Interview with Nocturno Culto of Darkthrone 2007
By Bradley Smith and Alex Pichler
Your new album FOAD has finally been unleashed upon us. To me it is probably your most diverse and “strange” album to date. How do you see it when you view it as an insider? The overall packaging has reached a new peak as well and is very unpredictable in a good way. Can you describe your thought process here as well?
Well, hey there everybody, my name is Ted and I’ve been in a band for 2 decades now. I play metal. I like metal. Ahh, fuck that. I can agree with you on the “diverse” thing, since we don’t have a plan when we’re making music, and since we have moved even further away from the strict Black Metal way of sounding on this FOAD album, the music is a product of pure ENTHUSIASM for METAL and ROCK. We hail the 70’s and 80’s. We feel free as the wind after getting our own studio. The way we work now is just plain ACE for us. Can you feel the live vibe of the album? The booklet and cover art is also different from what we’re used to, but I think it turned out really satisfying, lots of pictures of us handsome dudes, and Fenriz’ tent of course. Hey, we are just being honest, we give from ourselves on this one.
With the new album it includes no Lyrics, only explanations for each song. Why did you guys choose to go in this direction? What about including the lyrics were you against? Also I noticed you did the lyrics for two songs (Banners of Old and These Shores Are Damned). How do you feel those turned out? Will you be doing more lyrics in the future?
I will definitely do more lyrics in the future. All of a sudden, I got the gift!!! It’s our belief that people should listen carefully to the singing on the album and discover by themselves…. We twist and turn like a twisty turning thing.
FOAD is pretty scornful of modern music both lyrically and musically. What is your opinion in regards to most modern music? Do you feel that music with “magic” in it exists exclusively in the past? What about earlier metal made it so special and when did the metal scene start becoming plastic?
I would say that in EVERY genre, there are bands/people who grab the roots and make it plastic. This is not a new thing by any means. Take the genre opera, I guess the diehard opera fans are mighty pissed off by, lets say Josh Groban!!!! But without hardworking poor people down in the mud, there would be no “high society” kids living out their wet dreams on stage. I know, what the hell am I talking about here?! One thing I must admit is that in the last two years or so, I have heard more great new bands than in a decade before, so something cool is happening. OH NO, this is insane, ok, to put this REALLY simple; I just notice that there are many popular bands “up there”, but do I REALLY care? No! My entire metal heart belongs to the underground. UNDERGROUND: where things really happen…..always.
The collaboration between Fenriz and yourself seems to be working just perfectly and efficiently these days with the help of the handy Necrohell 2 studio, right? Also I noticed a small paradigm change because earlier in your career it was crystal clear who did what part, f.e. Fenriz was the lyrics writer (with quite a few exceptions like inputs by Zephyrous and yourself) and Nocturno Culto the voice of DarkThrone. Nowadays there are more experiments - if one can even call them that way – as Fenriz takes over vocalist duties sometimes and you are doing more lyrics which is a thing you haven’t done too much since the days of the “Total Death” album way back in 1996. Are you guys just shaking off all boundaries left, and do what you can do best which is walking your own path? I mean F.O.A.D. - as the title already says - is just a perfect case to show that you guys just do what you like, regardless of what other people - even avid supporters from the old days - expect from a leading Black Metal act such as DarkThrone – would you agree?
The collaboration I have with Fenriz now, and had the last 20 years, is something I really value. I always feel lucky when I think about it. We develop Darkthrone the way we want, and we know we’re going AGAINST the stream, and we pay a price for that, but whatthehell, our albums will last longer than a decade…ahahaha. No matter what you do artisticly, music, paintings, sculptures…whatever, you will always get A: slaughtered, B: praised. Heh, so you’ve noticed then? We’re shaking off all boundaries, and, WE LIKE. Last year, all of a sudden, I felt a force that was telling me to write lyrics…(in my narrow world that is). When it comes to Fenriz doing vocals: nothing pleases me more. For several years I tried to encourage him to do so, but he had some comments like “I can’t sing”, “I’m a crap singer” and so on. JIZ!!! It’s like saying he can’t play the drums!!! I KNEW he would be great on vocals again. He is just a natural when it comes to metal. He knows his shit very well, and I deeply respect him.
I expect this album to generate even more controversy surrounding Darkthrone than any of your recent albums. Do you see that happening as well? Did you foresee this happening and the whole album concept of telling people to “Fuck off and Die” was sort of a pre-emptive strike against them?
We don’t plan on anything to happen, we just see it as a natural path for us to go at this point. We just recorded two new songs for the next album, and we’re stretching the limit. Hello, we’re Darkthrone and we play music with FUZZ guitars.
You seem to be working in overdrive these days. I read somewhere that you are already working towards your upcoming album 14th album. I heard it would be called Dark Thrones and Black Flags. Is this true and how far along are you with it? Has having your own studio made it much easier to just keep recording songs as you feel like it?
Oh no, you know the title?? Ah, fuck, ok, it slipped out of me in an interview with Metal Hammer. Fenriz urged me to keep my mouth shut, but at this point it’s no great idea to take on the strategy from Black Adder “deny everything Baldric”. Yes, as I said above, we’re just been to record new songs, and we’re deeply into making this album now. I know Fenriz has even two more songs ready, and I’m on the case as well. We have now 4 sessions with recordings left for fulfilling this album now. So late 2008 will probably be a good time for release (Peaceville decide that of course). Necrohell=freedoom.
Some people have stated that you guys have regressed too much with your incorporation of Punk influences. Do you think this is a little narrow-minded of them? I mean if they truly paid any attention they would have noticed some punk influences on even A Blaze in the Northern Sky. And what would Bathory have been without GBH? What are some of the most important punk bands that “metal” people should know?
People should find out by themselves. And blackmetal has a lot of roots to the punk music, but to goth-blackmetallers this is NEWS I guess. At what point in time did blackmetal turn goth? 94?
Your role in DarkThrone has certainly changed throughout the years. In the mid 90ies Fenriz was certainly been the "head" of DarkThrone, whereas you have been very silent - aside your vocal contribution on the albums, of course - and then you have taken more or less over the control of handling DarkThrone activities in the late 90ies and especially in the new millenium, for example when it comes to PR matters as well as giving interviews, the work with Tyrant Syndicate as DarkThrone's "own" label (with strong ties to the original label Peaceville Records from the UK) and such. Is there a certain motive behind this agenda change? I can remember a Fenriz interview where he simply stated that it now was your turn to "be in charge" of DarkThrone and that this "evolution" kind of happened naturally. How do you yourself see this whole matter?
Both Fenriz and me have made riffs for Darkthrone always, and Fenriz was in charge until around 95/96, when I just grabbed the situation by the balls. Well, when I think of it, I did have computer experience long before he did (that old-school bastard, refuse to following what was HOT). And e-mails and document exchange was suddenly very easy, and it was just natural for me to keep in touch with our partners. Also I worked hard for 2-3 years to get all the loose threads we had, in place. Now, everything runs smooth. But still, the natural thing is that he comes up with ideas of album titles and the order of the songs on the albums etc. This is something he really likes, and he’s fucken good at it!! And in the end, Fenriz was the founder of Darkthrone. We joined ranks in March 1988, after Darkthrone had run for some months.
Earlier you performed Live with Nocturnal Breed. Can you tell me a little about that experience and why you hooked up with them for that show? Also you and the guys from Satyricon did join forces in Wacken a few years ago to present some DarkThrone classics live. Do you feel the urge to perform live sometimes and need an outlet for it? Does it ever bother you that Fenriz doesn’t want to perform live? Man I know you hate “live” questions but I have noticed a little bit of a trend here. Heh heh.
Hahaha, correct, I don’t like this question. Well, I don’t know if I should bother, but whatthehell: Wacken had asked Darkthrone for many years to headline the festival, somebody picked up my performance with Satyricon on Moonfog’s 10 year anniversary in Oslo, so I got this phonecall if we could do an extended version at Wacken, and both me and Satyrican agreed to that. Great experience, great crowd and festival and so on. But no more Darkthrone stuff live ever, at least not without the chief himself, Fenriz. It does not bother me at all that Fenriz is not into live playing….common, live SUCKS, heh? At least for us. Nocturnal Breed is a bunch of diehards, and I was hanging around with them for some days, being present at their rehearsal place to practise a little for this performance. Great persons they are.
And speaking of contributions I noticed that you have lent your vocal skills to several bands lately like Vidsyn, SCUM, and so on. Why have you been so active with other bands as well as Darkthrone? Any other musical projects that will get your assistance in the near future?
Please, come on. I just happen to know people you see, and Samoth is an old friend of mine. We had some rememberal times in the past.
DarkThrone has been around for such a long period of time now and I guess it is safe to say that you guys are the last band from the so-called "original second-wave of Scandinavian/Norwegian Black Metal" which is still standing strong after all these years whereas most of your peers have long since abandoned the path of BM, split-up or changed their style. Where does it end? When is Nocturno Culto going to tell Fenriz that it's all over, that it's time to end DarkThrone's enigmatic reign as an active, genuine Black Metal outfit? How many new albums can we expect until then? I simply was wondering because DarkThrone as a band is currently probably in its most productive phase since the beginning with all the tremendous releases in the early years of this millenium, also featuring cover-versions of other bands for the first time in the bands history. Hopefully we will see another 10 new albums arise before you call it quits, so that DarkThrone would be the "AC/DC or Motörhead" of Black Metal then. Is that a goal you'd like to reach or is this scenario totally far out?
Our key to sticking together for this long, is that we have no major plans or goals to reach. But Darkthrone have no plans for quitting, and I can assure you that sometime in the future when we do, THERE WILL BE NO REUNION!!! I’m so inspired still, and so is Fenriz, and when we make a crap album, WE will be the first to know, and stop the release.
I read in your blog that you like the feeling of Isolation. What sort of things inspire that feeling in you and what about isolation in particular appeals to you? (Addition: Is the internet a medium of conversation you like to use more these days
I must admit that I don’t like the internet, it’s just a practical tool. For interviews, I prefer the internet. Isolation in the winter is great feeling. People stay indoors, it’s quiet, white and clean, only the sound of your breath and your old skis. Cold and “hostile”. But then again, there is FISHING in the summer. Desolate style. DID YOU HAVE TO SAY BLOG!!!?? It’s NOT a blog, I insist.
Artistic expression also seems to become more and more important for you these days. Hereby I’m referring to your “The Misanthrope” DVD which you directed and compiled all by yourself and had it released via Peaceville Records as well - not only to present some DarkThrone-related material, but also to display a more visual approach except “only” creating music for DarkThrone. How do you see your first attempt as a “director” in retrospect? In know you’ve been planning this for quite a few years, so what was your main motive to have this brought to the public in the end? How have the reactions of the audience been so far?
I don’t know of any reactions yet, but the great audience at the premiere in Oslo in April made a great day for me. I never was so nervous. I learned a lot from this “creative” process of making this film, and I would not be without this experience. It triggered some kind of thought to take my experience to another level, a story-based thing almost without dialogue. But time will tell if I will do it.
Future plans of yours regarding any other audio and/or visual releases, not necessarily DarkThrone-related, are…
Caught me there! Many times I had plans for my own music-project, and AGAIN I’m at the threshold for diving into it. It MIGHT happen, just might hehe. I feel the URGE!!
Last Words to conquer all Dark Thrones and raise the Black Flags are yours…
Dear Fenriz: I really hope you will experience a stronger winter than last year in your southern realm, so your outdoor activities will get a great boost.
Dear everybody else: fuck off!! No, fooled you. Hail you all. Seriously.