowing up this balloon — sound-wise, with production. There are so many details to deal with and so many factors, so many layers on every level, in every dimension of the band. I love it; it’s amazing. It’s my most precious child, and I have unconditional love for Behemoth. I really needed to balance it out artistically. It’s like two different poles, two different sides of the same coin. Some people are surprised by Me and That Man, but I think that human nature is super complex. It’s another emanation of my nature and my artistic needs.
I decided to go back to where it all started, because it didn’t start with Burzum or Led Zeppelin or the Who — it started with a black man playing guitar. I think of blues as one of the most sincere, most crucial genres. It comes from the bottom of the heart. When you listen to Robert Johnson, it’s super primitive, and I love it for that fact. I had this idea of less-is-more growing in me as well. Behemoth is a complex being, but sometimes you just need three notes to tell the whole story. Back in the day, I used to listen to bands like Dream Theater, but these days I hate that band! Great musicians, but I despise it big-time. There is nothing behind it. It’s super artificial; there is nothing there for me. I don’t want to offend people who love that band, but it’s exactly opposite of my needs and what appeals to me. I think I’m actually regressing and going back to where the roots are. I think it definitely will affect the next Behemoth album as well.
I like to say that I steal. Yesterday, I was sitting in Washington Square Park, reading some poetry, and I see words — not the whole verse, just a word would be inspiring. I open up my notebook and write down the word. I steal these words, and I bet that I’m going to make songs out of it. I steal one word, I steal one note, I steal that color because I like that — so maybe I’m just going to fuck around with it and make something that’s mine. It’s all about stealing and putting together and giving it a new form — transforming it into something that is yours. It’s filtered through your own system and your aesthetics and so on. So, I have no fear of saying that we are sharing or even stealing things. It’s exciting.
People ask what genre we are … there’s some blues, some country, some outlaw country, some folk. There’s billions of flavors. That’s what people do — they need narration, they need to navigate. I can’t really say it’s a country band. There’s blues songs, but it isn’t really a blues record. We came up with this name “necro blues” or “CUNTry.”
What part does John Porter play in all of this? Though he is not very well-known in the U.S., he has a prolific career spanning back to the later ’70s.
John has been one of the most iconic figures in the Polish rock pantheon. The paradox is that he’s not Polish; he’s from the U.K. He’s 66 years old, and he’s really seen it all — the scene, all the legendary bands, from Led Zeppelin to the Sex Pistols. He’s been there to see all of the groundbreaking genres being born. He’s a friend of mine and great musician; he’s definitely a way better musician than myself. He’s someone I can look up to. He’s there to give credibility to this band as well. To be honest, if it was just me, I don’t think I’d have the balls to release a solo album. This is not a solo album; it’s a side project. It’s a duo of me and John. We split the songwriting 50-50. I’m proud to be working with him. Somehow we connected and shared this synergy, and the result is Songs of Love and Death.
Check out the Porter Band album, Helicopters. What an album that is! Hardly any people abroad know how awesome this record is. It’s like Talking Heads, but also like vintage rock. It’s one of the most important records of the Polish rock scene. He’s an Englishman living in Poland; it makes this whole thing pretty exotic.
The video medium has figured prominently in the initial presentation of the band. How does it figure into the overall mission of Me and That Man?
It’s super important. Aesthetics are important these days. It’s surprising to some people to see a niche kind of band in a niche genre with as many well-done videos. There are three videos out there: “My Church Is Black,” “Cross My Heart and Hope to Die,” “Ain’t Much Loving,” and the next one will be “Magdalene.” I love this video [“Magdalene”]. The story that he [Zev Deans] did is just amazing. It reminds me of a lot of Anton Corbijn’s stuff — very simple, but very classy-looking. I can’t wait to release it. It should be out in early June, right before we start the festivals. After “Magdalene,” we will be releasing a video for “Night Ride.” The song is two minutes and the video is five minutes! It’s like a short movie.
Does the anti-Christian philosophy of Behemoth carry over to Me and t\That Man?
Intuitionally, yes. It is what it is. It’s not like I am going to wear a different mask and be, like, “nice guy.” I’m a nice guy; I’m a friendly animal. Behemoth onstage is a super exalted beast. A lot of the philosophies that we carry along are blown up because of the theatrics. It’s not a gimmick, it’s not empty — there is a lot of substance because we stand behind what we say. Me and That Man is not a religiously driven band, or anti-religiously driven band, but obviously if you ask John about religion, his opinion is pretty straight-up negative. It’s no secret that I’m no friend to Christianity, but I’m not spitting out with hate when I’m in the streets.
Where did you come up with the name Me and That Man?
It just came out. It’s Darski and it’s Porter, so maybe it should be called Darski and Porter, but it was so obvious. It was the most obvious option. First of all, you have two egos at work in this band. We would be giving ourselves more ego attention if we used our names. My suggestion was to not put our faces on the cover, so how about not using our names? People would know eventually. Let’s just pick up a name to make people question. At first, it looks anonymous. Me and That Man — who is it? Who is me and who is that man? It also opens up doors for some other types of collaboration. Things can happen; it’s a name that has possibilities.