Darkthrone(Nocturno Culto) interview 2002

By Bradley Smith

 

Plaguewielder to me was the best album of last year and once again proved that Darkthrone are the masters of Black Metal.  Do you feel that it is a stronger album than Ravishing Grimness musically and lyrically?  Do you feel that it goes against the current trends of commercialism in the underground?

I knew that some of things around Plaguewielder, that it was going to beÖsome people might whine about it because we use colors and everything on the artwork but we wonít do that again because I think that the Sound went out good but I think Plaguewielder as a musical pieceÖwell I would consider it black metal but I think it has more of a metal feel to it than some of the previous albums maybe.  At least some of the songs But I think today I am really satisfied.  Some people who told me that they didnít think it was very good at the start and now come to me and say that they listen to it a lot lately and I think itís a fucking good album.  I mean people always have different opinions.   But I think overall I am satisfied with Plaguewielder I think itís a bit more impact on the sound also than Ravishing Grimness but we donít like to compare our albums.  When we are finished in the studio we forget about we have recorded and look forward to the next album.

 

Iíve read that you used to think of corpse paint as a sort of mystical summoning during your nocturnal wanderings.  When was the last time you used corpse paint and will you wear it in the future or do you feel itís an obsolete concept?

 

You know this whole corpse paint thing itís actually a long time since I wore corpse paint.  I think it was back in í94.  So thatís a long time ago.  But you see we feel it has to come natural so we havenít used corpse paint because we think first of all we donít need to and another thing it has to be the real feeling.  In the early days it was very special and we did have some very special meetings which really was much of the foundation that Darkthrone was built on.  You know some of the atmosphere there.  I think that Fenriz and me are definitely still thinking black metal as we used to do.   You know we are getting old.  Stuff like that.  When we donít feel like doing it we donít do it just because people think that is black metal.  So I guess you wonít see any corpse paint on us but we will take some controversial pictures next time I guess which will be very special.  I just had an idea just a few minutes ago.  But corpse paint maybe is over and out for us.  When we heard that some people in Oslo actually walked around in Oslo in the middle of the day with bright sunshine and corpse paint and they were sweating we thought that fuck this because it wasnít getting serious now so fucking forget the whole thing.

When you compose Riffs, do you favor faster more melodic riffs or slower heavier ones?  What is your favorite song you have ever written and why?

It really depends.  The thing is that when we are finished in the studio with one album we start thinking about the next album and the concepts around it.  Take Ravishing Grimness as an example very much of the riffs we made for this album were supposed to go faster than this on the album because when I talked to Fenriz we always discuss these things.  I let him do his drumming and I take my riffs.  But of course when it comes to Plaguewielder I actually ordered him to play much more the play way I like.  I going to do that this time around also with the next album.  So if I like slow heavy or fast melodic, I like a combination of both maybe.  But you know thatís were Transilvanian Hunger comes in you know.  Thatís a very fast album.  That was kind of different because that was more of a just fast album.

 

I noticed on Plaguewielder you used a couple of  samples, like lightning and explosions.  Will you continue to do that or was it just for that album?

We wonít continue with it.  I mean itís nothing we planned.  I mean with plaguewielder the opening to one of the songs there are cannons being fired.  We just come over some samples we like.  What will happen to Leper Unction I donít know.  We donít plan that much in detail before going into the studio.

 

Do you ever get Nostalgic about the past when the music scene was in its infancy or do you think primarily about the future without looking to the past?

You know itís very hard to forget the old days because my vision is that the past contains much stronger material from almost every band and also it was a time when every band was more unique than they are today.  A lot of the bands had the real feeling and the nerve in the music which I really miss these days.  So thatís where as I said Fenriz and me are always thinking in the same direction with black metal as we used to and today we are even more aware of our position in the black metal scene because we think that we are some kind of Öyou know we just have to be there to get the balance right.  And I know that in all the emails I received recently people are really desperate to experience black metal as a dark art.  Because I think a lot of people really miss the nerve I was talking about in the music and the darkness and the really gloomy atmosphere that I think black metal should contain.  The problem is that a lot of the bands are using keyboards very extensively.  The thing is that you canít really produce a dark art sound when you are getting a really clean and nice sound on the album and just use heavy keyboards just to lift the atmosphere and try to make it scary or whatever they are trying to do.  I mean this kind of music requires one to really look into what you can use.  Use can use the sound to your advantage but there isnít any rule that says you have to have a really good sound and try to do your best.  Thatís not the point.  You have to make the sound kind of a blurry art.  Make it untouchable in a kind of way.  I think that sound is much like an art form if you are really looking into it.  But then you also have to realize that you have to sacrifice the clean and nice and punchy sound that everyone is trying to get.  Take Transilvanian Hunger for an example.  The sound isÖ.many people would say itís a crappy soundÖyeah well, itís a crappy sound but it creates atmosphere and thatís the point.   We didnít try and get the really nice production we did this in the name of black metal.  Thatís the way we see it.  People just change themselves.  Itís sort of natural for a musician to develop themselves but you know Fenriz and IÖwell we were both good musicians I would say just to tell you that, but when this comes to Darkthrone we are not aiming to show off what we can do.  For us Black metal is a very sacred thing.  To use the term Black Metal is very common these days.  I mean everybody is Black Metal these days.  Iím really frustrated.  So thatís where we see ourselves in the position where we have to you knowÖon Leper Unction we really want to show people that we are fucking not trying to sell out.  Just trying to make an even more sharper black metal album.

 

For the net album Leper Unction you have sated that the production will be more raw and the music more traditional and primitive.  How will you achieve that and  how much of the music is written for it so far?

I would say Iíve made half the album until now.  Well I donít if its half the album but I have actually just finished off the third song Iíve written for it and I know Fenriz has material written for it.  The raw soundÖwell the thing is we are using a completely different studio now.  A less good one than before but that doesnít have to mean a bad sound.  But the thing is that I will use a completely different sound on the guitars so maybe people will get quite a shock when they hear it because it will sound very, very different from the previous Darkthrone albums.  And the sound will be definitely more blurry.  We will really put a lot of thought into the sound and the material is also is much darker than Plaguewielder, I would say.  And very different because uh...and maybe more old school.  For me its these days very difficult to make really primitive riffs but on this material I have not.  For Leper Unction I have tried to combine my way of playing to get the most darkness out of the riffs.  It will contain more and more of the old spirit.  The old spirit of Black Metal will be more present than in some years for us you know.  Another thing I have to say, itís very difficult to foresee anything on the albums because when we are going into the studio some things are decided already but the thing is that when you are in the studio a lot of things are coming to us but I have specific plans for Leper Unction, album design, sound and everything.  So I will try and make this a real strong Black Metal package you know.  So thatís my only goal now and I really am enjoying making the songs now because I actually used a very long time on these 3 songs.  Actually I had 2 songs 6 or 10 months ago which I just threw you know.  No fuck this I have to put myself in an odd mood.  And I did and I used actually a very long time to get the structure on these songs.  So now I am satisfied and I am looking forward to it and I am also going to make another song for it.  Actually we are going to rehearse next weekend, Fenriz and I and take pictures not for the album but at least for the website.  Really looking forward to that rehearsal because itís been a long time since the last time.  I think the last time was actually just before Plaguewielder. 

Thatís a long time.

Yeah itís a long time and we actually live very far from each other so itísÖwe are really going to meet this next weekend and have a really good time.  Rehearse a lot.  After playing together for so many years we donít have any problems to understand each other musically.  Thatís why its really easy and just a pleasure for us to rehearse.

Youíve stated that Leper Unction will have black and white artwork.  Has there been a big backlash against color artwork on Plaguewielder?

WellÖ..UhÖ.Yeah you can put it that way.  We have actually had a lot of bad reactions on Plaguewielder cover artwork.  Some claim that itís typical Moonfog stuff Which I after some time can agree because that it really was a common guy in Moonfog but I actually order him some of the things he did but not much.  I can say he did a really good job but in the future that is not what Darkthrone is about so we just have to do another thing.  That was always the plan anyways.  But Leper Unction will be I guess very familiar to the people who have listened to Darkthrone for a lot of years.  Maybe people will feel more comfortable with it.  But itís also our wish to do so because both Fenriz and I are very frustrated about the metal scene and we feel that we have toÖwe really have to just leave no doubt about what we stand for.

Whatís the subject matter going to be?

In the lyrics?

No, in the artwork.

I have some ideas but the thing is itís going to be very simple but very powerful messages when you see the cover and also the album design as a whole.  It will be simple and in black and white.  But the things that are actually on it will be selected with a lot of thought.

In some other interviews you said you wanted to play some large festivals in the future.  Would you have them recorded for an official live album or video or anything?

To be very honest with you I think Live albums suck.  I think the best live album I ever heard is Live after Death with Iron Maiden.  Thatís a good live album.  Itís a lot of shitty live recordings.  I donít really see the point of a live recording if it isnít very extraordinarily good.  Well weíll see.  I guess if we are going to do some shows definitely it will be recorded.  So then the parts to just release a live album is very easy and very short but we will really consider it seriously you know.  We wonít give out any shit.  It has to really suit Darkthroneís atmosphere.

Well you know there will bootlegs of it if you donít.

I know soÖthatís a really good point you have there.  There are a lot of bootlegs out there.

I know I have a crap load of Darkthrone bootleg live albums.

About live playing I am really trying to convince Fenriz to think about it but heís very stubborn.  So I have to use lots of time on him.  I think the time is right.

Do you think your fans will support it?  I know thereís a lot of people out there that are against Darkthrone playing live.

I know but I have received a lot of mail recently with people saying ďyou come touring Poland, You come touring Australia?Ē.  There was actually this guy from Tasmania who was actually wondering if we could do a gig in Tasmania.  Heh.  Itís really fuckingÖ.I donít know where Tasmania is.  The point for us to playing for us now is to show people what black metal is all about.   And then we didnít have to use any kind of effects like pig heads like Mayhem and like blood.  We think our music is speaking for itself.  I donít think we need any special effects to draw attention to ourself.  And I am actually quite proud of that.  We donít have to show off on stage with blood and gore.  I think blood and gore is not scary at all.  I think itís just fucking stupid.  I think maybe in some occasions maybe it could have a purpose but we donít have to do it.  As I said Blood and gore is not very scary. 

Well otherwise youíd just be Gwar.

Heh heh. Thatís right.

On Transilvanian Hunger wrote the music on it and Panzerfaust since there is no musical credits on them?

Fenriz did write most of the things there.

On Both of the albums?

On Both Transilvanian Hunger and Panzerfaust he did definitely. I remember those days really well because we had a really good time both of us when we did that.  I can tell you that one of the reasons why Zephyrous left the band was because he felt left outside. 

He didnít get enough input?

Yeah he didnít have enough input.  Also his heavy drinking and stuff actually made his body stop functioning properly.  I think he was quite scared of by that accident because he was driving his car and suddenly he just totally blacked out and he woke up in the hospital with much strings attached to him.  It was fucking far out.

That would scare me.

I think he really tried to cool it down.  He actually told me after that accident that he stopped smoking and drinking and everything.  He told me that 3 or 4 months after that he just took one cigarette and he totally blacked out so itís fucking amazing.

Off the topic of music for a second, what do you think of the ďwar on terrorismĒ  that seems to be going on right now.  Do you follow it at all or does it even interest you?  I know there are some Norwegian troops in Afghanistan right now.

I am a very non-political guy.  I think itís very hard to say.  Actually I wonít comment it because people are so fucking stupid and mankind is just so non very intelligent.  And thatís why I am totally happy that I donít have to take any position towards it.  Where I liveÖ.itís nothing of value to anyone.

You guys donít have mandatory military conscription do you?

Yeah we have.  I remember that time when I was 19. Actually it was a long time ago I was called in for duty and I really didnít have the time I felt because we were very occupied with Darkthrone and with our life in general so I just skipped it.  Now I am in actually in some kind of civilian defense kind of thing in my local area.  SO if its accidental or some kind of catastrophe we actually support the fire department, the police department, doctors or whatever.  We have a lot of really clever equipment to support them.  Thatís my why of helping out.  But I think you knowÖ.Terrorism is a really bad thing anyways.  I think every part involved is veryÖ.I know the terror is very bad but we here in the west are thinking itís a disaster but just think about all things we in the west have done to other civilizations its fucking not good at all.  So if we are to count lives that incident in the US is nothing compared to what we have done to other civilizations.  Well its some of course but if you are to compare with the things that we in the west have done to others.  Thatís my thoughts about it.   I really donít give it much thought.  I think the world is really fucked up anyways.  And itís really nothing for me to do about it anyway.  Just to have opinions.  But since I donít live in the middle of it itís really not right to say too much about it.  I think both sides if we are to call it the west and the far east, we just do a lot of things to harm each other.  It just has to be war. (more discussion about air forces, flying and stuff like that)

Do you enjoy family life and does it influence you music?

It doesnít influence my music at all.  Itís two very different things.  Itís really interesting to raise kids because you see a lot of the very primitive side of mankind because they are very honest.  Itís like meeting yourself when you were very little.

Do you they knowÖ.

Yeah they know perfectly well who Fenriz is.  They met him sometime.  They are actually going to meet him now in this weekend.  We try to give them music of any kind because I donít see any reason to limit childrenís access to music.It is important.  That is the way I see it because I have been a toatl music freak since I was very little.  I think about music all the time.

Whatís you favorite type of guitar? 

I actually own some guitars.  I had the Jackson guitar, which I bought in 1990.  I had that a couple of years.  Then I bought a Gibson Explorer, which actually I had for 8 years.  I used that on very many albums like all of the Darkthrone albums since 92 up until Ravishing Grimness.  Also on Satyriconís Nemesis Devina. Actually I have gotten rid of it now.  Now I have an ESP guitar which I am so incredibly satisfied with.  Itís actually the Kirk Hammet signature guitar from ESP.  Itís a fucking brilliant guitar to play on.  It has very good pick ups and electronics as well.  But it is probably the guitar I have been most satisfied with.  A really amazing guitar.

You played Bass on a few albums right.  So what kind of bass do you use.

On RG I used a custom made bass which was in the studio at the time.  On Plaguewielder I used Fenrizís girlfriendís bass guitar.  Sheís a bassist and vocalist in a female band.  That was a firebird Gibson form 67.  That was a really good bass.  Earlier on I donít remember what I used.  An ordinary heavy metal bass guitar.  I donít know.  I donít remember.  Too much drinking and smoking.

Do things of a mystical nature interest you more or do you think that stuff thatís involved with the dark side of man itself is more interesting?

Itís a combination maybe.  Itís always hard to explain what make me be in Darkthrone for so many years.  For me black metal isnít about religion.  It isnít about Satan or anything like that.  Itís more of the dark side of nature in general because deep within our thoughts we have our dark side.  And thatís what we try to get out maybe in the music.  And we also really uhÖ..you can call us a fighter against religion.  We are reallyt anit-religious people.  First of all I would say that my primary thoughts about religion are that I know a lot of the Norwegian history  and Xtianity.  Thatís a really bad story you know.  People try to tell me that itís a fine tradition going to church and baptizing your children.  Fuck you.  Itís only about a thousand years you know.  A thousand years isnít a long time for an old nation like Norway.  So itís a fucking stupid thing to say.  The history of Norway being forced to be Xtian is a really bloody history and the religion itself should be fucking ashamed.  I say just fuck Xtainity itís a lot of bullshit.  The hate is very strong and very deep.  Through all these years with Darkthrone the hate is only stronger because the older you get the more you know. 

Yep.  I totally agree.

Even having a family doesnít affect my views at all.  I just try to avoid that my children will be fucked by some religious freaks.  The way of beingÖ.also this thing about black metal is not about being dirty and filthy and being an asshole for that matter.  You donít have to be Xtian to pass away to your children to just behave yourself like a real man and not fuck it up.

Moonfog is supposed to be putting together an official website for you guys.  Do you have a really big hand in that or they doing it with just a little input from you?

I just have to tell you a couple of things.  Moonfog has nothing to do with this website!

Really?!?!?

At all you know.  I actually I bought everything around that server.  I bought myself some server space.  I bought myself the domain.  Iím working with a guy I know which we are actually going to rehearse at his place next weekend and he is doing websites as a profession.  And he is actually doing it for free.  Because he thinks it is cool to do the first official website for us.  So Moonfog has nothing to do with it.  I actually both asked Moonfog and Peaceville to dig out and see in their archives to see if they have anything of interest of Darkthrone in the past.  It could be photos or anything.  So Moonfog has nothing to do with it.

Thatíll probably be a relief to people who donít like Moonfog but like you guys.

Thatís right.  I think we will point that out when we launch the site.  That this site has nothing to do with labels or anyhting.  Itís very clean first hand informatuion Darkthorne related to obsessed perssons.  We are running the site so we are deciding everyhting so thatís it.

Have you been to any of the other fan sites out there?

Yeah Yeah. Some of them have really good sites.  And the links on our site we have listed very many of them.  Actually 11 of them right now.

I know Antony from Darkthrone.co.uk was campaigning to be you guysí official site.

Yeah we have his site linked to us.  And we are definitely doing that as a gesture to those who are making good sites for us.  We really thank them for doing it.  Iím honored.  I think that is really good.  So the idea of putting the links up for our sitre was there at the moment we decided to do it.  Then I said we just have to put the links to the other sites.

Thatís very gracious.

Yeah!

If you had to pick one personality in music that had a huge impact on your life and your music who do you think it would be?

A band or an album?

Well I was thinking more like an individual like Tom G. Warrior?

Thatís very hard.

Well you can say a band if itís too hard to narrow down.

When it comes to people itís hard to point out a person because I am really not a fan of any persons.  Their music is a band which has members you know.  The greatest impact on meÖactually I had two really strong impacts and that was Bathory.  I totally recall in the mid eighties, in Norway we had just got some kind of Sky channel, I think it was a British channel.  They had a program and it was called Monsters of Rock.  That was Huge you know.  I fucking remember when IÖthe first time I saw the Hell awaits live video with Slayer.  It was so fucking amazing.  I was totally converted to the dark side of music.  It was really amazing.  I had a lot to thank Slayer for because theyíve done some really really strong albums.  I would say that the Hell awaits video was a definite experience for me.  Something I will never forget.  Almighty Slayer.  Theyíve done some really good stuff.  They are musicians I really respect.  I donít really listen to much of the new Slayer because the old days was really special.  I can also mention the fist exodus album Bonded by Blood was a fucking brilliant album.

I think a lot of people would agree with you about Slayer and Exodus.

Yes I wonít forget them.

Why donít you ever play any solos or leads anymore?  Is there a particular reason you stopped?  Are you going to do any in the future?

I donít know.  Itís something that we donít decide before we go in the studios.  We just have to find the right space to do it.  The last years the songs just reallyÖit just doesnít really fit in with any solos.  Maybe in the future.  Suddenly we can just have a solo.  We donít know where or when.  It just has to fit.  Itís not any point to force a solo in the song.

Knightstorm IX wanted to know if there was ever any band you could do a cover song who would it be?  I told him probably Celtic Frost but thatís just a guess.

I donít know.  I can tell you we almost recorded Under the sun the last song on Vol. 4 by Black Sabbath.  Yeah we almost recorded  that one but we skipped it in the last moment.  I think Celtic Frost is the very obvious choice.  We could do Slaughter.  Do you know the Strappado album?

Yes.

Thatís a fucking brilliant one.  We also could do some really controversial things like Rocky Erickson from the States.  Do you know him?

No.

He is more of really a rockabilly guy.  He actually was living in Texas and was in a mental hospital for a long time.  The first album was named the Evil one in America.  Here in Europe the albumn was called I think of Demons.  I mean his lyrics are all about demons and zombnies.  Very strange guy.  So I donít know what we would have chosen.

Itís kind of a hypothetical situation since you probably wonít ever do one.

I guess it would be slaughter maybe.  Because Fenriz and I agree that it was a very important release for us that Strappado album.  I remember I was doing guitars and bass on the Bathory cover song I did with Satyricon. 

Why did you decide to resign with Moonfog?  I know in some interviews you were talking about resigning with Peaceville.

Yeah I know.  It was decided in the last minute.  For us its real difficult.  To work with Moonfog its much more easy for us than to work with Peaceville.  Because we have more connection with them.  We feel very comfortable and we have a really good contract.  They are doing so much good for Darkthrone so the wisest thing was maybe to stay on them.  I am totally happy about it.  Then we donít have to think about labels anymore.  We are going to be on Moonfog as long as we exist.

Did Peaceville ever apologize for not supporting you in the TH period?

No I havenít heard anything about that.  Actually I talk to Hammy quite often now.  They are releasing all the albums on that heavy vinyl in May.

Yeah, all of us collectors are a little upset about that.

Yeah.  I have some contact with them.  I also signed a publishing deal with Vile music which are connected to Peaceville in Europe.  So yeah I have contact.  Actually I was visiting Hammy last year in February.  So yeah we are good friends.  The period around TH I really donít remember much about it because I was living in a little cottage in the woods and I had very little contact with anyone.  I know that Fenriz was in contact and they fought a lot.  I really donít know what itís all about.  I canít really say that they supported us or not.  The thing is that Peaceville were really had a hassle about it.  The whole Peaceville label was actually shaking in the ground.  It was a very, very difficult time.

Fenriz said in an interview that his new lyrics were going to be mostly about suicide.  What do you think of that concept?  Whatíre your favorite lyrical topics?

I have all the lyrics here with me.  What I see is really strong lyrics.  I donít really know where he gets all the ideas from.  Itís fucking brilliant songs and lyrics.  He still amazes me with his talent for writing lyrics.  Iíve always felt thatís maybe one of the reasons I am staying in Darkthrone because his lyrics are so fucking brilliant.  So for me itís really important that I can perform them.

I agree that for me the lyrics form really all the albums but especially Soulside Journey, A blaze in the Northern Sky, and Under A Funeral Moon are some of the most incredible lyrics I think I have ever read.   SO much time and poetry seems to have gone into them. 

Yeah, thatís right.  I really really enjoy the new lyrics.  Itís amazing.  One of the songs is going to be named Fucked up and Ready to Die. 

I also read that Striving for a Piece of Lucifer was one.

Yeah, and also one we are calling Rust.  Really interesting lyrics as usual.  But I always think he is overdoing himself every time.  Itís always really fresh reading when I get new lyrics because heís always changing it a little bit into a slightly different theme.

Do you have any closing comments that you want to make?

No not really.  I just have to say that I enjoyed the interview and I am also interested in getting information from the States because that is the BM scene I know the least about maybe.  But I have contact with Knightstorm IX.  Heís a really cool guy but I donít really know much about the scene in the States because itís a huge country and I guess the few Black Metal heads are scattered around. (some comments are made about US geography and the US scene)  I think that black metal as a Music form should be universal.  I guess itís maybe coincidence that we have a lot of bands that have influenced the scene here in Norway.  I think with black metal that people all around can understand it.  It says a lot that people from Tasmania and Venezuela hail Darkthrone as the best black metal band ever.  So itís really cool to me.  Actually toady I got a mail form some guy in Thailand.  He was writing this address down in Bangkok.  Itís good to see that it has spread that much around.

 

The End

Pictures by Peter Beste