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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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…
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.
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.
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)
This is a black metal album that has a clean production, but that is not written to dissuade the gaylords who regard good-quality recordings as “commercial” – no, it is more an assurance that this album isn’t recorded stupidly. It’s still gay, because it’s black metal, but at least there was some effort.
This album has some elements that can lump it into the “sounds-like Dimmu-Borgir” category, namely the pseudo-symphonic parts. There is also the raspy and throaty vocal delivery that doesn’t interest me at all, but as I made an attempt to hear something to break my apathy, I gazed upon the cover art, which I strongly suggest that you avoid. The gayness meter immediately spike to the red. Leave a comment if you wish, but this is where I stop.
Interview with Hellhammer conducted by Metal Monster for Issue #22
(Metal Monster): How do you like our beautiful city?
(Hellhammer): Oh well, it’s nicer than Brooklyn. I’ve been there before.
( Looking at Bill Zebub slouched against the alley wall) I think Bill Zebub is a little drunk.
(Looks Over at Bill) Oh yeah, he looks like it
Bill Zebub wanted me to interview you because apparently the two of you didn’t hit it off the last time he interviewed you. Do you remember that?
I remember that!
Bill wanted to do a more serious interview with you, and because I am such a big Mayhem fan, he asked me to do it. (pause) Have you ever tasted your own semen?
Do you prefer to be called Hellhammer or Jan?
It’s the same
Hey, didn’t you release a solo album?
You didn’t put out a solo album under the name Jan Hammer?
Yes, Jan Hammer?
Oh, Jan Hammer! No. (laughs)
Right, You know Jan Hammer right?
Yeah, I know Jan Hammer. Miami Vice. Among other things, He’s also a drummer and yeyboard player.
What happened with the new Mayhem album? A lot of Mayhem fans are very disappointed with it..
I heard that there were plans to change the name of the band because the new music was so different. I heard you were going to change the name of the band to “Gayhem”. Is that true?
Gayhem? Um, not likely, but in some parts we are labeled Gayhem.
Wasn’t the name of the new album going to be “Chainsawbuttsfuck?”
Chainsawbuttsfuck? Well that’s kind of for (Hellhammer says something undecipherable) and all that for Norway, so that’s all right.
Did you ever have sex with a kleptomaniac chink slut named Kim?
(Bill Zebubis brought back to reality by my question and laughs in his booming trademark Viking laugh)
(laughs) Not as far as I can remember no.
That girl has sticky fingers, if you know what I mean?
Sticky fingers, yeah.
Do oriental girls have yellow vaginas?
Mmm, Yes they have.
They do. I understand you are Jewish..
(Laughs) No, that’s not true!
Well, Seth Putnam from the band Anal Cunt told me that you were a Jew.
That I’m Jewish?
That’s right, Jewboy.
No! That’s not true.
You made a very controversial statement that black metal was only for white people and that in Norway people didn’t like negroes. Do you still stand behind that statement?
Yeah, but they don’t!
I know it’s true. I agree with you..
Yeah, it’s true.
A few blocks from where we are now, there is a place called Harlem. I have a fun idea. Let’s go to Harlem and yell as loud as you can that you hate negroes. Just for fun. We could go down there and say “Hey blacks we don’t like you. You are not welcome in Norway!“
Yeah okay. You go first.
Speaking of negroes and black metal, here is some trivia for you; Can you name the only negro that was in a classic Black Metal band from Canada?
Yes, it was in fact, Um. (Racks his brain for answer)
Your guitarist has a very similar name
Come on… Blas-ph
The up side to being a negro in black metal is that they would probably save money on corpse paint because they would only need to buy the white paint.
Yeah, they can if they want. Absolutely!
What is your opinion of Fenriz?
Fenriz? A good friend of mine. An alcoholic of course, and a good drummer actually.
I understand he has some kind of strange smurf fetish?
You know what a smurf is?
Yeah, those little blue naughty bastards. I think he likes to put them up his ass.
Fenriz is a huge star over here in America. He is on the covers of all the teen magazines like Tiger Beat and Big Bopper. I think there was some talk of Fenriz replacing Pierce Bronsnan for the next James Bond Movie, but he turned down the role.
That’s because I got the role!
All right, enough with the chitchat. Are you a better drummer than Fenriz?
(Yes, I definitely am.
Are you a better drummer than Akhenaten from Judas Iscariot?
Is it true that he beat you in arm wrestling?
(Yes it is.
He did beat you?
Yes. Actually I don’t remember because I was so fucking drunk.
I heard that you also tried to hit on his girlfriend, is that true?
Yes, I’ve heard you are something of a womanizer..
You have a boyfriend?
You do have a boyfriend?
Oh no! A girlfriend!
You should pay attention.
I’m fucking tired.
Yeah, do you usually get homosexual when you are tired?
(Metal Monster): Am I keeping you awake?
I can see that. Why can’t black children play in sandboxes?
Cat’s use the sandboxes to shit in
Close, because the cats keep covering them up! You like that?
I’ve heard it before
Really, then why didn’t you answer correctly?
No, I said..
Where is IT?
Where is IT?
Where is it?
Yeah, where is IT?
Do you know where IT is?
Have you seen IT?
I was just wondering if you’ve seen IT?
But what is it?
No, where is IT?
IT, yeah, ha, ha, very funny, duh..
(Metal Monster): Since we are on the same page now, do you know where IT is?
(Hellhammer): Probably in Finland somewhere.
There is a large population of homosexuals here in New York City. Does that please you?
Of course it does! Ha, ha, ha, no, no!
You’re not going to hit me are you?
Good. Are you going to cry?
Besides your other band Kovenant, are there any other homosexuals in the Norwegian black metal scene?
A couple, yeah
Would you like to name any of them?
Hm.I better not, you know, because they can come out of the closet themselves.
Is it true that Euronymous was gay?
Um, I better not speak about this.
Grishnackh stated that he found a dildo with shit on the tip of it in Euronymous’ apartment..
Oh really, ha, ha, ha.
Did you ever see this alleged shit-tipped dildo?
Did you ever see Euronymous with girls?
With girls, yes.
I was a little disappointed that Maniac did not cut himself tonight. Why didn’t he?
Um, because his knife got stolen in Milwaukee.
By the negroes?
I don’t know actually
Would you like to arm wrestle me?
interview with Harald conducted by Bill Zebub for Issue #23
I must make clear that my tone in these questions is respectful toward thee, even though it might seem that I am picking apart little details. Letus begin with a look at the vocals. They seem not to be as up front as before, and that might be caused by all the reverb. Or is that not the way that the final mix will sound?
I’ve never thought about the vocals place in the mix as any different from the other albums really, and actually we’ve never really been concerned as far as if the vocal should be up front or whatever. Of course the vocals are normally high up in the mix, but we’re more concerned about what sounds good as a whole. It might be a possibility that as the guitars are more powerful now, and also there’s “more” guitars when it comes to the actual riffing, so I guess that might take some from the vocals. The vocals still sound fuckin’ brutal in my ears and they sound great with the music. Also as you point out, it’s not the final mix you’re listening to, so there will be some changes and everything will come out a bit clearer.
I immediately noticed a more straightforward approach, and then I read about some artistic differences which resulted in the line-up change. Have the artists of the band left, being that there are no more experimental songs like “The Brighter the Light, the darker the Shadow?”
I don’t think you really can call it more straight forward as there’s not much that is more straight forward than “Onwards…” That one had about two different rhythms, ha ha! “Under The Reign of Terror” is much more varied when it comes to structures, tempo changes, and definitely when it comes to the riffs, which are the most complex stuff we’ve done for sure. The old songs were very streamlined, if I can use that word, and the riffs were simple and the arrangements also, with a few exceptions, one of which being “The Brighter…”. This song was a collaborative effort between Krell and Knarr, our old drummer, and I must admit that together they came up with some very weird stuff. There was too much problems with having Knarr in the band, though, and we had to let him go. No hard feelings because he’s a cool guy, but he didn’t have the time to make the commitment that was needed for touring and such, and also he was not interested in playing fast, which was one of the main reasons I think that our old stuff don’t have any really fast parts. He just didn’t have the stamina I guess… As for the other guys I can say that their departure has nothing but gained the band and our music.
The role of the keyboard has greatly diminished. Didst thou not consider that to be a trademark of thy sound?
No, actually not. The keyboards were never an important aspect of the band in our eyes, even if some might think that sounds strange considering they are very much present, especially on “Onwards…”. But in the original mix for that album the keyboards were much more in the background, however Season wanted to remix the album as they thought it sounded too messy, so we said “Ok, you contact studiomega and pay for it and get them to do it and it’s fine with us” because we hadn’t really got the sound we wanted anyway. We had at that time gone back to Norway and couldn’t be present at the remix, and so when the new one arrived the sound wasn’t much clearer at all. All that had changed was more bass and the keys were a lot higher! I guess Season told them to put up the keys as they probably thought it would sell more albums or something… I’m not sure, but all I know is that this wasn’t what we were after as far as the sound goes. Also, that album was as far as the music goes, too much compromising with people in the band who wanted to pull it in a softer direction, people who don’t know shit about extreme metal or metal at all, for that matter. Some of us wasn’t happy with that because we wanted Bloodthorn to go in a harder direction after the “In the Shadows…” and especially after “Onwards…” so they had to go. We also noticed that in a live situation the keys didn’t play such an important role ,and before we went on tour we actually simplified some of it which made it sound heavier.
Alas, the girl is gone. What has caused her departure?
We felt we didn’t need her and we saw the label (Season of Mist) and the press focusing on her and trying to make her like the front person, which was totally stupid as she didn’t write any music or lyrics and sang for about maximum five out of the fifty minutes on the album, so it was another attempt to commercialize the band, which we felt very uncomfortable with. We didn’t want the people to get the wrong impression and buy the album because of a female singer – which would’ve made them very disappointed since she’s barely on the album. Also, she didn’t show up on rehearsals, and live, she couldn’t do her job properly even if she only sang those little pieces, and therefore we didn’t see any reason for her to continue with the band, especially now that we’d got rid of the other elements that had hindered our progression, and the music turned harder.
I enjoyed the odd things in thy past material. But it seems to me that many unique elements have been eliminated. Of course, there will always be the telltale vocals. Yet I wonder, will the changes unmake thee?
I don’t know what you see as odd things, so it’s hard for me to say anything on that, but as far as we see it we’ve made our best album by far in every ways. We still feel that we have kept the things that for us made Bloodthorn in the past and that will make Bloodthorn in the future, and that’s what’s important for us. The band has progressed and we’ve done an album that we stand one hundred percent behind, and we don’t see how that can unmake us. The new album is just so much stronger, so much more interesting. It’s intense, heavy, aggressive, all the things that we wanted it to be, but I can’t predict if it’s gonna make us sell less records or more, ‘cause you will never know until it’s out there in the shops. The album is good, and with Red Stream backing us up I think it’s gonna go well. We got good feelings for this album.
Are any former bandmates bitter?
I don’t know and I don’t care. We talk to Knarr whenever he comes up of his basement and as said he’s totally cool, and Krell sees him quite often, but the rest I don’t care about. We know they talk shit behind our backs, but as long as we don’t have to see them, let them do whatever fuck they want. If people want to be assholes that’s their business and as long as we don’t have to mingle with them, let them be assholes. It only proves what miserable human beings they are.
Is Krell considered a national treasure? He is king of both black metal vocals and death metal vocals. I usually feel irritated by black metal vocals except in bands like Tristitia and Gloomy Grim. But I think that another reason why they are so tasty is that they do not ride atop music that is black metal. Bloodthorn does not adhere to a particular system. It seems that the best elements of many styles are selected in the crafting of thy songs.
He’s more likely a national disaster – and king of the forest – ha ha! No, he’s doing a great job. He’s definitely one of my favourite vocalists as far as black/death metal goes. He’s always equally powerful and not loosing any strength or brutality, and that’s very important. You’re right by not calling our music black metal, and we’re not doing so ourselves either. This was an issue we talked to Mica about, him labelling us black metal in the ads and shit, and for the second album we said ‘don’t write black metal’, but he did anyway – ‘atmospheric black metal’ or some crap like that. I mean, we definitely don’t see ourselves as a black metal band, not to say anything bad about the genre, but we’re just not doing that, and I think anyone with something between their ears will say the same. The first two albums actually had a lot of more doom metal oriented stuff in them as well, as the more aggressive parts, but for this one we’ve more or less forsaken the doomy parts and sped up a bit, but still keeping it heavy as fuck. I think it’s closest to what one would call death metal, and the lyrics and everything are really death metal, and the music is very heavy and aggressive and it got a bit of this and a bit of that so it’s hard to put a label on it. Some people said it reminds them of early death metal, others said it was like early ‘90’s black metal, so we hear at lot of different shit, and I think it’s up to each and everyone to put their own label on it. I guess it could be called something like “blackened death metal” or some shit like that. It’s not really important.
Interview with Dani Filth conducted by Bill Zebub for Issue #8
Art thou hung over?
(laughs) I’m fuckin’ massacred. I’m taking these “Energy Now” tablets.
I am riding on some coffee, myself.
I just can’t keep myself awake. I feel like shit. And you know what? it’s all your fault!
Yeah. Because you’re American. Anyway…
Art thou ready, head-ache man?
Do you have to say it so loud?
Dost thy drummer play with a light bulb in his mouth?
Are you insinuating that he looks like Uncle Fester?
Well, that’s cool because nowadays in Europe and what-have-you, the press actually regards him as Uncle Fester, and for some reason, being a very violent character – he’s warmed to it, rather than just storming into the publication office and start killing people, which is fuckin’ amazing. But I think the new maxim for him is “Uncle Pester.”
In the photo with the blonde woman who is being bitten by everyone, he does look like Uncle Fester. But in another photo in the CD insert, he looks like the typical Brit with a misshapen head.
And not threatening at all.
I wouldn’t carry on too much about him because you haven’t met him yet. (laughs)
Perhaps we shall have a…
It can be commentated for the next issue. Is he more violent than the bass player of Solstice?
The English Solstice?
A bunch of pussies! They really are. I’m about half the size of that guy and I gave him ‘large’ when we last met. They were doing some weird thing with… uh, you know, the circle… Well, I wouldn’t say they were pussies because John was in Solstice – our new guitarist. But there was one point when they had like a “doom metal council” or something, for no reason at all. They would just gather telephone numbers and ring us up, giving us loads of shit. So we confronted them about it and they were like, “Ooh. I don’t think it was us” . Anyway, do carry on. Oh! Is he more violent than him? Yeah. Well, most certainly. But not as violent as Carl from Cancer, however.. who is incredibly violent.
Is he violent because he puts out mediocre albums?
(laughs) Probably, yeah. They split up, didn’t they? Because they just sucked. I don’t know what they did.
They were a cancer to the scene.
Dost thou think that thou art being typically English by ripping off the Scandinavian music?
(laughs) Do you mean showing appreciation for the likes of At the Gates?
I believe the word was blatant ‘rip-off’ of the most trendy aspects of Scandinavian black metal.
No. I think you’ve ‘got the message completely wrong.
I will do.
And stop chewing.
I’ve got a tootie bar or whatever they call them. Tootsie Roll… No. I don’t believe that at all. What you misunderstand is that Cradle of Filth write fuckin’ good riffs. And I’m in a ‘position to say that because I’m not a guitarist. So I m not bragging. I’m just saying Cradle of Filth write fuckin’ great guitar riffs. They’re not Swedish. I think they’re more typically British than Swedish. If anything, the Swedish would rip off the English scene.
This will be a great interview!
When you listen to Cradle of Filth… no, I’m afraid there’s no comparison whatsoever, and Nick is a much more skillful drummer than anything they’ve got to show apart from the drummer from Eucharist.
Wouldst thou liken thy vocals to those of a stupid bitch who is screaming that someone is pinching her breasts?
Is that all I sound like? I’ve failed miserably then, haven’t I? It should be more like a red hot poker in a virgin’s entrance, like the rings of her anus.
When singing, art thou…
I haven’t finished yet!
Oh! I’m sorry.
No. That’s just plain derogatory. Goodbye forever!
When singing, art thou inspired by memories of thy mommy burning herself on the stove?
Hey? Excuse me? What do you mean?
I thought thou wouldst be more evil in thy response.
No. It’s just that I don’t understand what you mean by that.
Perhaps the meaning is lost between American English and English English.
It was just a meaningless question.
I mean, there was a motive behind it. Otherwise, you know?
Hey! I am doing the interview, not thee!
No, no! But you’ asking me a question. I’ve got to know what it actually meant. Otherwise you could speak in hieroglyphics, couldn’t you?
Only if there were a caption that magically appeared above my head because hieroglyphics is a writing style, not a language. How dost thou feel that Seth Putnam considers thy band to bee extremely gay?
He’s probably just jealous because he can’t string a song together. Seth Putnam. That’s a fuckin’ awesome name. Awesome band name. Awesome thought – everyone should be killed. But unfortunately, his music is absolutely shite. And I think that he obviously realizes that, and that’s his way of compensating. I’m sure everybody’s going to listen to him.
Just as a break, what was that word?
Is it spelled “s-h-i.-t?
OK. That’s the Ahhhnglish (I pronounce english in the most gay way possible) way to pronounce “shit.”
It has derived from the Newcastle way where they say “Shite, man!” and things like that.
Wouldst thou consider thy manner of speaking to be “common.”
No. I think I’m a bit of a snob, actually.
Thou speakth the queen’s English?
Fuckin’ better believe it! I’ll hear nothing against the Monarchy.
Wouldst thou say that thou art vampiric?
Well, skinny and white, yeah. No. I can’t answer it seriously anyway because the question’s aren’t serious.
Thy teeth last night had fake fangs overlapping the canine variety.’ That would lead one to believe that thou art “gothic.” And is not the “gothic” scene merely a group of bisexuals who are trying to be horrific?
Quite possibly. Nothing wrong with being bisexual.
So wouldst thou suck a man for thy nocturnaL sustenance?
No. I certainly wouldn’t. But there’s nothing wrong with being it. You’re actually being narrow-minded, I think. I was on the Internet last night and you can tell that everybody on there was about 14. You can just see them pouring behind their computer. They probably didn’t have a girlfriend. They probably never went out, probably wondering what sex was like. All the questions seemed to do with men’s anuses and wanking and shitting on people and just being derogatory toward women.
Are not thy fake fangs a sign of stupidity?
A sign of stupidity? I wouldn’t call myself a goth either. I just like wearing black. I’m very sorry if that offends anyone. But most goths are pretty smelly and pretentious and not willing to speak to anyone and huddled in the corner in nightclubs, looking scary. No. I don’t like wearing fangs. I have other things that occasionally I wear.
And thy contact lenses make thy eyes appear to be those of a cat?
And cats are the original vampires?
You’re going back to Egyptian mythology, aren’t you?
I didn’t know that there was any meaning to what I just said. I was just trying to be funny. Is Cradle of Filth the most gay and trendy of all black metal bands?
No. I think that we’re just the best and the most popular. People just get jealous, and they have to laboriously argue. It just gets up my nose because we’ve had like 90’/o of the reaction in America has been utterly cool, and the other 10% are a load of jealous wankers who masturbate over pictures of Count Grishnack, thinking, “God! if onIy I had the integrity to do that! But I’m too scared, because if I ever went into prison, men would touch my bottom.”
Art thou secure in thy gender, wouldst thou say?
You mean, do I cross-dress?
In human myth, angels have wings , but in birdy heaven, do angels have arms?
Birdy heaven… (laughs) If there was ever issue. I don’t know. Ask one.
Christopher Columbus was in search of a new route to India. When he discovered America, the savages that he saw were mistaken for Indians. What if someone in India were looking for a shortcut to Spain? If they discovered America, would they call the natives “Spaniards”? Instead of cowboys and Indians, would we have Cow-worshippers and Spaniards?
(long pause) is there a relevance to this?
The one question that I ask that I want thee to explore is blown off.
What if Columbus re-discovered Atlanta?
Yeah. Whatever it is called. That question was a bit too taxing for me. No. You actually must be thinking of a point. When you come out with that questions it couldn’t be random.
It does seem a little involved, doesn’t it?
No. There must be a point to it, like there must be a point to the one I argued about and said, “What does that mean?”
Thou wilt detect the point when seeing it in print after thy hang-over is gone.
Why? Am I being overly grouchy?
No. Not at all. Thou art just not seeing what should be seen… It is just a joke.
Ok. Well, do go into that one. I’m just interested in why you cam with that.
I cannot give thee the keys to the kingdom.
We’re just talking about perspectives here, yeah? How things are viewed in somebody else’s perspective? And the point of it is? .What?
Interview with Alan conducted by Bill Zebub for Issue #14
You are in Ireland. It’s a strange name for a country. Did the English name the country because the Irish are full of Ire?
Bizarrely enough, we were talking about this the other day – and I mean, what’s an “Eng”, and what’s a “Scot”? Obviously Iceland is called “Iceland” because of the ice. (editor’s note – it didn’t occur to me at the time, but Iceland is green, and Greenland is icy.). Why are we “Ire”, and what is the land of “Ire” – which makes more sense than the land of “Eng” or something, to be honest. What were we called by the Romans? Hibernia?
Is that because the Irish make music that causes one to fall asleep?
Ah! That could be it.
That was, I guess, a silly question to ask you.
Yeah, but it’s not something that I haven’t thought about before. I have enough time to think about stuff like that. We sit around… as films get too boring, your mind wanders and you begin to think.
You probably have ideas about what America is like. And we also have notions about Ireland. I think that most Americans know Ireland for the typical aggression of the protestants and the catholics. It’s almost as if the baby Jesus is a soccer ball that causes stadium riots. Is it possible for an Irishman to have pride in his nation if he allows his religion to define his brothers?
It’s an interesting question. I think when you’re talking about something like Irish history, you’re dealing with the fact that it goes back at least 800 years, which is not quite 3 times older than the entire history of America. It’s a struggle that goes back hundreds and hundreds of years. And the biggest problem, above everything, is that it’s not really about religion anymore. It’s about a sort of ingrained bigotry in people. It’s about hatred being passed down from generation to generation. And that is something that I don’t think that any amount of open-minded teaching will ever change. I mean, to be in close proximity to either side is quite a scary thing. I can’t take any side with religious bigotry. But at the same time I would have to call myself, ethically, a republican. I believe that Ireland does essentially belong to Ireland. But at the same time, the way that the politics have been twisted and turned, it’s hardly about that anymore in a lot of ways. It’s epitomized, as you say, the analogy of the football – it’s actually quite like the hatred between two sets of supporters of football teams. They don’t really know why, sometimes, they hate each other. They just know that they have to to perpetuate the struggle that they hand down from generation to generation. That’s quite interesting. I like that analogy of Jesus being a soccer ball.
Oh there are more analogies to come.
I had a feeling there would be.
Do you know much about Emperor Constantine?
Probably not much more than his name unless I scour the back of my memory from history class. But that’s been a few years. So enlighten me about the Emperor Constantine.
Are you ready for your history lesson?
Yes. Go on.
Ok. Constantine knew that Rome was falling apart, and he cleverly used Christianity to bind the empire.
Ah yes. Now I remember Emperor Constantine.
He took over the religion, by the way. He completely took it over and changed it to become a tool of control. He altered the already-corrupted Pauline version of the Nazarenes, and he added elements of the Pagan religions. That would make it a little easier to swallow. The Nazarenes believed that they were led by the descendants of Jesus. According to them, Jesus actually had children, by the way. His marriage to Mary Magdalene was completely edited out of the gospels. So were a lot of the female disciples. Peter and Paul hated women, so that’s where that comes from. The Nazarenes, at the time of Constantine, were still around. They were people who did not believe that Jesus was any sort of god. They didn’t believe in the resurrection. That story was added by Paul. But the Nazarenes, and other sects that believed a more earthly version of the movement, were systematically wiped out by Constantine and his later replacements. So getting back to the struggle in Ireland, is it possible to make anyone in Ireland aware that the religion was politically contrived by Rome?
It’s really difficult. There is obviously an enlightened section of the population who don’t really want anything to do with that. And believe me, England wants nothing to do with the north of Ireland. Public opinion in England – if they could cut off the north of Ireland and float it out into the Atlantic, they would do it because they’ve had 25 years of the I.R.A. bringing their cities to a halt, killing their children, et cetera, et cetera. They’re really sick of the north. Admittedly, there’s a certain amount of peace in the last couple of years because I think the I.R.A. has realized that only through political means are they going to achieve a 32-county republic. Well, for the moment. It’s as if the politicians have decided, “Look, give us 15 years of this and we’ll see what happens.” But the problem is, outside of the enlightened population, you’re dealing with people who have no real concept of history, essentially. They’ve re-written their own history between them, and they’re never going to reconcile their differences, as far as I can see. It’s the same with people who obviously are christians. Fundamentally, if you were to hold it up in court, it would be thrown out of court for obviously being quite a ridiculous belief, as it is now in the 21st century. But pointing out to people what seems so logical to you, especially in this country, considering our history, is especially problematic. It’s really hard, when you’re in close proximity to people to actually believe their blind naked hatred. It’s quite unfathomable. You’re talking nation-of-islam-type hatred. My answer is no.
I’ve met christians who seem to be sensible in other ways. Their reasoning is ok in other ways. But humans are also creatures of emotion and of mental illness. So a christian might be able to solve a puzzle, but a christian doesn’t see what you and I see in the religion. I think there should be a revolutionary drug that breaks people out of their brainwashing.
Yeah, it would be nice, all right. I think that probably that revolutionary drug is a bullet, or something.
Over here in America, politicians – especially during election time, like to use the word “god” a lot. “thank god” “god bless you” and things like that. Does that sort of stuff occur in Ireland and England?
This is actually an interesting difference between America and Europe. In Europe they view Ireland as the last bastion of white Europe. But that’s something different altogether. They also view it as the last bastion of christianity and catholicism. But in fact, Ireland, in truth, is probably far less zealous about its christianity than either Spain or Italy, the other two predominantly catholic countries. We have a very strange young generation growing up. The amount of church-goers in Ireland is absolutely decimated. There is nobody applying to be priests or anything like that. In fact, the church’s hold over Ireland was pretty much ended in 1992 when all the sex abuse came out. But often I look at America and I see the rhetoric that is being used, and there is a lot of heavy sort of evangelistic rhetoric used by politicians. We don’t get the same bashing from our politicians, actually. It’s quite strange. Ok, we have very extreme anti-abortion people, and we have youth defense, which is like a small group of very right-wing christians. But they’re very small, and they don’t have any particular public support, except maybe in very rural areas.
Is that like the Hitler youth?
Yeah. You can compare it like that. Just maybe a little more unevolved, if you can imagine. But very very unenlightened people. I think that christianity is very much dying, or dead, in Europe. It has no importance or relevance to a lot of Europe. The actual “god” rhetoric that I see – and I was following your election, is practically nonexistent in Europe.
I think I want to move to Europe.
(laughs) Yeah. Perhaps.
Some people claim that the bloodline of Jesus is alive in the House of Stewart in Scotland.
Yeah, I have listened to the guitar player in Primordial talk to me about this book, “The Bloodline of Jesus” – it traces his lineage from the south of France through somewhere in the north of England. I haven’t read it. I’ve only listened to him talk about it. I don’t know enough about it to make a proper answer, but I’m sure you’re going to tell me.
I think maybe we’ll leave that part of the interview for another time.
The bashing christianity?
We might return to it in a bit more of a comical light.
I’m always up for a bit of bashing of christianity.
How does Primordial teach the world of the Irish plight? Are any of the lyrics based on leprechauns, banshees, or other Irish monsters?
I think in the last cd I said something like, “There is a deep-seated melancholy in the hearts of all Irish men.” or something, because our history is a litany of tragedy. I firmly believe that Irish people are generally friendly, quite passionate. But at the heart is a sort of melancholy that I think that you can hear in Primordial, and the songs about the leprechauns are a bit slow on the ground, actually. I used to get asked a lot, in interviews, did I ever see the film “Leprechaun”? I never even heard of it. That’s how popular they are over here. We spawned a whole film genre, and I’ve never herd of them, and you were probably going to ask me about that.
No. I just thought it would be funny to ask you a bi-level question – one part being serious, and the other part being ridiculous.
(laughs) Yeah, trying to get out the serious bit and then come to the stupid bit, but thinking of the smart answer while answering the serious bit – that’s the problem. So… other Irish monsters… hmm… I usually try not to actually use folklore references, to be honest. We leave that to other bands to sing about – our myths and our folklore. But I don’t think they’d be singing about leprechauns either, to be honest.
That part was just silly. I was wondering if Primordial was in essence an Irish band.
Oh yeah, completely. Obviously, the fact that we’re Irish is very important to us, and I think that you can hear that in the music. There is a sort of earthy basis to the music that is, essentially, for us, Irish. But it’s not Irish in a typical way.
When you take a shower, do you emerge “clean as a whistle”?
No. I’m not very good at washing I don’t think.
I just want to break all the myths. We have a soap here called “Irish Spring”.
Really? I’ve never heard of that.
It’s advertised as making you clean as a whistle.
Oh, I thought you meant “soap” like a “TV soap”.
Well, sometimes after watching a soap opera you can be as clean as a whistle because they don’t have any profanity or nudity.
It morally cleanses you, all right. I don’t think the Irish to be the greatest moral cleansers in the world. But this “Irish Spring” soap – I’ve never used it, but perhaps if I did use it I might come out clean as a whistle. But it’s pretty unlikely because I think it’s more to do with your maneuvers in the shower rather than what you’re maneuvering with.
I think that if there were an Irish soap, it should be like a joke soap- like after you wash with it, you’re bloody, like the people in Ireland.
I think that if it was a joke soap, the best joke soap it could be will be – it would really look nice, it would really smell nice, but after you washed with it a few times you would find out that it was sentex (at the core) and it would blow you up in your fucking bathroom or something. That would probably be better.
You know, it’s interesting that you say that because I was going to ask if the original name of the band was “Nitroglycerine”.
No, but I did know a band that used to have an album that was called “Sentex”, which was a bit of an explosive title all right. No, I don’t think you need nitroglycerine to make what the I.R.A. use anyway. You can make it with fertilizer. It’s very easy to make. You can probably find it on a web site somewhere – some sort of republican fucking web site.
The reason I asked about the band being called “Nitroglycerine” is because it’s a very unstable thing, and so is the line-up of Primordial.
You think so?
I think I read a blurb or something about the many hardships of the band.
(laughs) The many hardships… yeah, that would probably be one of my many blurbs. No, me, the guitar player, and the bass player have been in the band for 10 years. We’ve had one drummer change, and that was about 4 years ago. And we’ve just added a second guitar player. I would imagine that we’re pretty constant. So the blurbs are obviously wrong.
I see that now. This is a very eye-opening interview. Your lyrics lead me to believe that you enjoy medieval fantasy. Is that true?
There’s a few allusions to medieval times. But I’m not quite sure what you mean.
Sometimes Primordial has a Manowar sort of feel.
You think so?
I think so. And their lyrics are blatantly medieval. But after seeing the band live, I think that they’re a bit too goofy to have read anything, let alone medieval fiction.
They’re actually my favorite band. But there you go. (laughs)
When I listen to Primordial songs, I don’t feel that I am in this time.
Well maybe we’re reaching back to a bit more than Medieval… For us, a relation to our Celtic culture and heritage, folklore and myth, is quite important. Obviously that’s pre-christian, so you’re delving back a little bit further. It’s not that we’re romantic people. We’re very much using that kind of ethnical influence as a springboard to move into this century. We’re not kind of hopelessly romantic people who are willing it to be 500 B.C. We’re not interested in that. But at the same time, it’s a kind of earthy, organic quality. We very much shun the industrial electronic sort of urban decay sort of feel that a lot of black metal bands have gone for. There’s a few perhaps urbane references in the lyrics, but mostly we try to keep things very much earthy. We don’t go for swirling keyboards or something like this. We try and make the music sort of pure and honest.
Is your breakfast magically delicious?
No. I usually don’t get up to have breakfast. Breakfast could actually be at 3 in the morning because it’s just that I happen to eat at 3 in the morning.
Do you have a cereal there called “Lucky Charms”?
We don’t. I’ve heard of them. They’re like Twinkies or something. They’re sort of mystical food that we don’t have here.
It’s got these marshmallow shapes.
It sounds disgusting. I’ve heard what it is.
It’s got green clovers, king diamonds…
Oh yeah? King Diamonds? I might eat that.
Do you like King Diamond?
He’s not just for breakfast anymore.
No, no. He’s for all seasons, banging out 2 albums a year.
You have a song on the new album called “The Soul Must Sleep”. It contains a quote from a philosopher.
Jean-Paul Sartre, yes.
Why is that in there?
It’s strange in that I have this sort of penchant for French existentialist writers. (laughs) That’s going to sound incredibly aloof. Sometimes something just hits me, in a book, and I write it down. I have this book where I write lyrics and scribble bits of shit and all sorts of crap, and it just hit me and it seemed kind of profound. I don’t know if you ever read “Nausea” but it’s this character basically dealing with trying to overcome his misanthropic nausea of human beings, and in a sort of fleeting moment this quote just comes out and just seemed to fit in. And when we did the song, we had this sort of dreamy – we called it the “seasick son” because it has this sort of claustrophobic quality, so we wanted to try to open it up and put this sort of speech, and it just seemed to fit in the lyrics. It’s sort of burning-your-bridges, closing-your-ties, just heading for something new and never turning back. As pretentious as it may be… why not?
It’s interesting that you like the existentialists, like Descartes. Remember, earlier we were talking about christians maybe being intelligent in other ways, but not when it applies to looking at the holes in their faith? Well, Descartes basically invented scientific method.
I find Descartes a bit hard to read.
Descartes liked to examine “How do I know that this is real?” And he went through the various processes. But he never applied that to christianity. He also believed very strongly and gave arguments that god does exist.
Yeah, I know. It’s strange the amount of incredibly intelligent men who just happen to have that oversight. I mean, the amount of incredible poets, incredible artists, incredible film-makers, and incredible historians who just seem to have this block, a stain on their mind, where they just can’t seem to question their belief in god objectively. Somebody like Descartes is just another in a long line of people like that. Even Einstein was like that. I can’t understand how somebody could reconcile science with a belief in god, or more essentially, a belief in christianity. But a lot of people do. It mystifies me, to be honest.
Do you also read the ancients, like Plato?
I went through a phase at the end of school of reading things like Plato, Aristotle, and various other things like that. But some of them I found to be a little bit heavy. Other ones I just found a whole lot of Manowar lyrics, like Homer and stuff, which was quite cool in its way.
Well I was just wondering if you ever agreed with some of the things that Plato wrote. I have something in particular, if you’re searching for something – if that’s a bit too wide of a question.
Yeah, I was just going to say that. It’s a bit too wide. Hit me with your quote. I’m trying to trawl my memory.
Plato – one of his beliefs were that you should never deny your body to anyone who lusts after you. And I was wondering if that was how Primordial landed on Hammerheart Records, with Guido perhaps.
The mighty Guido from Guidoland… if you ask me fundamentally if I believe in this quote, then, not really.
But how about as far as Guido lusting after your body?
It depends. He was trying to organize a tour with Thyrfing and Menhir (spelling?), who were on a label “Ars Metalia”. I don’t know if you know them. It was a small little underground tour, and he knew that Misanthropy was kaput. So he kind of said, (in a Dutch accent) “Oh, you must sign to Hammerheart.” At the time we knew him for a long time from Bifrost days…
Bifrost! (laughs) Well, it could be that too. I dunno. But we just thought, “Fuck it! We’ll go with it. We’ll see what happens” We never contacted any Nuclear Blast, any Century Media, any Osmose, any blah blah blah. And now Hammerheart grows and grows and grows, and the business giant awakes, et cetera et cetera. I always say, show me any label whose relationship is 100%, and I’ll say they’re fucking lying, because this business is made that the bands make fuck, and the labels make a lot of money. They just live off your desire to make music and to play gigs. That’s just the way that artists and businessmen deal. It’s a very fucked-up kind of world, you know, but maybe he did (editor’s note – referring to Guido lusting after his body), and we just didn’t see it. I don’t know.
It’s interesting that you said what you said because I was going to ask you if you were terrified after Misanthropy folded.
Oh I was very pleased, actually. I don’t know if people in America would have noticed this at the time, but there was an artistic clique of sort of left-field bands that all seemed to be the same kind of person who never played live, never wanted to make anything really of their bands in a commercial sense. And I can understand that aesthetic. Misanthropy stood for them. But a lot of the times, Misanthropy’s ethic was more important than its bands. Subsequently, In The Woods only ever went on one tour. And Primordial is essentially a metal band. You know? That’s what we are. We need to play gigs. We need to get out and do these things. We felt incredibly frustrated, and also I had my arm severely twisted behind my back to change the original cover of the album they did for us, “Journey’s End”, and it never got mastered properly because they refused to pay for the proper mastering. See? Just bullshit, this kind of stuff. But now there’s nobody left in Primordial who’s naive to the music industry, and I mean, we cut personal corners as much as somebody at a label. You don’t trust anybody but yourself, generally. We needed to do things like get out on tour. We didn’t need to be secluded off in this leftist art-house sell-nothing category with bands like “”Florentine” (spelling?) and “Monumentum”. So we had to just fucking break out of that. I think we would have left even if they (ed.- Misanthropy) would have continued. I mean, I appreciate what they stood for, against the whole usual music industry way of doing things. But eventually it killed them.
Misanthropy was a record label in England. Were you known in the underground then, before you were signed to them? Or did Misanthropy become aware of you because of their employee who was Irish?
Yeah, well there’s a few different things. We did a demo in ‘93. We sold like 1,100 copies, or something like that, and we were quite well known at the time. In fanzines it was like, us, Moonspell, Ulver, In The Woods – bands with demos out that seemed to be in every fanzine. We did an album for Cacophonous Records, also England, and due to legal reasons we got out of their contract after one album, and Tisiana (ed. -the German she-male who headed Misanthropy Records) just wanted to sign us. Also, I knew Antoinette who worked there. I have nothing against the people who worked there. I just firmly believe that somehow we got an underhand deal, and if anything, Misanthropy was in its death throes at this stage. It’s just, nobody quite knew. None of the bands really got the full attention that they deserve, at the end. You know? The exception is most notably Burzum and Mayhem.
Is it true that, around that sad time when you were cutting corners, you made a little extra money on the side by selling some of your woodcarvings to certain places?
Selling some of my woodcarvings?
Yes. I heard that you made crucifixes, but with a totally naked Jesus, and that you sold them to gay bars…
And they used to have circumcision inspections to see if you were a jew?
No, no. I heard that they had the option of having a flaccid Jesus or an erect Jesus.
Oh. Well this was back in the time when the gay funeralem (spelling?) was only burgeoning, and the church was crumbling a bit, and they needed that sort of interesting… I mean, making a sort of life-size Jesus on a crucifix in your front room without the neighbors seeing is quite a difficult thing, and carrying it into town to be sold in the gay bars – that’s the biggest problem. But often they went for the erect Jesus. Who wouldn’t? The sort of Marduk-themed gay bars. You know? The “Fuck Me Jesus” type of gay bar.
When you carried the cross to town, did you carry it on your back to romanticize?
No, I put wheels on it. Very practical. I do a bit of sport, but I wasn’t really up for it. So I thought “Fuck it, I’ll put wheels on it.” It really did look like I was suffering, but really it was just the wheels. You know?
America has very strict laws about beer. If the alcohol content exceeds a certain level, the beverage must be called “ale”, not beer. Most breweries consider that to be a stigma. Do Irish bands have the same caution about incorporating brutality? Do they fear being labeled “Death Metal”?
Well have you noticed that there aren’t very many brutal bands from Ireland?
I think you’re the first band from Ireland that I’ve ever heard. I was just trying to sound cool.
All right. I understand. We’re only both trying to do the same thing then. I think that with Primordial especially, we could pretty much appeal to most fans of nearly every genre, except brutal death metal fans. We have no chance, generally, appealing to those people because, I mean, we’ve been on tour and been confronted by those people… and very difficult. We do have one band, Abaddon Incarnate, who sort of lead the way with their own sort of homophobic nihilistic brand of really really brutal death metal, and they’re pretty good at it. But essentially, Irish bands seem to be more attracted to the sort of doomy gloomy end of things.
Are they homophobic or anti-homosexual? When I think of a band as homophobic, the lyrics would be “I’m afraid that maybe I’ll like it”.
(laughs heartier than I’ve heard so far, making me feel cool and brilliant) Yeah… I’ve never really put that to them. They have a few lyrics of what you could call “anti-homosexual”. they wouldn’t really appreciate me telling you that, probably. But it’s in the cd booklet, so anybody could read it. They’re just a very violent kind of band.
When I first heard Primordial I assumed that it was embraced by the black metal scene because of some of the similar traits, like the dissonant chords, the occasional black metal vocals, and the sporadic folkish parts. But when I played a Primordial song on my radio show as an act of mercy, because I usually play death metal, some black metallers, like Goatwhore, a girl who’s in the Canadian band Goatwar, emailed me her displeasure, asking me questions like, “How can you think that this prettyboy crap is black metal?” Now before I ask you the question, I just want to remind you that it takes a certain kind of person to call or email a radio show, and those opinions should not be generalized to the masses. So my question is, where does Primordial stand as far as black metal is concerned?
I’ll explain what my perception of what black metal is, and where we stand in relation to it. The doors within black metal, in Europe, have all been kicked down. And I do understand that, in America, a lot of people still hold onto the shall we say true 1993 flame of black metal, and that’s probably one of these girls who wrote in saying “This is fucking pretty boy shit, and blah blah blah.” which really doesn’t bother me. But essentially, Primordial is born from the 2nd wave of black metal that came out in the early ‘90’s. Our peers are bands like Emperor, Ulver, Moonspell, Enslaved.. those kind of bands… Gorgoroth. They were all the same age. I know these people generally. There’s been certain bands in the black metal scene who maybe started with us, who people in the black metal scene now may not have quite understood, back then, what they stood for. “Ah, Katatonia is such a wimp-ass band, et cetera et cetera.” The whole point of the 2nd wave of black metal scene was that it was open to divergence, and it was open to the influence of bands like Bathory and Celtic Frost. And their legacy, to me, is, you push in what direction you will. That’s what we take our inspiration from. There can really be nothing more fundamentally black metal than pleasing yourself foremost. For me, Primordial is as black as it ever was. It’s just that we don’t sound like Gorgoroth. You know? I think that if anybody saw us play live, they would get the same feeling. Black metal is such a wide-ranging and vaguely nondescript title in the year 2001 that I’m not exactly sure it exists anymore because I think part of the thing that was black metal was that it came from a network of mail underground writing scene, and that is all dead. Completely stone-hammer dead. It was very important to release your demos and sell them in the Post, and all that sort of thing. For people who maybe have only started to listen to black metal in the last couple of years, they’re not going to understand the importance of Rotting Christ’s demo, because to them, a band like Rotting Christ now are just wimpy. But everybody evolves as a person. And to deny your own self-evolution is probably fundamentally less true black metal than sounding like your demo forever and ever. But I personally think that you can sound like Judas Priest and be true black metal, if true black metal exists. It doesn’t matter. You don’t have to have 4-track production, et cetera et cetera. But there is black metal people who do like Primordial, probably more in Europe than in America. In America we seem to be appreciated more by the Opeth, Katatonia sort of people. If you’re going to play us in the midst of a death metal show, then we’re going to stick out like big fucking sore thumb.
In the case of new Katatonia, I don’t think that their changes were a move of being true to themselves. They were true to pop music.
Perhaps. I know some of the people from Katatonia, and I think what it was is that they just got bored of metal, and they just wanted to move off into something else. That’s not something that ever really happened to Primordial. I evolve as a person. I don’t change. I evolve, as opposed to stagnating. But some people just change, full circle.
I definitely think that Katatonia bought one of your crucifix sculptures.
(laughs boldly) Yeah, perhaps. I don’t seem to remember selling them to them. But it was dark. So it could have been.
Yeah, it sounds like it. America, would you say, got its first taste of you with the big article in Metal Maniacs?
Being on a Dutch label that doesn’t seem to be too concerned with the American market, that (article) was probably your milestone here.
Yeah, well Hammerheart America then opened very shortly after that article.
Yes, and the album usually had a starburst sticker that read “This is the band that you read about in Metal Maniacs.”
You can rage all day against crap like that, but that’s what labels do.
When you were interviewed, was it Jeff Wagner?
Did he use the word “breath-taking” He seems to like that word, doesn’t he?
Yeah, I think he must have used it once or twice. He used it in the introduction.
See? That’s an easy way to make money – betting whether or not jeff Wagner uses the word “breath-taking”. You had asked me before why I don’t interrupt you when you talk. Is that the opposite of a Jeff Wagner interview? Did he go on and on and on?
No. I like Jeff.
Of course. He gave you 6 pages.
Well this is it… and yeah – he’s just a dedicated passionate metal fan.
Not a bag of hot air?
No. Well, I don’t know how Metal Maniacs is perceived by the underground in America.
I enjoy your bardic style of singing. It makes me feel like I’m in a tavern with a flagon of ale.
A tavern of ill repute, yeah.
I don’t know what your society is like, but in America, the English language has been stripped of its beauty.
So I find your eloquence to be refreshing. It’s one of my many escapes from the blight of this land. Earlier you admitted that you do like some death metal. Have you ever considered experimenting with that kind of voice?
There’s death metal vocals in the first verse in the song “Glorious Dawn”.
Hey, if I played that on the radio and said “This is death metal” people would call up and say, “You call that prettyboy crap death metal?”.
Well it’s death metal vocals in the way of Aeturnus or something. To me, death metal vocals is just low end brutal vocals. But I can’t really do it that fuckin’ brutal.
Understood. Is America known throughout Europe as the land of simple language… or bastardized language?
Yes, I would have to say. Unfortunately, what we see of America is pretty much Hollywood and Jerry Springer. American death metal is the big trend here in Europe now.
I can’t believe that. I though black metal had a hold.
Black metal is dead in Europe. Stone fucking dead
We’re behind the times, then.
Yeah, you’re about 5 years behind. Believe me. I don’t mean that in a patronizing way, but it’s true. What happened was, I think, in about 1998 when Morbid Angel released the Formulas album, death metal kicked back in in a big way in Europe. Bands like Marduk and Dark Funeral and Immortal all started championing death metal, wearing death metal shirts on stage.. and their playlists and everything, and bringing the bands out on tour – it had a big knock-on effect in the underground, and now you only have to look at the new “No Mercy Festival” – it has Mortician on the bill. It’s actually getting trendy in Europe now. Death/grind is the big trend. Obviously power metal is the biggest thing… like 10-15 times bigger. Death metal is the new big thing.
I don’t think I have too many enemies over there.
No, no. Not as many. You know, some people have said to me when I said I was doing an interview for the Grimoire, “Oh no, no. Don’t do that! He’ll just take the piss out of you!” And I went, “Ah so what? It’s just funny. Relax, will you?” It’s as if these people are only ever going to read one Cannibal Corpse interview with you and they’re pissed off that you’ve taken the piss out of them. But man, Cannibal Corpse is everywhere. Read a serious interview the next day. But no… you probably don’t have too many sworn enemies in Europe.
I’m glad about that. Well… they probably fight like Europeans anyway.
If they fight like Irish people, it’s a bit different.
In television and movies, women are sometimes depicted as having a headache to get out of sex. Would a headache ever prevent your arousal… or any other part of the sexual cycle?
It’s probably not gonna happen, to be honest. I think that any man that uses a headache as a reason why they can’t be aroused has got something wrong with them because you can be aroused sitting on a bus going over a bump. It doesn’t take much. I think it’s two little brains working independent of each other. You don’t really have that much control over it.
Do you think that if you were crucified, that you might be able to attain an erection if a really hot girl came by to check out your execution?
(laughs) Emm… difficult question. It depends how hot it was or how many days you’d been up there. I think you probably could. It would be a good way to test that fine balance between pain and pleasure. I’m not quite sure how she’d manage to shuffle up the crucifix to sort of impale herself, so-to-speak.
Would you use your position up there to hit on the girl, like (in a smooth voice) “Hey, what am I gonna do?”
Or, “Hey, look, I’m so cool. I can have holes in my hands and still stay up here for hours.” Yeah, I think it would be a pretty definite advantage to be able to hit on a girl. And if she really fell for it maybe she would saw you down or something. But then again, she probably couldn’t get that close. I can’t imagine the Roman legionaries letting her get that close.
Well, if there were a revolt, with 20,000 people hanging…
That’s a good point, actually.
They just don’t have the manpower.
It would be a little difficult to pinpoint one girl particularly to wink at and hit on. I’ve been on stage, so I know (laughs). If you’ve ever played in a band, you know what I mean.
I’m one of those journalists who is a failed musician. Obviously, Romans crucified women too, mostly during times of revolt. If you’re in that city, too bad. If you were living in those times, would you sneak up to a cross at night and help yourself to a cheap feel? Seriously. I want you to really think about this, because this is a serious question.
It depends on how long the woman may have been there. But it also depends on how far your reach is. You have to shuffle up the crucifix to really have a go.
See, that’s a common misconception. It’s because of artists and what they had to abide by when depicting a crucifixion. There were no hilltop spectacles. Your feet were almost touching the ground, so you were there for the abuse of the passerbyer. (ed. – also, if the feet were nailed, it was almost in a spread-eagle position, each heel being nailed to each side of the beam, not in front of the beam. In some cases, the ankle bone was the zone of puncture).
This is true. It would be a pretty sick way to get your kicks. But seeing as I’m doing an interview for a death metal magazine, maybe I should just say “yeah”.
Let’s say you were a teenager living in those times…
How do you know I’m not a teenager?
Your lyrics just speak of too much experience.
(laughs) Ok, I’m not a teenager. I’ll admit to that.
Let’s say you were a teenager and you didn’t have any experience. There was no sex ed in those times. You just learned it from the street or from an animal. But if that was your first chance, would you go for it? They didn’t always nail you in.
Yeah. You could kind of cop a quick look more than a feel, really, and just sort of check out what’s up there. Then you might go back home and you might think about it. Your curiosity more sort of dampens your hardened enthusiasm.
Being that you are a woodcarver on the side…
Yeah, I am a woodcarver on the side.
If you were alive at the time, would you perhaps be a vendor who sold little stick crucifixions for the tourists?
Actually that’s a strange question because this reminds me of something that happened to me, being down at the Rock of Kershall (spelling?) which is like this traditionally famous rock with a castle on it. There’s a little gift shop in the town, and you go in, and there’s these little plastic monks about 4 inches high, and you press his head down, and this huge fucking knob erects out of his garment. And your question just sort of reminded me of that, these vendors selling these blatantly pornographic little monks with happy heads and little penises popping up. So perhaps, unbeknownst to me, that is some karmic link or something, that maybe I was actually before selling little crucifixes with erect Jesuses on them.
In later ages, executions were quite the entertainment. So I would imagine little memorabilia being sold. That might have been pioneered by the enjoyable crucifixion sites.
Could’ve been… you could buy little bits of fingers and little bits of toes, and programs probably.
Do you think it would have been an extra agony to be on a cross and maybe being pestered by someone whom you always managed to escape from at a tavern. You know – pass the person onto someone else to annoy. But when you’re there on the cross, you just have to deal with a person talking to you.
It’s like the stocks in the middle of the village. If someone managed to piss off a considerable section of the village, they used to lock them in the stocks, and people can piss on them and throw food on them. It has a certain sort of medieval charm.
Yeah, we’re really missing a lot these days.
I think we could bring back all sorts of great capital punishment. But you have the death penalty, so you’re not doing too badly.
Yeah, but we don’t really have that entertainment sense about the execution anymore.
Well give it about 10 years. You might get injections and electrocutions on TV.
They’re not much fun, I must admit. You can give people a little bit more of a chance – some sort of Running Man style of entertainment.
Or maybe just throw the body into a pool of ravenous sharks.
Yeah, that’s a pretty death metal sort of answer. I’ll go with that. There’s not many sharks around the coast of Ireland, I must admit, though.
Ok, I just thought they were not welcomed there.
Like snakes, you mean? Saint Patrick banished the snakes from Ireland.
They wouldn’t have too many bathers to feed on. The Irish are known for their pale skin. I don’t think that they’re big beach-goers.
No, not really. Although, with global warming, that might change. We’re hoping for a few better summers.
When Jesus was alive, no one called him “Jesus Christ.” His actual name was “Jesus Penis-hands”.
Yes, he earned that after the crucifixion because that guy, Thomas, could not believe his eyes. So Jesus let him stick his penis through one of the nail holes. Thomas later moved to England, where he started a business, selling certain breakfast bread called “Doubting Thomas’s English Muffins”. Have you heard any of that alternate history?
Well, it could be doughnuts really, if you think about it. That would make sense where the hole is there.
Oh yes! See? In America things are altered. We have “Thomas’s English Muffins.” We got rid of the doubting part, and the hole in the middle is covered up.
It’s another one of life’s great conspiracies. That’s what the hole in the doughnut was traditionally for. It’s been quite an enlightening conversation. I’ve learned a lot about Jesus. What’s the story with so many questions about Jesus? Is that your angle on me?
Well I just feel bad because the last issue did have, ironically, an article based on that book, “The Bloodline of Jesus”, except the very first page of the article had an image behind the text that just blotted out the text. So that page was unreadable.
(laughs) So this is an opportunity for you to put forth some of your text.
Yes, instead of completely re-publishing that page, I thought…
You’d ask me something completely unrelated about something that you made a mistake on before.
Yes, you are my damage control. I’m very grateful that you obliged me.
Any other books or articles you’d care to…
Interview with Cronos conducted by Bill Zebub for Issue #21 of THE GRIMOIRE OF EXALTED DEEDS magazine
I understand that you had a false media war with King Diamond in the early days. You were calling him King Billy and he was calling you Cronfag.
It’s all good fun. We’ve had this since the beginning of our career. The first label that we were with, there was a band called Raven. As soon as we realized that Venom money was being used to fund Raven, that was it! You know? The war was on! We’ve always thought that it sort of creates a good… A little bit of rivalry between bands can keep everybody on their toes. Sometimes it’s good fun.
Americans like it. Professional wrestling is proof of that.
I mean, the thing for me, was… this is why I called him King Billy…. because when I first met him, he tried to sort come across to me like he was some fuckin’ hard core Satanic dude. You know? Which I was having none of it. I really wanted to sort of go, “Hi. How ya doin’? Do you wanna have a beer?” which is sort of my way of doin’ things. But he sort of wanted to sit at this table, with these candles around him, and stare at everybody. So we just sat around and got drunk and just took the piss out of him all night. Eventually, when he left… this is in Holland… he stood up from the table to go to his hotel room, with a glass in his hand. Now he had no shoes on. He dropped the fuckin’ glass, stood in it, cut his foot, and had to get rushed off to the hospital. You know? Like… (he cackles like an old witch who is about to lower children into a boiling cauldron). Really evil. (again, the cackle).
I never thought he would act like that.
Yeah. He made a right dick of himself. But I forgive ‘im.
What do you think about his music?
It’s not really my cup of tea. But it’s still heavy, and I do appreciate heavy. I’ve never really been into that high voice/low voice thing. You know? I was always a big Judas Priest fan. I can’t really get past that, really. But hey. Good luck to him. I mean, he’s doin’ some good shit. He’s got some cool titles and that. But I don’t really have to like the music. That’s the thing about this. With a lot of bands, so long as they’re ok people, that’s also a lot of the message that we’ve got. You know? Venom want to be a super group. We wanna put on a fuckin’ cross between a KISS show, a Judas Priest show, and a Black Sabbath show. You know? We wanna be that huge group. That’s what influenced us. But at the same time we wanna still come down to earth and have a fuckin’ laugh. We’ve tried to do that with Venom, not necessarily successfully. Some people say, well you’re not serious… you’re takin’ the piss… and you don’t chill out enough.. and you shouldn’t take yourself too seriously. Fuckin’ hell! You know? We’re musicians. We’re gonna do our job. But then we’re gonna get drunk and fall around like idiots.
So you won’t be doing any King Diamond covers on the next album?
Don’t think so. I remember goin’ through Germany once, when we played that first tape, and we’re all goin’ (in a high voice) “Hail Satan! (in a low voice) “Hail Satan! We just thought it was so funny. You know? I was runnin’ around with these fuckin’ bones in me hands, doin’ fuckin’ King Billy impressions.
The funny thin is that he is going to be in the same issue.
Hey, no problem.
There was a very brutal version of At War With Satan recorded in the old days. Will that ever be available?
Was that the demos? That was, wasn’t it? When we actually came over to do the Staten Island show… I remember we had Metallica on… ‘83. We had the demo for At War With Satan in our bag, and we went to these great parties with all these young kids and got fuckin’ out of our minds. I remember pulling out the tape and played it for everybody, and they thought it was great, and we got drunk and we left and we didn’t take the tape. That’s how that got out. But we didn’t mind anyway. We thought it sounded cool anyway. So we just went, oh well, what the fuck. Win some, lose some. We still had the album to do, anyway. So it was no problem to us.
Metallica actually opened for Venom. That’s very strange.
Not really. They were young spotty kids. I mean, that’s what we thought at the time. It was difficult for Venom to… fuckin’ hell! There was no fucker who really understood what we were doin’. So we had to really selectively choose who we were on the road with. A band like Metallica… we were sent over some stuff over to England and we heard it and we thought, well at least it’s fast. Because what we were hearing was all these Iron Maiden cover bands and fuckin’ Def Leppard shit. And we thought, no, these are gonna get murdered. We knew that the Venom audience was gonna crawl out of the sewers. We just knew that. You know? We thought, uh oh… this is gonna be fun! So we couldn’t have had some fuckin’ pretty boy band on support. They would have been murdered. But metallica were cool. Hey, they were young spotty kids. But at the same time they were really energetic, which we liked. It was the same with Slayer and Exodus as well. The energy that they had… plus they were young, plus they were pretty cool and everything. We had some good laughs.
So do your style decisions reflect those of Metallica? Will you be going down the same path?
My hair’s still down to my ass.. and I don’t wear make up… and I’ve got a girlfriend.
There are no pictures of you kissing a band mate?
I don’t think so.
By the way, there’s a severe thunderstorm in the area. So if I die, what a way to go.. die while talking to Cronos. There’s a backwards message on the vinyl version of Black Metal. Is the forward version message interesting?
Yeah! It’s on everything. I mean, fuckin’ hell! There’s more than just that. There’s that stuff on quite a lot of the records. The classic one that I always thought was when we first came to do the first single, I was all full of, I wanna do all these backwards messages. I was gonna do some lord’s prayer, or something. And then when we play it backwards it will be all wicked and spooky. And I was like, no… that’s fuckin’ really childish. What I’m gonna do is, I’m gonna shout “You’re gonna fuckin’ burn in hell! You’re gonna bleed for me!” When you play that backwards, then it sounds… you can say “Have a nice day” and it would sound evil backwards. But then when they spun the fuckin’ record backwards and hear us actually screamin’ that shit out… I just wanted to fuckin’ frighten people.
It’s good wholesome Satanism that the entire family can enjoy.
I think so. Yeah. Definitely for the fuckin’ family. Bring the pets too. They go really well on the barbeque.
This next question comes from a person who is quite knowledgeable about the Venom ways. His name is Paul Nestarok. He writes for me under the name “Paul Tergeist”.
Cool… Bill Zebub. (laughs in mockery)
When was the last time you smoked angel dust?
Fuckin’ hell! It’s got to be over 10 years now, when i was back in the States.
Would you like to talk about that, being that you are such a mighty role model?
Well it was just cool. I got stoned. (laughs) It was pretty cool. I really got nice and wrecked on it, and felt really wicked good after the show. I got it off some chick. She was Russian. She brought it. It was really fresh… still on the fuckin’ mint leaf and everything. It was really nice.
Any psychotic episodes?
No. We didn’t, actually. But somebody said we’d have to freebase it to have that effect.
I see. So it’s not a bad psychoactive drug, according to Cronos?
I’ve never had a bad one. I never had a bad drug. I loved them all.
You are quite healthy these days. I was wondering if you changed your habits… if you no longer partake of such things.
Yeah, I do my bodybuilding and I stay fit and everything. What it is, is I consider that if i stay fit then I can party harder because I recover quicker. But so does Mantas as well. It goes with the whole sort of Venom territory, I think. It’s healthy body/healthy mind. And plus, we did the first gig in ‘82 over in Belgium and sat backstage and looked at each other and went (in slurred speech) “Fuckin’ hell! I’m fucked!” And we just said that’s it, we need to get fit to do this. If we’re gonna be able to stand on stage and look like these cool dudes who we wanna look like, standing there all big and proud and hard core, not like (pants like a dog). You know?
You were rumored to be quite in love with Jack Daniels.
Oh yes. A rather nice thing to be drinking. Amber nectar.
Whenever your stage banter included Americans, it was not very flattering. I’m not American. So I don’t are. But I would be interested in your anti-American outlook.
I don’t think it’s anti-American. I think what it is is it’s a very realistic look at the differences between England and America. When I’m in America, if i take the piss out of Americans, you’ll find that I’ll also give the counter argument for the English. I just find that there’s some sort of good little conundrums that go down in America that seems to go over everyone’s head, yet it seems so obvious to me. The classic one is when you’re called a limy. I find that one really funny because when I say to people “What is a limy?” they say, “well, you’re a fuckin’ limy”. Yeah. Well, how do you come to that name? And they’re like, “Well, when the English got on the boats to come across to America, they had to suck on limes so they didn’t get scabies and shit. So that’s why you’re a limy.” But hold on. The English who came to America stayed in America. There were some English people who didn’t come to America. They stayed in England. That’s my ancestors. We didn’t get on that fuckin’ boat. We didn’t suck no fuckin’ limes. you’re the limy! An American is a descendant of the person who got on the boat and sucked on the limes. So the Americans are fuckin’ limy.
I got on the airplane, man. I had jack Daniels. Call me a fuckin’ jackie.
I’m sure there are plenty of people who call you a jackie.
Yeah. Just call me Daniels!
On the first vinyl pressing of Welcome to Hell, a poster was included. Will any kind of special collector’s item appear in a future Venom release, or is the small size of a cd too much of a limit?
That’s true. i think so. I mean, I’ll tell you where I think everything’s going now. I’m really trying to get me head into the sort of computer thing as well. You can get the wallpapers from the web pages… all the multimedia stuff… all the icons and the buttons and the bits and pieces. A lot of people are finding that to be a good addition to things now. It’s just a case of convincing the record companies that this shit doesn’t take up much space an the cd, and blah dee blah dee blah. Then we can start putting more on a record, really. Sorry. More on a cd, than we could on an album.
Like a virus, maybe.
Yeah. (laughs) Matrix virus. Take the red pill. I’m also a vinyl fan, so I look at a cd fuckin’ booklet and I just go “duh”. I want it bigger. At the same time, if you’re gonna be able to have stuff on the cd, even like video stuff like the cd rom… you buy an album and you get more than just music. You can watch it and interact with it and fuck about with it and everything. Mix your own Venom album.
Am I right in saying that there are not many professional pictures that were taken of Venom in the early days?
What it was was , what we did was, we only had really a couple of select photographers that we would let take photos, and everybody else just used to get us at gigs or catch us in the street or coming out of the gig or whatever it was. We used to use a KISS photographer, actually. It was a guy named Fin Costello. He took all the classic KISS shots. He’s an English guy. We went down and he says, “I came up with this idea for a photo session”. So the ones that we did, we did mainly with Fin Costello. Wicked good laugh. He knew all the shops to go around and get all the skulls and the bones and the mummies, fuckin’ chains, and the snakes. So we had good fun with him.
At the end of From Hell to the Unknown, I guess it’s a fake interview. But in it was the denial that black metal was the name of a music genre. It’s strictly a name for an album. But throughout the life of Venom that was a changing statement. One day black metal is music, and another day black metal is just simply an album name. So what is it today?
I’ve never heard that argument, really. If somebody says, where does the name “black metal” come from? It was a term that I created before we actually wrote the song. This is the honest way that it is. Being a fuckin’ big fan of metal music and rock and everything else, I’m also a big Van halen fan, and heard that he was doing a guitar solo for Michael Jackson. Fuckin’ hell! Heard the song… I think it was “Beat It”. I just went “Duh!” You know? Why is a fuckin’ rock fuckin’ legend like that getting involved with shit? The next thing I see is in the rock press, where you’ve got the heavy metal charts. You’ve got #1 with Michael Jackson with “Beat It” just simply because Eddie Van Halen had done a solo. So I remember goin’ into one of the early Venom rehearsals… I was furious. I was like, fuck this! We’re NOT heavy metal. Fuck this! No way! I don’t want to be in the same chart as that! We started playin’ with words.. like we were longhaired punks. We were metal punk. Then we were power metal. And by the time we actually sat down with the press and they were sayin’ “Right, what’s happenin’ with this, that, and the other?” I was like, “Yeah. Look, I’m fuckin’ sick of this shit! Fuckin’ listen to me now! This is not fuckin’ shit! This is fuckin’ metal, this, mate! This is in your face. This will kick your fuckin’ eyes out! You know? Don’t fuck around with this! This is black metal! This is power metal! This is speed metal. This is thrash metal! This is death metal! This is will kill you, this shit, man! Fuck off!’ I was just so angry. I was just so pissed off. I just thought, NO WAY! So that’s where that was all born from. Yeah, we then wrote the song Black Metal. We thought, let’s describe Venom in a song. Black metal is describin’ Venom. The actual genre that fuckin’ followed was simply… I mean, we formed a band that we wanted to see. We wanted a band to look like Venom.. So what the kids obviously did, our fans, went, “We would like to be like that as well”, and they took little bits out of Venom like we would’ve taken little bits out of Sabbath and Judas Priest and fuckin’ KISS and whoever influenced us.
And King Diamond?
Yeah… of course. (cackles) So that’s how all these sort of things come together. It’s other people who say, “Oh Venom are responsible for this, and Venom are responsible for that!” If I’m in any way responsible for the huge explosion of a whole load of fuckin’ demons, it seems like the gates of hell have just opened up, and a million death metal ugly motherfuckers have come crawling out and have infected the whole world… hell yeah! That’s what I say!
How do you feel about the Norwegians claiming that the 90’s music that they seemed to create is called “Black Metal” especially since they pay homage to Bathory instead of to you?
A lot of them pay homage to Venom as well. I mean, they’ve all got the Venom “Welcome to Hell” t-shirts. The whole thing is, they’re not really encapsulating the whole thing of what black metal is because black metal captures all of the metals, and Venom play fast songs and slow songs and moody songs and atmospheric songs… and they play only one style of music. They play like a death metal more like, and with a (in a Popeye voice) wicky wicky wicky wicky we… sort of like speeded up Popeye lyrics. There’s one fuckin’ song we heard a while ago. it was really funny. It sounded like Popeye singing “Oh I do like the babyside, the seaside.” I thought it was great! We were fuckin’ pissin’ ourselves laughing!
I think that was Immortal.
I got two people, the singer Abbath and the bass player Iscariah, to sing actually sing the lyrics of Popeye because they don’t have that show. They don’t know why I was telling them to sing it.
I wrote down the words lyrics down. (Cronos laughs, quite amused) I’ll have to send it to you.
It’s going to appear on one of my cd’s.
Brilliant! It’s like when you go to France and you get some French girl and she can’t speak English, and say, “Here. Do you want to learn English?” and they’re going “Ke?” And you go, “Yeah. Just say this. Say ‘fuuuuck meeee.” And they’re just standin’ there goin’ “Fok may?” that’s the best. Great fun.
Do you find a similarity between your song “Manitou” and Bathory’s “Baptized in Fire and Blood?” from the Hammerheart album?
No. Manitou was actually written during the Welcome to Hell days. So I don’t know when the bathory track was actually put together. But, most certainly not! The song Manitou was actually the original riff for the song “Possessed” It should’ve actually went… in Manitou, where the riff goes dil noo noo noo noo noo… right? That should’ve went, “Look at me. Satan’s child!” Dil noo noo noo noo noo. “Born of evil. Thus defiled!” But then as we’d done the Black Metal and At War With… album, we were startin’ to look at the “Possessed” songs and goin’ “Neh neh nuh nih neh neh.” So I came up with a whole new riff sequence for the possessed thing and put the Manitou lyrics to the Possessed riff to make Manitou.
It’s a great joy for me to play those songs back to back on my radio show. But no one has ever called me, like “Wow! That’s very similar!” It’s just something that maybe only I can hear.
But I don’t hear voices or anything like that. How do you pronounce it… a-BAD’-on or A’-ba-don?
In England, we would say A-ba-don.
Abaddon is no longer in the band.
Rumor has it that he found the direction of Venom to be taking a turn for the weak.
No. What it was was he fell in love with Marilyn Manson. Yep. He’s now gone into some kind of computerized drum technical frenzy type very bad Nine Inch Nails rip off shit. No thank you.
So he couldn’t do that just as a hobby and keep true in the Venom way?
This is what we didn’t understand, because we want to actually progress Venom. We sort of want to take Venom into this century… you know… corny, corny… everyone’s on millennium frenzy. We don’t really mean that. It’ s not just a reunion that we put together. We saw immediately, when we were playin’ the live songs, like “Evil One” and the crowd reactions… that we could actually keep this goin’. You know? When people say “come back”, it usually takes a week and they’re fucked up again. It’s like. we’ve been sort of back together no since ‘95. So there is a future in this, and we want to push this band. But what we don’t want to do is be influenced by other types of music, whether it’s Marilyn Manson or whoever. I mean, I quite like the Nine Inch Nails stuff. I think it’s fuckin’ insane, especially the first couple of albums. But everything else from then has always just been a rip off of Trent Reznor. The originators usually have the best ideas. I don’t really see that Venom can go down that kind of path. Venom are all about fuckin’ pickin’ up guitars and playin’ drums and gettin’ hot and sweaty, not pushin’ a whole load of buttons and lettin’ a load of machines do it.
The songs on Resurrection seem very radio-friendly, that is, until the profanity kicks in, making them commercially unplayable.
That’s the Zappa influence.
It just seems very ironic to me because they do seem almost like they were written for radio at points, but then just blatantly saying “Fuck you!”… it’s just sabatoging it.
Well, it’s the Zappa bit that’s comin’ out there. But we definitely didn’t think that because it’s a fuckin’ angry album for us. I mean, we spent a year fightin’ with lawyers, and all sorts of bullshit, and not playin’ the music, which was very frustrating. And the only way that we could get that frustration out when we started doin’ the new songs was actually just to write the most aggressive shit that we could, and that even goes with the titles and everything. I mean, even walkin’ into rehearsal one day after I’d lent Mantas the “Load” album of metallica… and this is definitely a fact, DEFINITELY… 100%… I lent Mantas the fuckin’ “Load” album and he comes runnin’ into rehearsal, like threw it on the floor, and just yelled “What the fuck’s that SHIT?!” And he says, “Right. I’ve got a new song called ‘Loaded’.” And he played the, and he said, “This is my answer to that!” So the track “Loaded” is Mantas’ answer to Metallica’s “Load” and “Reload”. This is Mantas sayin’ to Metallica, “This is fuckin’ Loaded!”
It seems lyrics in bands like Bon Jovi and other glamsters were a whole bunch of cliches maybe thrown into a computer, and the computer selected the ones that rhymed. Venom lyrics, in songs like “The Seven Gates of Hell” are very godly. You can actually send them to a newspaper for a poetry contest. No, I’m just kidding.
I know what you mean, though, because that’s how they start. That’s how all my lyrics start. They just start as a rhyme, an anecdote, a saying, a quip, something I’ve caught off the tv, walkin’ down the street, whatever… I mean, i do just sort of pick up on generalizations, and then I try to plant the seed and let the thing grow. Even a funny way that one word will go into another word can set us off on a whole wave, writin’ a strange lyric. You know? But also things that you see immediately as well. I was standin’ on stage in Greece and the whole of the fuckin’ audience had a right arm up in the air, like a big fuckin’ fist. And i remember standin’ there and I said to meself, “Standing there, arms out toward you, clenching fists.” And I thought, fuckin’ hell, that’s a lyric straight away. They’re all stretchin’ their arms out towards you, clenchin’ fists, and it’s one of the opening lyrics to the songs on the new album… Pandemonium. Things can come to me at any time. If you start wrtin’ on a catchy riff, then it’s gonna become somethin’ that will have a flow. I’m not into one of these songs… even like the Bon Jovi stuff… it’s so predictable. Fell in love/fell out of love. You know… again and again and again. It’s good to have fun with words, sometimes. And being English, you know, fuckin’ we’re renown for it anyway. we like to fuck around with our wonderful accents. (cackles)
And you also like to use really intense adjectives for the most simple things… like “frightfully” good. The lyrics in songs like “Seven Gates of Hell” are timeless. However, on the new album… and this is not an insult…
Well I’d like you to speak your mind.
It just seems that there are more 20th century phrases… maybe cliches.
How did you let that happen?
Because I think it’s just NOW. I feel it’s right to do that now. A lot of that stuff seemed like the right lyric to use at the time. I think we’re bein’ more aggressive with the things we’re sayin’ as well. I mean, we seem to be attacking christ more. We seem to be attacking people more. We seem to be being stronger. I think all of those sort of classic elements of what Venom songs were are sort of peakin’ with this album. I think we’ve sort of encapsulated a lot what Venom is about. There’ll be a track on this album for everybody, type of thing. And that’s how we saw definitely the Black Metal album. We knew that there’s be some fucker who liked at least one song on that album.
Rumor has it that you’re an aerobics instructor. (he laughs) Is that true?
Really? So do you do the step… (we both laugh)
You see what’s so funny? Do you know what it is? I wanna know what it is with guys… they just think it’s so fuckin’ funny, and yet you’ve got me standin’ in a room with like 50 scantily clad women.
Yeah. that’s an enviable position. But aren’t some of them tubs?
No, no, no, no, no.
So do you add erotic hip movements to your routine?
Without a doubt.
That’s so strange. Are you employed at mantas’ gym?
No. He has his own. He mainly just does martial arts. Kickboxing ,tae kwon do, karate… all this sort of stuff. You know? I mean, this is why we were laughing at Abaddon calling his album “Dance Metal.” If you’ve ever seen Abaddon, he’s like tow left feet. So I said to the European press, “Well if Abaddon wants to book the venue, maybe he can sell tickets, and he can stand on stage and demonstrate how you’re supposed to dance to this shit.” You know? I’ll get up there. if he wants to show me the moves, hey, I’ll give it a try. Chances are, he’ll get on stage and fall down drunk and piss himself.
When you get a bad review, do you send Mantas over to the journalist’s house?
Yeah. He is deadly. No! We definitely think people should always speak their mind. We are never hurt by a bad review, the same as when we have a good review… we don’t have a fuckin’ party. We have always made albums for ourselves. Like Possessed… we should have done a lot more work on that album. We’ve only got ourselves to blame. So we kicked ourselves about that. We don’t need anybody else to do it for us. It’s amazing to say that Venom thought that they could have done better on that album. It sells just as well amongst Black Metal and Welcome to Hell and At War With Satan. A lot of people who listen to Venom mustn’t think what we think. They think it’s a cool Venom album. They weren’t in the studio.
I’ve never interviewed a band from England that like d Kerrang. Why is Kerrang anti-English?
They’ve got tongues that are 3,000 miles long and they land right on the New York shore. I haven’t got a fuckin’ clue what their problem is with England. But, like, they’re so renowned for bein’… it’s so obvious, it’s like the fuckin’ snake out of Jungle Book. You know it’s gonna turn on you. You just know. You go to Kerrang. They’ll lick your ass and give you a good review. But you know that next week they’re gonna turn. They’re so predictable and boring. Let’s hype them up and knock them down. Fans decide to buy the records to continue that career, not because some fuckin’ little goose egg in an office is gonna try to make you or break you.
I don’t know about England, but in America, the major metal press is not composed of metalheads. They’re all nerds who used to get beaten up by metalheads. So do you think that this is just revenge against people who stole their lunch money? Seriously. Whenever I attend an event and go into the press room, I never reveal who I am. I just watch, and I’m amazed that these are the people who write about metal. If one were standing next to you at a show and maybe shared an opinion, you’d probably slap him or say, “No offense, but go away.”
When we did the Dynamo in Holland, Slayer did the next day. We sort of hung around the next day so we could watch Slayer up at the side, and there were all these obvious record company dudes with this short hair and fuckin’ suits on. And all the crowd’s like bouncin’ at the same time to this certain Slayer song, and everybody’s got the same groove goin’ down. Everybody’s goin’ up down up down up down up down. There’s these two guys like swayin’ side to side, like as if they’ve got an itch. Totally out of rhythm with everybody else. But you can also see them lookin’ around like, hoping nobody can see them. They were just so out of place. they were so fuckin’ out of place… in the safety of that besides-the-stage ooh-I’ve-got-a-backstage-pass… I felt like runnin’ out and throwin’ the fuckers right in the middle of the mosh pit! It’s like, get out of that one!
I think all metal magazines should have pictures of the writers so you could see who’s writing these reviews.
What we were gonna do… I mean, we never got around to it, we had loads of threats… what we were gonna do was we were gonna put a magazine together that reviewed all the magazines. (cackles) We would be reviewin’ the magazine from a week before. “Well, they slated Aerosmith, the sad bastards.” And just really pull the magazines down.. well, the ones who deserve it, of course. There’s fuckin’ plenty of them. The English press have that… sort of need to want to be different. You know? Even though the rest of the world might say, “Hail Aerosmith! Best band on the planet!” England will go, “Oh, we think they’re shit!” Just to be cunts. just to be sad bastards. Like, “Look, I had to get up this morning. It was still dark, and it was pissin’ down with rain, and cold, and I had to get out of me bed and review this. So fuck you.” It’s really sad, isn’t it?
It was cool watching Venom at the Milwaukee Metalfest.
Were you there? Excellent! We had a great time.
You played Seven Gates of Hell.
Indeed. We opened with it.
I heard you were at the bar, but i was loading in my stuff, and i though, well, maybe later. But later never happened. But it’s great talking to you now. I was wondering if you were happy with everything over there.
We never are. We always plan 210 things and then we get like 20 of them. And that’s always the case with Venom. We always have to oveplan and we always end up disappointed. But hopefully the crowd still get more than what they expected. So we try to get that sort of balance. Venom played 20 minutes late. The reason for that is because some fuckin’ suits came up to us with large fuckin’ wads of paper, saying, “Where’s the license for this pyro? Where’s this? Where’s that? Where’s your granny’s World War I teeth?” You know? It’s like, what a fuckin downer! We had all the signed stuff. We even had special pyro people. And these guys were just being a pain in the ass. One of the bummers with America is some of the laws are just too strict with things like that. Fuckin’ hell. we go to Europe and we practically fuckin’ detonate the country, and everybody loves it, and all the people come out of their houses and watch the pretty fireworks and applaud. And in America they go (in a grumpy voice) “Nope. Can’t set that off.” (cackles) America, the home of the free. You’re free to do whatever you want, but you can’t bring Venom’s pyros.
But you had plenty of pyro action at that show.
Oh yeah. But it was really touch and go because always Venom are in a situation where we say, “Where do we stand if we gotta be forced to walk on a stage if we haven’t got a pyro?” when it’s right there and we’re ready to go. Once the guys sort of tipped their hats and said “We’re out of here” and we got a chance to set the intro tape goin’, that was it. We just fired up in about three seconds. Boom! It was on. It was great. We fuckin’ ran out there. I fuckin’ loved it. It was great to see America after 10-11 years.
That’s more like the armpit of America.
But still, it was hungry faces. This is the thing. I mean, I’m not standin’ lookin’ at a crowd who are in their 30’s. I’m lookin’ at a crowd who are still in their teens. This is a new generation of Venom fans, and they’re singin’ all the fuckin’ lyrics. I’m like, oooh. This is fuckin’ wild. Probably some of the kids in the audience weren’t even born when Welcome to hell was released.
You heard the old Greek tale about the marathon runner who ran and ran and ran to warn his nation of some army advance, and as soon as he said his piece, he died.
That’s how i felt at the Venom show because I traveled 25 hours in one drive, and I didn’t sleep all day just to watch Venom. By the time you came on, I was the walking dead. And I forgot that there would be a detonation. When it went off, i really thought that I had died. I couldn’t see, and i couldn’t hear. And I didn’t know where I was. (Cronos was laughing the whole time)
That was very good. that was a good story.
That was the only concert event where I was horrified. It was because of the detonation. It just bewildered me. You robbed me of my senses.
(laughs) I tell you what, mate. After we got back to England, I got sent all the VHS videos from every fuckin’ angle. There’s a piece of video footage which is priceless. You could not pay for this. It’s from the mixing desk, and there’s a little bit of area where the mixing desk ends and where the kids start. There’s these two guys standin’ there. And you can see Venom on stage, and we’re goin’ through Countess Bathory. And when we set the huge big flames off, as the flames dies down, the two kids at exactly the same time turned around and looked at each other and sort of like waved a fist like “YEEEEEEESSSSSSSS! DID YOU SEE THAT?!!” I could not have paid them to do that. That reaction was just totally genuine. It was Countess Bathory. There was the flames. YES!!! Wicked, wicked great watchin’ that stuff.
I heard that Venom commands quite a fee to appear.
Well, yeah. All we do is, we say to the promoter, “You’ve got to be able to cover the cost of a Venom show.” And that included what Venom are gonna bring with pyro and crew and all the rest of it. It’s like what any band asks. I mean, we don’t walk away from gigs with pockets full of money. It’s not feasible to do that. The promoter’s gonna say, “Well, we can put X amount of money into it.” And whatever a regular band would then do and say, “Well, this is fee.” we have to say, “Well that is pyro and that is this and that is that.” We always wanna bring our own equipment. We always wanna bring our own guitars and amps and all the fuckin’ rest of it. A lot of bands, they’ll just take their guitars, and they’ll have all the rest of the gear provided. They’ll use any old amp. They’ll any old speaker. What the fuck. Venom aren’t like that because we like to get that Venom sound, and we feel that we can do that with amps that we trust. So that’s all extra fuckin’ air fares. It’s all extra carriage and trucks and all the rest of it. It’s a realistic fee, and some people can do it. It all depends on the venue and the area and to whether we have a big enough following.
It’s great that you clarified that because when people say that Venom commands a high price, it’s more a snobbish sort of thing. So you’re not living in the lap of luxury because of your random appearances.
Not really. The less live work that Venom do then the richer we get because then we can spend our royalties on ourselves. But as soon as we get into road stuff, hands always have to go into pockets to buy things. I mean, mantas has already been out buyin’ personal pyro and settin’ them off in his backyard. Strappin’ them to his guitars… he’s tryin’ to get these Ace Frehley rockets. A big KISS fan. He wants to fuckin’ have fuckin’ warheads comin’ out of his fuckin’ guitars.
I’ve heard quotes that you said when you started you wanted to be the best. Is that the best musically, or as far as showmanship?
Well it was a combination of our influences because we loved KISS and Priest and Sabbath and Tull and all these bands who had a stage show and who wore stage costumes and who were slightly untouchable and larger than life. So we didn’t want to be the regular t-shirt and jeans band. So we were really influenced by supergroups, and we wanted to be a supergroup. I remember that we used to say that Venom are all of the bands that have preceded us, thrown into a pot and mixed up. That is Venom. We have the KISS show. We have the Judas Priest leather. We have the hard core Sabbath lyrics. So you can actually section Venom off into all those kinds of influences. The same as you look at death metal and speed metal and all that now.. you know, all the Norwegian metal. You can see where they took this off Venom or where they took that off Venom, and progressed it all in their own ways. It’s all about influences, and i think that’s what makes music grow. When people take a little bit and then move it on another stage.
In the old days the extreme metal art was new, and there was a lot to be learned about recording that kind of music.
I’m also pretty sure that the recording budget for you in those days was pretty low.
Welcome to hell… we had actually… because i worked at the studio, I convinced the engineer to work for free. “If we come in for a few hours, will you work for free?” Yeah, because he was a mate. So then i went and talked to the studio boss, and said, “The engineer said he was gonna work for free. Can I bring me band in? There’s nobody in the studio. Fuckin’ blah blah blah.” He’s like, “Yeah”. So I was able to scam Venom into the studio for free to get some demos done. Now I’m then playin’ them for the record company. they’re like, “No. It’s shit.” Yeah, it’s like little Conrad’s band. You know? I was like, “This is wicked, this is wicked.” And they were like, “No. It’s lousy.” They had all these Ravens and Tigers of Pantang and like lame shit. So eventually the record company said, “Look. There’s three days spare. Go in and see what you can do.” So we had three days, and we recorded all of Welcome to Hell. Now that was demos as far as we were concerned. But that was recorded… vocals,solos, everything, mixed, finished. Sunday night, home. And then next week we got the record company saying, “We will release this as it is, now, as an album, or forget it.” We were like, “It’s demos! We’ve got to do it properly. Give at least a week or something.” “No, there’s no more money in the budget left. You release Welcome to Hell as it is, or fuck off.” The next day I walked in with the album cover, sayin’ “Here. Go for it.” which was the same as the single cover. Just very large and gold.
But don’t you find it strange that there are many bands, especially today, who are using adjectives like “true” to describe their metal? They romanticize the recording quality of those old days. You can’t possibly prefer that sort of production.
Well not me. I wanna improve it. I mean, a guy in Europe I was talkin’ to, he said the new album production is really crisp, and he likes the sound of the dirtier old albums. And i said, “No problem, dude. Put it on your hifi. Take all the treble off, all the top end. Turn your fuckin’ speakers up to full blast. It will sound like shit.” If you like to listen to things like you’re in some fuckin’ swamp. No problem. Put the album on and stick your head under the bath. Stick your head in the fuckin’ water. What the fuck? we’re goin with the times and we’re cleanin’ up our sound. but we’re tryin’ to fuckin’ make it heavier at the same time. I don’t think the crispness of the album has taken away from the fact that it also rattles the shelves. If I put that on next to Cast in Stone, it’s a fuckin’ louder heavier album. you’ve got to turn the thing down. You know? It’s like a beast. Amazing.
What would you say to those people who accuse you of… maybe this might be a little strong to say… it’s inappropriate anyway.. of selling out, because it’s too clean compared to the primitive sound of the old days?
I just think Venom are dead if we don’t move on. I think that was the point of this reunion.. so that we could progress it into a resurrection of Venom, because it was obvious that, yes, we’re gonna do the reunion. But we’re not gonna tour that forever. We’re either gonna put some new songs into it, or we’re gonna become some fuckin’ parody of ourselves. There’s a lot of bands in England who were famous in the ‘70’s, like Sweet and Mud and all these sort of like glam rock bands. they’re now together with all these different members, and they’re doin’ the clubs. they’re playin’ to like 20 people a night. And they’re singin’ the songs of their hits. It’s really sad. And we didn’t want anything to do with that.I mean, we had to take this band on, and it works. If people don’t dig it and don’t buy the albums, well then that’s the death of any band. If fans don’t want a band to continue, then just don’t support them and don’t buy the records. So it’s really them who determine Venom’s future. The fact that Venom are here 20 years later is because we’ve had consistent sales with what we’ve done that’s had enough companies to keep their eyebrows raised to say, “Here are some deals.” You know? As soon as that stops, as soon as Venom become has-beens and are washed out and the deals stop and the money stops then the band is fucked. So I think the only way to do this is to progress. I do think that we’ve only progressed slowly, though. I think we’ve only progressed in a small way. We haven’t changed our music or style. We’re not wearing different clothes. We haven’t cut our hair. We haven’t put make-up on. All we’ve really done is crisped up the production. All of the other elements of Venom are there. It’s always been Mantas and I who write all the songs. So we’ve lost nothing as far as the writing team is concerned. So all we’ve got now is a tighter drummer and a better sound. So I think we’re a fuckin’ winner with this one.
In demonology there was a rebellion in hell, where one faction wanted to keep mankind ignorant, and the other wanted knowledge, saying that new knowledge is new ways of evil. And I think new Venom is like that. i really liked the newer version of Manitou that was on Cast in Stone. But some people laughed at me and called me a poser. How could you say that I’m a poser?
A poser likin’ Venom… this is not right somehow, is it? A punk with a suit on. You now?
You’ve probably seen it yourself. Some people just try to out-underground everybody around them. There are other ways to get social power than to just knock everything. But I think you make effective use of sound. Your voice definitely needs that better production. You should do some speaking parts on some cd rom games.
Yeah. I did some for the new Exorcist movie.
It was said that you once renounced the dark side to your lyrics, saying that it’s purely a gimmick.
I never really said that. I speak from experiences and emotions and all the rest of it. I believe that today a lot of people… we’re not under the inquisitors anymore, and we haven’t been for hundreds of years. everybody’s resorting to more natural methods. everybody’s standing up for themselves more. i mean, even to the point of using aromatherapy and getting into natural herbs and everything. The whole sort of belief structure is changing. around the whole world as well. The witches are free and roaming all over, and there’s nothing to stop it. So the factions of hell i would have been on the side of would have been the ones of knowledge.