One criticism leveled at extreme metal artists is they become too one-dimensional and similar-sounding. But you certainly can't say that about Adam “Nergal” Darski.
Best-known as the longtime singer and guitarist of Polish metallers Behemoth, Nergal is also the leader of another Me and That Man, which specializes in rootsy, almost Americana-styled sounds (heck, he even ditches his signature black ESP LTD HEX-7 for a Gretsch White Falcon).
This month, Me and That Man return with their third release overall, New Man, New Songs, Same Shit, Vol. 2. And although it does feature a non-metallic sound, the gaggle of special guests it features are certainly from the world of metal – Gary Holt, David Vincent, Devin Townsend, Chris Holmes, Jeff “Mantas” Dunn among them.
Nergal spoke with Guitar World shortly before the release of New Man, New Songs, Same Shit, Vol. 2, to discuss gear, the album’s special guests, and his future plans.
What was the concept behind New Man, New Songs, Same Shit, Vol. 2.?
“There are plenty of guests. The main idea of Me and That Man is all about the collaborations. We have some amazing guys – people from all over the place. Some legendary figures and some individuals who are new to the scene. Heavy metal and beyond heavy metal.
“Volume 2 consists of several studio sessions. One is the Volume 1 studio session that we used for that album, then we did another studio session that was specifically dedicated for Volume 2, plus there are some outtakes from the first album [Songs of Love and Death] – from years before – that we worked on, and they ended up on the record.
“So, it’s why this album is very versatile. Maybe more than Volume 1.”
Which songs are you most proud of, guitar-wise?
“All Hope Is Gone includes one of the coolest traditional heavy metal singers – very underrated – Blaze Bayley, who used to sing for Iron Maiden. Then I thought, ‘OK, let’s ask Gary Holt to do a lead, and then let’s ask Mantas’ [aka Jeffrey Dunn], because I’m a huge Venom fan. That makes it a killer combo.
“I love it and I'm super-proud and happy that I got these three gentlemen on one song – a beautiful, Gary Moore kind of ballad. With two beautiful leads – one from Mantas, which is very smooth and laidback, and very Gary Moore-like. Whereas Gary Holt’s lead is crazier. If you put them all together and all these beautiful vocals, they just make a beautiful song.
“Another song that I’m really proud of musically is Coldest Day in Hell – because I used different tunings for this one – it’s me doing the main lead, but all around are little leads that were done by Doug Blair, from W.A.S.P. It’s leads and little tweaks all over the place. And then the other song on the record, Losing My Blues, includes Chris Holmes, the old school/classic W.A.S.P. guitarist.
“The whole Me and That Man thing… I’m playing with my ‘toys,’ yes. It’s a plaything – I love it. But, it’s also a big tribute kind of thing, as well. Not that I’m starstruck, but I’m honored to include some of my all-time heroes on one record.
“And what sums it up is just that I made most of the songs and it just makes it beautiful – because that means ‘connection.’ I got connected with these people.
“Another cool thing about Me and That Man is some of the guests, for example David Vincent, who is my good friend – but I also grew up listening to Morbid Angel. He is basically a ‘death metal vocal guru.’
“And then, it’s me and him – a Behemoth guy and a Morbid Angel guy – ending up making a fucking Americana/folk/bluesy song! That’s what I think makes this project so special.
“And it’s not wimping out. We’ve got our soft spots with David, and he’s a brilliant guy – great guy, great voice. And the song, Year of the Snake, is very retrospective. I was born in ’77, and in the Chinese calendar, ’77 was the year of the snake – so that’s where I take that name from.
“So, my verse is a short version of my life – it’s maybe six lines. Then the second verse is David’s take on his life – just another six lines. The shortest biography in the world! Coming from different angles.”
What's your guitar setup for Me and That Man?
“It’s very simple. I have some pedals – the names I don’t remember, because they were made custom for me. What is set in stone is always the same combination, it’s a Peavey Combo, vintage something – I’m so bad with names – and Gretsch guitars.
“I’m endorsed by Gretsch – I’ve been a huge fan of those guitars. I call them ‘jewels’ – they’re not really guitars, they’re jewels. They’re just beautiful pieces of art. When people think of Me and That Man, I want them to see a Gretsch. And when people see a Gretsch, they think of Me and That Man.”
How does it differ from your setup in Behemoth?
“You don’t want to hear any Behemoth song played with my Me and That Man set-up. We could never pull off anything – because it would sound like… someone farted! [Laughs]
“Of course, there are no secrets – with Behemoth, it’s a high-gain band. You’ve got to have this sustain and punch. You can’t do that with the Me and That Man setup. So, it’s basically two opposite worlds – because the music comes from two opposite angles.
“I mean, you can compare it… But what’s the purpose? It’s not going to work.”
How is it playing a Gretsch White Falcon compared to the ESP LTD HEX-7 – which you play in Behemoth?
“It’s like riding a horse, and then you switch to a BMW. A horse is beautiful, it’s organic, it’s an animal, and you can get from A to B, OK? You will do that.
“But your ass is going to hurt, your back is going to hurt… But you’re going to look super-cool. You’re going to look amazing. A BMW also looks cool, but in a different way – and it will be a hundred times faster to get from A to B. That’s the basic difference.”
Who are some musical artists that your fans may be surprised you admire?
“Often, I quote different artists on my Instagram. I’ll just come across a certain line or verses, and I’m like, ‘Oh shit, that’s awesome.’ And then people are like, ‘I didn’t know you were a fan of this and that guy.’ Every now and then I post something – I put some caption in quotes.
“There’s plenty of non-metal artists I would quote – whatever really resonates with me. It can be really anything from Nine Inch Nails to Lou Reed… And ending on Carmina Burana – I just went to see Carmina Burana in the opera last Saturday, and I was blown away.
“So, it’s three different universes, but they all resonate with me. I try to be open and I try to fit in different stuff.”
What are your future plans for Me and That Man and for Behemoth?
“Well, considering the world is still in deep shit, all we can do is just plan – but with no guarantees that those plans will materialize. So, let’s just take it day by day.
“Considering Me and That Man being such a niche project – there is a lot of video content coming, and I’m very happy with that. With Behemoth, I can’t really spoil too much. But what I can say is the projects we are involved in are massive. They’re all over the place. And they’re all happening. Yesterday there was something happening, tomorrow there is something happening.
“All the pieces of the puzzle are scattered ahead of me – there’s really no sense to reveal anything yet. Just sit tight, be patient, and when the right time comes, you’re going to see and hear Behemoth in its best shape.”
Do you think extreme metal has gone as far as it can go? Or is there always another step it can take?
“I don’t think I can be very optimistic here. I mean, I know how much I struggle myself with just getting to where I want to get. Where I’m like, ‘Holy shit. Did we just hit the roof?’ And then we try to turn back and, ‘OK, I just did something surprising. We can be the fastest band in the world.’
“Because when you’re in your 40s, you can’t really blast faster than the other musical genres that are blasting 300bpm or more – and they’re not even getting sweaty. So, there’s really no point anymore – for us. Just playing fast is not that extreme anymore.
“Is it extreme? I don’t know – my indications of what extreme is… I’m a huge fan of Diamanda Galás. I think she’s extreme. I don’t think any band can get close to the level of extreme as Diamanda Galás. So, let’s just leave it at that.”
- Me and That Man's new album New Man, New Songs, Same Shit, Vol. 2 arrives November 19 via Napalm Records.