We ring to discuss the Me and That Man, Nergal's blues- and outlaw-country-inflected project, which is set to release its sophomore album, New Man, New Songs, Same Shit, Vol. 1, on March 27th via Napalm Records (you can pre-order it here). A left turn from Behemoth, Me and That Man has now taken a left turn from its own debut LP, 2017's Songs of Love and Death, which Nergal created as a part of a duo with British guitarist John Porter, who has since departed. "That was the most difficult artistic relation on a personal level that I've ever experienced in my life," the Behemoth frontman laments.
"John is almost 70 years old, OK?" Nergal explains. "My father is 74, so it's like, just imagine you started a band with your father. It's hardly possible. It's too much of a difference. Artistically, it was cool, it was very driving and inspirational. But there's no way I could continue. Before I even told him, he kicked himself out of the band. He didn't even send me a text or anything. He just announced it on social media."
Alone, Nergal had a vision for Me and That Man's future, which would see him serve as "a curator of a very open project that can transform into different mutations." As the new album's title suggests, there's now a "new man" and new songs, ranging in style from dark folk to death gospel to Spaghetti Western. Heavyweights such as Corey Taylor, Matt Heafy and Brent Hinds join the extreme-metal artist on tracks, as do more underground artists like Grave Pleasures' Mat McNerney, Lucifer's Johanna Sadonis and Shining's Niklas Kvarforth.
"Trust me, I've listened to these songs countless times," Nergal says, exploding with joy. "I'm excited like a kid with just listening to it. It says a lot."
In his very first interview for the New Man, New Songs, Same Shit, Vol. 1, we talk about how he wrangled those guests, what Vol. 2 may hold, outlaw vibes, the biggest luxury on earth, and, you know, that time he took a leak on a fridge.
AFTER "THAT MAN" DEPARTED, HOW DID YOU KNOW WHERE YOU WANTED TO TAKE THIS PROJECT?
ADAM NERGAL DARSKI I kind of sensed what direction I wanted to take with the band. ... There are bands of that kind out there that kind of operate on similar basis. I'm thinking of maybe the first Slash album with all the guys. I'm a huge fan of solo record from Tony Iommi, where he had Ozzy Osbourne, Billy Idol, Ian Astbury and some of the most amazing icons of the genre.
So, it's kind of similar, you know what I mean? Because there is, like, one guy, [the] mastermind, who just gets different individuals together to collaborate and make songs. But honestly, I cannot think of any other album, what I did with Me And That Man, that was done ever in the history, where basically metal guys make music that is not metal. If there is one, tell me, because I've never heard of it. Maybe this is something that happens for the first time in a history of heavy-metal music — that you've got all these guys singing stuff that is very much un-metal, I'd say. So, I'm very happy about the whole approach. And maybe that's one of your upcoming questions, because the album title is New Man, New Songs, Same Shit, Vol. 1 — yes, Vol. 2 is in the works.
IN TERMS OF ALL THE GUESTS, HOW DID YOU GO ABOUT IT? DID YOU MAKE A WISHLIST OR DID THEY REACH OUT?
Really all different ways. So, for example, I've be talking to someone, a friend of mine, an artist, and then all of a sudden just with talking with him, it'd be like, "Holy shit, hey, by the way, do you like to make a song with me for the Me and That Man?"
Mat [McNerney] was one of the very first choices. Why? Because I remember I went to see Grave Pleasures with King Dude in Berlin. We were already friends with Mat because we met in Rzeszów, Poland before. It was before the first album [Songs of Love and Death], we just sit together, I'd play them the songs.
Mat was a fan of Me and That Man before even the first record was out. We'd be in Finland with Mat backstage and I would play for him the videos, "My Church Is Black" and other videos before they were officially out there. I'll always ask his opinion, and I'll always value it. He was one of the very first on my list because I'm a huge fan of his voice.
So, what happened? The first record was basically, I would just have my songs and my lyrics. John has his. This time most of the music is music that I wrote myself, all of the lyrics or something like that. But when I approached Mat, he said, "Yeah, sure. Send the song." Before I even thought about that, he would send back the finished song, "Burning Churches." And he's like, "Man, because you mentioned that, and I wrote that song thinking about you. So, if you want to use it, use it. If you don't, no problem. I'm still singing on your song." When I heard that song, I'm like, "Man, I'm so taking it because it's amazing." This is Me and That Man vibe. So, see, I really wanted it to be very flexible and open.
Every time I would talk to the guys, let's say Siver [Høyem] from Madrugada, "Coming Home," one of my all-time favorite vocalists. This is like my wet dream that happens now that I have this guy singing on my song. I told him, "Here's the song, and here's the lyrics." "Coming Home" is a song that I fully written and completed around the first album. I even sent it to John, and he wasn't really interested anymore. So it's, like, a three-year-old song. And then I send it over to Siver, and told him, "Man, it's very open. If you want to fuck around with the lyrics, change something, just go for it." So he did some tweaks and we kind of co-wrote it together. That was my approach with everyone. If you feel like changing something, do it.
Some people would just redo everything. Like Niklas [Kvarforth] from Shining, I would send him finished lyrics. He just kept two words of my lyrics. I was cool with that because he kept the spirit, he kept the idea. I want this project to be about freedom.
Corey Taylor, he just sang his song, every word that he got, which surprised me. But then again I must say that he's humble. The guy of that size of an artist being that humble is unheard of. He's fronting two big bands [Slipknot and Stone Sour], and I mean big fucking bands out there. He just collaborates with some extreme-metal guy from Poland on this niche blues project, and he really wants to do it? It says a lot about these people that are contributing.
WHAT'S NEAT ABOUT THIS RECORD IS YOU HAVE THOSE BIG NAMES — COREY, MATT HEAFY, BRENT HINDS — BUT ALSO MAT McNERNEY, JOHANNA SADONIS AND SUCH. YOU MIGHT INTRODUCE NEW LISTENERS TO SOME OF THE MORE UNDERGROUND ARTISTS.
Mmhmm. You know what? One of the coolest things that I heard, I believe from Jørgen [Munkeby] from Shining, is like, "You know what I like about this project, man? That it's not that you came to me and said, 'Hey, I got Corey Taylor on the record. Would you like to join me?' All of that information I would just find out along the way. But it wasn't your selling point. You're not trying to seduce me or tempt me with being next to some of the biggest guys there, because that's not the point."
Let me put it that way, if this record doesn't sell, at the end of the day you'll have a happy fucking Nergal. I really hope that every person who's contributed on that record is content and is just fulfilled and happy that we're sharing this energy on that album. That's it. My work is done here. I'm already happy. I'm dying a happy man if my number comes up tomorrow, because it's fucking awesome. Big mainstream guys, Corey Taylor, Matt Heafy, they don't really need to do that kind of stuff. But I honestly hope that even them can benefit from that record, you know what I mean?
I remember sending a song to Vegard, Ihsahn, ex-Emperor, like a black-metal legend. I approached him. He was interested, but he was like, "Man, don't know if I can do it." I'm like, "Well, let's give it a shot, OK?" So, I sent him "By the River." The song was complete, finished with me singing. So, he suggested, "Maybe I just do the choruses with you?" I'm like, "No! I want you to sing the whole fucking song." I told him, "Please give it a shot. If you're not happy with it, we just call it off. No problem, no stress. But please, if you start recording, please make sure you have fun doing it. Can you do it for me?" He was like, "OK, let's do it." Two weeks later I'm receiving the tracks, and it's just blowing my mind out completely, because behold, Ihsahn from Emperor singing fucking blues as if he's done it all his life. I believe that people would be blown away by the fact that a guy, their black-metal hero, can completely fuck the system in this different genre called, I don't know — blues rock or whatever the name of that is, I don't give a fuck anymore.
IF YOU COULD COLLABORATE WITH ANYONE, ALIVE OR DEAD, WHO WOULD IT BE?
The list never ends. Yeah, I'm a realist, so what I'm supposed to tell you, Jim Morrison? [Laughs] No, I focus on the guys that I myself am a huge fan of like Ian Astbury. I've been talking to Glenn Danzig, and at some point I think we should do something together. He's open. He's always been super friendly and I just adore his work. I already mentioned two ... Iggy Pop. All I got to say is that I'm working, OK? [Laughs]
It's like people haven't heard Vol. 1 yet, but it's already a surprise with all those names. I think I'm going to have some aces ready for Vol. 2, as well. And I'm ready because some of the stuff is already recorded and some is to be recorded, but I really hope that also this record eventually is going to resonate. So, maybe when I approach some of the guys, or re-approach them because that's my plan, too, because there's some names that I really want to be part of that but for some reason, sometimes they're just too busy touring, this, that.
CONSIDERING THE NEW ALBUM'S OUTLAW VIBE, WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE OUTLAW — FICTIONAL OR REAL?
When you said that, I immediately thought about Townes Van Zandt. That's the first name. There's more, of course. The legendary guys that are dead. But there's some new guys like Hank Williams III. I think at some point I'd love to work with Hank, too. We already talked about it, so, "Hey, Hank, if you're reading this, reply to my email!" [Laughs]
IN THAT OUTLAW VEIN — WHAT'S THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU'VE TOTALLY IGNORED?
I'm not really the person that's like, "Shit, I wish I shouldn't had done that." I'm the last person to do that. Why? Because I'm 43 this year and I like where I am now in my life. It's not a bad fucking life — it's actually pretty fucking cool. Both bands are doing well and I'm pretty fucking healthy. I guess this is the peak of my life's career so far. I hope it ain't over, blah, blah, blah. So, it's all good. So, I won't be like one of those guys, "No, I should have done this decision."
Of course, I was screwed and I was cheated on several times. Ahhh, well, OK, so two things. Once I was with this girl, and some guys told me, "Hey, there's something wrong with it, because she did this and this and that." Of course, when you're in love, you're so fascinated with the person. You'll just ignore all of that, and then just consider it all a lie, and you will just follow your dick basically, not your logic. Eventually, you just wake up one day, and like, "Holy fuck, I should have listened." So, I've been there, in that situation. This would have avoided a lot of disappointment, tears and some other stuff. This is one thing. And second, when youngsters like bands, whatever, they asked me for advice and I probably had heard that advice billions of times already in the interviews. If I was smarter, I would really get a lawyer much earlier into my career to read some of the contracts. [Laughs] Just get someone — a manager or a lawyer who you trust to protect your business. There's always people who will take advantage on you at some point, and just protect yourself. That's it.
I KNOW YOU'RE A REALIST AND VERY MUCH IN THE PRESENT, BUT IF YOU COULD DEFY THE LAWS OF NATURE, HAVE ANY SUPERPOWER, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Hmm ... you?
I'D PICK TELEPORTATION — GET TO A TO B MUCH QUICKER.
Really?! Even quicker than you can do it these days? Nahh ...
See, I'm on the other side of the fence. I'm like, "Being on a plane is fucking awesome! Can we make this a six-hour flight a 10-hour flight, please?" Why? That's very simple to answer. The first two hours they serve food. In the meantime, while they're serving the food, I'm going to kill one movie, and by the time that I eat and finish the movie, it's eight hours left. So then I grab my Xanax pill and I pass out for, like, let's say seven hours. They wake me up with breakfast or whatever, and when I land and I'm already in a different time zone on the other side of the globe, I'm already a little converted, you know what I mean? I had my sleep, and I maybe read a book or watched a movie, plus, which is the bottom line here, no one fucking disturbed me with messages, calls or anything, because it's a flight mode.
And these days being on flight mode is a huge fucking luxury especially for busy people like myself who run businesses, bands and shit. I'm always wired. So, it's good to be unwired for as long as possible, and you have always an excuse. So, being on a flight is an excuse.
I'VE NEVER THOUGHT OF IT THAT WAY. SOME DAYS I'D LOVE TO THROW MY PHONE OUT THE WINDOW.
See? Hey, hey — you're talking to the person that lost his phone and lost my social media. But, like, I try to read a book in my home. I'm always disturbed by something, and even if I just want to focus on a book, I'll still check my phone every 20 minutes. Then after one hour I'm like, "Holy shit, what I've been reading about?" So, on a plane, you don't have that kind of excuses because there's no phone. So finally I can focus on the readings.
I just came back from Goa, India. I had, like, two weeks to detox from social media, internet, everything. I killed fucking five thick books — 500, 600, 700 pages each. That's the best way of relaxation for me. Nothing disturbed me — just read a book and stay in the sun. That is amazing. But, hey, you asked me a question and here it is: I would like to fly. Why? Every now and then I do have dreams that flying is actually very easy, and I just move very fast with my hands and I elevate. It's very easy in a dream. It's super easy. Then I wake up and I'm very disappointed. It felt so easy, and I know it's not possible. [Laughs]
HAVE YOU EVER HAD A LUCID DREAM?
No, no, no, no, no. Ehhh, OK, I'm going to embarrass myself ... but I remember once when I lived in this 30-square-meter apartment, really cheap, really shitty. It was all I could afford. And I wasn't even drunk whatsoever, I was just sleeping in. In the middle of the night, I just went out to the kitchen and I pulled out my dick, with my closed eyes and I just start pissing on that fridge. Then I went back and slept through the night. Then woke up, and I didn't remember what happened. I went to the kitchen and there's, like, a wet stain. I'm like, "What was that? Did the fridge just get ...?" And I started calculating ... "Holy shit! Why I did that!?" It's weird. So, maybe it's some kind of a lucid dream, but it happened only a few times in my life that I did some weird shit. Other than that, my dreams are pretty decent, pretty deep and undisturbed.