Interview with John Gelso (The Royal Arch Blaspheme)

The Royal Arch Blaspheme?

 Not a band for the mainstream metal public, let me tell you. 

Things are different here at Dead Void Dreams and when Patrick interviewed band's founder John Gelso I knew this is gonna be a great reading for all you cursed souls out there. Do you agree?

Originally published on Winter Torment Zine



Patrick: Hails John! Thank you for taking the time to fill out this interview! Please introduce yourself to the readers.

John Gelso: Greetings, it all began in 1986 when Paul Ledney and I disbanded a punk project to begin the death/black metal band Toten. Since then, I’ve played guitar in a handful of bands. The only noteworthy ones I care to mention would be Profanatica, Contrivisti, and The Royal Arch Blaspheme.

Patrick: When did you and N.Imperial first meet? What gave you guys the idea to form The Royal Arch Blaspheme? How did the two of you choose the name of the band? How would you describe the band's music for the readers who have never heard The Royal Arch Blaspheme?

John Gelso: I met N. Imperial in Texas at the 2009 Sacrifice of the Nazarene Child Fest. I created RAB as a side project while Paul worked on Havohej in the autumn of 2008. The name was taken from Aleister Crowley’s “Energized Enthusiasm: A Note On Theurgy“ written in 1913. After creating the majority of the hymns, I needed someone with a strong voice to complete the work. I thought of asking Ledney, but felt the album would be viewed as an odd Profanatica album. In addition, I wanted RAB to be its own entity. At Sacrifice of the Nazarene Child Fest, N. Imperial gave me a copy of March Into The Sea. After one listen, I knew he was the perfect fit for RAB
I would describe RAB as dark, inward, haunting, and powerful. Both N. Imperial and I pen the lyrics that vary on themes from self-empowerment and ancient truths, to the disgust of religious hypocrisy and it oppressive nature. 

Patrick: Originally the band was just yourself and N.Imperial but for the new release 'II' you decided to add more members for a full-band. Why did you guys decide to add more musicians? Are you happy with the decision so far? Please introduce the new members of the band.

John Gelso: It was my idea to expand RAB, I encouraged everyone to contribute to this album. I’ve worked with Alex and Blake while recording Profanatica’s 'The Grand Master Session'. There is strong chemistry between us when we perform. Everything comes together very quickly. They are both part of the RAB going forward.
Alex and Blake are both previously from Demoncy. In addition, they have both done live session work with Profanatica. Alex also runs and operates Negative Existence.

Patrick: Are you all interested in playing any "live" shows/fests/tours in the future, or would you prefer to keep The Royal Arch Blaspheme a studio-only band?

John Gelso: I would be interested in doing a few live performances with RAB, preferable a fest. I’m more interested in working on the next album.

Patrick: The band recently released their second CD 'II' through Hells headbangers Records. How long did it take to write and record the songs for this release? Which usually comes first in the writing process - the lyrics or the music?

John Gelso: Music comes first, then titles, then lyrics. This album is a bit unique when it comes to the writing of it. I’ve purged ideas I’ve been holding on to for a while. The first riff you hear in “Vama-Marga” was written in 1987. It was taken from a Toten hymn titled “Dreary Proximity.” It was never recorded, but the riff remained in my memory over the years. "Resurrection of Depravity" was written in 2004 in homage to Quorthon. The song “Call from the Grave” inspired the vocals style and is meant as a tribute. 

Patrick: Everyone has their own ideas/opinions on what black metal means/stands for, so I was interested in what you what yours were. What does "black metal" mean to you?

John Gelso: In my opinion, black metal began with Venom. It’s a true dishonor to them when people say it was stared in Norway. To me it’s all about the music and the feel. Its roots are in punk music. While punk is against the establishment, black metal is against religion and what is perceived to be moral. They both have rage within it core. 

Patrick: I know you have been a part of the black metal scene for many years now. How do you feel the scene has changed over the years? Do you feel it has gotten better or worse over the years?

John Gelso: It can never be the same. While there are a lot of great artists out there, and a greater amount of people that truly appreciate the music, the newness of it can never return.

Patrick: I also remember in the early/mid 90's the USBM scene was not really respected or taken very serious from the Europeans. Do you see much of a change in this over the last 10-15 years?

John Gelso: For USBM in general, I feel it’s changed a little. Some bands are getting more respect, though Profanatica still remains possibly the most passionately hated within Europe and the US, especially amongst critics.

Patrick: What is your personal opinion of the scene in the US? Who are some of your all-time favorite USBM bands? Are there any new bands you feel will make an impact and people should watch out for in the near future?

John Gelso: There are many great bands in the U.S. All time favorites: Demonic Christ, Demoncy, Black Witchery

Patrick: How do you feel about the black metal bands that use keyboards, synths and female vocals etc. to add "atmosphere" to their music?

John Gelso: I’m not into keyboards or synths in black metal. While its not something I would choose to do, I don’t mind if its in an intro or outro. Overall, black metal should have a more punk feel. I like female vocals. Fuck, Demonic Christ is killer!

Patrick: If you don't mind a few personal questions I had wanted to ask - would you consider yourself a Satanist or just anti-all religion? At what age did you really start to question religion and god etc.?

John Gelso: I started questioning religion at a very early age. I was around 4 or 5 old when I started attending C.C.D (Confraternity of Christian Doctrine), not by my choice. From the beginning I saw many flaws in Catholicism. I quickly developed a true hate for all the ignorance and hypocrisy that I was being "taught.” Catholicism is a plague of misogyny, paedophilia, fear, and destruction of self will. It was created to enrich a few and lure the sheep by providing a false sense of security. Throughout my life I’ve studied other world religions and found the same shit.

Patrick: Who are some Satanists/Occultist you study and follow the most? Do you have any kind of philosophy you try to live by?

John Gelso: I’ve studied Anton LaVey, Aleister Crowley, and Helena Blavatsky to name a few. Years ago I did some work for Tracey Twyman and Boyd Rice, helping them with a website. It provided me with access to a healthy amount of compelling articles and spoken word audio files they created. I have much respect for the amount of knowledge they’ve gathered over the years.

Patrick: How do you feel the world would be different if the religion of any kind (Christianity, Satanism, Paganism etc.) was never introduced to humanity?

John Gelso: Our species would be much farther evolved. Or we would have annihilated ourselves.

Patrick: Coming back to music besides The Royal Arch Blaspheme you are also a part of the legendary Profanatica! Whats new with Profanatica - any band news/updates you would like to share at this time?

John Gelso: There’s should be a new Profanatica album coming out later this year. We finished recording it about a year ago. I’m not clear on why it hasn’t been released yet. Last I hear, Hells Headbangers where waiting for Paul’s artwork. It has 9 new songs, our best effort yet.

Patrick: We have reached the end the of interview,thank you for taking time to fill this interview out. do you have any final words for the readers?

John Gelso: Praise to those who support. 


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