The provocative Psyclon Nine recently released “More To Hell,” an EP that features new material along with remixes from their thrilling 2022 album “Less To Heaven.” This new EP includes remixes by Skold, Suicide Commando as well as Psyclon Nine vocalist and bandleader Nero Bellum himself. Psyclon Nine released their groundbreaking debut album “Divine Infekt” in 2003. Since that time, Psyclon Nine has continued to drop explosive albums of darkened metal industrial electronics and tour frequently, feeding a thirsty fanbase of devotees. We recently sat down to chat with Nero Bellum, near the end of a lengthy North American tour just as Psyclon Nine were about to headline Dark Force Fest, a packed Goth and Industrial festival and convention in New Jersey.
S & S – Your excellent new EP entitled “More to Hell,” seems more like an extension of your epic 2022 album “Less to Heaven,” was that your intent?
Nero – I look at MORE TO HELL as a companion to LESS TO HEAVEN and as an opportunity to collaborate with artists that I respect. It also allowed me to have a platform for the single FOR THE NIGHT IS DARK AND FULL OF TERRORS. It can certainly be looked at as an extension/continuation.
S & S – I really like the dark ambient soundtrack styled tracks on “Less To Heaven,” one of which “Catastrophic,” was remixed into a dark lullaby by the amazing Tim Skold on “More to Hell.” Tim has been a frequent collaborator of yours over the years and the two of you seem to share an excellent musical connection, can you tell us more about this chemistry?
Nero – Tim and I developed a friendship and mutual admiration over the years. I look at him as a kindred spirit and the only artist that I would ever trust with a song as personal as CATASTROPHIC. As any mother might be hesitant to put their child in the arms of a stranger, I feel a deep connection to the art that I create and especially so with CATASTROPHIC which, felt less like a song when it was composed and closer to an open heart surgery. It could have only been touched by someone who I trust and someone who knew where and how the song was birthed.
S & S – In 2017, Metropolis re-released a remastered version of your debut 2003 album “Divine Infekt.” What are your thoughts of your early material? Do you ever think back to when you originally formed Psyclon Nine and imagine that it would lead you to where you are today?
Nero – I look back on that time and see a teenager attempting to compose his first songs whilst simultaneously learning (by trial and error) the in’s and out’s of hardware synthesizers, drum machines, samplers, sequencers etc. What you hear on that first album is a collection of my very first experiments with song writing. It took a few years to hone my craft and develop the sonic aesthetic that I was aiming for. I often say that CRWN THY FRNICATR was the first “true” PSYCLON NINE album as, I look at DIVINE INFEKT and I.N.R.I. as polished demo’s more than albums. That said, I’m not ashamed of those albums and I feel that there are still a few good tracks scattered amongst them. And although we haven’t performed any of those songs in a live setting in many years… It might be time to pull them out soon.
S & S – You’ve managed to find a way to bridge the gap between dark electronic industrial sounds and aspects of black metal while remaining a very prolific tour de force, has your inspiration and drive for making music changed over the years?
Nero – My inspiration changes constantly. It’s incredibly important to me that I remain authentic to myself and I allow my vision to have a fluidity to it. I’ve always felt more comfortable on the outside of genre. I have no desire to fit in with whatever is popular at the moment and more of a desire to go in an opposite direction if anything. I’m a contrarian by heart. Inspiration comes to me in the form of sounds rather than music. Oftentimes I’ll compose entire songs around a single, central sound. FOR THE NIGHT IS DARK AND FULL OF TERRORS is a good example of this. The entire track was written around a recording of an oil barrel being hit with a tuning hammer in a sewer tunnel. These are the concepts that inspire me. Some artists sit down with a guitar or, sit at a piano and compose melodies that will then be arranged/adapted into a song. I find a unique “instrument” record a “performance” and then manipulate the recordings in my studio. The journey is as important to me as the finished result.
S & S – Do you listen to much new music and can you recommend any up and coming bands that you would like to mention?
Nero – I don’t actively search out new music. New artists need to be forced on me by friends / outside sources. I have a fairly diverse taste and some people might be surprised by some of the artists that I do listen to. If I’m being asked to drop some names for people to check out, I would suggest Surachai, Snakes Of Russia (who remixed SEE YOU ALL IN HELL on MORE TO HELL), and Health (who we just performed with at Dark Force Fest and who put on a great show).
S & S – You have a reputation for being an avid admirer of vintage 1970s synthesizers and sounds. Can you share with our audience some of your favorite electronic gear? Do you have any favorite artists amongst the 1970s synthesizer electronic pioneers?
Nero – I have a love for unique instruments in general. I do prefer modular to fixed format synthesizers as they lend themselves to experimentation and a lot of the modules that I use are modern interpretations of classic 60’s and 70’s Buchla, Moog and Arp designs. It’s never been about chasing a sound from that era for me. It’s all about pushing boundaries and the modular domain is where I find the most interesting technology. What’s attractive about Eurorack to me is being able to integrate modern / digital synthesis methods (granular / sampling etc) with vintage / analog components. I like to have as many “colors” at my disposal as possible when composing
S & S – Psyclon Nine just recently completed a large tour of North America that included an appearance at the Dark Force Festival. Do you have any other tours planned?
Nero – Nothing that I can discuss at the moment but, definitely keep an eye on our Instagram for updates.