Interview with Fenriz of Darkthrone 2010
By Bradley Smith
Hells as usual Fenriz! Your new album Circle the Wagons has finally hit the streets (Let them Burn!) Do you feel like you have finally and completely painted yourself out of a corner that you got stuck in with your early career? I mean the new album seems even more liberated than the previous two and it feels really free to breath?
the only time i got stuck is when i had writer's block due to excessive recording of albums (around 11-12 in 1993-1996) and too much work-hard party-hard lifestyle. i was loosening up already with the blacknroll i started fully on ravishing grimness and onwards, then a whole variety of metal styles and even girlschool drum sound on HATE THEM, no, it was the new 90s black metal scene that painted ME into a corner, those who discovered bm in the 90s. they have a whole other vision about it all that us who already knew it in the 80s have. as for liberation, it was already on both back wheels in 2005 on the cult is alive, i think we've actually narrowed down now to this
HEAVY/SPEED METAL + NWOBHM with punk vibes.
our early career was as free as now, the 1988 recordings were also kinda motley (to say the least)
For quite some time you have been on an increasingly extensive rearward looking search for metallic roots. Where will it end, 30s Big band music and Swing or perhaps all the way back to cave folk beating on rocks?
you could take all our albums and then trace the inspirations till bands from 83-93, but the last years i've kinda gone more to some other bands i liked in those years and also the years before back to when i grew up in the 70s and beyond. you need a list, don't you?
OUR MUSIC FITS MORE IN WITH CURRENT BANDS LIKE THESE NOW, PERHAPS.and by CURRENT, i mean 90s, 00s, 10s. the 60s 70s 80s list will be listed at the bottom here.
GEHENNAH sweden - METALUCIFER - BLIZZARD germany - THE LORD WEIRD SLOUGH FEG - WOLF - ALPHA CENTAURI - METAL INQUISITOR - PORTRAIT - IN SOLITUDE - HELVETETS PORT - SPEED TRAP - ATLANTEAN KODEX - CHRISTIAN MISTRESS - DEMONS GATE - DOOMED BEAST - SONIC RITUAL - AURA NOIR - HARBINGER - ENFORCER - BLACKHOLICUS - HIGH SPIRITS - WHIP STRIKER - NOIA italy - OLD - ARIA/APUR ---------------------------------CRYSTAL VIPER - LONEWOLF - R…SISTANCE - GHOST - SATINBLACK - IRON KOBRA - ARGUS -FUNERAL CIRCLE etc
THE OLD BANDS, mainly 70s 80s that we may or may not be influenced by;
MOTORHEAD, DIAMOND HEAD, HEAD HEAD HEAD (JUST KIDDING!), 1ST METAL CHURCH, AGENT STEEL 84-86, MANILLA ROAD, FINGERNAILS '88, FATES WARNING 2ND AND 3RD, ANTHRAX 83-85, ACCEPT up to '83, SAVAGE GRACE master of disguise, GRIFFIN protectors of the lair, ENGLISH DOGS, METALLICA 3 first, SATAN court in the act, JAGUAR power games, early SAXON, OZZY '80-'86, HELLOWEEN 2 first, IRON MAIDEN, TR÷JAN, BLACK SABBATH '70-'82, EXCITER heavy metal maniac, QUEENSRYCHE first EP and THE WARNING, GOTHAM CITY, WITCH CROSS, MERCYFUL FATE, THOR, HEAVY LOAD, ADX, HOLY TERROR, OVERKILL, TYRANT'S REIGN, BROCAS HELM, CIRITH UNGOL, ANGEL WITCH, WITCHFINDER GENERAL, CELTIC FROST, BATHORY, OSTROGOTH, TANK, SCORPIONS 70S, URIAH HEEP, RUSH, PENTAGRAM usa,BARON ROJO, TRUST, SAMSON, AC/DC, KISS, FLOTSAM AND JETSAM doomsday for the deceiver, OMEN '84-'86, DEAF DEALER 1st, DEATHSIDE
but many of these i've discovered recently too, like...the only diamond head i knew in mid 80s were the songs that METALLICA had covered, anyway, so many of my songs...you could say they wouldn't exist without "HELPLESS", as this song...well, i recently heard that it's involuntarily influenced at least one of the riffs on CIRCLE THE WAGONS, was it the first song or the title track?
No one can deny you have an extreme passion for metal. No one else is being a vocal advocate for band recommendations and roots exploration like yourself. You use all forums to hail bands and educate anyone whose attention you can grab. What is your end goal here? Do you think you are succeeding at generating a more metal educated group within the underground?
the only goal i ever had was to get a record deal, as i always dreamt of RECORDING ALBUMS as a child, not being on stage. after that i didn't have any goals, all came to me (or was fought up by myself) rather coincidentally..........
...........it is just MY WAY. and the road is the important thing here, not any distant goal. we don't make plans as you know, we just make what we feel like or need to do any given time. we dont discuss influences or direction at all, i am hung up on making list of my influences, Ted isn't. so his material is always a mystery
and i havenít done anything i havenít always done, i started namedropping bands in my first interviews in 1988, just heard a long VALHALL radio interview where we typically played one song of our own and 4 from other bands (english dogs, accused, o.l.d. etc), this was in late 88 or early 89, and i just continued always spreading music, as i did before i started being interviewed all the time. myspace was there, the darkthrone page had a huge amount of "friends" that signed up, i feel embarrassed about those who pimp up their pages to be all about THEM, starting to share cool bands with all these friends instead was VERY natural to me, but i donít use any forum, like i have no time to be on facebook or twitter, i never even went in there to see what it was about
ALL FACEBOOK PROFILES, PRIVATE MYSPACE PROFILES or twitter-fenrizes are FAKE
On that note, do you think that in general most people are too close minded when it comes to their musical taste? I mean when we were spinning records at your place the bands were as varied as Dark Angel, Slayer, Yes, all the way to the mighty Kung-Fu Girls!!!!
that wasnít so varied, i remember playing diamanda galas, and her and WHEN was COMPLETELY NORMAL to listen to among us black metal spearheads of 91-93 for instance, variation is the key, i just pity the fools, the FOLLOWERS who really NEED to follow, thus always championing a TOTALITARIAN take on everything. fuckin crybabies, always believe those who paved the way, not those who comes to an already set table.
apart from that, i have to say i never met anyone with more open minded music taste than me, it was always like that ever since i was born. but i met many who aspire to like many music styles, and it's always great to be with these experts (already experts or aspiring ones)
In a recent interview Varg said there was a lack of integrity in the metal underground. Most everyone these days is practicing followership rather than voicing their own opinions. Do you agree and what to you is musical integrity?
whenever i scent followers i just move away, i made my own scene. i wouldn't know, i just stray away if someone wants me to be part of something. but i believe i answered this one already above there. i think there was a lot of following back in the day too, like many times it seems EVERYONE copied reign in blood in 87 and 88 but it wasn't that easy, at the same time the whole press tried to hype SWORD's debut album, they maybe thought the deaththrashers were an invasion...and at that time it was right that sword was shunned and "slayer won", you know. i even said i hated heavy metal at the time, but as usual it was because i had to make statements while swimming against the stream always. like i said i hated our first album for many years, i still hate the clinical sound of it, and i really wanted to get away from it, thus i say i hate it, but it will also always be a part of me and i love it as well. i think all of us think it seems so neat with totalitarian things because i think that maybe everyone has an ambivalent view on almost everything. if not, then i'm just special HAHAHAHAA
i agree with Varg because this is how he sees it and i've been seeing it for a long time, but when he talks about this topic it is the BM topic and how a gang of strong personalities were more or less followed, and then how long time it took, i mean, for many, BM hit usa 5 years after 1993, when it was pretty much all over here. it's just annoying seeing that many are so slow to get into stuff
The message of Circle the Wagons is a sort of battle cry against modern metal and the traitors that promote it. To you what is wrong with instant gratification in metal? What aspects do you think reflect metal being plastic? And how do we fight the tide of plastic fans, plastic music and plastic voices?
been fighting this fight since 88, i mean, the best thing to do is keep on having organic sound. don't cross that line. there are a thousand great organic albums, there are a thousand lame ass plastic ones. i am still shocked when i write "dont send me your music if it has modern sound" and they go "no of course not" but when i get the product the drums are hopelessely triggered etc. really!
You arenít allowed to listen to music at work anymore. What made this change in company policy? How has that affected you? Your time must be even more limited now, especially when it comes to listening to music YOU want to listen to. Has this created any additional problems for you that you didnít expect?
hah! but it was a false alarm, seems i got a one year job as a video coder and now i'm back on the juice. listened to lots of electronic stuff today, along with recently obtained music such as ARGUS, ATLEANTEAN KODEX, Striker, WHIP STRIKER, new OBLITERATION tracks, Satinblack etc..
on more job info, listen to I AM THE WORKING CLASS haha. gotta make a break now, NRK is showing another DERRICK episode
also, it's not a change in company policy, they moved my job site to outta town and now its the largest factory in norway with 2300 people working there, the main hall is noisy as hell and dangerous because of all the trucks. the real speed metal job would actually be driving a truck in there. so if people where all unconcentrated and listened to music all over the place in the main hall, we'd have sooo many injuries and/or deaths.
but especially around record launch, i do one interview per day (statistically) for 2.5 months, the rest of the year i do around 3-4 interviews a month, this means i basically don't have time to wipe my ass around record launch as i then try to have a life on top of 2 more or less full time jobs
You host a fair amount of visitors from other countries that come to Oslo. If you could pick the perfect ďtourĒ of Oslo and its surroundings to show an unfamiliar visitor what all would it entail?
this is the opposite of what i do, i took you and Dylan and Mirko and his tattoo-artist-friend to my place because of bad weather, Mirko and me were originally going tenting. if there is something i avoid like the bubonic plague it's meeting new people (i don't even have time enough for my close friends) and downtown Oslo in general. after me and finally my job place moved, i've only been down there once to buy office supplies.
people ask and ask, one of the reasons i quit reading messages on myspace emails was all the people that wanted to HANG OUT, meet me when going on holiday here (!) and such. these people don't think i have a life? i am already overworked, using the shower to ponder who to answer and not answer, who to send stuff to and not send stuff...how i will get some time off to spend with my woman or friends, etc. reality is, i could, RIGHT NOW quit my whole life and spend the rest of my life just responding to emails and messages. hell is other people!!!
Spring is coming soon up there and that means tenting season. How many tenting trips are you hoping to achieve this year? Any new locations you want to try?
always new locations, i've tented 99 different places in MARKA (1600 square kilometres of forest and lakes around Oslo) and 3-4 times other places. but i'm not telling, since gps came people could find and look for me anywhere, i'm not saying where until i've been there. after the Oslo-record of 40 trips last year, i have to calm down this year. i used all my weekends and holidays for it, it'd better set off some more time to the missus and friends.
it's a darn late spring, it's one week out in april now and there's still snow all over the forest around where i live, ca 200 metres above sea surface
As the professor of metal there is always time to educate people on music. You brought up a really interesting point one night in a discussion we were having about the origins of sound-alike riffs in bands. You mentioned three. Do you remember what they were? And do you still think there are essentially only three? And which one to you is the most intriguing?
3 or 4, it's
1 the intentional stealing of riffs
2 the Unintentional (subconscious) stealing of riffs
3 the fact that there are only SO many notes and rhythm-combos on this planet, one is BOUND to make some riff that someone else made in any other style or same style of music.
unintentional stealing, you're readers might say? well, for instance i use the drum break example, i'd made and played a drum break for Valhall in the song PHOBIA, and then a couple of years later i heard again detroit rock city by kiss and BOOM there my drum break was. this means it was unintentional and SUBCONCIOUS as that song have been with me all my life, i made a drum break i thought was killer, but alas, i had heard it before, knew it, but did not by ANY means intentionally steal it.
i think the nr 3 is most intriguing. also because people would always assume you'd listened to the band/artist that you made the same riff/part as, but it hasn't got to be true at all. every kid that picks up a guitar for the first time can within the hour have put together the same notes and rhythms as a primitive darkthrone riff. by pure coincidence, having not heard our band.
actually, i think there must have been a 4th one, as all of this sounded ooooh so logical
Any bands/albums you want to hail for the readers to check out? What makes these albums special?
i do this all the time now, i got journos all over asking me for lists, i ain't so happy about making them, but everyone loves lists. i gave you a fine lists of bands we should be filed with, along with old bands i'm/we might be influenced by.
when it comes to good albums so far this year, i am thinking
but i am not like the usual journo, i have direct contact with all the bands. i don't get the usual promos. also it's not important if it's NEW. in the underground thing moves in it's own tempo, sometimes slow sometimes superfast.i get demos, 7"s, you name it. new Power from Hell should be good, there's too many to mention, Christian Mistress are cool, if you like us power thrash with clicky drums try SATINBLACK from germany, if you like epic rough produced metal instead try ATLANTEAN KODEX, the best thing that EVERYONE that i've played it for digs now is
GHOST demo, they have tons of record deal offers and will have an album out this year. i'll probably make em band of the week tomorrow
You have hailed a lot of old bands such as English Dogs, Heavy Load, Angel Witch and a ton others. Do you ever get contacted by these old schoolers regarding your hails? Do they seem appreciative and how does it make you feel when they take the time to acknowledge what you are doing for them?
yeah, sometimes. Devestation illinois got in touch, and Angel from VULCANO (just quit), i don't remember most, i don't have the idolism-gene so i forget...mostly it's THE NEW GUY in the old bands that gets in touch, most old folks don't follow underground and it has always been that way. digging the underground isnt bringing lamb of god with you on tour, hahahaha
again, i am never namedropping because i want more contacts. as i said before i try to DECIMATE my contacts, i don't want always more and more contacts. for everything i say YES to, i have said no 19 times. you wouldn't believe all the stuff i turn down or don't even have the time to reply to. you'd all have to BE ME and BE WITH ME ALWAYS to know
i got rid of so many turdy people in my life the last decade, it's fantastic. and they know who they are. and you can all see who i'm not working with anymore.
You make a fair amount of compilations that you share with other people. What makes a good compilation? How do you go about selecting the bands and the particular songs you use?
ohh, a good compilation. a very good and almost impossible question, Sir. i expect a compilation to have some kind of BUILD, but many can become fantastic by almost just throwing them together, for instance after having had a "period" of playing certain tracks as a dj can make you throw those together as a compilation and succeed. i think a good compilation is TO ONESELF that you are contempt with the songs and guidelines to your soul or spirit that you are showcasing to others through a compilation. many times i just do what needs to be done, like with many darkthrone songs. some come spontaneously, others are a long planned sequence of your life, for months. i am right now putting together another summer-compilation and that means i take notes for months and then finally start pulling out songs i've written down. then narrowing it down to 70 minutes, then listening to it while working or travelling to/from work whatever, and see if the songs fit together, this is personal FEELING stuff, and one should always pick out mostly personal songs too, not trying to please mostly something out of yourself.
so far this year i made...around 6 comps. some for private, some official that are posted on a blog and is downloaded by thousands of music freaks. mostly sober. playing the same thing for 20 drunk people just ain't the same in the long run. pearls for swine - feeling isn't cool in the end.
then there's the longevity. how long your own special order and taste can stir your OWN accomplishment-centre.
others compilations i can listen to out of track order, if it hits me the right way it doesnít matter. like the MOONSHINE comp of Erik and Tomi (mostly old country and country rock), i've played that on SOOO Many tent trips, it's a camping companion for life. but those comps are few and far between. i usually expect a compilation to give me 2-3 till 8-9 good songs maximum, its funny, no matter how many faves of faves of faves i put on a comp, there will ALWAYS be some hits and misses for the recipient of the compilation.
With all the different ways you are being pulled in as you try to experience new music and educate others, such as your blog, compilations, interviews, and such, do you see yourself getting burnt out anytime soon?
i got burnt out in 1996, that's when i decided i had to stop pouring music out of me and pushing even more music INTO my brain. but since 2006, it's been way too busy, 450-550 new titles to listen to every year each year since then, constantly understanding that i have to cut back, always listening to some music i don't wanna listen to instead of what i WANT to listen to. so when someone "gives" me a piece of their music, it's not usually a "gift" for me, it's a time stealer.
Thanks again Fenriz and Die Hard!!!
been pushing music all my life and been working since my teens - someone else has to get practicing on dying hard HAHAHA