All posts by admin

Therion

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?

Yes.

 

If there were a warmth emanating from thy buttocks, what would it be?

A fart.

 

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.

No. That’ completely wrong. That’s totally American.

 

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?

That’s correct.

 

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.

Yeah.

 

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.

 

Don’t say “you” – I’m not an American.

Ok, so you’re not responsible then.

 

 

SANZU – Heavy Over the Home

This may seem like a strange way to introduce an album, but I found myself enjoying the bass.  you will have to hear for yourself how great this is in the mix and the way that it was marinated n the juiciest sounds.

The album is solid. providing plenty of chugging for the times when you need such, but there are other things going on.  The vocals tend to hit the higher sort of screeching, but stop short of being gay.  There are enough of the more masculine approaches to death metal vocals to keep you from wearing pink when you listen to this album.

You need to be clear about this being a good album.  The jokes may throw you off if you are faggy, so just think of a happy place when you read.  Speaking of which, this album will make you happy because it is tasteful and heavy.  It was built to last.

You can enjoy a sample video by clicking HERE, but bear in mind that their songs are varied.  

Bathsheba – Servus

SVART RECORDS  has released many albums of the doomy variety, so I often check their roster for something new when my need for warm distortion and a slower pace  compels me.  I first found out about the label when I heard the ultra delicious GOATESS album (that is the name of the band as well as the album). The song “Oracle” has made instant fans.  you can hear this song by clicking HERE but I warn you that you will not rest until you then find the whole album.  Luckily, it is easy to purchase (as you should… don’t be a parasite)

Bathsheba is a band that I hastily classified as doom but that is just a starting point.  The guitar flirts with other forms, and the tempo sometimes reaches thrash speed.  The doom fuzz is an apt flavoring.   Add to this the female vocals and you have the tasty treat for the songs.  She varies her performance, just as the guitars do.  She can sing sweetly in parts but also can make her voice gruff in other parts.  She also evildoers words in a more flat way in some parts where she is more like a temptress, or a storyteller.  Indeed, the lyrics are an enjoyable ride as well.   

I found a live performance video that you can see by clicking HERE

Cytotoxin – Gammageddon

The crystal clear production brings out some of the best elements, like the guttural vocals and what might seem like a touch of math-metal (guitars masturbating scales instead of expressing feeling, and there is some flare that might be a turn-off).  Some of the guitar is a bit too close to wiggercore, best suited to the short-haired bands, with stop-and-go or muted phrasing, but these tidbits can be overlooked due to some of the other elements.  

Enjoy a song on youtube by clicking HERE and hear for yourself. 

Alunah – Solennial

The standout qualities of this album are the flat female vocals and the fuzzy guitar.  That’s not an insult.  Sometimes an album like this can hit the spot.  A flat vocal performance makes it feel a bit more trance-like, and while the riffs aren’t doom per se, they are mellow, and combine with the singer to lull the ear.  

Luckily, I was able to find a video for a song, so you can hear how close my description is, and see for yourself that “flat’ does not mean “bad.”  it is the opposite of “sharp” – if you will.

Video click here

SLAGMAUR-Thill Smitts Terror

It’s hard to categorize this album because it has familiar elements yet it does not belong to any group in particular.  The vocals can be death metal, the lower register of black metal, clean, and also may fit pagan metal, if you pardon that term.   The foreign tongue adds to the feeling of the music.  

Throughout the album there is a sense of something being not quite right.  This uneasy feeling is further coaxed by odd instrumentation and atmospherics.  The tempo is mostly mid-paced, so expect neither brutality nor doom, but be thankful that the black metal cliches are absent.  

Morbid Evils – Deceases

This tasty tidbit comes to us from SVART RECORDS.

The first thing to notice is the thick production in which the guitars ooze into your ears.  The warmth of the distortion reminds me of stoner doom, but the riffs are sludge.  I like when an album makes me try to orient myself.  

The vocals are stertorous, cementing this is the sludge bracket, but the extra dimension of the guitars, the strange mix of fuzz, warmth, and atmosphere, tear at the confines.   

If you are in the mood for sludge then this will satisfy beyond expectation, and you get to enjoy some ingredients outside of the style, which is quite stimulating.  

 

Gloomy Grim

interview with Agathon conducted by Bill Zebub for issue #23 of THE GRIMOIRE OF EXALTED DEEDS

Thy vocals are destined to become legend. Have other bands tried to lure thee onto their albums? Thy vocals can instantly make any album sound cool. 
Thanks. I do little parts in Soulgrind’s albums and I did few whole songs when I was in Thy Serpent. Actually I don´t think that vocals on Blood… were good enough. Since then I have sung more and I think that in “Life?” all went far more better. I tried nothing… just screamed.

Was Whisper used because of her extreme beauty? I think I am still in love with her.
She´s free now. Come here and try to pick her up… She was my girlfriend and since we broke up she didn´t want to be in any contact with me. So, we decided that in “Life?” we are not going to use any female vocals, and synths replaced her. Actually, in my opinion, that was very good decision, and we are not going back with female vocals. Synths can´t make you crazy…

Whisper
Whisper

If Hitler were to come again, dost thou think that he would get away with the same practices of torture and slaughter? Would the majority of society join him? That is a rhetorical question. By the same reasoning, why is it that the majority of society embrace Christianity when it is responsible for MANY holocausts, not just one? We all know about the Inquisition, and the Crusades, and even of the bloodbaths between Catholics and Protestants. But there was much more systematic slaughter of entire sects, like when Pope Innocent III ordered 30,000 Cathars to be slain, regardless of them being women, children, and elderly. Thy lyrics have a poetic anti-Christian stance. I wonder what has made thee take such a position because thou art far from a rebellious teen-ager who just wants to defy his parents.
At first my lyrics were pure Satanic, because they told of the things which happened when I was 15. In “Life?” all the lyrics tells about the visions what I saw when I was at hospital at summer ‘98 and was in coma few days.  I am not worshiping none but myself.  Bible was only written to dominate people and keep them quiet. I still think that “evil”, like christians think it, is more pure than any kind of “goodness”. Actually, in my opinion, there is no such things as evil or good. There is only different happenings and people. Satan represent to me that animalish, pure side of man, which every christian try to deny. All religion try to deny humans’ real feelings. I try to be like animal, which lives through its instincts. So-called goodness is always learned from somewhere, but your instincts are pure. If I feel I want to be nice to somebody I can be, but if I don´t feel like it I don´t have to be. That’s simple and I can´t understand that shit what christians try to feed to everybody… that we have to love each others even thou they are fuckers to us. Christianisms were brought here with sword, so how they can say they love us? All religions come from people… without people there is no Satan or God. We are the only ones who really dominate.

Thy music is neither death metal nor black metal, but the vocals and thy affiliations suggest that thou art more a fan of black metal. Is this true?
Many have said that our music is “Horror Movie Metal” and I agree. In fact, I am big fan of old school thrash and black metal like Slayer, Exodus,Venom, Bathory et cetra.  Agathon is more like feeling and He works through Gloomy Grim. I don´t want to be personalized as Agathon from Gloomy Grim, because most of the time I am not that person. If people start to believe what I preach then all my work has gone in the sand. I want people to think by themselves, and Agathon can only give guidance, but not exact ways to think.

As thy popularity grows I am sure that there will be a demand to see thee perform at fests. Is that something thou wilt deny?
Hope it does… I don´t have any reason why we could not make gigs. Actually, we were at France at April with S.U.P and Divion Alpha.
We had 7 gigs in there and I was amazed how well we were known there. We used DAT tape for the synths and drums. Of course, guitars, bass, and vocals were live. After the next album I think that we are using real drummer at the stage too, but that is someone else than me. I want to keep Black Mass at the stage.

Hast thou ever grown disillusioned by being signed to Holy Records? It is not very easy to get their titles in America, and I would think that Gloomy Grim has a market here.
Not this far. They have done great job for us. I don´t know the situation at America, but I assume that at least in Europe Holy´s records are well distributed. 

Agathon
Agathon

Absentia Lunae – Vorwarts

This is black metal that has stayed away from the gay screeching, so I was more receptive.  If you get the album, listen to “Rapace Planare” first.  The song goes through some interesting changes toward the end, foreshadowed by heavy phaser on the guitar.  Suddenly you will hear crooning.  These clean vocals fit perfectly and are pleasingly sung with a dark quality.  

Yes, this album has black metal traits, like dissonant chords, but it’s a dynamic offering with some heavier elements that are not common in that style.  

Notre Dame interview with Snowy Shaw

interview with Snowy Shaw conducted by Bill Zebub for issue #27 of THE GRIMOIRE OF EXALTED DEEDS Magazine

 

I prefer a personality interview as well as a musical interview, unless you prefer a totally insulting interview.

Why do you choose to go that way?  I mean, to insult people – is that to make it fun for the readers or something?

 

It’s fun for the whole world. 

So people that you don’t like or don’t respect – you just give them a hard time.

 

I pretty much give everyone a hard time, and people like George Corspegrinder from Cannibal Corpse have a lot of fun being assholes back to me.  Let’s begin.   Mickey Dee badmouthed King Diamond in interviews and stuff like that.   I was at a Motorhead show and I was wearing a Mercyful Fate shirt, and he said “Why are you wearing that?  That band sucks!”  He wasn’t even in that band.  And this was apparently after King Diamond had a talk with him and asked him why he said things like that.  He’s still an asshole.  I don’t know why he has problems with King Diamond, but I was talking to King and he said that in the press he saw that you felt constricted in the band.

That I did or that Mickey did?

 

That you did.  I know that if you say something negative it wouldn’t be as an insult.  I know that you would have a reason for saying something that sounds negative.  The press might make it seem nasty.

Yeah, I realize that it’s stupid to say anything negative because nobody believes me.  If it’s a question about “Ok, is it a drum machine on The Eye?” or something – I mean, that is kind of a stupid question…

 

That is one of my questions.

The thing is, it was my decision to use that kind of drum patterns and stuff like that, but nobody would believe me.  Yeah, I’m the one who brought it up, and if I didn’t say anything, nobody would know about it.  Nobody believes me.  They believe King instead, of course.  But I have nothing against King. 

 

The question was more “what was the problem?”  He said that you were doing all these crazy things and you said “I’m going to do everything I ever learned as a drummer” and that he was holding you back.  Like, every time there was a change in a song you would have massive drum rolls.  They were good, he said, but it just made the music a bit more complex than it needed to be.

When I joined the band, he wanted… OK, Mickey Dee was good.  It’s fine to have a drummer that could be like a puppet.  You can have control over this guy.  Maybe King all the time wanted not that kind of complicated drumming and strange drum arrangements.  I know Mickey told me that King told him “Stop playing that!  You’re ruining my songs!”  But back then they were a band and Mickey Dee would say “Fuck You!  I play the way I want to!”  But when I joined the band I didn’t have that kind of position of course.  So I just had to do what he told me.  We kind of compromised and arranged things together and so on.  I don’t know what it was, but I felt I want to do what I want to do.  It’s not like I want to be a modern drummer and that is my major goal.  I want to play good drums.  Sometimes I thought some of his ideas, or arrangements,  was kind of simple and standard and stupid or something… (laughs)

 

When you left, were you thrown out or did you voluntarily leave?

Yeah, I left the band.  “Ok, now it’s a European tour coming up.  Oh no!  I quit.”  Kind of strange, but that’s the way it was.  It’s like putting a lid on a volcano.  It’s a stupid expression maybe, but I needed to express myself musically.  I wasn’t satisfied with just being a drummer and playing (ed. – Snowy makes sounds imitating a drum beat).  It didn’t give me that much so I needed to quit and try to write my own music and start my own band. 

Snowy Shaw
Snowy Shaw

It’s very important for me to clarify right now that you’re not saying anything in a nasty tone.  Some magazines are irresponsible and they don’t mention that.  They try to make it look like you’re trying to start a fight.  Notre Dame does not have showy drums – like you’re showing off.  It seemed like that was the argument in King Diamond.  Do you agree?

He comes up with some stuff and it’s basically my arrangements, but when I wrote some songs myself I tend to arrange the drums so it’s pretty simple just because the song itself should be in focus instead of different musicians showing off what they can do.  It’s quite the same for thing for King.  I think I play better drums if I don’t like the band, because then I just want to have fun playing drums. 

 

Your accent sounds more Danish than Swedish.

Nobody told me that before.  Maybe I have a sore throat or something because they sound a bit like they’re supposed to throw up when they’re talking. 

 

Maybe that’s the reason.  So what do you have to say about the production of the drums?  I thought that you would be over-produced based on what I’ve heard about you.  But it’s a mild production.

The overall production – I don’t really like it because we have kind of a limited budget.  We have to go mix in a friend’s place or something. Next time around it will be a lot better because we’re working with this friend and he’s a real producer.  The drums sounded quite bad the last couple of albums.

 

That helped me understand the elusive personality of Snowy Shaw a little bit.  I heard that you like American Indians.

Yeah.  I was really into that some years ago.  I was into reading about the Midwest Indians.

 

Any particular reason?

I don’t know.  I mean, for various reasons I guess because they were very cool and proud and they had a great history.  It was magical and mystical.  I thought it was very cool.  But I kind of left that, and since I’m working with Notre Dame I’m watching horror movies and being more into eerie and stupid horror comics.

 

So you were never part of any drum circle?

Indian drum circle?  I never had the opportunity, but maybe in the future.

 

You don’t prefer to play drums with your hands.

With my dick.

 

The first time I heard Notre Dame I didn’t know you were in the band.  It was on the Mercyful Fate tribute on Listenable Records.  It was Into the Coven.  The very next time I heard your band it was on this latest album Coming Soon To A Theatre Near You.

Second one.

 

That’s the second one?

No, the new album is a re-issue – the Second Coming.  It was four and a half songs originally, but now it’s like eleven.  We added a bunch of bonus tracks from the same time – the same recording sessions and so on.  We fucked it up totally.  I think it was better the first time.  It’s better as a mini album because you tend to get tired after six songs – not when you record them but if you listen to them.  You’re pretty much satisfied when you’ve heard seven songs. 

 

I’m sure Osmose will love to hear the way you’re talking about the album. 

Yeah, but what’s done is done.  I just wanted to… because of the lousy distribution… I’m sorry… I’m burping here from drinking Coca Colas.  But anyway, we just wanted to give a second chance because the distribution wasn’t working that good and maybe Osmose distribution isn’t working that good either, but it’s much better anyway.  But they wanted to add a bunch of bonus tracks, and I looked into some old material that’s never been mixed and so I recorded some vocals and some guitar on some songs.  We made it like a totally new album instead of just a re-issue.

 

So the vampire theme is going to be common to your next album as well?

No, not really.  I mean, the character Vampirella – she’s still in the band.  Maybe we kind of focused on that for some time, but it’s basically just shock shock rock and horror metal.  I grew up with KISS and Alice Cooper.  I was really influenced by those kinds of shows and the kind of image that Alice Cooper had.  I think this is my interpretation for the new generation.  It’s not just about vampires.  I grew up reading all those horror comics.  So this is just the logical development. 

 

Back to the old days when Mercyful Fate reformed – there was an American tour.  Did you have any problems playing drums for the song Satan’s Fall?

No, absolutely not.  That is my favorite song.  Maybe there was a show where I fucked it up.

 

No, there was a lot of Snowy in that performance rather than Kim Ruzz. 

Yeah.  I really like that song so I couldn’t keep relaxed.  I just went berserk.  Maybe I fucked it up.

 

Is it easy to fuck up in that song?

Yeah, maybe it is because when we played this big festival in Copenhagen that is the only time I fucked it up.  There are so many changes in the song and I was so excited and everything so maybe I forgot something because I was waiting for the last part which is the coolest.  So maybe I skipped a few parts of that song.  That song is so fantastically evil.  When I was a kid I listened to it and I thought “this is too much!  This is really scary!”

 

Did you ever imagine that you would be playing with King Diamond?

No, not really.  I didn’t realize they were from Denmark when I was 14 or something.  I didn’t see that coming.  But after a couple of years Mickey Dee and Andy Laroque joined the band, and all of a sudden we had some kind of relation to them. It wasn’t that far-fetched to actually join the band after a couple of years because they had close relations to Gothenburg musicians. 

 

For the band Notre Dame what is the reason for the choice of black metal vocals trading off with sort of like the theatre style vocals?

Maybe I was into that somehow.  They’re the same kind of songs that I wrote for Memento Mori.  It’s just that we don’t play the drums that slow.  (ed – makes drum noises)  It would be boring to play it that slow.  So instead we speed it up and play the fastest part possible – all these kinds of patterns.  But when it comes to vocals maybe it’s that I can’t sing that powerful so I’m just trying the best I can.  I’m also into Metal Church and Nazareth and Udo,..  Accept and stuff like that.  I don’t know if it’s black metal vocals.  It’s just really distorted vocals I guess.

 

The first track on this second edition, The Bells of Notre Dame, reminded me of Immortal, and then I took a look at the cover and you have the diamond-shaped corpsepaint around your eyes just like the singer.  So I was wondering if you have any admiration for Immortal or if that was just a coincidence. 

I never listened much to them, but they look cool (laughs), especially this Battles of the North album.  But this is just some kind of coincidence because I didn’t use that kind of make-up for a long time.  I think he has much bigger diamonds than I do.  It covers pretty much his whole face.  Most of the time I just have some mascara and I look more like…

 

A girl.

No, not like a girl.  But it was more like a raccoon.  This was the only time when I was like, “this looks kind of theatrical,” like pantomime, or scary in some kind of circus way.  I did not think of Immortal when I did that. 

 

I’ve seen the movie The Decline of Western Civilization, and I saw it because I thought it was going to be about metal but it was about posers.  And there was this one poser in there who was talking like an absolute faggot…

And his name was?

 

I don’t know his name.  Half of his hair was blonde (Snowy laughs) and half of his hair was black, and I also noticed that in the Notre Dame pictures half of your hair is blonde and half of your hair is black.   So I was wondering if you know the poser from that movie.

No, I don’t.  But I heard that the singer from Madam X dyed his hair black and white.  I was thinking more of Carella Deville (spelling?) the Disney character.  You know, I’m blonde, so that isn’t very evil.  So should I dye my hair black?  No.  That’s boring.  So let’s do it halfway as a compromise.

 

So it’s not a symbol for bisexuals?

No.  I can do that and still go around buying groceries. I don’t give a fuck.  It was just a thing.  After that I shaved off my hair completely.  But now it’s growing back and I look like…

 

Hitler?

A German look, or something.  This was a long time ago. 

 

A long time ago I interviewed Candlemass and the lead guitar player told me that he found your drum configuration very strange.

Strange?

 

Yeah. On your rolls, what you do is each hand goes down your sides instead of going in front of you.  Do you know what I’m talking about?

No, not really. 

 

Was he just imagining things?

I don’t know.  I mean, I only have one rack tom and I have two floor drums.

 

One on each side?

Yeah, actually when I bought this Ludwig I had four floor toms so I can have two on each side, but it’s just a poser thing because I can’t play on my left side.  I did it with Mercyful Fate to look cool, but it’s OK with just one rack tom and one floor tom.  I’ve been playing drums for so long, and I don’t think about drums very much nowadays.  It’s not like I’m, “OK, check out that new drummer from this band!.”  I just play the way I play.  I don’t think that much about it.  Maybe some people find it strange.  I’ve been out playing festivals with this power metal band now called Dream Evil, and people seem to like the way I play.  People say, “Oh, you’re my favorite drummer!” and so on.  I don’t really know what’s the big deal.  I’m just playing straight bullshit.  I can’t really see what’s so special. 

 

But at one time were you obsessed about learning drums?

Yeah, I was, when I was still a teen-ager.  Now my goal is elsewhere, like to sing better and write the best possible songs I can do.  It’s not like I’m practicing drums very much these days.

 

Is Notre Dame a project or a band?

I guess it’s both.  For me it’s a good forum, or something, where I can write my kind of music. We’re starting to do shows now.  We had to turn down some offers from big festivals in Europe this summer.  So we will be starting with the King Diamond manager taking care of the whole business because I don’t know how to handle that stuff.  I can’t negotiate with foreign promoters and stuff like that.  But for some time now it’s been like a project – a recording project pretty much.  Have you seen our video?

 

No.  Is it available N.T.S.C.?

I don’t think so.  I don’t think that Osmose have done what they should do. 

 

They have been doing a lot because they believe in the Grimoire.  A lot of Europeans don’t see the value of advertising in America.  They don’t believe that the American market is worth it.

Yeah, it’s so bad because I don’t think that our albums are even released in America.

 

Yeah, it’s hard to find.  But if anyone here wants to get an Osmose album it’s pretty easy to get  There are enough metal merchants. But you have to be a real undergrounder.  A lot of people in America are very lazy about their music unless they’re enthusiasts.

Yeah, but people are that way everywhere.  You go to record stores – what you see on the shelf is what you buy.  It’s not like you’re running around to five different stores trying to find something.  I wouldn’t do that nowadays.  Maybe when I was 15, but not now.  It’s a shame.  You’ve got to just feed the people. 

 

If you want to succeed.

It’s not like I want to make a lot of money.  I would be an idiot if I did with this kind of music.  Maybe I am an idiot.  We spend so much time doing this stuff that we want people to at least be able to find it if they want to, and to reach out to as many people as possible.

 

Maybe this interview has helped.

Yeah, hopefully.

 

The song “Daughter of Darkness” – was the piano in the beginning taken from Beethoven?

Vampirella said, “Listen to this song!  You stole that part!” 

 

It’s not exact.  It just sounds like it’s based on a Beethoven song.

Yeah, it’s Moonlight Sonata, or something.  I never sit down and “OK, I should steal this”.  I’ve always had some kind of obsession with the Halloween theme – that’s where it’s coming from.  I always have that kind of sound in the back of my mind.  When I’m writing, maybe it sounds familiar, but I don’t know what it is.  About Beethoven I really liked that song when I heard it.  When I wrote that track it didn’t even cross my mind that it reminded me of something, but a year after we released that CD. I went to a record store and bought a vinyl album of Pahntom of the Opera, and I put it on, and then I heard it (the opening of Bells of Notre Dame).  It’s, like, unconscious.  I pick it up somewhere but without knowing it.

 

The titles of your songs are like B movies, like “Dracula Sucks”.

Yeah, I borrowed it from some B movie.  It was such a cool title. 

 

It’s so funny when an originator is not original.  There’s also “The Misconception of the French Kiss”.  I get a feeling of French theatre.  Is that how you got signed to Osmose, which is in France?

I don’t know, but somehow with different projects you get different visions, and like, I was really into Indians like I was talking about, and I wrote Indian music.  No, not really, but anyway, this French kind of style – I think it’s a bit elegant and just the kind of image that you get from watching movies.  Ok, I went to the ballet and drink wine.  The French theatre pretty much inspired me to write this music.

 

Speaking of Indians, do you know what the sitar is?

Yeah, but that’s the real Indians from India.

 

Actually, the Cherokee Indians invented the sitar, and when the Indians from India found out that the native people of America were called Indians, they sent spies over to see why they would be called Indians because they wanted to be the only Indians on earth.

Yeah, but it’s hardly the American Indians’ fault. 

 

I know, but the Indians stumbled upon the Cherokee and stole the technology for the sitar and brought it back to India, and India made an agreement with the French government to kill any Cherokee with a sitar because they wanted to be known for that instrument on the planet earth.

Seriously?  That sounds so strange.  I never heard anything like that.

 

No, I’m just joking.  I want to know what you think about Kim Ruzz.  Was Kim Ruzz an originator?

Do you mean like he invented his own style?

 

He brought a unique interpretation into this style of music.

I don’t know.  I mean, Mercyful Fate – the whole band were pioneers.  You can very much hear Stained Class with Judas Priest in combination with Iron Maiden.  I guess they just picked up from what was going on around them. 

 

Sharlee D’Angelo said that one of the things that really set Kim Ruzz apart was that he wasn’t really a metal drummer, yet he played in metal.

Yeah, I really haven’t analyzed it since I was 15, or something.  But I don’t consider myself being a metal drummer either.  I’m more grown up with Sweet and KISS and Deep Purple and so on.  I’m more of a ‘70’s drummer.  I’m not that good at playing metal, really.

 

Do you agree that it’s harder to play slow, like at an extreme doom tempo?

Yeah, I guess you learn a certain way.  I play very hard on the drums and so does Mickey Dee, for example.  A lot of black metal drummers play so fucking fast but they don’t play that hard.  They don’t break any sticks and hardly any drumheads either.  If I want to play really fast, I’m not really used to that because I’m playing so hard and it takes so much energy from me, so I have take away some of the strength and play loose and just focus on the speed instead.  I was supposed to play with Candlemass and I thought, “OK, that’s so easy.”  You have to get used to that because you’re not supposed to play on the ride cymbal, for example (ed – Snowy makes drum noises)  I can’t express this. But you should play very few notes and still keep the beat.  There’s so much space in between the notes, if you know what I’m saying.  So it’s easy to fuck up that way.  If you play as fast as you can play there is not so much space that you can fuck up with.  I mean, every music has its difficulties.  Some people say that AC/DC is so boring.  But Phil is good at what he’s doing.  It’s complicated in different ways, I guess. 

 

You don’t seem to favor the off beat too much.

Offbeat?  What is that?  (laughs)

 

You’ve been called a technical drummer by some people, but you don’t really do jazz beats and stuff.

Like I said, I kind of developed my own – it sounds stupid maybe – but it’s pretty much my own style.  I’m not saying that I’m unique.  I don’t check out other drummers and steal their chops because I find no interest in that.  I’m just trying to play to the music that I’m playing in a tasteful way.  I inspired by from Dio or Black Sabbath and Sweet – those old guys – and I took it from there.  I don’t know if I’m technical or something. 

 

So what does the future hold for America?  Is there a Snowy Shaw tour?

Yeah, that would be great!  I haven’t been in America since ’95, and it really pisses me off that Osmose can’t get it out there.  With other bands that I’m in now, and this Dream Evil that’s power metal and very popular in Europe right now – but I guess it won’t sell too many records in America – so I doubt that we will be going on tour in America.  I would love to come back and see how things have changed.

 

I think that if more white people live in America that metal will come back.  But right now immigration favors the third world countries, and metal is a bit too complex for them.  They like rap.

I don’t like that kind of music. 

 

You call it music?

(laughs)  I was just trying to be polite. 

 

I talked to Tom Pasquale who is a writer for Meal Maniacs.  He also puts tours together, and he said that metal seems to be getting stronger here because there are now five big agencies that book metal tours, whereas before, everyone was at the mercy of this person called Finberg.  

Who was that?

 

He was a person who allegedly took advantage of metal’s lowpoint in America. 

I hear there’s a lot of black metal bands.  Isn’t black metal growing in America?  Marduk, I heard, frequently tour America.

 

Well you know more about this than I do, but I heard that black metal is dying in Europe, but America just started to follow that trend.

Yeah, pretty much.  I’m the wrong person to ask about stuff like that because I’m in my house and write my own music and live in my own world.  So I don’t pay attention to what’s trendy and what’s going on and what’s in fashion. I don’t care about stuff like that.

 

This interview was very merciful, wasn’t it?  Get it?  Mercyful Fate?

Very Mercyful Fate.

 

So no insults.  Are you surprised?

Yeah, pretty much. 

 

I’m making a movie called “Metalheads”.  So far Jensen from Séance, Ross from Immolation, and Agathon from Gloomy Grim have given me permission to use their music.

Yeah, you have permission to use Notre Dame.  I don’t know what I’m saying yes to here.  But of course, spread it around

 

It’s a comedy.  This is great.  I didn’t even have to negotiate with you.

So how did you negotiate with Jensen?  Did you do certain favors for him? (laughs)  You would love the Thrillogy movie that we’ve done.  It’s done in the 1920’s, like Nosferatu, style of movie.  It’s also the ‘60’s and ‘70’s cheesy style of horror movie.  I guess you would really like that kind of video. 

 

 

(editor’s note – there was more to this interview.  When I have archived more of the great articles from the printed mag i shall go back and include the bits that were left out (like the Anal Cunt interview).  These shorter edits were due to the web page limitations with the software i was using in the old days (the program was called “Frontage” and there was a page length limit)