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Interview with King Diamond conducted by Bill Zebub for Issue #31 of The Grimoire of Exalted Deeds magazine.
I don’t know if the Abigail 25th anniversary edition is going to be different from the recent remaster. Do you know if it will have the same bonus tracks, or the same audio processing?
That’s what i heard so far. There have been ideas thrown around. What the end result is going to be, I’m not 100% sure right now. There WAS talk about getting it remastered by a topnotch guy. Abigail falls short a little bit. That was unfortunately the one that i feel was not given the right treatment when they did remaster
them. That one turned so bright that it hurts my ears to listen to it. That’s the one where I would say “Well, the older version sounds better.” Now we get the chance to do it right.
I was told that Abigail and Them came out when they were mastered for vinyl, and what that means is that the equalization favored the high end because bass makes wider grooves on the record, and that can limit space.
Well, it sounds fine on the original. What about the others from the same period of time? Right there it kind of contradicts itself. That
doesn’t make sense.
If anyone knows, it’s you, because you have a reputation for being meticulous.
I was listening back and forth, that and the original, when I got it. There was a lot of time pressure on that. I realize that. Things HAD to be done. There was a deadline. So there was no means, time-wise, to go back and re-do it. That’s why, if they remaster, give it to a top-notch guy. If they can’t get the actual master tapes, which I doubt. Well, they might have them still. But if they can’t find them, they can definitely do a killer job just grabbing the old original CD and do it from that. They can get it up to a decent volume without jeopardizing the frequencies.
I had asked you if you had ever been tempted to go back and not just to adjust the equalization, but to actually re-mix the multitrack tapes and remaster in the true sense. You told me that once you do something, you leave it, because you would never be satisfied, no matter what is changed.
Abigail I would never touch. That album has the right feel for what the album’s about, for the TIME. If I had to do that album today it would sound totally different, of course. There’s a different sound that you get today. The things you CAN do today… The Puppetmaster, and even the last live album – those have got some REALLY good sounds, in my opinion. They have a nice spectrum of top to bottom, clarity, and authenticity. Those, I’m very happy with, and also the old Abigail. For that time, it was exactly what it should be. Everything else – I can go in and pick shit apart – high hat too much to one side for my liking, or too crisp, or it interferes too much with the attack of the snare – there are so many things. There are certain blends of some of the choir parts that I would like to change to feature a different part in it that would probably give more of that atmosphere that I was after. So many things. i can go in and change ALL the albums, except Abigail , The Puppetmaster, and the very last live album. Everything else I could definitely go in and go nuts with, and I would probably finish up with something that I would probably, two years from now, NOT be satisfied with. (laughs) It’s a healthy hing to not be satisfied with what you do. That makes you search
continuously for making things better.
Of all the King Diamond albums, did you spend the most time in post-production on Abigail, mixing everything and applying filters and such?
I don’t think so.
What about the actual recording? Was that your longest stretch in a recording studio?
No. (laughs) I can tell you, if you took a metronome and ran it with those songs, you will HEAR that it did not take that long to do. (laughs) There are passages that are speeding up, and then there are passages that suddenly drag down. You can go from a fast verse that
goes faster and faster toward the end of it, then comes this heavy chorus – WHOA! – What a tempo drop! These days, we like to be in time with the songs.
You play with a click track?
And you did not back then?
No. (laughs) You can hear that, big time. If you put it to that test, you can really hear it. Some of those things I remember from back then…
Andy was usually the one who would play a cue guitar in a little booth somewhere in the studio. Mickey would have it in his
headphones. Andy would probably play a little sloppy sometimes, not out of bad intent, but Mickey knew all the parts – he just needed something to show him where he was in the song. So then you don’t have to be that precise because it’s not the real guitar you’re recording. Suddenly Mickey would stop and say, “what the hell?”
And Andy would say, “You’re speeding like crazy!”“I wasn’t speeding! you’re just playing sloppy now!” Those whose-fault-is-it kind of things… When we record today, there is nothing to discuss because you have to be on the beat. That’s the end of it. There is a way to set it up like that so that it’s correct. So those kind of things made for it not taking any longer. It was a very LIVE feel doing it that way. But still, it was an instrument at a time. We never recorded where everybody stands together and plays. Then it would probably take longer than any other album because, with that style of music,
someone would make a mistake through a song. It would just take too long.
The strange this is, Abigail has been hailed by musicians. If musicians themselves are applauding that work, is there sorcery that makes them overlook what you just said? You know how anal some musicians can be when critiquing another artist.
It’s not a bad thing that it speeds up. Sometimes you like that live feel. It’s the kind of feel that you have when you are in a live situation. Most songs, played live, are faster than the studio albums. That’s just the extra adrenaline pumping from having an audience in your face. You totally let go. You get caught up in the mood of the whole thing. It’s not a bad thing. It just gives a different feel. The songs themselves – the writing and the performances – that’s what
made that album what it is. There are also other things. It was the first of the genre where there’s a full-concept horror story with metal music. It had not been done before, ever, by anyone. A lot of bands have done a concept album, but never a horror story. The style was very unique. It was an early part of the career when people had not gotten used to that style. So the album had everything going for it. It’s much easier to make an impact with an album like that at THAT time, than twenty years later when everyone knows your style. They expect you to stay in your style. I would never do a
country album, of course. It’s such a trademark style. You can always tell when it’s us. Fans would not want us to go away from that. The
trademark style has given us a longevity that very few bands experience. It’s still going very well, as you know. Because it’s such a unique style, we were never affected by any trends. We just plow right through on our own little road. But then, we were never right there on the bandwagon when something was very popular and
able to sell a platinum album. That has never meant that much to me. You also know that. The pleasure itself of playing and being able to
have my hobby as a livelihood… I don’t need sixteen Ferrari’s in my garage. It would be nice, but I don’t have those kind of values. I never had. I guess I’m a lot easier to satisfy. That’s the best road for me – the longevity and still being able to have that fun. I have more fun playing those old songs live today than it was when the album came out. It’s a more enjoyable situation now because the guys that are around are the best I’ve ever played with in my life. There’s that
100% trust. They’re not going to screw up. It has to be something serious for that to happen, like an amp blowing up, but we have one of the best crews in the business – I trust them so much that i don’t even o soundchecks anymore, and I have perfect sound… well, as much as is possible. There can be rooms that are weird, like having carpets on the walls. It sucks the sound in. You feel like the whole room you’re playing in died. Nothing bounces off the walls. That’s a weird live feel. I like to feel the reverb of the room and hear a little of the P.A. and the delays it throws out. I feed a lot off that stuff. When the sound is dead, it’s so tough, and the crew can’t fix THAT. But everything is done so pro now, and that give more energy to give a
party party instead of concentrating and thinking about the next part that has problems. There’s not so much to worry about, like in the early days when every man was pretty much his own roadie. That means a lot. I look forward to the high passages today. I know my voice can handle it, unless I’m sick. The very high, long notes, in “Eye of the Witch” for instance; I look forward to that because I can feel like I can show off in some ways. I really do. I feel confident I can hit those notes. Five years ago, when I got to that part, I would wish that I could hear myself properly. It’s not that i can’t make the note, it’s just so that i can hear the note so I can. A lot of those problems I eliminated now. That’s a big part of why we still want to go on the road. All other aspects, you know, I hate. It makes me want to puke to sit on a bus for eight hours, rolling thumbs. You can only do so much of one or another thing. They have only so much DVD’s on a bus. And i can’t sleep on a bus when it rolls. Then there’s bad food, and sometimes no food at all. Lack of sleep. I usually get six hours
every twenty-four hours, but it’s divided into two or three little go’s of an hour and a half or two hours each. Not a whole lot of time to enjoy. The only time I enjoy is that hour and forty minutes on the stage. That’s the highlight every day.
You amass quite a sleep debt. At the end of the tour, do you sleep for sixteen hours straight?
When I get home, I can tell you, I don’t want to talk to friends. I don’t want the phone to ring. I don’t have the energy to speak to a grocery
clerk. I need groceries, the house is empty, and they’re always friendly. “Hey! How was the tour?” That’s the last thing I want to hear. I want to see my bed. I’m tired of sleeping in a soft bed, then a hard, bed, then a soft bed, then a bed where something sticks up in my back. I can tell you, when you get into those kinds of scenarios, you’re always sore.
Getting back to the speeding up and slowing down, maybe musicians hailed it because they considered it to be dynamic.
I think it’s the songwriting and the performances. It’s very melodic and still heavy.. It’s raw. It’s got mood. That’s why it’s one of the albums that I am most satisfied with. And The Puppetmaster too. The moods in that album are much stronger than on Abigail. But it’s an album that came so many years later, and it will NEVER be hailed among the fans as up there with Abigail. It’s a real treat for me because I know how much it takes for an album to be so high in a fan’s opinion. It means that that album has to be a lot better. That’s the pure fact of it. It’s hard to compete with something that was so unique at that time. It was a shock for a lot of people to hear that style for the first time. A lot of fans have said that to me. It’s hard to
compete with yourself in that respect. The things with Abigail that were the hardest to do were not the recording stuff. You have to
remember that, at that time, we were all in the same country, or pretty much. We lived so close that rehearsals were possible. We rehearsed more, together, you can say. There are better musicians now that don’t need that rehearsal time, but back then, the songs were rehearsed by the whole band before we ever went in and
recorded them. With Mercyful Fate, we had even played some of the songs live before recording them. Sometimes for a year we played some of the songs that were later recorded. That’s not the
case later on in the career. We’re spread out all over the world, you know. So that didn’t take as long as one might think And the mixing
process didn’t take as long as you would imagine simply because we didn’t have the means for it to take long. There was no automation. We didn’t have the chance of working for two hours getting specific reverb to open up in the right way in those five words at the end of verse 2, or whatever, and program it in so that it does it itself so we don’t have to worry about it. We spent time on it, came up with ideas, and now it does it by itself. Back then, we had to do it all manually. We were all in on the mix. Everybody’s fingers were on some kind of buttons on the mixing board. That’s why we delegated
in a smart way… and said, “No Mickey, you’re not going to control the snare drum, and Andy, you’re not going to do your own solo.” He’d argue, “Well I know how loud..” No, no, no. Let Mickey do your solo, and you can do Mickey’s snare, and so on. There were little marks. We had done test after test run. How loud should that solo be? Ok, here’s the mark. Don’t go over that mark. And you can be sure that Mickey wouldn’t go over the mark, and visa versa with Andy going over Mickey’s snare. You could trust better , otherwise you would have to
do it again and again and again if people weren’t kept in control.
You should never let people edit their own work.
No, not in that scenario. it was 100% analog. You couldn’t start in the middle. You would have to do the whole thing again. So in that respect, it was a little faster, mixing it. First of all, we didn’t have the capability to go so much in depth with every single little thing. There were not enough hands to do it. You had to do what you needed to do, on the fly. Let the thing roll. So there were limits there. Today there are practically no limits. You could sit and spend three hours on the reverb for five words, and we did, on Puppermaster.
Getting back to the timing thing, there have been Mercyful Fate songs, like when you sing “It is so much colder in here.” That was done purely by feel, not by metronome. Would you make a song like that on a future album?
It’s a different matter for me, as a vocalist. I don’t sing to a metronome. I sing by total feel, no matter. I don’t think that I have ever needed a metronome in a break. If you listen to “No More Me” it’s full of that type of stuff. Those total emotional, feeling-out breaks. It’s nothing but. of course, that song was recorded with a
metronome, but for the vocalist, it’s a totally different matter because you are free. You can go over beats and this and that, and then pick it up, being on a beat later. The more precise they
(the musicians) are, the more free I feel. If they started suddenly speeding up at the end of a verse, and I had to do something, it might not leave me enough space to do an emotional thing. That emotional thing, to fit, would have to be rushed, and that wouldn’t sound right. But when I have that solid tempo going, then I don’t even have to think about it. It’s almost how I feel pitch, for instance. It’s totally automatic, I found out. When Mercyful Fate was playing shows with Metallica in Europe in ‘99, there was a show in Milan where the Metallica guys invited Hank and I to go up and do the whole medley from the Garage Inc. album, all twelve minutes, or whatever, as one of the encores. At first, I was like, “Doesn’t Metallica play detuned a little bit? How the hell am I going to sing that?” I had sung some of that stuff earlier that day, but in our key,and now I had to drop it half a note, or whatever it is. That scared me to death. How is that going to work out? But once we started, I didn’t even feel that I was singing it differently.. It actually became a little easier, singing like a semitone lower. It’s a matter of feeling the key inside. The same thing with the beats, when they’re going. I never ever count anything. when there’s a solo going, I don’t stand there and count. “Ok, that was three rounds, four rounds. Ok, now I have to start singing again here.” Never. It’s all feel. But, the guys always play the same solos, and if they were improvising half the time, good luck to me, because I would have
nothing to go by. I know those solos by heart. That was one thing funny about listening to the live album. I could picture exactly where I was on stage the whole time, and then I realized certain things as we were mixing it. If Andy is playing a solo, I will usually be closer to him so I hear his solo clearest. That’s what I go by, since I don’t count. But by the end, when the verse starts, I am on the opposite side where I could hear Mike’s rhythm guitar more, or visa versa. Andy is my favorite guitar player of all time, so I am not saying anything bad about him, but he has this tendency, live, when he finishes a fast
lick or whatever – he will hold a long feedback note. Listen and you will hear that. In those places, I had to get away from him. I can’t stand over there by the feedback note because I have nothing to go by. That dawned on me while we were mixing. If they, for some reason, screw up in the middle of the solo. or the amp goes out just for five seconds, I’m screwed completely. I will not know when to come in. I will not know where the other guys are. was it five or six
rounds that they played? I hadn’t been paying attention to how many rounds. Suddenly it changes key and goes into the verse, and I can’t
pick it up there.
You just aim the mike at the crowd and the crowd starts singing.
(laughs) They ALWAYS know. What do you call those… in theaters, you have this little old man sitting in a box, with a book, speaking to the actors. Whatever he is called, the audience, the first row there, they are the best of that. I’ve had to use it. I admit that. Those situations… what the hell are you going to do? Suddenly you’re
two rounds in. The lyrics don’t just sit like that., like “Ok, I’ll pick up from the second line.” No. I pick it up by cue words. I know the first few
words of each verse. The rest is automatic. I don’t even think about what I’m singing. When the cue words are NOT there, I can’t just pick it up. It’s impossible. Then I look down at the audience, at those desperate eyes… it’s rare, but it does happen, and God,do I feel miserable afterwards! I swear, if I didn’t have that white on I would be glowing red like the reindeer’s nose. That is embarrassing. the same thing if someone is out of tune. You will hear that on bootlegs. There could be one guitar not matching. That’s very difficult for a singer. If a guy’s out of tune somewhere and I start hearing him, I follow him with that automatic pitch. I sound off, but I’m dead-on with the guy I can hear. You’re lucky in the studio. You have all the time in the world. With Mercyful Fate, when we played Satan’s Fall live.everybody’s like, “King! You’ve GOT to talk longer before Satan’s Fall! We all need time to tune perfectly.” By the end of that song, everyone’s a little off, each other. They have no time to tune for twelve minutes. That’s a problem when you play live, in a hot
sweaty humid room. The guitar will slowly drift out of tune. It’s got to be dead-on in the beginning and you will not be that far in the end. At the end of it there’s a lot of single-note playing and harmonies.
i have to sign to them. Oh man! That’s the real world of a musician. There are lot of things that no one knows about and can’t see unless you tell them. This is how hard it is.
I recently unearthed a tape that I had a long time ago. It’s an interview that Ole did with you that was done before “Fatal Portrait” was released. You were actually playing guitar in that interview, giving fans a chance to hear riffs that were on the forthcoming album. It was pretty strange hearing you play guitar. Is there a secret part on any album in which you actually play guitar?
Well… (in a nonchalant tone) there’s a few places.
Ha! I knew it! It was strange to hear you play guitar. But it was also strange, sort of comical, to hear you and Ole talk to each other in such a respectful manner, as if you were perfect strangers.
(laughs) The good old days. People didn’t know us yet.
Wow. I’ve just unearthed some trivia! King has actually played guitar on the albums!
Yeah, here and there, bits and pieces. Most has been in scenarios where I had a very crooked finger position that was impossible for
the other person to do. I use some very odd chords sometimes. Sometimes it’s a feel thing. Each player has different techniques. I have a very unique way that dampen the strings when I want these (vocalizes what the guitar sounds like). it has sometimes been very hard to get out. I want them sounding a certain way, fat but still very crisp. It’s not all that easy. I have my style. I play both up and down strokes. A lot of guitarists play only down strokes. It’s different
techniques. There are some things that are awkward for Andy to play, with the up/down strokes, but that’s what it demands or you’re
simply not going to get the right mood out of the riff. There were some places here and there where I’d do that little bridge, or this or that. One thing that was cool about The Puppetmaster is that Andy has never gotten that close to my expression of my songs, the way I
play them on the demos. I have all the demos here where I play all the guitars. There’s a drum machine, and I simulate the bass by playing the guitar through an octave. Some of the keyboards
turn out to be the real ones. There, you can REALLY hear my style of playing. It’s demos, so it’s not that perfect, of course, but the overall feel of everything is exactly there the way I want others to play it. Sometimes I play little pieces (on the album) where there’s certain
kinds of chords, or certain kinds of structures that just doesn’t fit the other player’s technique at all. Maybe one day I should release the
demos where I play everything. (laughs)
I’m very upset with the security you have when you record. Nothing leaks out. It’s very frustrating for a King Diamond fan.
Well maybe one day I will release them.You do hear me play guitar on one of those albums with bonus stuff. For “Them,” I think. I play one of the guitars on the rehearsals because Pete Black wasn’t there at the time. That rehearsal tape, that’s Andy and me playing guitars.
Abigail, to my ears, has the most amount of choir, of all your albums.
I’m not sure you’re right. Not with the backings ,and how many there are, and how layered. It sounds like that. It’s probably the album with the most REVERB on it ever. It does make everything sound more
like we recorded in a church almost.
A Satanic church.
Of course! Are you kidding? (he pauses, and then laughs) Do you know what I am saying? Some of the stuff on “Conspiracy” – there’s so much (choir) on there, and later on too. There’s lots of that stuff. You can go all the way up the albums. There’s tons of layered vocals. But everything is dryer. Even if the guitars are reverbed more than usual, they will create an atmosphere for the vocals, of course. The more swimmy the guitars are, the more swimmy the vocals will sound, even if they don’t have reverb. How you put the whole band in a certain room for the whole duration is something you determine
from the early phase. What kind of room do we want to be in? Then you add more reverb to a certain snare because it has to have a special effect. I’ve gone away from using reverb on my vocals. It’s only used for specific effects. I use delay instead. There’s a delay at all times on my vocals, but you don’t hear it in the music. This is an odd thing, actually, No matter what tempo the song is in, we set the delay at 666 milliseconds. You’re probably thinking I’m lying, but I’m not. That amount of delay time fits ANY of our songs. I don’t like to have that swimming around if there’s a quiet passage, for instance,
where I’m talking, because then it sounds stupid. When I’m playing live, I don’t like a delay hanging on my voice when I’m between songs. “Thank you very much.. thank you very much (he mocks a repeating echo getting fainter with each cycle). That sounds so stupid in between songs. The same thing for taking parts in music. You kill that delay. But for the singing parts, that’s what’s on my vocals all the time. It’s a cool feel for how we produce the albums today. They are a LOT dryer than back then. When you’re a guitarist, and you try to make out what we’re playing on Abigail, on certain passages you will NEVER know what chords we’re using. you simply can’t hear it clear enough duplicate perfectly.
When did you start producing your own albums?
Well, it started with “Don’t Break the Oath” when we decided we had had enough of feeling like going to a dentist when recording an album. That’s what it felt like. That’s the strongest memory I had on “Melissa.” I felt like being at the dentist’s office, being called in. “Mr. Peterson?” Then you walked into the control room and were played a song. “What’s this? Where’s THIS, and where is THAT? Why are the guitars so low? Where is that harmony? This is heavy metal, not the pop you normally do!” Great producer at that time, but he was a pop
producer, actually. That’s what he had done most – Danish pop music. Very good productions. Very skillful guy. We didn’t have any other names of producers. It was probably because of the studio he had. We got a little bit of that taste on the mini LP. I had all of the backing parts ready for that. Those songs were supposed to have the same style of backings as on the “Melissa” album, until I was told “You have two tracks.” You know the story with Hank. He was taking to long. It cost a lot. “I’m sorry, man. This one has got to be IT. Whatever we do now goes on tape and it goes on the album. I don’t care anymore.” Talk about pressure. (laughs) And that’s what happened. So that was the first time we felt these other people in control. And it continued on ‘tile “Don’t Break the Oath.” I had enough. “I’m going to stay here whether you like it or not! When I say turn that keyboard up, I want to hear what it’s like when you move that thing. I want to SEE you move it, not send us out and bring us back in and try to fool us without having moved anything and see if we hear it, because I DO hear it!” So during “Don’t Break the Oath” that’s finally when the band ended up in the control room. So we, of course, got a little bit more experience there. Then when Roberto came in on “Fatal Portrait” and so on, we knew a bit more and were involved the whole way. He had a lot of ideas. He was also a great link between our ideas and how to bring it to tape. That continued for many albums. It was awesome working with him. He and I would sit and play keyboards together. Some of the things on “Conspiracy” and also “On the Eye” was played four-hand, actually. it was him and I. Otherwise we didn’t have enough tracks. (pauses) I forget. Where was I?
About producing your own albums.
(we both laugh) I can’t remember if “Them” was… no, I don’t think “Them” was automated either. There was a part that Andy had forgotten to record. It was a make-or-break riff for “The Accusation Chair” I think. He was already back in Sweden, and I had to go back and get my guitar and record the part. We were losing time, and we were up against other people who stood outside waiting with all their gear, and we were still mixing the last part. Before that, we must have been mixing for twenty hours straight. I
was so dead, sitting on a chair, listening next to Roberto, and suddenly blacked out and fell forward into the mixing desk and onto the floor. Roberto is like “Go take an hour on the couch! This is no help.” Then we finished later. Some tough times.
Did anything strange ever happen in the studio the way strange things have happened in your apartment in Denmark?
I remember that i almost burned the studio down when we did “Them.” I used to have candles to see my lyrics. Just candles. Nothing
else. I found ways to put them where my lyrics stand was, and it was one of those times when I was so tired that i took a break. There must have been some wind going in there, blowing the candles over towards the lyrics. They were burned! They were gone. I came in there. “It smells smokey in here.” There was a big black spot burned into the floor. I fortunately had copies. (pause) But I don’t think there was a demon in there blowing at it, or something like that. The first time we were in the studio that I KNOW things went haywire was with “Conspiracy.” There was this female second engineer that we barely used. She was the one who was freaked out completely. She was screaming, crying, all kinds of shit, because of what was going on there. That is not a rarity. that is more the norm. SOMETHING will happen. Other people get freaked. I think it was on “House of God” when Kol Marshall was working a little overtime. We were mixing, trying to get done, and we both saw a little man in the doorway. But the weird thing was that i had seen that little man at two in the afternoon, and of course, the whole studio is dark. But I had seen
him there. “Am I THAT fuckin’ tired? This is too weird.” About five hours
later, we’re sitting there. Koll was at the mixing desk. it was across the room, to his left, where that doorway was. I would be sitting, usually facing the console, but from his left side. Suddenly, man, he just got pale, and he totally froze. He was looking over in that direction, and without me even turning my head, I said, “You saw him! I know you saw him!” He’s was like, “This is not
REAL! You CAN’T know that!” I said, “The little man over in the doorway? I know you saw him.” He was totally freaking. He usually closed up the studio by himself, but he was begging me to stay for the rest of the night. (laughs. “You don’t have to leave right now, do you?” That’s why there is a mention in the credits for that. (Ed. – “I
swear I saw the Glitcher! King saw him too”)
I had asked you prior to the Mercyful Fate reunion if you would ever re-do a song. You answered that you are always moving forward, working on new material. When you re-did “Return of the Vampire” I was surprised.
That was a unique experience.
Did it ever cross your mind to do a sort of re-visit album and do the songs from the mini LP, and songs like “Shadow Nights” and
“A Dangerous Nightmare?”
Those were all chopped up into other songs, the last two. But the others – I almost said it before, when we talked about the mini LP and how that was recorded, the other vocals were prepared but never done, and I wonder how those songs would have sounded… maybe I will never know. It all comes down to time, and money too. Is it going to be interesting enough to go in and do those songs? What would it look like to other people if Mercyful Fate does another album in a year or two and we put that in there – would the fans think that we are out of ideas? I always worry, maybe too much, about those things. I worry about what people think. In that respect,
I don’t want to appear pathetic.
Well maybe if I keep asking you to do it every time that I interview you.
(laughs) That’s the reason why “Abigail II” was finally done. Inside, I felt there was so much more I could write about this story. Gramma is one of my all-time favorite characters. I would love to be given permission to do another album with her in it. it would be so cool. I know what the cover would look like. It’s a very passionate inside of me. But if we did that, how would it look? Honestly. Conspiracy, Part III , with Gramma? No matter what the story is about, it would still look like Part III to other people. It’s like, “He has to go all the way back there to get inspiration!” I don’t dare do that. It would have to be fan request, like it was with Abigail II. So many people kept asking me to do another thing that reminds of that, and has that complexity.
How many signatures do you require?
What? (laughs). Two! I really want to do it that bad! (laughs) But seriously, it is like that for me. I don’t want anyone to think that I ran out of ideas. But if that were not the case, I would love to go back and give those songs the full treatment.
Maybe you won’t re-do “Burning the Cross” but is it possible for you to write down the lyrics for me to print? Would that be a pain in the as for you?
Yeah. To find them?
You wouldn’t remember them from hearing the song?
I doubt it. I don’t know how clear it is there on the actual album. (pauses) Maybe after the tour.
Keep that on your list. It will be a treat for old-timers like me.
I think I have it somewhere. I was thinking of it that way, that i wouldn’t have to sit and listen. it was very early-days, as you know.
I’ve heard earlier versions of Satan’s Fall with more aggressive lyrics. You moved away from in-your-face evil in favor of the more mysterious.
It gets old very fast. It doesn’t leave too much to the imagination. Do you like splatter movies or more psychological movies? Which one puts you deeper into a certain mood? The first one is like (makes a gore, splat sound) “That looked cool!’ The other one, you feel uncomfortable for a long time. It’s much bigger impact. To misuse
the word “Satan” does not make you heavier. I think it’s so anti-tough to misuse it. I’ll still use it any day. It’s a very good word. It doesn’t
matter which camp you’re in. That word has a uniform meaning to most people. It gives them immediate association, which to me is not the real meaning at all. Even I see some pictures in my head, even though I know it has nothing to do with that. Do you know what i mean by that? It’s like a label. Like picking up a bottle of Johnny Walker. It gives you something that you don’t have to think too long about. Drink it, and you will like the taste or hate the taste. It depends on the kind of person you are.
One of the things that I heard that I thought was rather shocking, having had grown accustomed to the later style of lyrics, is the an earlier version of “Satan’s Fall” in which you sing, “Satan is better than God.”
I will stand up for any lyrics, ever, because there are meanings behind those things. That thing there is very tongue-in-cheek, of course. I should have chosen better words to make it more lyrical. Well, Satan is, in many situations, a better choice than God. There would be less killing. You know that’s true. The Crusades, whatever. Even if you believed in the worst scenario of Satanism, in what I call the completely distorted fake rituals, if that was all true, it would have hurt so much less than the Crusades. When you just said that line, I immediately got the feel from back then, what I felt inside. But the words,I think, “How fuckin’ primitive!” It’ s like “Walking down the stairs to hell” or something like that. How corny.
You seemed more confrontational back then,
You know also why. There was nothing like that back then.
Attacked from all sides.
Venom didn’t really do that. We were simultaneous, but they had a whole different way of talking about these things. With them, I think, it’s like watching the old Hammer horror movies. It looks cool, sounds cool, but maybe it doesn’t mean as much as was said. I think
Cronos has said that himself sometimes, that you need to take things with a grain of salt and lighten up sometimes. I try to do that too. That’s why sometimes you see the band in Christmas outfits and stuff like that. You have to be able to laugh at yourself. You know there’s a lot of humor on the albums too. It might be a little twisted, but it’s there. back then, I can tell you, English was not that easy for me. I had not traveled much at that time. When we the first
U.S. tour for “Don’t Break the Oath, there were lots of times when I did interviews, and I remember clearly how it was not natural for me to just say things. Like, now, I dream in English. But that’s because I’m in the environment. I only talk Danish when I talk business to Ole, or my mom, or my brother. Everything is English around me.
You are immersed.
Absolutely. But back then, if anyone asked me a question, inside my brain there was this translation going. I translated in my head to Danish. I must have seemed so slow back then because I’d come up with my Danish answer and then translate to English. To say anything took me time. That’s why there are those famous… “sarcophagus” was “sarco-fay-gus.” Then Later on it’s like “I have to sing it the wrong way.” I think about it every time we play that song.
I remember you used to introduce “Into the Coven” as “Into the koh-ven.”
Yeah, well that’s a thing that you can say either way.
If you want to hear something funny, I had never used the word “coven” unless I was mentioning your song, and whenever I said it, I said it your way, and people were yelling at me to say it right. You messed me up!
But you know what? People came up to me and said the same thing. No, no, no. you can’t be right. That must be wrong because it doesn’t
sound as tough. There’s a big difference there.
Exactly. Getting back to “Burning the Cross,” but not in an annoying way, for the DVD material that might be provided as a bonus, you said you had video footage of Ben Petterson playing. That’s a treat for all of us who don’t know what he looks like. Did he write “Burning the Cross?”
Yeah, with me. (pause) There should be a good possibility of that early show from ‘82 when Michael Denner is not in the band.
Is this bonus video footage would go to Roadrunner and not to Metal Blade? I know you have stuff coming out on Metal Blade.
Yeah, but there’s a difference between these things. The stuff that Roadrunner is getting is stuff that some collectors had seen – maybe not a lot of the King Diamond stuff that I am intending to give them – the Mercyful Fate, a lot of collectors have seen, but not in this quality. It’s been through digital processing with a company from
Sweden. It’s actually a three-camera shot of us playing a little club in Holland called “The Dynamo” at that time, anyway. For us to give it
out is where I am not living up to my (sarcastictone) perfectionist image. There are some bombers in there that you would not believe. i have one and the band has one, and they’re big. It’s not like I have to tell you where they are. Then of course everyone just plays as if everything is normal. For King Diamond, it’s a show from Gothenburg, Sweden, on the Abigail tour. But I think is two camera angles. That one I haven’t seen yet. Our own stuff for Metal Blade
has never before been seen. we have the only master tapes. There is some killer shit. I freaked when I saw it. There is fifty minutes from a show in Amsterdam at a place called Paradisio (ed. spelling?) which used to be a church. I think that’s from ‘84, if I’m not wrong, before we did “Don’t Break the Oath.” But we did play “Come to the Sabbath.” There are more. There is this big festival in Denmark where we
went on stage at 4:40 in the morning. But people stayed. You can see in the distance when the sun starts coming up. We have quite a bit.
King Diamond stuff too. There was a park in Copenhagen, a gig that we did in the middle of recording “The Eye.’ We tore our gear down and then played this one show and then put it back up and continued recording. Unusual.
That would put to rest the rumor that Snowy programmed a drum machine instead of playing electronic drums.
There you go. electronic drum pads are definitely not the same as playing a drum kit, you know – an experiment that wasn’t bad but it was not what it could have been.
I’ve seen clips, after the reunion, at the Dynamo festival.
Yeah, that would have been the big open air one. MTV was there.
Interview with Kelly Mclauchlin conducted by Bill Zebub for issue #31 of The Grimoire of Exalted Deeds Magazine
Let’s begin with the name of the band. I heard the original name was “Piss Mist” and the band from Ireland contacted you and said cease and desist, we have the name. Is that true?
See, that’s a rumor that actually got started in one of the pubs in Ireland during the European tour. There was a band there that was called “Piss & Mist” and they thought the name was just too similar, so we had to change it.
Who thought up the name “Pessimist”?
Were you reading the dictionary for words that sounded cool?
No. I asked somebody what is the meaning of somebody who is
obsessed by darkness, always sees the dark side of things… because that was kind of what I was into at the time.
Then you saw the word “Don Decker” and it was already taken.
No, Decker’s cool man.
Why? Are you afraid of him?
No. We get along fine.
Did you ever speak the word “pessimist” aloud and thought to yourself, “Wow, this word begins with the letter p?” Those kinds of words don’t really strike fear audibly. It’s not like “cocky”. That feels pretty brutal to say. But “pessimist” is kind of like a soft word.
Man, that’s harsh.
The band was not your first time being in the spotlight, correct? Didn’t you win the Kentucky Howard Stern look-alike contest?
T hat wasn’t in Kentucky. That was in Delaware.
Have you ever seen the movie “Heavy Metal Parking Lot”?
Just as a brief description for people who haven’t seen it, it’s not really a movie. It’s more like ten minutes of going to the parking lot of a Judas Priest concert in Baltimore. I never expected to see people who looked so inbred. Their eyes were either too close or too far. The ears are another horror story altogether. But you are from that area.
Uh, no. I live here now, but I’m not from here.
So what’s going on? That’s just really harsh on the eyes.
The people who aren’t ugly enough to live in New Jersey… they send them to Maryland.
I heard that you are the originator of the band and that you kicked everyone out.
Is that because of your pessimistic attitude? Tell me something juicy. Don’t tell me it was a mutual agreement and that you’re all friends.
Of course it was different for each member because no two assholes are the same. For some, let’s just say I was tired of them wanting to live the rock star lifestyle and having the perks of playing with a band without doing any of the legwork. I was tired of them riding on my coat tails. You’ve heard the term “musical differences.” Some people were into playing more sissy music.
So nobody tried to steal your girlfriend or anything like that?
Absolutely not. If they did, I don’t think they’d be around.
Did anybody come out of the closet? Is that it? Because you are a handsome fellow.
Oh well thank you. Wait a second. Are YOU coming out of the closet?
No. I’ve never even been in a closet. Have you discovered your girlfriend’s G spot?
Oh yeah… years ago. we’re married now, actually. She’s my wife.
So you’re one of the people who can claim that the G spot is not a myth.
No, it’s not a myth.
What led to the discovery. Did she know about it beforehand, or are you the one who paved the way?
I read about it in Playboy magazine.
What helped? Were you very communicative?
It’s kind of private.
Well you know, because you’re a role model I thought that your bravery in breaking through that macho exterior… being tender with your partner… I thought that if you could influence people that way, you should forsake privacy for the enhanced orgasms of the women out there.
Let’s not forget that I have a mean nasty reputation to uphold.
Yeah, but the Grimoire is about breaking through the exterior. Tell us how you broke through the frigidity of your mate.
My wife’s not frigid. Let’s just say she talked me through it.
Was she on her stomach?
Were you on your stomach?
Were you on her stomach?
Speaking of dick, on the first album, there were choking-on-a-dick vocals. I’m kind of sad about that because the music isn’t black metal, but it seems that the black metal vocal approach was favored and the death metal approach was discarded.
No. I would hardly use the word “discarded”. The higher screechy vocals were really more of a grind core approach. If it came across as black metallish…
Are you trying to say that they were more like the high end of the Carcass style?
Yeah, that’s what they were intended to be. A lot of critics and fans alike have labeled us as black/death, and sometimes for convenience we use that tag. My roots come from Possessed and Destruction.
Do you think they were able to find the G spot in their girlfriends?
I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. I don’t think it’s that hard to do.
Did the main vocalist get thrown out, return for the second album, and get thrown out again?
Life with you is a game of hopscotch.
When some people are not dedicated enough to pull their weight, what else could you say about that? You give somebody a second chance, and when they bite you on the ass a second time, they’re gone.
You’ll agree that the vocalist is sometimes the signature for the band. Do you think that he was a little cocky because he was the trademark?
Falsely so. In his own mind, yes.
Let’s get into the personality of Kell. Can I call you Kell?
Yeah, that’s ok.
Is your last name “Ogg”?
Are you a racist?
So you’re not the person in the band who, when interviewed, wished there were a cereal called “Special KKK.”
By Kell Ogg.
No. That’s a good one.
What do you know about a soldier’s training? Does it fascinate you in any way?
If I had an opinion on it, I’d say that it’s obviously disciplinary and it’s
designed to create a stronger, more focused individual.
Part of a soldier’s training is survival.
Where is this going?
When they’re caught t behind enemy lines, they have to know what to do.
They have to find out which bugs are edible. They eat bugs for protein. Would you be able to do something like that?
I think anyone would be able to do that if you really need nutrition.
Yeah, if you’re talking about survival.
I’m glad you said that because when I see these commercials for feeding children and they point to African villages, the commercial tries to get your money to feed allegedly starving children, but I noticed that the children have these massive flies landing on their faces. They don’t even swat them. So the bugs are not on guard, really. So if they just reached up and grabbed a bug, they would have an hors d’oeuvre. So I think that instead of sending money, we should send them fly paper.
Yeah, that’s a great idea.
They can’t really get my sympathy because they can help themselves. They’re lazy niggers. If they just lifted a hand and took at least one of the three dozen bugs that are constantly buzzing around them I think that would be great. Some people might object to the idea of human-vermin eating vermin, but Africa is already known for cannibalism. So I’m glad we cleared that up.
I agree fully, man.
You are definitely a man who is aware of hunger problem across the world. I’m glad about that. Is Lost Disciple Records a gay label?
Did you get signed to the label because you taught Rich how to find his girlfriend’s G spot?
Oh man! See, that’s messed up because I know I know Rich’s girlfriend and I can’t…
Does she look at you thankfully?
I think she wanted Rich to sign us, is what it is.
I know! See? You think I don’t know anything about metal.
It’s because she like our physiques.
Is it true that you were offered a contract from Necropolis Records, but Paul was very offended when you refused to add sitar parts. Paul is a very devout Hindu, and you offended his sensibilities.
I didn’t know that about Paul, but if it meant a deal with Necropolis
Records, I would most certainly add sitar parts to all the songs.
You are also loyal to England, and he is mad about that because England held Tyranny over India for so many years. But I can see that this is putting you in a bad position, so if you ask me as a friend to stop this line of questioning, I’ll move on.
Yeah, please Bill, because I can’t answer any more on this subject.
You avoided this question before, but I’m going to ask you this again… I heard that you were going to be signed to Red Stream after the Necropolis deal broke because Red Stream and Necropolis are cultural enemies. They are violently aspected toward each other.
Didn’t one of them burn the other’s house down?
I can’t discuss that because the issue is still pending in a court trial. Some people say that I did it and I left a Red Stream t-shirt behind. The world knows by now about Pat’s home situation.
It’s really sad.
Yeah, he doesn’t have to pay rent to live with his mommy and daddy, but he does have to care for the family donkey, named “Pierre”.
And when you came over to the barn and went over all the plans, you were chewing gum and it ran out of flavor. You discarded the gum and it landed on the fur of Pierre, and Pat went banana’s because it’s a lot of work to care for a donkey and you know how hard it is to get gum out of hair. Not even a whole jar of peanut butter can help.
That’s definitely a French donkey.
But you were mad at the same time because you were chewing Trident bubble-gum-flavored gum, but it’s only bubble gum flavored… it doesn’t have the characteristics of actual bubble gum. You can’t blow bubbles with it. It’s chewing gum, that tastes like bubble gum, and you didn’t didn’t realize this and were completely hoodwinked because it was recommended to you by Pat to chew that gum because he believed the dentist hype. So the two of you started fighting. Do you want to talk about that, or is it going to be decided in court?
It’s supposed to settle out of court. Our attorneys have told us that it’s ok to comment on the situation. It was tragic, really.
Were you disappointed that Pat was pulling your hair like a girl?
Yeah, it really hurt my feelings.
I’m glad that the two of you have no problem defending what you believe in. He believes in the care of his donkey and you believe that if it tastes like bubble gum, it better damn well give an hour’s worth of bubble popping pleasure.
Especially when the bubble gum is offered to you by a label who’s propositioning you. The whole trust factor went right out the window, man. Of course, once Pat saw what happened to the donkey he just went ballistic. He started cursing in Arab.
Oh that’s right! He’s Pakistani, and they’re enemies with India.
That explains Necropolis and Red Stream.
So at which point after this did you discover Rich’s girlfriend’s G spot?
Rich and I had met in an AOL chat room and we had both claimed to be 16-year-old lesbian girls and we arranged a meeting… and once Rich’s girlfriend saw what I looked like, she convinced him to sign us to the label.
Was it a verbal contract, and were the verbs “Oh Kell, Oh God, Uh Uh Kell, get it Kell”?
How did you find the strength to stay away from the gay piano that Virginian pseudo-European bands love so much?
Aren’t you from Virginia?
Actually not. There’s a bit of hostility for several years now between the Virginia and Maryland scene being as we’re both kinda on the outskirts of D.C. It’s deep-seated in the community for years and years. It’s kind of a jealousy thing. They seem to think that we’re rednecks and uncouth. Just look around. But then they have the reputation of being spoiled rich sissies. I don’t follow any of that. We are friends with lots of bands in lots of different states.
Does King Fowley personally support you?
Does he athletically support you?
Yes, King Fowley is a great athletic supporter. Don’t fuckin’ print that, Dude! I’ll get so much shit for that. I’d rather not ….
Should I put it as a pull-quote at the top of the page in the biggest lettering I can?
You can do that as an editorial comment, but not something that I said.
Ok. I promise not to print it.
King Fowley’s done a lot to support this scene over the years. Sure, he has a reputation for talking a lot of shit. I believe we’re friends, and in fact, we appeared on one of his compilations back in the day when we were first getting our start. That did a lot towards getting our name out there.
Did you ever show him how to find the G spot?
No. But then again, there’s never enough chicks at one of their shows to worry about that.
Is it mandatory for a man to have long hair in your band?
So why don’t you ask one of the guys from Deceased?
Actually, our new bassist is kind of a skinhead guy with long hair just in the front.
Does he wear mascara?
No, just spandex. He draws the line with the make-up.
So at your shows… is there a sign that says “NO QUEERBASHERS ALLOWED”?
If there was a sign at one of our shows, it would say, “Queerbashing
Ok, maybe we should close this interview with some more straightforward musical questions. Will you still be wearing a bullet belt on the next album?
It’s a studded belt.
Do you tuck your shirt into your pants?
No, but former members of the band used to do that and it looked gay.
Yeah, you have to talk to these people about what they project. You know, like an earring in the right ear is just like asking for gay sex.
You can’t go on stage looking like you just rolled out of the fag underground. It’s not about that. Our new drummer is the fastest that we’ve ever had, so that’s going to change us a few notches. Vocal-wise, myself and the second guitarist are going to be splitting vocal duties… both highs and lows. You can expect some less of the highs.
Any butt bongo?
Yeah, that’s a great idea. It’s going to be even more technical. One of
the things that happened…
Do you think that one of the reasons why King Fowley punched Jeremy (from Broken Hope) was because while King was talking to you, Jeremy was trying to find his G spot?
I don’t know. We were on stage when that happened.
When Jeremy found King’s G spot?
When he punched Jeremy.
interview with Aldenon conducted by Bill Zebub for issue #31 of THE GRIMOIRE OF EXALTED DEEDS magazine
When Cold Meat Industry started to send me CD’s, I did not really understand the sort of “music” that was coming my way. It wasn’t until I heard thy first album that I took that label seriously. The other acts seemed to be a bit pretentious, a kind of bullshit being sold as art. Hast thou ever thought the same thing about the earlier Cold Meat Industry bands?
No… I come from the industrial scene to begin with, and I’m very fond of the early Cold Meat Industry stuff. I actually like it a lot better than much of what is released these days.
The main thing that separated thee at the time was the total sincerity of the music. It instantly appealed to the mind and was a sort of paradox. Some of it seemed so familiar, and at the same time it was new and unique. What makes thee so familiar with the many states of consciousness?
Without pretending to be an expert on different states of consciousness – I do take a great deal of pride in constantly changing and evolving. Most people have respected me for that and I will continue. I want to be able to use Coph Nia solely as an expression of my will. Thus I won’t start a new side-project each time I create a musical piece that sounds a bit different than the ones I’ve done before.
Of course, I learned about Arcana a bit later, as well as Sophia, which are trophies among my CD’s. Cold Meat Industries has some superb music, in my opinion. Is Coph Nia one of their top sellers?
Yes, right now I think I’m among the top three, which is very satisfying since the debut came out 2000. That is not to say that I’m a young punk, but Coph Nia is still a pretty fresh act on Cold Meat.
One of the things that really hit me on the “Shape Shifter” album was how masterfully spoken the unusual lyrics were. In America, pronunciation is dying, and more and more consonants are becoming as silent vowels. Vocabulary also diminishes here, and I fear that in twenty years I will have to move to another country if I want to converse with someone whose manner of speech is above that of a retard. How is it that thou, a Swede, shames Americans with thy superior command of English?
Well I have always had a talent for language. And also the fact that English is not my language makes me pay a lot more attention to
getting pronunciation correct. But I have the same feelings as you towards what’s happening to the Swedish language. People can’t speak or write anymore. It’s all very sad.
Thou hast made some very haunting music. I wonder how thou doth prepare thyself when beginning to compose such things.
I prepareth myself thusly: I pour myself a glass of wine and let utter pathos consume me! Seriously, I have no given formula for that.
Sometimes I have a very specific concept in mind long before I start the creative process. Other songs are born out of “sound design sessions”. Lately, as I’ve focused on vocal songs, I have started with a very simple and basic musical idea. After that I make a quick vocal take which serves as the basis for the whole song. A lot of considerations go into the sound design stage, and I have certain ceremonial preparations for the final vocal takes. But it’s not what
some romantic sods seem to think… I don’t raise Goetic demons to aid me in the studio!
There are some moments in the music that seem like an evil mystisicm, of dark ritual. It seems to me that thou art acquainted with Jung’s archetypes, like that of the shadow. Is this true?
I’m not very familiar with the Jung terminology. I have been meaning to study his works but never gotten to it. But I am very interested in
mysticism and ceremonial magic. The western magical tradition in general and Crowley in particular is definitely the main influence on my work with Coph Nia
I have been exploring some of the works of Stravinsky, and the music seems perfect for horror. Every once in a while, I catch a similarity to his music in horror or action movies. Thy music is quite horrific too, but in a surreal sense. A schizophrenic may appear like a dull-witted person, sitting and looking at something with no comprehension, face showing no expression. Just dull. But, in that tortured mind, a powerful dread tears the person apart as his consciousness is pure nightmare, but no indication of the internal sensations are evident externally. The wretch suffers in silence. Thy instrumental pieces remind me of that a lot. Calmness and terror combined. What is the motivation for making such music?
That is a feeling I very much enjoy to wallow in. Eire and brooding as opposed to “in your face” horror, violence and terror that so many others seem to prefer. Darkness for me is not negative or “evil” in any sense.
Ah! I just realized that the name is actually two words: Coph Nia. What is the meaning, if I may ask such a standard question?
The words are taken from Crowley’s ’Liber Al vel Legis’, more popularly known as ’The Book of the Law’. The full passage reads: ”I am the Lord of the Double Wand of Power; the wand of the Force of Coph Nia—but my left hand is empty, for I have crushed a Universe; and bought remains.” To my knowledge, Crowley himself never came up with a completely satisfactory explanation of the words, as he claims Liber Al was not really written by him, but received from an entity named Aiwaz. He talks about the wand in question as “controlling both the active and the passive“, which leaves a lot of room for creative interpretation. Numerous people have put forth theories about the meaning of ’Coph Nia’, mostly concerning its numerological properties. To tell the truth, I don’t care very much about finding out what it implies. I chose the name mainly because of the mystery surrounding it.
It must be hard to sell albums that do not fit any category. What measures art thou taking to make sure that fame comes to thee whilst thou yet live?
I haven’t had to do anything. My music has spread on its own merit. It’s true however that anything released on Cold Meat Industry instantaneously moves 500 to 1000 copies, but after that you’re
on your own… I am very happy that so many people enjoy my work.
Interview with Christof Niederwieser by Bill Zebub for issue #30 of THE GRIMOIRE OF EXALTED DEEDS MAGAZINE
I was very traurig when I discovered that Korova was no longer a band. I googled the word “Korova” and Redstream Records had a band called Korovakill. The song titles had compound nouns that Deutsch-speaking leute are fond of, so I wondered if Korovakill was a new incarnation of Korova. I Emailed Redstream to find out, and when I received the antwort, I could not believe my augen! Thou art not dead. Was the change of name a strategy to get out of a gay contract?
Guten Tag! We changed into KorovaKill to make it more a rhyme on Bill. We thought that would be a nice thrill .
The music was just as delicious as I remembered, and I loved the album so much that I almost was sent to das krankenhaus. Is such strange music the work of a band, or a project?
Thank you very much for the Roses! I think it’s not so important if you call KorovaKill a band or a Project. Until the end of 1999 we have been what is called a band. We had rehearsals twice a week, we had fixed line-ups with fixed members, but in the end, all the songwriting and the whole organizational work was just done by
myself. Since 2000 we are what many people would call a project. We don’t have rehearsals at all. We just meet before recordings. The
members are also involved in many other bands. Moritz has played on albums of a dozen different bands within the last tears – Atrocity,
Graveworm, Abigor, Dornenreich, Darkwell, Siegfried – just to name a few, and Renaud puts his major focus on Elend. But when we record an album together the interaction between us is much stronger and intense than in our early days. Although I am still doing the whole songwriting, Renaud and Moritz contribute very much to the arrangements and to the final shape of the songs. Concerning this point, we are much more a band now than six Years ago. So if you like you can call us a “banject”.
Thy lyrics are a close to the poems of schizophrenics. I know, because I published a newsletter that was written by schizophrenics. Inside the words that seem like broken concepts are true meanings. If I may, I would like to decipher the meaning of “Into the Underwhirls.” Was that song about the brutal practice of fisherman who use huge nets? Each year, they catch dozens of mermaids, and while the ugly ones are thrown overboard after a few blowjobs, the pretty ones are kept on the ship, away from their natural environment. Dost thou think that thy message could reach more sympathetic ears if the lyrics were more straightforward?
I like your interpretation, but one question remains unanswered: “Where do Mermaids have their Vulva? Our Lyrics always have been
symbolic, for they shall take a glance into the hidden, into the realms of Untime, into the world behind the world, the eternal shining beneath the shallow surface of the visible. It’s a realm where the ordinary logic of language has no value anymore. You just can try to catch a little shadow of this world by painting pictures with words and sounds. Schizophrenics and drug people mostly get a distorted picture of this world. Artists and visionaries try to get a clear picture of this shining empire. But in the end, each of them must fail, because as soon as you try to make the invisible visible, you destroy it. Whatever you see loses its unseenness. Who knows will understand! And we just bear our children for those who understand. It’s not our aim to reach a high quantity of ears, but a high quality. We don’t make music for the masses. We make music for individuals!
Thou art now in Berlin, which I think is dangerous for an Austrian. Germans hate the Austrian accent, but Berliners hate the soft accents of the surrounding Deutschbags. A Berliner would say “Ik bin attraktiv” but the softer people say “Ish bin Berlina.” How dost thou find refuge among people who are so kalt?
This question reminds me of the last Bephegor concert here in Berlin, when Hellmuth shocked the audience by doing his a announcements in Austrian accent. After the show he enjoyed teasing girls by telling them in dialect, that they had a nice ass. It was a very funny evening. Yes, there are some strong stereotypes between the crude megalomania-maschine-Prussian and the naive farmer-operetta-Austrian. Germans don’t take Austrians serious, intellectually and Austrians don’t take Germans
serious concerning creativity and humaneness. They are streamline-pseudocreative half-robots for us. But fortunately these are just stereotypes and there are enough nice German people, who don’t fit into it – about the rest, I don’t care. And actually most Berlin people aren’t kalt anyway – they are “warm”…it’s the European capital of gays. Concerning the accent, it’s a bit more complex, because there are over hundred very different accents just in Tyrol, the little part
of Austria where I come from. And my accent is very hard – people often think I am from Russia or Poland. My accent is a crushing Kruppstahl- Fist compared to the soft Piefke-Slang.
I have a beautiful Deutsch frau who writes for me now. Her name is Katja and I would love to inhale her auspuff. She is a fan of Angizia and I was wondering if thou couldst arrange an interview. Apparently that is another band that is no longer on Napalm Records. What has happened to that record label?
Oh, I also would like to inhale Deutschfrau-Auspuff! Does Katja have a beautiful sister here in Berlin? Maybe “Panzerdivision Brundhilde” or “Schlachtross Irmgard”? They are cordially invited. I am sure Michael will answer her questions about Angizia They have just released their new album some weeks ago – a great work once again! Napalm Records have supported the Austrian underground very much for many Years. Maybe bands like Angizia, Korova, or even Abigor would never have gotten a chance to release albums without them. I think this is what counts. We had some legal arguments
in the past with them, but everything has been clarified in the meantime. There’s no bad blood between us. (UPDATE: I arranged an interview betwwen Katja and Christof – and the now have a child because of me. I am cupid.)
I would have thought that thy band would be on Holy Records because of the experimental nature of the music. Have they offered a contract, or is the old hatred of the French preventing such union?
Well, we have been in contact with Holy Records in 1997, when no record company dared to release our second, yet unreleased, the album “Echowelt”. Phil told me on the phone: “Sorry, you Guys are too much! You are much too much!” I haven’t heard many Holy-releases
since that, but as far as I know they are doing a good, reliable Work. At the moment there’s no use to think about that anyway, for we are very satisfied with our current Label Red Stream.
Is it nutzlich to have mind-altering substances while composing thy music? There is an argument in science about such things. One side is saying that enhanced creativity is just an illusion.
I don’t think that substances can make a philosopher out of a monkey. But I know that the Monkey may think different about that…
Is it silly to call a police siren a siren? It may be true that the police siren calls men to their doom, but the police siren has no lure. I would think that it is better to call it a banshee. What dost thou think? Is this matter serious enough to write a symbolic song?
I think there are more serious problems in the world. Why do so little people have to laugh when they read the name “Dick Cheney?” Do his friends call him “Penis”? And why is “Dick” the German Word for “Fat”?
Let us just say that In Germany, it is not an a compliment if a girl tells thee that thy dick is not gross. American women think that my dick is gross, but Geman women would not say that es ist gross. In any case, I have only recently realized that thou hast a member of Elend in thy midst. I have been trying, for months, to arrange for some Elend songs to be used in my first avant-garde movie, but the Lecons album is a source of shame, not pride, to the composer. It baffles me completely. Newer Elend still has the heavenly soprano, but gone are the tortured screams. It has made me verruckt. Canst thou relay the message that it is grausam to make such a legendary album as Lecons and then to shut away the secrets forever. A legion of fans await the wieder-kommen!
Elend just had rather limited resources for the production of their first two albums. It’s the sound quality that is not satisfying for them anymore, not the music or the concept. I like their scream-albums very much, but also the new works are great, I think. It’s more than ten years ago now that they’ve started screams and violins, and I totally understand that they don’t want to repeat themselves for ages.
In America, women have been cultivated to prefer large sizes of things on men. In Germany, do women judge thee on the size of thy schnurbart?
Yes, also in Germany you can increase your shooting quota by wearing a beautiful Osamabeard.
In America, people sometimes fart when they drive. What does thou do when thou does fahrt?
I am very curious about that unreleased album. I want to hear it! Is there a chance that Redstream will release it? Will they also pay for your nebenkosten?
The Echowelt-songs always have been our killers at concerts. It’s total mania! It’s total outbreak and destructurement – a post nuclear
deconstruction of all that once was called music about a place that once was called world! Unfortunately just an ugly-produced demo with four songs has been recorded back in 1997. Some songs are nearly ten years old now, but they sound fresher and weirder than ever! We definitely would like to go to the studio somewhen and record this album with good production, since it is our core-work. But it’s not realistic that this will happen in the nearer future. There is just too little interest in KorovaKill. If more people would buy our albums it would be much easier for us to do productions.
Has a man ever given thee a hummer, or dost thou only allow women to do so?
I just allow blue-haired girls to give me a Hummer Simpson.
Is it not ironic that Freud came up with the pleasure principle? (Freude)
No, that’s just what Jung called “the Synchronicity between Name and Named”.
With friends like Freud, who needs animas? Some extreme bands like to schimpfen on their albums, but thou hast stayed away. is it because thou dost not need to do such things to create curiosity?
We don’t have to nag on our albums – lots of other people are doing that work for us.
I hate when bands advertise heavenly operatic vocals on their albums when their vocalists are not trained. When Elend had the contrast of the genuine operatic vocals with the tormented male vocals, it was very powerful. But I can only listen to a few songs on the newer albums because I do not like the Barry-Manilow-style of singing. It is gegenuber of the first example – the untrained make vocals are only interesting when they are tormented. what thinkst thou?
Oh, Barry Manilow – that’s a big compliment! I am sure Renaud will be happy to hear it! He is singing in that way, because untrained listeners are only interesting when they are tormented. Personally I like his voice on the new albums very much. There was no intention to sound operatic at all, so there’s also no use for comparisons with
Pavarotti or Caruso.
As unusual as thy melodies become, they have never been very dunkel. Will that change on thy next album. Wilst thou venture into this territory and stay away from hell?
In the black of the void waits the gold of the All. So our melodies are a step further to the dark. They show you what comes out when you
were sitting in the darkest place of the world for twenty years, without any sound, without any movement, without any sentiment. And then, after twenty years, suddenly the Darkness dissolves and the hidden Light comes out.
Some heroic themes live in thy songs. It is sort of an archetypal hero who has great strength but also great weakness. Elric is a sort of diabetic, is he not, in Moorcock’s Elric saga? Let us stay away from asking why a man would not change his last name if it is “more cock” – let us dwell on this serious topic only. In thy hero themes, art thou really trying to make people think seriously about unterhund? He needed to take a pill from his ring in order to derive great power.
Hmmm, that’s really interesting. So far I haven’t been aware of the hero, Underdog theme in our lyrics. But you’re right, it’s in there
pretty often. Maybe it’s because we have been beaten like a dog by the metal scene since fourteen years now. I think it’s time to beat back! Our next concept will be about terrorists flying with aeroplanes into the Milwaukee-Festival.
Hast thou ever cancelled a gig because someone gave thee a shnoopfen?
What is a “schnoopfen”? This Word does not
It is a kalt, sort of like a flu. It flew over thy head. Thy lyrics make me denken a lot. Why is the swastika forbidden in thy land? After all, the KKK costume is permitted here, as well as the swastika. Is it more a symbol of defeat to thy country? I have also noticed that the Hitler mustache is no longer in style. Oliver Hardy from Laurel and Hardy, as well as Chaplin, were fond of that mustache style. I am sad to see it go.
Please understand that I don’t want to answer
In America, the Nazi movement is very popular. We even have a candy here that alters brainwaves. It is called Racist Peanut Butter Cups, but a more obvious candy product is Rece’s Pieces. They are the color of the German flag, and I have to admit that the peanutty goodness gives me a spell of good old-fashioned jew-hating, unless I eat the candy as part of a balanced nutritious frushtuk. Is that the secret plan of Hitler, a final dying stroke of genius to overturn the minds of Americanss with the simple use of candy?
I don’t want to answer the Nazi questions. It may be misunderstood by too many Europeans if I would take part in such kinds of jokes.
Thou art reluctant to make humorous comments about Nazi antics, but Ko n n i g e n Katja, my Deutsche schwester, sees no reason to be afraid. As a musicican, thou art an artist because thou art not afraid to offend traditional composers with thy explorations, but why is there so much concern about what a humorless person will think about thy reply? Surely thou art practiced in the experimentation – researchers tend to compensate for participants who have have the response-style of giving socially-pleasing answers.
No, it’s just too billig for me to take part in Nazi-jokes. You don’t need any brain cells to gain attention with that kind of stuff. So I prefer to leave that to others. The second reason is, that talking about Nazis, no matter if in a positive ora negative way, gives them power, makes them important. But I don’t think that they deserve
such an attention.
Dost thou denken that when a subject, like Nazi history, is avoided, it is actually preventing the “realization of the Shadow?” Jung, thy deutcshe bruder, warned that to deny the Shadow in thyself is to be doomed, for the shadow will manifest in other, dangerous ways. Is it not besser to be in control?
You have to confront with the Shadow, throw his masks away and look deeply into the jerking smallness behind. But there’s no use to
drag it on your shoulders just for fun after it has been de-shadowed.
Because then the Lightbringer would turn into the Coprophagous.
Dost thou believe that aus-of-Korper experiences are real phenomena, or are they purely mental?
Since it’s your mental energy, astral body, soul, or however you’d like to call it, that is leaving your body, of course it is purely mental, spiritual, immaterial, or whatever term you’d like to use. But anyway, it’s still a “real” phenomena. But what is reality?
If thou wert to fly in a dream, is there really a difference between that and if thou were to fly in waking reality? After the flight, all that we have is the memory of the experience.
There isn’t any difference. Life or dream, it’s all the same. There’s no possibility to differ one from the other.
Dost thou glauben that ethics really exists in science, or is that just an Amerikanization of science which transforms research into a business – a business that must be protected? Universities that conduct research have much to lose if a participant were to sue. Few people realize this, but even if a participant signs a consent form to participate in research, a lawsuit can still be filed. Experiments in which participants are deceived are considered “unethical” by the review board which has the power to deny the research, but I think a better word is “liability” – the university fears lawsuits that the “traumatized” participants may file. Now it is thy turn to sprechen.
Just unethic people need ethics. Ethic people don’t need to talk or even think about ethics. It’s like intolerant people always have to use
the word “tolerance”. The have to preach tolerance to fight the intolerance within themselves in the outside. Of course you need some basic standards about what can be allowed in science, e.g. when you think about genetics or testing out new medicines on people. But if there are so many standards that even deceiving
people in psychological experiments is forbidden, it leads to a very boring science, where nothing new is going to happen anymore. Anyway, I think, that there is nothing like an evolving collective of scientists. The big steps in science are done by a few big Individuals.
And the whole huge mass of university-scientists are just the cattle that gathers around. These are the business pseudo-scientists. And
this cattle needs rules. But everybody candecide himself to which side he wants to belong, to the side of money and reputation or
to the side of wisdom.
Dost thou wish for the world to return to the glorious days of World War Zwei, when there were no restrictions imposed on human experiments?
Well, actually there have been more restrictions on science and art than ever during Teutsches Reich. Physicians who believed in relativity theory, “depraved” artists, astrologers, everybody who was experimenting beyond the norm had to flee or was sent to concentration camp. And the medical results of the human
experiments were pretty poor. Those days have been as glorious as the Bush-era in USA – if you really want to believe in cheap propaganda.
Thy homeland is a modern Atlantis, is it not? Thou art from Austria.” Aus” means “out of” so thy people must be out of a land called “Tria.” What was “Tria” like before thy people were exiled?
In the ancient days of Atlantis, Tria has been the legendary continent in the hollow core of the Earth. Nobody knew if it really ever existed. But some old Atlantean writers have named this mystic continent in their books, so many Atlanteans believed in it. It was told, that the
Tria-people have been technically advanced very much, but then they incensed the gods and hence received big punishment. The whole core of the Earth was filled with glowing lava. Their whole cities have been destroyed. But the most intelligent Triaseans escaped from this Inferno and settled down in the Alps. There they live in immense wisdom, beauty and matureness until today! But also a group of mentally deranged Triaseans managed to escape. They copulated with apes and formed a new race called Humans. Soon they spread like parasites all over the globe. But the Austrians
were very wise. They camouflaged as harmless idiots and hid all their richness. So the humans don’t bother them.
Scientific method demands that something must be observable. This may be useful in determining how much water must I drink in order for all gelb to disappear from my urine, but that means that many interesting things fall outside of this approach. I consider psychologists who are behaviorists to be too dull and stupid to understand something as abstract as psychoanalysis. Thou art more of a reader of Jung, but thou must surely hate behaviorists more than I, for they regard Jung as a mystic.
I don’t hate behaviorists, because this would mean that they had kind of power over me. I think they are very funny, especially when
they take themselves so serious. And they may think a b o u t me, Jung, Satanas, sexy boy Shawn Michaels, or anybody else whatever they like.
If a person who is blind since birth dreams of colors and objects that were never seen, what dost thou infer?
You don’t need to be blind to see or dream colors and objects, that never have been seen by other eyes. It happens every day and every second, because you never can see something twice in exactly the same way. You never can put your feet twice into the same river, like
Doest thou love that geld is gelb?
Well, but geld isn’t gelb at all as long as everybody has washed his fingers before paying.
In thy land, are Amerikans famous for being Stumfsinning?
Yes, many stumpfsinnig people in my land think so.
Foreigners learn English from Oxford style, which is the gay style from England. They are also taught the British gay pronunciation. I have often wondered if the accents of foreigners would change if they were taught the pronunciation of the region they would inhabit. The English do not pronounce the “r” very much if it is in the middle of the word, but Americans pronounce it, and in the hard way, not the soft British way. I think this would improve race relations in America. But the real question I have is, if I visited thee, would I get beaten up because I sound like a a fag? I know high German, the Berliner style of proper German, but no one there speaks that way, right? is the verb always in the second place? Does anyone say words like Arbanduhr? Wie spat ist es?
Language in northern Germany is like a machine-code. Of course there are also regional dialects, but everybody can understand and
talk the machine-code if it is necessary. Southern Germans and Austrians also have their own regional accents, but mostly they cannot talk the machine-code, because they don’t want to be machines. But I guess a guy like you would be beaten up anyway if you’d come to Germany or anywhere else. I like the sound of
Oxford English, at least it sounds more noble to me than the American chewing-gum slang. But personally I prefer to talk English with Italian accent. I started that when I lived one year in Italy and I am still doing so.
Did thou hate learning English? French is even more annoying to learn. It feels like I am learning slang because of all the apostrophe action. Of course the language is so shitty that the French would want to shorten it as much as t h e y could. A F r e n c h sentence could have t w o b i l lion letters i n it but to read it would only sound like “blaaaaaah!” The world should learn the beauty of the Czech language. Each letter is so precious to the word that everything is always pronounced. Not a single drop is ever wasted. To speak Czech is to be drunk on words. Or dost thou not agree because of the hatred passed down from thy forefathers? Dost thou hate Slavs?
Well sorry, Bill, but the Czechs are our brothers! They’ve been an important part of the Austrian World-Reich Monarchy for hundreds of Years! It’s a cool country with cool people and I am sure, that within the next twenty years Czechs will be first world and Germany will be second world. Then Czech men will come across the border and fuck German women cheaply and make cheap holidays in Germany. That will be justice. I liked to learn English, but I love
French, though I cannot talk it, and I love French women! They have the right mixture between grace and emotion, between dignity and warm, rich feelings.
I demand that history should be taught to students from as many versions as there are available. Read the words of the winners as well as the losers. In America, there is much propaganda about the atrocities of the Axis, but there is no mention of the atrocities that the Americans committed. Canst thou reveal at least one thing? Surely the intentional starving of Germans after the surrender was not an action that was lovingly remembered. I do not ask this to stir hate, but rather, to lift it. I want people to stop thinking in black and white. Hating a German because he was a soldier is like hating a black person because he is a nigger.
After the second World War Americans have been very popular
in Germany. They were friendly and brought food and freedom. So I don’t know exactly about what you are talking. Concerning atrocities, I would rather talk about the present,
about the indirect genocide that Americans will be guilty of in some years, because they deny to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, or about
the “structural Violence” of Market-Fascism, that they are forcing upon the whole world. Anyway I don’t want to raise anti-american stereotypes, since I know so many cool people in US who definitely
won’t deserve to be insulted just because they have some stupid
When China finally starts attacking, which country gets destroyed first?
I guess China.
UPDATE: Christof released a new album under the name CHRYST.
Interview with Johan Hegg conducted by Bill Zebub for Issue 28 of The Grimoire of Exalted Deeds Magazine
It seems that extra special care was given to the recording of the drums on the new album. They are louder in the mix than what I had heard on previous albums. Am I talking out of my ass?
We put extra effort into the whole production, but I know that Fredrik and Berno worked very hard to get the drum-sound we were looking for. As you say, the whole album has a “thicker” sound, and I
think one of the reasons for that is how we went about tweaking the sound for the recordings. You know, a lot of bands bring CD’s to the studio and say: “We want to sound like this or that“. We’ve never done that. Berno didn’t even want to hear our old stuff. He wanted to create our sound from scratch, without any pre-determined ideas on how it should sound. I personally think that’s the way to go, and I feel that the extra effort that we put into the whole thing paid off in the end. Now that The Lord of the Rings has been made into movies, does the metal world now understand what Amon Amarth is, or do people still think it is a Swedish term?
I think a lot of people already knew what it means literately, since it’s been the most common question we get when we do interviews. Now they have a movie that actually describes “Amon Amarth”, which maybe actually can give them an Idea of what we were thinking of when we chose the name. It’s true that a lot of
people have believed that it’s Swedish, and many still do, but I don’t really care too much about it.
I really enjoyed the sorrowful songs in “Once Sent From The Golden Halls”, especially the guitar work. Of course I am referring to songs like “Amon Amarth”. On the new album there are instances of the same kind of guitar work that really catches my ear. If I won the lottery, how much money would I have to pay you to make a totally sorrowful album?
Well, we don’t work that way. I don’t think we could write anything on demand. For us, emotions are very important when writing music,
and they have to come spontaneously. Otherwise it doesn’t feel right somehow. When we write music for a new album, we usually start out with a few ideas for one or two songs, and then everything
seems to grow out of that. This takes time, but we feel it’s the ultimate way for us to write music. Still, if you’re insisting, let say… US $ 500.000 should do it… You are a bit tall. Is that a common Swedish trait, other than blonde hair?
Actually I think it’s fairly common in all of Scandinavia. Even the Vikings were taller than most people in the rest of the world were, I
have my own theory about that. It’s so that noses will be above the snow wintertime, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to see or breathe. Have you actually traced your bloodline to a ring-thane?
No. My grandma is into all that stuff, but I’m too lazy, even though it is sort of interesting. Through her I learned that I’m related to Ingmar Bergman in some odd way, but that’s not really thing to brag about, even though I just did. I noticed that, unlike the trendfags who are your brethren, you favor the deep guttural vocals instead of the shrill and unmanly black metal squeaking. Your voice has a good range, both in pitch and in character, and you never go int o the wimpy spectrum of black metal. Have you been pressured by the band to black-metalize the vocals, or do they agree that it would appear silly for someone with your stature to screech like a fat woman who is upset about the rising prices of donuts?
It probably would sound pretty damn stupid if I were to sing in a more Black-Metalish way. The guys in Black Metal bands sound like constipated frogs when they sing names, but that really sounds like shit. The guys in the band usually let me use the vocals I feel are right for that particular part of the music,
Did you get the idea for your beard from the former vocalist of Deranged?
I started growing this beard back in ’92, before I was in the band. I’m not sure if Deranged was around back then, but if they were I had not heard of them. It’s more like ZZ Top influence but don’t tell anybody.
Am I wrong to think that you were perhaps in a death metal band before you joined Amon Amarth?
Amon Amarth is the only band I’ve been in. I’ve never really wanted to sing in any other band after we started Amon Amarth, and I never really had the opportunity to sing in any band before that either. Were you asked to act in the film “The 13th Warrior”?
Yeah, but you know, I refuse to take part in such crap! When you toured America, did you notice how idiotically trendy people are over here?
Not really, the fans over in the US are so different from the metal-heads here in Europe. It depends on where you go. On the other hand the only truly un-trendy metal-fans are Germans. They haven’t
changed their style for twenty or thirty years and they will look the same in a thousand years. They’re almost like cockroaches. Nothing can kill them off completely, not even a nuclear war. After I had gone bananas over “Once Sent From The Golden Halls” I was told about an album that you did for a label in Singapore, and after a bit of searching I was able to get “Sorrow Through The Nine Worlds.” Is there any chance that the album will be bought by a stronger label and remastered? That album should not have to die.
Actually, ” S o r r o w throughout the Nine Worlds” is on the bonus version of the new album. The s o – c a l l e d “V i k i n g Edition.” We
put a lot of rare stuff on there. Apart from the MCD we put the demo “The Arrival of the Fimbul Winter” and the previously unreleased demo “Thor Arise” on there. It’s sort of
our ten-year anniversary gift from us to the fans, as it’s ten years since we started out.
What are some misconceptions about the Vikings?
There are quite a few. Most Vikings were merchants. They traded with people from all over the world basically. Most battles that Vikings fought were actually with other Vikings, and plundering
was not as common as historians will make us believe. Vikings have often been portrayed as barbarians, but as a matter of fact they had a functioning justice system long before any other European country did, and Vikings dictated the first laws ever written down. The Vikings were the first to discover North America, and there are even indications that they traveled as far as Mexico. The Vikings were however fierce in battle, which may have given them the reputation as barbaric wildmen. The reason for this is that the Vikings were fatalists. They believed that there was no way of avoiding fate, so you might as well rush into it because you will live as long as fate has decided for you to live. In Sweden, do cows say “moo”? They like to say that a lot in America.
No, cows say “muuu”. Pigs say “noeff” and not “oink”, like they do in America. Hey, Olli and Hansson played the guitars on “Sorrow”. Is Olli the same as Olavi? I suppose, if that is the case, that he is the originator of the style that makes your albums so rich, or are those cool techniques very common over there?
Yeah, Olli is short for Olavi, almost like you guys over there call guys called William for Bill. Olli is one of the founding members of Amon Amarth, and it’s actually his previous band, “Scum” which he started in 1988, that later on became Amon Amarth. I think Olli has his own unique way of playing the guitar. Don’t ask me about techniques though. I haven’t heard anybody here in Sweden, or anywhere else for that matter, that plays the same way he does. Are you hateful toward a particular band?
I wouldn’t say hateful, but there is a “Power-Metal” band from Sweden that in our ion rips off “Helloween”, and we like to make fun out of of them, and crack jokes on their behalf. The name has a bit to do with a certain tool, and a do with tripping. If you can figure out which it is, you’ve just won a box of water-colors. My experience with dogs has taught me not to bother them when they are eating. Do you also growl if anyone comes near to your beer?
That’s the first reaction. If they don’t realize the seriousness of the growl and try getting close to my beer again, I usually rip their heads off piss down their throats. There are parts of America in which a band can never hope to make any money through the merchandise table at shows. In such places, would it be acceptable to barter for your Tshirts with a suitable offering of beer?
Beer is always welcome. Maybe that is easier to sell in those places, but knowing the raging alcoholics I play with, that beer would be gone in four seconds. Did you know that Middle Earth is hobbit-forming?
Had no idea. What is your favorite race in Tolkein’s world?
Dwarves! Cool beards, cool weapons, and who wouldn’t want to carve the mountains for riches? In America there is a wigger phenomenon, and it affects the weakminded Caucasians who are also ignorant enough to believe the pious myth of the Christians. Such afflicted victims suddenly abandon English grammar and instantly shed 85% of their vocabulary. They also misperceive the manner of speech characteristic of an illiterate 75-IQ thug as an accent. I wonder if this is also happening in your homeland. Is the glory of your people fading?
Those Neanderthals are unfortunately existing in Sweden as well. I don’t care too much for politics and shit like that. Do you prefer the sword or the battle-axe?
Tough one! The sword is the most elegant weapon, slender and gentle yet lethal. The axe on the other hand is more brutal, but can also be elegant. I think I go with the sword, though. Is it true that you wear clothes on stage against your will? I heard that your entire band pays homage to the berserkers who ran naked into battle, but modern laws forbid the swinging pee pee of the Vikings. Is this true?
No, it’s not true. The real reason we are half-naked on stage is that
we sweat a lot. But it would be cool if it was true though. Who knows? Someday maybe we’ll be playing in our underwear.
interview with Christofer Johnsson conducted by Bill Zebub for issue #31 of THE GRIMOIRE OF EXALTED DEEDS magazine
You may not remember this, but many years ago I interviewed you for the first issue of this magazine. Back then it was just a fanzine that was photocopied and stapled in the corner. I will again ask you the very first question that I have ever asked you to see if your answer is different, and then we’ll get on to the serious interview. Are you ready?
If there were a warmth emanating from thy buttocks, what would it be?
Yes! That was the same answer, so now I know that you are an honest person. In the early days there were some cover songs that appeared on albums, like the Judas Priest cover. When I saw your show at BB King’s, one of the encores were Mercyful Fate’s “Black Funeral.” Did you ever record “Black Funeral” in the studio?
We never recorded it.
There was an Orff cover on one of the albums. I was wondering if you were ever tempted to do something in the same vein from Strauss, like “Biem Shlafengehen” or the Commendatore finale song from “Don Giavanni.”
Anybody can do classical covers, but the most interesting thing is to break new ground.
In America there are television commercials for a breakfast cereal simply called “Shredded Wheat.” On one side there’s frosting and on the other side there isn’t. The commercials show that people are divided. Some people like the sugary side and others like the unfrosted side. Same thing with beer. Half of the country supposedly likes it because it tastes great. The other half likes it because it’s less filling. Those people probably like the unfrosted side, but I doubt that people carve their breakfast bits in half. In Therion, I personally prefer the opera over the prog side.
That’s very gay. I caught you.
(In total shock) That’s so funny. You insulted me before I insulted you!
Well I’m gay too. We can go to Denmark and get married. It’s legal there. (pause) But it’s interesting that people in metal actually prefer that side. We make the classical and the opera more accessible because they don’t really have, for lack of better words, the capacity to go deep into all of this musical information that some opera contains. If you listen to a metal album, or rock, or pop, or whatever – there’s a couple of riffs in each song – and it doesn’t really contain much musical information. You can pretty much judge the album by one listening if it’s a regular rock album. If it’s a metal album than you can judge by a few listenings. But even a very short song in opera contains so much more musical data than, let’s say, five or six metal albums. A lot of people don’t really have the energy, or whatever, to actually take the time it requires to penetrate the surface and go deep into this sort of music. So what we do is actually a shortcut that, because we have the rock structure with classical content as well. It’s a shortcut to opera and classical, which is very convenient for people. Maybe they could like a few highlights. They might buy a CD with Ride of the Valkyrie or some highlight part from an Italian opera, but they wouldn’t sit and listen to opera for a few hours. I think that we’re filling a function for people who could be potentially really interested. So we can start stuff with this, and if they get really enthusiastic they could find a way to more sophisticated music.
You are the gateway to opera.
A few people might take the next step.
There was a very irritating record label publicist who said that every band that has female operatic vocals or orchestral instruments is influenced by Celtic Frost because they were the ones who apparently tried that first.
I don’t really think that bands these days pay homage to such distant albums. You shouldn’t underestimate what Celtic Frost did. Into the Pandemonium – you have The Gathering, Therion, Tiamat, Paradise lost – all with Celtic Frost influence. We, in our turn, influenced other bands. So we can say that they (Celtic Frost) are indirectly influencing this whole wave. But on the other hand, what did they get their influences from? Everything comes from somewhere.
Have you heard Elend?
Yeah. A very long time ago somebody made me a cassette. They’re French, aren’t they?
French. Austrian. One of the members of Korovakill is in it. If you heard the right album, it’s a blue album (the re-release with bonus tracks is red). Instead of bringing operatic vocals and orchestral instruments into metal, they brought death metal vocals into opera. But these days they don’t have the death metal vocals anymore.
That’s a brilliant idea. But that’s precisely what I didn’t like about it. (The death metal vocals).
When I listen to opera, I prefer the very dark opera. It’s vary sad. I was always hoping that there would be that sort of opera presence in Therion, and I was wondering if there is any way for that to happen. I know that you are a live band and you like to create a certain mood for that. But could there be a song or two, not meant for live performance, that delves into the realms of sorrow?
There might be. But the thing is, the way that we write songs is very spontaneous. I’m hopelessly trapped with whatever I write. If someone said to me, “I’ll give you five million bucks if you write a ballad. You have a weekend. Here’s a guitar.” I would write ballad, but it would be the most miserable piece of shit ballad you will ever hear in your life. That’s how it works. I cannot shit on command. I write what I write. It’s what I’m stuck with and what everyone else gets.
If there is a way for me to send you some music, hopefully on some level it will influence you.
Actually there is a lot of sad opera that I like. (editor’s note – We discussed opera, which to you would seem like an inside conversation. Rather than make you feel like an outsider, I edited this part out. I now bring you to the last part of that hidden conversation. Christof went on and on to praise a particular soprano opera singer). She is the best singer in the history of recorded music.
Well, by that reasoning, if she can turn shit into gold, and if you force yourself to write a sad opera song and it will be shit, then she should sing on it so that she turns your shit into gold.
(laughs) By the way, have you seen this movie “Holy Mountain?” That describes the modern culture so well. You know the scene – it’s like everybody gets color on their butts and then they put it on paper – it’s mass-produced art.
It’s so strange that you, being the kind of artist that you are, watched a movie by that kind of director.
Naked Lunch would be one of my favorite movies. Brasil too. Along with that I also like Nightmare Before Christmas.
A long time ago I did try to contact you to hopefully be able to send you some music, but the only Email address on the website is for the webmaster. There is some sort of explanation about that along the lines of, if any band member’s Email were to be known, you would get overwhelmed.
That’s true. But it’s usually not a problem for people from the press to get it. ( editor’s update – After this interview, I asked the lazy twat at Nuclear Blast for the Email, and all I received were excuses for her not doing her job. Eventually, the incompetence resulted in my severing ties from the American office of laziness) If I gave my Email out then I would have to get a new one every month. I got so many Emails every day.
Were the Emails about penis enlargement?
I wish it was. It’s more about boring questions like, “When will you come to my town?”
In Sweden is penis size very important?
No. They’re all American companies who Email me.
I had heard that Sweden has even more concern about penis size and that it has spread to veterinary science as well, with penis enlargement programs for dogs and cats.
I did notice that there’s a tremendous difference between the audience at a Therion show and a crowd that sees any other band, and that difference was the extreme level of respect. It was also your respect toward the fans. I was told that you did not want the usual barricade between the fans and the stage. And the end of the performance was the metal equivalent to a standing ovation. Is that a common reaction throughout the world?
Yeah. We’re very spoiled. But I think that is related to people having bought the records and they had been waiting ever since. They never thought that we would come. For a lot of people it was more than just a concert. It’s something more special. The same thing happens in Europe when we play countries we never had before. Same thing with Latin America. We get an explosive reaction. In many countries they have a really tough life, so when people go to a show they switch off their daily problems for a while. It’s almost like a religion.
Your main opera singer – what is her name? I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, but the way she puts on make-up is sort of the mistake that a little girl makes when she puts on make-up for the first time in her life. Is that the look that she was going for?
She’s the only one who’s a trained opera singer so I told her to make something very theatrical.
Oh, so that’s why she walks on stage like she’s a Gestapo officer patrolling the concentration camp.
That is what is turning you on. (laughs) She has nothing to do with metal. She doesn’t listen to metal. She’s just doing her thing to our stuff.
There’s a blonde to the far right, if you have the same set-up every night – I was wondering if you could have her in the front instead.
Well, that’s an idea.
She’s Swedish, right?
She’s Finnish but she lives in Sweden. We’re going to sell tickets on the next tour to the back stage.
Can you let her know that I love her?
Yes, I will do that.
Some people say that Sweden is very conservative and some people say that it is very liberal.
Conservative? Are you fucking kidding? Our conservatives would be condemned as being too liberal. Ralph Nader would call our conservatives liberals.
I learned that when I ask someone about a country, it’s almost like asking someone in America what America is like. It’s not a true representation.
If you ask a communist, of course he will say that we are conservative. But if ask someone who is somehow in the middle, politically, it is hilarious. We had a social democrat ruling this country in the second world war. It’s like a one party state. But you have a one-party state too. You just have two names for it.
Actually, we are owned by Israel. (Editor’s note – for the new readers of this magazine, there is a lot of sarcasm and baiting. I, in real life, know absolutely nothing about politics, and I don’t care. I just use it to evoke.)
We were speaking of parties. Maybe they own the party. That’s maybe your opinion.
No. I don’t know enough about politics to talk about it seriously.
You don’t need to know much. Just know the fact that your choice is like buying Coca Cola or Pepsi. The difference between democrats and republicans is that republicans piss in your face and they say. “Hey, we pissed in your face. We’re happy about that.” Democrats will piss in your face and if you ask them about they’ll say, “No, we never pissed in your face.”
You mentioned Cocoa Cola before. I have not verified this, but I have heard that in France they have passed a law which protects their language. On television they cannot use non-French words, especially slang, and the term “Cocoa Cola” is one of the no-no words. In direct opposite thinking, America, because it is so sales-driven, has allowed the most niggery language to be on TV. People leave out verbs. It’s almost like hearing Tarzan talk. Poor grammar, nigger-slang, and simplified language.
The American version of English is now completely destroyed. We learn Oxford English in school.
Is Sweden protecting its language?
Protect the Swedish language? Are you kidding? That would be racist!
Yes, Snowy Shaw and I had a conversation about how the Swedes are pussies.
Yeah, I read that. Those things you cannot say in Sweden. I showed that interview to a band and they thought that Snowy is joking. If you do that interview in a Swedish magazine then your career is over.
In America it’s very trendy to think of the French as pussies, but I look at them as heroes. The French deserve respect for standing up for their culture.
I’m very conservative when it comes to things like culture. A lot of things are better these days, but I don’t understand why you have to ruin everything from the past. A lot of liberal ideas are very good, like equal rights for women. And in interracial marriage, it’s up to people what they want to do with their lives and if they want to have those kinds of kids. But there comes a point when you fulfill the rights of minorities and start to go in the other way.
We’re in the other end of the swing.
In Sweden we completely crossed that line a long long time ago, and maybe that’s the reason why we went from being #1 to… (editor’s note – I laugh so loudly that I cannot hear the rest of that sentence)
I’m sorry, you made me laugh.
What else can you do about it?
“Lucid Dreaming” was an album that I had to buy because it was at that time that I found out that what I had experienced actually had a term, and that other people had similar dreams. Many years later a girl I know interviewed you and she said that you had out of body experiences. Is that true?
What came first with you, the lucid dreaming or the out of body experiences?
The astral projection came first
Was this something that you learned or something that happened accidentally when you were falling asleep?
It happened accidentally. It has happened to many people who have had their first out of body experiences that they are in their room outside of their bodies. Actually, I didn’t even look at my body. I was looking through the window, and was drawn outside, out over the woods. And I had a very strange feeling that I can’t really explain these colors.
You are able to induce these now.
Did you learn that on your own?
I’ve been a member of the Order of the Dragon for some years now. They collect ideas and develop techniques.
When I found out that my lucid dreams had a name, I discovered a scientist, Stephen LaBerge, and he had developed techniques, and one night I actually had three lucid dreams in a row. It was crazy. But prior to having had experienced lucid dreams, I had thought that out of body experiences were a hoax.
Very easy to think that if you are a rational person and if you never had that.
Right, but there are parallels between lucid dreams and out of body experiences. In fact, lucid dreams are the perfect launch pad to out of body experiences.
That’s actually how I most often do it. I usually find a gate, like a mirror or window, and I project through that.
Lucid dreaming, to me, is a purely mental phenomenon because although I am aware that I am dreaming within the dream and I control everything around me, it is still a dream. Do you think that an out of body an actual phenomenon in which your awareness somehow extends beyond your body, or is it a mental state?
When I thought about the matter, whether it is internal or external, it doesn’t really make a difference. So I haven’t really made up my mind because the experience remains the same.
In Sweden, do you have the Christmas carol “Tis the Season to Be Jolly?”
Yeah, we do. But our main songs are about the yule, which has nothing to do with Christianity.
In the song I asked about, being that you are a musician, I was oping that you could help educate Americans. They are probably the most ignorant people in the world, judging from the interviews I have done with people all over the world. Stupidity is our #1 export.
Your big companies don’t want people to think. They want people to work for minimum wage and to pay taxes and to consume a lot. Here, we pay 33% in taxes but hospitals are free. If you are unemployed you get money that you can actually live on, and so on and so on.
Americans are not interested in the rest of the world, and for those that are interested, they look at the worlds thinking it’s the same as it is here (editor’s note – I meant that Americans generally cannot accept that other people think in different ways and that other cultures have different attitudes).
It’s really bad that your education system is that way because that makes people that much more unable to have opinions about international affairs. There are a lot of similarities with the Roman empire. You can see a lot of degeneration in empires that are falling, but it won’t be a few centuries. Here we are talking about only a few decades, maximum. You import a lot more than you export. And there’s a lot of loans. You consider yourself the richest country on the planet, which is correct on paper, but if all the international investment would be withdrawn from the United States…
Interesting. But if you look at America’s capital city, it looks like a third world country. Washington D.C. But getting back to the “Tis the Season to be Jolly” – the end of that song is “fa la la la la la la la la.” I would like you to tell me the notes of the major scale of C.
I am happily uneducated musician.
Really? It’s C -D -E- F- G- A -B -C.
I’m very thickheaded to learn things unless I am interested. If I am interested I learn very quickly. Notes and stuff like this is like learning Latin.
I will still ask you the question. The scale that I just told you, in other countries is DO- RE- MI- FA- SO- LA- T-I DO.
Your B is called H in Germany.
Getting back to DO RE MI, when you sing the fa la la la la, it should actually be the notes F and A. But they’re not sung as F and A, and I would like to know if this is some sort of conspiracy.
But you can write a song any way you like.
Certain things should not be intentionally misinterpreted. You Wouldn’t have a guitar that is shaped like a swastika, right?
Not on stage, but it would be fun to own one. I‘d like one like a banana, and one with a hammer and a sickle.
But you know what I mean. The swastika is a cool symbol and it meant something else prior to world war two, and now if you see it you cannot remove the associations that define it.
If you were playing India it would be very popular.
It’s really not easy to interview you.
Well, you do not have an easy magazine.
But anyway, if I were to use FA and LA as lyrics, I would make sure that they were sung in the right pitch!
But music doesn’t need to follow rules.
The Alphabet Song must also obey this rule. When you sing A B C D E F G A B, do it in the right pitch. And what happened to that word “god” being in the pledge of allegiance? America is a theocracy! Do you, as a Swede, see America as being too religious?
Yes. In Sweden only 2% of the population consider themselves Christian.
You have heard of moslims (editor’s note – that is the correct speling of the word)who blow themselves up believing that they will be rewarded with virgins. Well first of all, if you’re in the afterlife, you can’t do anything with corporeal things. And even if you could, why would you have sex with virgins. They are not good in bed.
It’s not just a moslim concept. Christians thought they would get rewarded if they died in the Crusade
If you play in Israel, would you go on stage with a backpack that has a lit fuse on the bottom?
That would be a pretty cool effect, but it wouldn’t be worth it.
Getting back to the moslim thing. I don’t think it’s really a good reward to be given virgins. Virgins are terrible lovers.
It’s much better to be a rock star (instead of a suicide bomber) because it’s very easy. You don’t have to blow up yourself. Just learn how to play guitar. But define “terrorism.” According to the term, the United States is a terrorist state. You bombed Iraq while there was no war declaration. If you don’t declare war and bomb the country, you’re a terrorist.