New Man, New Songs, Same Shit, Vol.1

New Man, New Songs, Same Shit, Vol.1

“Behemoth is all about metaphors and magic,” Nergal tells Apple Music. “Me and That Man is blues: simple, straight-up stories about people killing each other. And loving each other. Or both.” He’s better known for leading the legendary Polish blackened death metal band, and some might be surprised to hear the dirty blues and outlaw country that is Me and That Man. It’s the project’s second album, and as the name suggests, the songs are new—but not the concept. “There's a gang of new people involved, but we're dealing with the same genres,” he says. “It just got bigger, more cinematic.” Even more surprising is the outstanding lineup of guest collaborators who provide vocals on almost every song. Many of these artists—from Scandinavian black metal artists such as Emperor’s Ihsahn, Niklas Kvarforth of Shining, and Jørgen Munkeby of the Norwegian group of the same name, to Trivium’s Matt Heafy and Slipknot leader Corey Taylor—are more known for their guttural growls and screams than deep, bluesy melodies. “It’s all about having all those mixed flavors on one plate,” says Nergal. “It’s very creative, like a cooking show. ‘Okay, how about this? How about those spices? How about that? Let's smell it, let's mix it up.’ That's why it's exciting to put Ihsahn in that position, to put fucking Niklas Kvarforth on a fucking spaghetti western ballad.” Nergal describes the project as his “lover”—as opposed to Behemoth, his metaphorical wife. “No names here, but sometimes you need lovers in order to maintain a marriage. Otherwise you're just going to go crazy. So I found my lover in Me and That Man. I can go there anytime I have the need to do something different, and then I can go back to my wife with the same passion and lust that I had from day one.” Below, he talks more about the stories and collaborations on New Man, New Songs, Same S**t, Vol.1. Run With the Devil (feat. Jørgen Munkeby) “I deliberately wanted to start off with a song that’s more humorous, not very serious. I collaborated on this one with Jørgen Munkeby—he’s a singer and multi-instrumentalist, but I wasn't really aware of what kind of vocals he’d put on that song. He added the vocals and suggested putting the sax all over the song, which I didn’t like [the idea of], but he was like, ‘If you don't like it, just erase it, but I'm going to do it. Just give me a chance.’ And I was like, ‘Holy shit!’ He just took it to the next stratosphere.” Coming Home (feat. Sivert Høyem) “I reached out to Sivert from Madrugada, one of my all-time favorite bands. I told him about the project and he was like, ‘I'm not going to disappoint you.’ He was very humble. We tried two songs before this and he wasn’t very fond of them, but things happen for a reason—‘Coming Home’ became available when Ville Valo [of HIM, who was supposed to sing it originally] couldn’t do it, so I was like, ‘Sivert, this is a song for you. It actually sounds like Madrugada.’ He agreed. He completely changed the lyrics on the second verse, so he's a co-writer as well. I’m very proud of that one.” Burning Churches (feat. Mat McNerney) “I was a fan of Beastmilk; that's how I met Mat a few years ago. He was always there to support me with my bluesy adventures, so it was obvious that he’d be a part of the album. Three days after I asked him, he sent me the finished demo, saying, ‘I was thinking about this project and you and your life and your attitude, you know, and I wrote this song—take it if you like it.’ And I was like, ‘Holy fuck, man, forget about my demos—this is beyond amazing.’ It’s a pretty serious topic, but it's approached in a humorous way. People have said it could be a Behemoth song, and I’m like, you really expect Behemoth to go that low and record a song called ‘Burning Churches’? That'd be so fucking obvious, so boring, and so cliched. Never. But Me and That Man? One hundred percent yes. It makes sense—you’ve got this black metal fucking criminal topic, but done in this outlaw, country, 60-horsepower way.” By the River (feat. Ihsahn) “Most of the guys [who feature on this album] had no experience with the genre, like Ihsahn. But even his fans have been saying in the comments, ‘Holy shit! We never knew that Ihsahn can sing so emotionally.’ I started fucking around with some chords at the studio in Gdańsk, and then wrote the lyrics; it took 30 minutes to finish the song. Then, when we did the sessions, I came out with the hard rock part on the spot. That's what pure rock ’n’ roll should be like: plain, simple, and very spontaneous. A gut feeling. Behemoth is like months and months of process. This should be just bang, done. You know? Like a fucking quickie sex intercourse, you know? I truly believe in that. I don't believe that fucking Jack White writes his songs for three months. It's really just one take, done.” Męstwo “My drummer has a band called Mùlk, but I wasn't aware about that until I saw a video on his Facebook. And it was amazing. I called and asked him, 'Who wrote those songs?' And he said it was him. So I said, ‘The next time, before you release a single like that with Mùlk, send the song to me. Because if you won't, you're out of the band.’ So the next thing I got was this fully finished song called ‘Męstwo,’ sung in Polish by his vocalist. I was blown away. I was so jealous that I didn't write the lyrics. It's very rebellious. Basically about a man who is just true to himself. He’s staying honest and relentless in his uncompromising attitude. ‘I'm just going to remain who I am. I'm not going to bend my knee, I'm not going to bow down before any authority. I'm not going to be a slave in the society full of slaves.’ So I sang it, and how I sang it, and I must say that this is my best vocal performance ever in Me and That Man.” Surrender (feat. Anders Landelius) “What you hear now is the second version of the song. It originally had Manuel [Gagneux] from Zeal & Ardor. The song was amazing; it was going to be the first single for the record. Then, on the last night of a tour, we were all coked out, we’re drunk, we’re all partying, it was fun. Someone put on a ‘Fuck Antifa’ shirt, and everyone was laughing about it. I put a photo on my Stories, just being Nergal, fucking pissing people off. I made a comment about how the methods Antifa are using make them pretty much equal to the ones they’re fighting. I mean, I'm not backing them up. Everyone that knows me knows I'm pretty much a lefty, but it doesn't mean I'm going to support your shitty methods. I’ve stood behind several black metal bands, good friends of mine, targeted by Antifa for no fucking reason. Shows canceled, attacked physically, shit like that. So that was my message. And the next day it made headlines all over the world. I was accused of being a fascist sympathizer. So I get a text from Manuel, and then the official email from his management, retracting any collaborations with me and Behemoth. There was no conversation, nothing. I mean, we’d had talks where I was like, 'Man, I'm concerned because there's some assholes in the scene that might attack you for who you are. Let me know if this happens. I would never allow that during Behemoth shows, because everyone is welcome if they behave well and if they respect each other. That is rule number one. You are my friend, and there are no race borders, no gender borders.’ He never replied, and I'm still very disappointed with him as a human being; it's a pity that such a great talent is so weak-minded and weak-willed. But that's his decision. So, then I remembered Anders, from Dead Soul, who I'd already spoken to about the project but I’d forgotten. I reached out and got the track in two weeks. Anders put down his own vocal line. It doesn’t sound like anything we did with Manuel, so he couldn't have reasons to fucking sue us or whatever. His version was amazing, but Anders' is equally amazing.” Deep Down South (feat. Johanna Sadonis) “So it’s about a girl who is slaughtered by this man because she cheated on him, but she comes back from the grave for revenge. So my advice to the world and to all the men out there is, don’t fuck with angry women because she's going to come back and fuck you up. I had David Vincent from Morbid Angel on standby to do the male part, and I was looking for a female partner to answer the dialogue. Then I was walking around backstage at Tuska Festival [in Helsinki] and I see fucking Johanna from LUCIFER sitting with her husband Nicke, from Entombed. So I told them that I have this idea, and I thought of them because it’d be like an amazing fucking Nick Cave kind of story with a real married couple who love each other, but in the song, you can kill each other. That’d be amazing, that’s what songs are for. And they loved the idea. They have their own studio; they were super cool, super easy to work with, and Nicke played a killer guitar lead on the song too. Three weeks later, I had the fully finished track.” Man of the Cross (feat. Jérôme Reuter) “We’d emailed each other and suddenly I was like, Jérôme—he's the man. He's that man. So I said I'd be honored if he could be part of the album. He replied immediately, saying, 'Only if you're gonna sing on the Rome album.' I was like, ‘Holy shit, I don't know if I'm skilled enough to do that, but I can give it a shot.' 'Okay, here's the song.' So he sent me his demo right away and it's fucking amazing. I was so inspired by his song that I grabbed my Gretsch and wrote the folky Me and That Man song for him, on the spot. It was a virtual dialogue.” You Will Be Mine (feat. Matt Heafy) “I first reached out to TJ [Cowgill], from King Dude, but he didn’t like the lyrics: ‘You want to sing a song about fucking killing women in those times? It's not right.’ I mean, shit, you’re an artist. As an artist, you can do whatever the fuck you want. You can rape, kill, you can be anyone you want within the song, within your creation. I mean, that's what movies are for. That's what theater plays are for. That's what paintings are for. There should be no limit. If you think that killing women is not right, but you’re a huge Nick Cave fan, how are you dealing with him killing all the women on Murder Ballads? It doesn't take a gentleman out of Nick Cave. It's a character. It's not him. And it's not me. So King Dude says no, and then I'm backstage with Matt Heafy from Trivium and I know he's friends with Ihsahn, so I played him the song and he was blown away. Later, he actually asked if we could Auto-Tune his vocals. But they were perfect. ‘Not only are we not Auto-Tuning it, we're not editing a fucking single bit. It doesn't need anything. It is perfect as it is, maybe even too perfect. Shut the fuck up.’” How Come? (feat. Corey Taylor) “Someone told me Corey Taylor was playing Me and That Man on his podcast. We have the same management, so I asked for his cell just to thank him for supporting the project. I texted him that I’m super grateful, that it means a lot, blah blah—and then we stayed in touch. At some point it felt natural for me to reach out to him and he was like, ‘I'm absolutely doing it.’ But from ‘yes’ to action is a long process. But two weeks to the deadline to deliver the masters, he texted, ‘Man, tomorrow I have a window in the studio. Please send everything in one file, I'm doing it tomorrow.’ So he did it in one take; it was beautiful. I have no words to express how grateful I am to him. And some people have said they can’t recognize [his voice], which is good. That's what I really wanted.” Confession (feat. Niklas Kvarforth) “So, the album opens and closes with guys from Shining. Shining is black metal, but it's pretty avant-garde, it's pretty diverse. The guy can definitely sing, but this is Niklas as you've never heard him, with this spaghetti western background, singing about disappointing everyone in his life, his parents, his lovers, himself. It’s a very genuine song. Then I came up with the ending in the studio, because the main ballad part was just too short. I thought that if we just go crazy at the end, we can put it as the last song on the record, and we’ll have everyone confused. The band loved the idea, and started just going nuts. So there are these two parts—the slow, mellow ballad and this crazy, raw beat—and it ends the record. The signal we're sending out is that in the future, you can expect anything from us.”

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