Behemoth's Nergal

Behemoth’s Nergal Laments The Lack Of Danger In Modern Rock N’ Roll: “If You Don’t Want To Be Hurt, You Should Go Listen To Justin Bieber”


The state of rock n’ roll remains a prickly topic in recent years and you can count Behemoth‘s vocalist/guitarist Nergal among the latest to weigh in on the matter. Previously we’ve seen KissGene Simmons outright proclaim the genre as being dead—an assertion that led to much controversy. Others shared a more nuanced view, such as Maynard James Keenan of Tool/A Perfect Circle, etc. fame, who posited that we’ve almost outgrown the genre as a culture.

Then there’s the sales data to contend with, including rock losing it’s dominant position for the first time since 1991 in the United States last year. Nergal himself feels that one thing that may be contributing to the decline of rock is its current lack of danger. Speaking to Kerrang! awhile back in a piece newly shared online, he lamented the relative safety the genre now harbors:

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“To me, rock’n’roll is freedom. It just means doing whatever the fuck you want. It feels like we might be losing sight of that. It feels like rock might be becoming too safe…

I went to see Queens Of The Stone Age in Berlin recently – and they were fantastic. But then I’m browsing online a few days later and I see this drama all over the place that Josh Homme had kicked a photographer in the face [at the KROQ Acoustic Christmas show]. It seemed like all the world was against him; like he was dashed! On the one hand, of course I think that was a bad thing that he shouldn’t have done. But, on the other, I’m thinking, ‘Hey people, this is rock’n’roll!’ It can be dangerous. It can be chaotic. It can be stupid. It can get out of control. It has its own set of rights and rules!

It seems that everything has gotten so [reactionary] and politically correct recently. Back in the day, people would OD all the time, people would die, people would kill each other. We’re a culture that’s always used drugs and alcohol, and you’ve got to accept that we can occasionally use them too much. You look at Sid Vicious wearing a swastika shirt and you need to understand that doesn’t mean the guy is actually a fascist. It means he’s pissed off, he’s probably on heroin and he’s out of control.

I’ve wound up in so many boycotts and legal battles in Poland [because I’ve torn a bible up onstage or dressed as the clergy, or made a T-shirt that too closely resembles Poland’s coat of arms]. Those jokes became front-page news, and I’ve ended up wasting so much because of them. I have no agenda. I’m not a politician, I’m a stage persona. I like to poke at things – it’s cool, it’s inspiring, it’s life. When people share views, the more radical they are the better the discussion is. But there is no discussion there.

It’s not about provocation, either. It’s about honesty. I equally adore GG Allin and Jack White, but that doesn’t mean that Jack White needs to get his dick out onstage and cut himself. They’re both part of rock’s wider canon and I respect them both equally for who they are. Even [beyond conventional rock parameters] I look at bands like [San Diego synth-punks] Prayers whose members are ex-members of Latino gangs. There are some crazy stories in the closet and you can hear it in their music. They’re very credible to me, very honest – and I’m dying for that.

We’ve got to remember that this genre is about that freedom, that honesty. Sometimes rock’n’roll can hurt you. If you don’t want to be hurt, you should go listen to Justin Bieber…”

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