Intervju med Saviour Machines Eric Clayton (2001)

En intervju från 2001 av Ronie Berggren med Eric Clayton, grundaren av det apokalyptiska metalbandet Saviour Machine om det då nysläppta albumet ”Legend III:I.

Förord, december 2021

Bibeln är en av världslitteraturens stora apokalyptiska verk. Den beskriver jordens tillkomst såväl som undergång, något som fascinerat troende såväl som icke-troende och ofta gestaltas i text och musik av en rad metalartister, som exempelvis Iron Maidens  ”The Number Of The Beast”.

Gemensamt för så gott som alla dessa metalband är dock att de plockar en enskild grej, en enskild text utan att sätta denna i den stora bibliska, och kristna kontexten. Ett band från Kalifornien gjorde i slutet av 1990-talet det sistnämnda. ”Bandet” hette Saviour Machine, lett av deras frontfigur Eric Clayton, som sedan sin ungdom varit en del av den tidens gothkultur. När han i ungdomen blev kristen såg han tillfället att göra det som få, om ens några andra band gjort bra, nämligen en heltäckande metalopera om den bibliska apokalypsen.

Detta musikprojekt skulle heta LEGEND, som på tre album släppta 1997, 1998 och 2001 (Samt en fjärde icke-officiell platta cirka 15 år senare) kom att skildra kulmen av syndafallet, när den onda frukten som plockades där i historiens gryning på trädet i Edens lustgård blomstrat ut till fullo och Antikrist trätt fram — vidare till Kristi återkomst, det godas seger. Musiken är inte lättlyssnad, och i motsats till exempelvis Iron Maiden bör den lyssnas till i dess helhet eftersom det är helheten i berättelsen som ger styrkan både till storyn och musiken. Men här likväl några korta axplock.

”Mark of the Beast”, från Legend II, 1998, tål att jämföras med Iron Maidens låt, men är mycket mer teologiskt genomarbetad:

Här ”A Pale Horse” med en text också den hämtad från Uppenbarelseboken:

Eller The New World Order, om det antikristliga världsstyret:

I december 2001 intervjuade jag Saviour Machines grundare Eric Clayton om hans apokalyptiska musikverk, hans band, hans tankar om teologi, musik och en hel del annat. Med åren fick Saviour Machine problem med sina medlemmar, sjukdom slog också till. I sin bok ”The Collective Journals 1997-2009” beskriver Eric Clayton sin och bandets långa, och inte alltid lättsamma resa.

Idag är Saviour Machine nedlagt. Men Eric Clayton är fortfarande en av de bästa att skildra apokalypsen i musik. LEGEND-projektet gavs ut av tyska Massacre Records och det var i stor utsträckning i Tyskland Saviour Machine höll europeiska konserter och hade fans. Men ”LEGEND-projektet” fick mindre uppmärksamhet än det förtjänade. Clayton lät dock inte det hindra honom.

Idag är prat om biochip under huden, och liknande därtill ännu mer aktuella än då, vilket gör allt än mer spännande. Saviour Machine var den klassiskt kristna ”anti-globalismen”, när den var mer teologisk än trendig. Så här intervjun, om inte på pricken, så samma månad 20 år senare.

Intervju, december 2001

1 Ronie: Legend III:I have just been released over the world, and many fans have already shown their great appreciation of this apocalyptic masterwork. How does it feel to finally after so many years of hard work at last have this album released?

Eric Clayton: It feels great…but it’s not the last one…there is one final album to come! I began composing Legend Part III in December 1998…this final part of the project was ALWAYS intended to be a double album so I knew that it could take twice as long to complete as any other single album…I spent the entire year of 1999 and half of 2000 composing and arranging the music for both albums, I wrote the lyrics for both albums in the fall of 2000….in late 2000, I was approached by my management and Massacre Records with an idea to split the double album into two separate releases..Although I was very reluctant at first, they convinced me that it would be the best thing to do for a number of reasons….All these reasons aside, the convincing factor for me, was that the fans had waited long enough….If I were to continue with the original plan to produce the double album, I would still be in the middle of the production at this time and the double album would not be released until sometime next year….I began producing disc 1 in January… the album was completed at the end of June…I am taking a short break between the 2 productions at the moment for promotional reasons…..I will begin recording disc 2 (Legend Part III:II) in a few months… If all proceeds as planned, it should be completed sometime late next year…

2. Ronie: How has the response on this album been from fans and journalists around the world so far?

Eric Clayton: The reactions to SM are and have always been VERY controversial! It is to be expected when you are involved with a project of this nature…The response has been very good so far….Like all SM albums, each new release is very different from its predecessor….It usually takes our core audience a little time to adjust….Their initial reaction has been
quite receptive to the direction of of the new album….The press has been great!

3. Do you have any idea about how many albums you´ve sold so far?

Eric Clayton: Of the new album? I have no clue at all…I should ask someone and find out! : )

Questions about the LEGEND project:

4. Ronie: Legend III:I is a great album, but it is one piece in a trilogy. How has the respons on this trilogy been from fans over the world ? Is the trilogy more or less popular than the earlier releases ?

Eric Clayton: Thank you…LPI and LPII have out sold SMI and II by almost double…
but I don’t know exactly what that means in regards to the fans?

I think that SM has become known for making very diverse albums…Each album is approached completely different than the others….I really try not to fall into artistic patterns…this happens with many artists and I think that their work suffers because of it….I get bored when artists do not challenge themselves in an attempt to explore new ground…All of my favoriteartists/bands, NEVER made the same album twice…I have always appreciated this… it shows integrity and growth!

5. Ronie: What is your vision for the Legend project. What was it that made you write this ”unofficial soundtrack for the end of the world” ? What do you want to achieve with it ?

Eric Clayton: The Legend Trilogy is inspired by the End Time Prophecies of The Holy Bible…After studying the Prophecies for several years, I felt compelled to translate the scriptures into a musical interpritation ”A soundtrack  for the ultimate script!” I ”decided” to follow this vision for two very important reasons…First, because it was (and is) what I believed God put in my heart to do…a type of ”calling” or mission that I may not understand completely, but I must try to follow faithfully… Second, because as an Artist, I felt that is was the most powerful and important ”story” ever written….no one had ever attempted to approach it musically in such a detailed and comprehensive way…I saw it as a massive artistic challenge!

In composing, arranging and producing The Trilogy, it is always a matter of finding the proper balance for each individual movement (song)…..My role is to interpret the content of each chapter and bring it to life through sound… to create a musical emotional representation….

6. Ronie: The Legend trilogy has taken years to accomplish and I understand that you must have a very passionate heart to finish something like this. But I also know that something as big as this must tear on the will as well as the spiritual and psycological strength. Have the thought ever struck you to just ”jump off the train” and put the whole project on ice forever ?

Eric Clayton: No…I have never lost the will to proceed…no matter how difficult at times…or…maybe I’m totally crazy? : )
I think that the Apocalypse is such a massive and terrifying topic that it is incomprehensible to many people…It is a subject that most musicians would rather not approach…I do not blame them at all…

One has to be a bit crazy to do a project like this : )

Questions about Saviour Machine:

7. Ronie: Lets talk a little about Saviour Machine now. Let me first ask the question I almost feel forced to ask. Will Saviour Machine ever come to Sweden to perform live here ?

Eric Clayton: There are no actual tour plans at the moment….SM will perform in Germany on December 9th and again in March of 2002… There are really no other dates available due to the production schedule of Legend Part III:II which will begin in a few
months…. Upon the completion of III:II, we may consider a full blown tour! There has been a vision for many years, that SM will someday perform the entire Trilogy as an opera….This vision will require a great deal of time, money and resources to bring it to
life… Until this time, any performances will showcase a collection of songs from throughout the 10 year career of Saviour Machine…

8. Ronie: Many people has labeled Saviour Machines music in very different ways. Ive heard everything from gothmetal to opera. What is the correct answer ? How do you classify Saviour Machines music ?

Eric Clayton: ”Apocalyptic Opera,”: ) I think that it is very difficult style to describe due to the fact that it is always
evolving in sound… It’s essential elements are so diverse that it is really impossible to classify SM in a particular genre…the key to SM’s enigma lies within it’s ever present contrast…It is bombastic, yet subtle.. overwhelming, yet inviting…distant, yet intimate…demanding, yet understanding…horrifying, yet beautiful…dark, yet glorious… In a synopsis…
SM’s sound is a very unique and powerful entity!

I don’t necessarily ”prefer” to be known as anything… To be called simply a”Christian,” ”Goth” or ”Metal” band is far too directional for SM…We have created a 10 year body of work that has transcended the boundaries of many music genres…I’ve always felt
that to label SM is unnecessary and unatural…It was never intended to ”fit into” any particular scene, style or movement…

9. Ronie: Saviour Machine is very popular among christians, but how popular are you in non- christian circles ? Could you give a describtion of the most common Saviour Machine fan ?

Eric Clayton: I have always thought of myself as an artist who is a believer…My beliefs are reflected in my work… If Saviour Machine has touched people or reached people on an intimate level, then it has ministered to them and I thank God for this opportunity…

Music is one of themost powerful forces in the universe…
For some people, the words or ”the message” is VERY important…For others, the emotional value of the music is enough to move them on some profound level…

I have been blessed with the opportunity to share this vision with Christians and non believers alike…I would estimate that our European audience is about 50/50…

Through Massacre Records, we have sold thousands of albums in the secular music underground…I am very thankful for this!

10. Ronie: Rumors says that when the Legend trilogy is completed, Saviour Machine will split up, and cease to be. Is that correct or is it just a rumor ?

Eric Clayton: Legend Part III:II will start production in a few months…. it is the final album of The Trilogy….This production will be the most difficult of SM’s entire career…I expect that it may take close to a year to complete….If all goes as planned, it could be released in late 2002!

Legend Part III:II will cover the final hours of history, The Battle of Armageddon, The Return of Christ, The Millennial Kingdom, The New Jerusalem…etc.. The final chapters of The Book of Revelation will unfold over 80 minutes of the most challenging, powerful and Glorious music I’ve ever written…It will be SM’s finest hour!

Saviour Machine will then retire from making albums after the completion of LPIII:II… it has been decided many years ago, that The Legend Trilogy would be our final project as SM….I have no idea exactly what I will do when it’s over but I’m sure that I will continue making music in come capacity…only time will truly tell?

11. Ronie: When you founded Saviour Machine, what was your intentions with doing so ? Have your goals been achieved during these years with the band ?

Eric Clayton: I have always considered SM as more of a project, rather than a ”band.” Through the years, the project
and the people involved it, have always evolved….

The ”project” known as ”SAVIOUR MACHINE” was formed in 1990…My goal from the beginning was to compose a group of talented artists who could collaborate in a massive vision….A vision of enigmatic sound and experimental theater… An artistic endeavor that would push the boundaries of the spiritual and emotional impact of music…
The name, ”SAVIOUR MACHINE” encompassed everything that I wanted the project to represent…
”A vehicle for reaching the heart of man…A force of immense strength and power…An invitation to salvation!”

From the very beginning of SM in 1990, I always hoped that we could evolve to become a musical entity like no other….something timeless and sacred that would inspire and move people in a very powerful way…

I have always hoped that the message of this project would be received and taken seriously…
It is a subject that is very close to my heart… I am grateful that it has had an impact on thousands of people throughout the years… I pray that it will continue to reach people for years and years to come!

Questions about Eric Clayton, faith, music and the end of the age:

12. Ronie: Could you say something about yourself, like where you live and what you do in life when you not create music and answer questions from fans ?

Eric Clayton: I am 33 years old, I live in So. California, I have been married to my lovely wife for over 15 years and we
are blessed with 2 beautiful daughters…My family is the greatest joy in my life…my work is the second
greatest joy…my faith in God is at the center of both!

13. Ronie: I like music, and Saviour Machine ranks very high on my list, but what music do you listen to ? Do you have any favorite bands that inspire/influence you ?

Eric Clayton: Though I appreciate innovative and powerful music,
I am far more inspired by great film making! : )

14. Ronie: Do you have any contact with the non christian metalscene ? If so; how do they look upon you and Saviour Machine?

Eric Clayton: Sorry, but I am completely unqualified to answer this question…
I am very detached from what is going on in ANY music scene…
I don’t even listen to modern music anymore!

15. Ronie: I understand that you´ve spent many, many hours studying escatology. What do you think about the floodwave of escatological litterature/movies that comes out these days ?(Like ”Left Behind”, ”the Omega Code” and so on)

Eric Clayton: I’ve never read the books….the films are HORRIBLE!
As a great fan of film…I cannot stand bad film making! : )

16. Ronie: With the exception for the Bible, do you have any favorite books that inspired and helped you while working on the Legend project ?

Eric Clayton: I have read hundreds of books on the subject, but ONLY
The Bible is truly inspirational in The Legend Trilogy!

17. Ronie: Much of the lyrics in your songs comes from the Bible. And I know that many people has been spiritual stregthend by listening to your music. But what does the Bible mean to you personally?

Eric Clayton: The Word of God is the greatest gift to mankind in this life, yet, it has also been misused and abused to create some of the most horrific crimes in the history of this world…

The ”key” to understanding The Legend Trilogy at its most profound level lies
in the End Times Prophecies of The Bible….At the back of each booklet of The
Trilogy, is a chronological listing of ALL End Times Scripure that was studied and applied to to content of The Trilogy….IF a person is truly interested in learning about The End of The World, EVERY single Biblical verse that pertains to this subject is listed….It is simply a matter of research! History IS Prophecy and Prophecy IS History… The world we live in and the world to come, is reflected in the pages of HIS STORY!

The Bible is very clear about where the final war of this world will begin….it is very
clear that it begins in Israel! To go into detail at this time, would be impossible due
to the amount of scripture that is involved in telling this story… It is all covered in the Trilogy!  My ”vision” of this world is faith is in the truth of Christ the Messiah who will return to end this madness…my hope is in the love that mankind
is capable of when he transcends above the horrifying lies of this world and seeks
the truth beyond it!

Regading the issue of my faith…I am a Christian, but not in the traditional ”religious”
sense…Historically, the”institution” of so called ”Christianity” has been grossly
responsible for uncountable crimes against humanity….I am not a religious person in
that, I do not believe in the man made concept of religion….I understand that the term
”Christian” carries with it a foul and loathsome stigmatism, for that I am not responsible.
I do, however, feel compelled to help remove the stigmatism in whatever capacity
possible… I do not belong to any particular denomination of religion, yet I do not make
it a point to condemn religion or religious people. The word Christian is a term that has
been given to me by association, it is the most common term associated with one who believes in Christ as the Messiah. Always remember that Man, NOT God is responsible for it’s historical misrepresentation, misinterpretation, and misuse of the word of God. In the end, faith is a simple concept that has become far too complicated in the modern age. Faith is indefinable and intangible, it is however, attainable!

18. Ronie: Would you like to tell the story of how and why you became a christian ?

Eric Clayton: Someday…it’s a VERY long story and worth the proper time to tell! : )

19. Ronie: What do you think is the most important thing for the body of Christ to do in these last days ?

Eric Clayton: AVOID DOGMA!

20. Ronie: And at last; could you say some final words to the readers of this magazine.(Most of them are christian youths between the age 15-20).

Eric Clayton: Patience…patience…patience! : )

Ronie: Thats it. Thank you very much for your answers. I cant really give you anything in return, but here is a Bible verse that hopefully will encourage you;

”Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing
move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of
the Lord, because you know that your labour in the
Lord is not in vain.” ( 1 Kor 15: 58 – NIV )

Eric Clayton: Thank you! Take care and God bless!

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