INterview with Trey conducted by Bill Zebub for issue #6
Thy attitude, as a band, has come under a lot of scrutiny. Dave Vincent has made some bold comments when asked about how involved he is in thy local scene. He responded with, “What scene? There is no scene. There’s only Morbid Angel!’ Dost thou think that such assertions hinder thee?
Um … Not really.
But how canst thou say that? A lot of bands have taken tremendous offense to that.
Really? Like who?
I am not at liberty to mention. But let us step away from thy peers. Fans have found the arrogant statements to be distasteful. It is not really an attitude that they admire. But then there are those who worship thee and praise thy airs.
Well, let me put it this way – we just feel that what we say is accurate to what’s going on as far as fact. When you blow all the smoke away, we’re talking about what’s standing – a secure thing that’s real. There’s a lot of hype and stuff like that surrounding a lot of bands. We’re just talking about actually what’s the music all about – what’s going into it, you know, without any extra fluff ‘n stuff that people would talk about that really has nothing to do with music. We only just talk about our music and how powerful it is and how we feel that it’s the most powerful music there is. It’s just what we feel. It goes beyond just music. It goes in just about everything. There’s a lot of people who. . . their whole career is just based on hype and fluff talk and all that kind of stuff, and fronts. Our career is based on serious material that we put a lot of time and effort into. So we just believe in ourselves and believe in our stuff.
Didst thou find it to be humiliating to be dropped from Giant Records?
What is the next step?
As far as labels, we don’t know. We’re just gonna see who gives us the best offer. As far as music, I don’t see us changing really, anymore than it’s changed with all the previous records.
Thou art very proud of incorporating certain extreme tempo notes in thy arrangements. I have heard thee say that not many musicians are capable of such feats. Dost thou care to expound?
What is it about the Morbid Angel guitar that cannot be duplicated?
Well, I think really it’s not the playing – it’s the creativity. That’s really what it’s all about. It’s the vision that is behind the riffing. I’m not saying that people can’t figure out our stuff, or be shown and mechanically play it. But what I’m saying is that I don’t see any other band coming up with as many different types of rhythms and song struc tures as we have on our records, and covered as much ground. That’s what I think is the difference. This band has a little bit more creativity, imagination, and we create so much new stuff in this type of music as far as all the different songs. . . when you take them and dissect them for what they are, there’s a lot coming from one band. The two videos that we put on MTV, like, Rapture and God of Emptiness – those two songs are, like, totally different from one another. One is, like, really fast and brutal, and hyper speed. The other is , like, down-tuned and slow and really heavy and all that. They’re totally different. But they’re from the same band. I don’t see any other band that is producing such a broad range of music. I haven’t heard it.
Thou art heavily into the Sumerian gods?
Is that because of what thou hast read of Lovecraft’s fiction, or is it because thou dost possess an actual anthropological interest?
Well, I haven’t really read any H.P. Lovecraft. David has. Fiction… you know, fact… I pretty much study the actual books that are translations from the old. . . uh. . . I can say “scriptures’ and stuff like that, in those areas. It’s like, you know, fiction or . . . myth. Myths are, like, based on what people believed You could say, or I could say, that all religion is fiction because there’s nothing really physically factual about it. It’s just all belief. Belief is the power. You can invent your own kind of religion, and if you believe in it strong enough and anchor in a reality to it, then you give it power, and it is powerful. So it’s kind of a question between, like, something being all fiction, and then something being, like, factual religion. I mean, all religion is basically, you know, people’s ideas and what they would say about a belief about some kind of power or something that’s beyond the physical realm. It’s all intangible. It’s not really something like a car or, like, food, or something that you can see and hold and touch. It’s something that you believe in. It’s something that gets your spiritual powers going. Myself, the stuff that I’ve read, that was, like, very interesting to me. That’s the way I live my life. I choose things that I like myself . . . what do I feel a part of or what can I feel a part of.
Vincent says that his interest is pure belief. Is that the same with thee? Or is it just an area of study?
Um. . . I don’t know. Maybe both.
Dost thou think that it is absurd to adopt a culture that is not thine? How canst thou be seen as authentic in thy belief if it is not only a foreign civilization, but a civilization long dead?
Well, when you say, “to be seen. . .’ to be seen by who? By myself?
By others, of course.
Well, see, I don’t care what other people think. I don’t base anything on what other people say is cool or what other people say is norm because I create my own cool and my own standards. I really don’t base any- thing by other people’s ideas of what’s right and wrong.
But if thou truly did not care what other people thought, thou wouldst not profess thy unusual tastes to the world. Thou wouldst just dismiss prying questions with “no comment” or “this is not appropriate for discussion.’ Thou calls thyself by a pseudonym that is from that culture. So that would lead people to ask thee about it. Dost thou not think that thou art baiting people?
I just think that I’m living my life the way I choose, which is Satanism. See, I don’t think of it like that. I just do whatever I feel is best for myself. When I get the opportunity to say what I got to say, I say it. People listen to it. Great if they don’t. Big Deal! It doesn’t affect me much either way.
When thou did say “Satanism,’ Didst thou refer to the Anton LaVey school of Satanism? Or is it what occultists call “Christian Satanism?’
I’m talking about my interpretation of Satanism.
Wouldst thou care to share a couple of things about that view?
Well, to me, Satanism is believing in yourself and making your own decisions, and pretty much controlling the way you live your life and what you do and what you think… you know, doing it for yourself and doing things because you want to and not because other people expect it out of you or other people are gonna think it’s gonna be cool or whatever. But really, actually, you can do that too if that’s important to you. The bottom line is, doing what’s important to you.
Is there anything evil about Satanism?
Evil? How do you describe evil? Is that just the opposite of holiness?
No. Evil as in hatred, acts that hurt others. . . perhaps it is the common idea of evil than thy own. I know evil is a relative term. But understand that I will always use common conventions, as I am not aware of thy own definitions.
…probably. I’m full of hatred. But I don’t live my life trying to hurt other people.
How about horrific? Is there anything horrifying about thy version of Satanism?
To me, or to other people?
To others, obviously.
I would say that Christians would. Average people, you know, maybe not. It depends on the individual, really, because, see, I’m beyond that. I think of people as Individuals, and maybe sometimes they’re a little more sheep-ish than others because they wanna follow the leader or follow and be part of something as opposed to, you know, letting themselves be by themselves in a decision or idea. I would say that it depends. You take a group of people and you might have out of ten, 3 people are saying one thing and the rest are saying something else. It’s hard to say. I didn’t really spend my time thinking about what other people think that much because that’s their job. I’m more concerned with what I think and what I do. I just do what I feel is best for myself.
Is there rivalry between Glen Benton and Dave Vincent?
Well, I don’t think there’s any really from David. See, what it is, is, I mean, it all boils down to people and the way they are and their values and what they think. See, us. . .we’re always asked questions about that band and other bands and whatever. “Oh. What do you think about their latest record?” See, part of Satanism too, by our definition, is to speak what you feel is the truth for you. What is your reality? Say it boldly. Don’t kiss ass and say, “They’re cool.” and then by yourself you’re thinking , “Oh they really suck. Oh I don’t really like them. But I’m gonna say they”re coot because I wanna be cool” I don’t care about being cool. That doesn’t mean anything to me. So we just say what we think, and people don’t like that. So. . . whatever. But see, I know also that they say what they think, and they say things about our band, and you know, to me, when you look at the music, I don’t really see that it can be compared. I think there’s a big difference between our records and their records as far as accomplishments and as far as creativity and, you know, you throw away all the hype and you get to the music and you just listen to it and what it does it do… I just feel that our music does a lot more.
But philosophically, are they opposed diametrically, Glen and Dave?
I don’t know. I guess you have to ask him. I know, myself, I’m actually very supportive of Deicide these days because I personally think that the drummer and Glen… I think they do a great job, you know, what they do. I think the vocals are really very creative and I think the drummin’s really solid. But you know, for me, I just always kind of felt that the music was lacking something. I just didn’t really get much out of the actual songs from one song to the next. But I really hope Deicide stays around because I think that the scene or whatever needs more bands right now, it seems like it’s just us that is really doing something and selling records and making things happen. But I really hope that Deicide stays around. I don’t have any beef with them at all. I just think that besides maybe talking and making all this hype up or whatever, they should maybe think about their music a little bit more. But whatever. I mean, they’re doin’ what they wanna do.
With regard to the Satanic element, it has been observed that most people who are very loud about proclaiming themselves as Satanic are often of puny stature and that they only pretend that they are Satanists to compensate for their physical weakness. Wouldst thou say that this applies to thee?
As far as proclaiming that I’m a Satanist?
It has been suggested that thou and Tommy from Motley Crue are the same person, making fun of thy skinny arms, and stating that the only reason thou art in the occult is to create some sort of macho image because thy physical presence cannot possibly do so.
Well, I can tell you one thing. I’m not, like, in the Ultimate Fighting Championship or some kind of prize boxer. So I’m certainly not trying to be some kind of massive macho fighter or whatever. I’m a guitar player. That’s what I do. That’s what I’m offering these people. . . is my guitar playing. I put a lot of time and effort into that, and I think that in that I’m very powerful and I’ve accomplished a lot. I don’t really know what that’s supposed to mean.
Has anyone ever hugged thee and loved the and called the ‘George Emanuelle?”
Has anyone done what now?
Has anyone hugged thee and loved thee and called the “George?”
Not that I remember.
If thou ever played baseball, wouldst thou be pitcher or catcher?
I don’t know.
If thou wert having gay sex with thy manager, wouldst thou be pitcher or catcher?
Well, I don’t know. That sounds pretty weak to me.
Thy hecklers are may.
That’s the thing. Why aren’t these people who are saying all this stuff. . . how come they’re not, like, writing music that’s gonna just make our band nothing? I don’t get that. It’s easy to say a mouthful of nothing. But it’s a lot more work to create music and product, because that’s what a band is. A band is music. That’s what it’s all about. It’s about making music and creating a statement, and devastating with chord structures and timing sequences and things like that. All this other stuff.. it means nothing.
This album is mortal to my ears, for it makes me a dead man, ebbing in a slow tide, rife with dread. The drone lulls me into a blackness where mere moments ago I beheld the world, and now my eyes are organs of the mind. On this stark canvas, the music makes a brush of every instrument, and woeful colors depict such scenes as only could be made by the feelings this album inspires.
The slow, plodding rhythm appears harmless, but it guides the imagination into depths without noting the passage of consciousness, and then the altered state is achieved without memory of the inner journey. This is when the theater of the mind opens, and no one can possibly know the same experience.
No such descent can remain without a guide, and the rumble of a demon god assures no joy can be felt in this sinking plane. So terrible is the tone, yet the voice deepens the trance. It is as a flame that causes no flesh to recoil.
All the while, despair overtakes the heart, and the pulse becomes a drum which compels life to move toward death. Amid the crushing threnody rides soprano so haunting that the sky could have released black angels and even they could not match the impact of the voices. This, coupled with the morose synthesizer, creates such despair that the only thing preventing suicide is the longing to hear the music again.
This band has made a grand contribution to atmospheric doom, introducing fresh elements and exhibiting a rare creativity that I hope will become appreciated by people who otherwise see nothing in such dark music. Hasten to the vendor, for it would be a painful regret to have missed the opportunity to know this music. How many things have you let fall between your fingers, out of your grasp forever?
I am the herald who sounds the warning
Interview with Cronos conducted by Bill Zebub for Issue #21 of THE GRIMOIRE OF EXALTED DEEDS magazine
I understand that you had a false media war with King Diamond in the early days. You were calling him King Billy and he was calling you Cronfag.
It’s all good fun. We’ve had this since the beginning of our career. The first label that we were with, there was a band called Raven. As soon as we realized that Venom money was being used to fund Raven, that was it! You know? The war was on! We’ve always thought that it sort of creates a good… A little bit of rivalry between bands can keep everybody on their toes. Sometimes it’s good fun.
Americans like it. Professional wrestling is proof of that.
I mean, the thing for me, was… this is why I called him King Billy…. because when I first met him, he tried to sort come across to me like he was some fuckin’ hard core Satanic dude. You know? Which I was having none of it. I really wanted to sort of go, “Hi. How ya doin’? Do you wanna have a beer?” which is sort of my way of doin’ things. But he sort of wanted to sit at this table, with these candles around him, and stare at everybody. So we just sat around and got drunk and just took the piss out of him all night. Eventually, when he left… this is in Holland… he stood up from the table to go to his hotel room, with a glass in his hand. Now he had no shoes on. He dropped the fuckin’ glass, stood in it, cut his foot, and had to get rushed off to the hospital. You know? Like… (he cackles like an old witch who is about to lower children into a boiling cauldron). Really evil. (again, the cackle).
I never thought he would act like that.
Yeah. He made a right dick of himself. But I forgive ‘im.
What do you think about his music?
It’s not really my cup of tea. But it’s still heavy, and I do appreciate heavy. I’ve never really been into that high voice/low voice thing. You know? I was always a big Judas Priest fan. I can’t really get past that, really. But hey. Good luck to him. I mean, he’s doin’ some good shit. He’s got some cool titles and that. But I don’t really have to like the music. That’s the thing about this. With a lot of bands, so long as they’re ok people, that’s also a lot of the message that we’ve got. You know? Venom want to be a super group. We wanna put on a fuckin’ cross between a KISS show, a Judas Priest show, and a Black Sabbath show. You know? We wanna be that huge group. That’s what influenced us. But at the same time we wanna still come down to earth and have a fuckin’ laugh. We’ve tried to do that with Venom, not necessarily successfully. Some people say, well you’re not serious… you’re takin’ the piss… and you don’t chill out enough.. and you shouldn’t take yourself too seriously. Fuckin’ hell! You know? We’re musicians. We’re gonna do our job. But then we’re gonna get drunk and fall around like idiots.
So you won’t be doing any King Diamond covers on the next album?
Don’t think so. I remember goin’ through Germany once, when we played that first tape, and we’re all goin’ (in a high voice) “Hail Satan! (in a low voice) “Hail Satan! We just thought it was so funny. You know? I was runnin’ around with these fuckin’ bones in me hands, doin’ fuckin’ King Billy impressions.
The funny thin is that he is going to be in the same issue.
Hey, no problem.
There was a very brutal version of At War With Satan recorded in the old days. Will that ever be available?
Was that the demos? That was, wasn’t it? When we actually came over to do the Staten Island show… I remember we had Metallica on… ‘83. We had the demo for At War With Satan in our bag, and we went to these great parties with all these young kids and got fuckin’ out of our minds. I remember pulling out the tape and played it for everybody, and they thought it was great, and we got drunk and we left and we didn’t take the tape. That’s how that got out. But we didn’t mind anyway. We thought it sounded cool anyway. So we just went, oh well, what the fuck. Win some, lose some. We still had the album to do, anyway. So it was no problem to us.
Metallica actually opened for Venom. That’s very strange.
Not really. They were young spotty kids. I mean, that’s what we thought at the time. It was difficult for Venom to… fuckin’ hell! There was no fucker who really understood what we were doin’. So we had to really selectively choose who we were on the road with. A band like Metallica… we were sent over some stuff over to England and we heard it and we thought, well at least it’s fast. Because what we were hearing was all these Iron Maiden cover bands and fuckin’ Def Leppard shit. And we thought, no, these are gonna get murdered. We knew that the Venom audience was gonna crawl out of the sewers. We just knew that. You know? We thought, uh oh… this is gonna be fun! So we couldn’t have had some fuckin’ pretty boy band on support. They would have been murdered. But metallica were cool. Hey, they were young spotty kids. But at the same time they were really energetic, which we liked. It was the same with Slayer and Exodus as well. The energy that they had… plus they were young, plus they were pretty cool and everything. We had some good laughs.
So do your style decisions reflect those of Metallica? Will you be going down the same path?
My hair’s still down to my ass.. and I don’t wear make up… and I’ve got a girlfriend.
There are no pictures of you kissing a band mate?
I don’t think so.
By the way, there’s a severe thunderstorm in the area. So if I die, what a way to go.. die while talking to Cronos. There’s a backwards message on the vinyl version of Black Metal. Is the forward version message interesting?
Yeah! It’s on everything. I mean, fuckin’ hell! There’s more than just that. There’s that stuff on quite a lot of the records. The classic one that I always thought was when we first came to do the first single, I was all full of, I wanna do all these backwards messages. I was gonna do some lord’s prayer, or something. And then when we play it backwards it will be all wicked and spooky. And I was like, no… that’s fuckin’ really childish. What I’m gonna do is, I’m gonna shout “You’re gonna fuckin’ burn in hell! You’re gonna bleed for me!” When you play that backwards, then it sounds… you can say “Have a nice day” and it would sound evil backwards. But then when they spun the fuckin’ record backwards and hear us actually screamin’ that shit out… I just wanted to fuckin’ frighten people.
It’s good wholesome Satanism that the entire family can enjoy.
I think so. Yeah. Definitely for the fuckin’ family. Bring the pets too. They go really well on the barbeque.
This next question comes from a person who is quite knowledgeable about the Venom ways. His name is Paul Nestarok. He writes for me under the name “Paul Tergeist”.
Cool… Bill Zebub. (laughs in mockery)
When was the last time you smoked angel dust?
Fuckin’ hell! It’s got to be over 10 years now, when i was back in the States.
Would you like to talk about that, being that you are such a mighty role model?
Well it was just cool. I got stoned. (laughs) It was pretty cool. I really got nice and wrecked on it, and felt really wicked good after the show. I got it off some chick. She was Russian. She brought it. It was really fresh… still on the fuckin’ mint leaf and everything. It was really nice.
Any psychotic episodes?
No. We didn’t, actually. But somebody said we’d have to freebase it to have that effect.
I see. So it’s not a bad psychoactive drug, according to Cronos?
I’ve never had a bad one. I never had a bad drug. I loved them all.
You are quite healthy these days. I was wondering if you changed your habits… if you no longer partake of such things.
Yeah, I do my bodybuilding and I stay fit and everything. What it is, is I consider that if i stay fit then I can party harder because I recover quicker. But so does Mantas as well. It goes with the whole sort of Venom territory, I think. It’s healthy body/healthy mind. And plus, we did the first gig in ‘82 over in Belgium and sat backstage and looked at each other and went (in slurred speech) “Fuckin’ hell! I’m fucked!” And we just said that’s it, we need to get fit to do this. If we’re gonna be able to stand on stage and look like these cool dudes who we wanna look like, standing there all big and proud and hard core, not like (pants like a dog). You know?
You were rumored to be quite in love with Jack Daniels.
Oh yes. A rather nice thing to be drinking. Amber nectar.
Whenever your stage banter included Americans, it was not very flattering. I’m not American. So I don’t are. But I would be interested in your anti-American outlook.
I don’t think it’s anti-American. I think what it is is it’s a very realistic look at the differences between England and America. When I’m in America, if i take the piss out of Americans, you’ll find that I’ll also give the counter argument for the English. I just find that there’s some sort of good little conundrums that go down in America that seems to go over everyone’s head, yet it seems so obvious to me. The classic one is when you’re called a limy. I find that one really funny because when I say to people “What is a limy?” they say, “well, you’re a fuckin’ limy”. Yeah. Well, how do you come to that name? And they’re like, “Well, when the English got on the boats to come across to America, they had to suck on limes so they didn’t get scabies and shit. So that’s why you’re a limy.” But hold on. The English who came to America stayed in America. There were some English people who didn’t come to America. They stayed in England. That’s my ancestors. We didn’t get on that fuckin’ boat. We didn’t suck no fuckin’ limes. you’re the limy! An American is a descendant of the person who got on the boat and sucked on the limes. So the Americans are fuckin’ limy.
I got on the airplane, man. I had jack Daniels. Call me a fuckin’ jackie.
I’m sure there are plenty of people who call you a jackie.
Yeah. Just call me Daniels!
On the first vinyl pressing of Welcome to Hell, a poster was included. Will any kind of special collector’s item appear in a future Venom release, or is the small size of a cd too much of a limit?
That’s true. i think so. I mean, I’ll tell you where I think everything’s going now. I’m really trying to get me head into the sort of computer thing as well. You can get the wallpapers from the web pages… all the multimedia stuff… all the icons and the buttons and the bits and pieces. A lot of people are finding that to be a good addition to things now. It’s just a case of convincing the record companies that this shit doesn’t take up much space an the cd, and blah dee blah dee blah. Then we can start putting more on a record, really. Sorry. More on a cd, than we could on an album.
Like a virus, maybe.
Yeah. (laughs) Matrix virus. Take the red pill. I’m also a vinyl fan, so I look at a cd fuckin’ booklet and I just go “duh”. I want it bigger. At the same time, if you’re gonna be able to have stuff on the cd, even like video stuff like the cd rom… you buy an album and you get more than just music. You can watch it and interact with it and fuck about with it and everything. Mix your own Venom album.
Am I right in saying that there are not many professional pictures that were taken of Venom in the early days?
What it was was , what we did was, we only had really a couple of select photographers that we would let take photos, and everybody else just used to get us at gigs or catch us in the street or coming out of the gig or whatever it was. We used to use a KISS photographer, actually. It was a guy named Fin Costello. He took all the classic KISS shots. He’s an English guy. We went down and he says, “I came up with this idea for a photo session”. So the ones that we did, we did mainly with Fin Costello. Wicked good laugh. He knew all the shops to go around and get all the skulls and the bones and the mummies, fuckin’ chains, and the snakes. So we had good fun with him.
At the end of From Hell to the Unknown, I guess it’s a fake interview. But in it was the denial that black metal was the name of a music genre. It’s strictly a name for an album. But throughout the life of Venom that was a changing statement. One day black metal is music, and another day black metal is just simply an album name. So what is it today?
I’ve never heard that argument, really. If somebody says, where does the name “black metal” come from? It was a term that I created before we actually wrote the song. This is the honest way that it is. Being a fuckin’ big fan of metal music and rock and everything else, I’m also a big Van halen fan, and heard that he was doing a guitar solo for Michael Jackson. Fuckin’ hell! Heard the song… I think it was “Beat It”. I just went “Duh!” You know? Why is a fuckin’ rock fuckin’ legend like that getting involved with shit? The next thing I see is in the rock press, where you’ve got the heavy metal charts. You’ve got #1 with Michael Jackson with “Beat It” just simply because Eddie Van Halen had done a solo. So I remember goin’ into one of the early Venom rehearsals… I was furious. I was like, fuck this! We’re NOT heavy metal. Fuck this! No way! I don’t want to be in the same chart as that! We started playin’ with words.. like we were longhaired punks. We were metal punk. Then we were power metal. And by the time we actually sat down with the press and they were sayin’ “Right, what’s happenin’ with this, that, and the other?” I was like, “Yeah. Look, I’m fuckin’ sick of this shit! Fuckin’ listen to me now! This is not fuckin’ shit! This is fuckin’ metal, this, mate! This is in your face. This will kick your fuckin’ eyes out! You know? Don’t fuck around with this! This is black metal! This is power metal! This is speed metal. This is thrash metal! This is death metal! This is will kill you, this shit, man! Fuck off!’ I was just so angry. I was just so pissed off. I just thought, NO WAY! So that’s where that was all born from. Yeah, we then wrote the song Black Metal. We thought, let’s describe Venom in a song. Black metal is describin’ Venom. The actual genre that fuckin’ followed was simply… I mean, we formed a band that we wanted to see. We wanted a band to look like Venom.. So what the kids obviously did, our fans, went, “We would like to be like that as well”, and they took little bits out of Venom like we would’ve taken little bits out of Sabbath and Judas Priest and fuckin’ KISS and whoever influenced us.
And King Diamond?
Yeah… of course. (cackles) So that’s how all these sort of things come together. It’s other people who say, “Oh Venom are responsible for this, and Venom are responsible for that!” If I’m in any way responsible for the huge explosion of a whole load of fuckin’ demons, it seems like the gates of hell have just opened up, and a million death metal ugly motherfuckers have come crawling out and have infected the whole world… hell yeah! That’s what I say!
How do you feel about the Norwegians claiming that the 90’s music that they seemed to create is called “Black Metal” especially since they pay homage to Bathory instead of to you?
A lot of them pay homage to Venom as well. I mean, they’ve all got the Venom “Welcome to Hell” t-shirts. The whole thing is, they’re not really encapsulating the whole thing of what black metal is because black metal captures all of the metals, and Venom play fast songs and slow songs and moody songs and atmospheric songs… and they play only one style of music. They play like a death metal more like, and with a (in a Popeye voice) wicky wicky wicky wicky we… sort of like speeded up Popeye lyrics. There’s one fuckin’ song we heard a while ago. it was really funny. It sounded like Popeye singing “Oh I do like the babyside, the seaside.” I thought it was great! We were fuckin’ pissin’ ourselves laughing!
I think that was Immortal.
I got two people, the singer Abbath and the bass player Iscariah, to sing actually sing the lyrics of Popeye because they don’t have that show. They don’t know why I was telling them to sing it.
I wrote down the words lyrics down. (Cronos laughs, quite amused) I’ll have to send it to you.
It’s going to appear on one of my cd’s.
Brilliant! It’s like when you go to France and you get some French girl and she can’t speak English, and say, “Here. Do you want to learn English?” and they’re going “Ke?” And you go, “Yeah. Just say this. Say ‘fuuuuck meeee.” And they’re just standin’ there goin’ “Fok may?” that’s the best. Great fun.
Do you find a similarity between your song “Manitou” and Bathory’s “Baptized in Fire and Blood?” from the Hammerheart album?
No. Manitou was actually written during the Welcome to Hell days. So I don’t know when the bathory track was actually put together. But, most certainly not! The song Manitou was actually the original riff for the song “Possessed” It should’ve actually went… in Manitou, where the riff goes dil noo noo noo noo noo… right? That should’ve went, “Look at me. Satan’s child!” Dil noo noo noo noo noo. “Born of evil. Thus defiled!” But then as we’d done the Black Metal and At War With… album, we were startin’ to look at the “Possessed” songs and goin’ “Neh neh nuh nih neh neh.” So I came up with a whole new riff sequence for the possessed thing and put the Manitou lyrics to the Possessed riff to make Manitou.
It’s a great joy for me to play those songs back to back on my radio show. But no one has ever called me, like “Wow! That’s very similar!” It’s just something that maybe only I can hear.
But I don’t hear voices or anything like that. How do you pronounce it… a-BAD’-on or A’-ba-don?
In England, we would say A-ba-don.
Abaddon is no longer in the band.
Rumor has it that he found the direction of Venom to be taking a turn for the weak.
No. What it was was he fell in love with Marilyn Manson. Yep. He’s now gone into some kind of computerized drum technical frenzy type very bad Nine Inch Nails rip off shit. No thank you.
So he couldn’t do that just as a hobby and keep true in the Venom way?
This is what we didn’t understand, because we want to actually progress Venom. We sort of want to take Venom into this century… you know… corny, corny… everyone’s on millennium frenzy. We don’t really mean that. It’ s not just a reunion that we put together. We saw immediately, when we were playin’ the live songs, like “Evil One” and the crowd reactions… that we could actually keep this goin’. You know? When people say “come back”, it usually takes a week and they’re fucked up again. It’s like. we’ve been sort of back together no since ‘95. So there is a future in this, and we want to push this band. But what we don’t want to do is be influenced by other types of music, whether it’s Marilyn Manson or whoever. I mean, I quite like the Nine Inch Nails stuff. I think it’s fuckin’ insane, especially the first couple of albums. But everything else from then has always just been a rip off of Trent Reznor. The originators usually have the best ideas. I don’t really see that Venom can go down that kind of path. Venom are all about fuckin’ pickin’ up guitars and playin’ drums and gettin’ hot and sweaty, not pushin’ a whole load of buttons and lettin’ a load of machines do it.
The songs on Resurrection seem very radio-friendly, that is, until the profanity kicks in, making them commercially unplayable.
That’s the Zappa influence.
It just seems very ironic to me because they do seem almost like they were written for radio at points, but then just blatantly saying “Fuck you!”… it’s just sabatoging it.
Well, it’s the Zappa bit that’s comin’ out there. But we definitely didn’t think that because it’s a fuckin’ angry album for us. I mean, we spent a year fightin’ with lawyers, and all sorts of bullshit, and not playin’ the music, which was very frustrating. And the only way that we could get that frustration out when we started doin’ the new songs was actually just to write the most aggressive shit that we could, and that even goes with the titles and everything. I mean, even walkin’ into rehearsal one day after I’d lent Mantas the “Load” album of metallica… and this is definitely a fact, DEFINITELY… 100%… I lent Mantas the fuckin’ “Load” album and he comes runnin’ into rehearsal, like threw it on the floor, and just yelled “What the fuck’s that SHIT?!” And he says, “Right. I’ve got a new song called ‘Loaded’.” And he played the, and he said, “This is my answer to that!” So the track “Loaded” is Mantas’ answer to Metallica’s “Load” and “Reload”. This is Mantas sayin’ to Metallica, “This is fuckin’ Loaded!”
It seems lyrics in bands like Bon Jovi and other glamsters were a whole bunch of cliches maybe thrown into a computer, and the computer selected the ones that rhymed. Venom lyrics, in songs like “The Seven Gates of Hell” are very godly. You can actually send them to a newspaper for a poetry contest. No, I’m just kidding.
I know what you mean, though, because that’s how they start. That’s how all my lyrics start. They just start as a rhyme, an anecdote, a saying, a quip, something I’ve caught off the tv, walkin’ down the street, whatever… I mean, i do just sort of pick up on generalizations, and then I try to plant the seed and let the thing grow. Even a funny way that one word will go into another word can set us off on a whole wave, writin’ a strange lyric. You know? But also things that you see immediately as well. I was standin’ on stage in Greece and the whole of the fuckin’ audience had a right arm up in the air, like a big fuckin’ fist. And i remember standin’ there and I said to meself, “Standing there, arms out toward you, clenching fists.” And I thought, fuckin’ hell, that’s a lyric straight away. They’re all stretchin’ their arms out towards you, clenchin’ fists, and it’s one of the opening lyrics to the songs on the new album… Pandemonium. Things can come to me at any time. If you start wrtin’ on a catchy riff, then it’s gonna become somethin’ that will have a flow. I’m not into one of these songs… even like the Bon Jovi stuff… it’s so predictable. Fell in love/fell out of love. You know… again and again and again. It’s good to have fun with words, sometimes. And being English, you know, fuckin’ we’re renown for it anyway. we like to fuck around with our wonderful accents. (cackles)
And you also like to use really intense adjectives for the most simple things… like “frightfully” good. The lyrics in songs like “Seven Gates of Hell” are timeless. However, on the new album… and this is not an insult…
Well I’d like you to speak your mind.
It just seems that there are more 20th century phrases… maybe cliches.
How did you let that happen?
Because I think it’s just NOW. I feel it’s right to do that now. A lot of that stuff seemed like the right lyric to use at the time. I think we’re bein’ more aggressive with the things we’re sayin’ as well. I mean, we seem to be attacking christ more. We seem to be attacking people more. We seem to be being stronger. I think all of those sort of classic elements of what Venom songs were are sort of peakin’ with this album. I think we’ve sort of encapsulated a lot what Venom is about. There’ll be a track on this album for everybody, type of thing. And that’s how we saw definitely the Black Metal album. We knew that there’s be some fucker who liked at least one song on that album.
Rumor has it that you’re an aerobics instructor. (he laughs) Is that true?
Really? So do you do the step… (we both laugh)
You see what’s so funny? Do you know what it is? I wanna know what it is with guys… they just think it’s so fuckin’ funny, and yet you’ve got me standin’ in a room with like 50 scantily clad women.
Yeah. that’s an enviable position. But aren’t some of them tubs?
No, no, no, no, no.
So do you add erotic hip movements to your routine?
Without a doubt.
That’s so strange. Are you employed at mantas’ gym?
No. He has his own. He mainly just does martial arts. Kickboxing ,tae kwon do, karate… all this sort of stuff. You know? I mean, this is why we were laughing at Abaddon calling his album “Dance Metal.” If you’ve ever seen Abaddon, he’s like tow left feet. So I said to the European press, “Well if Abaddon wants to book the venue, maybe he can sell tickets, and he can stand on stage and demonstrate how you’re supposed to dance to this shit.” You know? I’ll get up there. if he wants to show me the moves, hey, I’ll give it a try. Chances are, he’ll get on stage and fall down drunk and piss himself.
When you get a bad review, do you send Mantas over to the journalist’s house?
Yeah. He is deadly. No! We definitely think people should always speak their mind. We are never hurt by a bad review, the same as when we have a good review… we don’t have a fuckin’ party. We have always made albums for ourselves. Like Possessed… we should have done a lot more work on that album. We’ve only got ourselves to blame. So we kicked ourselves about that. We don’t need anybody else to do it for us. It’s amazing to say that Venom thought that they could have done better on that album. It sells just as well amongst Black Metal and Welcome to Hell and At War With Satan. A lot of people who listen to Venom mustn’t think what we think. They think it’s a cool Venom album. They weren’t in the studio.
I’ve never interviewed a band from England that like d Kerrang. Why is Kerrang anti-English?
They’ve got tongues that are 3,000 miles long and they land right on the New York shore. I haven’t got a fuckin’ clue what their problem is with England. But, like, they’re so renowned for bein’… it’s so obvious, it’s like the fuckin’ snake out of Jungle Book. You know it’s gonna turn on you. You just know. You go to Kerrang. They’ll lick your ass and give you a good review. But you know that next week they’re gonna turn. They’re so predictable and boring. Let’s hype them up and knock them down. Fans decide to buy the records to continue that career, not because some fuckin’ little goose egg in an office is gonna try to make you or break you.
I don’t know about England, but in America, the major metal press is not composed of metalheads. They’re all nerds who used to get beaten up by metalheads. So do you think that this is just revenge against people who stole their lunch money? Seriously. Whenever I attend an event and go into the press room, I never reveal who I am. I just watch, and I’m amazed that these are the people who write about metal. If one were standing next to you at a show and maybe shared an opinion, you’d probably slap him or say, “No offense, but go away.”
When we did the Dynamo in Holland, Slayer did the next day. We sort of hung around the next day so we could watch Slayer up at the side, and there were all these obvious record company dudes with this short hair and fuckin’ suits on. And all the crowd’s like bouncin’ at the same time to this certain Slayer song, and everybody’s got the same groove goin’ down. Everybody’s goin’ up down up down up down up down. There’s these two guys like swayin’ side to side, like as if they’ve got an itch. Totally out of rhythm with everybody else. But you can also see them lookin’ around like, hoping nobody can see them. They were just so out of place. they were so fuckin’ out of place… in the safety of that besides-the-stage ooh-I’ve-got-a-backstage-pass… I felt like runnin’ out and throwin’ the fuckers right in the middle of the mosh pit! It’s like, get out of that one!
I think all metal magazines should have pictures of the writers so you could see who’s writing these reviews.
What we were gonna do… I mean, we never got around to it, we had loads of threats… what we were gonna do was we were gonna put a magazine together that reviewed all the magazines. (cackles) We would be reviewin’ the magazine from a week before. “Well, they slated Aerosmith, the sad bastards.” And just really pull the magazines down.. well, the ones who deserve it, of course. There’s fuckin’ plenty of them. The English press have that… sort of need to want to be different. You know? Even though the rest of the world might say, “Hail Aerosmith! Best band on the planet!” England will go, “Oh, we think they’re shit!” Just to be cunts. just to be sad bastards. Like, “Look, I had to get up this morning. It was still dark, and it was pissin’ down with rain, and cold, and I had to get out of me bed and review this. So fuck you.” It’s really sad, isn’t it?
It was cool watching Venom at the Milwaukee Metalfest.
Were you there? Excellent! We had a great time.
You played Seven Gates of Hell.
Indeed. We opened with it.
I heard you were at the bar, but i was loading in my stuff, and i though, well, maybe later. But later never happened. But it’s great talking to you now. I was wondering if you were happy with everything over there.
We never are. We always plan 210 things and then we get like 20 of them. And that’s always the case with Venom. We always have to oveplan and we always end up disappointed. But hopefully the crowd still get more than what they expected. So we try to get that sort of balance. Venom played 20 minutes late. The reason for that is because some fuckin’ suits came up to us with large fuckin’ wads of paper, saying, “Where’s the license for this pyro? Where’s this? Where’s that? Where’s your granny’s World War I teeth?” You know? It’s like, what a fuckin downer! We had all the signed stuff. We even had special pyro people. And these guys were just being a pain in the ass. One of the bummers with America is some of the laws are just too strict with things like that. Fuckin’ hell. we go to Europe and we practically fuckin’ detonate the country, and everybody loves it, and all the people come out of their houses and watch the pretty fireworks and applaud. And in America they go (in a grumpy voice) “Nope. Can’t set that off.” (cackles) America, the home of the free. You’re free to do whatever you want, but you can’t bring Venom’s pyros.
But you had plenty of pyro action at that show.
Oh yeah. But it was really touch and go because always Venom are in a situation where we say, “Where do we stand if we gotta be forced to walk on a stage if we haven’t got a pyro?” when it’s right there and we’re ready to go. Once the guys sort of tipped their hats and said “We’re out of here” and we got a chance to set the intro tape goin’, that was it. We just fired up in about three seconds. Boom! It was on. It was great. We fuckin’ ran out there. I fuckin’ loved it. It was great to see America after 10-11 years.
That’s more like the armpit of America.
But still, it was hungry faces. This is the thing. I mean, I’m not standin’ lookin’ at a crowd who are in their 30’s. I’m lookin’ at a crowd who are still in their teens. This is a new generation of Venom fans, and they’re singin’ all the fuckin’ lyrics. I’m like, oooh. This is fuckin’ wild. Probably some of the kids in the audience weren’t even born when Welcome to hell was released.
You heard the old Greek tale about the marathon runner who ran and ran and ran to warn his nation of some army advance, and as soon as he said his piece, he died.
That’s how i felt at the Venom show because I traveled 25 hours in one drive, and I didn’t sleep all day just to watch Venom. By the time you came on, I was the walking dead. And I forgot that there would be a detonation. When it went off, i really thought that I had died. I couldn’t see, and i couldn’t hear. And I didn’t know where I was. (Cronos was laughing the whole time)
That was very good. that was a good story.
That was the only concert event where I was horrified. It was because of the detonation. It just bewildered me. You robbed me of my senses.
(laughs) I tell you what, mate. After we got back to England, I got sent all the VHS videos from every fuckin’ angle. There’s a piece of video footage which is priceless. You could not pay for this. It’s from the mixing desk, and there’s a little bit of area where the mixing desk ends and where the kids start. There’s these two guys standin’ there. And you can see Venom on stage, and we’re goin’ through Countess Bathory. And when we set the huge big flames off, as the flames dies down, the two kids at exactly the same time turned around and looked at each other and sort of like waved a fist like “YEEEEEEESSSSSSSS! DID YOU SEE THAT?!!” I could not have paid them to do that. That reaction was just totally genuine. It was Countess Bathory. There was the flames. YES!!! Wicked, wicked great watchin’ that stuff.
I heard that Venom commands quite a fee to appear.
Well, yeah. All we do is, we say to the promoter, “You’ve got to be able to cover the cost of a Venom show.” And that included what Venom are gonna bring with pyro and crew and all the rest of it. It’s like what any band asks. I mean, we don’t walk away from gigs with pockets full of money. It’s not feasible to do that. The promoter’s gonna say, “Well, we can put X amount of money into it.” And whatever a regular band would then do and say, “Well, this is fee.” we have to say, “Well that is pyro and that is this and that is that.” We always wanna bring our own equipment. We always wanna bring our own guitars and amps and all the fuckin’ rest of it. A lot of bands, they’ll just take their guitars, and they’ll have all the rest of the gear provided. They’ll use any old amp. They’ll any old speaker. What the fuck. Venom aren’t like that because we like to get that Venom sound, and we feel that we can do that with amps that we trust. So that’s all extra fuckin’ air fares. It’s all extra carriage and trucks and all the rest of it. It’s a realistic fee, and some people can do it. It all depends on the venue and the area and to whether we have a big enough following.
It’s great that you clarified that because when people say that Venom commands a high price, it’s more a snobbish sort of thing. So you’re not living in the lap of luxury because of your random appearances.
Not really. The less live work that Venom do then the richer we get because then we can spend our royalties on ourselves. But as soon as we get into road stuff, hands always have to go into pockets to buy things. I mean, mantas has already been out buyin’ personal pyro and settin’ them off in his backyard. Strappin’ them to his guitars… he’s tryin’ to get these Ace Frehley rockets. A big KISS fan. He wants to fuckin’ have fuckin’ warheads comin’ out of his fuckin’ guitars.
I’ve heard quotes that you said when you started you wanted to be the best. Is that the best musically, or as far as showmanship?
Well it was a combination of our influences because we loved KISS and Priest and Sabbath and Tull and all these bands who had a stage show and who wore stage costumes and who were slightly untouchable and larger than life. So we didn’t want to be the regular t-shirt and jeans band. So we were really influenced by supergroups, and we wanted to be a supergroup. I remember that we used to say that Venom are all of the bands that have preceded us, thrown into a pot and mixed up. That is Venom. We have the KISS show. We have the Judas Priest leather. We have the hard core Sabbath lyrics. So you can actually section Venom off into all those kinds of influences. The same as you look at death metal and speed metal and all that now.. you know, all the Norwegian metal. You can see where they took this off Venom or where they took that off Venom, and progressed it all in their own ways. It’s all about influences, and i think that’s what makes music grow. When people take a little bit and then move it on another stage.
In the old days the extreme metal art was new, and there was a lot to be learned about recording that kind of music.
I’m also pretty sure that the recording budget for you in those days was pretty low.
Welcome to hell… we had actually… because i worked at the studio, I convinced the engineer to work for free. “If we come in for a few hours, will you work for free?” Yeah, because he was a mate. So then i went and talked to the studio boss, and said, “The engineer said he was gonna work for free. Can I bring me band in? There’s nobody in the studio. Fuckin’ blah blah blah.” He’s like, “Yeah”. So I was able to scam Venom into the studio for free to get some demos done. Now I’m then playin’ them for the record company. they’re like, “No. It’s shit.” Yeah, it’s like little Conrad’s band. You know? I was like, “This is wicked, this is wicked.” And they were like, “No. It’s lousy.” They had all these Ravens and Tigers of Pantang and like lame shit. So eventually the record company said, “Look. There’s three days spare. Go in and see what you can do.” So we had three days, and we recorded all of Welcome to Hell. Now that was demos as far as we were concerned. But that was recorded… vocals,solos, everything, mixed, finished. Sunday night, home. And then next week we got the record company saying, “We will release this as it is, now, as an album, or forget it.” We were like, “It’s demos! We’ve got to do it properly. Give at least a week or something.” “No, there’s no more money in the budget left. You release Welcome to Hell as it is, or fuck off.” The next day I walked in with the album cover, sayin’ “Here. Go for it.” which was the same as the single cover. Just very large and gold.
But don’t you find it strange that there are many bands, especially today, who are using adjectives like “true” to describe their metal? They romanticize the recording quality of those old days. You can’t possibly prefer that sort of production.
Well not me. I wanna improve it. I mean, a guy in Europe I was talkin’ to, he said the new album production is really crisp, and he likes the sound of the dirtier old albums. And i said, “No problem, dude. Put it on your hifi. Take all the treble off, all the top end. Turn your fuckin’ speakers up to full blast. It will sound like shit.” If you like to listen to things like you’re in some fuckin’ swamp. No problem. Put the album on and stick your head under the bath. Stick your head in the fuckin’ water. What the fuck? we’re goin with the times and we’re cleanin’ up our sound. but we’re tryin’ to fuckin’ make it heavier at the same time. I don’t think the crispness of the album has taken away from the fact that it also rattles the shelves. If I put that on next to Cast in Stone, it’s a fuckin’ louder heavier album. you’ve got to turn the thing down. You know? It’s like a beast. Amazing.
What would you say to those people who accuse you of… maybe this might be a little strong to say… it’s inappropriate anyway.. of selling out, because it’s too clean compared to the primitive sound of the old days?
I just think Venom are dead if we don’t move on. I think that was the point of this reunion.. so that we could progress it into a resurrection of Venom, because it was obvious that, yes, we’re gonna do the reunion. But we’re not gonna tour that forever. We’re either gonna put some new songs into it, or we’re gonna become some fuckin’ parody of ourselves. There’s a lot of bands in England who were famous in the ‘70’s, like Sweet and Mud and all these sort of like glam rock bands. they’re now together with all these different members, and they’re doin’ the clubs. they’re playin’ to like 20 people a night. And they’re singin’ the songs of their hits. It’s really sad. And we didn’t want anything to do with that.I mean, we had to take this band on, and it works. If people don’t dig it and don’t buy the albums, well then that’s the death of any band. If fans don’t want a band to continue, then just don’t support them and don’t buy the records. So it’s really them who determine Venom’s future. The fact that Venom are here 20 years later is because we’ve had consistent sales with what we’ve done that’s had enough companies to keep their eyebrows raised to say, “Here are some deals.” You know? As soon as that stops, as soon as Venom become has-beens and are washed out and the deals stop and the money stops then the band is fucked. So I think the only way to do this is to progress. I do think that we’ve only progressed slowly, though. I think we’ve only progressed in a small way. We haven’t changed our music or style. We’re not wearing different clothes. We haven’t cut our hair. We haven’t put make-up on. All we’ve really done is crisped up the production. All of the other elements of Venom are there. It’s always been Mantas and I who write all the songs. So we’ve lost nothing as far as the writing team is concerned. So all we’ve got now is a tighter drummer and a better sound. So I think we’re a fuckin’ winner with this one.
In demonology there was a rebellion in hell, where one faction wanted to keep mankind ignorant, and the other wanted knowledge, saying that new knowledge is new ways of evil. And I think new Venom is like that. i really liked the newer version of Manitou that was on Cast in Stone. But some people laughed at me and called me a poser. How could you say that I’m a poser?
A poser likin’ Venom… this is not right somehow, is it? A punk with a suit on. You now?
You’ve probably seen it yourself. Some people just try to out-underground everybody around them. There are other ways to get social power than to just knock everything. But I think you make effective use of sound. Your voice definitely needs that better production. You should do some speaking parts on some cd rom games.
Yeah. I did some for the new Exorcist movie.
It was said that you once renounced the dark side to your lyrics, saying that it’s purely a gimmick.
I never really said that. I speak from experiences and emotions and all the rest of it. I believe that today a lot of people… we’re not under the inquisitors anymore, and we haven’t been for hundreds of years. everybody’s resorting to more natural methods. everybody’s standing up for themselves more. i mean, even to the point of using aromatherapy and getting into natural herbs and everything. The whole sort of belief structure is changing. around the whole world as well. The witches are free and roaming all over, and there’s nothing to stop it. So the factions of hell i would have been on the side of would have been the ones of knowledge.
Interview with Ronnie James Dio conducted by Bill Zebub for Issue #8
I have heard that thou wert in a 50’s band.
Well, I never could understand that because everyone thinks I was a doo-wop singer or something. No, I mean, I had a band at the end of the ’50’s when I first started. But I wouldn’t consider us to be a ’50’s band.
What was that music like? Didst thou have the classic biker hair-doo?
I was never a biker, to tell you the truth – I think we were just getting pissed off about everything that “was” and didn’t want to be that anymore. So I think we were trying to create our own identity. That was a real transitional time anyway. We were just greasy bastards like everybody else. That music is no longer available?
I certainly hope not. It’s part of what your life is. But, you know… It’s so far away from where I took myself.
Art thou vocally trained?
How is it that thy notes are very true when singing live?
I got a great ear. I started playing when I was real young – playing the trumpet. I played all the way through high school. I got a real good sense of musicality, I think, from that. But I think most of it’s pretty natural. You either got a good ear or you don’t. It’s real hard to teach a good ear. So again,, for me, I’m pretty much always in tune. I heard something that happened when thou wert in Black Sabbath. It is very vague. But it had something to the effect of thou having an agreement with the band about public appearances with Ozzy. There was a show in which Ozzy might have come on stage, and the rumor is that thou walked off and never reappeared for the remainder of the tour, and Rob Halford took thy place for that one show.. Does that strike a bell?
Well, it had nothing to do with Ozzy being there, because Ozzy wasn’t there. We had about a month of touring to do from the East Coast, where we started, to the West Coast again. At the beginning of that tour it was already booked that we were going to be playing in Long Beach. We were going to get rid of that gig and open up for Ozzy, not once, but twice… in Costa Mesa. It was at that point that I refused to do those shows. We carried on and did the entire tour… until the last two shows in Costa Mesa, where Rob did go in and took my place. But that was all, really. It wasn’t a personal thing. It had nothing to do with Ozzy. Well, it being “Ozzy” made a big difference. I had left my band. They had left whatever situations they had… led us to reform Black Sabbath again, and to take it to other places… not just with one album… having thrown all those things away that were very personal for me, and going for the Sabbath entity, I felt that… for us to suddenly have to open for the actual lead singer who never really had anything good to say about any of us after it was all over, plus the fact that from the rumblings that I had heard… they were pushing really hard for a reunion anyway… So I felt that at that particular show they were probably going to announce that there was going to be a Sabbath reunion with Bill and Tony and Geezer and Ozzy. And that’s exactly what happened! I just felt that it was not correct for us as the Black Sabbath that we had re-invented to be the opening act for Ozzy. Whatever proportion that got blown out of is beyond me. It’s just me standing up for what I believe. I believed it for the band, not for me. It wasn’t a personal thing for me… opening up for the actual lead singer who had nothing but bad things to say about us, especially Tony. I think the sense of money was stronger than the sense of pride. They did the show. I didn’t. And that was the end of the day for me with the band.
The rumors made thee look like a brat. Well, that’s always the way. I’d have to take that everywhere that I’ve gone. “I’m difficult…” which is completely untrue. “I’m self-centered.. “ which is
absolutely untrue. Again, the things that I do, I do for all the people in the band. I thought every band I ever was in was going to last forever, each and every one – even the reformation with Sabbath. But you have to go into it with that attitude, not like Ian Gilan did when he did the album after me, the “Born Again” album. “Oh thank you very much. Oh, Purple’s ready? Off l go!” That was all so pre-planned and predisposed, and that really bothers me. But any way, I’m the one who supposedly took the blame for it because I didn’t do the shows. Maybe I was at fault. But what could I be at fault for? They DID play the shows. They seemed very happy to do them. They seemed happy with Rob. I’m sure he did a great job. And they got a chance to announce that they were going to re-form and make a lot of money, which I’m sure made them all happy until Ozzy said, “Aah… I was only kidding. “ By that time, whoever had set about to destroy what we had put together again,did a really good job of it. A lot of it was very well thought out by someone. Wouldst thou say that thou left Black Sabbath on bad terms?
As usual, we kinda left on “no” terms. We never had a lot of communication except for the early days. Tony is a really nice, funny person. I don’t think that we harbor any resentment for each other, except for a couple of little instances. But I’m sure that if we saw each other right now, it would be exactly the same as it always has been – a hug and a “hey!”
I heard that thou left because they wouldn’t let thee play trumpet on any of their albums.
Trumpet AND bongos. That’s what really pissed me off. ‘They wouldn’t let me play bongos. To a man who had once sold out arenas how does it feel to be reduced to a tour of small clubs?
It doesn’t feel any different to me. It never has. I’m a musician. I always have been. That’s all I ever wanted to do. And I have been all these years. So I accomplished goal #1. Playing in arenas just happens to be a by-product of some of the success you have. I never asked for that either. It makes you want to be on stage. It’s very impressionable to the young mind. But it wasn’t really the be-all/end-all for me. Luckily, I was able to get to that point. I just take life for what it is. I’ve always been really realistic about it. If you could have one good career that lasts you like 5 years tops, then you’re pretty damn lucky because this is a brutal business where you come and go very quickly. I’ve been lucky. I had careers three different times. Four or five, really… from ELF…
Interview with Eric, conducted by Bill Zebub for issue #27
A long time ago I had read a few articles in which King Diamond was said to have cast a spell on Manowar because they fucked him over in some way – maybe having something to do with not letting merciful Fate borrow some amplifiers. Years later, when I had asked King Diamond about this, he refused to say anything bad about Manowar, and he declined my offer of letting him give the un-edited story, dismissing it as simply a thing of the past. The stories in the old magazines didn’t really fit the character of King Diamond and it seemed that they blew the story out of proportion. The truth was probably far less interesting than the fictional drama that was presented by those charlatan journalists. When I spoke with Eric, the singer of Manowar, I told him what I had heard, and I asked him if he would give his side of the story. I made it clear to him that I distrust metal media, and that I am not going to fuck him over. As he told the tale of those early days, I thought to myself that I had a gold mine, especially because my interview would embarrass those so-called “professional journalists. But as Eric spoke, I sensed that he was under the impression that King Diamond had bad-mouthed him, and I explained to Eric that King Diamond could have devoted entire chapters of ant-Manowar sentiment in my magazine in any of the countless interviews I had done with him, but King always refused to say anything negative about Manowar, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the metal press had misquoted King, and Eric and I both laughed because he was no stranger to being misquoted in the press himself. So rather than print herein that first segment of my conversation with Eric, let me just say that my prediction was true – the actual story behind those dramatic headlines of the past were entirely false, and I am happy to report that Eric finally was made aware that King never badmouthed him – it was the lies of the media. I would like you to take this time to appreciate how cool I am. Just kidding. What I do want you to do is to always question what you read because you are probably not aware of the motives behind an article or review (and that goes for what you read in the Grimoire too).
(editor’s note – Strangely, after getting Eric to talk about the past, my tape recorder ate the tape and stopped suddenly, so I had to waste some time putting Humpty Dumpty back together again)
(Eric) What are you doing, man? (laughs)
It’s a Satanic curse.
(Laughs) I gotta show a little respect for King. Let me tell ya, it happened so goddamn long ago. What’s the big deal? That’s how I look at it now. There’s King Diamond fans. There’s Manowar fans. There are Manowar fans that are King Diamond fans. You know? At the end of the day, you wanna go see King Diamond – go see him. You wanna see Manowar? Come see us. It’s what the fans want. You know? Bullshit – at the end of the day – should be swept under the carpet. It’s water under the bridge now.
Yeah. I just wanted to destroy any kind of stupid rumors.
Yeah. Both our careers are still riding high right now. So, I mean, who cares about it now? It’s over and done with. That’s the way it goes.
I’m just glad that I finally heard the real deal.
Well, you heard it from me, anyway. That’s exactly what I remember happening. I think this happened in ’84. It was a long long time ago. We treat everybody who opens up for us with total respect. We really do. We always have.
Have you ever been told that you guys play too loud?
(laughs) All the time, brother!
I used to never understand why people wore earplugs until I saw you guys.
(laughs) Personally, I think that metal music should be played loud. It’s powerful music. If you’re gonna be playing loud, you not only have too see metal – you have to feel it. So I wanna be in that crowd and I wanna feel that bass drum hit me in the chest. I think that’s part of the show. I want that when I’m out there. It goes with the territory. It’s gotta be loud.
Are you vocally trained?
No. I had to learn how to do it from the school of hard knocks. Hard Knocks University. I think it’s just from years and years and years and years of being out there, singing, finding out what works for me and what niche I can get into to make it so I don’t have a sore throat at the end of the night. (laughs) I found a way that works for me. I sing from my diaphragm. I don’t sing from my chest any longer. When I do that I find that I have control and I don’t have a sore throat.
There was a period of time in which I was trying to find someone to teach me opera. This girl I talked to told me that it’s harder to sing metal than it is to sing opera. (I laugh) I noticed on your new album that you are actually singing an opera song.
I did study opera to do that. I did go into the city and I studied with an opera singer. And I don’t know if I agree with that (editor’s note – that metal is harder to sing than opera), maybe because I was brought up with metal. Opera was a whole new thing for me. To learn how much wider your mouth has to go when you’re singin’ opera – it’s unbelievable. To really project and to make it sound like it’s supposed to sound – it was a lot to learn. It was a lot of work, man.
I’m pretty sure that the girl who told me this only said that because she was training metal vocalists. I don’t think she had an opera background.
Yeah. It’s definitely two different styles. The only thing that you can say about both is that, to sing correctly you have to sing from the diaphragm. But opera is an entirely different thing. Opera is more breath control.
Bands on tour have maybe a drum tech, a guitar tech, but manowar is the first band I heard of that actually has a Harley tech.
That’s true! (laughs) That’s right! (laughs hard) You’re right, brother! Well come on! You’re talking to a band that, when we’re on tour for Europe we have a tour bus for the crew, a tour bus for the band, and a tour bus for the chicks! And that’s true! (laughs) Yeah, we have a Harley tech. It’s pretty wild. But we’re kinda known for doing pretty wild and different things. Scott is his name. He comes on the road whenever we bring the Harleys out. He takes care of the bikes. That’s his gig.
So you guys would never park outside of a biker bar with Japanese bikes.
No, no! (laughs) I wouldn’t own one, brother! (laughs hard)
It seems that bikers are pretty Manowar-knowledgeable. One particular guy, Jay, asked me how you feel about terrorism. Manowar is supposedly very pro-American.
I don’t know about being pro-American. I mean, we’re proud to be Americans, sure. We’ve has songs that talked about, and still do talk about heroism. We talk about how when things are down lift yourself up. Be a leader, not a follower. Believe in yourself and do what you feel is right. Fuck everybody. Don’t take shit from other people. We’ve always had songs – from Battle Hymns – biker songs. We still do. It’s kinda our life. We’ve always ridden bikes. It’s part of a lifestyle. It goes with it all.
Someone wanted me to rib you about the bass player wanting to be the singer of the band because he likes to talk between songs, but he couldn’t pull it off so he got you. Why is it that he talks between songs?
(laughs heartily) Because I get very little time to go backstage and sip on water and do whatever I have to do. That’s my only time I really get to rest up. All I can tell ya’ is that that’s my time – when he talks. It also gives a different perspective. People hear my voice all night long. And every other band – the lead singer does all the talking between songs. Because everybody else does it we decided not to do it. Sometimes Scott will get up and say something. If I’m singing all night long, you heard my voice enough. If Joey’s got something to say, he says it. His time to say it is a certain time in the set. It gives me time to do whatever I have to do – either change my outfit or do whatever I do backstage or talk to some chick backstage – whatever.
There are some death metal vocalists who speak in a normal tone between songs and they sound kind of gay, so I was wondering if you were ashamed of your speaking voice.
(we both laugh) You know, as a matter of fact, the new show that we do, it’s just one big medley of Manowar songs. There’s no talking in between. There’s no talking until the very end of the night. The songs just go into one another. There’s no rest at all. Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang. It’s pretty rip-roaring ass-ripping.
I don’t know what happened to Ross the Boss. Was that a friendly thing?
Oh yeah. Ross came up to us after Kings of Metal and told us that his heart was into blues, and he wanted to play a more blue-sy style of music. Hey man, ya’ gotta be happy. So we said OK. He finished the album with us and put his heart and soul into the album, and then it was time for him to move on. We want him to be happy. So we did what we had to do. Sure, we’re still very close friends. He was just here to sign the albums for the Silver Anniversary Edition. He came up and autographed albums. As a matter of fact I think he’s on tour right now with Manitoba’s Wild Kingdom. We’re still close friends. It’s not like I talk to him every day. I mean. All past members of Manowar are on really good terms. We own our own record label now – Magic Circle Music. Rhino, our old drummer- he’s got a project coming out on Magic Circle, and so does David, our guitar player. Once you’re in the band Manowar it’s like an inner circle of brothers, and that never changes.
Unless of course you buy a Japanese bike.
(laughs) Unless you buy a Japanese bike. Then you’ve got to do some explaining.
Manowar had Viking lyrics before this whole black metal explosion. I was wondering you were considered Viking metal, like Into Glory Ride. How do you feel about the Viking theme in that explosion?
It’s always been our image right from Day One – to bring music back to its origin. People were getting out of hand and it was more important to see a balloon blow up backstage. That got the biggest applause. You know who I’m talkin’ about. That got the biggest applause when people started blowin’ up fire and bombs on stage. That got the biggest applause of the night. People were kinda losing the fact that music is why people get out there. So we’re trying to bring that back to its roots. That’s how we started singing about Vikings and that whole image. It was a strong powerful image. Think about it. I don’t know if you’ve ever been up in that area – Sweden or Norway – but it isn’t like Florida. The weather’s pretty shitty and these guys are out there in ships in those days, out conquering the fuckin’ world. Some bad-ass guys back then. The whole image was a cool image to have. We thought, no one else has done this, so let’s do it. We pioneered it. It’s amazing how other bands now – you pick up albums in the heavy metal section – how many bands carry swords? It’s incredible.
I was always wondering if you were aware of that movement, but touring with Immortal, you became aware if you didn’t know about it before.
We’re pioneers in a lot of things. We’re the first band to record digital music – full digital sound. We’re the first band to record with symphonies behind us. And now we’re the first band ever to record in Super Audio CD format. It’s a brand new format that’s just coming out. Phillips approached us when we were in Europe mixing this album. They wanted to know if we’d be interested in being the first band to come out with Super Audio CD. It made sense. We’ll do it. It enhances the sound. It’s like we can put the audience on stage. So if you’re listening to Warriors of the World in Super Audio CD format, you can hear the drums behind you, the vocals in front of you, the bass on your right and the guitar on your left. Pretty cool. We put you right up on stage. I think it’s the future of music.
Did you guys ever play Dungeons and Dragons?
I did when I was younger.
You can’t hide it.
(laughs) Is that right?
Actually, I used to play Into Glory Ride just to get in the mood. That was the pre-game album. Almost everybody I know raises the horns for that album. It’s a must-have metal album.
I don’t know if it was a turning point for us, but it was the favorite of a lot of people.
Were you aware that Anal Cunt did a cover of Gloves of Metal?
Yeah. I heard it. It’s hilarious.
Were you the guys who invented the “Death to False Metal!”?
Yeah, we were. That’s another thing that everyone picked up on. We’re the ones who started that because there were too many bullshit artists out there who were passing themselves off as musicians. They can only be a musician in the studio where they have all the gimmicks. Then when they go out on stage they’re fuckin’ their fans because they can’t play live.
Would you agree that Germany still holds the flame for power metal?
I don’t think it’s just Germany. It’s throughout Europe. It’s Brazil. It’s Japan. Metal’s pretty happening everywhere, except the United States. I think it’s a couple of reasons. MTV is one. They just refuse to play metal. I think radio’s another. They refuse to play metal. And record companies don’t want to spend the money to keep metal bands on the road. It’s an expensive proposition. The metal fans that are out there are true metal fans. They believe in the band, just like anywhere else in the world. Anywhere else in the world you’d be playing for 10,000 people a night.
I think it’s kind of silly how yuppies turn their noses upwards at the mention of metal, but if you compare the lyrics, metal is cerebral and the other is full of words like “Yeah baby.” So I don’t understand how they can look down on something that’s superior.
It’s just got a bad rap in America.
Or rap is bad.
Yeah, I’m really mad about rap, especially the hybrid of metal and rap.
So I guess you don’t have that in your record collection.
No way! That, or country. Ok?
Is it true that Manowar is at war with Nevermore?
No. Not at all. I’ve never head that we were at war with them.
It’s one of two stories. Either Warrel Dane uccuses you of ripping off his style of singing, or I heard that in the early days some girl called him a Valkyrie, but as an insult, and he didn’t know that a Valkyrie was a girl, so he kept telling everyone that he was a Valkyrie, and he found out that the Manowar lyrics showed the truth that A Valkyries were female, he wanted to put you guys down to silence the fact.
No. I never heard about that. That’s news to me.
I just made that up.
(Laughs) You fucker! (laughs) They’ve been around for a while, and I think they play from the heart. If they play from the heart and not from the wallet then it’s true metal. If you wanna make money from this business, be an entertainment lawyer.
What’s the story with Metal Blade and your Magic Circle label?
I couldn’t answer. Joey deals with all that.
Interview with Peter Steele conducted by Bill Zebub for issue #10
There are people who have heard the radio hits like “My Girlfriend’s Girlfriend” who don’t even want to give the album a chance because of that. It seems that Type O Negative has bi-polar disease. You have songs like that, and then you have songs like “Bloody Kisses”.
I guess that makes us schizo-phonic. I mean, I can write really poppy stuff and I can write stuff from my heart… you know, really slow songs about self pity and death and all the good things in life. And I think that I would rather write songs about the latter, the things that come from my heart and from my balls -not things that will come from my bank account ultimately.
You have bowed out of music before. After Carnivore you had a good job for the city. And you’re hooked right back in with Type O. Do you think that after this dissolves, as you say, that you might be seduced back to the dark side yet again?
Anything is possible. But you know, I think this so-called rock music is the youth. And I believe that it should be played by youth… and at 36 years old, I mean, I don’t feel like an old man, but when I’m on stage and I see 16/17 year old kids up in the front row, I’m like, “Wow. those could be my kids”. When the day comes that I’m on stage and I say, “Those can be my grandkids” then that day’s never gonna come. So, with this album, if I don’t make my mark now, then I think I’m never gonna make it. I’ll just move onto something else. You now what I’d really like to do is really fuck the record company and just… even after this next album, just finance my own recordings and take out a PO Box and sell my CD’s really cheap, like $5 each, to kids that just want to listen to what else I’ve been doing. It wouldn’t be such a money-making thing. It would be misery loves company, and I’m great company. So send me five bucks and I’ll send you a horrible CD of my latest music.
Ah… the self-deprecating style.
No, it’s the truth. It is complete objectivity. I look in the mirror and I see nothing more than 240 pounds of really low-quality chemicals. And that’s about it.
I saw in your video that you’re quite the vitamin boy.
Yeah, I got a lot of stuff there. Most of it’s legal.
You’re not talking about that caffeine-like substance that gave a weightlifter a heart attack.
Oh, that was ephedrine. No. Toxicity is a matter of quantity. If you overdo anything you’re gonna die from it. So I don’t get freaked out when some kind of new substance comes out and somebody dies of a heart attack, because if you overdo it or if you have a problem that makes you susceptible to some of the side effects, then you’ve got to be careful. But otherwise, no balls, no glory.
The health thing… was that a sudden idea for you?
No, I’ve been working out for the past seven years consistently, sometimes more intensely than others. But I always try to maintain myself, somehow to, I guess, feign off old age. And part two is, no one likes to see a fat bastard up on stage trying to look sexy while there’s thirty pounds of fat hanging over the sides of his pants.
I didn’t know you were so conscious of such things.
Sure man. I think when you go to see a band it’s not just a sonic thing. It’s a visual thing as well. I think the people who are up on stage should have some kind of acknowledgement of self-image. It doesn’t mean that you have to be conceited. But if you’re not looking so good and you can change it, well change it. If not,well then get the fuck off the stage.
The first album “Slow, Deep, and Hard” had gruff vocals and it had traces of Carnivore in there.
That’s because probably at least half the songs were left-over Carnivore songs.
Then “Bloody Kisses” had a sudden turn… no warning at all. But in the Carnivore song “Male Supremacy” it showed that you can sing.
It shows that I at least try. Let’s put it that way. I think after “Slow, Deep, and Hard” I realized anybody can scream their head off. Anybody can do this. I think it takes not so much more talent, but at least more effort to attempt to sing on key and try to work out a melody that people might remember. I’ve had people come up to me and say, “You know, Pete, I think you’re a fuckin’ dick, but I just can’t get your songs out of my head.” And I’m like, I don’t know whether I should thank you or punch you.
And King Diamond… what do you think of his vocals?
I really can’t say anything bad about him. Just because I’m not a fan of his music doesn’t mean that I can’t appreciate what he does. When I was into heavy metal I thought he was great. you know, like ten years ago. The mere fact that he stuck with it and that he can still reach those high notes.. I don’t know, maybe he’s got a C-clamp on his balls… I don’t know. But I think that’s worthy of a compliment. But I think that men should sound like men, which is not putting him down, but if I’m gonna hear somebody sing in soprano, this person should have a vagina.
The reason I asked you was, in the song “Love You To Death” you had a vocal style that I hadn’t heard before, and it had a bit more emotion to it… sort of like King Diamond.
You confess to that, then?
I confess that some of the vocal stylings that I use come from metal. I mean, I was always into bands like Sabbath and Priest and Deep Purple. But I’m not going to say that any of my techniques come from King Diamond.
There have been things that your record label has suggested to you that got you into trouble. Weren’t you told to be very outrageous in a series of interviews and you said “Rape is a beautiful thing?”
Well, it seems like the person that was interviewing me that time failed to realize that I was being sarcastic. This guy who actually interviewed me in my own house and was sitting on my furniture and after me making him coffee had the balls to go and turn this into something that made me look really unfavorable. Of course, having five sisters and five nieces, rape… the only punishment for rape is castration, which should be done by the woman who was raped. So it was sarcastic. I guess you can call it a joke in poor taste which I do regret. But I regret not having met this writer after he wrote this, because I am going to… let’s see, pick him up and break him over my knee like a piece of really cheap plywood.
But you wouldn’t rape him because then he’d have to castrate you.
Would I rape him? Maybe with my bass.
Would you say that your attitude toward women was reflected in albums?
My main problem with women is that I base my entire existence around them and I love them to death. That’s why I get so upset when they fuck me over or when they walk out on me. So it’s not that I think that women are any different than men because I think that men actually fuck over women more. It’s just that I hate people in general. I’m a specist. Human beings are the lowest forms of life. We are the only species that will shit where we eat.
“Shit” has a significance. You shit on your own picture.
Yes, that was actually real shit, by the way.
In some cultures that’s used as a sign of manliness. He who shits the biggest log…
Do you now how much talent it takes to actually be able to shit on cue? I went to catholic school for eight years to learn how to do that.
In interviews you often complain about the facilities on tour.
Yes, I am a person who is very comfortable being home. I’m a person who likes a routine. I don’t like the fact that when you’re on tour you can’t date when you want, you can’t even take a shit when you want, you can’t eat when you want, you can’t even do laundry when you want. So it’s like you have to seize every opportunity you can to do the thing you have to do at the time because you never know when it’s gonna come, and this is something that I really dislike about touring – which is the other reason that this album may be my last. I’ve been all over this world and I have seen nothing. There was so much touring and so many shows back-to-back.. you pull up, you play, and you leave. That’s it. I’ve seen every highway and I visited every single McDonalds. That’s it.
How did you learn to cope with a bathroom that was less than supreme?
By lining the toilet on the tour bus with a plastic bag that we can crap into. And then if a car cut us off we would make sure that we got ahead of it at some point and just open the window and let loose the bag.
What is your favorite filling for pierogies?
Perogies… they’re way too fattening. Is sour cream in there? Is that what’s, like, normal?
I don’t know. I heard that you were a Polak. So you should be the pierogi specialist.
I have, like, 1/16th Polish blood in me. So I never even tasted one.
What else comprises the Pete Steele make-up?
Icelandic, Russian, and Scottish.
I heard that after reading up on Chinese legends, possibly even being in China, rumor has it that you found out about the Chinese vampire and you wanted to bring in a Chinese woman to do keyboards for you… to bring that particular legend into the gothic scene.
That’s complete news to me. I never said anything like this. I have never even heard of a Chinese vampire.
Well supposedly the way we have heard of the European vampire changing into bats and wolves… the Chinese vampire changes into a snake and he doesn’t bite his victims. He constricts his victims. And you thought that this was more romantic.
I certainly don’t think so.
I created that rumor, by the way.
I don’t know what to say. You had me going there.
I’m sorry about that. Have you ever been mistaken for a woman?
I told you I was going to ask you dumb questions.
Have you ever met Pat, from Red Stream?
From Red Stream?
Yeah, it’s a label in Pennsylvania. (editor’s note – the label is now in Florida)
Possibly. I’m not sure. Is this a male or a female “Pat”?
Well, he has feminine tendencies.
It could just be that he’s affectionate.
Well I don’t know. I meet quite a few people, and if I did meet him I would probably recognize him by face and not by name.
I heard he offered you a deal for some alternate recordings and that you were at his house. He lives kind of on farmland.
And you were quite taken by his donkey “Pierre”. That’s what he calls it. I don’t know why, but you were trying to hand-feed the donkey and that it either accidentally or maliciously bit your favorite bass finger, and that you remember him since then.
Uh… either I was really drunk and I don’t recall any of this, or this guy is just out-and-out lying. I don’t think I ever touched a donkey in my entire life.
Have you ever played Dungeons and Dragons?
No, but Josh was really into that for a while. I like to live my life that way… rather than sit home and gain weight and eat a pint of Haagendaas and wash it down with Absolute Vodka I would rather be out there and doing the exact same things that these people are just fantasizing about with this little board game.
The reason I ask is because you either have a great awareness of various legends throughout the world or you played some sort of fantasy role-playing game.
I’m into my past… Celtic, Norse, Slavic. So I definitely read up on history, and of course, there’s a lot of culture and religion in there and stuff. So from time to time these subjects do come up. But I certainly don’t play any games. I think the last game I ever played was “Twister” and that was with two naked women… which I do not regret.
How much input did you have with the stuff between the videos?
Let’s just say this… it was actually me that came up with the idea that I wanted to put a video out and my main goal was to put out the 5 professionally done videos onto one tape so that the fans who could never find them anywhere could finally go out and buy them if they chose to do so. The second reason being that we were between albums and I thought it would be a good idea to let people know that Type O Negative had not been killed in a Pakistani train wreck and that we are still here and the honeymoon is not over yet. So this is like a bridge over the River Styx… two sides of agony. But to finally answer your question, it was I who came up with the concept, but it was Josh who scanned all the footage and chose all the embarrassing tidbits that took place between videos.
Adding to the self-deprecating style.
But that, you must admit, has been somewhat of a factor in your success.
Oh sure. I mean, i don’t think that I am better than any one of our fans that goes out and buys one of our CD’s. Or, I don’t think that I am better than the bacteria that is all over this fuckin’ phone right now that is probably gonna cause some kind of sickness three days down the line.
When you meet a woman, is she usually a woman who knows you through the band and has all these assumptions about you, or do you like to date outside of the Type O fame?
I like to be with women, whether I meet them through the band or food shopping or if I run over their foot with my car or something. I like them to like me for what’s inside first. Then I’m hoping that they like what’s on the outside too. I think there’s no shame in admitting that the first thing I notice about a woman is how she looks. Then I’m hoping that the inside matches the outside. But I’d rather date a not-so-good-looking woman who has a great sense of humor and is intelligent and confident than some really attractive one who just has a vacuum inside of her.
What is your attitude about death metal?
I think death metal is a great outlet for young people just because it’s heavy, it’s hard, it upsets parents, and pretty much sings or speaks about some of the things that fans of the music can actually go out and do themselves. So I think, just like anything else, death metal is simply a form of sublimation. It’s safe to buy the CD and maybe fantasize about some of the themes. But there’s really not that much worth going to jail for. Some of the subjects that I’ve heard, whether it’s black metal or death metal… I mean, I don’t try to draw the lines too much. For me, that’s like condemning someone to a death sentence ultimately when you put a label on them because once they try to change then the fans are gonna think that they sold out. When I like music I don’t care what you call it. Music, to me, is a pleasing and logical succession of rhythm and tones. That’s how I judge it. I don’t care if a guy has white face paint on or how he looks or how she looks. If I like it, I like it. If I don’t, I don’t.
This is an early interview from Grimoire of Exalted Deeds Issue #4. conducted by Bill Zebub
Do you wish to explain the line-up change?
With Erik, you mean?
Well, yeah… Richard left the band and we had to replace him. We had known Erik from Ripping Corpse as well as we’ve been friends with him for years. We asked him if he’d like to do some touring with us, and he accepted. After that, he worked out well. It was a natural choice.
There is a rumor that when Ripping Corpse was not yet signed…Earache Records was interested in them, and you told Earache that you did not want them on the label.
It was spread.
Well, people have nothing better to do, obviously. Why would I not want them to get signed? That’s, like, asinine.
You were jealous and afraid that they were going to blow you away.
I just like to address rumors.
You’ll find more rumors about our band than any other band because people have nothing better… if these people spent half as much time worrying about writing good music and, like, making something of themselves besides fools, everybody would be better off.
Lyrically, I heard that you are trying to be more open-minded and a nice guy.
What do you mean?
Some ‘zines are saying your lyrics are weaker. What was going on when you were writing words for this album?
I was angry. I was trying to show relationships between what’s truly oppressive and what truly needs to be squashed, on a tangible form, what you could actually put in your hand, as opposed to… you know, pie-in-the-sky relationships which, you know, people, without actually coming out and spelling it out… there’s some times when people are really clueless. “Do I live for Satan, or do I live for myself and draw power from where whatever power-names or power-thoughts need to be used for the specific purpose at hand?” Now the point is, is that anger and violence and brutality is all weapons of the dark side. Whether… if somebody picks that up, then they do. If they don’t, then they’re not very astute.
How do you feel about the whole black metal thing? Do you disdain those people?
Do I disdain who?
A bunch of poser Satanists calling LaVeyans the posers. How do you feel about that?
Well, we had a talk about laVey when I went up there, and I think that they saw what my reasons were for embracing LaVey, and even though that we don’t agree on LaVey, they felt like what I had to say about him was valid.
So out of all the Satanic philosophies, would you say that you agree most with LaVey?
No. I tell you I agree mostly with myself, and I probably could pick and choose, and maybe have some similarities with a whole number of different people.
Are there any forms of the occult that you do not condone or accept?
There’s probably a lot of different forms that I don’t… that I don’t practice myself.
You had bones on your tour bus many years ago, and you were busted for grave-robbing. Is this true?
Well, we weren’t busted for grave-robbing. We were busted for carrying illegal guns. They did confiscate the bones that we had, and they tries to run tests on them because they thought we might have killed these people. We got arrested. But it was right after that silly Geraldo Rivera Satanic special, and we knew that they were looking to make a sacrificial lamb out of somebody. They tried to expand on that. But they had to drop all the charges and everything. They were completely baseless.
So how did you get the bones?
That’s neither here nor there.
But the fact is, you did have them.
Well, we had a human skull.
Isn’t that illegal in the United States?
Um… I don’t know.
You did not get busted for having one? Do you still have it?
No. They kept it for testing.
I heard that you were interviewed live on the air over the phone by a female d.j. who asked you what your favorite cereal was, and you started chanting a spell. Is this true?
I did what?
Supposedly, this girl asked silly questions to see how uptight her guests are. She asked you what your favorite cereal was, and you started cursing her.
No, no, no. (pauses) Who knows?
Could that have possibly happened? Do you blow up on people?
I’ve done many interviews and, quite frankly, if somebody says something stupid, I usually say something more stupid just to illustrate the stupidity.
Lovecraft had a place in your lyrics.
Absolutely. He still does. Well, I mean, he’s the greatest Sci-Fi horror writer that ever lived. Of course, with that type of strength, it’s gonna have some kind of impact on somebody that walls a similar path.
Do you acknowledge, though, that the Necronomicon, as presented by Lovecraft, is a work of fiction?
Well, I’m not going to answer that question because I have to agree with a statement in order to answer it, and I don’t agree with that statement. The whole Sumerian religion – that’s the actual religion of ancient Babylon. There are actual temples built for Pazuzu and et cetera in the area that is now Iraq, and it’s a very real belief. Because Lovecraft based a lot of his shorts on various entities and sub-entities of this religion doesn’t do anything besides give power to it. It doesn’t take power away.
Ripping Corpse was thanked on the album as a stepping stone. Is that an insulting thank you?
What, from Erik?
I think Erik was real happy to… I mean, he’s a very hard worker. He’s a great guitar player. He’s a very strong being. He’s a very strong entity, and yes, Ripping Corpse… it was his first band. He put out a record. He wrote a lot of songs, and he went from that. It was a stepping stone, not like he’s walking on people, but as that was part of his structure – a building block in his development. I think he was very happy with what he was doing at the time.
Your vocals have changed. On “Altars of Madness” they were very throaty. Now they are from the pit.
You know what? It’s weird. I used to smoke. I smoked probably like two and a half packs of cigarettes a day when I did “Altars…”. I quit smoking because touring was just tearing me up. I mean, I was winded. I just didn’t have the power like I felt I needed. So yeah, it’s all about development.
So it wasn’t really an influence of any of the bands you were listening to. It was just a physical reason?
Well, just like, being addicted to anything, short of sex, is completely asinine. I just woke up one day and said, “Why am I smoking” and just quit. Because of that I made a lot of other changes in my life. I tried to ween myself away from things that I saw as potentially very destructive, not only to my professional career, but, you know, it’s my health. When you’re healthy, when you have more strength, when you have more power, in addition to working on technique, you tend to grow.
If your drummer ever screwed up at a show, afterwards, you would beat the crap out of him.
You’re kidding, right?
No. I am serious. You came off the stage once at the China Club in New Jersey, and you were in a hurry. Someone from Revenant said that you were going to slam the drummer because he fucked up.
What he did was he cut himself and he was, like, bleeding all over the place, and he lost so much blood that he passed out.
See how rumors get started?
Let’s talk about, like, the new record… why my band is better than any of those other fuckin’ bands. Let’s talk about what we’re going to be doing in the future and continuing to conquer and dominate this whole scene like nobody else could ever dream of doing. And why? Because we have the fortitude. We have the conviction. We have the strength. And we have the talent. And we continue to kill ourselves, push ourselves, and pressure ourselves into delivering stronger and stronger records, better songs, a brutal show – everything about it. Because we care and because we know our fans care. They’re not gonna accept some sort of second-rate band – somebody putting out the same record over and over and over again and not touring. Let’s talk about that.
You played in Pennsylvania, at the Trocadero. That club refused to book that scene’s sickest death metal band, “Insatanity”. How do you feel about that club putting weak, low-power bands in front of yours when the local death metal bands deserve those slots?
Well, I think, whatever the local promoters do at those shows… I personally don’t book shows, so the only thing that I care about is me personally, going out on stage and delivering the goods. So whoever else plays, that’s up to them to work to get themselves on the bill. I don’t know what the mitigating factors were, one person getting booked over another one. Obviously the promoter had whatever reasons for him to do it. But I’ll tell you, the only thing I know about a how is, when it’s time for me to go up on that stage, and whatever happens before or after that, I don’t really care.
Trey once said in an interview – and I wonder if you will back him up on this – was that the notes he chooses stir the air.
Well, it’s magic. It’s pulling something out of nothing and making it have an impact that goes beyond. It’s just a tone or a note of just a passing thing. The way he writes riffs just moves people and things.
So do you believe that gates are opened in the universe?
Do you think that good comes out of these gates, or are you channeling something dark?
Well, anything is good as long as it’s harnessed and as long as it’s used to its maximum potential, whether you’re a common man who wants to see it as being good or evil… I mean, one man’s good is another man’s evil, et cetera, et cetera. It all depends on the benefits from it. But the point is that, when we set about to do something, we’re gonna use whatever means necessary in order to achieve that goal, short of dishonor.
How do you feel about skinheads… their attitude of “unity is power”, the attack of many against one. Do you find it to be cowardice or power?
Well, not being a skinhead, I can’t really, you know… I mean, they have their thing going for them. And as long as it works for them, that’s great.
Would that philosophy work for you?
What, being a skinhead?
No. the many-on-one odds. Do you see that as cowardice?
Well, I mean, if you’re… ultimately, in any kind of war, it’s who’s got
the bigger army or who has more guns. If someone’s in battle mode, which, from what I see of skinheads are on an ongoing basis, then I think it would stand to reason that the most logical thing to do is to do what they do. Self-preservation, if nothing else.
Would self-preservation be more important than honor?
They’re one and the same. I mean, you have a duty to your honor, to preserve yourself so that you can procreate yourself.
Is it true that you do not answer to any name other than “David” -that you do not like to be called a nickname?
Well, I don’t. Usually… I answer to cuss words. (pauses) What are you talking about? That’s what my name is! David! Yeah!
So a shortened version of your name wouldn’t really be accepted by you?
Like “Dave” I or something like that?
Yes. Did anyone ever say to you, “Davey Davey stick your head in gravy”?
What? (pauses) That’s not even worth answering. That’s just really stupid.
I’m sorry. I was told by Vegi from Revenant that you don’t like to be called anything else.
Well it’s weird because my mother never calls me anything else. So that’s the way I kind of grew up, although now it’s like I don’t really care. But before… if someone calls me, like, on the telephone, and my wife answers and she says, “It’s a friend of yours… says ‘Is Dave there?'” Obviously it’s not a friend of mine, is it? You know what I mean? It’s to illustrate that if someone older is such good friends with Dave from Morbid Angel, they must not be great friends because nobody calls me “Dave”.
So you are not insanely militant?
It’s a meaningless thing. It has nothing to do with music. It’s just a quirk.
You did say years ago that you would be one of the bands that would still be around.
You have to agree that there are a lot of differences between each record. Blessed is a lot different from Altars. Covenant was a lot different from Blessed. Now Dominion is a lot different from Covenant, and the next record will be equally different. We really take the time and spend the time to really go in and try to deliver something that’s not just repeating ourselves – not just rehashing, not just getting into some kind of mode and doing whatever. We really try to deliver honesty and integrity.
You have grown without weakening.
Other bands can choose to do what they wish. But our band… the death is me.
Do you expect to incorporate clean vocals or female operatic vocals?
It’s not Morbid Angel. But I do little departures in vocals, you know. I like that as well. There’s just got to be the purity of emotion. It’s not to do it just to make it sound commercial or like a ballad or whatever. It’s done to invoke a certain type of mood,
Have you made enemies?
But they don’t really mean anything to you?
That’s negative. That’s not fuel for growth. I look at things as how it’s going to take me from one point to the next.
You actually talked to Norwegians about differences?
Well, what it was, was last time we played up there, there was a bunch of interviews that wanted to be done and I didn’t feel like being redundant and answering a whole bunch of questions twice. So I told them that I just wanted to have a press conference where I just stood in front of all of them and there was seven interviewers at once, and they were asking me questions and I would answer them. There was a couple of guys from the Black Metal Mafia that were there, and they were listening to my answers. They wanted to hear what I had to say about things. Afterwards they came up and we had a good chat.
So you didn’t really walk away with any negative feelings about them or visa versa?
No, on the contrary. I think that those people really have something going up there that’s really deep. The people who are truly into it and truly are a part of it – I think it’s wonderful.
You seem to be confident about yourself.
Well, I know what’s going on with me. I don’t have any questions about myself or what I’m doing. So I mean, a lot of your questions that you’re asking me are contingent upon being effective by what little rumors or little skirmishes or little things… various interpretations from a lot of people, most of whom I may or may not know. How can any of that really have anything to do with me? Those are lines and circles that don’t intersect with mine.
How involved are you in your local scene?
There is no scene. There is only Morbid Angel, period.
So if someone gave you a demo…
When someone gives me a tape, I listen to it.
So you are not totally shut off.
In terms of a scene, a scene… what that is, is that’s like a communist thing. That means that the strong and the weak are together because they’re all part of a scene. I don’t agree with that philosophy.
What elements do you think weaken the music?
Trendiness, lack of originality, lack of creativity, lack of talent, people being more concerned with what someone else is doing rather than concentrating and spending rigorous hours that it really takes to really do something yourself, people hanging onto something because it’s all a fashionable thing – all these things destroy it.
Are you in danger of weakening from the pressure of putting out quality material release after release?
No, no. I put more pressure on myself than anyone could put on me. I don’t get pressure from the outside. I get it from the inside. I pressure myself. That’s inherent to my nature, to strive to always be the best, and to stop at nothing.
As you can tell, most of my questions were really rumors that you had the opportunity to dispel.
Yeah, but, I mean, that’s what I’m saying. That kind of stuff happens. But it really doesn’t mean anything. The only thing that means anything at all is what is tangible, what you can hold in your hand, like a record that is just crushing, that people are just loving it everywhere and that is keeping this goddamn scene, if that’s what you want to call it.. the scene alive because other people are just walking away from it as fast as they can… all these bands that used to be death metal – they’re no longer death metal now. You know what I mean? We are death metal warriors and we always will be.
So I can quote you in the future if you will put out anything that is not death metal?
Well c’mon, man! I mean, we got two records on a major label! What’s not death metal about this band? That’s what we’re all about. If we were gonna do something, it would have already happened. But yes, you can quote me on that.
Whenever I’ve read of Darkthrone in the older issues when the ‘90’s black metal scene first erupted, there was talk of a “Jewish conspiracy”. But it was never explained.
Maybe it’s the music business. (laughs) I don’t know. Fuck all that shit. I mean, the old black metal stuff weren’t really based on conspiration (editor’s note – he said that word) theories like that. When I think about the old days, that’s not what I’m thinking about at all.
But do you know what Grishnak was speaking of when he was mentioning a Jewish conspiracy?
Who knows what he’s all about? He’s really deep into that stuff, you know? He’s politically engaged, and I’m not. Music has been taking over my life totally. So music is larger than life for me. I’m not into that. It’s OK that he has interests, but I have my interests.
You are also of the reputation as some sort of evil racist.
Doh! (in a mock Homer Simpson/Spanky exclamation) (laughs) Evil racist? Well, the only time I ever was convicted for anything was like, for a demonstration against apartheid
Yeah. But that was a phase of socialism. Then I went through a phase of being really angry with other races. And now I’m back to normal… totally unengaged in political issues. I went from one extreme to another extreme, and then I went totally uninterested in the whole damn thing.
Speaking of changing from extremes… I first heard the demo, the songs of which later became Soulside Journey, and I was very blown away by that album. It’s a very solid death metal album.
We had a solid theory behind our riffs and everything too. We were deep into that death metal thing, and we had our own theory, like every riff should be… it should be possible to play the riffs on synthesizer cello, or whatever, to fit to a horror movie… a typical horror movie style. From there on, that was death metal to us, and it’s easy to hear… you know of course the “Reign in Blood” album, I’d say that the vocalist, when he does his part, the riffs underneath are totally thrash. But the riffs that are under the leads there, those are death metal riffs. Total death metal riffs. You can take those riffs, play them slower on a synthesizer, and you would have, like, totally horror.
I was told that the extremely drastic change after that album was the result of you being commanded by members of Mayhem.
(in a robot voice) Yes, I am on-ly a com-pu-ter. I on-ly take or-ders from May-hem peo-ple. Next ques-tion please. (we laugh and he speaks normally again) Oh no, it weren’t like that. It was like, we were really fed up with the whole death metal thing anyway. Of course, Euronymous had always pointed that out, because whenever I would even bring him, like, first Autopsy demo to his house, like in ‘88/’89, and I’d play it and like, “Listen to this! This rules!” he would be more like, “Well, it’s OK” and he would just put on some Mutilated, you know, from France. He was always quick to point out. But he was total all the time totally untrendy dude. But we didn’t change because anyone told us to. It was more like, we saw old albums in a new light, and it was the black metal feeling came. And you really couldn’t continue playing technical death metal, so-to-say. I was totally uninterested in making riffs that were 7/8 rhythms, or 14/16 rhythms and things like this. We just made decision to become primitive, or to play what basically we were listening to. And we still play that style. Totally primitive (burps) shit.
The media made it sound as if Grishnak had a grand plan… that he was going to play the really gay kind of black metal and that you were going to play the aggressive sort of black metal.
Oh yeah? You always listen to the media? I would rather listen to Eric Cartman than the media, man.
Yeah, I’m here to say that the media should never be trusted. But all right, how about the rumor that you are wearing silver pants these days?
Oh! These days… these days I’m listening to bass nova and Cuban music and deep jazz house. Well, whatever. I wore silver pants in, like ‘95. Yes. On some occasions. And even ‘96. But you know, that’s all cool. I was just talking to some Germans… I was staying with some guys in Mysticum. Of course, the Mysticum guys are really cool. They’re, like, totally freaked out. And this German was like, saying he’s been into the scene for a while. These totally evil German guys that were two years ago listening to hip hop. These guys were 27, so it’s not kids we’re talking about. Suddenly they go from being totally asshole dudes with inverted crosses, the biggest… their bellies, you know? That’s fuckin’ scary trend shit. What I’m saying is that it’s fuckin’ cool to do fuckin’ silver pants than to be fuckin’ trendy. I never did music or whatever to oppose or to be a rebel. But I tend to naturally go against the grain. You know what I’m saying? So when I’m suddenly seeing an ocean of stereotypes, black metallers, around me, I feel maybe a little bit weird about that because, in the beginning, there was just six of us here in Oslo, in ‘91. So that’s why maybe I am freaked out a little bit. I had this fuckin’ style now for so long now that it’s hard to shake.
You are involved in some non-brutal projects, are you not?
Are we so brutal?
You know what I mean.
If I want brutal I listen to fuckin’ Carcass or Extreme Noise Terror… old Napalm Death, or something like that. But I’d say all my shit is non-brutal. I can’t really play fast enough to be brutal on the drums. Sorry about that.
It’s all right.
It depends. A christian guy who just likes Bach, he would probably say that Darkthrone sounds brutal. When I’m making Darkthrone riffs and shit, I don’t think “brutal”. I think in very special way. Old Bathory shit. that’s what we’re here for… to help Quorthon stay alive by doing nothing. I mean, we must have sold a lot of records for Bathory, man, if you know what I mean.
Has Darkthrone ever been endorsed by any musical instrument companies?
No. I could care less about what I’m playing on. (editor’s note – The expression should be COULDN’T care less – please try not to spread the gay version of the expression) My drum kit now is, like, total crap, man. It strikes me as a bit weird that Pearl hadn’t made a kit like “Pearl Harbor” because that sounds really like (in a black metal voice he rasps the word “war”). I’d like to play on a fuckin’ Pearl Harbor kit, man. If they make it, send some here.
Has Darkthrone ever been endorsed by Maybeline or Revlon?
Oh! Well… Revlon? I’d like to be endorsed by my aftershave. It’s imported from Amalia. It fuckin’ rules. It’s subtle.
What of these rumors that Darkthrone has ended? Where did these come from?
I think it was George from Seinfeld that said that in an interview.
Which is part of the Jewish conspiracy.
(he laughs a good long time) That’s a good one, man! No… of course, when we’re not doing anything for a while, people say that we end. But what is to keep a project alive anyway? I mean, we have a new album out, so we obviously haven’t ended. When we went into the studio this time, I just realized that I forgot to bring the album that I should bring for the sound engineer, because that’s something you do. For instance, for our Under the Funeral Moon album, we brought Blood, Fire, Death by Bathory and the first Black Sabbath album so that the sound engineer would understand where we were heading, sound-wise. This time we were supposed to bring The Return album by Bathory. That’s, like, the essence of black metal if you ask me. And I forgot it. So what I said was, “Well, I’ll just bring it next time.” (laughs) We’re not going anywhere, sound-wise.
How do you feel about the scene that you helped to form?
It’s become a parade now. I feel like an old Greek dude, sitting in the street, having a drink. We have to show that old school black metal can survive.
What do you think of Dimmu Borgir?
Hey, they’re cool guys. I’m doing this great project with Jamie… that’s Astennu, called “Vombator”. We have this great vocalist from England that sounds just like John Tardy. Really into the first Obituary album. So we’re total friends, and those guys are old school but they play new school. I have nothing against those, but I like better the rehearsals from ‘94. I really dig that. I was listening to that throughout ‘94. That, and Beastie Boys. It’s too flashy for me, for my taste. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure that out. You put on Darkthrone, you put on Dimmu… there’s a certain difference. But I like their old stuff so much that I want to make an undercompany and release it.
Is “Dimmu” Norwegian for “veggie”?
No, it’s Icelandic for “black castle”. Finally, a question I was informative about! That was amazing!
How do you feel about keyboards in black metal?
You don’t really… well, what can’t you put on a pizza these days? (explodes into psychotic laughter) Well, I don’t like pineapple on a pizza, man! And keyboards in metal are like pineapple on a pizza. But you Americans mostly don’t like the anchovies on a pizza, I hear. The idea is weird, but we had some keyboards even on our Soulside Journey album. But that just was more, like, eerie. I’m little bit opposed to that (he gives a vocal impression of Dimmu keyboards) because it basically sounds like some Bach with some (the word he spoke is indecipherable).
How do you feel about the kids all over the world who believed all the ridiculous media hype of the black metal explosion?
Well, the media just take it a long way, and when you blow it up like that… when you heat it up like that, the bare essence is maybe lost. The thing is, the people that hang in there… they know. But when it’s just a phase for someone, and it’s not the real love, then fuck it. But what I feel… I don’t know these people knew the hype. It’s great, though, to have a myth around a musical style. You know what is called the “jazz bug”? They start buying books about jazz and they become totally into it. I think this is great. It’s mystery. It’s myth. But what’s the bare essence of the jazz lost? The myth in black metal is stronger. I’d say it’s a bad thing for me. It’s easier to get into something that’s myth-ridden because it’s exciting. But for me, black metal ain’t that sort of exciting, flashy, circus stuff. It’s not like that. It’s just like fucking darkness and listening to nostalgic… like, The Return, from Bathory.
It seems to me that black metal flourished the same way that christianity did with the myth of the resurrection.
Goddamnit! Well, that’s going a little bit too far, but hey, we were seeing that death metal started to become awfully non-brutal, and maybe that’s what’s been happening today, even though I don’t think that Darkthrone is brutal. But there’s at least some sort of essence. But the christianity portion? I don’t know. That’s Alpha Omega. I if you start liking fish, then it’s totally weird.
I agree that at that time the commercial death metal bands were weak, but I always tell people who say that they find death metal boring to dig a little deeper because there’s always great stuff in the true underground. There was never a dry spell for it.
No, not in black metal either. There’s a lot of great black metal bands around now too. It’s always in the underground, man. I still like bigger death metal, like, I like new Morbid Angel. I find them to make really brave decisions sound-wise, and I don’t think they’re commercial at all. I don’t know why they sell a lot of albums.
Maybe because the guitar player is homosexual.
If they didn’t have a name they wouldn’t sell more than we because I really feel that that music is totally uncommercial. It’s really hard to listen to.
Do you respect their publicists for hiding the homosexuality of the guitar player so well?
Well…. do they have a publicist?
Cool! I’ve got to get a hold of that manager!
Well, Trey has a pretty good hold of the manager, if you know what I mean.
(laughs) Well, I don’t care, man. I couldn’t care less, actually. (editor’s note – Bravo! He said it right!) I’m not really that homophobic.
So you would hang out with Trey drunk, no problem?
I don’t know. I don’t like to hang out with drunk people unless I’m drunk myself. And then, anything could happen. (explodes into laughter)
The myths of black metal inspired people all over the world, especially with the fierce nationalism. It seemed like an elitism was going on in Norway. There are some labels that say to other labels, “We cannot trade you one CD for one CD. Our CD’s are so elite that one of our CD’s is worth one and a half of yours.” How do you feel about that attitude?
I don’t know who the hell want to listen to more metal now… (laughs) No, what I mean is, I never heard of that specific sort of example. I really listen to stuff that people send me. You know? But basically, I feel like, “This is not gonna be good.” But sometimes it happens. It wasn’t long time since some young Norwegian approached me with some project and I just looked at it, thinking, “This is going to be really awful, man.” But I just listened to it, and listened to it twice, and start to dig it. So if I were real elitist I wouldn’t even bother to listen to it. I think it’s a lot of being tired. You know? Burned out… you’re not really interested in listening to new stuff. I can totally understand that. It’s different for a band that’s been playing since ‘97… and we’ve been into metal since the start of the ‘80’s. The new generation is, of course, a bit more enthusiastic. Like we said, it started in Norway with that typical whatever… and people say that they made a sort of Norwegian black metal up. I can point out for you what is typical Norwegian black metal riff. I could do that. But people really don’t know what that typical sort of riffing is because that was the guitarist from Thorns Nora (ed – that’s what is sounded like he said) and Euronymous that started that whole sort of riffing. Then everyone said, “No. We’re tired of Norwegian black metal.” But Norwegian black metal was not existing at that time! Since ‘92 everyone went their own way. Probably, in rehearsal places in ‘91-’92, we were basically playing the same stuff – all the bands. But we quickly went own ways. That’s what I’m thinking. But I don’t have any problems saying, of course, that we were leading at that time, and other nations had problems making music that was as solid black metal as we did. But I think that the style that comes from America is totally different. The style that comes from Greece is totally different. They’re really not the same thing. But I would say England had a real problem. England had a problem even making a great thrash metal band. They had problems making a great death metal band. You know, they had Carcass, and more crustier shit. They were great at that. But they also had problems making black metal. So why wouldn’t we say that? A lot of other nations with a lot of more people than Norway having huge problems in making solid death metal that would make our blood freeze… that’s where all this elitism comes from. I would say, “Hey! We’re onto something here! And we’re way ahead!” It was the only time that we were ever way ahead… except for the Vikings.
Well, did not the Vikings become conquered by the christians?
(he wails) Don’t mention that! You get me severely depressed.
Darkthrone had lyrics in Norwegian.
Yeah, we started that, actually. It was the guys from Vomit – they came up to us at a gig in ‘89 or something, and said, (in a mock drunken stoner voice) “Hey man, (hiccup) someone should start singing in Norwegian.” And we were thinking about that for years, and all of a sudden I started to write a lyric and it turned out really cool. Well, “cool” is not the right word in black metal. But anyway – I’m watching too much Seinfeld now – so we tried it out and it worked. That’s one of the things that we started with. Other people probably had the same idea, but we were there first. (he giggles like the Pillsbury Doughboy).
I just thought it was strange that all those who waved the flag of elitism all spoke English.
We all speak English in Norway. We grow up with this language. We start learning it when we’re, like, eight, in school.
It must’ve been after England conquered Scandinavia.
English rules, man. You have words like “flabbergasted” and “boggled”. Boggle, boggle.
You like those sounds? Is it true that in Norway your nickname is “Freeze Miser”?
No. I never even heard that.
Really? You don’t have a t-shirt that says “I’m Mr. Freeze Miser. Whatever I touch turns to ice in my clutch”?
That’s fuckin’ ridiculous, man! That’s way out there. I mean, I heard a lot of silly rumors in my day, but hey, you’ve been surfing on the internet too much.
OK, back to the Viking culture and elitism.
Well, it’s just one more thing that needs to be cleared up. I heard that it is very important what sort of cup a Norwegian man drinks from.
As far as it’s beer, who gives a fuck! You know?
What does peanut butter mean to you?
Peanut butter? Oh, that’s, like, American culture. I never had peanut butter, myself. But when I see it in the store, I go like, “Typical American, man”
Because what I heard is, Vikings did not drink mead, which is beer boiled with honey.
Yeah, I know.
They drank a drink that was made from fermented peanut butter.
Well you probably know more about Viking culture than I do. It definitely sounds like that.
Well this is where it became personal… What’s that band that you had a problem with? I’m trying to remember…
I never had a problem with a band.
You never had a problem with a band?
Are you sure?
Yeah I’m sure. Well, I know that “All” or something from Abryptum was angry with me because of something like… the scene almost split, attitude-wise, because of who’s rooting for Count Grishnak and who’s rooting for Euronymous. So that was the problem. And everyone was figuring that I didn’t give a fuck about Euronymous. But I liked both guys. You know?
Alright, this makes a lot of sense because I heard it was the other way around. (he burps long and loudly while I am talking) You were angry with All because…
No, I weren’t.
You have a particular cup, according to this rumor, that you drink your peanut butter from…
(he bursts into deafening laughter) That’s a fabulous rumor.
…and it is called “Fenriz’s Peanut Butter Cup”. And “All” took it.
“All” took it? Oh! (in the voice of a child who had its lollipop taken away) “Oh, he stole it from me!” Well, that’s that. Hey, he was really angry with me, and it was rumored all around that he was really gonna wipe me out. Once, I got a call at my job, “All’s at M’s now, and he wants to meet you.” And I was, like, “Fuck! I got to bite the bullet and go there.” And I guess I was a bit nervous, but when I came he weren’t there, so… after that I hadn’t heard squat.
Is he taller than you?
I don’t know.
He’s only four feet tall.
Everyone says he’s tiny. But tiny people can fight with cannon. You know?
So, is the rumor with a person who works at Necropolis Records, named “Joker”, true?
Huh? I don’t have a problem with Necropolis Records.
Not even with Joker, the man with the cannon?
The man with the cannon? Man, you Americans are totally weird!
All right, let me ask you this. Did a black man ever get his chocolate in your peanut butter?
No. I never had any interference with black man.
Or peanut butter?
No. I never even tasted it.
Anything you’d like to say about your new album?
Yeah, it’s totally Darkthrone, as usual. It’s fuckin’ old school, and that’s what we’ve been all along. So there.
Would you like your address at the end of this interview?
No, because I don’t write anymore, man. I don’t have fuckin’ time for it. You should see my schedule. At least the hobby I got with forests…
(I start laughing)
That’s nothing to laugh about! I take that very seriously! I’m hours in the forest all the fuckin’ time.
With the mosquitoes?
No, it’s fuckin’ serious. Now I’m finding obscure… I have a book, and you stamp the book for obscure places in the forest that day. It’s hard to explain. But there is a lot of forests around this place. So we have a lot to do there.
Do you know what a tick is?
Yeah, I know a tick. I don’t have any, though. I’m totally scared of it because it’s fucking shitty animal, man. It just bites into you, and you gotta twist and turn to get it out. But usually there’s more of them along coastlines, and not really in a lot of forest areas that I’m visiting.
I heard that in Norway, because there’s a lot of mysticism, and the peasants exaggerate what they see, ticks have been called “sprites” over there… like the little faerie creatures.
Well, never trust a farmer.
I heard that they carry a disease called “Lime-on Disease” (goofing on the taste of the lemon/lime-flavored soft drink called “Sprite”).
They carry disease, yeah, because if you don’t find it, serious shit could happen to you. You don’t have ticks in America? Don’t tell me that!
No, they’ve been outlawed, actually.
You can’t outlaw them!
Yes you can! The government can outlaw anything!
It takes all kinds to make the world a more shitty place.
I have to thank you for having a sense of humor. I was told that you would not tolerate any silly jokes.
Satyr talked me into this. I’ll tell you why I’m doing all these interviews now. I probably should shut up because the people that are escaping to Darkthrone because they don’t like where things are going… they will be very pissed off at all these funny interviews I’m doing now. But the point is, when they sent out that tribute album, they sent out with a press release that said, “Do you want interview? Call here!” I didn’t know about this. Suddenly the office called and is like, “Hey, interview, interview, interview.” I’m was like, “What’s all this with interviews?” And Satyr’s like, “Can’t you do some interviews? And be nice!” And I’m like, “OK, I’ll do interviews and be nice… and even be funny!” (in a South Park impersonation) “Kick the baby!”
This interview with Quorthon was conducted for Issue #5. I kept in contact with him, and we had talked about him participating in my black metal documentary. He was to videotape himself answering my questions and then send me the footage, but he died of a heart attack.
Dost thou acknowledge that thou art the father of black metal?
In Sweden we have an expression that goes, “Everybody knows the monkey, but the monkey doesn’t know anybody”. What I am trying to say is that, if somebody comes up to me and says, “God man, your music has been such an influence on me and my buddies, and there are two million bands copying your music, and you have such importance on the metal scene for all these years” who the hell am I to say, “Yeah!” because I’m sitting here in my kitchen playing a couple of songs on my acoustic guitar?” I go into the studio to record it….. having a great time/// don’t think much about it. Once the album is released – twelve years later you have a lot of people telling you that your stuff was so great and has meant so much. There are no scales by which you can match your influence. We all sound different anyway.
Thou wert not contacted by the “Inner Circle?’
… inner what?
Those bad boys in Norway.
Oh yeah! Those guys! They wrote a lot of letters to me when they were young – when they were big, big, big, big Bathory fans, and they even had a magazine. I don’t remember the name. But they were heavily into the Satanic shit that we were doing. Once, a couple of these guys were arrested for the things that they did – you know, burning down churches, killing people. They told the police that they were influenced by my music. So I had a letter from the Norwegian police asking some questions – a truly weird situation. All we’re dealing with here is music and fantasy.
] They speak of some jewish conspiracy. I was wondering if that’s just their own personal political philosophy, or is it entirely a Norwegian way of thought.
To begin with, without mentioning any names or try to mock down on anybody personally, or a group of people – I think there’s something completely wrong with you if you mix Odinism with Nazism and Satanism. All of these three things don’t have anything in common. If you’re a Satanist you couldn’t be a son of Odin because Odinism doesn’t believe in earthly values in the way that the Satanists are. If you’re a neo-Nazi you wouldn’t be able to play death metal and have long hair. So what we’re talking about here is total ignorance.
I was wondering if Scandinavia was an anti-semitic community, based on the rantings of the Inner Circle.
Well, a lot of people have preconceived notions about Scandinavia. Certainly some American people I talked to when I was over there – they think Stockholm is like a suburb of Moscow or something. The thing is, I was fucking a Portuguese girl a couple of years ago,and she had this truly weird opinion about Swedish and Norwegian people. She thought we were the same type of people. The language is basically the same, like British English and America English. Norway is very conservative and old-fashioned, and a very christian country. They’re like four-and-a-half/five-million people, and we’re like eight-million people. That’s fly shit in the universe, compared to what’s out there. Sweden is a very liberal country, and all values are accepted – except neo-Nazi and anti-semitism. Sure, there are groups like that all over. You have this “New Order” in the United States, and all these church knuckle-heads over there. So I think it’s a universal thing. Everybody needs to blame anything on anybody. In Sweden, when christianity came around destroying a lot of the European culture, a lot of the stuff that has been going on for thousands of years… was destroyed. We don’t know too much about our own history. If you don’t know the past, you cannot master the future. If some young guy is into some heavy music… has the idea “Shit, man! We don’t like the church, and we have to get into something that is against the church”
. Now we know there are no golden thrones above the clouds, and so on.So I think they’re just picking up on anything that’s against society and the establishment and most of all, the church.
The Satanists who are from the Anton LaVey circle use the term “christian Satanist” to define bands like Deicide. I am not sure if thou hast heard of them.
Sure. I worked as head of the security when they were playing in Stockholm, and they probably didn’t know who I were. Two or three Bathory fans recognized me. Nobody else recognized me. So…
The Satanism that thou used for lyrical ideas is ‘christian Satanism,’ the kind that is evident in bands like Deicide. It is not from the LaVey school.
Basically, it was very innocent. I don’t know if you had it over there, but in Sweden during the early ’70’s we had a magazine or horror book called ‘Shock’ with Vampirela, Dracula, Frankenstein, and all that shit. We were very interested, when we first started, in the darker side of life, not necessarily the evil side of life. At one point we wanted to make a statement against the establishment, or christianity, because it’s old and dull and square and blah, blah, blah. We didn’t know what to write about. In bands like Saxon and Motorhead, they were thinking about motorcycles going down the road at 200 miles per hour, whiskey, and fucking women. We came straight out of school. We just turned to what we were interested in, which was the mysterious. Everybody is interested in that at a certain point in your life. I don’t think that we wanted to make a statement except for trying to be upsetting people in a very innocent fashion. We were very far away from the academic in any sense. We didn’t know shit. Really. We didn’t. As soon as I wanted to get deep down into it, I read the Bible. I read everything about Satanism. I read the Black Bible and blah, blah, blah. All that happened was, I came to the conclusion that it was all bullshit. I mean, we know there are no heaven. There is no hell. There are no golden thrones up there. There is no god. There are no devils. Nothing happens to you when you die. So you’re just an electrified organism. When you die, you go back to earth. That’s it. Man, from the dawn of time – we invented gods – and old gods became new gods in new religions. Christianity – the only reason why it has stayed so long is because christianity conquered the Western Hemisphere, which technically, is more advanced – and more advanced a thousand years ago than Africa or Asia. The christian man stood on the moon in 1969. Praise jesus christ. Sure.
Getting back to thy more physical out-look on life...
Art thou familiar with the philosopher “Descartes?’
I think, therefore I am. Dost thou remember?
No. I just read scientific magazines.
Well, his thought is what scientific method is based on – the observable and what can be proved, as in – if a result is achieved once, it should be duplicated another time under the same conditions. It seems that thou hast the same way of thinking.
I didn’t mean to sound so cool, you know? I mean, anything I say could be interpreted as the result of reading the works of Friedrich Nietzsche, the German philosopher.
His work is reputed to be tampered with by his sister who survived him.
Yeah. That’s true. Not all of the work. But most of it. Some of the stuff was published while he was still alive. He was famous even in his young years.
But dost thu not think that his suffering influenced his thinking, what with the diarrhea and constant nausea?
I think a lot of what he did was the result of his mental illness. But if you have a mental disorder, or if you’re truly koo-koo in your head, 500 years ago they would be called saints. We had a truly weird woman in Sweden 600 years ago. She’s the only saint we had in Sweden – the Holy Begetta. If she would be alive today, she would be locked up somewhere.
There is thy video…
(laughs) You bastard! There’s a love and hate thing going on there. I spent between $3,000 and $5,000 on that video out of my own money, and we had 16 hours of film. Once the whole thing was supposedly mixed together. There was so little time because I was going on a promotion tour in Europe for six weeks. We had so little time to do the video properly before we went out. So I said, “O.K. Let’s wait. I’ll take care of all that when I get back to Stockholm.” But sometime when I was out there, someone put the whole thing together and just started to distribute it – and it was not meant to be that way. I should say first that I have never seen the video myself. I refuse to see it. The guy who was filming that thing – six months after recording that video, nobody heard from him anymore. He owes us a lot of money and all that. I spent two weeks organizing – renting horses, uniforms, armor, swords, people, food, driving people – everything. I paid a lot of money and I wasn’t even allowed to be there when the whole thing was mixed. We had 16 hours of film, and I wasn’t even allowed to see one second.
Thou art one who uses a drum machine.
It’s 50/50. The snare drum, and I believe the “ride’ is a drum machine. Then the drum rolls and some of the crashes on the high hat is the real thing. The reason you use most of the time a drum machine for the snare drum is – you can never get a real good sound out of a real snare drum. It’s very hard. But I mean, everybody is working with sample technique today anyway. So…
I Interviewed someone who’s been sentenced to 53 years in prison. He was part of the ‘Diabolical Skinheads,” as the press referred to them. The reason I interviewed him was because of the coverage by the media of the black metal violence.
Everything does not have to be attached to the label “black metal violence.” You cannot blame an entire genre for what a couple of people are doing. We’re voting politicians into power for four or five years, and they’re the guys who start world wars and drop atomic bombs. I’ve yet to see a death metal fan start a world war or kill six million jews or pollute our oceans.
So stop me at any time. “…these bands don’t actually practice the rites of the left hand path, not at all. They just merely claim to so as to snare the uneducated child (who so desperately seeks an idol) into purchasing their fallacious CD release. The band ‘Bathory’ comes to mind when thinking along these lines. Consider the many occult/pagan claims Quarthon has made in the past, and the atheistic view he now holds, and the blonde hair dye, or is that really his natural hair color? Well, like his integrity, one never knows. Seemingly rock star jewelry, or shall we call it Jew-ery? One can easily see the many transitions a poseur goes through when the poseur is tired of acting one way, so begins to act another way. Well, as far as the blonde shit goes, my hair is “natural.’ Over there you’d probably call it “blonde.” But over here, it’s just natural, or golden brown, or whatever you want to call it. 99% of the city’s population have golden brown hair. Actually, I used to dye my hair black because my jackets were black, and it makes a great outfit. Does he anywhere explain what the right thing is? I mean, he was just pissing off a lot of people by saying they’re wrong. What’s HIS philosophy on life? What’s the true way? You said a ‘skinhead.’ Is he neo-Nazi or a Satanist or an anti-jewish guy or what?
His ideas I have never encountered before.
Let me make a parallel here. When I was, shall we say, the cock-sucking slave of Satan 15 years back, I would fuck off bands like Celtic Frost and Volvod – Celtic Frost because I didn’t like their sound or the way they looked. I didn’t think they were enough Satanists, if you know what I mean. I thought that they were more into art and the academic way of it. I didn’t like Volvod because they were doing the space shit thing. I was too ignorant. I didn’t know shit. It wasn’t until years later that I started to listen to Voivod as a professional, realizing that these guys really had something. They were pioneers. I still hate Celtic Frost. Nobody is allowed to mock anybody else down. I still hate them, and I stand for that. But I shouldn’t mock down a band because I don’t like them. I may not understand it. But there are people who are in love with Celtic Frost’s music and people who like my music. There’s just one planet, and there’s room for everybody here. What goes on in your mind is ten million times bigger than the universe. And my political views and my religious views will not affect anybody as long as I keep it inside my head. But if I don’t deal with my values and compare it to what man has achieved as far as science is concerned… and medicine – the way we progress as individuals and as a species – come up in a truly weird soup – and one of these days, if you have an ounce of hate in you, all that shit will explode. If you put a bomb in a state building, if you kill a friend – as in Norway or whatever – kill a homosexual, or blow the brains out of a jew – we shouldn’t try to label all these actions as racism or an act of religious defiance. What we should label it as is purely “crime.’ We shouldn’t label ourselves death metal bands, black metal gods, or rock idols wearing jewelry. We should just label ourselves as musicians and individuals. In ten years, nothing of this will even matter. So I think it’s very pointless to make comments of something a person says, who, first of all, has never met me and probably never met any of the other people he was referring to. So it’s just pointless. I will answer him in a letter or something, if that’s what he wants. But if you make a comment to a person like that, you just give him too much importance. When we were kids, I grew up listening to KISS, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, and The Beatles. I didn’t know shit – what kind of drugs these guys were taking, what it felt like to sit down on a motorcycle going down the highway, what it felt like to be fucking girls in a limousine. I’ve done all that now. I’ve fucked a girl in the lavatory of a 747. I’ve done all that, and it’s not because I am the son of Satan. I didn’t do it because I was the greatest guitar player in the world, or I had the best face, or the longest hair, or whatever. I was able to be a part of something that just happened – the underground movement. Kids wanted a music for themselves. Then someone comes along 15 years later doing something and they lock him up away in jail for life, and he starts to make statements about something he’s never been a part of and doesn’t understand the situation of working-class kids in Europe. He should just shut up and not make any comments about anybody. And YOU shouldn’t make comments about what he has to say about other people! You give him too much importance. The world is full of knuckle heads anyway.
I was turned off by the muddy production at first, but as I listened I realized that i wasn’t going to hear something cliche or easy to define. What had initially been deemed hazy became atmospheric. This made me want to hear more, and so I knew that the lights had to be turned off. It was time for an inner journey.
The guitars created a wall of sound, Rather than sadden with melody, they chilled with icy notes. This wasn’t a flow. This was an ever-present moment of agony. These weren’t riffs, per se, but musical accompaniments to inner horror. Ghastly chords chimed hauntingly as I was pulled deeper. This music created a mental place.
Whenever there was melody, it was never a repeated theme – more like remembrance of dark times, as if I were recalling moments of pain, each summoned memory replacing the one that was re-lived moments before..
Stertorous voices expressed the torture of the words. As I descended into madness, there came a passage in “Ashes in Bloom” that was like the parting of clouds, but the sky behind was more terrifying. Inside this new patch of sound, the voice suddenly changed to that of an intensely emotional bard. I felt as if the song had purposely prepared me to be crushed. This is mastery.
As powerful as the ideas are, the methods are not used for each song. The heartfelt singing does not burst into every song, nor does it bear the same qualities upon every appearance. The only predictable thing about this album is that it will immerse the listener in gloom.
“Sing, oh children of loss, your cracked hands grasping for wonder in emptiness”