Sol Invictus

Tony Wakeford is of course known as the frontman of Sol Invictus. Recently the compilation “The Giddy Whirls of Centuries” was released, which gives an overview of the 15 years that this apocalyptic folkband is active now. Not that a reason was really necessary to ask Tony for some reactions…

Tony, I don`t think that you need a real introduction anymore. Is there anything we don’t know yet about yourself and/or Sol Invictus?

Tony: Lots, but as it would probably get me a prison sentence, I shan’t elaborate.

What made you decide to release the Sol Invictus compilation “The giddy whirls of centuries”?

Sol1Tony: Well the evil that is World Serpent mentioned the idea ages ago. At the time I was not too keen but thinking about it and getting advice from friends I decided it would be a good idea. It?s a good inexpensive way for someone to get an idea of the group, then hopefully dash out and buy the back catalogue, he says with childish naivety.

Is this compilation the epitaph of Sol? Or are you still full of ideas and motivation after 15 years?

Tony: Good question. At the moment it does feel a little like an epitaph, but I think that is because I have been under the weather for a while. I still have some ideas–time will tell.

If you compare the oldest Sol songs with the latest compositions, they sound much more basic. Is it a conscious development to make complexer, more orchestrated songs?

Tony: Well it would be very sad if I had not moved on from the first album. Obviously I have changed and my music has changed with it. The music, thanks to the musicians I am working with, has matured. However my voice is still… my voice!!!!!!

Can you name some highs and lows of your career so far, music- or otherwise?

Sol2 Tony: Well the baby-eating Nazi rubbish gets a tad boring. “In The Jaws Of The Serpent” was perhaps not a high point.

Working with Matt and Eric has been at the high end, as has my work with ex-offender Blake. Meeting and working with Tor Lundval has also been a pleasure.

I could have done without being rushed to hospital… oh yes and getting married was ok I suppose!

Can you comment a little on the hidden unreleased material on the compilation? (hint: search at the beginning)

Tony: They were demos recorded at “the Blade” sessions, but I was not happy with them. They later turned up re-recorded on “Thrones”.

Which ‘Thrones’ does your last album deal with? Are you a enthusiastic monarchist? Or has it to do with ‘The Gods’ that play a big part on the album?

Tony: I was on holiday with my wife in Cornwall and there was an art exhibition with a throne made out of driftwood. I went back to the hotel and wrote the title song.
And I am not an enthusiastic monarchist!

You seem to have a fascination for murder stories, they occur regularly in your work (like ‘Then he killed her’ on “Thrones”). What attracts you in that subject? And do you have favourite crime books or TV series?

Tony: Yes, I have since being a precocious and macabre youth. I like Barbara Vine a lot and Chandler of course. The whole Noir genre really. There is a whole tradition of murder ballads that I hope to shamelessly plunder in these twilight years.

Speaking of happy subjects, you are known for your rather gloomy and critical lyrics about the state the world is in. Are you getting milder now you are a little less young, or do you believe as strong as ever that the modern world is doomed?

Sol3Tony: On a personal level I am a lot happier. That?s love for you. I will stop before all your readers drown in there own vomit. On the question of the future I am even more pessimistic, I just don’t bother writing about it as much.

On your last two albums were some jazzy experiments. Do you listen to jazz, and when will your first jazz album come out?

Tony: I listen to some jazz. I am the first to admit a lot of jazz is crude. But Davis, Coltranie, Mingus and Chet Baker are often played. Eric wants to do a joint Jazz album.

Can you tell us some more about your musical tastes at the moment?

Tony: Quite into lounge and moody Jazz and of course people like Arvo Part. We have two cockatiels that like 70’s music. So its been Sweet, Slade and Boney M. That?s birds for you!

I once read that you don’t really like playing live. Is still the case? For a band who doesn’t play that much live you release quite a lot of live albums?

Tony: I don?t like playing live much, although it’s less of a pain when playing with the present line up.
Yes, there have been plenty of live releases. They have often been small pressings for die-hard fans. I try to keep the quality up rather then leaving it to crap bootlegs.

I have the feeling that the role of your bandmembers is getting larger on the last Sol records. To quote Matt Howden: “I’ve worked out a way to get the live performances more like the record, as I originally intended with my first ideas about the productioncloning. We only need three Karls, four Sallys, five Erics and possibly sixteen of me? for that big string sound on ‘The Thrill Has Gone’. Fifteen of me can go to the bar for most of the rest of the set. Oh, and a Tony too.” Are Howden and co taking over?

Tony: Yes, they lock me in the basement and only let me out when it’s been mixed.

One of your most ambitious projects so far must have been L’Orchestre Noir. Will there ever be a sequel?

Tony: I hope so. I am playing around with a couple of ideas.
Some songs based on some short stories and music based on the work of an architect.

What are your opinions about the tribute album “Sol Lucet Omnibus”, released earlier this year by Cynfeirdd?

Tony: Pretty good. In general I am not over keen on tributes and there have been some terrible ones, but I think this one was good.

Are there any artists/songs you would like to cover?

Tony: Nick Drake, Leonard Cohen, Jethro Tull. I won’t of course.

I read that the Sol Invictus performance at the Dark Nations festival in Vienna was cancelled, after (left-wing?) threats. Doesn’t it make you sad or angry that these things still happen, or have you become immune to it?

Tony: Well the promoter received some threats and decided to cancel, as he was worried about security. I can see his point, but I think it sets a bad precedent for all bands. There are some rumours that it might not have been a left wing thing at all–but who knows. With the far right doing well all over Europe, you would think these people would have more important things to do.

In the past some other talented artists were released on your label Tursa, like Algiz or Skald. Will there be more of such releases on Tursa, or will it focus solely on your own work?

Tony: I would like to release others, but at the moment such is the state of things I can not afford to risk something not breaking even, so for now it?s a matter of playing safe. Which is a bit depressing.

I don’t want to criticize your beloved webmistress, but the Tursa-site isn’t the most dynamic of websites. There could be made more out of it probably, and why no flashy solinvictusdotcom? Is it just a matter of lack of time? Or don’t you see internet as an interesting medium?

Tony: No, you feel free to criticize. Ren?e is very busy being a modern high-powered business girly so has no time for Tursa. Sob!

How is it like to have your wife in the band? Can you keep domestic affairs and business matters a bit separate?

Tony: Well she only plays one-fingered piano when I can’t play it. It’s not a problem.

A more serious topic then: in 2001 I heard that you had to cancel some concerts due to severe health problems. Have you fully recovered, and has it affected your lifestyle or mentality?

Sol4Tony: Well it’s something that will be with me for the rest of my life, but I am a lot better. It just means I have even less energy then before. I was lazy to start with, but now I am a human sloth.

Recently I changed medication, which knocked me out for a while. Anyway it’s hardly of much interest other than to my doctor or undertaker.

Will the Sol 3 magazine/cd ever come out?

Tony: At the moment we are thinking of releasing it as a CD-Rom and CD.

A classic question: if you could bring along only 5 albums to a better world, which would that be?

Tony: These are ever changing. The Faust Tapes, Larks Tongues in Aspic, Aqualung, Mozarts Requiem, The Nick Drake Box set.

Any final thoughts?

Tony: Thanks for asking the questions; please give me good reviews. I thank you–drum roll!