FIRE + ICE – New Exclusive Interview with Ian Read

by Helene Burkholder

Editor’s Note: (Edited from Wikipedia)  Fire + Ice is the name of Occultist, Neo-Paganist, Folklorist, Rune Historian and speaker and influential Neofolk musician, Ian Read’s musical ensemble. Read began his musical career with Current 93 and contributed vocals to the tracks, ‘Benediction’ and ‘Malediction’ on the 1987 album, Swastikas for Noddy. He aided Douglas P. on the Death In June album, Brown Book. He later appeared on Crooked Crosses for the Nodding God, a reworking of Swastikas for Noddy, with new tracks and arrangements. In 1987 Read joined Tony Wakeford’s Sol Invictus along with Karl Blake. Read recorded three albums and an EP with Sol Invictus before leaving to form the band Fire + Ice in 1991. In 1996 Read was named as a Rune-Master within the Rune-Gild. Read became the leader of the English branch of the Illuminates of Thanateros (IOT), in the early 1990s.

Fire + Ice Interview of October 6th 2012

(Photo: Ingrid Wultsch)

Helene Burkholder – I would like to start with the brand-new vinyl re-release of your 1996 album Rûna, which is done by the French label Autre Que. How did this re-edition come about? Did they contact you?

Ian Read – Nathalie (of Autre Que) emailed me and asked if I was agreeable to her releasing a vinyl edition of Rûna. As the communication between us progressed it became obvious to me that she was someone I could trust to put her heart and soul into any project she undertook. The results, as shown in the vinyl I have before me, more than justify that belief.

HB – I’ve seen Rûna described as your master work – I believe this ‘master work’ is equivalent to writing a thesis to obtain your Masters’ Degree, in this case within the Rune Guild?  I would assume this is why re-releasing this album was significant to you?

IR – It is equivalent to a PhD Dissertation. In the Rune-Gild we have three stages of Learner, Fellow and Master, equivalent to Bachelor’s Degree, Magister and Doctor. In the old craft guilds this would be Apprentice, Journeyman, Master. As in the fighting arts the real work begins with one’s first black belt, in the Gild the real work begins when one becomes a Master.

Releasing a vinyl version of any one of my albums is no more significant than any other would be.

HB – While researching for this interview, I found some older information, which I would like to confirm is still accurate today, or not. For example, since I have just mentioned the Rune Guild, are you still it’s Drighten? Are you still involved with the Illuminates of Thanateros (IOT)? There seems to be limited information regarding what you have been up to since 2006 – What are you up to right now?  

IR – I am the Drighten responsible for the UK and Europe. After nine years as Head of the IOT in the UK I retired and became an Elder. I am still a member but almost never attend any of their events. The work of self-transformation and guiding others along their own path in that direction is a fulltime job.

HB – There is not a ton of recent information available online regarding yourself or Fire + Ice, especially at this moment since your website is down.  Is this how you like to keep it, or do you envision being more present on the web or in print in the future?  What about in social media such as Facebook? Do you see it as a ‘necessary evil’, or do you wish you would prefer not having anything to do with it? Or maybe you feel it is encroaching too much on your life, or on your freedom, perhaps?

IR – Having a web presence is no problem for me so long as I can control it but I have neither time nor inclination to set up this myself. Technology is useful for those who do not become ensnared by it but we see that such people are rare and that for most people these things are just toys. An mp3 player is useful to play podcasts, a Kindle for academic papers. However…

(Photo: Uwe Nolte)

HB – From what I can tell, in 2011 you were more present with Fire + Ice, playing live with Death in June for example.  I know you played Wave-Gotik-Treffen in Leipzig previously on a few occasions, as Fire + Ice and as part of Figg’s Academy. Do you enjoy the live experience? Is it something that comes naturally, or are you more the type who would rather compose and release albums?

IR – The only way one can find a dozen people worth knowing is to look further than just one’s own land. Doing live performances takes me all over the world and gives me hope that I can add another soul to my small list of such people. Playing live is not so onerous and I have composed and released few albums as compared to many others so I guess that answers your question.

HB – I also saw on your Facebook page that you have a few upcoming concerts in Europe before the end of 2012. Is there any chance that you will come to play live in America in the foreseeable future?

IR – In 2011 I attended the Rune-Gild International Moot in Texas and afterwards recorded my vocals for the new album and then flew to Georgia to run a workshop.

During this time possibilities to play in America were discussed and then recently another offer came in. So, no promises, but it’s more likely than it was a couple of years ago.

HB – Your last album, Birdking, came out in 2000. Since then, you have worked with and/or recorded vocals for few other bands, such as Forseti, Sonne Hagal, Verdandi and While Angels Watch. Only recently (in 2011, while on stage) you mentioned that a new Fire + Ice album was in the works. Was Fire + Ice over and done to you?  I know you were learning, working on studying languages and other projects not related to music, for example teaching/tutoring via Arcanorium College…

IR – Fire + Ice was in abeyance because I had more pressing matters to attend to. Music is one way I pass on the Tradition. One can only teach what one is – from one’s being as it were. In order to do this it is necessary to continue moving on the narrowest of all paths as Thomas the Rhymer informs us. Once my chasing of Rûna had taken me far enough one of those rare people I spoke of earlier said something to me in passing that shook my world so much that out of it grew this new album. That is the power of those who have progressed far enough on the path of Mastery of the Mysteries. If only there were more worthy folk willing to step up to the mark.

HB – What would you like to tell us about the upcoming Fire + Ice album? When is it coming out? I believe you have worked with Douglas P. and Michael Moynihan, among others? Will you be continuing in the same vein as your previous releases?

IR – Shortly before answering these questions I sent a link to the masters of both CD and vinyl versions of the album to the pressing plants. Heroic efforts by Tesco Distribution and their artwork expert should hopefully mean that the CD will be available by the first gig of the upcoming performances.

There is a whole list of people who worked on this album and, like Birdking, it was recorded all around the world from Australia to England to Europe and onward to various American states. This album is different in some ways to any of the previous ones. However, classifying and cataloguing such things is not something I do anymore (or at least that’s the best explanation I have for my way of being when recording an album and in other contexts). When I heard it in its final version I was pleased as Punch. One listener described it as ‘eldrich,’ and that to me amounts to what our German cousins would call a Volltreffer.

HB – What I get when I listen to Fire + Ice is the feeling of being transported to my family’s roots & origins. What do you like your listeners to come away with when they are listening to Fire + Ice? What is its’ raison d’être?

IR – Your reaction is not to be sniffed at and any reaction at all is better than what occurs to me when I listen to the usual sounds that are most commonly played these days – namely, nothing. We used to call such irrelevant music ‘bubblegum’ back in the day. Any awakening of any of the souls in any listener is good. However, if my music touches the soul of one future Atheling, spurring him to action towards ultimately becoming what he already is, then it will have been worth it.

HB – And finally, since I’m the type of person who likes finding out ‘the little things’ that makes a person whole, I’d like to know: What would be lesser known facts about you that you would not mind sharing? For example, are you a cook, or collector, or gardener?

IR – Anyone needs to be self-sufficient, never mind the sort of person I have sought to become, meaning a sovereign individual. So, if you can’t cook, there’s something wrong. Everything fits into the rule and measure, no time or inclination towards hobbies. ‘Bored,’ I hear some say as they pass me by. How could anyone be bored: the Mystery calls ever onward, with no possible hope of reaching Her, or any desire for such an end in the breast of one who would be a hero forged in the same fire that brought forth Sigurd the Wurmslayer.

For more info:

Fire + Ice and Ian Read on Wikipedia

Fire + Ice’s Facebook page (includes upcoming concert dates)

Autre Que’s website and  Facebook page to purchase the re-release of Rûna on vinyl

And find out more about The Rune Gild Here


  1. Tim says:

    Nice to see that neo-fascists and racists can still get simpering, uncritical interviews on ‘counterculture’ websites.

  2. Torlak LDC says:

    Thanks for this interview ! It’s indeed not easy to find current news about F+I !

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